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An Operational Military Biography

April 27th, 2011 | Posted by RossM in Discussion

I thought I would post something on to what looks to be an interesting project that I am going to enjoy following, and I hope get involved with in some shape or form.

I am currently researching the career of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory for my PhD. Leigh-Mallory is one of the more controversial commanders of the Second World War. The major problem for my research is a distinct lack of any personal papers. Leigh-Mallory died in an air crash in November 1944 when en route to take up his new command in South East Asia. He has become the bete noir to many historians, especially those who write about the Battle of Britain and D-Day. This has distorted his view in the historiography with people accepting the orthodoxy on him. Perhaps the key reason for this is his untimely death and lack of papers. This is also creating a problem for me in constructing a traditional biography.

To get around this I am trying to take my ‘biography’ one step further by utilising contemporary leadership theory to assess his leadership effectiveness. My hope is that I will construct an ‘Operational Military Biography’ that places him in his organisational and operational context. It will involve and examination of the various inputs and outputs that make up effective leadership such as morale, education and training. to make up for the lack of personal papers I am making use of a 360 reporting methodology which allows the measurement and use of various sources to build up a picture of his effectiveness. This will also allow a comparative analysis his effectiveness in comparison with fellow commander, thus, utilising an element of prosopography. Any thoughts are welcomed.

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