David Lloyd George’s RAF legacy celebrated 100 years on

  • 12 January 2018

Pilots ready to drop bombs by handImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Before an independent Royal Air Force was, the Royal Flying Corps was part of the British Army

The role played by David Lloyd George in the creation of the Royal Air Force will be celebrated at his home town in Gwynedd.

The event at the Lloyd George Museum in Llanystumdwy will mark 100 years since the then-prime minister created the first independent air force in 1918.

There will be a flypast of RAF aircraft and exhibitions, while a memorial book and garden will also be opened.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said he deserved to be recognised.

The Caernarvon Boroughs MP, who went on to become the only Welsh prime minister and led the country through the latter part of World War One, was one of the first British politicians to take air power seriously.

As early as 1909, he warned Britain was in danger of being left behind by the new technology, but it was later in 1917 that he saw air power as a way to end slaughter in the trenches.

Speaking in a Commons debate at the time, he said: “The heavens are their battlefield. They are the Cavalry of the Clouds. High above the squalor and the mud.”

He tasked General Jan Smuts to investigate the state of Britain’s air power and later supported his recommendation to create an independent air force.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lloyd George felt air power was key to ending slaughter in the trenches

Sir Hillier, the The RAF’s chief of the air staff, said it would be a “great privilege” to commemorate Lloyd George’s important role in the RAF’s creation at the event near Criccieth.

He said: “Prime Minister Lloyd George was a great wartime leader and achieved many things in his political career.

“His role in the creation of the RAF, which is the world’s first independent Air Force, is a further important achievement that deserves to be recognised.”

Lloyd George’s grandson, David Lloyd Carey-Evans, said it was “very pleasing” his grandfather’s role was being celebrated.

“The Army had been insistent that the new air corps be under its command but my grandfather felt very strongly that this was not the way forward for such a dynamic new strike force and was determined that it should be independent and be allowed to develop itself rather than be directed by the army,” he added.

Air Officer Wales, Air Commodore Adrian Williams, said he hoped the opening of the RAF Centenary Memorial Garden at the site – and its donation of records relating to Lloyd George’s role in creating the RAF – would be a “great legacy for the museum and ensure that people in the years ahead know this important story”.

New Wales Office minister Stuart Andrew MP said the RAF was recognised as one of the greatest military forces in the world and the year of centenary planned events ahead would celebrate its strong links with Wales.

Image copyright John Firth/Geograph
Image caption The event will be held at Lloyd George Museum where an RAF memorial garden will be opened

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