Broadhurst, Sir Harry “Broady”.

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Broadhurst, Sir Harry, “Broady” born 28-10-1905 in Frimley, Surrey, England attended Portsmouth Grammar School and after graduating became a trainee surveyor. Broadhurst joined the Army and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1925.

In 1926 he transferred to the RAF   and on 1st October was posted to No 11 (Bomber) Squadron at Netheravon, under instruction. The squadron went out to India and Broadhurst received a Mention in Despatches for service on the North-West Frontier (gazetted 26-06-1931).

Back in Britain, he was posted to No 41 Squadron at Northolt on 16-09-1931. Broadhurst went to RAF Calshot under instruction on 18-09-1933, moved to 19 Squadron at Duxford on 26th November and was awarded the AFC. He joined the Personnel Staff of 2 (Bomber) Group at Andover on 02-9-1937, leaving there on 24-01-1938 for a course at the RAF Staff College, Andover. In 1936, as a Flight Lieutenant, he was personally congratulated by the king on his aerobatic showing in the Gloster Gauntlet. Awarded an AFC in 1937, he served at the RAF Staff College in Andover. In January 1939 he was posted as Officer Commanding to No. 111 Squadron  In May 1940 Broady became Station Commander at RAF Coltishall,  before joining No. 60 Wing in France as Wing Commander. Broadhurst participated in ground support during the Battle of France, an experience that showed him the importance of close air support for later operations in the war. He was heavily involved in the Battle of Britain and as Officer Commanding RAF Wittering, often flew with the squadrons under his command, both day and night fighter units.

In December 1940 he was posted to command the Hornchurch Sector of No. 11 Group Fighter Command, and continued to fly on operations, even as a Group Captain.

On 04-07-1941, leading No. 54 Squadron, he was involved in

a dogfight with Bf 109’s, claiming 2 shot down before he was hit and his aircraft badly damaged. Hit by flak over Cap Griz Nez, he managed to return to base, belly landing his crippled Spitfire. On 07-07-1941 his Spitfire was hit and damaged by the German Hauptmann Josef “Pips” Priller

  of Jagdgeschwader 26. During the Allied Invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 Pips Priller flew one of the few Luftwaffe missions against the Allied beachhead that day. Priller claimed his 100th victory on 15 June 1944.

In May 1942 he became SASO, No. 11 Group, although he continued to fly operationally where possible. His final kill claims were made on 19-08-1942, bringing his total to 13 destroyed, 7 probables and 10 damaged. In late 1942 he was posted to the Middle East and became Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) to Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Coningham, commander of the Desert Air Force (DAF). Broadhurst came into conflict with Coningham over the use and objectives of the Desert Air Force. Broadhurst took command of the DAF in January 1943, becoming (at the age of 38) the youngest Air Vice Marshal in the Royal Air Force. He quickly perfected the way he perceived fighter aircraft ought to be employed as ground support fighter-bombers. His fighter squadrons were trained intensively to strafe and bomb Axis vehicles, tanks, transport and communication lines. This aerial cover of the 8th Army won the approval and appreciation of General Bernard “Monty” Montgomery

and would form the basis of the ground attack principles utilised during the D-Day landings and beyond.

Broadhurst’s enthusiastic backing of the Army and his frank opinions did not always go down well with his superiors in the RAF. He returned to the UK in 1944 to command No. 83 Group, part of 2nd Tactical Air Force. In September 1945 he became Air Officer Administration at RAF Fighter Command.

In August 1946 Broadhurst was made Air Officer Commanding No. 61 Group and in 1949 Broadhurst attended the Imperial Defence College. After promotion to Air Vice Marshal again in July 1949 he became Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) in April 1952 and then Commander-in-Chief of Second Tactical Air Force in December 1953 in the rank of Air Marshal.

Broadhurst, here with Winston Churchill  was appointed Air Officer Commander-in-Chief Bomber Command in January 1956. In 1956, at the peak of Broadhurst’s career as Commander in Chief of RAF Bomber Command, his reputation suffered following a fatal accident to an Avro Vulcan. Broadhurst took aircraft XA897, the first Vulcan delivered to the RAF, and a full Vulcan crew, on a round-the-world tour. On return to the UK, Broadhurst was to land at London Heathrow Airport, a civil airport, to complete the successful tour before the assembled aviation media. However, the weather at Heathrow was poor and RAF aircraft were not equipped to use the Instrument Landing System installed at Heathrow and other civil airports so a Ground-controlled approach (GCA) was carried out. XA897 struck the ground about 2,000 feet short of the runway just as power was applied. XA897 was damaged by the initial impact but rose back in the air. The pilot, Squadron Leader D.R. “Podge” Howard, and Broadhurst, who was occupying the co-pilot

seat, both ejected from the aircraft and survived. The aircraft again hit the ground and broke up.

The Vulcan had only two ejection seats, for the pilot and co-pilot. The other four occupants on XA897, including Howard’s usual co-pilot, died in the accident.

Death and burial ground of Sir Harry Broadhurst.


Air Chief Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst died on 29-08-1995, aged 89, in Birdham, Chichester District, West suusex, England and is buried at St James Church cemetery, Birdham, West Sussex, England. Section 285.

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