British Military Aviation in 1921

14 February
The ministerial portfolio relating to the Royal Air Force (RAF) is further
revised and Winston Churchill is appointed Secretary of State for the
Colonies and Air.

12-20 March
The Secretary of State for the Colonies and Air, Winston Churchill, A
conference is called in Cairo to review existing policy and future proposals
for the maintenance of British control in the Middle East Mandates. Air
Staff proposals to adopt a policy of air control, the assumption of responsibility
for the defence of a particular region by the Air Ministry, in Mesopotamia
to establish the desirability of maintaining the Royal Air Force (RAF)
as a separate air arm are approved.

31 March
Following a protracted period of discussion, the Australian Air Force
is officially formed as a separate service.

5 May
Captain F.E. Guest is appointed Secretary of State for Air.

21 June
Flight Lieutenant A.W. Beauchamp-Proctor VC is killed in a flying accident
while serving with the Royal Air Force (RAF).

23 June
weekly air mail service between Cairo and Baghdad (840 miles) is started
by the Royal Air Force (RAF). The route has been surveyed and tracks ploughed
across the Syrian Desert to assist navigation. The service operates until
the beginning of 1927 when it is taken over by Imperial Airways.

The Geddes Committee on National Expenditure, known colloquially as the
‘Geddes Axe’, begins to take evidence.

The Committee is established by Prime Minister David Lloyd George in
an effort to cut public expenditure. Senior officers in the War Office
and the Admiralty oppose the continued existence of the Royal Air Force
(RAF), notably, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Henry Wilson,
and the First Sea Lord, Earl Beatty, and see the Committee as a powerful
weapon in their arsenal. They contend that large savings in overheads
would be achieved if the Royal Air Force were scrapped and its roles taken
over by the other two services.

However, the Geddes Committee supports the case put forward by the Chief
of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard, for the retention of
a separate air arm. The Minister of Transport, Sir Eric Geddes, and his
fellow committee members are impressed by the economical manner in which
the Royal Air Force is administered and point to the fact that a separate
Air Force is better placed to exploit rapid advances in aviation technology.

13 August
The Australian Air Force is granted the prefix ‘Royal’.

23 August
HM Airship R38, which had been sold to the United States Navy (USN) whilst
under construction, and redesignated the ZR-2, breaks up in the air over
Hull during an acceptance test flight. Air Commodore E.M. Maitland of
the Royal Air Force, Commander L.H. Maxfield of the United States Navy,
27 officers and men of the Royal Air Force and 15 officers and men of
the United States Navy are killed. The captain of the R38, Flight Lieutenant
Wann, and three crewmembers survive.