Wednesday, November 24, 2010

G/Cpt Thomas P.Gleave 1908-1993

Born on September 6 1908, Gleave was educated at Westminster High School and Liverpool Collegiate School and joined Sefton Tanning Co in 1924. He first flew with the Liverpool and Merseyside Flying Club at Hooton in 1927, as a Founder-Member, and began instruction in early 1929, gaining his ‘A’ Licence on 6 July.Later in the year Gleave went to Canada and worked for a tanning company in Acton, Ontario. He flew at the Toronto Flying Club.

He returned to the UK in 1930 and joined the RAF in September.Gleave was posted to 5 FTS, Sealand on September 27 and after training joined No.1 Squadron at Tangmere on September 8 1931. In an attempt to be the first man to fly to Ceylon, Gleave left Lympne on October 11 1933 in a Spartan, G-AAMH. Four days later he was forced down in a down-draught in the mountains east of Kutahya, in Anatolia, Turkey. He forced-landed in a tree on the side of a ravine, not far from Sarbona Pinar and had to abandon his attempt.From February 1934 Cleave was at CFS, Upavon on an instructor's course. He was posted to the staff of 5 FTS, Sealand on May 13 and went on loan to the Oxford University Air Squadron for a short period soon afterwards.

On December 17 1936 Gleave was appointed as the Flying Instructor to 502 (Ulster) Special Reserve Squadron at Aldergrove. He converted the squadron to Auxiliary status and was re-posted as Adjutant and CFI. On January 1 1939 Gleave joined Air Staff, Bomber Command and carried out liaison duties in the Fighter Command Operations Room at Stanmore. On September 3 he was posted for full-time service there as Bomber Liaison Officer.On June 2 1940 Gleave was given command of 253 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey. He was posted away on August 9 but allowed to stay with the squadron until called upon by AOC 14 Group. On August 30 Gleave claimed five Bf 109s destroyed but was credited with one destroyed and four probables. The following morning Squadron Leader HM Starr, CO of 253, was shot down and killed. Command of 253 reverted to Gleave once more but he himself was shot down at about 1.00 pm, during a massive air attack on Biggin Hill by a German bomber force. He baled out, grievously burned, and was admitted to Orpington Hospital.Gleave later went to Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, where he underwent plastic surgery by Archie (later Sir Archibald) Mclndoe and his brilliant colleague Percy Jayes.
On July 20 1941 the Guinea Pig Club was formed at the Queen Victoria Hospital, with Mclndoe as President and Gleave as Vice-President and a Founder-Member.In August 1941 he was given a temporary non-operational flying category and on the 19th began flying once more, with a grafted face and limbs, less than twelve months after being burned. He became operational again in October. Gleave took command of RAF Mansion on October 5 and was there when the 'Scharnhorst' and 'Gneisenau' made their 'Channel Dash' on February 12 1942. Aircraft took off from Manston to attack the battleships. After the action Gleave recommended Esmonde for a posthumous VC and other awards for the five survivors of the Swordfish attack. All were granted.Gleave went to RAF Staff College on April 13 1942 and returned to Manston on July 10, in time for the Dieppe operation, for which Manston was a main refuelling and re-arming base. On September 9 Gleave was promoted to Group Captain and posted to the Special Planning Staff at Norfolk House, St James Square, London.
He was made Group Captain Air Plans for the Allied Expeditionary' Air Force under Leigh-Mallory in November 1943. With Colonel Phillips Melville of the USAAF as co-operator he wrote the Overall Overlord Air Plan. For his outstanding work Gleave was made a CBE and awarded the US Legion of Merit, later changed to the Bronze Star because of protocol difficulties. In the wake of the invasion Gleave moved across to France.On October 1 1944 Gleave was made Head of Air Plans under Eisenhower at Supreme HQ Allied Expeditionary Force. He returned to East Grinstead in mid-July 1945 for further plastic surgery and in September became SASO to the RAF Delegation to France.Gleave returned to the UK in early November 1947 and went to Reserve Command, later Home Command, where he held various staff appointments. In February 1952 he joined the directing staff at RAF Staff.