Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Tedder, G.C.B., showed no symptoms of military genius as a young man. At Whitgift School he excelled at drawing; and from Cambridge, where he won the Prince Consort Prize, he entered professional football, before going to Fiji in the Civil Service, in 1914.
Tedder has the build of a Rugby “outside”, being on the small side and lean. With a fondness for good literature and art, he looks more like a scholar than a dynamic war leader; and whenever possible he discards his uniform for “civvies”, preferably a blazer in summer.
Born at Glenguin, Stirlingshire, in 1890, the son of Sir Arthur John Tedder, his military career began in 1914 when he joined the Dorset Regiment, serving in France. Tow years later he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, and in 1919, transferred to the R.A.F., he laid the foundations of his career.
By then, Tedder had been married four years to the Australian girl he met in Fiji, Miss Rosalinde Maclardy. And already he was beginning to be recognized for his military as well as his academic qualities; his first book, The Navy and the Restoration, confirmed his University reputation. And within five years of his transfer to the R.A.F. he was given command of No. 2 Flying Training School.
Tedder's advancement was steady but unspectacular, until he succeeded to the Middle East Command in 1941. He has no time for orthodoxy, and once snapped “To hell with history – what's your problem?” But he is not normally given to sudden outbursts. A softly spoken, taciturn Scot, he likes the quiet things of life – among them, wild birds. The London Zoo has on exhibition several of the pets he brought home from Africa and Europe.
At 56 he likes cricket more than football. And, a good crayon artist, seldom without a sketching pad in his pocket, he finds contentment in sketching. At the Athenaeum and Royal Air Force Clubs Lord Tedder is known for his lightning head-and-shoulder sketches, for a fondness for argument, and a quick – and sometimes biting – wit. He has a habit of slouching in an easy chair with a pipe and a half-amused but scrutinizing and sometimes baffling expression.
Tedder has a penetrating mind. From it sprang the “Tedder carpet” pattern bombing that helped to blast the Axis out of North Africa. As Deputy Supreme Allied Commander he was responsible for the Anglo-American air operations against Germany; and it was he who conceived the tank-busting Hurricanes which he named “can-openers”.
The war brought its share of sorrow to Tedder. In it he lost a son (a bomber pilot) and his first wife was killed in an air crash near Cairo. He has a second son still at school, and a daughter who served in the W.A.A.F. In October 1943 Tedder married Mrs. Marie De Seton Black, and a son was born on May 23, 1946. The man who started life as a professional footballer and became Chief of Air Staff and Senior Member of the Air Council now lives at Corner Croft, Kingston Hill, Surrey, near to where he had his official residence as Deputy of Eisenhower.