Portal file photo [2607]

Charles Portal

Given NameCharles
Born21 May 1893
Died22 Apr 1971
CountryUnited Kingdom


ww2dbaseCharles Frederick Algernon Portal was born in Hungerford, England. He attended Christ Church but did not complete his education. During WW1, he first served as a dispatch rider in the motorcycle section of Royal Engineers on the western front; later in the war he was given command of all riders in the 1st Corps Headquarters Signals Company. In 1915, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, and in 1918 he became an officer in the new Royal Air Force, commanding the Number 7 Squadron. In 1934, he led British forces in Aden, relying heavily on air power to subdue local insurrections. He was promoted to the rank of air commodore in 1935 then air vice-marshal in 1937.

ww2dbaseAs the European War was about to begin, Portal was appointed a member of the air council and Director of Organization in the Air Ministry. In Apr 1940, he became the commander-in-chief of the RAF Bomber Command. In that position, he advocated strategic area bombing against cities of German industrial regions instead of targeting specific factories; this was a decision that sometimes believed to be a precursor to the German Luftwaffe's retaliatory bombings on London. In Oct 1940, after being knighted, he was appointed the Chief of the Air Staff with the rank of air chief marshal. With bomber units of both Britain and the United States under his command (excluding the duration of Operation Overlord in Normandy), he continued to improve the efficiency of bombing against German cities in industrial regions. In 1944, he was promoted to the Marshal of the Royal Air Force. Near the end of the war, he thought bombing should play a support role to the Allied offensive, but Arthur Harris, his head of Bomber Command, overruled him, arguing continued carpet bombing continued to be a critical component of the overall strategy.

ww2dbasePortal retired from the RAF shortly after the war's end. He was made a baron in Aug 1945 then a viscount in 1946. Between 1946 and 1951, he was the Controller of Atomic Energy. Between 1958 and 1959, he joined the civilian workforce as the Chairman of British Aluminium; two years later, in 1960, he was elected the chairman of the British Aircraft Corporation.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Dec 2006

Charles Portal Interactive Map


Lord Cherwell, Charles Portal, Dudley Pound, Winston Churchill, and others observing anti-aircraft gunnery in Britain, Jun 1941Harry Broadhurst, Arthur Coningham, Arthur Tedder, and Charles Portal at Vasto, Italy, date unknownWinston Churchill and Charles Portal at an airfield in Britain, 1940sPresident Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill confer with the Combined Chiefs of Staff during the Casablanca Conference at Roosevelt’s Dar es Saada villa in Casablanca, French Morocco, 18 Jan 1943.
See all 14 photographs of Charles Portal


Knights of the Air - The RAF

Charles Portal Timeline

21 May 1893 Charles Portal was born.
4 Oct 1940 Sir Cyril Newall retired as British Chief of Air Staff and was replaced by Sir Charles Portal.
31 Aug 1944 Chief of the Air Staff Charles Portal asked Commander-in-Chief RAF Mediterranean and Middle East John Slessor if dropping supplies from a higher altitude with delayed parachutes would keep aircraft safer when they delivered supplies to resistance fighters on the ground in Warsaw, Poland.
22 Apr 1971 Charles Portal passed away.

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More on Charles Portal
Event(s) Participated:
» Casablanca Conference
» Quadrant Conference
» Cairo Conference
» Octagon Conference
» Malta Conference
» Yalta Conference

Charles Portal Photo Gallery
Lord Cherwell, Charles Portal, Dudley Pound, Winston Churchill, and others observing anti-aircraft gunnery in Britain, Jun 1941
See all 14 photographs of Charles Portal

Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945

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