Harry Broadhurst was born on 28th October, 1905, at Frimley, Surrey. He 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 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 26th June 1931).
Back in Britain, he was posted to 41 Squadron at Northolt on 16th September 1931. Broadhurst went to RAF Calshot under instruction on 18th September 1933, moved to 19 Squadron at Duxford on 26th November and was awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st February 1937). He joined the Personnel Staff of 2 (Bomber) Group at Andover on 2nd September 1937, leaving there on 24th January 1938 for a course at the RAF Staff College, Andover.In January 1939 Broadhurst took command of 111 Squadron at Northolt. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 2nd January 1940) for taking off alone on 29th November 1939 in very bad weather conditions to intercept an approaching enemy aircraft. He found it and attacked, causing it to dive into cloud very close to sea level, so close that Broadhurst almost went into the sea himself.
Broadhurst left 111 on 24th January 1940 and went to HQ 11 Group. In February he took command of 60 Wing in France. On 20th May 1940 he destroyed a Me110 near Arras. After the Wing’s withdrawal to England in June, Broadhurst became Station Commander at Wittering.
During the Battle of Britain he flew occasional operational sorties with No. 1 Squadron, thus qualifying for the Battle of Britain clasp.
On 23rd December 1940 Broadhurst took command of RAF Hornchurch and apart from a few weeks in October/November 1941 he held this position until May 1942.
On 25th February 1941, flying with the Hornchurch Wing, Broadhurst destroyed a Me109 and probably a second, on 5th March he probably destroyed one and damaged another, on 17th June destroyed one and damaged another, on the 21st destroyed two, on the 24th damaged two more, on the 25th probably destroyed another two, on 3rd July shot one down and probably a second, on the 4th destroyed two, on the 7th destroyed two more and probably a third, on 24th September shot one down and on 1st October damaged another.
He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 4th July 1941) and a Bar (gazetted 19th December 1941), the citation for the latter crediting him with twelve Me109’s destroyed and probably another four.
Broadhurst’s tally of German fighters continued to increase in 1942. On 12th February, the day of the Channel Dash by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, Broadhurst got a probable Me109, on 27th April he damaged a Me109 and a Fw190, and on 19th August, during the Dieppe Raid, he destroyed a Fw190 and damaged three others.
Broadhurst had been Deputy SASO at 11 Group since May 1942 and returned to Hornchurch to lead the Wing to Dieppe. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 29th September 1942). Posted to the Middle East as SASO to the AOC Western Desert in late 1942, he took over as AOC Allied Air Forces, Western Desert in 1943. He commanded 83 Group Allied Expeditionary Air Force in 1944-45.
Broadhurst retired from the RAF on 1st March 1961 as an Air Chief Marshal, after a most distinguished career spanning thirty-five years. As well as his gallantry awards he was made a CB (1944), KBE (1945), KCB (1955), GCB (1960), Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange Nassau, and the Legion of Merit (US).
Broadhurst’s portrait was painted by Captain Cuthbert Orde in 1941.
He worked in the civil aviation industry until retiring in 1976. (Source: The Battle of Britain Monument in London)
by John Gillespie Magee Jr. (9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941)