1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Airey, Richard Airey
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Airey, Richard Airey
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AIREY, RICHARD AIREY, BARON (1803-1881), British general, was the son of Lieutenant-General Sir George Airey (1761-1833) and was bom in 1803. He entered the army in 1821, became captain in 1825, and served on the staff of Sir Frederick Adam in the Ionian Islands (1827-1830) and on that of Lord Aylmer in North America (1830-1832). In 1838 Airey, then a lieutenant-colonel, went to the Horse Guards, Where in 1852 he became military secretary to the commander-in-chief, Lord Hardinge. In 1854 he was given a brigade command in the army sent out to the East; from which, however, he was immediately transferred to the onerous and difficult post of quartermaster-general to Lord Raglan, in which capacity he served through the campaign in the Crimea. He was made a major-general in December 1854, and it was universally recognized in the army that he was the best soldier on Lord Raglan's staff. He was made a K.C.B., and was reported upon most favourably by his superiors, Lord Raglan and Sir J. Simpson. Airey was a quartermaster-general in the older sense of the word, i.e. a chief of the general staff, but a different view of the duties of the office was then becoming recognized. Public opinion held him and his department responsible for the failures and mismanagement of the commissariat. Airey demanded an inquiry on his return to England and cleared himself completely, but he never recovered from the effects of the unjust persecution of which he had been made the victim, though the popular view was not shared by his military superiors. He gave up his post at the front to become quartermaster-general to the forces at home. In 1862 he was promoted lieutenant-general, and from 1865 to 1870 he was governor of Gibraltar, receiving the G.C.B. in 1867. In 1870 he became adjutant-general at headquarters, and in 1871 attained the full rank of general. In 1876, on his retirement, he was created a peer, and in 1879-1880 he presided over the celebrated Airey commission on army reform. He died at the house of Lord Wolseley, at Leather head, on the 14th of September 1881.