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For his father the Methodist minister and politician see Leonard Monk Isitt
Leonard Monk Isitt
File:AVM Sir Leonard Monk Isitt.jpg
AVM Sir Leonard Monk Isitt
Born (1891-07-27)27 July 1891
Died 21 January 1976(1976-01-21) (aged 84)
Place of birth Christchurch, New Zealand
Place of death Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Allegiance New Zealand
Service/branch New Zealand Army
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Rank Air Vice-Marshal
Commands held Royal New Zealand Air Force
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Other work Chairman of Tasman Empire Airways

Tokyo Bay, Japan -- Surrender of Japanese aboard USS Missouri. Air Vice Marshal Leonard M. Isitt, representing the Dominion of New Zealand, signs the instrument of surrender watched by an officer of the Royal New Zealand Navy. General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, stands at the microphone.

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Leonard Monk Isitt KBE (27 July 1891 – 21 January 1976) was a New Zealand military aviator and senior air force commander. At the close of World War II, he was the New Zealand signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. After the War he worked as chairman of Tasman Empire Airways.

Early and family life[edit | edit source]

Leonard Monk Isitt was born on 27 July 1891 in Christchurch, New Zealand, the son of the Methodist minister, member of parliament and prohibitionist Leonard Monk Isitt and Agnes Martha Caverhill. Leonard Monk Isitt junior was educated at Mostyn House, Cheshire, England and Christchurch Boys' High School. He had one brother, Willard Whitmore Isitt (1894–1916) who was a Rifleman in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in World War I and was killed in France on 31 October 1916.

World War I and air force service[edit | edit source]

In World War I he served in the New Zealand Army in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and then transferred to the Royal Air Force where he became a pilot and flew bombers over French battlefields. Between the wars one of his responsibilities was pilot flight training and he served in the Air Ministry, the New Zealand Permanent Air Force (NZPAF) and the RNZAF.[1]

World War II[edit | edit source]

In May 1942 Isitt was sent to London to establish the RNZAF's Overseas Headquarters, receiving a promotion to air commodore at the same time. Having accomplished his task, under a year later Isitt was back in New Zealand and on 19 July 1943 he was appointed Chief of Air Staff of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in the rank of air vice-marshal, replacing Victor Goddard, an RAF officer. He was the first New Zealander to hold his Service's senior appointment. He represented New Zealand at conferences in London, Washington and Ottawa during World War II. He was the New Zealand signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender marking the formal surrender of Japanese forces, so ending World War II.[2]

Isitt retired in 1946 as Chief of the Air Staff and he became chairman of Tasman Empire Airways (TEAL) in 1947.

Honours[edit | edit source]

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[3] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1940 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1945.

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
New title
Air Force established
Air Member for Personnel
Succeeded by
New title
Headquarters established
Air Officer Commanding RNZAF Overseas Headquarters
Succeeded by
A de T Nevill
Preceded by
R V Goddard
Chief of the Air Staff
Succeeded by
A de T Nevill

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