ISITT, Sir Leonard Monk, K.B.E.
A new biography of Isitt, Leonard Monk appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Leonard Monk Isitt was born in Christchurch on 27 July 1891, the son of the Hon. Leonard Monk Isitt, M.L.C., and was educated at Mostyn House, Cheshire, and Christchurch Boys' High School. For a brief period he was in business, but joined the New Zealand Forces in 1915. He transferred to the RAF the following year and became a flying instructor. Qualifying as a commercial navigator and pilot he returned to the New Zealand Air Force and took command of Wigram Aerodrome in 1923. Again followed a short term with the RAF and as Liaison Officer with the Air Ministry. He then took over the command at Hobsonville Air Base. Steady promotion saw him a Group Captain in 1938, followed in 1940 by a course of study at the Imperial Defence College. With the outbreak of war he represented New Zealand in the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada. He was concerned with the purchasing of equipment and supplies in North America, was on the staff of the New Zealand Ministry in Washington in 1942, and represented New Zealand at conferences in London, Washington, and Ottawa. Before returning to New Zealand in 1943 he established the RNZAF Headquarters in London. In New Zealand he became Chief of the Air Staff with the rank of Air Vice Marshal, retiring in 1946. He retained his interest in aviation by sponsoring the establishment of Tasman Empire Airways of which he became chairman in 1947. He was made C.B.E., 1940, and K.B.E., 1945.