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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 445 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BARON RICHARD AIREY AIREY (1803-1881), British general, was the son of Lieutenant-General Sir George Airey (1761-1833) and was born in 1803. He entered the army in 1822, became captain in 1825, and served on the staff of Sir Frederick Adam in the Ionian Islands (1827-183o) 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 recog-nized 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 r87o he was governor of Gibraltar, receiving the G.C.B. in 1867. In 187o 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 1879-188o he presided over the celebrated Airey commission on army reform. He died at the house of Lord Wolseley, at Leatherhead, on the 14th of September 1881. AIR-GUN, a gun in which the force employed to propel the bullet is the elasticity of compressed atmospheric air. It has attached to it, or constructed in it, a reservoir of compressed air, a portion of which, liberated into the space behind the bullet when the trigger is pulled, propels the bullet from the barrel by its expansion. The common forms of air-gun, which are merely toys, are charged by compressing a spiral spring, one end of which forms a piston working in a cylinder; when released by a pull on the trigger, this spring expands, and the air forced out in front of it propels the bullet. Air-guns of this kind are some-times made to resemble walking-sticks and are then known as air-canes. -
End of Article: BARON RICHARD AIREY AIREY (1803-1881)

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