A Remarkable Individual
John William Maxwell Aitken was born in Canada in 1910, eldest son of Lord Beaverbrook, the owner of the Daily Express newspaper group. Sir Max was educated at Pembrooke College, Cambridge, where he joined the Auxiliary Air Force, which comprised spare time flyers who gave up their weekends and holidays to learn how to fly different aircraft.
In 1939, Sir Max served in the famous 601 County of London Squadron, and subsequently fought in and survived the Battle of Britain, a group dubbed by Churchill as ‘The Few’. Ultimately he completed his service as Group Captain of the Banff Strike Wing, flying over Norway, in 1945. Over the course of WW2 his record in air combat comprised 16 victories, 9 probables and damage to 15 enemy aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war Sir Max was for 5 years MP for Holborn, but was also working his way up his father's newspaper empire which included the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, and the Evening Standard. He became Director of the Express Group and Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspaper Ltd in 1968 after his father's death in 1964. However, Sir Max renounced his father's hereditary title explaining "In my lifetime there will only be one Lord Beaverbrook."