Britain’s first female admiral: Commodore, 47, rises to Royal Navy’s top ranks

Air Marshal Sue Gray 


Sue Gray, 58, became the most senior woman in the RAF when she was promoted to the rank of Air Marshal in 2019. 

Born in Tanzania, joined the RAF in 1985 after gaining a degree in electronics from Newcastle Upon Tyne Polytechnic.

Commissioned as an engineer, she has climbed through the ranks during a 28-year career.

She has twice served on the frontline in Iraq, in the First Gulf War in 1991 and again in 2003 as chief engineer for the Joint Helicopter Force.

More recently she lead the department delivering engineering and logistics support for fighter, training and Remotely Piloted aircraft for all of the Armed Services.

In June 2016 she was appointed Air Officer Commanding Number 38 Group, with responsibility for more than 3,000 personnel across disciplines including engineering, logistics, aviation medicine and catering.

Speaking to the Telegraph after her appointment, she reflected on the challenges faced by women in the services.  

‘You naturally thought that you had to try harder because it was a male-dominated environment,’ she said.  

‘I don’t remember being treated differently; I didn’t find my path any harder than my male colleagues at the time. If anything, you get remembered – hopefully for the right reasons – because you do stand out.’  

Major General Sharon Nesmith

Major General Sharon Nesmith 


The 51-year-old currently serves as General Officer Commanding Army Recruitment and Initial Training Command. 

Major General Nesmith, joined the Royal Corps of Signals in 1992.

She spent the first few years of her career in Germany, serving in the Electronic Warfare Regiment, the 1st Armoured Division Headquarters and Signal regiment, during which time she completed three tours in the Balkans.

In 2010 she commanded 215 Signal Squadron while on Operation Telic 10 in Iraq. She later commanded 22nd Signal Regiment and afterwards was promoted to Colonel.

She was put in command of 1st Signal Brigade, based in Gloucester, which prepares forces which are held at high states of readiness to support current and future military operations all over the world.

She was then made commander of the 1st Signal Brigade before later taking up her current role. 

Outside of work, she enjoys taking part in marathons, fell running in the Lake District, mountain biking and skiing.

She is married with two sons, according to a 2015 profile.