The only successful applicant of 360 from South Australia who applied for RAAF training at Point Cook in 1930, Lees transferred to the RAF the following year. During WWII Lees flew Spitfires, commanded RAF Coltishall, and commanded 324 Wing in the invasion of Tunisia. In 1940 he was shot down once and wounded twice in the same day!
Ronald Lees rose to the highest ranks of the RAF, serving as Commander in Chief of the RAF in Germany and as Deputy Chief of Air Staff from 1960 to 1963. He was aide-de-camp to King George VI (1943 to 1952) and Queen Elizabeth II (1952 to 1953). Many honours came his way and he was particularly proud of being a Commander of the Legion of Merit, which he received from the President of the United States in recognition of his work during WWII.
Following his retirement in 1965 he took up grazing in New South Wales and later retired to Adelaide, where he lived until his death in 1991.