Dowding, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh CT, 1882-1970

Dowding was a British Air Marshal who led RAF Fighter Command during the critical period of the Battle of Britain. Dowding had spent a long and successful career, first with the Royal Flying Corps and later with the RAF, with command of squadrons in France during World War I, as Director of Training at the Air Ministry and Air Officer Commander in Chief in Transjordan and Palestine. Between 1930 and 1936 he was a member of the Air Council for Supply and Research where he vigorously supported both the development of the new monoplane aircraft types, and inventive research, especially in the field of radar.

In July 1936 he became the first Air Officer Commander in Chief of RAF Fighter Command, a force which he transformed from a single group operating in the south-east of England to a highly organized defense system covering the whole of the British Isles. Utilizing the scientific advances of the day, he developed a system of fighter control in which radio and radar communications played a fundamental role, enabling upto-the-minute information regarding enemy activity to be passed directly from ground to air.

Dowding was a man of singleminded determination who was able to exploit all available resources, however scant, to maximum advantage. His clear appreciation of operational needs was to bring him into conflict with the British Cabinet as he fought to preserve his limited squadrons in the UK during the Battle of France, but his planning undoubtedly saved Britain during the massive Luftwaffe offensives of July, August and September 1940. He was considered to be somewhat humorless and nicknamed ‘Stuffy’ by his colleagues.

From November 1940 he served on a mission for the Ministry of Aircraft Production to the USA and retired in 1942.

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