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Hugh Dowding

Lord Sir Hugh Caswell Tremenheere Dowding G.C.B., G.C.V.O.,C.M.G. was born in Moffat, Scotland on April 24, 1882. After obtaining his pilot's license in December 1913, he joined the Royal Flying Corps. He was sent to France and in 1915 was promoted to commander of 16 Squadron. After the Battle of the Somme, Dowding clashed with General Hugh Trenchard, the commander of the RFC, over the need to rest pilots exhausted by non-stop duty. As a result Dowding was sent back to Britain and although promoted to the rank of brigadier general, saw no more active service during the First World War.

Dowding now joined the recently created Royal Air Force and in 1929 was promoted to vice marshal and the following year joined the Air Council. In 1933 Dowding was promoted to air marshal and was knighted the following year.

In 1940 Dowding worked closely with Vice Marshal Keith Park[?], the commander of No. 11 Fighter Group, in covering the evacuation at Dunkirk. Although Dowding only had 200 planes at his disposal he managed to gain air superiority over the Luftwaffe. However, he was unwilling to sacrifice his pilots in what he considered to be a futile attempt to help Allied troops during the Western Offensive.

Dowding was credited with winning the Battle of Britain and was awarded the Knight Grand Cross. However, Air Chief Marshal Charles Portal[?], the new chief of the air staff, had agreed with William Sholto Douglas and Trafford Leigh-Mallory[?] in the dispute with Dowding over tactics and in November 1941, he removed Dowding from his post. Douglas had the added satisfaction of taking over from Dowding as head of Fighter Command.

Dowding was then sent on special duty in the United States for the Ministry of Aircraft Production before retiring from the Royal Air Force in July, 1942. The following year he was honoured with a baronetcy, First Baron Dowding of Bentley Priory. He died at his home in Tunbridge Wells Kent on February 15, 1970.



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