Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding: The Battle of Britain Essay

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding: The Battle of Britain Essay

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Few tales from history have held as much fascination as that of the Battle of Britain. The notion of the RAF fighting against the might and power of the Luftwaffe, and winning, has captured the imagination of generations. Yet few people know who the man responsible for the victory really was. Most of the time, Prime Minister Winston Churchill is portrayed as the man who saved Britain. To some extent, this is true. If Churchill had not kept up the spirits of the British people, and had not refused to give in to Germany, then the Battle would have been lost. But the man who actually kept the Germans from taking control of Britain was Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. He not only won the Battle, but quite possibly saved the free world. Dowding won the Battle by his backing and use of radar, his insistence of a strong fighter force instead of a bomber force, and his brilliant, revolutionary defensive tactics.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding was born in Scotland, in 1882. He was a taciturn old widower, formal, stubborn, and opinionated. "He was impatient not only with fools, but also with people who did not agree with him, whatever the rank" (Korda, 33). These traits, along with his unvarying formality, earned him the nickname "Stuffy" Dowding. Even though he seemed gruff and unsentimental, he truly cared about the welfare of his fighter pilots, often referring to them as "my chicks." (Korda 17). In 1936, Dowding was appointed to the newly created office of Air Chief Marshal, in control of what would eventually become Fighter Command. Dowding's appointment to this office came at a time when Fighter Command consisted mainly of fabric-covered, two gun biplanes, not very different from the fighters used during World ...


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...ften forgotten in light of Winston Churchill's famous speeches and writings about the Battle, Dowding was the man who actually won the Battle of Britain. With his use of radar as a mechanism of defense, his use of fighter planes as a defense, and his unconventionally brilliant tactics, he successfully stayed the German Luftwaffe and protected Britain in a time of great turmoil and desperation.


Works Cited

Churchill, Winston. Their Finest Hour. Boston: Published in Association with the Cooperation Pub. Houghton Mifflin, 1949. Print
Churchill, Winston, and Randolph S. Churchill. Blood, Sweat, and Tears. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1941. Print.
Deighton, Len. Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain. New York: Ballantine, 1982. Print.
Korda, Michael. With Wings like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain. New York: Harper, 2009. Print.

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