Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: The Hero of the Battle of Britain

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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 Marshall 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. These traits 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). He knew beyond any doubt that war was indeed coming, and soon. He was determined to be ready, and knew that fighter planes were the key to preventing a massive bomber attack. This stubborn adherance to the belief that it would actually be fighters, not bombers, that would be crucial in the defense of Britain led to tensions with his fellow officers in the Air Council.
Dowding was not the most congenial of people. His relationship with the other commanding officers of the Air Cou...

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... war, Baldwin was not going to sit back and take a beating. He was going to prepare defensive measures if attacked. He was willing to listen to what Dowding told him was needed., which was more fighter planes. There was also the practicality of fighter planes to consider. Fighters were much cheaper to manufacture than bombers, making it possible to make more planes for the same amount of money. This way, Baldwin could point out to any political opposition that he was indeed making an effort at preparing in event of war. This political manouvering proved invaluable to winning the Battle of Britain.
Dowding's instruction to his fighter pilots was to not engage the Germans in large airial battles. He knew that if his fighters tried to engage the Germans head on, with full strength, the resulting loss of fighters would negate any loss inflicted on the Germans.

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