Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding

(Lord Dowding of Bentley Priory)

1882 - 1970

Hugh Dowding
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Hugh Dowding

Air Force Commander. Born in Moffat, the son of a school-master, Dowding was educated at Winchester College and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in its earliest days during the First World War, rising to the rank of Air Marshall in 1933. As Commander in Chief of Fighter Command from 1936 he directed the defeat of the German Air Force in the "Battle of Britain" through a combination of effective preparation and sound tactics. Despite this success, Dowding was criticised for his tactics by his rivals, principally William Sholto Douglas and Trafford Leigh-Mallory, and was removed from his post in Fighter Command in October 1940. The main criticism was a lack of aggression, but Dowding was careful not to sacrifice the lives of his few pilots needlessly.

Curiously he was interested in spiritualism and claimed to have communicated with airmen who had been killed in action. Dowding was knighted in 1934 and elevated to a peerage, as Lord Dowding of Bentley Priory, in 1943.

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