Dowding, Fighter Command and Battle of France

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Gerard, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Just been reading about the Battle of Britain and watching the World at War episode of the Battle of France. What a prophetic decision by Dowding to recall the Fighter Squadrons from France. Although quite hard-hearted at the time, hindsight shows it was utterly correct.
     
  2. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    ...and watching the World at War episode of the Battle of France. What a prophetic decision by Dowding to recall the Fighter Squadrons from France.


    Well....it wasn't THAT clean-cut; Churchill had first forced him to send more Hurricanes over in the early days of the conflict...AND as soon as the front line was in range of Spitfires from Eleven Group he was forced to throw them in over the French coast...:(

    In total we lost nearly half of Fighter Command's monoplane fighter force as it stood as of the 10th of May - that's why the 6 weeks' vacillation by Hitler after DYNAMO...and particularly after the Armistice...was so valuable ;)
     
  3. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor

    Interestingly the pilots in France werent so impressed judging by Paul Richey's book.
    Though the whole organisation of how French and UK fighters based in France were used does come across as a shambles with French aircrews tasked to protect British bombers and some British fighters tasked to protect areas of ground / towns and others to protect the Battles and Blenheims. I have read very little on the airwar in France so Imay have got completely the wrong end of the stick - please forgive me if I have !
     
  4. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    well...when it comes to chaos, John Ray reports the anecdote of Dowding visiting his counterparts in France early in 1940, and being shown the French equivalent of The Hole at Bentley Priory...two French soldiers with a telephone and a blackboard sitting at the bottom of a stairwell in a chateau...
     
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Well....it wasn't THAT clean-cut; Churchill had first forced him to send more Hurricanes over in the early days of the conflict...AND as soon as the front line was in range of Spitfires from Eleven Group he was forced to throw them in over the French coast...:(

    In total we lost nearly half of Fighter Command's monoplane fighter force as it stood as of the 10th of May - that's why the 6 weeks' vacillation by Hitler after DYNAMO...and particularly after the Armistice...was so valuable ;)


    Dowding, because of his uncompromising attitude, upset Churchill and other political leaders.
    One of the main reasons why he was replaced by William Douglas in November 1940.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  6. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Makes you wonder what would have happened if someone else had been in charge.
     
  7. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Has anybody read or taken a look at the latest Dowding biography?

    Screenshot 2019-09-17 at 02.34.49.png

    Hugh Dowding was born in 1882 at the apex of British imperial power. He graduated from Winchester and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1900. After a dozen years of adventurous, active service as a gunner on the fabled North-West Frontier of the British Indian Empire, Dowding earned a coveted place at the British Army Staff College, Camberley, and then gained his "wings" as a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) pilot in 1914. During the first year of the Great War, Dowding served in combat as a pilot, and on the staff of the RFC Headquarters in France. Promoted to squadron command, he led both a technical testing squadron back home in England and an operational squadron at the front. In 1936, Dowding was assigned the critical task of reorganizing the Air Defense of Great Britain as the first Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the new RAF Fighter Command.

    Dowding remained at the head of Fighter Command through the first year of World War II. He is widely credited with preventing the dismantling of British air defenses during the Battle of France in the spring of 1940, defying pressure from the British Army, Britain's French allies, and His Majesty's Government to send the bulk of the RAF's frontline fighters to the Continent in what Dowding predicted would be a futile effort to stem the German onslaught. While holding back as many of his best fighter aircraft as he could, in June Dowding deployed 11 Group, under his hand-picked lieutenant, Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, to repulse the Luftwaffe over Dunkirk, covering the evacuation of some 338,000 British and French troops from the Continent.

    As the Luftwaffe began gradually building up to an all-out air offensive against Great Britain, Dowding marshaled his outnumbered command with skill and caution, accurately assessing the enemy's available strategic options. During the ensuing three months of fighting known as the Battle of Britain the integrated air defense system organized and trained by Dowding, guided by his operational concepts, fought the vaunted Luftwaffe to a standstill in daylight air-to-air combat. In October, the Germans abandoned their attempt to win a "decisive battle" for air superiority over England, turning instead to the protracted campaign of attrition by nighttime area bombing known as the Blitz. The historical significance of Dowding's life and military career rests primarily on two elements. First, as the original AOC-in-Chief, RAF Fighter Command, he directed the initial planning, organization, training, and equipment of the world's first truly integrated air defense system. Second, he directed the operations of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, the first sustained engagement between independent air forces in military history, and one of the campaigns whose outcomes turned the course of World War II. Dowding was thus not only one of the master builders of air power, but also the only Airman to have been the winning commander in one of history's decisive battles.


    Source (cheaper at The Book Depository):
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Air-Office...=Air+Officer+Commanding&qid=1568655250&sr=8-1
     

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