Post Battle of Britain

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Drew5233, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    After reading Forgotten Voices of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain (A excellent read) what happened between Sir Hugh 'Scruffy' Dowding Kieth Park and Trafford Leigh-Mallory?

    Was it all to do with Leigh-Mallory's theory on the 'Big Wing' or something else.

    It seems to me that Dowding saved the day in 1940 and got a bit of a raw deal as a result- I just don't get why though.

    Cheers for your thoughts
    Andy
     
  2. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    It was 'Stuffy', Drew and not Scruffy.

    Don't have time to reply, mate. Got to go to work.
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Gage,

    I did know that and I'm putting it down to a typo at 0130hrs due to Miss Diane keeping me up :)
     
  4. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    It basically came down to tactics and the way the Air Ministry saw Dowding as he was due for retirement.
    The RAF had limited time to get fighters to intercept the Luftwaffe over the South-East of England. The controllers had to try and get the RAF fighters in a good up sun position with plenty of height. Overwise the Me109s would have the advantage. Plus Park didn't want to get involved with 109 free hunts or have his fighters caught on the ground refueling/arming.
    Leigh-Mallory and Bader thought it would be better to attack the Luftwaffe on mass and overwhelm them with a big wing. But a big wing of five or so squadrons takes time to assemble and Luftwaffe could hit their targets and be on their way home before the big wing was even ready.
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I understand the 'Big Wing' theory and already knew about it. But was that all it was?

    From reading the book I just felt that was a factor to something bigger. It seemed like it was a war between Leigh Mallory and Douglas v Parks and Dowding bigger than just their disagreements about 'Big Wing' :unsure:

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I believe Leigh Mallory had a friend in the government who had the ear of Churchill and of course it was easy to plant seeds of discontent for Churchill to hear. Douglas Bader was also very close to Leigh Mallory and the two of them appeared to cause a lot of damage.
    I do not think that anyone can fault Parks running of 11 group as his tactics reduced the loss of British fighters.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Tom,

    I get the links between Bader and Leigh Mallory. Bader was in his group and helped come up with the Big Wing theory. But he was only acting up as a Squadron Leader at the time so I doubt he had that much influence in Leigh Mallory's decision making. (I may be wrong)

    Leigh Mallory does appear to have a senior partner in his 'fight' against Dowding and Parks in the name of Douglas, Sholto (Not to be confused with Bader). So much so when Douglas replaced Dowding as the head of Fighter Command at the end of the BoB Sholto Douglas gave Leigh Mallory, Parks's 11 Group and Parks was sent to a training command and then onto Egypt in 1942 (Get him out of the way perhaps?).

    There seems to be a lot of bitterness there that suggests to me that is was more than disagreements over the Big Wing theory.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  8. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    The main issue was a personality clash that Dowding should have put a stop to.
    There was a meeting at the Air Council room on the 17th October, Leigh-Mallory took Bader to this meeting when no other pilots were involved and Park spent the meeting defending himself and his tactics.

    Without Park and Dowding, Britain could well have lost the Battle of Britain. Park's tactics were proved to be the right ones.
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  9. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Dowding also made enemies in the Air Ministry before the Battle of Britain took place. When he complained about the numbers of Hurricane Squadrons being sent to France, this did not go down well. After a cabinet meeting on 15th May, which he attended, he outlined his concerns in writing as he did not trust the politicians. He was worried about the UK's ability to conduct a defence with a much depleted force and rightly so.

    He also changed the Group commanders in the spring of 1940 and chose his Senior Air Staff Officer, Keith Park to command 11 Group when other expected Leigh-Mallory to get the position. This must have sown the seeds of discontent and what was to come later that year.

    What is disgraceful, is that when the Air Ministry wrote the 32 page history of the Battle of Britain shortly after the battle they omitted any mention of Dowding or Park.

    Finally, war games were carried out by those who were responsible for the disposal of Dowding and Park, using historical data to show the Big Wing theory would have worked. The exercise was a disaster with the umpires declaring that the main sector airfields in 11 Group were destroyed before the Wings had formed up. Despite the results, Leigh-Mallory continued in his role. And the rest is history.
     
    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Finally, war games were carried out by those who were responsible for the disposal of Dowding and Park, using historical data to show the Big Wing theory would have worked. The exercise was a disaster with the umpires declaring that the main sector airfields in 11 Group were destroyed before the Wings had formed up. Despite the results, Leigh-Mallory continued in his role. And the rest is history.

    When were they carried out ?

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  11. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Andy

    What I have read, does not give a specific date, but indicates that it takes place whilst Leigh-Mallory is in charge of 11 Group and before he is appointed to his new role for the invasion of Europe.

    I'd also be interested to find out more specific information.

    Robert
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Robert, I wondered if it was before or after the BoB

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  13. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    The war games were carried out after the BOB.
     
  14. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    IIRC when Mallory was made commander of the Allied EAF before Normandy he tried the same tactics of "running the shop" by trying to control the Strategic Bombing campaign and came into conflict with Arthur Harris and Carl Spaatz. Eisenhower brought pressure to bear and Mallory was forced to resign.
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Spidge,

    Leigh-Mallory diplomatically mentions this in the book I'm reading. Its very suttle and you would have to read between the lines to get any hint of trouble.

    I only suspected it because I'm begining to dislike the bloke :)

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  16. Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart

    Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart Senior Member

    A good book to read concerning the Big Wing is Dilip Sarkur's 'Bader's Duxford Fighters'. The book includes an interview with Douglas Bader by Doctor Alfred Price concerning the 'Big Wing'. Seems there was no great conspiracy, the Wing came about as a result of Bader telling Leigh-Mallory he could kill more Jerries if they had used more aeroplanes. He'd just been in action with his Hurricane Squadron, next time he went up it was as Wing leader with three Squadrons under his command...nowt new there as the Raff had used Wings of three Squadrons over Dunkirk. What was new was for such an inexperienced fighter pilot as 'Tinlegs' to lead it. Squadron Leader Brian Lane of 19 Squadron was a more experieced fighter pilot who'd led Wing shows over the Dunkirk beaches.
    The only real criticism of Douglas Bader was that after the war he got portrayed as the mythical Fighter pilot Hero of the battle, which he certainly wasn't compared to many in 11 Group.
    One of the stories I like best about Bader was just after he'd come from a meeting of Wing leaders shortly after the BofB. He stomped out followed by Sailor Malan and Stanford Tuck, Bader had monopolised the meeting from start to finnish, and put his views across in his usual forthright manner.
    Tucky turned to Sailor and said.
    "Why does he have to be so f***ing stubborn all the time?"
    Sailor replied.
    "If he wasn't so f***ing stubborn he wouldn't be f***ing here would he?"

    :poppy:
     
  17. Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart

    Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart Senior Member

    I only suspected it because I'm begining to dislike the bloke :)

    Cheers
    Andy

    Andy, must admit to feeling the same way about Leigh-Mallory. That was till we met Veterans of 12 Group at an event at Duxford, three of whom flew with 19 Squadron in the summer of 1940. All spoke very highly both of their OC, Trafford Leigh-Mallory and of Douglas Bader. During the day I managed to have a chat with one of the groundcrew, thinking I'd glean the real gen on Bader from him, he told me he was an absolute Gent! One memory he had was of Bader stomping into the hanger, long after midnight with a crate of beer from the Officer's mess, they'd been working round the clock mending his Hurricanes.
     
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    There were many personalities in the RAF, like there was in the other services.

    They were each good at their job and all had their own views on the way things should be handled.

    Some people would call these leaders self opinionated and even Premadonas.
    It was little wonder that there was not more animosity at times.

    One wonders why the overall commander never really put his foot down when others were were sounding alarm bells.

    Having said that the Battle of Britain saved the country from invasion and we have to be thankful to the Few.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  19. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    ...read John Ray's The Battle Of Britain...
     

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