Dowding, Sir Hugh Caswell Tremenheere “Stuffy”, born on 24-11-1882 in Moffat, Scotland, the son of a preparatory schoolmaster and born into what could be called a Victorian middle class family. He received his early education at St. Ninian’s Boys Preparatory School in Moffat which his father, Arthur Dowding, had been instrumental in founding.
In 1897 the Dowding family moved to England and at the age of 15 Hugh Dowding entered Winchester College where he continued his education.He gained his Aviator’s Certificate on 19-12-1913 in a Vickers biplane at the Vickers School, Brooklands. In his youth Dowding was an accomplished skier, winner of the first ever National Slalom Championship. In August 1914, he joined the Royal Flying Corps as a pilot on No. 7 Squadron. Dowding was sent to France and in 1915 was promoted to commander of No. 16 Squadron. After the Battle of the Somme. The commander of the RFC, ordered that the rest pilots exhausted by non-stop duty, needed a break. Hugh Dowding (right) with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Bentley Priory As a result Dowding was sent back to Britain and, although promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, saw no more active service during the First World War. He was promoted to Air Chief Marshal in 1937 and commander of the RAF. Due to retire in June 1939, Dowding was asked to stay on until March 1940 because of the tense international situation. He was again grudgingly permitted to continue, first until July and finally until October 1940. Thus he fought the Battle of Britain under the shadow of retirement. In 1940, Dowding, nicknamed “Stuffy” by his men, proved unwilling to sacrifice aircraft and pilots in the attempt to aid Allied troops during the Battle of France. Because of his brilliant detailed preparation of Britain’s air defenses for the German assault, and his prudent management of his resources during the battle, Dowding is today generally given the credit for Britain’s victory in the Battle of Britain. The new Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Charles Portal removed Dowding from his post in November 1940 and replaced him. Portal died age 77, on 22-04-1971. In the 1969 film of the Battle of Britain, (see Bomber Harris) Dowding was played by legendary actor Lawrence Olivier. Olivier had himself served as a pilot in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm during World War II.
Death and burial ground of Dowding, Sir Hugh Caswell Tremenheere “Stuffy”.
“A difficult man, a self-opinionated man, a most determined man, and a man who knew more than anybody about all aspects of aerial warfare.” Lord Dowding died at his home in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on 15-02-1970, at the old age of 87. He was cremated and buried in the RAF Chapel behind the Westminster Abbey, in London.