Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Commander in Chief of Headquarters Fighter Command

The One: Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding

As Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, ACM Dowding’s leadership was critical to victory during the Battle of Britain.

Dowding was a determined leader, which brought him into conflict with peers and superiors. He strongly argued that Fighter Command’s role was to protect Britain, and he challenged the use of the RAF’s valuable resources to protect France, famously writing to the Air Ministry in May 1940:

“If the Home Defence Force is drained away in desperate attempts to remedy the situation in France, defeat in France will involve the final, complete and irremediable defeat of this country.”

During the 1930s in preparation for war, Dowding oversaw two developments which would become vital to victory during the Battle of Britain. He supported the development of fast fighter aircraft – the Spitfire and Hurricane – and provided funding for the first experimental radar (then known as RDF) stations on the coast.

At RAF Bentley Priory, ACM Dowding oversaw the development and implementation of the world’s first integrated system of air defence, which became known as ‘The Dowding System’.

Dowding’s Office has been brought to life at the Museum, through an Award winning 10 minute audio visual film, ‘The One Behind The Few’.