Lord Dowding and Battle of Britain 75th anniversary

Commemorative Service:
Air Marshall Lord Dowding and 75th anniversary of The Battle of Britain
Sunday 6 September 2015, 2.25pm (1425)
Station Park Moffat

The Model of a Spitfire at Moffat

September 2015 sees the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and Moffat will commemorate its son who was responsible for the winning of that battle.

As Air Chief Marshall, Hugh Dowding was responsible for anticipating and preparing for what became The Battle of Britain. Meticulous in his preparation, he developed a workable chain of command, backed the development of radar, replaced outdated bi-planes with Hurricanes and Spitfires, and then prudently managed his resources during the Battle of Britain, having refused to sacrifice them to the battle for France when he regarded that as already lost.

The Dowding memorial ( Main Photo)was unveiled in 1972, 2 years after his death, and each year since a service has been held commemorating Dowding and marking the anniversary of victory in the Battle of Britain.

This year, the 75th anniversary service will be attended by the HRH Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, a grandson of George V and cousin to the Queen. Also present will be Hugh Dowding’s grandson, Piers, the 3rd Baron Dowding.

Weather permitting, there will be a flypast by a Hurricane and Spitfire of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Councillor Ted Thompson, Depute Leader and Civic Head of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “All of us in the United Kingdom owe gratitude to Hugh Dowding. In the 1930s, as Air Chief Marshall, Hugh Dowding was responsible for modernising Britain’s air defences, encouraging research into radar and setting up a warning network. As a result of his work, when the Nazis launched their attack against Britain in 1940, the RAF was able to fight the invaders and win the Battle of Britain and free us from the threat of invasion. The Dowding memorial and the annual service in the town of his birth keep his memory alive, reminding us of the debt of gratitude that we all owe to a son of Moffat. We also give thanks to the late Irene Park and the committee members who worked tirelessly to establish a permanent memorial to Hugh Dowding and have organised an annual service since its dedication in 1972.”

Background Information:

Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding, born Moffat 1882, died Kent 1970, buried in Westminster Abbey.

His father, Arthur, opened a preparatory school for boys (St Ninian’s) in Moffat in 1879.

Educated at Winchester and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, Dowding joined the Army, then trained as a pilot, and joined the Royal Flying Corps.

Dowding married in 1918 but his wife died in 1920, leaving him with an infant son, Derek, who became a WW2 fighter pilot.

Dowding was appointed head of Fighter Command in 1936. He reorganised Britain’s defence systems, established a workable chain of command, and formed an air warning network.

Reserved, aloof and lacking any sense of humour, Dowding earned himself the nickname ‘Stuffy’. However, he was known for his humility and sincerity and he cared greatly for the men under his command.

Due to Dowding’s foresight, immaculately detailed preparation for the Luftwaffe’s assault on Britain, early advocacy for radar, equipping the RAF with monoplane fighter planes, such as the Hurricane and Spitfire, and prudent managing of his resources during the Battle of Britain, Dowding deserved the credit for the victory. However, his defensive strategy made him unpopular in some quarters and, in November 1940, he was replaced as head of Fighter Command by Sholto Douglas, who favoured alternative tactics known as ‘Big Wing’. In July 1942, Dowding retired at his own request.

He was appointed CB (1928), KCB (1933), GCVO (1937), and GCB (1940). A barony was conferred on him in 1943. At his memorial service, he was described as ‘The Architect of Deliverance’.

Dowding’s professional conservatism contrasted sharply with some of his personal beliefs, which included a belief in fairies, adherence to vegetarianism, opposition to vivisection, and spiritualism, including communication with the dead and reincarnation. He spoke of meeting dead pilots in his sleep, who flew planes from mountain-top runways made of light. Dowding remarried in 1951, having been recommended to invite his future bride to lunch by her killed in action pilot husband whom he had contacted through a medium.

Order of Service

Sunday 6 September 2015, 2.25pm (1425) – guests to be seated by 1.45pm (1345)
Station Park Moffat

Music: Dumfries Town Band

Welcome: Councillor Ted Thompson, Depute Leader and Civic Head of the Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council

Flypast (weather permitting): Hurricane and Spitfire of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Coningsby

Service: Reverend Adam Dillon

Hymn: Almighty Father of the Sky

Prayer: Reverend Adam Dillon

Tribute: Air Vice Marshall Gary Waterfall

Psalm 121: Moffat Community Choir

Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding GCB GCVO CMG (radio recording from 1946)

Dowding Salute: composed by Gavin Simpson, former pupil of Moffat Academy

Wreath Laying

Benediction: Reverend Adam Dillon

National Anthem

Retiring Collection: in aid of the Royal Air Force Association

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