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View Full Version : Was the Appointment of Trafford Leigh Mallory by the RAF a complete mistake?



Xiolablu3
04-28-2008, 02:56 PM
Guys, I have just been reading about how Leigh-Mallory in 1941-42 inisisted on sending RAF fighter planes en-mass to do battle over France regardless of the losses and danger to his pilots.

It seems he just wanted to be aggressive, even if it meant giving up all the advantages of fighting close to your base/home.

My question is this, 'Would it have been better for the RAF war-effort to have kept Dowding/Park in command, or was Leigh Mallory the right person to take the fight to the Germans'?

Remember that Dowding/Park would most likely have been less agressive, not give up their advantages so easily, but would not be putting as much pressure on the Germans either.

So, what would have been the right decision in your eyes?

My opinon is that Leigh-Mallory was forgetting about the important safety of his pilots and pandering to CHurchill, who wanted to attack at all cost to relieve pressure on the Russians. After all air attacks were the only real way for the Western Allies to put pressure on the Germans at that time (1941-42).

IMO Even though Leigh Mallory was 'attacking' he was having only tiny pin-***** effects on the Germans in France, putting his pilots in disadvantagous positions by having them fight over German occupied terriory. Resulting in high losses (We all know the hindrances of fighting over enemy territory, especially when theres a 20 miles stretch of water between them), and the resources would have been better used by Dowding who would put his pilots in the most advantagesous position, not risk them in silly small insignificant 'Rhubarbs'.

I know we have the benefit of hindsight, but what are your thoughts on this interesting subject?

SeaFireLIV
04-28-2008, 04:33 PM
You don`t win wars by defending.

I know Churchill wanted to be proactive and not just sit by as hitler did as he wanted. Even if not much in actuality could be achieved, it was important to harass Hitler, if only for purposes of morale back home.

I believe they created the SAS and the undercover agents for france (forget name), just to give Europeans a reason to hope that all had not been abandoned. The French resistance certainly appreciated Britain`s stubborn harassment.

MB_Avro_UK
04-28-2008, 04:49 PM
Mallory IMHO wasted the lives of RAF fighter pilots because of his worthless 'aggressive' tactics in 1941 over France.

His 'Big Wing' tactics during the BoB from his 12 Group were good 'Publicity Stunts' but not effective.

He was the master of political 'spin'. He also failed to deploy Spitfires to other fronts in favour of home defence even though the threat of invasion had gone.

Yes..the Appointment of Trafford Leigh Mallory was a complete mistake.


Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

foxyboy1964
04-28-2008, 04:58 PM
Originally posted by SeaFireLIV:
I believe they created the SAS and the undercover agents for france (forget name)...

The SAS were formed for duty in North Africa. They were intended to be parachuted behind enemy lines and then picked up by The Long Range Desert Group.

After their first mission went badly wrong it was decided they would travel to targets in the LRDG's transport. And so the SAS we know today was born when both units merged.

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was formed to help the French Resistance, among other things.

arthursmedley
04-28-2008, 05:13 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Mallory IMHO wasted the lives of RAF fighter pilots because of his worthless 'aggressive' tactics in 1941 over France.

His 'Big Wing' tactics during the BoB from his 12 Group were good 'Publicity Stunts' but not effective.

He was the master of political 'spin'. He also failed to deploy Spitfires to other fronts in favour of home defence even though the threat of invasion had gone.

Yes..the Appointment of Trafford Leigh Mallory was a complete mistake."

Agree completely, especially not reinforcing overseas with spitfires.

SeaFireLIV
04-28-2008, 05:29 PM
Originally posted by foxyboy1964:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by SeaFireLIV:
I believe they created the SAS and the undercover agents for france (forget name)...

The SAS were formed for duty in North Africa. They were intended to be parachuted behind enemy lines and then picked up by The Long Range Desert Group.

After their first mission went badly wrong it was decided they would travel to targets in the LRDG's transport. And so the SAS we know today was born when both units merged.

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was formed to help the French Resistance, among other things. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am corrected. thnx.

Beaufort-RAF
04-28-2008, 05:55 PM
Originally posted by foxyboy1964:

The SAS were formed for duty in North Africa. They were intended to be parachuted behind enemy lines and then picked up by The Long Range Desert Group.

After their first mission went badly wrong it was decided they would travel to targets in the LRDG's transport. And so the SAS we know today was born when both units merged.


They didn't merge, they stayed as seperate units and the LRDG operated until the end of the war.

No41Sqn_Banks
04-29-2008, 12:30 AM
The question is: What should RAF have done instead?

I mean the main "air" thread after BoB for Britain were night bombers and fighter bombers. The later could not be intercepted in large scale.

Also one thing that is often forgotten that in 1941 it was not clear that the Russians Army would survive the German attack, it was excpected that they are defeated in a couple of weeks like the French Army. And then the Luftwaffe would have returned to the Channel front.

Gumtree
04-29-2008, 12:54 AM
Dowding, Park and the RAF won the BOB despite the efforts of Mallory.

He was a liability to the allied war effort and the thoughtless waste of RAF lives during the daytime sweeps of Europe were a complete waste of resource.

I believe that once the real threat of invasion was past the RAF would have been better served to send the fighter squadrons to the other fronts like the desert and establish air superiority over the troops on the battle field rather than pin ****** which the Germans could ignore at their leisure.

foxyboy1964
04-29-2008, 01:49 AM
Originally posted by Beaufort-RAF:
They didn't merge, they stayed as seperate units and the LRDG operated until the end of the war.

And now I am corrected too,thnx http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

WOLFMondo
04-29-2008, 03:45 AM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Mallory IMHO wasted the lives of RAF fighter pilots because of his worthless 'aggressive' tactics in 1941 over France.

His 'Big Wing' tactics during the BoB from his 12 Group were good 'Publicity Stunts' but not effective.

He was the master of political 'spin'. He also failed to deploy Spitfires to other fronts in favour of home defence even though the threat of invasion had gone.

Yes..the Appointment of Trafford Leigh Mallory was a complete mistake.


Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Thats pretty much the way I always understood it. His appointment was more political than anything else, and Dowding and Park didn't play politics so they had no chance.

stathem
04-29-2008, 05:05 AM
I think that the appointment of Leigh Mallory was a mistake, but not because of the aggressivness shown - I think there was a need to take the fight across to France and L-M was just following the dictum that the RFC used in the first war of always fighting on the other side. And the huge influx of new pilots to FC certainly needed 'blooding' as it were.

I do think that his mistake was in the way he went about it with the huge formations - he seemed to have not learnt the lessons of the BoB, and gave the initiative of independent action, that Park had used so succesfully in the BoB, to the Luftwaffe. I tend to think that had Dowding and Park still been in charge, then they would have found a better way to use the fighters over France - but what that would be, I don't know.

bolox00
04-29-2008, 06:18 AM
the first thing that strikes me about this premise is what would have happened if LM was sent to Malta? i suspect he would not have done half as well as Park thus rewriting WW11.
so, it may have been a 'mistake', but, with hindsight, turned out for the best.

just my way of looking at things...

The-Pizza-Man
04-30-2008, 06:08 AM
I think people are far too critical of Leigh Mallory. The sweeps over France were not successful and they were expensive in lives and machines, however, a lot of valuable experience was gained from them. He also holds a lot of responsibility for the success of the tactical airforce leading up to and after D-Day. Without, Leigh-Mallory's leadership a lot of the work that was done to destroy the German transportation system prior to the landings may not have been done. Instead more (arguably pointless) strategic bombing would have been conducted.

One must also not view Dowding and Park's actions through rose coloured glasses either. While Dowding played a great part in ensuring that the RAF would be ready to defend against the Luftwaffe he also had his failings as the head of fighter command. He became to focused on 11 group at the detriment of his responsibility to lead all the groups of fighter command and ensure that their resources were utilised as well. As a result more pressure than was necessary was placed on 11 group. Park is also partly to blame for the situation that developed as he did not request or accept assistance from the other groups as readily as he should have.

The point I'm making is that all three commanders had their good points and short comings, but I think Leigh-Mallory is unfairly portrayed as some sort villain who was trying to undermine the RAF from the inside out, when in reality he was far from it.

redfox2184
04-30-2008, 08:00 AM
Dowding and Park were tactically brilliant. Ensuring during BoB that the men and aircraft at their disposal were used in the most effective way possible. Both were deeply concerned in the lives and conditions that their men endured. No serious historian has seriously questioned their conduct before and during the BoB.

Dowding's focus on 11 Group was because that was where the majority of the action took place. The Luftwaffe forced Dowding to focus on 11 Group.

To say that Park did not request or accept assistence from other groups as readily as he should have is a complete distortion of historical fact. He requested assistance when it was tactically necessary and expedient. The fact that it was sometimes witheld by Leigh-Mallory is well documented.

Both Dowding and Park were highly respected by the airman that served under them. That both were cast aside after the BoB was an utter disgrace, and casts another blemish on Churchill's character.

I do not support the fact that Leigh-Mallory was trying to undermine the RAF from within. That's a ridiculous assertion. But he was a political opportunist and his political stand against both Dowding and Park showed the self-serving and vindictive side of his nature.

All this is now historical and is seen in hindsight. But I do believe that by their respective actions during 1940 that Park was a more outstanding tactical leader than Leigh-Mallory, though unfortunately not as politically astute.

Hoenire
04-30-2008, 02:28 PM
Actually Leigh-Mallory was a very good choice. The emphasis had switched from defence to attack, and if they'd gone over in squadron strength they'd have been running home straight away after getting hit by a gruppe of 109s or 190s.

Was he better than Park? Well that's a tough one to answer and we'll never know. Park did a great job on Malta once Malta switched from defence to attack, but the scenario was very differnet.

M_Gunz
04-30-2008, 03:10 PM
Well they also played Harris' tune.

VW-IceFire
04-30-2008, 05:15 PM
I haven't done as much close reading about Leigh Mallory after the Battle of Britain but certainly during the Battle of Britain it was Dowding (or Stuffy) who probably had one of the greatest effects on the battle. Dowding was absolutely calculating and without much outward emotion or, quite unfortunately, political cunning. That was the problem for him really...he wasn't an inspiring character through personality although I think history looks upon him quite favourably after the fact.

Leigh Mallory was much more of a grand stander in comparison to Dowding and so I guess the answer to the question in my mind is that several things have to be weighed.

The relations with the Russians, the need for good public morale, versus increased risk for the RAF squadrons. Mallory loved the "big wing" notion and I don't think it ever was borne out as the big wings took too long to assemble and never really seemed to make a huge difference overall. But I do remember reading how the big wing probably helped at the very end of the major point of the Battle of Britain in September. At this point the Luftwaffe was told that the RAF was near defeat and had few planes left...yet in the skies over London, 12 groups big wing showed up and with multiple squadrons converging on the Luftwaffe the point was clearly driven home that the RAF wasn't as impotent as the Luftwaffe pilots were lead to believe.

I haven't done enough reading on the 1941-1942 period to know if the big wing had a similar effect by diverting resources or forcing the Luftwaffe to hold down gruppes in the west that may have otherwise been sent to the east.

Seems to me that its a complex issue (as most are).

leitmotiv
05-01-2008, 12:57 AM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Mallory IMHO wasted the lives of RAF fighter pilots because of his worthless 'aggressive' tactics in 1941 over France.

His 'Big Wing' tactics during the BoB from his 12 Group were good 'Publicity Stunts' but not effective.

He was the master of political 'spin'. He also failed to deploy Spitfires to other fronts in favour of home defence even though the threat of invasion had gone.

Yes..the Appointment of Trafford Leigh Mallory was a complete mistake.


Best Regards,
MB_Avro.


Agree on all points. Note: at the same time L-M was making a ballocks of Fighter Command operations, the notorious Stevenson, who was AOC of 2 Group Bomber Command (the home-based Blenheim Bomber force), was concurrently throwing away the lives of hapless Blenheim crews in the "Channel Stop" campaign to interdict Axis sea movement in the English Channel. Churchill wanted a "thruster" in charge, and he found one in Stevenson. S and L-M are perfect examples of the uselessness of aggression unseasoned by intelligence.

blakduk
05-01-2008, 01:42 AM
Before we get too carried away about the 'mistake' of appointing Leigh-Mallory the top job of RAF fighters- we have the wisdom of hindsight.
The big-wing idea had been doctrine of the RAF for many years and couldnt be abandoned immediately.
The BOB was never declared finished- it fizzled out over a long period of months as the LW switched to night raids and daylight encounters became more sporadic. The rhetoric of the time was that the RAF had fought a desperate campaign of a 'few' fighters against hoards of German aircraft. The next summer, when the RAF had the ability to field large numbers of fighters they felt they were in a position to put the big wing idea into action.
It failed- but that idea had not been properly tested by the RAF.
Many ideas were tried that seemed like a good idea at the time- unescorted heavy bombers USAAF), strategic area bombing (bomber Harris), intimidating the British from further involvement in a continental war (Luftwaffe).. etc.
LM by many accounts was a pain in the rear- the higher ups didnt care whether he was popular. He sold a strategy that seemed plausible.

M_Gunz
05-01-2008, 02:46 AM
So the defense of invasion of Britain did not end when the German troops waiting to cross
the channel were sent elsewhere? Not even when they were sent to Russia?

blakduk
05-01-2008, 03:47 AM
Originally posted by M_Gunz:
So the defense of invasion of Britain did not end when the German troops waiting to cross
the channel were sent elsewhere? Not even when they were sent to Russia?

I assume you are being facetious, but you are actually correct. The Germans switched tactics to night bombing in the belief this would destroy morale and sway people away from Churchill's drive to continue the war- Britain/Commonwealth was still alone at that time.
The other factor the Germans had initially only moderately supported was the U-Boat campaign. As successes mounted more resources were devoted to the U-boat fleet.
Consider also the stunning successes in the early phases of the German's Eastern campaign and you can see how vulnerable the British felt. It seemed quite possible that the USSR would be defeated.
The issue became less one of surviving an invasion, it became one of surviving blockade.

The-Pizza-Man
05-01-2008, 04:53 AM
Originally posted by redfox2184:
Dowding and Park were tactically ......
.......though unfortunately not as politically astute.

I don't wish to go into great detail, as there is to much to cover. Dowding shouldn't have been so micro-managing 11 group that was Keith Parks job, he should have been ensuring that Leigh-Mallory's and Brand's forces were being used effectively. 12 and 10 group could have done a lot to soften the impact on 11 group and ultimately the blame for that has to lie on Dowdings shoulders. I would suggest doing a bit more reading into the topic, serious histories don't gloss over the short comings of great men.

DmdSeeker
05-02-2008, 04:44 AM
While sympathising with the view that after the BoB the focus was on attack oppertunities, it's worth pointing out that while Liegh Mallory was throwing away spitfires over france, Malta was being defended with a squadron of Hurricanes, Africa was being defended with Gladiators and biplane bombers and Greece was also defended largely by biplanes.

M_Gunz
05-02-2008, 05:04 AM
Just because the war continued doesn't mean the battle was not over.
Once the invasion was a no-go the Battle of Britain was over, despite the Raids.
Call that facetious if you want, you might also want to revise a lot of history books too.

redfox2184
05-02-2008, 07:01 AM
I would suggest doing a bit more reading into the topic,

So The-Pizza-Man is not interested in a discussion, only on his own views.

He has no knowledge of the amount of material I've read on aerial warfare, especially the BoB, but resorted to a personal insult as in the above quote.

It would be too easy for me to reply in a similar vein - But I refuse to drawn to that level.

K_Freddie
05-02-2008, 08:55 AM
Originally posted by SeaFireLIV:
You don`t win wars by defending.


I'm afaid you're completely off the mark here.
By the RAF defending Britain (BoB) England did win the war, by defending the convoys against the UBoats... the Allies won the battle of the atlantic, and won the war..
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

blakduk
05-02-2008, 08:13 PM
Originally posted by M_Gunz:
Just because the war continued doesn't mean the battle was not over.
Once the invasion was a no-go the Battle of Britain was over, despite the Raids.
Call that facetious if you want, you might also want to revise a lot of history books too.
I take your point that the phase of the war known as the Battle of Britain ended- however it did not have a clearly defined end as most battles do. The RAF remained on alert for a considerable period. In fact Operation Sealion was never officially cancelled- even as last as Feb 1944 the German high command ordered that perparation should be 'temporarily discontinued' (Bungay, 2001). Even after D-day resources for Sealion were 'redeployed'- those guys couldnt seem to let go of the imperative to attack http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/53.gif.
The point i was trying to make was that Leigh-Mallory was part of the club that wanted to return fire to the Germans and Churchill was looking for that sort of aggression.
Fighter command as an organisation felt that urge as well- losses were occuring in the Navy, merchant Navy, Army, and Bomber command. Many pilots felt guilt that they were not 'doing their bit' and were keen to strike back. There was a lot of pressure on those guys to be seen to be doing something- they were well fed, well resourced and comfortably housed whilst those around them took a hammering.
Those does not endorse the strategy, but helps explain where it was generated. Commanders like Leigh-Mallory, with support from BOB heroes like Douglas Bader, supported the doctrine of 'leaning into Europe' for too long, incurring too many losses for too little benefit.
Armchair generals vilifying them with the all the facts laid bare (which they could not know at the time) is a bit unfair.

MB_Avro_UK
05-02-2008, 08:36 PM
Originally posted by blakduk:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by M_Gunz:
Just because the war continued doesn't mean the battle was not over.
Once the invasion was a no-go the Battle of Britain was over, despite the Raids.
Call that facetious if you want, you might also want to revise a lot of history books too.
I take your point that the phase of the war known as the Battle of Britain ended- however it did not have a clearly defined end as most battles do. The RAF remained on alert for a considerable period. In fact Operation Sealion was never officially cancelled- even as last as Feb 1944 the German high command ordered that perparation should be 'temporarily discontinued' (Bungay, 2001). Even after D-day resources for Sealion were 'redeployed'- those guys couldnt seem to let go of the imperative to attack http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/53.gif.
The point i was trying to make was that Leigh-Mallory was part of the club that wanted to return fire to the Germans and Churchill was looking for that sort of aggression.
Fighter command as an organisation felt that urge as well- losses were occuring in the Navy, merchant Navy, Army, and Bomber command. Many pilots felt guilt that they were not 'doing their bit' and were keen to strike back. There was a lot of pressure on those guys to be seen to be doing something- they were well fed, well resourced and comfortably housed whilst those around them took a hammering.
Those does not endorse the strategy, but helps explain where it was generated. Commanders like Leigh-Mallory, with support from BOB heroes like Douglas Bader, supported the doctrine of 'leaning into Europe' for too long, incurring too many losses for too little benefit.
Armchair generals vilifying them with the all the facts laid bare (which they could not know at the time) is a bit unfair. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Good point http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

But LM should have seen that there were no tangible results from his tactics and held back.

Yes, of course RAF fighter pilots would have wanted to fight the enemy, but LM should have seen the bigger picture as a Leader and realised the waste that was hitting Fighter Command.

He probably realised that his tactics were wasteful but was only concerned with seeking favour with Churchill.

'Lions Led by a DONKEY' springs to mind.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Kurfurst__
05-03-2008, 03:10 AM
Originally posted by M_Gunz:
Just because the war continued doesn't mean the battle was not over.
Once the invasion was a no-go the Battle of Britain was over, despite the Raids.

... which would mean the 'Battle of Britain' ended before it even started, considering the lack of German interest, or effort to launch an invasion (in 1940). The Germans begun air preparations in mid-August; they already considered delaying an invasion till 1941, and go against Russia, in view of political developments in the East (Rumania, tensions in the Russo-German relations Russian expansionist policy etc.).

The so-called Battle was simply a tool of applying political pressure on Britain to come to their minds and terms with Germany, first with the threat of half-heartedly prepeared invasion, then with the raids on industry and city centres that lasted from September 1940 until May 1941.

But we are straying off topic.

Aaron_GT
05-03-2008, 03:21 AM
Churchill wanted a "thruster" in charge, and he found one in Stevenson. S and L-M are perfect examples of the uselessness of aggression unseasoned by intelligence.

Not untypical of Churchill, sadly.

M_Gunz
05-03-2008, 05:00 AM
Originally posted by blakduk:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by M_Gunz:
Just because the war continued doesn't mean the battle was not over.
Once the invasion was a no-go the Battle of Britain was over, despite the Raids.
Call that facetious if you want, you might also want to revise a lot of history books too.
I take your point that the phase of the war known as the Battle of Britain ended- </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Pretty much as you say.

With "Bomber" Harris having his way, would not having the RAF sweeps have had any effect on the
number of Lancasters shot down?

Stalin dearly wanted Britian and the US to attack the Germans in Europe, to invade really, to
take any pressure off Russia. To that end perhaps tying up LW in the West did help Russia.

x6BL_Brando
05-03-2008, 05:48 AM
Trafford Leigh-Mallory was a career airman of the most negative kind who's thinking was tainted by the Big Wing mentality of the First World War. His self-interest is highlighted by the way in which he sought to cast Park's tactics into doubt at the Air Marshals' conference after the daylight Battle of Britain had petered out. His use of (then) Squadron Leader Douglas Bader as a 'witness' at this event was typical of his deviousness and self-seeking attitude, using Bader's undoubted enthusiasm to get 'into the action' as a lever to oust both Dowding and Park into the weeds. It should be recalled that Bader had left the Service in 1931 and only been recalled in 1939, and had only served 8 months in an active wartime role. Neither had he any experience of 11 Group's terrific struggle against truly overwhelming odds.

In fact 12 Group's contributions under L-M's leadership were pretty sketchy, with some major incidents where they did not meet the needs of the moment at all. A petulant letter from 12 Group HQ, complaining that an 11 Group airman had followed a crippled German bomber - while shooting at it! - and crossed in 12 Group territory where it crashed, is typical of the atmosphere of the time.

The idea that Dowding had favoured 11 Group or "micro-managed" Park's command is fairly ludicrous and plays straight into L-M's telling of the tale as he saw it. The British should always be thankful that Dowding was so forceful in his reorganisation of the pre-war RAF, and that he had the foresight to select Park to run the front-line force. The consequences of L-M running 11 Group during this phase of the war do not bear thinking about.

B

Aaron_GT
05-03-2008, 06:17 AM
Stalin dearly wanted Britian and the US to attack the Germans in Europe, to invade really, to
take any pressure off Russia. To that end perhaps tying up LW in the West did help Russia.

There was definitely a political requirement to be seen as doing something, but this didn't really appear in earnest until mid 1942. In early 1941 the USSR wasn't an ally, and until the failure of the German spring offensive in 1942 it wasn't really clear that the USSR would even survive, so there wasn't much political pressure at the time.

It's arguable how effective Rodeos and Rhubarbs were compared to Rangers (night intruder missions) which picked off a fair few of the night bombers attacking Britain at the time for very little loss.

Attacks against well defined targets (e.g. U-boat pens, factories in France producing for the German war effort, etc) are another matter, and raids in force against those is more defensible.

But I can see how one might assume from a psychological point of view requiring LW units be on some low level of alert would be seen as causing strain on the LW, but the level of defence required by the LW would more logically be set by the level of attacks on important targets noted above.

jensenpark
05-03-2008, 10:26 PM
Lots of good points raised here - always the best part of this forum.

I always view this (the Leigh-Mallory vs Park) as another politcal decision made to the detriment of the war effort.

Unfortunately it was incredibly common all through the war on the allied side.

Fortunately, on the Axis side we saw an equal or greater amount of (incompetent) meddling.

Often wonder if policital meddling simply makes for bad war efforts or if political meddling is just as much a part of war as is bungling by General and other senior officers.

Is is a cause or a symptom?

leitmotiv
05-03-2008, 11:18 PM
Leigh-Mallory was, his-career-wise, the right man at the right time. Churchill did not like the peculiar (took part in seances to communicate with the dead with noted London mystics), stuffy ("Stuffy" was his service name), but brilliant Dowding. You either intimidated Churchill, like the rock-hard, obscenity-spouting, formidable Cunningham, or you became his buddy like Harris, or you became his lackey like Pound. Dowding could do none of these things and was bunged. Leigh-Mallory used Bader to tear away at Dowding's reputation to higher ups---a rather bizarre case of insubordination. The Big Wing idea was militarily perfect thinking---mass and concentration trumps attacking in small waves any day. Unfortunately, in the Battle, the Big Wing was a ponderous instrument, like Prussian lines vs French columns at Jena in 1806. The one time a Big Wing arrived just at the right time on Sept 15 over London the result was devastating with German bomber formations breaking and fleeing all over Kent. The Germans preferred to use massed formations to smash AAF bomber formations. In their case, they had the space and time over the continent in which to concentrate, deploy, and intercept the bombers well before the bombers reached the target. L-M's Big Wing idea was fine, but it ignored the space/time limitations of using them over a tiny island nation. As for the "Fighter Offensive," the fatal assumption was that the Germans would obligingly come up and allow themselves to be annihilated by the massed RAF formations. The cunning huns, of course, declined, and they used guerilla tactics against the British relaying on surprise and hit-and-run tactics.

blakduk
05-03-2008, 11:27 PM
Regarding the point of Churchill disliking Dowding- it seems Churchill was quite upset that Dowding was dumped in November 1940. When Dowding announced to him that he was retiring during the following year Churchill refused his request. Dowding was eventually able to retire in July 1942. Common knowledge of Dowding belief in mysticism only seems to have come about after his retirement when he made a speech to pilots who fought in the BOB when he spoke of his discussions with the dead- most in the room apparently thought he'd lost his mind. I also think Churchill was not in a position to judge others by their peculiar behaviour....
As a point of interest, Leigh-Mallory was also interested in Spiritualism and the occult. Particularly after WW1, no doubt as a consequence of the horrific slaughter of a significant number of that generation of men for which traditional religion seemed to have little explanation, Spiritualism became very popular.
The manouvering of Dowding away from his position seems to have been the work of others, Leigh-Mallory among them.
Despite his failings, and they were many, he wasn't a total disaster. He coordinated the air strategy for D-day against some very strong personalities, including Harris and Spaatz, which worked very effectively. Prior to WW2 he'd worked closely on the concept of cooperation between ground and air forces, thus he was well equipped for those challenges.

Because Leigh-Mallory died in the war he was never able to give a clear account of his version of events.

leitmotiv
05-04-2008, 12:30 AM
Dowding hung out with one of Sir David Beatty's coterie (I read his autobiography) who was a well-known mystic and their activities were well-known in the little world of the English upper class. I don't know where you are getting your information, but Churchill and Dowding clashed from May 1940---right after Churchill became PM on the 10th. Their first clash was over a massive reinforcement of Hurricanes for the squadrons in France for which the French were begging and which Churchill was willing to do, but Dowding resisted strenuously, and was able to reduce the commitment. As for Churchill regretting Dowding being replaced---who in heaven's name do you think sacked him? Dowding was supposed to retire in 1940, and his tenure had been extended earlier in the year. As for Churchillian regret, his crocodile tears were famous. Dowding and Park were both sacked at the same time because L-M and Bader had convinced Churchill they had mismanaged the Battle by employing incorrect tactics. The story will be found in any non-comic book history of the Battle.

blakduk
05-04-2008, 01:29 AM
You're correct that Dowding and Churchill clashed in May 1940 over the reinforcements requested by France- however that didnt mean an end to their respect for one another. Churchill later admitted it would have been a mistake to send more fighters to the continent after it was realised how disorganised and disheartened the French forces were.
As for who sacked Dowding- it was not Churchill, it was Sinclair. Sinclair was a good friend of Churchill so when Dowding later confronted Churchill and demanded he be allowed to retire because he 'neither liked nor trusted Sinclair', Churchill was aghast (Bungay, 2001).
The hiring and firing of personnel such as Park and Dowding was not Churchill's job- though he often tried to exert undue influence over such matters.

M_Gunz
05-04-2008, 09:52 AM
So did the Big Wing finally getting together and working have the effect of causing the Germans
to cease the big push they had going or not? Old views would have it that the Big Wing tactic
did convince the Germans to end the huge raids, IIRC.