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Hugh & Muriel Dowding

The ashes of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding of Bentley Priory, GCB, GCVO, CMG, are buried in the Royal Air Force chapel, at the east end of Henry VII's chapel at Westminster Abbey. He was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of RAF Fighter Command at the time of the Battle of Britain in 1940. Both by his foresight in building up Fighter Command between the two world wars and by his strategy and firmness during the Battle he was responsible more than any one man for the successful defence of Great Britain in 1940. The inscription on his gravestone reads:

"DOWDING AIR CHIEF MARSHAL 1882-1970 HE LED THE FEW IN THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN"

His name also appears below the Battle of Britain memorial window in this chapel, together with the names of five other wartime leaders of the RAF (Douglas, Harris, Newall, Portal and Tedder). Hugh Trenchard, "Father" of the RAF is buried in the same chapel.

Dowding was born at Moffat in Scotland on 24th April 1882, a son of Arthur Dowding and his wife Maud Caroline (Tremenheere). He was educated in Moffat and at Winchester College. Commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery he served in various countries overseas including India. He learnt to fly in 1913 and was a member of the Royal Flying Corps during the 1914-18 war. In 1918 he married Clarice Vancourt, a widow, who died suddenly in 1920 leaving a son Derek (who became a Wing Commander). Dowding died on 15th February 1970.  His memorial service, with burial of ashes, took place on 12th March. His son, 2nd Lord Dowding, later unveiled the stone.

His second wife was Muriel Whiting whom he married in 1951 and her ashes were buried with him in 1993.

Battle of Britain Roll of Honour

The Battle of Britain illuminated Roll of Honour containing the names of those from all RAF commands who died during the period of the Battle - July 10th to October 31st 1940 - is displayed in a showcase in the RAF chapel. A thanksgiving service to remember all those who fought in the Battle has been held annually in September at the Abbey since 1944.

A memorial to RAF Coastal Command is in the south cloister of the Abbey. A separate roll of honour for this command can be found in the nave of the Abbey.

See also RAF chapel and Battle of Britain window, with key to badges in the window.

A service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the RAF will be held in the Abbey on 10th July 2018.

Further information

A statue to Lord Dowding stands outside St Clement Danes church in the Strand in London (the RAF church).

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

www.bentleypriorymuseum.org.uk (Dowding's base of operations). This also houses the Battle of Britain lace panel.

'Men of the Battle of Britain.A biographical directory of "The Few"' by Kenneth Wynn (1999)

Names of all British and Commonwealth service personnel who died 1939-45 can be searched at www.cwgc.org

A memorial to Battle of Britain pilots is on the Thames Embankment in London.

A memorial to Bomber Command is in Green Park in London.

A general book of remembrance can be found at www.theonlinebookcompany.com

DVDs and book: "The Voices of the Battle of Britain"

Order of Service for the Unveiling and Dedication of The Battle of Britain Chapel (PDF, 635KB)

Order of Service for the Memorial and Burial of Air Chief Marshal The Lord Dowding (PDF, 408KB)

Born

24th April 1882

Died

15th February 1970

Field

Airman

Location

Lady Chapel

Memorial Type

Stone

Hugh & Muriel Dowding
Hugh Dowding grave

© The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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You are surrounded by history at the Abbey, not like a museum where it’s just displayed, but here you are standing where history has happened.

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