Tuesday, 23 April 2013

What's the emperor wearing?

In life, truth is most often self evident but an unfortunate aspect of human behaviour that is frequently manifest in diverse cultures throughout history, is the denial of that which is obvious, to service an agenda in conflict with truth. That's something that you should tell your kids now if you haven't already done so because it'll save them a lot of confusion, consternation and grief, it will arm them with the ability to confront the appalling deceit so frequently manifest in the media and public life. Once armed with the knowledge imparted by this axiom the destruction inflicted by catastrophes such as The Great War and the EU single currency as well as the equivocation and deceit that surround issues like Global Warming are much more easily reconciled by the rational mind. Even so, making a stand for truth in this circumstance, however obvious it may be, will not be easy, not one tiny bit, so it's difficult to justify saying that making such a stand is morally requisite in the light of the knowledge that doing so can seriously impair your own well being. There are certain circumstances though, where such a stance will be necessary because the price for acquiescence will just be too high.

Air Chief Marshal Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding GCB, GCVO, CMG

So who's Hugh Dowding and how does the first paragraph relate to him? In case you didn't know, Dowding's the man who saved the world, there's more than a remote chance that, without his efforts, we'd be banging rocks together today, as far as Europe is concerned anyway. Dowding was the Air Chief Marshal tasked with the responsibly for fighter command during the crucial period of the Battle of Britain. His career seems to be marked by confrontation with his superiors and opposing interests, even so his rare administrative competence saw his retirement deferred. Dowding had to contend to with a great many idiots in British military and political life, during The Battle of France he fought against those who wanted to deplete Britain's fighter force in France in response to French pressure, even though the French were already evacuating many of their own aircraft to north africa at the time.

During the Battle of Britain the German airforce's main tactical advantage lay in the fact that their fighter force were approaching at altitude, giving them a considerable advantage in aerial combat. Dowding recognised this and and organised staggered assaults on the German bombers, so the German fighters would need to lose altitude to engage the first assault, this would negate the altitude advantage over subsequent assaults. This tactic was in direct opposition to the prevalent doctrine, which required mass assaults. This was fostered by losses during the battle of France, the Hurricane aircraft performed much better than is generally appreciated but suffered when heavily outnumbered by the opposing me109's

It seems he was also instrumental in the modification of the Hawker Hurricane, which suffered a serious design flaw in regard to its internal reserve fuel tank. He insisted that this Fuel tank, which lay aft of the engine firewall, separated only by the instrument panel from the pilot, should be protected by a fire resistant material. This incident says much about his attention to detail and his awareness of the battlefield, an awareness that was so often lacking amongst contemporaries.

Of course this state of affairs was never going to last, someone competent in charge and Dowding was soon replaced after it seems he fell foul of unrealistic demands to stem the German night time bombing campaign.


  1. Another interesting post. By the way, what is the emperor wearing?

    1. He's attired in the most exquisite robe, made from a gossamer fabric, spun from the silk of dew laden spider webs, collected at dawn from mulberry trees growing on the slopes of Mt. Everest...

      ...honest, he is.

  2. A very interesting and different post. The further I travel through life the more aghast I am at the people I find in charge - both in politics and business - to me life's great mystery is not only how they got there, but how they manage to cling on to power. I think you have to have a certain combination of cunning and stupidity to succeed. Blind arrogance helps too! I have never heard of Hugh Dowding before - its a pity people who should enjoy recognition get so little sometimes.

    By the way I just love your description of the emperors' clothes in your last reply - I'd like to use it somewhere!

    1. Yeah, I know what you mean Sharon, I think if we ever solved the mystery of how these folk rise to the top the world be transformed into a lot saner place and please feel free to use the emperor's cloths thing in whatever context you see fit, I'm glad you enjoyed it.