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For a hundred years the Royal Air Force has been at the forefront of the UK's defences. In the 1920s and 1930s, the RAF protected Britain's empire; during the Second World War it played a key role in defeating the Axis; and through the 1950s and 1960s it was a key part of Britain's nuclear deterrent.Learn More
For 100 years the Royal Air Force s courage, perseverance and innovation have secured freedom, survival and safety for the many - at home and abroad. Since its infancy, the RAF has demonstrated the power behind its original mission: to embody an agile, adaptable, capable air force. 2018 marks our chance to inspire a new generation and look back at the stories of courage and sacrifice to mark the 100th anniversary.
Hugh Dowding was born in 1882 at the apex of British imperial power. He graduated from Winchester and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1900. After a dozen years of adventurous, active service as a gunner on the fabled North-West Frontier of the British Indian Empire, Dowding earned a coveted place at the British Army Staff College, Camberley, and then gained his “wings” as a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) pilot in 1914. During the first year of the Great War, Dowding served in combat as a pilot, and on the staff of the RFC Headquarters in France. Promoted to squadron command, he led both a technical testing squadron back home in England and an operational squadron at the front. In 1936, Dowding was assigned the critical task of reorganizing the Air Defense of Great Britain as the first Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the new RAF Fighter Command.