Dowding arrives at Bentley Priory

Peter Wykeham:

True to character from the first, Dowding arrived at the gate sharp at none o'clock in the morning. Equally true to character, he was both unexpected and unaccompanied, and the guard only let him in after that solemn inspection of a pass that goes by the name of Security. No staff had yet arrived, and there was only a holding party under the command of the Camp Commandant, but as he was away for the day on business, the honours were done by Sergeant Cornthwaite, the N.C.O. in charge of the Orderly Room. Cornthwaite was not the sort of man to get flustered over a sudden visitation of this kind, but he was relieved to learn that the lack of a formal meeting suited Dowding perfectly, and that the Air Marshall would be content to look quietly around the premises under his guidance. Together they explored the Priory and grounds. When the tour was over, the new Commander-in-Chief selected a room looking south that contained some office furniture, and told Cornthwaite to put his name on the door.


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