Hermann Göring

Goering took personal charge of the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. He issued the orders. It was his instructions which the officers commanding the air fleets took. Goering ran the Battle through a series of personal conferences carried out by his air fleet commanders. These conferences took place at various locations. The first devoted to discussing tactics, was held in The Hague. Subsequently, the meetings usually took place at Carinhall, his huge hunting lodge south of Berlin. But, because Goering enjoyed maintaining personal contact with the pilots who were doing the fighting, he used a magnificently appointed special train which moved about the French railway network in northern France during the Battle. Goering was in a sense “one of the boys”, amongst the pilots, at least he liked to think that he was.

As the Battle progressed it was Goering who laid down the tactics which were to be followed. He became irritated and frustrated at the failure of “his” Luftwaffe to deliver the goods. The problem was that for all his enthusiasm he didn’t really understand the tactics of modern air warfare. He couldn’t grasp how Fighter Command operated. He underestimated the significance of radar. The result was a growing lack of trust between the Higher Command and the pilots who were doing the fighting. Matters came to a head when Goering himself accused his aircrews, not just of a lack of dash, but of cowardice. This reached a dangerous point during a personal confrontation when, in answer to Goering’s question of what did the pilots want in order to improve their performance, Adolf Galland answered, a squadron of Spitfires.