David Stubbs


This paper seeks to explain the limited options available to Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory when planning the Royal Air Force (RAF) portion of the combined operation raid on Dieppe in 1942. It proposes that a number of constraining influences, some self-imposed, reduced the air support options, so that only an air umbrella over the attacking forces could be provided. It argues that these influences were a consequence of the RAF’s cultural and conceptual environment, which perpetuated Trenchardian notions of offensive spirit in RAF doctrine, together with the refusal to consider options to extend the range of its fighter aircraft. The paper rejects claims that the RAF’s effort at Dieppe was the natural evolution of combined operations doctrine and demonstrates that preemptive bombing of Dieppe was politically unacceptable.