Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader is one of the most famous pilots of the Second World War- he is credited with 20 aerial victories,6 probable victories, 4 shared victories and eleven enemy aircraft damaged.
Douglas joined the RAF in 1928 - during 1931 whilst attempting aerobatics he crashed his aircraft and lost both legs. Having been on the brink of death. Douglas recovered and still retained his determination and love of flying. He then re-took his flight training and passed his Check Flights. He was then retired from the RAF on medical grounds.
When the Second World War started - Bader re-joined the RAF and was quickly accepted as a pilot officer. He was active in the Dunkirk Evacuations, providing air cover and the Battle of France. He inflicted heavy losses to the attacking German Formations during the Battle of Britain.
Douglas was a friend and supporter of Air Vice-Marshall Trafford Leigh-Mallory and his Big Wing attack formation theory.
In August 1941 Bader was shot down over German occupied France and was captured by the German soldiers.Douglas always maintained he was well treated by the Germans in captivity.At this time Douglas met the German Air Ace General Adolf Galland of the German Airforce,(The Luftwaffe) he and Bader were to remain friends for over 40 years. It was General Galland who made contact with the RAF and asked for an artificial leg to be dropped for Douglas. His original artificial leg was damaged in the aircraft when he parachuted out of the plane.
This was duly done and the RAF dropped another leg for Douglas with a Good Luck Note Attached.
After many failed escape attempts which annoyed the German Authorities- Douglas was sent to Colditz Castle (POW Prison) and he stayed here in captivity untill the end of the war. He was liberated by the First United States Army in April 1945.
After the war Douglas worked for the Shell Oil Company and was Chairman of the Shell Aircraft Ltd.
He also campaigned for the disabled - better education,better benefits and welfare and job opportunities for people with a disability.
His work for the disabled was recognised by the government and Douglas was Knighted in 1976.
He continued to fly untill 1979 - when he had to stop because of poor health. Douglas died on the 5th September 1982 after an heart attack.
A service was held at St Clements Danes Church, The Strand London. (Royal Air Force Church)
The funeral was attended by Adolf Galland.(Formerly:German Luftwaffe)
'Douglas Bader was a man who will always be loved and remembered by the British Public because of his heroism during the Second World War...he was a brave and bold fighter pilot who defended his Country...'
AND ON THAT NOTE..Sir Douglas Bader can proudly walk through the gates..to eternity.
Book:Reach For The Sky By Paul Brickhill
Made into a Film and is available on DVD.
Knight Batchelor Commander of the Order of the British Empire.Distinguished Service Order and Bar. Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar. Mentioned in Dispatches.
Service Rank : Group Captain.
Service Number: 26151.
Frederick Roberts Bader