My Memory Of Sir Douglas Bader

In the mid 70s, Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader visited the senior school my brother was educated at to give an informal talk on his exploits as a WW2 fighter pilot. The deputy head at that time was a WW2 veteran, and although I didn’t know it at the time of Sir Bader’s visit, when I reached the age to go up to the senior school, the deputy head spoke about that day and explained to everyone in assembly how privileged we should feel for having met the greatest fighter pilot the country had ever produced.

At the time of his visit, I was in the junior school that adjoined the senior school and we were all marched in a straight line to the assembly hall, where we took our seats. Of course, I had no idea of the significance of the event at the time, but thinking back, I recall the great man standing straight, hands on the waist high rostrum, speaking in a measured, authoritative but friendly manner. (I had no idea that he was standing on two false legs)

When I arrived back home and informed my mother who I had seen at school, she went on to tell me things that she had read about Sir Bader, adding Douglas cut a “Dashing” figure.

Over time, I eventually settled down to
watch the movie they made about the life of Douglas Bader called ‘Reach For The Sky” and became hooked on WW2 and the heroics of the people who won the battle over the skies of Britain in 1940.

Incredible bravery during a time of extreme adversity. They don’t make them like Douglas Bader any more.

13 thoughts on “My Memory Of Sir Douglas Bader

  1. I remember ‘Reach for the Sky’ so well. It seared itself into my brain as a lad. Kenneth Moore as the actor? Can’t imagine flying through hails of bullets. But for Bader and his ilk, our lives might have been very different. Or non-existent!

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  2. We just commemorated Pearl Harbour Day (7 December 1941) here in The States. There are now only three survivors living who were serving aboard USS Arizona on that Sunday. There are other survivors from points of the Japanese attack. For those of us who were raised in the tradition of courage, service and sacrifice,exemplified by men like Bader, it truly seems like an epoch is ending.

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      1. I think he was in awe of the war time hero. (My father was also a Group Captain in the RAF, but did not see any action during WWII. He was shadowing the Russian “bears” during the Cold War).

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  3. He was certainly an interesting character. My father was in the RAF although from NZ. He wasn’t that impressed with his tactics, although he admired his bravery and stubbornness. He and his superiors crossed swords with Sir Keith Park of no11 group during the Battle of Britain over tactics. Their “big wing” system was a complete debacle. But they succeeded and got Sir High Dowding and Park removed. Thankfully by then the Battle was almost over. I loved reading his book Reach for the Sky as a boy too.

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