Douglas Bader Fact Sheet: Who was Douglas Bader? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times and history of Douglas Bader.
Douglas Bader Fact File: Lifespan: 1910 – 1982 *** Full Name: Douglas Robert Steuart Bader *** Nickname: Dogsbody *** Occupation: Royal Air Force Flying Ace *** Date of Birth: Douglas Bader was born on February 21st 1910 *** Place of Birth: Douglas Bader was born in St John’s Wood, London, England *** Family background: His father was Frederick Roberts Bader and his mother was Jessie. He had an older brother Frederick. His father was in the Royal Engineers and saw action during World War I when he was wounded in action in 1917 and died as a result of complications *** Early life and childhood: He grew up in the village of Sprotborough where his family moved after his mother remarried to the Reverend Ernest William Hobbs *** Education: Douglas Bader attended the Temple Grove School, a boarding school, followed by St Edward’s School ***
Douglas Bader Fact 1: Douglas Bader was born on February 21st 1910 and during the 20th century period in history when there were world changing events happening including the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War.
Douglas Bader Fact 2: On a visit to his Aunt Hazel during the school holidays in 1923, at the age of thirteen, he first came into contact with the world of aviation. His aunt was preparing to marry Cyril Burge, a RAF Flight Lieutenant based at RAF Cranwell.
Douglas Bader Fact 3: At eighteen years of age he left St Edward’s and enrolled as an officer cadet in the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in Lincolnshire in 1928.
Douglas Bader Fact 4: Having taken his first flight with Flying Officer instructor W.J. “Pissy” Pearson in an Avro 504, he took his first solo flight after eleven hours and fifteen minutes on February 19th 1929.
Douglas Bader Fact 5: The following year he was commissioned to No. 23 Squadron RAF at Kenly in Surrey as a pilot officer.
Douglas Bader Fact 6: He began flying Gloster Gamecocks followed by Bristol Bulldogs and would become quite the daredevil during his training, often performing dangerous and illegal maneuvers.
Douglas Bader Fact 7: In 1931 he began training for the Hendon Air Show and was paired up with Harry Day.
Douglas Bader Fact 8: While attempting some low flying aerobatics at Reading Aero Club his wing tip came into contact with the ground and he the aircraft crashed.
Douglas Bader Fact 9: Having been rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and in the extremely capable hands of J Leonard Joyce, a leading surgeon of the time, his life was saved but he lost both his legs.
Douglas Bader Fact 10: Sent to RAF Uxbridge hospital and fitted with a pair of artificial legs, he worked excruciatingly hard to regain the abilities he had before the incident. His convalesces was long and grueling but his accomplishments were staggering, with a specially modified car he could drive again, he was able to play golf and he could dance.
Douglas Bader Fact 11: Although physically cleared for active duty and even proved he was still able to fly, the RAF however, having never been in the position of having an amputee pilot in active service decided to invalid him out of service.
Douglas Bader Fact 12: As tensions grew across Europe between 1937 and 1939 Douglas regularly requested a return to active duty. Eventually he would be called in but was desperately disappointed to find it was only for ground jobs on offer.
Douglas Bader Fact 13: Having served under Air Vice-Marshall Halahan previously it was Halahan who gave his personal endorsement and requested the Central Flying School in Upavon access his capabilities and on Bader reported for flight tests on October 18th 1939.
Douglas Bader Fact 14: By the end of November he had passed his medical establishing him capable for full flying category status and was told to report to the Central Flying School for a refresher course in the newer aircraft currently being used.
Douglas Bader Fact 15: The following year in 1940 he was posted to RAF Duxford and No. 19 Squadron under Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson who had been a close friend from Cranwell. It was here he first flew the Spitfire and found, without his legs, he maintained better blood flow, where able bodied men would pass out because blood would go to the extremities at g-force.
Douglas Bader Fact 16: His next assignment was to No. 222 Squadron RAF also at Duxford and from there he would get to fly his first combat missions.
Douglas Bader Fact 17: Having flown during the Dunkirk operations he was made Squadron Leader of No. 242 Squadron, largely made up of Canadian pilots who’s moral was particularly low after many loses during the Battle of France. Although initially resistant to their new commander, his perseverance and strong character soon had the unit working at optimal level again.
Douglas Bader Fact 18: His next big engagement would be during the Battle of Britain and the Nazi’s attempt to invade Britain was prevented largely due to the Royal Air Force.
Douglas Bader Fact 19: It was on August 9th 1941 that Bader’s aircraft was brought down over France. There is some controversy over who was actually responsible for his being brought down. He believed at the time he had collided with an enemy aircraft but no other German plane was reported to have had a midair collision. Later it was thought he was shot down by enemy aircraft but on inspection of German reports, there was no definitive proof of this either. The only other option was that it had been friendly fire. Having cleared the coast of France with three other aircraft in formation, upon sighting the enemy he dropped down behind them to engage, not realizing he was not followed by his fellow crewmen it was thought he appeared to have become one of the enemy and was fired upon. A report, by an allied pilot stated that he had fired upon an aircraft resulting in the same damage and pilot struggle to exit the cockpit that matched Bader’s own report seemed to suggest that was what had happened.
Douglas Bader Fact 20: Having suffered no major injuries after his bail out, did however, lose one of his prosthetic legs and having been taken prisoner by the Germans, General Adolf Galland, himself a German Ace Fighter Pilot, specifically requested of the British a replacement leg that would be given a priority status to have the leg parachuted in for Bader’s use.
Douglas Bader Fact 21: Although a prisoner of war, Bader continued to plague the Germans by constantly attempting to escape and causing as much disruption as humanly possible. Eventually he was sent to Colditz Castle Oflag IV-C commonly known as an “escape proof” facility where he did in fact remain until April 1945 when the First United States Army liberated the prison.
Douglas Bader Fact 22: After the war, with various options open to him, Bader chose to work for Shell and by 1969 when he retired he had become the Managing Director of Shell Aircraft.
Douglas Bader Fact 23: Douglas Robert Steuart Bader died on September 1982 of a heart attack aged seventy two years.
Influence & Legacy: One of his greatest legacies was the fact that as a disabled man, a twin amputee, he was still able to function as an able bodied person. Post war he campaigned vigorously for the disabled and led by example how it was possible to overcome a disability.