Blue Plaque for Sir Douglas Bader

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Lucretia, Jun 1, 2009.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Lucretia

    Lucretia Old-Salt Book Reviewer

    Yes, I know he flew planes and this is an army forum, but I think we should allow a bit of cross-over in this case...


    Sir Richard Branson yesterday unveiled a blue plaque commemorating Sir Douglas Bader. Bader was an ambitious pilot in the RAF but suffered a double leg amputation after a plane crash in 1931 – yet he defied doctors expectations by walking with a pair of artificial legs within six months of the crash and he fought his way back to flying duties. He went on to develop, and play a crucial role in, the ‘big wing’ strategy that resulted in the Battle of Britain victory. His outstanding war contribution was only cut short when Bader collided with a German aeroplane and was captured and held as a prisoner of war at Colditz until liberation in 1945. In peace time, Bader increasingly turned his attention to charitable activities on behalf of the disabled. Always sympathetic about the plight of others who had lost limbs, he offered both inspiration and practical advice to those living with disabilities

    Plaque can be seen at Petersham Mews, Kensington, west London, where Sir Douglas lived for almost 30 years from 1955 until his death.
  2. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Played a mean game of golf too.
  3. Mmmm, whilst I hate the trend for post war ‘alternative assessments’ I would seriously question whether the 12 Gp Big Wing tactics advocated by Leigh-Mallory and Bader ‘resulted’ in victory during the BoB. Indeed, it could be argued that the tactic was largely unsuccessful in the majority of cases and played into the hands of Goring. The Luftwaffe leader wanted to draw the RAF up en masse rather than fighting running skirmishes against smaller formations of the sort characterised by 11 Gp.

    Bader could at times appear resistant to new technology and was a strong advocate of .303 machine gun v cannon armament for fighters at a time when Luftwaffe fighters were increasingly well armoured. In addition, post war records suggest that, rather than a mid-air collision, Bader was most likely shot down by a very junior Luftwaffe pilot, or possibly even in a blue on blue incident. Overall, he seems to have been a somewhat abrasive character and his batman at Colditz subsequently painted a less than flattering picture of him in captivity.

    Nevertheless, Bader was undoubtedly an inspirational and aggressive fighter leader whose talents (as was the 'Big Wing') were perhaps better suited to the post BoB ‘Circus’ fighter sweeps over France than the defensive ops of 1940. Similarly, his post war efforts with amputees generally and BLESMA in particular were exceptional and very much the mark of the man. Indeed, he continued working with injured servicemen from the Falklands and Northern Ireland conflicts right up to his death in 1982.

    I emphasise that I admire Bader immensely and the likes of him were responsible for avoiding the fall of Britain in its darkest hour. Certainly, he more than deserves the English Heritage Plaque. I just wished to provide a tad of balance to the Big Wing comments and circumstances of his loss.

  4. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I am assured, by the poster, that the write up was the work of various undoubtably elegant and indubitably fragrant 'Tarquinesses' at English Heritage head shed. Most of whom would only know Kenneth More, and then only if parents had kept them in on a wet Sunday.

    As for the man himself, I met him several times, very informally, and in the company of his fellow Pro-Am golfers, and can say, without a doubt, that he was a miserable bugger.
  5. From my earliest childhood when I read Reach For The Sky by Paul Brickhill Sir Douglas has been my idol and inspiration. I don't care if he was a crusty old bugger, perhaps that is part of what made him what he is? What he achieved and what he went on to do for others speaks for itself. He was a true gentlemen in the oldest tradition, I hope his memory continues to inspire our limbless from Afghanistan and Iraq and shows them that there is much which can be achieved with the human will.
  6. I totally agree.

    As ofah suggests, it is not as if English Heritage would write a press release along the lines of 'Sir Douglas Bader, a grumpy bugger who disregarded flying regulations, didn't like cannons and got shot down by a cpl, lived here'.

    We all have our faults and, as you say, Bader's could equally be seen as qualities that should be admired.

    RIP Sir.

  7. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I will not, nor would not take anything away from his bravery, determination and dogged pursuit. He is, rightly, a legend. However,the staff at the hotel near me, where he stayed, used to dread having to serve him. Now, some might say that he had a reason to be grumpy, rude and arrogant, but I wager that our present genertaion of blokes who have suffered similar - or worse injuries are not in his class, when it comes to being patronising and rude. I admire the man, for what he achieved, I know I couldn't have done the same.
  8. Lucretia

    Lucretia Old-Salt Book Reviewer

    I think I may recommend that we put this up as the summary of the citation.

    If you want even more blue plaques, some of them even more controversial, we've produced a book - Lived in London listing every offical blue plaque. Note that some other organisations and councils can now produce their own.

    By the way I like your current avatar, ofandh. Which one is you? ;)
  9. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I'm the one out of sight, watching and filming. And...........cogitating.