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View Full Version : Douglas Bader in the modern era?


AnotherFSO
18th Feb 2022, 12:05
Hello all.
I remember asking this question in a Usenet group decades ago, and I thought I would repeat it here.
And that is... is it feasible that an already active and experienced air force pilot, who had an accident and lost a limb or two -- and which were replaced with adequate prosthetics -- would be allowed to fly in this day and age? And particularly, fly in combat, when presumably pilots might be a limited and diminishing resource?
What level of disability or deficit (eg. sight, hearing), if any, do air forces around the world accept in this day and age? And might there be differences in attitude to pilots and other types of aircrew, eg. WSOs, combat system officers?
This is just some idle musing. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

Sue VÍtements
20th Feb 2022, 03:15
Actually, if you think about it, not having legs might actually be an advantage if you were pulling a high G maneuver

Less Hair
20th Feb 2022, 05:44
He could control drones from the ground or be a simulator dogfight adversary, teach tactics and such.

Asturias56
20th Feb 2022, 07:37
Given Bader's propensity to say exactly what he thought he'd be drummed out of the Brownies in 10 seconds flat these days

oxenos
20th Feb 2022, 08:24
He would probably be scuppered by something as banal as brakes. In his time, brakes were a hand control, differential was by rudder input, which he could make. Depressing a toe brake requires an ankle movement.

chevvron
20th Feb 2022, 08:57
Back in the days when Bader was a board member of the CAA, he committed a very serious airspace infringement.
We and a neighbouring ATC unit duly filled in all the paperwork and submitted it and were told 'forget it; it never happened'.

teeteringhead
20th Feb 2022, 09:37
There was certainly a Chinook pilot who lost a lower leg in FI, who returned to flying - and instructing.

Airbanda
20th Feb 2022, 16:29
He would probably be scuppered by something as banal as brakes. In his time, brakes were a hand control, differential was by rudder input, which he could make. Depressing a toe brake requires an ankle movement.

His biographer (Brickhill) explains that Bader could not operate the foot brakes in a Harvard - his instructor did that job. Unless one was adapted Bader never soloed on the type.

The Spit and Hurri had hand operated brakes on the stick.

Noyade
22nd Feb 2022, 07:23
In 1975 after spending six hours on a train to the Sydney RAAF recruitment centre attempting to gain employment as an aircraft engine mechanic apprentice - I was asked my the Medical Officer...

"What are you wearing son!?"
I beg your pardon sir?
"Are they spectacles on your head?!"
Yes sir.
"Son, we don't take people with spectacles"
"Sign this and be on ya way!"

Six hours later on the train - I was home again.
Imagine if I had an artificial leg.

Asturias56
22nd Feb 2022, 11:53
There was a thread about Bader a ways back IIRC - mixed views to put it mildly

DownWest
22nd Feb 2022, 16:01
When my father got back from France in the early days, he was posted to Bader's outfit, 242? which he was working up to readiness. Father really didn't like him.

nonsense
23rd Feb 2022, 00:14
When my father got back from France in the early days, he was posted to Bader's outfit, 242? which he was working up to readiness. Father really didn't like him.
Likewise my father encountered him at Shell in the 1960s and suggested he was a very difficult man.

Pilot DAR
23rd Feb 2022, 02:27
suggested he was a very difficult man

I know nothing of him, other than by folklore (and have no intention of impugning anyone who crossed his path in life). But... I imagine that for Mr. Bader, the only possible way to succeed would be to be "difficult" to adversity.

Commander Taco
23rd Feb 2022, 03:14
Bader was transferred out of Stalag Luft III in 1942. All raised a cheer as he left through the camp gates. Bader thought he was getting a rousing send off for being such a fine fellow. Thatís not why the crowd was cheering.

longer ron
23rd Feb 2022, 07:44
I know nothing of him, other than by folklore (and have no intention of impugning anyone who crossed his path in life). But... I imagine that for Mr. Bader, the only possible way to succeed would be to be "difficult" to adversity.
I am afraid you have it wrong P DAR - he was a grade 1 A hole,many people say he was just a man of his time but that is not true either,I met quite a few ex WW2 pilots (some still serving at the time) and the ones who had been nice guys during the war were still lovely Gents - the ones who had been complete A holes during the war were still A holes.I have to say that the great majority were really lovely gents and a pleasure to chat to/with.
Having said that DB did have one redeeming feature in that he worked hard for people he liked and also for the disabled (it seems).
I inadvertantly pi55ed DB off one day - I was asked by Air Traffic to see in a civvy aircraft (no name mentioned) and to park it on a bay on the other side of the taxyway (far away from the Hangars) - out steps DB looking a bit 'miffed' - ''why have you parked me over here Cpl ?'' - ''orders from Air Traffic'' says I.My oily/grubby overalls c/w bright yellow and black striped woolly hat probably didn't help much (Chipmunk/Bulldog Rigger at the time).
I have always assumed that somebody in Air Traffic disliked him and it was a deliberate 'slight' as we had a large 'Avgas' Ramp right outside our Hangar.

cliver029
23rd Feb 2022, 08:04
PILOT-DAR

its one thing to be brusque but to be down right rude is another.
Robrough airport late 50's air show, as local ATC we were tasked
with managing The crowd line, Bader flys in in his BP Plane and
taxis to a stop.
mechanic climbs up onto the wing to assist (as he had done with others)
and gets a blast of vitriol from Bader about not needing any help, damaging
my plane, make sure I speak to your manager about your etc etc!
his fan club lost many members at that point and for years after by word of mouth.

jolihokistix
23rd Feb 2022, 08:27
Most of these posts above support what I had long suspected.

Glad now that I did not have the wrong end of the stick after all. Thank you.

ShyTorque
23rd Feb 2022, 09:22
I experienced his company at RAF Linton on Ouse in 1977 when he presented “wings” badges to the last course to receive them after BFTS (only presented after AFTS beyond that occasion). Experienced rather than enjoyed.

I preferred the far more likeable character portrayal by Kenneth Moore in the film version……

Asturias56
23rd Feb 2022, 09:25
Met him a couple of times - very tough indeed - but then he went through a lot - he was EXTREMELY upset if someone tried to "help" him for sure - even normal courtesy was asking for it. He was far happier if people let the door just bang in his face TBH

ShyTorque
23rd Feb 2022, 09:35
He went through a lot but the root cause was his own arrogance.

Pilot DAR
23rd Feb 2022, 12:08
I stand informed. I am predisposed to credit people who recover from an accident, but no, they don't become entitled to be a jerk about it!

AnotherFSO
24th Feb 2022, 08:21
Thank you, all, for your replies.

Cornish Jack
28th Feb 2022, 09:02
He had a batman assigned to him while in PoW camp. The batman was offerred compassionate exchange/return. Bader refused to let him go, because he needed him. His arrogance and undue influence were well documented by Iohn Terrane in 'Right of the Line'.

pr00ne
1st Mar 2022, 04:08
To the OP.

Don't forget that when trying to draw comparisons between "then" and "now" in terms of how Bader was treated, he wasn't allowed to fly in the RAF back "then" either.
He was medically discharged as unfit to fly after recovery from his accident. He was only eventually allowed back in after the outbreak of war.

As to the guy's character. i met him twice, once when I was a serving officer, and once when I was a civilian. I don't think that I have ever met anyone so arrogant and thoroughly unpleasant.

vulcanite
2nd Mar 2022, 15:44
I too had the misfortune of meeting him in 1969 or 70. My mother (English) had re-married to a USAF NCO and we were all based at Wethersfield. The NCO did a years' tour at Ubon in Thailand, and had somehow wangled it that he would get another UK posting after Thailand. (He did - Lakenheath). Whilst he was away my mother got herself busily occupied with good works, and was on the base's Anglo American Committee, the purpose of which was to foster good relations between the base and the local community (I seem to recall it was about the time that an F-100 dumped his drop tanks on Sible Hedingham) and my mother was deemed a good fit as she was a good mixer, and whilst English, she was married to an American...
One summer's day there was a Garden Party hosted by Sir John Ruggles-Bryce, at his gaff near Finchingfield, who I believe was the Lord Lieutenant of Essex at the time.
Anyway, long story short, my mother asked if I would be her escort for the bash, which as a spotty 18/19 year old I was both chuffed and terrified to do! And HE was there...
At some point I summoned the courage to introduce myself to him, and to say what a privilege it was to meet him. He looked at me, turned as quickly as he could and walked off without saying a word. Hero to zero in less than a nanosecond.

bobward
2nd Mar 2022, 16:36
A friend of my late father was a carpenter, fitting out rooms in the mess at RAF Coltishall when DB took over 242sqn. It seems that he was very vocal in what he did and didn't want, and made his views well known to the chippy. Being a good old Norfolk boy, he didn't like this and stood up to the man. After that, things were much more pleasant.

I also knew a few people who met DB during his time at Shell aircraft. The consensus being that he was someone living off his past reputation as a war leader. He'd make decisions then leave the paperwork and follow-up to underlings. After he left SA, and then died, Lady B would make the odd visit to HQ and complain loudly if anything had been moved or changed. Apparently DB would not have approved of this or that.

We're all looking back close to 80 years, and opinions will doubtless change. At the time, like many other war heroes he was used as an inspiration to others. That may have lead to more unfortunate character traits.

Mr Mac
2nd Mar 2022, 17:53
Bader was transferred out of Stalag Luft III in 1942. All raised a cheer as he left through the camp gates. Bader thought he was getting a rousing send off for being such a fine fellow. Thatís not why the crowd was cheering.
Commander Taco
My late Father was one of those cheerers. He also had the misfortune to meet him professionally post war, and according to my Mother it was one of the few times my Father ever swore in her presence.

Cheers
Mr Mac

chevvron
3rd Mar 2022, 01:20
Back in the days when Bader was a board member of the CAA, he committed a very serious airspace infringement.
We and a neighbouring ATC unit duly filled in all the paperwork and submitted it and were told 'forget it; it never happened'.
I didn't realise that my experience was similar to others.
To enlarge on my quote, we (Farnborough) were asked by Gatwick ATC to assist in tracking an aircraft which had been seen just west of Gatwick and they'd had to stop departures because ot it. We tracked it as it headed towards the Greenham Common area and at one point vectored a Wessex helicopter from Odiham towards it but it was too fast for the Wessex. Meantine Redhill had told Gatwick that G-APUB had departed from them at the time the unknown aircraft had departed. We looked at the register and found that this aircraft was registerd to Gpt Capt D.R.S. Bader.
We watched as this aircraft flew towards Blackbushe and flew through and around its circuit for a while, then he called up on our LARS frequency.
The controller identified him and then advised that he had not only infringed the Blackbushe ATZ but had also infringed the Gatwick CTR.
He laughed and replied 'Oh have I really?'
Gatwick and ourselves duly filled in the paperwork but before we could submit it, were told 'Forget it; it never happened'.

Commander Taco
9th Mar 2022, 14:33
Commander Taco
My late Father was one of those cheerers. He also had the misfortune to meet him professionally post war, and according to my Mother it was one of the few times my Father ever swore in her presence.

Cheers
Mr Mac

Hello Mr. Mac,

Have you visited Stalag Luft III? If not, I can highly recommend a visit. Mrs. T and I day a day trip to Sagan last September and were guided by Marek, the museum curator. I don't imagine that your father spoke much about his time there; my father-in-law was a Lancaster pilot at war's end and the war wasn't something he wanted to talk about. However if you haven't visited, or are unable to, I highly recommend two books to you that I picked up in the Stalag Luft III gift shop.

1/ "Stalag Luft III The Secret Story" by Arthur A. Durand. His book details every facet of the daily lives of the POWs.
2/ "From Commandant to Captive" - the memoirs of camp commandant Colonel Lindeiner

I'm sure they can be purchased without visiting the museum. I have the contact details for Marek if you so wish.

Cheers,

~Taco

thegypsy
13th Mar 2022, 09:58
PrOOne
Suggest you look in the mirror as you seem very pleased with yourself!? Judging by your posts.

Asturias56
13th Mar 2022, 10:57
Bader was, by any standards, an exceptional man - the fact he achieved so much meant a lot of people thought he was perfect - he wasn't of course. Few people ever are.

I think the strength of the reaction is due to a terrible sense of disappointment

Bill Speakman VC is another hero who was mortal in normal life

Bergerie1
13th Mar 2022, 15:05
Bader may have been an exceptional man but he and Leigh Mallory weren't very helpful to Hugh Dowding and Keith Park, both of whom were the real heros in my opinion. I have never met Bader but I have sat at a dinner with someone who knew him very well indeed and who told me he was an extremely difficult man to work with and to live with.

pulse1
13th Mar 2022, 15:54
Like most people of my vintage I grew up seeing Bader as a great man. Then, in the late 60's, I went out a few times with a young lady whose parents were friends of Bader. She told me that she hated it when he came to stay with them. She described a typical incident when, if he left something downstairs after having gone up to bed, he would tramp down the stairs swearing loudly at every step. He didn't seem to care about anyone else in the house.

bobward
13th Mar 2022, 17:18
I remember reading 'Fly for your life' (Bob Tuck's biography) a few years ago. He and DB had a 'full and frank' exchange of views at a conference at HQ Fighter Command.
Afterwards Tuck asked Sailor Malan why Bader was so damned awkward. 'If he wasn't he wouldn't be here' said Sailor. I guess that sums him up pretty well?

Asturias56
14th Mar 2022, 08:59
" if he left something downstairs after having gone up to bed, he would tramp down the stairs swearing loudly at every step"

I first met him on a flight of stairs in the '70's - he was coming up 3 stories (no lift) on his own having to swing his legs in a great arc for each step. It looked (and I'm sure it was) extremely uncomfortable and painful. He stopped to let me go down but the look on his face suggested that anything other than a short nod and the politest of "good morning' Sir" would have led to instant death.

Cornish Jack
14th Mar 2022, 10:18
Bergerie 1 - Agreed ! I could not (cannot) understand what gave Bader his particular influence with Leigh-Mallory, other than their joint insistence on the 'Big Wing' tactics. Park was remarkably long-suffering in putting up with their interference.