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Douglas Bader

Old 11th Aug 2019, 22:41
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Some folks. you can love...some you can hate....some you can love to hate!

What matters is if they produce the results demanded....how they do so not so much.

He led from the Cockpit....and took the fight to the enemy!

Great Men are not known for being meek, mild, and afraid of their shadow.
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Old 11th Aug 2019, 23:56
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Meleagertoo, as I started it off,, my apologies if I burst your bubble, I was actually being rather kind in my description, but I stand by it. Just because someone has done " great" things in the War does not necessarily mean that the person behind the " legend" comes over with equal measure, and in Baders case he was far from it.


Incidentally it is widely believed that the loss of his legs aided him in his ability to withstand the onset of G over other men, rather like wearing a G suit, as without legs blood couldn't pool in his lower limbs causing him to black out.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 00:02
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Are we not allowed to make negative comments about a national hero?
Surely a man can be brave and skilled, and still be an ass?
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 01:29
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No one is perfect.
He was a hero in times of great despair and was an inpsiration to many. After the war he did great work for the disabled and raised lots of money for the cause..
Greatest respect for a true hero
RNAW
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 06:49
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Ah well - guess that's the thing about getting older.
I've reached the point where no matter what someone's `achieved' if they're a c*ck, I'm just not interested anymore.
Guess that makes me a mediocre snowflake - or - ahem - a maggot?
For example, a certain retired USAF Brigadier General - complete arse of a man by all accounts.
I'd forgotten about the Bader stories, but reading about the way he treated that Batman...
I prefer my heroes quiet and competent.
No noise - just do the ******* job so brilliantly that you're beyond question.
Kinda like the bloke who piloted the LEM...?
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 08:17
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What has not been mentioned is the fact that he was used as a tool (because of his celebrity and his high level contacts) by those trying to oust the Battle of Britain leaders Hugh Dowding and Keith Park. They succeeded!!
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 09:48
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Bader is a prominent historical figure who became a legend. Perhaps the only pilot who almost everyone in Britain knew his name. While almost everyone knew his name, almost no one really knew more than he was a WWII fighter pilot with no legs.

Like most people I initially thought the film 'Reach for the Sky' was a documentary. I got my first inkling of the broader reality when as a kid I bought my first biography of a WWII pilot: 'Fly for Your Life' tells the story of Bob Stanford Tuck.
Tuck along with Salor Malan and Bader were invited to give opinion on whether fighters should be armed with cannon.
Tuck and Malan wanted cannon, Bader did not and made no bones about the fact that anyone wanting cannon was an idiot. It was clear that Bader did not like people disagreeing with him.

Reading more and more over the years I learned more about Bader the person rather than Bader the legend. A book about the disgraceful ambushing of Dowding and Park immediately after they had won the Battle of Britain, by two ambitious men wanting their jobs and who used a certain (unwitting?) forceful 12 Group advocate of the 'big wing' theory to drive home their dagger in a senior meeting, was interesting reading.

One interesting book to read is 'Baders Last Fight', a detailed analysis of Baders last mission and how Bader was actually brought down over France. It also sheds more light on Bader the person rather than the legend.

It is often the way with legends that most people don't get to know more about them than what it was that made them legendary. A USAF pilot who achieved legend status in the public eye from his war exploits, had some questionable views about combat and not always the nicest of nature. They are often not easy to find but knowing these things is of interest from a historical perspective of understanding who prominent figures in war really were and the full impact they had.

Bader is prominent figure of WWII history. It is normal to want to know exactly who such prominent people really were, not to denigrate them but to get history right and in full context.

Bader went to war with no legs, shot down about 20 aircraft and no matter what else history may reveal about him nothing will ever take that away from him. But there is a lot more to almost any person than their legend.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 11:04
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The late Colin Hodgkinson was also a double-amputee WW2 pilot. Like Bader he spent some time as a PoW but was released as apparently being 'of no further use to his country' and eventually returned to operational flying! He didn't catch the public eye for some reason.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_..._(RAF_officer)
He was also a 'guest' on This is Your Life in 1957. His autobiography is a very good read.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 11:12
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
He flew G-APUB at White Waltham and I was there as a UAS APO one day when he was seen driving his car right through the Chipmunk line. One of our Fg Off QFIs exclaimed "Who the ***k is that!", before ringing the security guard to have the car stopped at the gate whilst he made his way over to tell him off. But when he got there, Bader was politeness itself and apologised unreservedly "Awfully sorry, old boy - bit of a balls up on my behalf. Won't do it again!" All the QFI could do was to mumble "Thank you, Sir" and throw up a salute.
In the infringement I mentioned earlier, his attitude was similar.
After departure from Redhill, he flew south west and just flew around west of Gatwick still inside the Gatwick Control Zone for a while causing them to stop all departures before clearing controlled airspace to the west.
Later, after doing a beat up at Blackbushe without calling on the RTF, he called Farnborough and when informed he had caused departures at Gatwick to be stopped, he replied 'ha ha oh have I really'.
We made sure the RTF tape for that day was impounded but as I said, next day we received a message via Gatwick to 'forget it, it never happened'.
The guy at Gatwick sounded p1ssed off too.

Last edited by chevvron; 12th Aug 2019 at 11:48.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 11:35
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It would appear to be fashionable to denigrate national icons because they did not conform to 2019 standards of behaviour which are increasingly resembling ludicrous levels of pcness. Douglas Bader was an extraordinary man who flew combat against one of the nastiest nationalist regimes in history. He went into battle with or without legs and demonstrated incredible levels of courage. The anecdotal fact that sometimes he wasn’t terribly nice or that he once infringed Gatwick’s airspace is of no interest whatsoever. I think that we can let off the man who flew against hordes of enemy aircraft and were indeed infringing our airspace with the intent of killing as many of our relatives and friends as possible. Time for a bit of perspective.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 11:41
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What ever you think of Bader, like Churchill, he inspired the general public. In WW2 we needed people like them. yes, I'm sure he could be arrogant and abrasive, but he tied up the Germans in captivity. There were better fighter pilots and probably better leaders. One also should remember that he lost his legs showing off and disobeying rules. But he inspired many.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 12:29
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I take it that many of you don't live in glass houses.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 13:40
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A famous American who was killed in an airplane crash with Wiley Post......Will Rogers....one said "We cannot all be Heroes as someone has to sit on the curb (kerb) and applaud as they walk by.".

Seems to me some folks are forgetting their place in life.

Last edited by SASless; 12th Aug 2019 at 18:44.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 15:32
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There was a Documentary on CH4 a few years back called "The real Douglas Bader", and nearly everyone called him a bastard!
He certainly didnt endear himself to many people on a social level, but if it wasnt for his sheer tenacity and bloody mindedness, he would never have made it out of hospital in Reading in 1931, when he was expected to die, or walked again without ever using a stick, or even less, climbed back into any aircraft, let alone a Spitfire or Hurricane, and served his country very well as a ruthless fighter pilot! That is what he was paid to do in 1939-41, not be a "nice old gent" who crashed a Bulldog at Woodley in 1931!

but then, if he hadnt been such an exponent of self belief, he wouldn't have tried to do a slow roll at low level in the first place....

Aeroplanes bite fools, even if your name is Douglas Bader!
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 17:22
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Originally Posted by langleybaston View Post
Just a thought. Leaders in war do not have to be nice, they have to be winners.
They have to survive so they can write their version of history

Lets face it that if you really dug into RAF crews who fought in B of B you would find drunks, cheats, rapists, thieves etc etc. But 1.) why would you want to 2.) what would be its purpose.

I did see that programme with Kenneth More making a guest appearance when it was first shown.

It is nice to know he was not a nice man, affects not my opinion one jot. It leaves me thinking, TF he wasn't a nice man as given he had to go out and kill people would I want a really nice man to do it or a complete barsteward. I prefer the latter but accept post conflict he would need to be pensioned off and kept out of operational command, aside from using his experience to teach for the future.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 20:53
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Originally Posted by langleybaston View Post
I claim the thin distinction of having briefed Bader on the weather [Gatwick 1961] and Mickey Martin, who was Staish at Nicosia c. 1963.
And, name dropping, Sir Alan Campbell, and Sir John -[Everest] Hunt.

Bader was perfectly civil to a very nervous and wet behind the ears junior forecaster. Martin was a sweety, very well liked.

Just a thought. Leaders in war do not have to be nice, they have to be winners. The history books are full of winning sh1ts. Better than nice losers.
Just another thought - Sounds rather like a very recent leadership election, and possibly even a glimpse of the country's future......

Jack
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 21:52
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It seems to be difficult finding a hero who DIDN'T have feet of clay these days. One such was possibly General Slim of the 14th Army in Burma.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 23:27
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Slim has been subject to a lot of child abuse rumours about his time as Governor General of Australia in the 50s. These of course could be on a par with the recent false allegations about Field Marshal Bramall - I only mention them as just about everybody at the top will attract criticism of their personal behaviour, whether justified or not.

On a lighter note, Kenneth More came to Marham in 1971 and was given a chance to look over one of our Victors. Upon meeting him, one of our chaps remarked "Glad to see your legs are better". Fortunately the actor laughed, even though I suspect he had heard that many times before.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 23:31
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I don't buy the argument that you have to be an @rsehole to be an effective killer and warrior.
That's naively simplistic.
Quite possible to treat your fellows with respect (different to being nice) yet have no compunction about shooting an enemy in the face.
The idea that you simply have to be a pr!ck to lead from the front, to face danger and win is exactly what's causing so many problems in the world right now.
It's called the big man theory of leadership - if it looks and sounds like an alpha male, then it must be an effective leader.
A former mentor and ex-fast jet pilot put it quite wisely in my view.
If you want people to run at a machine gun, you have to seduce them to do so.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 23:34
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Blossy,

Unfortunately, even Uncle Bill had accusations made against him when he was Governor General of Australia.

However, he was a remarkable general. My Dad was in the XIVth Army and wouldn’t hear a bad word said about him.

A favourite anecdote from Slim’s biography, paraphrased from memory, is that after he had given a rousing informal chat to a group of troops in the jungle, one of them shouted:

”We’re right behind you, Sir!”

Slim responded: “ No, actually I’ll be behind you!”

As far as Dogsbody is concerned, after having read of his treatment of his Batman, while a POW and his subsequent behaviour, including his rudeness to female staff at WLAC, I’m firmly in the camp that his behaviour was unacceptable. His achievements as a fighter pilot are immaterial.
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