Birthday of Doncaster’s famous fighter pilot

February celebrates the birth of flying ace of World War Two, Sir Douglas Bader, who spent much of his early life in Doncaster.

Monday, 11th February 2019, 11:56 am
Updated Monday, 11th February 2019, 12:02 pm
RAF fighter ace Douglas Bader (1910 - 1982) leaves Buckingham Palace after receiving new bars to his DSO and DFC, 27th November 1945. Accompanying him are his wife Thelma (right) and Thelma's sister Jill Addison. Bader lost both legs during an aerobatic stunt in 1931, but his skills as a pilot were unaffected. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Born in London, on February 21, 1910,  Douglas' first years were spent in India , as his father, Major Frederick Bader, was an engineer with the British Raj.

He returned to England with his parents at the age of three. After his mother, Jessie, was widowed in 1922, she met and married the Reverend Hobbs, and moved to live in Sprotbrough with Douglas, then 13, and his brother Derick.

WWll fighter pilot Douglas Bader

As a teenager, Douglas was known for his pranks. 

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He received his commission in 1928 and, as a talented sportsman, was set to join the national rugby union team.

But fate intervened and in 1930, Douglas crashed his plane while attempting aerobatics in Reading. He lost both legs.

With remarkable determination, he continued to forge a future for himself. When war broke out, he was recalled to combat flying and shot down 22 enemy aircraft.

RAF flying ace Group Captain Douglas Bader (1910 - 1982) in the garden of his home in Ascot, Berkshire, with his wife Thelma and Golden Retriever Shaun, after his release from a German prisoner-of-war camp, World War II, 1945. (Photo by Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

He was captured in 1941 and made a prisoner in Colditz Castle, where he remained until peace was declared. Bader was knighted in 1976 for the work he did to improve the lot of disabled people. 

He died in 1982 at the age of 72.

H is old home in Sprotbrough waslater  run as a themed bed and breakfast business by Trevor Miller, who bought it in 1985. Bedrooms bore the names Douglas Bader, Spitfire and Hurricane. An oval plaque by the gates of the Old Rectory carries the inscription:: “Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE DSO DFC, famous legless wartime fighter pilot lived here during his boyhood, circa 1923.”


1968 Douglas Bader at Portland College
Group captain and Royal Air Force flying ace Douglas Bader (1910 - 1982) on the set of Second World War film 'Battle of Britain' at Duxford Airport, UK, 29th May 1968. (Photo by Larry Ellis/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)