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 Douglas Bader - recently found footage from 1933

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Douglas Bader - recently found footage from 1933   Thu 14 Mar 2013, 13:35

Not sure if "footage" is the right word to use for DB, but this recently found film shot by his friend Group Captain George "Sammy" Sampson shows Douglas two years after losing both his legs in a flying accident and invalided out of the RAF. War was still a long way from anyone's thoughts at the time. Hitler had just come to power in Germany, Britain and the rest of Europe could not envisage ever having to face that foe again, and most were preoccupied primarily with the ever worsening global economic crisis. The clip is short (and has an annoying ad one must skip over at the start) but it shows "Dog's Body" (polite version of the nickname attributed to Bader's famous personalised reg) relaxing with colleagues and friends at a Treasure Hunt in Duxford RAF base that summer.



Seven years later, despite his disability, he was successfully petitioning the RAF to re-enlist and would soon distinguish himself as a fighter pilot and commander during the Battle of Britain. Bader's war was over in 1941 when he was shot down over France, spending the remainder as a rather troublesome POW in German captivity, his captors at one point confiscating his legs to prevent further escape attempts.

A mere glimpse, but worth glimpsing all the same!





Here he is talking later about his return stint in Duxford during WWII


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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Douglas Bader - recently found footage from 1933   Fri 15 Mar 2013, 04:34

I suppose it's not surprising that Douglas Bader was a household name when I was young, though I don't recall who talked about him - our families? the radio? newspapers? school assemblies? How do these things get disseminated? The war wasn't a subject completely avoided by my father, but I don't think it was something dwelt on in our home, and I can't imagine the subject of Douglas Bader was likely to have been a regular topic of conversation. I wondered once if my kids had heard of him and I think they had, but I don't suppose a generation down from them will have.

Was a Treasure Hunt an official sort of entertainment then? People seem very dressed up.

Our museum here has copies of a local paper put out in the town, just by one man, I think. In 1933 his editorial was all about Hitler, and very anti. I am not sure the editor hadn't envisaged war at that time. It was a very fascinating read. I might dig it out one day and copy it here.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: Douglas Bader - recently found footage from 1933   Fri 15 Mar 2013, 06:12

When I was a boy in the scouts my scoutmaster for reasons I’ve never been too clear on, I knew he was something big in the daily mirror, but it seemed to open doors to all sorts of wonderful times for us kids. Whenever we had our annual summer fair and fete… he always came up with some celebrity to open it, Kenneth Horn was a regular, I’m sure Dickie Henderson rings a bell and possibly Dick Emery, but they were all of that ilk. Whether he knew Douglass Bader as a friend I’m not too sure because he was a regular visitor to us as well. At times we were loaded onto the back of a lorry and taken out to a very large house in the woods somewhere near Chislehurst caves to do garden chores… I’m sure that was Douglas Baders house… I recall him as a very nice man… a bit reserved but then he was being confronted with about twenty youngsters.
We used to get trips to the circus, trips down the Thames on fancy liners… visits to warships opening nights to some plays… and films, how he managed it was amazing… like everything I suppose… it’s not what you know but who you know.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Douglas Bader - recently found footage from 1933   Fri 15 Mar 2013, 08:42

Bader was a garrulous foul-mouthed racist boor, and apparently a very likeable chap. He was for over forty years very close friends with Adolf Galland, the Messerchmitt 109 fighter pilot, and on one occasion was invited by Galland to be guest of honour at a Luftwaffe fighter pilot reunion do. Bader, upon arriving and seeing the assembled guests, was reputed to have exclaimed loudly "Christ! Didn't know we'd left so many of you f***ing bastards alive!".

I agree, Caro, that Bader was a hero to a specific generation and now would be unknown to most. His reputation was considerably enhanced too by Kenneth More's portrayal of him in the 1954 film "Reach For The Sky". But it's even hard these days to explain to anyone why More was quite so popular as he was at the time too.
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