Exhibition: Sir Douglas Bader Centennial Exhibition, Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, until March 31 2010
The RAF Museum in Hendon has launched a Douglas Bader centenary exhibition, celebrating the inspirational pilot and disabled campaigner’s life with a selection of rarities from the RAF archives.
As an added bonus, Sir Richard Branson has recorded a podcast about Bader’s life which is now available to download from the RAF Museum website.
Bader was an outstanding pilot whose achievements are all the more remarkable given that he underwent a double amputation in 1931 following a plane crash.
He then defied medical expectations by learning to walk on prosthetic legs in six weeks. After battling against the establishment, he rejoined the RAF in 1941.
The exhibition documents Bader’s early life, his role in the war and his achievements in championing the cause of disabled people after the Second World War.
Highlights include Bader’s flight logbook describing his action in the Battle of Britain, a wanted poster issued by the Germans when he made one of his many escapes from Second World War Prisoner of War camps and photographs and documentation about the famous “Leg Operation”.
Bader had bailed out of his Spitfire over Le Touquet in German-occupied France, but his right prosthetic leg became trapped and he escaped by opening his parachute and snapping the retaining strap.
There are also some revealing pieces of personal documentation giving a fascinating insight into Bader’s character, such as a Christmas card sent to his wife from Colditz Castle showing a man escaping over the barbed wire saying: “I assure you dear chap, I really am Father Christmas.”
The Douglas Bader Centenary exhibition will go onto the Museum’s website when it closes in March. 2010 is set to be a busy year for the RAF as they celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
(All above images courtesy of the RAF Museum)
Yesterday also marked the launch of the BADER BRAVES, a new initiative by the DOUGLAS BADER FOUNDATION to offer support and unique experiences to children suffering from limb loss and other physical disabilities.Tags: Bader Braves, Colditz, disabled, Douglas Bader, exhibition, Hendon, Leg Operation, prosthetic, RAF Museum, Sir Richard Branson, Spitfire