242 Squadron's Eric Ball, Douglas Bader & Willie McKnight admire their unit's unofficial motif
LEGLESS PILOT IS WITH R.A.F.
Born February 10, 1910 in London England
Ottawa, Sept. 28, 1940 —(CP)— An all-Canadian air force establishment of two squadrons will probably be attached to Lieut.-Gen. A. G. L. McNaughton's army corps. This is expected to happen when the corps becomes the "Canadian Corps" — probably in a few months when the Second Division completes its training and joins the First Division.
Two Others Ready
Canadian airmen have already gained laurels in the battle of Britain, but many of them as members of the Royal Air Force. While one squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force battles the enemy over London skies, two others stand ready for action in support of the Canadian land forces when and if the Germans land on British soil or the Canadians move out to fight on continental battlefields.
The three R.C.A.F. squadrons went overseas as units complete with all categories of trained personnel and took aircraft and equipment with them. Two are army co-operation squadrons, one to be attached to each division, and the third is a fighter outfit, commanded by Squadron Leader Ernest McNab, of Regina. These men have already made headlines with their success against the Nazi raiders. Canadians in the R.A.F. are, for the most part, men who went overseas before the war, many of them working their way across in cattle boats and taking other means of getting into what was then the expected fight.
Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, D.S.O., who lost both legs in a crack-up before the war, is the English chief of an "all-Canadian" squadron of the R.A.F., which includes a large number of lads from Canada. Last month he led a dozen R.A.F. Hurricanes against 70 enemy aircraft and bagged 13 of the raiders. His squadron is credited officially with destroying 72 enemy planes in France.
The first R.C.A.F. squadron to reach Britain was the army cooperation unit under command of Squadron Leader Wilbur van Vleit, of Winnipeg. They went overseas in February to serve with the 1st Division.
Bader with some members of his famous 242 "All-Canadian" Squadron. From the left - Dennis Crowley-Milling [cut in half], Hugh Tamblyn, Stan Turner, J. E. Saville, Neil Campell, Willie McKnight, Bader, Eric Ball, M. G. Homer & Ben Brown.
Ottawa, Oct. 15, 1940 - (CP) - While Canadian airmen
in the All-Canadian Squadron of the Royal Air Force help meet the German
air attacks on Britain, the man who largely was responsible for putting
their legless leader, Douglas Bader, back in the fighting is taking up
new duties in the Dominion.
Group Captain (Dr.) Raymond W. Ryan, who has served in every country where the R.A.F. operates, has been appointed to organize a medical service for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Before being posted to Canada, Group Captain Ryan was president of the R.A.F.'s Central Medical Board. It was his job to rule on the eligibility of any man to take a plane into the air. So when Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, leader of the Canadian squadron, lost his legs some years ago, Ryan invalided him out of the service. Then, when Bader tried to return to active service he came to Ryan.
"Bader is a protégé of mine," Ryan says. "He is an amazing man. He plays squash and tennis—I don't know how he does it—and he said he had been flying privately for years. They tested him in a Spitfire fighter, and you have read what happened. He has been leading these Canadian lads who have been shooting down the Nazis with such success."
Group Captain Ryan isn't surprised that the Canadians in Bader's squadron have won such a name for themselves. As he puts it, "Any man would want to follow a leader like that." But Ryan also has a sincere respect for the flying ability of the average Canadian, once he has been trained.
"There's no doubt about it, the Canadian is naturally adapted to flying," he says. "He operates a plane as naturally as he skates, or plays hockey and baseball."
Although high in praise for the manner in which the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps has provided medical service for the R.C.A.F., Group Captain Ryan feels that there will be advantages in having a separate R.C.A.F. medical group.
"When a man gets his feet off the ground, a new science is involved," he says. New problems and new medical conditions have arisen in aviation, and they have to be studied and met.
"This has created a need for a special branch of the flying service to get the answer to the problems, and maintain the fliers in a state of health where they can carry on their air duties."
London, Jan. 9, 1941 — (UP) — The Royal Air
Force disclosed today the identities of its ten leading aces. One is a
former financial clerk in a newspaper office, another, a former South
African sailor. One has artificial legs; one is only 22 years old; one
shot down six German planes in six hours.
Each has shot down from 15 to 30 German planes. All have been decorated, some three times. They are veterans of the battle of France, the evacuation of Dunkirk and of countless air fights over south England. All but one are still active.
Scores of other R.A.F. men have shot down from five to ten German planes, but these are the top ten:
Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, thrice decorated leader of the Canada squadron. He lost both legs in an accident two (ten) years ago and learned to manipulate artificial legs before the war started.
Squadron Leader Roland Tuck, thrice decorated, has 23 swastikas and two Italian flags painted around the cockpit of his plane, signifying that many victories. He also has an Iron. Cross, the gift of a wounded German pilot he had shot down.
Pilot Officer H. M. Stephens, thrice decorated, formerly a financial clerk on a London evening newspaper; he and a colleague shared a pool for shooting down the 600th German plane destroyed by their squadron.
Squadron Leader Adolph Gysbert Malan, thrice decorated, formerly a South African sailor.
Flight-Lieut. John Ignatius (Iggy) Kilmartin, an Irishman, formerly attached to the advanced air striking force in France, credited with having shot down 15 German planes.
Flight-Lieut. J. S. Dundas, recently posted as missing and believed dead, credited with 15 German planes, one of which he chased from Winchester to Cherbourg, France, before destroying it.
Pilot Officer Geoffrey Allard, formerly a sergeant-pilot, commissioned because of his outstanding fighting, credited with 15 German planes.
Flight-Sgt. George Cecil Unwin, credited with from 15 to 20 enemy planes; last September, flying alone, he charged into a formation of 15 German bombers escorted by 30 German Messerschmitt fighters and shot down two Messerschmitts before he ran out of ammunition.
Flight-Lieut. J. H. Mungo-Park, veteran of Dunkirk and sharer with Stephens of the 600-plane pool.
Pilot Officer Albert Gerald Lewis, of South Africa, who shot down more than 20 German planes, including six in six hours,
London, Feb. 27, 1941 —(CP Cable)— The King
decorated Squadron-Ldr. Douglas Bader, English leader of the all-Canadian
squadron of the Royal Air Force, with the Distinguished Service Order
and the Distinguished Flying Cross at a recent investiture at Buckingham
The legless pilot's mother and wife attended the ceremony. Bader had been awarded the D.S.O. September 31 and the D.F.C. December 23.
At the same investiture the King decorated his cousin, Capt. Lord Louis Mountbatten, with the D.S.O. Lord Louis was in command of a destroyer in a brush with German naval units in the English Channel recently, and also was captain of the flotilla leader Kelly, which survived torpedoing last May.
...Canadians are prominent in the present daylight raids on Germany and occupied France They call the squadron led by Wing Commander Douglas Bader the 'Bader Bus Service' so regularly does it operate.
London, July 24, 1941 — (CP) — One of the
great aces of this war is Wing-Cmdr. A. G. Malan, D.S.O. and bar, D.F.C.
and bar, whose confirmed record of 35 enemy aircraft destroyed is the
highest of any man in the Royal Air Force.
A South African who holds a ship's second officer's certificate, Malan joined the R.A.F. six years ago because he wanted to earn enough money to be married. He has been flying steadily since then and is the first pilot of this war to win a bar for both his decorations.
Malan leads a wing, composed of three squadrons, and takes Spitfires and Hurricanes into battle in sweeps across the channel. He was in the thick of the Dunkerque fighting last year and in the Battle of Britain, led the crack No. 74 Squadron.
No. 74 was as famous in the last war as in this. Its leaders then included Major Edward Mannock, who shot down 61 German planes, and "Taffy" Ira Jones with 40.
Malan is a close friend of Wing-Cmdr. Douglas Bader, who led the famous all-Canadian squadron in the Battle of Britain. Both men are 30, old for fighter pilots, and in appearance are somewhat alike— not tall, thick set and well featured.
Bader, who lost both legs while rehearsing for the Hendon pageant 10 years ago, is at a different station from Malan, but often the men get together, swap experiences and plan new tactics. The Englishman's score is not as high as the South African's but he has brought down more than 20 planes.
Neither Malan nor Bader puts much moment on the total bag of pilots. They are strictly team commanders and their motto is "You've all got to fight as one."
London, Aug, 12, 1941 — (CP) — Wing-Cmdr.
Douglas Bader, the 30-year old legless English airman who led the so-called
all-Canadian squadron of the Royal Air Force through the Battle of Britain
a year ago, was reported missing today.
Bader was personally credited, with shooting down 15 planes. Last month he was awarded the bar to his Distinguished Service Order.
He lost both legs in a flying accident while serving with the R.A.F. in 1931. After proving he could fly with artificial limbs he managed to re-enter the service after the start of the war and carried out many daring feats.
In Battle of Britain
In one night during the height of the Battle of Britain last September his squadron was credited with bringing down 14 Nazi planes.
Subsequently he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Order for the exploit in which not a single bullet found its mark in any of his Hurricanes
Bader was a native of London. His mother, Mrs. E. W. Hobbs of Sprotborough, near Doncaster, on being notified he was missing, had the announcement made to the villagers.
Before he lost his legs Bader was one of Britain's greatest stunt flyers. Although ten years older than most R.A.F. fighter pilots, he led the Canadian squadron through the Battle of Britain with unusual success.
Led Channel Sweep
In recent weeks he led his squadron on sweep after sweep across the channel and northern France.
While a year ago a high proportion of the personnel of Bader's squadron was Canadian, it later dwindled and now is largely British. In the meantime several other all-Canadian formations have been organized.
The authorities had serious misgivings about Bader's artificial legs when the war began but it is said he "argued his way into service."
He had several close calls. About a year ago his engine failed as he was taking off and he had a mild crash in which his metal legs were badly bent. They were straightened out and in half an hour he was in the air again.
Another time over the North Sea a damaged German bomber jettisoned its load just when his plane was close underneath. He swerved away just in time.
In addition to the D.S.O. and bar, Bader won the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar — an accomplishment achieved by only one other man in the service, Squadron-Leader A. G. Malan of South Africa.
Another of the R.A.F.'s most honored pilots also reported missing today. He is (Acting Flight-Lieut. E. S. Lock), 21-year-old holder of the D.S.O. and D.F.C. and bar, all awarded by the King at the same time.
Lock was called "Sawn-off Lockie" because he was so short. He was credited with shooting down 30 German planes, nine of them in one week last September. His plane was shot down in flames over Britain and he spent three months in a hospital with severe leg wounds, a broken arm, and burns. He underwent 15 operations, left the hospital to be decorated at Buckingham Palace, and then returned to the hospital for a 16th.
London, Aug 12, 1941- (CP) - Missing was the ominous
word written tonight beside the illustrious name of Wing Commander Douglas
S Bader early air stunter who gained most of his fame as the legless leader
of the all Canadian squadron of the Royal Air Force now sheared by death
or transfer of most of its Canadian identity
The brief word that Bader failed to reach home after one of his numerous sweeps over enemy territory was given out by his mother at the village rectory at Sprots-borough Yorkshire. Confirmation was made by the Air Ministry which at the same time announced a similar fate had befallen Flt.–Lt. E S Lock, 21 year-old holder of the DSO and the DFC and Bar, all awarded by the King at the same time.
Lock was called 'Sawn Off Lockie' because he was so short. He was credited with shooting down thirty German planes nine of them in one week last September His plane was shot down in flames over Britain and he spent three months in a hospital with severe leg wounds a broken arm and burns. He underwent fifteen operations left hospital to be decorated at Buckingham Palace and then returned for a sixteenth trip to the operating table.
Both Often Decorated
Both Lock and Bader ranked high on the list of RAF greats. Lock as one of its most brilliant combatants and the 31-year old Bader as an organization leader. Although Bader s greatest quality was flying leadership he was credited officially with fifteen enemy planes
Like Lock, Bader was heavily decorated — the DSO and DFC and Bars to both. Only two other men in the flying service held all these medals
It was back on June 19 1940, that Bader, who was British born, took over the all-Canadian squadron which had been badly battered over Dunkirk and finally led it through some of the fiercest and numerically unequal battles ever seen in the air.
From these Bader, who resented being described as legless — he had artificial legs thanks — emerged with the DFC. It was men of his fighting caliber and the Canadians he led into battle against almost overwhelming odds that Prime Minister Churchill had in mind when he spoke of so much being owed by so many to so few. It was due to their work and men like them that the Germans chose to stay on their own side of the Channel during day light.
Delighted in Raids
That meant the RAF had to go after them. They did — day after day and week after week.
Back even in the sleety days of last winter, Bader took a boyish delight in scampering across the English Channel with a couple of his Canadian colleagues, harassing enemy troops and shooting up enemy fields.
Bader himself counted most of the German pilots yellow and openly said so. He treated the Germans in battle with contempt but his men swore by him.
An illustration of his spirit of team play and consideration for his men occurred one day when he and PO L E. Cryderman of Toronto and FO N. D. Edmond of Calgary — both since listed as missing or killed — ran across a German bomber over the Channel. Bader, the leader, went after the big bomber, poured rounds of gun fire into it — then swerved aside to allow the two youngsters to finish it off
They shared in the destruction of the plane but only after a narrow, escape from bombs jettisoned by the harassed bomber.
Wanted More Canadians
Bader was extremely proud of his Canadian squadron No 242. He asked for more Canadians to be placed under his command but he was promoted and transferred from the squadron early this year. He was succeeded by Whitney Straight, American born sportsman who was shot down a few days ago just before the announcement was made that he had been awarded the DFC
For a time Bader was an instructor but he put forth some persuasive argument and he was transferred as leader of another squadron He never did go back to No 242 but he left behind, in the officers mess and across the airfield, generally a fighting spirit that can never die.
Associated with him as the inspiration for the squadron were men like PO William L. McKnight of Calgary who held the DFC and Bar and was in line for the DSO when he was reported missing. McKnight at one time was the top ranking fighter pilot in the RAF with at least twenty three German planes to his credit.
On a sortie over France with Bader and others McKnight, who once brought down three German planes in one day, failed to return. He was strafing enemy troops from a particularly low height when he was last seen.
McKnight had been a protégé of Bader’s and when the young Canadian failed to return Bader forgot his quiet poise and became enraged at the Germans. He wanted to return immediately and “rake the devil out of them" but was forbidden because of heavy weather.
In spite of the order — at least so the story goes — Bader called up several of his squadron leader friends and tried to arrange an unofficial trip through the storm to avenge the loss of the young Calgary flier.
The awards to Bader were not given out for any particular action but for persistent and daring leadership mostly of the all Canadian squadron.
From one of three trips the squadron returned without loss and a bag of twelve Jerries. As the planes landed in the fast gathering dusk PO K. M. (Pat) Sclanders of Saint John N.B. - since killed - nipped into another machine and stood his own on it’s nose.
“Lots of Hurricanes"
Later Sclanders, appearing in the mess, apologized for apparently spoiling the days show.
Bader stopped sipping his cocoa looked at the boy's bruised eye and slapped him on the back saying “Hell, they’ve got lots of Hurricanes. We’ll get another one tomorrow but I doubt if that eye will clean up for a week or so."
The names of many young Canadians have since been added to the squadron’s roll of honor and in the officer’s mess there is to be seen only one of the original Canadian members — Flt. Lieut. R. D. Grassick, London, Ont., who has won one of the squadron’s eleven DFCs. Today most of the fliers are British.
Bader lost his legs in a flying accident before the war when he was regarded as one of the best stunt pilots in Britain. After many attempts he persuaded the RAF he could manipulate a plane with his artificial legs as well as most men without his handicap. His record showed he was right.
London, Aug. 13, 1941- (CP) - With Wing Cmdr. Douglas
R. Bader among the missing in recent air operations, it is recalled here
that in July last, Cassandra, Daily Mirror columnist, suggested that the
legless Royal Air Force pilots who led the all-Canadian squadron in last
fall's Battle of Britain, should be "prohibited from ever stepping
into an aircraft again."
"Such men as he—and there are many like him—are too valuable to England," wrote the columnist. "This country cannot afford to lose this splendid strain of manhood."
The writer mentioned another, airman—Flt.-Lieut. J. C. Mungo-Park, D.F.C. and bar, officially credited with bringing down 27 enemy planes before he was reported missing July 1.
"The R.A.F. lost a great pilot. But we, his countrymen, lost more —a great Englishman. By their valor, by their splendor of spirit, these men kill themselves. Already they have done 10,000 times their share toward winning the war, I say they have done enough."
Bader a few days after his capture. Thats "Dolfo" Galland & some other Luftwaffe personnel. Looks like a party
London, Aug. 14, 1941 — (CP) — An authoritative
source said today information had been received that Wing Cmdr. Douglas
Bader, legless Royal Air Force pilot reported missing two days ago, is
alive and a German prisoner.
Efforts are being made, the source said, to confirm the information.
Bader, 30, was credited with shooting down 15 German planes and was one of two R.A.F. pilots holding both the Distinguished Service Order with bar and the Distinguished Flying Cross with bar. He won fame as leader of the all-Canadian Squadron of the R.A.F. in the Battle of Britain.
London, Aug. 15.—(CP Cable) Sir Bernard Docker,
chairman of the British Hospital association, today offered to buy a new
set of artificial legs for Sqdn.-Leader Douglas Bader, Royal Air Force
ace now a prisoner of war.
It is believed Bader's metal legs were broken in his descent by parachute onto enemy territory when shot down earlier this week. The Red Cross is arranging delivery of the new limbs.
Bader lost his own legs in a flying accident before the war.
London, Aug, 20, 1941 (Wednesday (CP) — A metal
leg for Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, to replace the one he broke when
he landed on enemy territory and was taken prisoner, was dropped from
a fighter plane during Tuesday's Royal Air Force sweep over German-held
France, the Daily Express said today.
The newspaper said there was so much competition among the members of Bader's squadron for the honor of dropping the artificial limb that it was decided the whole outfit should do the job together.
Flying in a tightly packed formation the squadron crossed the Channel and the leg, carefully packed to avoid damage, was dropped by parachute. It was last seen floating gently to the ground as the planes continued toward their objective.
London, Sept. 4, 1941— (CP Cable) — The air
ministry officially announced today that Wing Commander Douglas Bader
has been awarded a bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross.
When it was reported August 12 that Bader was missing, it was made known that this decoration had been conferred upon him, but the official publication was delayed.
Bader, now a prisoner of war; also holds the Distinguished Service Order and bar.
The Daily Express today told how Spitfire planes of Bader's squadron followed him down for thousands of feet to protect him when he was forced to bail out over German-held territory last month.
". . The Spitfires spiraled around him in a protective coil," the paper said.
In landing, Bader damaged one of his two artificial legs. Another leg has been dropped in Nazi territory by the R.A.F. to replace it.
Missing Flier Dropped Prisoner 'Tin Pins'
New York, Sept. 26, 1941 (CP) — A Blenheim bomber, piloted by 19-year-old Jack Nickleson of Toronto, who since has been reported missing, dropped metal legs for Wing Commander Douglas Bader to replace those the British ace broke when he landed on enemy territory and was taken prisoner, according to word received here today.
Sergeant-Pilot Nickleson, in a letter dated Aug. 30 to his brother Allan, a member of The Canadian Press staff in New York, told of the flight and said: "We dropped them over Northern France during daylight and they say he received them OK—it was my plane that dropped them."
Young Nickleson's parents in Toronto, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Nickleson, received word last Sunday that their son is missing and believed dead. The bomber he piloted did not return from a raid last Saturday.
Sergeant-Pilot Nickleson joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on graduation from North Toronto Collegiate in June, 1940, and went overseas this spring. Since then he had participated in many raids on Germany and Nazi-occupied territory.
Bader, curly-haired air stunter, who gained most of his fame as leader of an all-Canadian squadron of the Royal Air Force, was reported missing Aug. 12. Subsequently it was confirmed he was a prisoner of war and that his metal legs—he lost his own in a flying accident before the war—had been broken in a parachute descent from his fighter plane.
A month ago it was reported that the legs, carefully wrapped, had been dropped from a plane by parachute. There had been no indication, until today, who had the honor of flying the legs to the much-decorated Bader, who early this year had been transferred from the all-Canadian squadron.
First Air Victory Was a 'Horrible Experience'
London, Sept. 26, 1941 (CP) — Wing Commander Douglas Bader, the stout-hearted Briton who formerly led the Royal Air Force's Canadian fighter squadron, was "green with funk" when he shot down his first German airplane.
After accounting for a Dornier, he told his mother, Mrs. Ernest Hobbs: "Shooting down men for the first time is a horrible experience. I looked in my mirror. I couldn't believe it was me. I was green with funk."
The story was told in an interview with Bader's mother in the Daily Mail after the legless ace had been shot down and taken prisoner in a sweep over Northern France.
Ten years ago she painstakingly taught him to walk on what he called his "tin pins" after losing both legs in an air crash.
At the time, she said, he had heard "his dearest wish was about to be fulfilled." He had been chosen to play rugby football for England. His happiness was complete.
"But it was not to be. Five days before the match Douglas crashed. Both legs had to be amputated. When I arrived at the hospital Douglas was unconscious. He remained unconscious for nine days. I never left his bedside."
Finally the surgeon, James Leonard Joyce, said his patient was out of danger. Only then did his mother relax.
"Never have I known a woman as brave as this," said Joyce.
"Everything in life had come easily to my Douglas," she declared. "He was always impatient of the drudgery of learning. I knew that now he must learn again the very fundamentals of living. And that it would be my job to teach him.
"Never for one second did I think of him, or allow him to think of himself, as a disabled man."
Through his long convalescence she was always with him. He learned to drive a car, to fly again, to dance, to play golf and even tennis.
When the war came he volunteered for flying duties with the R.A.F., and his enthusiasm and persistence wore down official opposition.
When Bader went to Buckingham Palace last February to be decorated by the King, His Majesty said: "I and my great Empire are very proud of you. Well done."
Rome, Sept. 28, 1941 - (UP) - Reports reaching here today said that Wing
Commander Douglas Bader, Britain's famous "legless pilot," almost
escaped to the French sea coast recently on a pair of artificial legs
which the R.A.F. dropped for him over occupied France after he was shot
down during a dogfight.
The reports said the aluminum legs, dropped with German permission, were given to Bader while he was in a German hospital. Several days later, it was said, he slid down a blanket from the hospital window and began walking away during the night.
Bader was picked up four days later, it was reported, 100 miles from the hospital. He was trying to reach the French coast.
December 13, 1941 - The all-Canadian squadron of the Royal Air Force, formed late in 1939 of Canadian and British pilots, has had a very distinguished record. It destroyed at least thirty planes over France and the Low Countries during the battle of France in the summer of 1940, and had the honor of being the last squadron to leave French soil. It fought over Dunkirk and played its part in protecting the evacuation of British and allied troops. It also fought over London during the September "blitz." In six fights it destroyed 55 enemy planes, with a loss of only two of its own pilots. By January, 1941, it had accounted for more than 100 enemy planes. All but one of the Canadians in the squadron have now been transferred and its leader, the famous legless Squadron-Leader Douglas Bader, is a prisoner of war.
May 2, 1942 - The Toronto airman who risked his own life
to drop a pair of artificial legs to Douglas Bader, famed R.A.F. legless
squadron leader held prisoner in Germany. Flight-Sergeant John M. Nickleson,
20, is now reported dead. He was listed as missing some time ago following
operations over German-held territory.
A veteran of many air battles, it was while he was attached to a Canadian bomber squadron attacking enemy shipping last September that his aircraft was shot down and crashed in the sea. It was not known whether he had been picked up by a German ship.
A graduate of North Toronto Collegiate, Flight-Sergeant Nickleson enlisted in the R.C.A.F. two years ago. His mother, Mrs. W. J. Nickleson of Roselawn Avenue, said she had received many letters from her son, telling of raids in which he had taken part. "They used to swoop down low over the water and blast at enemy ships. On one occasion he bombed a power station at Cologne, swooping down to within 300 feet before releasing his bombs," she said.
Although the enemy had promised to respect the aircraft which was to drop the artificial legs to Bader, Mrs. Nickleson said she had received clippings from British papers indicating that the Germans had opened fire on the aircraft.*
Besides his parents, Flight-Sergeant Nickleson leaves two brothers, Allan, a Canadian Press correspondent in England, Douglas of Toronto, and a sister, Mrs. Douglas Terry of Toronto.
* In fact, the RAF pilots, who had been granted "free air" in order to drop the leg, opened fire on the German Air base while doing the delivery. Naturally, the Germans obliged with return fire.
Bader, who lost his legs in an air crash in 1931, was taken prisoner after bailing out of his plane near St. Omer, France, in August, 1941.
During his parachute landing he damaged one of his metal artificial legs, and the Germans subsequently granted free passage for an R.A.F. pilot to fly him a new pair.
The legs were flown by Sergeant Pilot Jack Nickleson of 148 Roselawn Avenue, Toronto, who was reported missing and believed killed on his next operational flight.
Bader, equipped with the new legs, was said by the German radio to have been entertained at a dinner by his captors, and to have attempted to escape afterwards.
One of the most picturesque figures of the war, the Wing Commander was credited with having destroyed personally fifteen German aircraft, while under his leadership the "All-Canadians" ran their score above 100.
Bader holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order with bar
Bader sitting on his 242 Sq.Hurricane
By ALAN RANDAL, With the R.C.A.F., Fighter Command, Somewhere
in England, September 3, 1943 - (CP) - Quietly, flying in the vanguard
of Canada's Spitfire pilots in England, a new Fighter Ace has been born
in fighter command. He is Wing Cmdr. J. E. Johnson,
an Englishman who wears a "Canada" flash on his flying battledress
as a mark of fellowship and admiration for the Canadians he leads.
Today his score stands at 23 enemy planes destroyed. Only Group Capt Sailor Malan, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, with 32, tops Johnson among active airmen in fighter command.
At 27, Johnson has been leading the Canadian fighter wing since March 16 last, has the D.S.O., the D.F.C. and Bar. He scored 14 of his "kills" with the Canadians and they'd follow this smiling pilot to the ends of the earth if their petrol would hold out that long.
Behind his leadership Canadians have been piling up scores of their own, young fliers such as Sqdn. Ldrs. Chuck Magwood, Hugh Godefroy and Flight Lieutenant Deane MacDonald, all of Toronto, and all with five or more aircraft shot down.
Like all wing commanders, Johnson flies a plane bearing his own crest and his initials, "J. E. J." He says it's the best aircraft in fighter command. In it he has flown 90 of his 203 sweeps over France and Occupied Europe.
Never Been Scratched
This Spitfire has never been scratched by enemy fire or damaged in any other way. It has never turned back from any operation. It has never had engine trouble during an operation. It has never been late for a rendezvous. Johnson says that's a record.
The wing-commander doesn't say much about himself for publication. You have to get that from the men who fly with him. One veteran pilot said, "When we hear Johnnie's voice over the radio telephone we know everything is all right, no matter how bad a fix we may be in over there.
"We may be ringed in by Jerries - we have been and we may be again sometime - but we know somehow he will lead us into a position to turn the tables on them. He has done it several times and he will do it again!'
Here at Johnson's fighter station you have only to watch the pilots standing around him making their reports out after a sweep to know how they feel about him. "They know Johnson is looking after them, not only out on an "op" but right here at base, seeing they get any privileges that are rightly theirs, seeing that they are as comfortable as they can be, and as satisfied as they can be - all to the end that they fly just that much better.
Among Lowest Losses
This fighter wing that Johnson commands has one of the best scores in the group. It also has among the lowest losses. Here, in the words of one of Johnson's pilots, is the reason:
"Every pilot knows Johnson is looking after him and when he calls back a couple who are chasing a Jerry down toward the ground they get up into formation in a hurry, no matter how badly they may want to continue the chase. Johnnie likes to get Jerries and he likes to sea his pilots get them but he wants even more to bring his boys safely back home."
Johnson, born in Leicestershire (Barrow-upon-Soar), used to be a civil engineer before he enlisted in the ranks of the R.A.F. He is a year married, stockily built, with straight dark hair, is tough and good looking. He grins easily, but is not the kind of man anybody would take liberties with.
He used to fly No. 2 to Wing Cmdr. Douglas Bader, the legless ace who baled out over France and now is a prisoner of war. Johnson was along on that flight. He saw Bader bale out and blasted two ME109's out of the sky before turning for home.
(Written for the Canadian Press by Flt.Lt. Basil Dean,
Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, Sept. 8, 1943.— (CP)—There are still some of the few left, some of those hard-fighting combat pilots of Battle of Britain days, but mostly it is a new brood of pilots who fly from the air bases hereabouts in Britain's Fighter Command. Three years ago, when the first few of Canada's aerial aces were fighting their way to fame, the battles were over British soil. Now, with greater numbers of Canadians than ever before in Fighter Command, the pilots are going out to seek the enemy over his own territory. This air fighting of today is offensive, not defensive, as during the Battle of Britain, but it was the fighting then that made the current offensive possible.
Some Still Flying
Some of the Canadians who fought with honor and glory in those grim days three years ago are still flying. Wing-Cmdr. B. D. Russel, D.F.C., of Montreal, who now leads an R.C.A.F. Spitfire wing in Britain, was then P/O Dal Russel and a member of Canada's No. 1 Fighter Squadron, which arrived in England in June, 1940—just in time to get trained for the fierce tests of August and September of that year.
Russel's old commanding officer, Ernie McNab, now is Group Capt. Ernest McNab, D.F.C., of Regina, commander of an R.C.A.F. fighter station.
In Sicily, Squadron-Ldr. Stanley Turner, D.F.C. and Bar, of Toronto, led the R.C.A.F.'s City of Windsor fighter squadron through the island campaign. In 1940, he was a flight commander in the R.A.F.’s famed "all-Canadian" squadron led by Wing-Cmdr. Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C., which destroyed 63 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and shared three with other squadrons.
The squadron was composed mainly of Canadians who had joined the R.A.F. before the war, and fought nobly during the Battle of France and over Dunkerque.
Its achievements during the Battle of Britain, indeed, brought from the air officer commanding of the group in which it was serving at the time a message which said that its efficiency as a squadron was "equal, if not superior, to any squadron in the R.A.F." The British chief of air staff signaled: "You are well on top of the enemy and obviously the fine Canadian traditions of the last war are safe in your hands."
Greatest pilot of the "all-Canadian" squadron—apart from the legless commander, Bader (who was not Canadian)—was P/O W. L. McKnight, D.F.C. and bar, of Calgary, who was reported missing some months after the Battle of Britain ended. McKnight destroyed 16½ enemy aircraft, and was the first Canadian ace of the war.
The "all-Canadian" squadron's first Battle of Britain engagement was August 30, when Bader, now a prisoner of war, led a formation of 14 Hurricanes against a "vast number" of German aircraft, two swarms of 70 to 100 each. Detaching one section to investigate a third formation of aircraft some distance away, Bader led the rest of his pilots to the attack. As a result, 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed; not one of the Hurricanes had so much a scratch.
Similar engagements followed. On September 7, Bader and his Canadians destroyed 10 enemy aircraft without losing a pilot, although seven of the squadron's Hurricanes were damaged. On September 19, when the wing in which the squadron was flying destroyed a total of 18 enemy aircraft, the "all-Canadians" were credited with 11 of these for the loss of one pilot killed.
And then, in the greatest day's fighting of all on September 15, the squadron destroyed 12 enemy aircraft. This was the day on which Bader described the fighting as "the finest shamble I've ever been in."
"The sky," he added, "was full of Hurricanes and. Spitfires, queuing up and pushing each other out of the way to get at the Dormers. I was seldom able to hold my sights on a target for long for fear of colliding with other Spitfires and Hurricanes anxious to get in a burst."
Among the Canadians P/O J. B. Latta, D.F.C., Victoria, B.C., had knocked down five enemy planes; F/L Turner had five; so had P/O N. K. Stansfeld, D.F.C., Vancouver. P/O H. N. Tamblyn, D.F.C., North Battleford, Sask., and P/O N. Hart had four each. Altogether Canadian pilots in the squadron had destroyed 45 of the total of 65 credited to the squadron; Bader had scored 11.
Canada's own No. 1 fighter squadron, which although its personnel have completely changed; is still flying in Britain with fighter command, had scored a total of 31 victories during the battle under McNab's leadership. McNab himself had scored the first victory to be credited to a member of the squadron when, in order to gain combat experience, he flew as a supernumerary officer with an R.A.F. squadron before No. 1 fighter was ready for front-line duties.
In the squadron's first engagement as a unit, on August 24, it destroyed three Dorniers for the loss of one pilot. By the end of its first week in action it had destroyed eight enemy aircraft for the loss of one pilot killed. The score continued to mount until September 27, when the Canadian squadron destroyed seven enemy aircraft out of about 70 engaged during the day; one pilot of the squadron was killed. In the day's first fight, Russel had destroyed an ME 109 and an ME 110 and had shared with a Polish pilot the destruction of a third enemy fighter.
McNab, F/L G. R. McGregor and Russel were each awarded the D.F.C., having destroyed between them, 11½ of the squadron's total. McNab and McGregor now are both group captains; Russel is a wing commander.
In other squadrons of the R.A.F., Canadians had also distinguished themselves. One of the flight commanders in the R.A.F. squadron was a Canadian, F/L R. A. Barton, Kamloops, B.C., who later became squadron commander of his unit. He was awarded the D.F.C. for his "outstanding leadership" on September 27, a day on which the squadron destroyed 21 enemy aircraft for the loss of two pilots killed. The total bag during September was 48, a total exceeded only by the famous No. 303 Polish squadron, in which another Canadian, F/L (now Wing-Cmdr.) John Kent, Winnipeg, was at that time a flight commander.
Paris, April 18, 1945 (CP) - Wing Cmdr. Douglas R. Bader,
curly-haired air-stunter, who gained most of his fame as the legless leader
of the all-Canadian squadron of the RAF, has been freed by United States
troops after three years in German prison camps, it was disclosed today.
Date of his release and the place were not given, but it was disclosed that Bader is in France. He was taken prisoner when his fighter plane was brought down in a raid over German-held territory Aug. 14, 1941, escaped thrice from German camps, but was recaptured each time. His captors finally took his artificial legs away from him.
(Mrs. Cecil Merritt, wife of Lt. Col. Merritt, Canada's first winner, of the Victoria Cross in this war, said in Toronto Wednesday that her husband was a room-mate of Bader in prison camp. She received no information whether her husband also has been freed. Col. Merritt, who won the V.C. at Dieppe where he was captured by the Germans Aug. 19, 1942, was quartered with Bader al. Oflag 7B near Leipzig.
(Ross Munro, Canadian Press war correspondent, reported April 2 that Col. Merritt was understood to be with high Canadian officers at Oflag 7A at Eichstaett, 40 miles south of Nurnberg. United States 7th Army troops are fighting in Nurnberg, near the southern end of the Western Front.)
Wing Cmdr. Bader, who lost his legs in a flying accident before the war, when he was regarded as one of the best stunt fliers in Britain, succeeded after many attempts in persuading the RAF that he could manipulate a plane will his artificial legs as well as most men without his handicap.
His record — 15 enemy planes shot down up to the time of his capture — showed he was right. He was awarded the DSO and the DFC and Bars to both.
In June, 1940, the British-born Bader took over the all-Canadian squadron which had been battered through the Dunkerque evacuation, and finally led them through some of the fiercest and numerically most unequal battles ever fought in the air.
(From the Spectator's London News Bureau, by A. C. Cummings,
Copyright, 1945, by Southam CO.)
London, April 21, 1945 — Released From Oflag IV-C (Schloss Colditz), 25 miles southeast of Leipzig, Lieutenant-Colonel Merritt, British Columbia Victoria Cross winner, is back in Britain today. Here is an account of prison camp life by a fellow prisoner of war who is a member of the Times' staff and shared Colonel Merritt's imprisonment.
The prison was a bleak, derelict castle, he says, on the River Molde. It could not be compared with a concentration camp, but it had a dismal, uncanny, look and the occupants were subjected to endless, petty annoyances culminating in the removal eastward at the dead of night of 20 notable prisoners just as U.S., troops were only 25 miles away. These prisoners included King George's nephew, Lord Lascelles, Captain Lord Half, several relatives of Premier Churchill and the leader of the Warsaw revolt, the Polish General BorKomorowski.
When the news reached the German camp commandant that Allied forces were approaching, the British senior officer, Lieut.-Col. Tod, was ordered to remove all his men eastward so that they would not be liberated. He flatly refused and the German commandant telephoned his superior. The major-general lost his temper and reiterated the order but when told force would be necessary he changed his mind and said the prisoners might stay. A little later, shells from U.S. tanks began to fall near the castle. So the German commandant gave over the interior command to the British and tried to obtain a promise he would not be handed over to the Russians after the camp was liberated. He showed the greatest terror lest he would be sent to Siberia or treated as a war criminal.
Made No Promises
The British commander declined to make any promises whatever. The commandant thereupon surrendered the interior castle to the British, only stipulating no flags should be hung out lest other German troops in the neighborhood should know the prison camp had been given up.
Just then US artillery was getting the range for the gunners thought the castle might be a likely strongpoint. However, only a few shells struck it. One of them knocked Wing Commander Bader, famous leader of a squadron of Canadian Hurricane fighters, off his artificial legs.
No one was seriously hurt during the battle, says the Times' staff man. It lasted the whole night and few prisoners got any sleep. Electric lights in the castle fused and as arc-lamps could not be switched on outside, the camp appeared as detestable a place as it really was. When U.S. soldiers arrived every one cheered. Then the German camp officers surrendered. They explained that the notable prisoners they had sent away were ordered removed by Himmler himself. All camp officials were at once arrested.
"Relief at returning home is immense," says the member of the Times staff. "Marred only by the absence of friends, whom the German Government kidnapped within a few hours of their freedom. The only place we had for exercise was a courtyard 50 yards by 20. The castle had been a prison during the last three wars and in peace time, had been a lunatic asylum. All the windows were barred. In the last two months 1,500 prisoners had to live in accommodation suitable only for 600."
In the neighborhood of Schloss Colditz the Americans also released 1,000 French officers and discovered a Jewish concentration camp where conditions were so appalling, half of the occupants were dead and the rest barely able to crawl. They had been distinguished men, including lawyers and doctors.
Spits lined up & ready for Battle of Britain Day - 1945
By NORMAN CRIBBENS
London, Sept. 16, 1945 - (CP) - Twelve powerful Spitfires roared over London's cheering millions yesterday, manned by Battle of Britain aces who took to the sky in memory of the earlier, slower Spitfires which battled the Luftwaffe exactly five years previously and on that memorable Sept. 15, 1940, sent 185 German planes falling in flames.
Behind the Spitfires in the 30-mile parade of squadrons came 300 fighters and fighter-bombers of Fighter and Coastal Commands. Mustangs flew with Spitfires, Typhoons and Beaufighters in perfect formation, screaming Tempests streaked by at greater heights. Seemingly slow by comparison were the fleet Mosquitos. At the end of the line searing across the steely sky came jet-propelled Meteors.
Bader in Lead
Above the roar of this armada fliers heard terse commands radioed by Group Capt. Douglas Bader, legless ace and one-time commander of the RAF's All-Canadian Squadron, who led the procession in an immaculate Mark XI Spitfire. Bader, who wore white kid gloves and the blue scarf known to airmen before he was shot down and taken prisoner in 1941, was one of the 12 gallant young men who took part in the epic battle and also shared in the flight.
They represented possibly 1,000 pilots - the immortal "few" who fought the Battle of Britain and of whom an unknown number survive. Some survivors are serving overseas or holding staff appointments and many Canadian aces are back home or grounded for repatriation.
Londoners remembered Winston Churchill's words, "Never have so many owed so much to so few," as the mighty roar of the fighter planes recalled to them that Sept. 15, 1940, day — "the most brilliant and fruitful" of large-scale air engagements, as Mr. Churchill, then, Prime Minister, said at the time.
From a Beaufighter Mark X in which I flew with two Londoners, FO Harry Sharp, pilot, and FO Red Godwin, navigator, it was possible to catch only a brief glimpse through straggling clouds of the massed humanity gathered in London streets and on rooftops — where in grimmer days many of them kept vigil for Nazi fire-bombs.
Thousands in Square
As we roared down over Trafalgar Square fluttering handkerchiefs like a flurry of snowflakes indicated the wild demonstration. FO Sharp, who trained at Brandon Man., was too occupied with keeping formation even to glance down.
"There are thousands of them,” I shouted through the intercom, “All are cheering like mad.”
"Sorry, can't talk now old boy, have to concentrate hard." Sharp replied. "This is tricky work."
Often Sharp had to throttle down abruptly because he was too close to the plane ahead and a buzzer warning of reduced speed ran through the ship.
Low clouds made it necessary to fly lower than normally. We never rose above 2,000 feet, dropping to 500 over London for the benefit of watchers below, who said later, they could almost feel the slipstream from the planes as they tore past.
Above and ahead of us in perfect alignment, the trim Spitfires stood out sharply against a background of dark clouds, gold-edged by the sun. Every now and then a fiery Tempest shot underneath so that the trapdoor of our plane seemed to shake with the roar of the mighty engines. Sometimes the wings of neighboring Beau fighters seemed dangerously close — not more than 10 feet — but Sharp's cool, steady hands and watching eye lent confidence.
Poles in Flight
Flying with us were five squadrons of Mustangs manned by Polish pilots. But the plane which played the biggest part in winning the Battle of Britain — the 400-miles-per-hour Hurricane — was conspicuously absent. Even at maximum speed it would have been left lagging by the Typhoon and Tempest fighters of 1945.
Bader's own Spitfire — pride of his ground crew — had been tuned to a nicety and he was smiling when the mechanics helped him into the cockpit at the start of the flight.
"Let's go, boys," he said. Many times during the Battle of Britain he had spoken those words, but now there was a subtle difference in his tone. No grim battle with the enemy lay ahead. He and "the few" were going to "raid"' London and cheering crowds awaited them.
Afterward Bader presented his beribboned ace pilots to Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, commander-in-chief of Fighter Command in those fateful days of 1940.
Well pleased with the performance, Lord Dowding shook hands warmly with Bader and his fellow aces, who wore 52 medals between them.
"Excellent show," Lord Dowding commented.
Thanks and Commendation
"The few" then gathered at an officers' mess where they receives thanks and commendation from Bader and congratulations of other fliers. Many regretted such aces of the air war as Flt. Lt. George Beurling of Verdun, Que., and Group Captain Johnny Johnson, English-born leader of a crack Canadian Spitfire wing, could not have taken part.
In the final scoring record compiled by the RAF, RCAF and United States Army Air Forces, Johnson topped the list with 38 German planes destroyed. Next came Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, a South African member of the RAF, and the late Sqdn. Ldr. Brendan (Paddy) Finucane of the RAF with 32.
Beurling was credited with 31 enemy planes destroyed and Wing Cmdr. Stanford Tuck of the RAF, who participated in the anniversary flight, scored 29 "kills."
Aces who flew with Bader yesterday were: Group Capts. Frank Carey & Stan Turner; Wing Cmdrs. Pete Brothers, Ed Wells, Dennis Crowley-Milling, Keith Lofts, Billy Drake, John Ellis & Tim Vigors & Sqdn. Ldr. Charlie Bush.
Group Capt. Turner, who was born in Devon, lived in Toronto before the war and came to England to join the RAF.
London, Oct. 13. 1945 - (AP) - Fewer than 50 of "the
few" Battle of Britain fighter pilots who saved this island from
German invasion in the gloomy autumn of 1940 are alive today.
All the rest of the 375 top-flight fighters of the battle were killed in action. The last one went down six weeks before the war ended.
Almost all of those whose luck kept them alive through five years of war still are serving in the R.A.F., Air Ministry records show. Many of them, too young to have had civilian professions when they joined up, plan to make the air force their career.
Most widely known among the survivors is legless Group Capt. Douglas Bader, 35, who led the "all-Canadian" squadron of the R.A.F. into the Battle of Britain.
Turner High On List
Among the men who flew with him and lived to see the war through are Group Capt. P. S. (Stan) Turner, born in Devon, England, but who lived most of his life in Toronto. Taciturn and superstitious, Turner would never pose for newspaper photographers. "Bad luck," he said succinctly.
Turner was one of the young Canadians who went to England before the war to join the R.A.F. and was posted to Squadron 242, which became the "all-Canadian" unit, and which numbers among it, survivors Flt.-Lt. R. D. (Bob) Grassick, of London, Ont., recently returned from Egypt.
Bader fought the Battle of Britain from the cockpit of a Hurricane using a set of artificial legs. He previously had made flying history with a comeback after a flying accident in 1931 cost him both legs.
Bader was shot down over France after the crucial battle and spent four years in German prison camps before the United States 1st Army set him free last summer.
Defies Hun Captors
He had broken his artificial legs in his parachute jump to German capture and a new set was parachuted to him by Flight-Sgt. Jack Nickleson, of Toronto, since lost. Bader attempted to escape four times so the Germans took away his legs.
He now is second in command of the R.A.F.'s famous 11 Fighter Group, the same outfit with which he fought in 1940.
The commander of No. 11 Group during some of the hottest days was Sir Keith Park, now Allied air commander of the Southeast Asia command. He is an air chief marshal.
Little Art (Sailor) Malan was one of the most publicized pilots in the Battle of Britain. He now is a group captain at R.A.F. Staff College.
F. R. Carey, another one of the original few, has a desk job in the same office with Bader. Wing-Cmdr. P. M. Brothers, veteran Hurricane ace, is one of the top men at the R.A.F. Cadet College.
Among other old-timers holding staff jobs are: Wing-Cmdr W. Crowley-Milling, Keith Lofts, Bill Drake, Joe Ellis and Tom Vigors. All those names once were virtually household words around London.
Released, Serves Again
Al Donaldson, who knocked down three Germans in one afternoon, now, is stationed with the R.A.F. in Calcutta. Stanford Tuck, who gained almost as much attention as Bader and Malan, spent two years as a prisoner of war, but now is back with old Group 11. How the few hundred pilots contrived to give the Luftwaffe the thrashing they did in the Battle of Britain is one of the miracles of the war.
The superior morale of the pilots, their skill, the fact that they were fighting over and for their very homes, the excellence of the Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, good organization in the control rooms and the invaluable secret of radar —all were factors contributing to victory.
It has been admitted officially that in July, 1940, the R.A.F. Fighter Command had only 640 aircraft available daily for the battle. These were being supplemented at the rate of 130 new planes a week.
Terrible Toll of Life
This was little more than enough to make up for heavy losses. But it was the high toll among the best pilots, more than the loss of aircraft, that almost cost them the decision. In the four months from July to October, 1940, the fighter command lost 481 pilots killed, captured or missing plus 422 injured.
The turning point in the Battle of Britain came on that historic Sunday of September 15, 1940, when a gallant little band of dog-tired Pilots, outnumbered ten to one, went up for a desperate last-ditch stand and shot down 185 German Planes in a nightmare battle which lasted all day over London and southeast England. The pilots fought in relays that day, each coming down only long enough for a cup of tea and for refueling his plane.
London, Nov. 27, 1945 — (Reuters) — Group
Capt. Douglas Bader, legless ace of the R.A.F., today was given bars to
his Distinguished Service Cross and his Distinguished Flying Cross by
the King at Buckingham Palace.
Capt. Bader, fighter pilot veteran of the Battle of Britain and later a prisoner of war, walked almost effortlessly up the red carpeted ramp to the royal dais. He bowed to the King, who shook hands and gave him the decorations.
By JACK HAMBLETON, June 3, 1947
Group Capt. Douglas Bader, the famous "legless" Bader of the Second Great War, has a "scunner" against North American weather. Of course, he admits, he is not alone in bemoaning the rainfall and fog which has characterized recent local, weather. But when a chap is 20 yards from Niagara Falls, which he has never seen before, and can't see them now - well . . . It's not quite cricket, old boy.
Nor is it hardly fair that a pilot, who has made three abortive attempts to escape from a German prison camp and finally was released by the United States Army, should be denied a sight of New York's famed skyline — because of rain and fog.
Nor is the stocky, dark-haired fighter pilot particularly
happy about the fact the Shell Oil Co. plane he was piloting from Akron
to Toronto was forced back at Buffalo — by weather — and that
he was forced ignominiously to drive into Toronto yesterday. Group Capt.
Bader will spend several days with Shell executives here before returning
to New York Wednesday.
An interview with Group Capt. Bader is an experience in itself. This grey-suited individual with the blue shirt, striped tie and two artificial legs, is no morose cripple. As he sits on a chesterfield and drags at a typical English pipe, he is quite alive—and kicking. He stomps around the room, with little about his gait to indicate his legs aren't perfectly normal. And if there are any individuals in Canadian hospitals who want to know what it is like to be without legs, Bader is anxious and willing to tell them—and show them.
He came to this continent, he said, because he "wants to learn something about aviation." (This from a fellow who lost both legs in the crash of a fighter plane in 1931, talked the Royal Air Force into letting him handle the first 'all-Canadian' fighter, squadron which shot down 33 enemy aircraft, with Bader personally, accounting for six.)
What about war talk in England? Well, "if you are busy trying to get enough food for yourself, you haven't much time to think about what is going on in the outside world. Flatly, the British people are not talking about war with any one at the time."
It isn't exactly true that the Germans took away his artificial legs to prevent his escaping. When he was captured by the Germans in France, after shooting down two of their planes and colliding with a third, the Nazis did remove his legs and carried him to a German camp. On this occasion, RAF fliers dropped him a spare leg, which his captors duly delivered to him. Once after that, his legs were taken away "for something I had done. I forget just what, but it was probably something connected with an escape attempt. I thought it was very unsporting at the time and was quite mad about it."
Bader's artificial limbs have flexible ankles, and he can dance, play squash, tennis, cricket and golf. He hopes to shoot a game of golf locally, having played on some of the United States' courses and found them "excellent." The weather though, will have to clear before he becomes greatly interested in a golf game. Even in Southern California —and at the risk of alienating every chamber of commerce on the west coast— it rained "furiously all one morning, although they said the sun was always shining out there." He might, he admitted rather reluctantly, be accused of bringing the weather with him. Meanwhile, it has been typical Bader stuff "Visibility normal — can't see a thing."
Sept. 17, 1947, Hamilton, Ontario - On Sunday, September
21, Across the whole Dominion of Canada, congregations in churches will
bow their heads in prayer in tribute to the valiant members of the Royal
Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force who gave their lives for freedom
in the Battle of Britain waged over the skies of that island from July
to October 1940.
In that epic struggle for supremacy of the air Canada was represented by several hundred officers and airmen who served as air crew and ground crew in Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands. The great majority of these Canadians who fought in the Battle of Britain were young men who had crossed the Atlantic in pre-war days to enroll in the R.A.F. and served in units of that force. There were, however, two fighter squadrons which bore the name Canadian. One was 242 (Canadian) Squadron of the R.A.F., composed of Canadian fighter pilots in the R.A.F.; the other was No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron of the R.C.A.F., (later designated No. 401) which arrived in Britain on the eve of the battle.
Hamilton today mourns the loss of one of her sons who fought in this heroic battle. P/O Norris Hart, son of R. S. Hart, 90 Stinson Street, was shot down in the first week of November 1940 after having served with 242 Squadron under the famous leader S/L Douglas Bader for two months.
Speaking of 242 Squadron R.A.F., on September 15, 1940, the official R.A.F. records state "September 15 marked the climax of the battle, the historic day on which 85 enemy aircraft were shot down. When, just before noon on that sunny Sunday morning, the first great waves of raiders began to cross the Channel, No. 242 Squadron took off to engage them. Over Gravesend, east of London, the squadron, accompanied by four other fighter units, found about 30 Dorniers escorted by Messerschmitt fighters flying 6,000 feet below. S/L Bader led his pilots in a diving attack out of the sun and the enemy force was all but annihilated. Bader described the action as "the finest shambles" he had been in. For once the British had the advantage of height, position and numbers; indeed the sky seemed to be full of Spitfires and Hurricanes who queued up and pushed each other out of the way to get a shot at the Nazi bombers. The German fighters judiciously stayed out of the way. Stansfeld and Turner each destroyed a Dornier; F/O Tamblyn shared another with a companion; S/L Bader shot down a fourth and a Fleet Air Arm pilot in the squadron accounted for a fifth. P/O Hart shot down an Me-109 in flames. In addition, several Dorniers were damaged. The four squadrons flying with No. 242 claimed 23 destroyed and eight probables in the action.
This is but the account of one squadron in one day of those terrible four months that finally hammered the Hun into submission so far as striving for the conquest of Britain was concerned. It is for the heroism of those pilots who fought those grim battles high above the British Isles that Canadians everywhere will offer a prayer of thanks on Sunday as will the people of Great Britain.
Here in Hamilton the occasion will be marked by a church parade of 424 Fighter Squadron R.C.A.F. (Auxiliary) and the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadrons of Hamilton to the Church of St. Thomas. At this special service Wing Cmdr. Douglas H. Wigle, commanding officer of 424 Squadron will read the lesson and Rev. Dr. R.C. Blagrave, rector of the church, will deliver a special sermon.
Following the service the squadron and cadets, led by the Air Cadet Trumpet Band, will march west on Main Street East to James Street, north on James to King Street, and east on King Street past a saluting base near the Cenotaph. Here the salute will be taken by Commander Sam Ross R.C.N. (R), commanding officer of H.M.C.S. Star; Lt.Col. A.E. Bliss, E.D., commanding officer of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, and Group Captain Norman S. McGregor, president of the Hamilton Air Cadets.
Following the march past the squadron will return on the north side of King Street and halt in front of the Cenotaph where a wreath will be placed and Last Post and Reveille sounded. The parade will then move off south on Hughson Street to Hunter Street for dismissal.
In the afternoon at approximately 4 o'clock two flights of the squadron, commanded by S/L Douglas Annan, D.F.C., A.F.C., and S/L William A. Olmsted, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, will fly in formation over the city.
in case you missed the link up there,
--- English Aces ---
--- Canadian Aces ---
these pages I use info from the London Gazette Archives,
newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC)
as well as other sources both published and private