2020 is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It was fought between early July 1940 and the end of October. The RAF fighter pilots, British and foreign, and immortalised by Winston Churchill at the battle’s end as The Few, took on the might of the France-based German air force as it targeted first ports, then airfields, and finally cities.
Among those pilots was the legendary Douglas Bader, who had been forced into early retirement in 1931 by a crash which resulted in the amputation of both legs, replaced by prosthetics. On the outbreak of war in 1939 he returned to flying and became a distinguished fighter ace.
In August 1941, having bailed out of his damaged aircraft, Douglas became a prisoner of war and made several attempts to escape.
After the war, he took up golf, and it’s said that, on realising the best shots he hit were from uphill lies, he commissioned a special pair of prosthetics, with the left leg slightly longer than the right. His doctor protested that they might cause curvature of the spine, but Douglas said it was worth the risk.
Douglas Bader became a single figure player, got down to 2, and was a popular visitor to courses at home and abroad.
During a European tour as a famous pilot rather than golfer, he arrived in Stockholm where a radio interviewer asked him to describe the greatest achievement of his life.
Bader replied: “Going round Hoylake golf course in seventy-seven a few weeks ago.”
Picture: Squadron Leader Douglas Bader with his Hawker Hurricane at Duxford in September 1940.