Douglas Bader became Britain's top flying ace in World War II despite losing his legs


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Douglas Bader became Britain’s top flying ace in World War II

Nope. Your main text is accurate (“a top flying ace”), but with 22 victories he was some way off James Edgar Johnson’s tally of 38.


There was a movie based on his experiences; Reach for the sky.


And before the movie it was a book


He was shot down and survived the crash, but one of his false legs was crushed. The Red Cross called the British, and the Germans agreed to a truce and allowed a single plane to fly over and drop a new prosthetic. The Stalag commander gave it to Bader, who tried it on, thanked the commandant, and escaped that night. He was recaptured the next day but he made at least 2 other escape attempts after that.


Yes, which it seems like they show on TV every 3 months, or at least they used to when I watched TV, which is why this struck me as an odd thing to post about. The main reason to watch it was always to see how the TV editors handled the name of the airbase’s black labrador, which has since become unbroadcastable, or so you’d think.

Speaking of unbroadcastable, I heard that the real Bader was renowned for his potty mouth, and was claimed by some to have introduced the word “motherfucker” to England


Wasn’t that in Dambusters?


Yes. In the US version the dog has been renamed “Trigger.” I don’t know if this was done by dubbing or if approriate scenes were filmed twice.


Yes! I had forgotten about the book. The author, Paul Brickhill, also wrote the Dam Busters, made into a movie (one sequence inspired the Death Star trench scene in the original Star Wars - Lucas mined all kinds of other sources for inspiration), and better known; the Great Escape.


It’s possible his success may have been more because of his artificial limbs than despite them.


The advantages of artificial limbs

It is also thought that the loss of his legs gave Bader an advantage over other pilots in combat. The high G-force produced in combat manoeuvres caused many pilots to black out as blood drained away from their brain to other parts of the body. Because he had no legs, Bader could sustain greater G-force without losing consciousness.

There was a rumour going around for a while that Fox McCloud from the Star Fox video games had artificial legs, and that it made him a better pilot.

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Another notable amputee of WWII:


I haven’t seen it, or Dam Busters since I was a kid; I had no idea it’s still showing up.


I bet he really had to pee, though. :wink:


He also had some fairly ‘interesting’ views. People are people, not shining heroes. But that doesn’t make for a nice rousing film.

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