Sir Douglas remembered at wartime base

FORMER Martlesham-based Battle of Britain hero Douglas Bader has been honored with an English Heritage blue plaque .

FORMER Martlesham-based Battle of Britain hero Douglas Bader has been honored with an English Heritage blue plaque .

Sir Richard Branson, unveiled the memorial in London to commemorate the pilot and champion for charitable activities for the disabled, who died in 1982.

He was born in 1910 and was a pilot in the RAF aerobatics team but suffered a double leg amputation after a plane crash in 1931.

Despite the odds, Sir Douglas walked again using artificial legs just six months after his surgery.


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After two failed attempts to make it back in the pilot's seat when the Second World War was declared, he was allowed to take to the skies once more in 1940.

It was during the Second World War that Sir Douglas was based at the Suffolk airfield, and the pub in the then new community of Martlesham Heath - built on the former airfield - was named after him.

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Sir Douglas was guest of honour at the opening of the pub in 1979.

At this weekend's unveiling Sir Richard said: “His spirit of adventure had an enormous influence on my life as he had on millions of others. He literally reached for the sky. May his life live on and be a great example to all.”

By August 1941 Sir Douglas had shot down 23 enemy aircraft making him the 'fifth most deadly fighter pilot in the RAF'.

He was captured by the Germans and survived the war as a prisoner of war in Germany.

Despite having no legs he was a constant thorn in the Germans' side and was eventually transferred to the notorious Colditz camp - where guards confiscated his false legs -where he remained until he was liberated by the Americans in 1945.

He led the first Battle of Britain fly pass in September 1945 and was knighted for his services to the disabled in 1976.

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