Saturday 13 December 2014

August 1939 - Douglas Bader tries to get back into the RAF

Parallel to all this was the increase in the military might of Germany and as international tensions mounted, Douglas began to badger just about everyone he knew who could have the slightest influence in getting him reinstated in the RAF and back to flying again.
A great ally was his old friend Geoffrey Stephenson, who by now was a staff officer at Adastral House, home of the Air Ministry in London's Kingsway. Stephenson beavered away for Douglas behind the scenes and was a great help.
Thelma was dead against all this. She was horrified at the possibility of Douglas being shot down and trapped in a crashing aircraft because of his legs. Thelma's mother agreed with her. To her, what her dogmatic and aggressive son-in-law was proposing to do was both unnecessary and unreasonable. All that it was doing was causing Thelma endless turmoil and distress.
Douglas was resolute. He had always believed that if you wanted something badly enough, the way to get it was to go right to the top so he wrote to the Air Member for Personnel, Air Marshal Charles Portal.
On 31st August, days before the outbreak of war, Portal wrote a personal reply to Douglas. Although he told Douglas he was too busy to see him and that he was not able to employ him at the present time, in the event of war a new situation would arise and Douglas would almost certainly be used in a flying capacity, provided the doctors agreed.  
Although positive, in a guarded sort of way, this was still not enough for Douglas. What he was looking for was immediate acceptance and his next target was Air Vice-Marshall Fredrick Halahan, his old commandant from Cranwell. Halahan obviously remembered Douglas and wrote to the head of the medical board at the Air Ministry saying that in his opinion Bader was the sort of officer the service needed and if found fit, apart from his legs, he should immediately be sent to the Central Flying School and given a chance to prove himself.

from "Douglas Bader" by Michael Evans

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