Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, FRAeS
‘Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.’
A friend of mine sent me a paper cutting from a newspaper which celebrated the 35th year since Douglas Bader’s death. He knows I hero-worshipped Bader, despite his terrible reputation for being rude, arrogant and foul-mouthed amongst a whole raft of other negative characteristics attributed to him.
Nevertheless, to me, it is the image of the man’s tenacity and will to overcome which always held my gaze. The bravery of the wartime air battles and the bravado of the battles of will he had with his captures were equally fascinating. To me he was a person who just refused to be put down, losing his legs, being captured, his escape attempts and later not being able to have a family were all the troughs which he used as a runway to gain height in his next success.
It made not a jot of difference to me that Bader’s heroics had occurred decades before I was born, I heard his story, and I hung his colours to my mast, where they stay to this day.
None of us is perfect. All of us have aspects of our personality which we would prefer not to be made public, but if one person can have qualities that inspire another even thirty-five years after their death then surely that can only reflect positively. Bader’s saying, ‘Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.’ has got me into more trouble than I care to mention, but I thank him for it nevertheless.
Douglas Bader was one of my childhood heroes. Did you have one?
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