Doncaster flying ace inspired generations

The Old Rectory Sprotbrough former home Douglas Bader..... Douglas Bader on the wing of a Hurricane  see story John Woodcock Copied by  Chris Lawton 10th december 2004
The Old Rectory Sprotbrough former home Douglas Bader..... Douglas Bader on the wing of a Hurricane see story John Woodcock Copied by Chris Lawton 10th december 2004
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It was in this month, in 1910, that a hero pilot of World War Two was born in London. But from the age of 13 Sir Douglas Bader grew up in Doncaster and so he has long been associated with the town.

Born on February 21, 1910, the young Douglas spent some of his early boyhood in India, where his engineer father was posted.

He moved to The Old Rectory in Sprotbrough with his brother, his mother and her second husband, in 1923.

Throughout his boyhood Douglas Bader’s energy and pranks, often with an air rifle, were well recorded around Sprotbrough and his home.

In 1928 the accomplished sportsman became an officer cadet at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.

But in 1930 his plans crashed along with his plane, in Reading, while he was attempting impossible aerobatic manaouvres, purportedly in answer to a dare. He subsequently lost both of his legs, one from just above the knee, and the other just below,

Determined to continue with his career, he was recalled to combat flying when war broke out. He famously shot down 22 enemy aircraft, with another four shared victories,

But in 1941 he was captured by the Germans and locked up in Colditz Castle, and despite numerous escape attempts, he remained a prisoner of war until peace was declared and he was set free.

Bader was knighted in 1976 for the work he did for disabled people. He died in 1982 aged 72.

For some time the Old Rectory was run as a bed and breakfast business by local man Trevor Miller, who bought it in 1985.

Bedrooms bore the names Douglas Bader, Spitfire and Hurricane.

An oval plaque by the iron gates of the Old Rectory reads: “Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE DSO DFC, famous legless wartime fighter pilot, lived here during hisboyhood, circa 1923.”