Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader

The inspirational, legless, Douglas Bader (centre) pictured with pilots of 92 and 222 Squadrons whilst a flight commander with 222 and flying Spitfires in support of the Dunkirk evacuation.

Already a household name, the morale-boosting story of Douglas Bader – the legless fighter ace – was made a global success through Paul Brickhill’s best-seller Reach for the Sky and Danny Angel’s film of the same name, starring Kenneth Moore, in the 1950s.

Golf was a game ‘DB’ could play against the able-bodied without compromise, excelling at the sport.

As a schoolboy during the 1960s, Dilip was inspired by Bader’s story – never imagining back then that in adulthood he would become close to Lady Bader, Douglas’s widow (the great man died in 1982), and the Bader ‘inner circle’ comprising Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson, Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling, Group Captain Sir Hugh Dundas and Squadron Leader Sir Alan Smith – and numerous pilots and groundcrews from the squadrons and wings Bader commanded before being shot down and captured in 1941. Indeed, it was Dilip, in 1995, who first realised that Douglas had most likely been brought down over France in a ‘Friendly Fire’ incident – a story he only, for ethical reasons, published in ‘Spitfire Voices’ in 2011.

Wing Commander Douglas Bader after a sweep over France whilst leading the Tangmere Wing in 1941.

Dilip’s in-depth and original research, supported by the inner-circle, has led to publication of various books, notably amongst them his evidence-based biography Douglas Bader (Amberley, 2013, now available in paperback and re-titled Fighter Ace). His original research also formed the basis for the Channel 4 ‘Secret Lives’ programme on Douglas Bader, broadcast in 1996.

Dilip with the sadly now late Lady Bader, Sir Douglas’s second wife (Thelma having died prematurely of cancer), at a Duxford book-signing in 2000. ‘Joan’, as we knew her, was a massively enthusiastic supporter and good friend who rarely missed an event. It was Lady Bader and Sir Alan Smith, DB’s regular Tangmere wingman, who recommended Dilip for his MBE for ‘services to aviation history’ in 2003, supported by many of the Few.



Dilip’s detailed, evidence-based, Bader biography (also available in paperback under the title ‘Fighter Ace’, published by Amberley).