Reach for the stoicism

March 15, 2012

While it is good to see Sir Douglas Bader get an honourable mention ("Holding on to hope", 8 March), you are wrong to state: "In 1931, for example, Sir Douglas...could describe a ghastly crash with the phlegmatic words: 'the leg, the Spitfire and I had all parted company'." Were this the case, Bader must have possessed a time machine, as the Supermarine Spitfire did not make its maiden flight until 1936.

Bader lost both legs in 1931 in a crash while flying a Bristol Bulldog biplane. The quote refers to Bader's escape by parachute from a badly damaged Spitfire over France in 1941, during which he lost one of his prosthetic legs. Bader's 1931 logbook entry, "Crashed slow-rolling near ground. Bad show," is perhaps a better indication of his indomitable and inspiring spirit.

John Rule, Deputy registrar - research, York St John University

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