England

Sir Douglas Bader notebooks found in Eastbourne flat

Douglas Bader and Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding
Image caption Douglas Bader with Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding (Picture: Royal Air Force Museum)

A collection of notebooks found in a flat in East Sussex is expected to reveal information about the last years of World War II hero Sir Douglas Bader.

The shorthand notebooks, believed to have been written by Sir Douglas's secretary, were found in Eastbourne when the owners were clearing the flat.

Sir Douglas lost both his legs in a flying accident in 1931 but rejoined the RAF to serve in the 1939-45 war.

His exploits were made into the film Reach for the Sky in 1956.

After the war, he worked for Shell and as a fundraiser for disabled groups and charities, for which he received a knighthood in 1976.

It is not known how the notebooks, which date from 1979 to his death in 1982, came to be in Eastbourne.

Owner of the flat, Jenny Horridge, said her first reaction had been to throw them away.

She realised they might be of interest when she flicked over the pages and found references to Sir Douglas Bader.

The books were presented to his widow, Lady Joan, and her daughter Wendy McCleave at Eastbourne airshow at the weekend.

"It was very much a chance happening," said Ms McCleave, who said she and her mother had been invited to the airshow by a business contact.

"We had a wonderful time and then this absolutely brilliant bonus of Jenny appearing with these notebooks was extraordinary."

She said her mother was hoping to find a shorthand reader who could decipher the shorthand notes.

"There is some fascinating stuff emerging already in the longhand notes," she said.

"All kinds of well-known names - the royal family, political characters and sports people - and references to people he visited who had lost limbs and the charity work he was doing.

"If it could be published as a chronology of that time, when so much was going on politically and otherwise - and Douglas was so much a part of all that - it could be fascinating."

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