Thursday, 19 March 2015

Women Warriors - Lilian Bader of the WAAF

The i newspaper published the obituary of a woman who had served in the wartime WAAF yesterday. There were lots of women in the WAAF, of course, but this one was unusual because she was black. Lilian Bader started off at the beginning of the Second World War by joining the NAAFI in Catterick.
They asked her to leave when they realised her father was from the West Indies (she was born in Toxteth, Liverpool, and her mother was British-born of Irish parents). Feeling guilty that she wasn't doing anything to help the war effort, she then joined the WAAF, the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and rose to the rank of Acting Corporal. She met a black tank driver with the Royal Artillery, Ramsey Bader, and they married. When she became pregnant, she had to leave the WAAF, shortly before Ramsey took part in the D-Day landings. He survived, and they had two sons together.
She said that, when she joined the WAAF, she was "the only coloured person in this sea of white faces", but "somebody told me I looked smart in my uniform, which cheered me up no end." And she does look very smart in the picture with the obituary.

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