Lilian Bader

Lilian Bader was born in 1918 in Liverpool and went on to become one of the first Black women to join the British Armed Forces.

This inspirational figure started out as a canteen assistant and eventually trained as an instrument repairer. She later became a leading aircraftwoman, earning herself the rank of Corporal.

When war broke out in 1939, Bader wanted to do her bit for the war effort.  She found a job in a NAAFI canteen, serving food and drink to servicemen but after seven weeks she was asked to leave as her father hadn’t been born in the UK.  In other words, she was dismissed because of the ‘colour bar’. 

Bader then got a job in domestic service, all the time looking for opportunities to do war work.  One day she heard on the radio that West Indian men had been accepted into the RAF, which gave her the idea of applying to the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) where to her delight she was accepted in March 1941.

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