Lilian Bader, born Lilian Bailey on February 18, 1918, in Liverpool, England, was one of the first Black women to join the British armed forces.
Her father, Marcus Bailey, was a merchant seaman from Barbados who served in the First World War, and her mother was a British-born woman of Irish parentage.
Lilian made history as a trailblazing woman, breaking barriers during the Second World War.
She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1941, becoming a Leading Aircraftwoman and soon gaining the rank of Acting Corporal.
Lilian Bader early life
Lilian was born on February 18, 1918, in Liverpool, England, to a British mother and a Nigerian father.
Sadly, she was orphaned at the age of nine, and her childhood was spent in a convent, and remained there until she was 20, her job opportunities limited.
Lilian was brought up in a convent after being orphaned at the age of nine.
She studied for O-Levels and A-levels in evening classes in the 1960s, then studied at London University where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree.
With the outbreak of war in 1939, Lilian worked briefly in a Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) canteen, but was forced to leave because she was Black.
After only two months, she was later forced to leave a job in a NAAFI canteen when her father’s West Indian heritage was discovered.
Lilian Bader cause of death
While Lilian died on March 13, 2015, her cause of death remains unknown at the time of publishing this article.
Lilian Bader career
On 28 March 1941, Lilian volunteered to join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and chose to train as an Instrument Repairer.
She was nervous and noticed she was ‘the only coloured person in this sea of white faces’.
During her training, Lilian received the news that her brother Jim, who was serving in the Merchant Navy, had been killed at sea.
She nevertheless passed her course ‘First Class’, becoming one of the first women in the air force to qualify in that trade.
Posted to RAF Shawbury, Lilian worked long hours checking for faults in the instruments of the aircraft based there.
She was good at her job and was promoted to Acting Corporal.
In 1943, Lilian met and married Ramsay Bader, a Black tank driver, and fell pregnant and was discharged from the WAAF in February 1944.
After the war, she studied for a degree at London University and became a teacher.
Lilian took night classes while bringing up her children, went on to earn a degree and became a teacher.
Her younger son flew helicopters in the Royal Navy and later became an airline pilot.
Lilian’s achievements do not stop once she left the army.
Now a mother of two children, she sought it necessary to go back to school, achieving the necessary ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels to secure a degree.
In later life, Lilian became involved in various community organizations and was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 2003 for her services to education and the community.