Lilian Bader

Lilian Baden

Born: 18th February 1918

Died: 13th March 2015

Birth Place: United Kingdom

Known for: British Armed Forces

Bader was one of the first Black women to join the British armed forces

Bader's family have three generations of Army soldiers

Bader was listed as one of the eight Black women to have contributed to the development of Britain

So all in all, I think we’ve given back more to this country than we’ve received.

Lilian Baden

Life story


Early Life

Lilian Bader was born in Liverpool, England. Her father was from Barbados who had served in the Royal Navy and her mother was Irish. Lilian became an orphan at the age of nine and lived in a convent until she was 20. 


Racial Challenges and the WAAF

Bader was let go from her first job as a Canteen Assistant because of issues with her heritage as her father was born outside the UK. In spite of this, she was determined to take part in the Second World War. She discovered that though some West Indian soldiers were rejected from the Army, but were able to join the Royal Air Force, she quickly volunteered. 


Bader’s main achievement was succeeding as a Black woman during a time of gender and racial discrimination. She was often the only black person in the places she worked. The work of Bader ensured that British aeroplanes were always in perfect condition, something that was crucial for the victory of the war. 


Later Life

She went on to marry a serviceman, Ramsay Bader in 1943 and later went on to start a family. She had children and her son later went on to become a helicopter pilot, serving in Northern Island. In spite of leaving the army, Bader went back to school securing a degree from the University of London and becoming a teacher. 

Bader faced racial prejudice at a young age but she overcame her struggles. How do you think she was able to do this?

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