Black History Month: A Time For Change

Ministry of Defence
2 min readOct 27, 2022


Black History Month — Powerful Stories of Amazing People

This Black History Month we celebrate black service personnel throughout history and to this day.

Follow along as we share the stories of some incredible people and their contributions to the UK’s Armed Forces.

Leading Aircraftwoman Lilian Bader 1918–2015

A portrait black and white photograph of Lilian Bader
Photograph courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

Lilian Bader (nee Bailey) was born in Liverpool. Her father was from Barbados and had served with the Royal Navy, whilst her mother was Irish. Lilian was orphaned at the age of nine and lived in a convent until she was 20.

Lilian was ‘let go’ from her first employment because of issues with her heritage. However, she was determined to play her part in the World War II effort. After hearing a group of West Indian soldiers on the radio talking about how they had been rejected from the Army but were able to join the Royal Air Force, Lillian quickly volunteered. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) at the beginning of 1941 and was one of the first women to be trained as an instrument repairer, a trade that was newly opened to women. In December 1941, Lilian became a Leading Aircraftwoman and soon gained the rank of Acting Corporal.

A black and white photograph of the first WAAFs to be trained as Instrument Repairers at Melksham, Wiltshire.

During the War she married a soldier called Ramsay Bader, who was a tank driver with the Army. Ramsay’s father was from Sierra Leone and his mother was white British. In February 1944 Lilian left the WAAF and she and Ramsey had two sons. Subsequently she gained a degree from London University and became a teacher.

Lilian Bader and her Husband Ramsay cutting a wedding cake

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