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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Hero Bader's mascot given to base
Douglas Bader's toy mascot
The pilot is believed to have kept the rabbit as kind of mascot
A mascot believed to have belonged to a World War II flying ace has been given to an RAF base.

Douglas Bader, who flew in The Battle of Britain despite losing both legs in 1930, is believed to have kept the rabbit as a mascot in his sports car.

He then gave it to a friend whose family have now presented it to RAF Coltishall in Norfolk.

The base is due to close this year but its historian Mick Jennings said it would then be given to a museum.

He added: "This rabbit has come completely out of the blue..

"I've not heard about it before and it doesn't seem to be mentioned in any biography of Bader.

"It seems that he gave it to a friend at some point and the family of that person has now returned it to RAF Coltishall.

"They tell us that he kept it as a kind of mascot in the MG sports car he drove.

Douglas Bader
Bader's life story was told in the film Reach for the Sky

"But that is all we know about it really."

Douglas Bader joined the RAF in 1930 at the age of 20 but within 12 months he had lost both his legs, the result of a crash during an aerobatic manoeuvre.

He had artificial legs made and learned to walk again.

After years of pestering RAF chiefs, Bader was allowed to fly again and it was during the Battle of Britain that he was made Group Captain.

He shot down 22 enemy planes before his last mission on 9 August 1941 when he was rammed by an enemy fighter over northern France.

He was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war at Colditz.

His life story was told in the film Reach for the Sky, in which actor Kenneth More famously played the lead role.

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