Nostalgia: Harry Potter’s brush with Bader

Douglas Bader
Douglas Bader

Reader Henry Potter shares his memories of having a father in the Home Guard in North Bersted.

“My father, Harry Potter (the 
real one!) through the war lived 
at 435 Chichester Road where I was born.

“He was a member of the local Home Guard unit and their HQ was at Cross Cottages immediately opposite The Royal Oak pub at North Bersted on the corner of Chalcroft Lane and the Chichester Road.

During the time of the operation of the satellite station, a German fighter plane crashed somewhere close to this temporary airfield and my dad Harry and colleagues were the first on the scene and captured the pilot from the wrecked plane.

“Harry also managed to purloin the German pilot’s belt and the starting handle from the aircraft.

“The belt he lost some years later while at a cinema. It had a buckle which worked like a Boy Scout’s belt, but with the symbol of an Iron Cross.

“One half of the buckle inserted into the other half, twisted and locked, and while sitting in the cinema seat it unlocked, he got up and left the cinema.

“The belt lay on the seat, never to be seen again.

“The starting handle was kept until sadly mother died and it was passed over to the Tangmere Aviation Museum.

“Another incident worth mentioning, though not connected to the ALG, was when Harry was on duty one evening when a car with four men in it was apprehended as it drove from Bognor past the crossroads at Cross Cottages.

“Only three of the men had any ID on them so the fourth was placed under arrest and held in Cross Cottages.

“They were all serving airmen from Tangmere and the three were ordered to fetch the ID papers of their friend from his quarters at the airfield.

“When they returned with the papers, it turned out to be Douglas Bader (pictured) who had suffered the arrest!

They had all been on the toot for the evening in Bognor Regis.”