Portrait of Lilian Bader

Lilian Bader was one of the first black women to join the Armed Forces. She was born in 1918 and died in 2015.

Time in the Armed Forces

In 1939, she joined the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI). NAAFI run bars, shops and other facilities for soldiers on military bases. But she was dismissed a few months later after they discovered her father wasn’t born in the UK.

Two years later, in 1941, she joined the Women’s Auxillary Air Forces, which was the woman’s section of the Armed Forces. Whilst there, she trained in instrument repair – something that women had only just started doing. Eventually she became a Leading Aircraft Woman and was promoted to Corporal, a position that usually takes 6 years to get.

Later life

In the 1960s, she took night classes to study for her O-Levels (old GCSEs) and A Levels, before studying at London University and becoming a teacher.