One of the most famous users of an ATP watch was Sir Douglas Bader.   His Timor  ATP number 68012 was sold at Sotheby’s in 1999 together with his dog tag stamped 26151 RAF Bader D.R.S.

It had the original open ended leather strap. 

Group Captain and Squadron Leader Sir Douglas Bader was an iconic RAF fighter ace and during the WWII was credited with numerous aerial victories despite being a double leg amputee.

Sir Douglas’s flying exploits were recounted in the biography ”Reach for the Sky” by Paul Brickhill. The book was made into a film in 1956.

He was commissioned into the RAF in 1930 at the age of 20 and lost both legs when his Bulldog fighter crashed during an aerobatic display near Reading in November 1931.

He was discharged from the RAF in 1933, but was determined to fly again. He had artificial legs made at the Roehampton center for limbless ex-servicemen in South London and learned to walk on them while working for an oil company.

When war broke out in September 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland, he persuaded the RAF to take him back as a pilot. He flew Hurricanes and Spitfires, fighting his first action during the evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk in May and June 1940 after France capitulated.

He got his first ”kill” there with his Spitfire, downing a Messerschmitt 109. He was made a squadron leader and then wing commander, leading the first RAF fighter squadron with all Canadian personnel, Number 242.
Sir Douglas destroyed an estimated 30 enemy planes, of which 24 were officially confirmed. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, both with bars, for courage and leadership. He was also decorated twice by the French.

In August 1941, his Spitfire collided with a Messerschmitt over Bethune in France, and he was captured after parachuting to earth. He was held prisoner by the Germans, despite four escape attempts, until he was freed by American troops in April 1945.

Sir Douglas retired from the RAF in 1946, rejoined the Shell Oil Co. and became head of its aircraft division.

He was knighted in 1976.

The ATP watch was issued in 1940, and since Sir Douglas was shot down in 1941 he was never issued a later military watch.

The watch and other memorabilia from Sir Douglas was resold by Watches of Knightsbridge in 2014 for about £6000.

He never had the chance to be issued with an A.F.0210.strap for his Timor watch, as shown below.  His watch has a sterile dial.

Back to blog