prev. a Flight Instructor and commercial pilot
d. 3 Sep 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Master AZ324 crashed into the sea at Terally Point, 2 miles N of Dronmore, Scotland.
And then A Small Surprise Emerged
young Stephen Raymond Lambert McFarland
The American Red Cross in Mount Vernon, Ohio, reported that they had seen Stephen's mother Anna; "we had previously been informed by a member of our committee that we could rely on any statements she would make, she was that kind of a person".
Anna told the Red Cross that she and Fred (Stephen's father) had been contacted by an English girl - Frona 'Daisy' Lambert, who told them she had met Stephen when she was a 'canteen hostess' in London. They became fond of each other "and - well - a baby was soon on the way."
Stephen had not known she was pregnant: "About that time Stephen became acquainted with another girl and saw a great deal of her. Miss Lambert was proud and did not hunt Stephen up to tell of her condition". After the baby was born (on the 14th March 1942) she wrote to him, not knowing that he had been killed.
"Miss Lambert is most anxious to keep the baby with her and find some way to solve her problems... Her mother is dead and her father has more or less disowned her since she became an unwed mother."
Stephen's parents wanted Daisy to bring the baby (who, they said, bore a strong resemblance to Stephen) to live in Mount Vernon. They would, they said, "plan to have her known as their son's widow" and look after her and the baby, to the best of their limited resources. Anna wrote to Daisy: "We are surely glad about the baby but sorry you did not tell Steve as we are sure he would of made everything alright with you and been proud of his son."
All was then arranged; the only serious qualms felt by the McFarlands were "in regard to Miss Lambert's name. Their wish is to introduce the girl as their late son's widow, which will be difficult if she does not bear his name." They wondered if it would be possible for Daisy to change her surname to McFarland? This was "owing to their fear that complications and unpleasantness might arise in a small farming community, having a somewhat rigid moral outlook."
Indeed it was possible, and Daisy and Stephen Raymond changed their name to McFarland in May 1943. The ATA Benevolent Fund agreed an ex-gratia payment of $3,000 to Mr and Mrs McFarland, and $3,000 in trust for Stephen Jnr. on the condition that Fred and Anna could sponsor their move to the US.
The ATA also arranged for Daisy and Stephen Jr to stay with Sqn Ldr Morgan in Twyford until arrangements could be made for their transfer to the US, and gave him £3 10s a week for her board and lodging.
In April, Daisy wrote to the ATA: "You are kind to go to all this trouble for us, and I will not disappoint you. It will be a fresh start, in different surroundings, and I shall do my utmost to settle down, and help Mrs Morgan as much as possible."
By June 1943, however, Daisy seems to have disappointed some people at least, according to a letter from Cmdr Stocks, the ATA Personnel Officer. Having moved to Amerden Priory (thanks in part to Audrey Sale-Barker), she spent "the majority of her time lazing about the gardens and in the evening playing cards until the early hours of the morning." One evening she reportedly won 6s at cards and the next morning bought cigarettes with this money, instead of buying new shoes for her baby - his only shoes being worn out.
She also was reported to have consorted with other married men, to have wasted money on taxis, stayed out late, etc, etc. Daisy thought, apparently, that Mount Vernon was going to be "a place of bright lights, lots of music and tall buildings", and thought that everyone owned a car.
Whether or not the reports were true or not is impossible to say - in Daisy's letters she comes across as a sweet, perfectly respectable, 22-year-old. She was making a living as a dressmaker and did 'very fine needlework'.
They finally arrived in Mount Vernon in September 1943. "Just a few lines to let you know I arrived safely. After we parted at N.Y. I was feeling pretty low... I got to Columbus at around 11:30 the next morning and Mrs McFarland sent her son Frank to pick me up by car."
"It's very nice here, everybody's so sweet and kind, I shan't find it difficult to settle down. Things are so different to England, but in the right way."
"p.s. Dumbo's doing fine - and if possible - getting fatter."
Anna's great-nephew tells me that "I recall visiting Anna on her farm in Ohio, and my parents kept in contact with their other son Frank McFarland, until the 1990’s when he died."
Anna McFarland, on the right
Daisy - reverting to her original name, Frona - later moved out of Ohio, married Benjamin H Corbin in 1946 (he was a bricklayer; they divorced in 1971), had two daughters (Kim and Carla) and carried on with her 'fine needlework', for example winning 'Best of Show' in the 1980 Yarncrafters Guild Show.
Frona in 1980: photo courtesy of Howard Hickman
"Lest the impression be given that Ms Corbin has spent her life with a needle in her hand, it should be noted that, amongst other things, she has travelled with a carnival for six-seven years, worked as a carpenter's helper for four years, done interior and exterior house painting for four years and managed a pet shop for several years."
"I look at every day as something exciting ... One of the nicest things my children ever said to me was, 'Mother, don't ever grow up'."
Frona died in 2002 aged 80.
As for Stephen's parents, Fred died in 1959 and the indomitable Anna in 1972.
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):