W.158 3rd Officer  Patricia Mary Provis 
 flag england b. 20 May 1923, Beckenham Kent
 
21 Feb 1944 to 30 Sep 1945

 ATA Pat Provis  ATA

     

 

 Father: Roy Seymour Provis, Mother: Rose Mary [Wood] of Bankside, Oxted, Surrey

Ed. The Downs School, Seaford, and Chateau Mont Choisi, Lausanne

 prev: WAAF from 10 Jun 1941:

"CpI. Patricia Provis, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. S. Provis, Bankside, Oxted, has one of the most interesting jobs in the W.A.A.F. as a maps clerk at an R.A.F. station in Coastal Command. She joined the W.A.A.F. in July, 1941, and passed her medical board on her 18th birthday. Experience in map reading and credits gained in geography at her school qualified her for enrolment in this trade, and she has been made responsible for the issue and preparation of maps and charts for the air crews of her station." - Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - 22 Jan 1943

 

She said later: "Amy Johnson was my heroine.  When I was six she flew to Australia and I listened on my crystal set wireless and said I’d like to do it.” 

She was one of 17 who were transferred from the WAAF to the ATA in February 1944.

“They were only too glad to get rid of us with masses of pilots demobbed and waiting for flying jobs.”  After a medical the girls awaited an interview in the library of the Ministry of Aircraft Production and there Pat noted the titles of two books on aircraft technology.  When asked she said that she had read those books and learned quite a lot from them.  She put her selection down to ‘being a good liar’.


Ab initio pilot

Postings: 4FPP

“I was selected to join the 16 others who went in from the WAAF and I learnt to fly the Swordfish when I was 21.  I went solo after 12 hours training as we were all expected to do and if you didn’t you were sent back to the WAAF.  We were posted to various stations and given cross country training so that we could use railways for navigation.  (Roman roads came in useful, too).  There were no radios in those days for communication with control towers.  15 of the 17 intake went on to fly Spitfires, Hurricanes, Tempests, Typhoons and Barracudas - being able to fly one you were expected to fly all the rest.

My war was mostly comic - getting in everybody’s way! 

In January 1945 I crashed a Swordfish - that was comic too!  The petrol pumps packed up when I was close to Turnberry Airfield.  I thought that the forced landing would be easy but I made a horrible mess of it and finished up on the sea wall - what is now, I think, the ninth hole on the Turnberry Golf Course.  The most dangerous thing about a Swordfish was the climbing in and out of it.  However, on this occasion, there was no problem.  I just put my foot over the side and there was the ground.  I was still more or less on the airfield so the fire engine and ambulance came out pretty smartly but not before the Station Engineering Officer rushed up and said “Where’s the Form 700 and, by the way, are you alright?.”  Then someone said “*****, it’s a woman!”  I replied, “Yes it’s a woman, so can you see if you can find me a mirror?”

They took me in the ambulance to Sick Quarters where they gave me the very latest treatment for crashed pilots - a cup of tea and two Aspirins.”

I was blamed for it at the crash enquiry so did not progress to delivering Spitfires, etc.  Some eventually flew Lancasters and one of our people delivered a converted Lancaster for the Dam Buster raid.”

 

 One accident, definitely her fault:

- 12 Jan 1945, forced landing in Swordfish III NF369, after engine failure, due to "bad practice on the part of the pilot, who failed to check the contents of the gravity fuel tank before take-off. This tank was subsequently found empty."


m. Maslen Jones and lived in Rock, Cornwall

"Pat married after the war and did no flying for 44 years then she went up with an instructor in a Cessna from Bodmin Airfield (she had more flying hours than him) and found she had not forgotten how to fly. She said, “It’s like riding a bicycle - you never forget how to do it.”  Of her time with ATA she said. “I was very lucky to do it from scratch and be paid to do it!”

 

 d. 13 Aug 2012 - Wadebridge, Cornwall - "On August 13th 2012, peacefully at Trewiston Lodge, St. Minver, Pat, aged 89 years of Rock. Funeral service Glynn Valley Crematorium, Tuesday September 4th at 12.30 pm. No flowers please, donations in lieu for Cornwall Air Ambulance by retiring collection. Please wear bright clothes."

 

 All quotes from http://www.olivehouserock.co.uk/link/144/index_files/Page549.htm


 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey

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