- Died in ATA - *
M.561 First Officer Wilbur Washington 'Bee' Acton b. 23 Dec 1915, Xenia, Ohio
16 May 1941 to 15 May 1942
12 Aug 1943 to 8 Jul 1944
Montana Standard et al, 1941
Father: William Albert Acton, 120 W 3rd St, Xenia, OH (later moved to Dayton, OH)
Mother: Irene [Reece]
Ed. Xenia High School
prev. airplane sales, charter work for Dave Peterson Charter Service in Wichita, Kansas
prev. exp. 360 hrs on Beechcraft F17D, Culver Cadet, Cessna C145-165, Stinson, Cessna T50
Address in 1941: Wichita, Kansas
"Disregarding the fate of his friend, Bee Acton, of Wichita, Kan., has signed up for a year's service ferrying bomber and fighter planes from Canada to England [sic]. Acton, a commercial pilot, joined up shortly after his friend, Jim Wright, also of Wichita, was reported killed when a submarine sank the ship on which he was returning [sic] from England."
At the end of his first contract the ATA described him as "a keen pilot competent to fly all types of single engne and light and medium7 twin aircraft. He proved a good type of officer and his behaviour was quite satisfactory."
His second contract was for 18 months with a "cessation of hostilities" clause included.
d. 8 Jul 1944 (Died in ATA Service) in Anson NK773 which was in a mid-air collision with Oxford X7134 and crashed at Rodbourne, 5 miles NE of Hullavington.
Pilot Flt Lt. Bernard N Phillips [RAF Serial No 45885] and passenger Sqn Ldr William A. Law  in the Oxford were both killed.
The accident report says "Whilst the Anson was flying just below the cloud base an Oxford aircraft, piloted by an RAF pilot, came out of the cloud and struck the tail plane of the Anson. Both aircraft crashed in a field and were destroyed, all three occupants being killed."
"Neither pilot is held responsible for this accident."
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery (Section C, No 14KK).
The wording on the memorial is from Tennyson's poem 'Crossing the bar':
I hope to meet my pilot
Face to face
When I have crost the bar
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M--- Cadet Albert Ernest Adams b. 23 Aug 1916, Dudley 5 Jul 1943 to Sep-43
prev. a draughtsman, then Fleet Air Arm, 1942-3
d. 6 Sep 1943 (Died in ATA Service) - Hart K6526, heavy landing at Thame on a training flight, 2 Sep 1943. The aircraft somersaulted onto its back and caught fire; Albert suffered extensive burns and was taken to RAF Halton hospital. He did not wish his wife informed 'as she is expecting a baby some time this week'.
M.316 First Officer Elbert Beard 'Tex' Anding b. 11 Apr 1905, Rosebud, TX 26 Sep 1940 to Aug-41
Address in 1940: 2 Anding Ave, Merrick, Long Island New York
Joined the engineering staff of the Berliner-Joyce Aircraft Corp, Baltimore, in 1929
Operated the E.B. Anding Flying Service in Haiti; had also done crop dusting
prev. exp. 4,980 hrs
"A sound and intelligent pilot."
Seconded ("Loaned") to Atlantic Ferry Organisation (Atfero), 20 Mar 1941
left, with Al Torrey (?Eaglerock) of Atfero
d. 14 Aug 1941 - one of four ATA pilots, travelling as passengers, amongst the 22 killed in the crash of Liberator AM260 when taking off from Ayr.
The others were Philip Lee (M.228), Buster Trimble and Martin Wetzel.
The cause of the crash was that "the pilot in command [Cpt Richard Charles Stafford of BOAC] started the take off procedure from runway 06 which was not suitable for the takeoff as it was too short for such aircraft."
In October, his wife Jessie wrote bitterly to the ATA:
I have in my possession a check for $1,005 as full settlement of my late husband's salary. I feel there has been a mistake in the amount, which I sincerely hope was not intended by the ATA.
Although it is to no avail to blame anyone for the accident I cannot help feeling that to a certain extent it was nothing more than 'manslaughter'. Capt. Stafford on two occasions at St Hubert airport in Montreal almost let his ships get away from him. Both occasions Capt. Anding was in the ships and I have heard my husband and other pilots discuss the fact that Capt. Stafford was not capable of flying the ships assigned to him. Of course "mere Americans" to even dare assume that an Englishman couldn't out-fly them would be something short of "treason".
and his brother-in-law added: "... in conversation with [Elbert] I learned there were only two things he was afraid of, Fire and Capt. Stafford - he met both."
Jessie had suffered financial hardship as a result of her husband's death (he had no insurance), but refused to cash the cheque for some months in protest at what she regarded as the shabby treatment handed out to her and the other families.
Eventually, on 16 July 1942, an ex-gratia payment of $4,000 was agreed for Jessie, with a further $4,000 in War Bonds in the name of their 9 year-old daughter Mary Anne.
Jessie wrote back to say she was "... greatly pleased. Might I add that any sarcasm I have shown in past correspondence has not been towards any one individual but to all those who from lack of foresight failed to realize the value and ability of other mankind."
SS Nerissa, bringing 14 American pilots, was sunk 30 Apr 1941
The SS Nerissa was bringing 290 passengers and crew from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Britain; amongst them were 14 American pilots destined for the ATA. 11 of them were lost after the ship was torpedoed and sunk by U-boat U-552 about 100 miles NW of Donegal, Eire. There were 84 survivors.
The pilots lost were:
- Robert John Burden (age 20 from Warsaw, Indiana),
- Kenneth Brown Collings (age 42 from Oceanside, NY),
- Robert Eugene Fordyce (age 20, from Chicago),
- Ellis Gustave Friedrich (age 37 from Peoria, IL),
- Irvin Trout Landis (age 25 of Boyertown, PA),
- Robert Alfred Lowell (age 25 from Chickasha, OK),
- William Harold Nance (age 31 from Houston, TX),
- Robert Glenn Smith (age 33 from Warsaw, Indiana),
- James Charles Torpey (age 30 of Silverdale, Washington),
- John Allison Woodall (age 33 from Dallas, TX), and
- James Siegel Wright (age 29, from Medford OK).
The three surviving pilots were Clyde Cecil Foreman (M.482), Joseph Stuart Wiley (M.427) and Austin Young (M.452), from Flint, Michigan.
W.47 2nd Officer Irene Arckless b. 28 Dec 1915, Uppingham 1 Aug-41 to Jan-43
Prev. Exp: 53 hrs solo
Irene was one of those ordinary working-class girls who, by sheer enthusiasm and determination, and with the help of the subsidised Civil Air Guard Scheme, learnt to fly in the years before WWII. She managed to amass over 50 hours solo between 1937 and 1939. Amy Mollison (Amy Johnson as was, and she were only the daughter of a fish merchant in Hull) once snootily dismissed someone as "the typical CAG Lyons-waitress type".
You've probably met someone like Irene; bubbly, a bit cheeky, innocent, irreverent - 'high spirited', if you like that sort of thing, a complete pain if you don't - and probably exactly the sort of person who would get right up Captain The Hon. Margie 'Mrs Cold Front' Fairweather's nose. Which she indeed did - and of that, more later.
Anyway, in her first letter, dated 11 Mar 1941, having heard Lord Londonderry's appeal on the wireless the night before, she applied: "I wish to put forward the following for your approval, and I will be most grateful to hear from you if you think that my services could be of use in connection with the ATA... I was studying for my 2nd class navigators certificate and intending to take a 'B' licence but the war stopped all that I'm afraid.
I am 25 years of age, height about 5ft 4. I would very much like to get into the ATA, particularly as my fiancé is a prisoner of war in Germany (Flt Lt lockyer) and as he is no longer able to fly his beloved spitfires, if I can carry on his good work I would love to do so. I am swotting up all the information I can get hold of with regard to v.p. airscrews, superchargers and boost pressure, as we did not have any of those on our poor old gypsy moths, hornet moths etc!"
She closed by "Hoping I can do my bit for our dear old country."
They invited her for a flight test, and on the 31st March she wrote:
"Dear Mr Wood
First of all I better give you an explanation of this letter! A few days ago I wrote to W/Cdr G. Tuttle asking if he could tell me anything about the prospects of the A.T.A. I had already submitted my application to them, and have since had a letter asking me to go to Hatfield for a flight test. I have arranged to attend at Hatfield on Tuesday, April 8th at 10-00.
I have had a letter from Geoffrey today, and he gave me your name and address, and told me to write to you, so I trust you will forgive the liberty I am taking.
What I want to know at the moment, and before I go to Hatfield next Monday - I am travelling down to London on the 7th instant, is - I might as well come straight to the point! - do you know what kind of machines they are using at Hatfield for the flight tests? I would be most grateful if you could drop me a note and let me know what to expect to handle - 'cause I want to be as well prepared as possible. I have handled Gipsy II, Hornet Moths, Fox Moth, and several of the ultra light types, such as Pragas, Taylor Cubs etc. I am hoping I don't have to do the test on a completely strange machine - if they have Tiger Moths there I shall be quite happy, as they are very similar to Gipsys as you know. If it will be in order for you to inform me what I will be most likely take the test on, I shall be most grateful to you."
He sent a telegram back which (even before the days of auto-correctign smartphones) managed to read "Tiger Mothers for initial test".
She was well into her stride now. Here she is, writing to ATA Adjutant Kitty Farrer on the 9 Apr 1941:
First of all I would like to say how pleased I am that I was successful in passing my flight test yesterday, and that I am looking forward very much to coming down to take up duty. I already feel I shall be very happy with you all, as everyone was very nice to me yesterday. I do sincerely hope it will not be long before you send for me - you know I am honestly very anxious to get down to what I term 'a real job of work'.
There was one thing I forgot to ask you yesterday, a rather important one as well! The question of salary!!
I know the rates as published in 'Flight' but whether these apply to male and female, or only the former, I do not know, will you be kind enough to tell me exactly what the scale is?
From what you said yesterday, I gather I shall be at Hatfied 'under training' for about a month, & during this time I take it flying pay will not be applicable. I should like to know just how I shall be fixed as regards salary, so that I can make necessary arrangements here before I leave, i.e. (so that if necessary I will have sufficient cash to last me until I draw my first pay).
I am asking you this because I have recently transferred my Bank balance to War Bonds, & naturally do not want to have to 'cash in' on these if not necessary. I think you will quite understand my asking - I hope so anyway.Further, if there are any special subjects I can 'swot' meantime, will you send me a list? I am swotting up Met: Navigation, etc, and also my morse - I don't know whether the ATA ever have need to use the latter, but it may be useful at some time or other.
Believe me Mrs Farrer, this job of work I am going to do, & I shall do my utmost to do it well, means an awful lot to me, I told you my fiancé F/Lt Lockyer is a prisoner of War, & to me now, every 'plane we can deliver to the Great Lads of the RAF, means one day nearer to the time he will be home, & everyone carefree & happy again. You don't know Tommy, but he is a grand fellow, & a damn good pilot, he has over 3,000 to his credit! My record is a mere detail beside that isn't it?
To me, however, his 3,000 hours means an awful lot, & whenever I fly, I always try my best to do it well, I've his good reputation to uphold you see. You'll probably think that a very sentimental reason, on the other hand, maybe you'll understand what I mean.
By the way, I think I could get off with a fortnight's notice, so if perchance if I could start with you in May, will you let me know. Here's hoping I can start then.
Forgive me for taking up so much of your time with this letter please, I started it with the intention of being very business like! but I'm afraid it's got to be a personal letter in the end - hasn't it?
Hoping to be with you all very soon.
She wrote back to Mr Wood to say thank you, and that "I passed the flight test successfully - in fact, I did very well indeed, so I was told by the Adjutant afterwards - she said "Your test was excellent". So you may guess I felt quite proud of myself!
Actually I surprised myself I must admit, because after being 'off' flying since the outbreak of war, I thought maybe I'd have forgotten a few things - however I hadn't, thank goodness! because this job means rather a lot to me as I told you."
20th April 1941, to Kitty:
"Dear Mrs Farrer,
Many thanks for your letter of the 14th instant. You know you make me feel very much at 'home' the way you write, and I know that I will be very happy with you all when I come to join you.
I think I told you I am at an E.F.T.S. at the moment, and British Air Transport, who are running the School, have a scheme for training boys to become engine experts! (we hope!) so after office hours, I am an apprentice! I am trying to put together all the numerous parts which go to make up an aircraft engine!!
I suppose I will be reaching the 'watchmaker' stage before too long - you know - one piece over! Where the heck does this go?!! I have learned quite a lot about 'twin' types, and already, in theory! I think I could fly 'em!! That remains to be seen, but I hope one day soon I shall be flying twin, or even more than twin types.
Optimistic aren't I! Strange to say though, right from childhood I've always felt more at home 'upstairs' than on the ground.
Here's hoping you will soon require some more pilots Mrs Farrer, I'm an awful pest aren't I? but I'm just longing to get started you know."
Nothing continued to happen...
5th June to Kitty:
"Dear Mrs Farrer,
Yes, it's that Arckless pest again! I am going to ask you something point blank, and leave it to you to decide what happens!
As so far there seems no possibility of me coming down to join you in the immediate future on the flying staff, I wonder if in the meantime there is any chance of a Ground appointment, either as a typist or clerical staff.
If there is any opportunity of work of this nature in the meantime, I would be perfectly willing to come down, and then later, when a vacancy exists for a pilot, I could be transferred to that vacancy.
I feel sure that I could make myself quite useful if there are any openings in this direction, but of course, as you will understand, I naturally want to start on flying duties as soon as possible.
I am sure you will think I am an awful nuisance, but as you have been so kind, I hope you will forgive me troubling you again. To be perfectly honest Mrs Farrer, this is between you and I entirely - I am sitting in the office here doing practically nothing all day and I don't like it!
You see, as Mr Brown, our Accountant, knows I am leaving to come to A.T.A. sometime, he has taken on someone else who is taking over my job, and the point is, that I am left without anything to do, except to watch that my job is done correctly by someone else!
Well, there you are, thats the position, and if you are able to help me, I shall be most grateful to you.
Thanking you in anticipation of your reply, Very Sincerely, Irene"
Nothing still continued to happen; eventually Irene took herself off to another job, so she must have been amazed to finally get the call to report on 1 August 1941.
She completed training (although she bumped into another aircraft when landing on the 11th August, due to 'bad airmanship'), went on to ferry work, and progressed through the ranks; she was promoted to Third Officer on 5 Feb 1942, then Second Officer on 1 Jul 1942.
On the 24 Feb 1942, ATA Senior Commander Pauline Gower invited Irene into her office to discuss a rather delicate matter. Irene was typically... forthright:
"Interview with 3rd Officer Irene Arckless
To Pauline Gower Dear Madam,
Further to interview of this morning, I would like to place the following statement on record as I feel it would be more satisfactory from my own personal view point. The matter being to me of a very serious nature, and effecting my good character, as such it has always been to date.
Reference the accusation made, and presumed to concern myself i.e. that at a certain aerodrome (unnamed) an unnamed duty pilot is reported to have said to me - when I requested the delivery chit to be signed - "I will, if you give me a kiss first".
I wish to emphatically deny these words, as never, on any occasion, has such a familiar attitude been adopted by any duty pilot wherever I have been.
Further, I would like to place on record that far from adopting a familiar attitude myself - I get my chits signed as soon as possible, and depart from the duty pilot's office.
Having served six months in H.M. Forces prior to joining A.T.A. I consider, that as an Officer and I trust, a lady, I know how to conduct myself both in and out of uniform.... "
Irene demanded a full and detailed enquiry, and went on,
"I would like to add that recently at a number of aerodromes visited, & by a number of people, I have been mistaken for another female member of the ATA, whether there proves to be any connection with the charge made & the above - will do doubt, after investigation, come to light.
I an Madam, Your Obedient Servant, Irene
Pauline (no doubt muttering under her breath 'For goodness' sake, calm down, woman'), replied:
"With reference to your letter to me of today's date, I would point out to you that you have not been charged with any offence. Certain matters have been brought to my attention and I took the course of discussing these with you in order to clear them up.
Under the circumstances I shall make a further investigation but in the meantime I am fully prepared to take your word concerning the particular instance mentioned in our conversation this morning."
... and that appears to have been the end of that.
The very next month (March 1942), however, a more serious matter came up, and she was grounded. Without boring you with all the tedious details of 'She said to me, so I said to her', etc, what happened was this:
On the 15th March, Irene ferried an aircraft from Catterick to Prestwick, via Carlisle. As she landed, who should be watching but Margie Fairweather, and she was not pleased by what she saw; "I noted the circuit and approach of the machine which ultimately turned out to be piloted by 3rd Officer Arckless. The final turn into the slight wind which was blowing, was done in a series of jerks, in the nature of flat turns, and the machine was then under-shooting by several hundred yards. The engine was now used to recover, and height was again gained. Thereafter the machine made a perfectly good landing on the grass. I was shocked to discover the pilot was 3rd Officer Arckless who is known to have some experience."
Margie confronted Irene, criticised her turns, the height at which she circuited the aerodrome, minutely cross-examined her on her knowledge of the valley, and queried Irene's explanation of a fuel leak for the large quantity of petrol taken on at Carlisle; (she asked for a 'Snag Report' and said "If it's found to be alright, it will be too bad for you", or words to that effect"); she also told Irene she clearly didn't know how to work an altimeter. Margie summed up her opinion of Irene in no uncertain terms: "Her whole bearing during our conversation convinced me, that her extreme confidence in herself as a pilot has no justification."
Irene, in turn, wrote, "Personally I feel that there is some personal prejudice existing in the whole of Captain Fairweather's attitude" and ended her report by stating, "my one ambition is to be an asset to A.T.A. and not a menace!"
As it happens, Irene came up with convincing arguments against all Margie's criticisms; nevertheless, she was sent back to School for a Check Flight, with the Chief Instructor, no less. I wonder if she could resist a slight smirk when the report came back:
19 Mar 1942
T/O I. Arckless
We have duly received your report dated 15 March regarding the above Officer, and thank you for writing.
Miss Arckless has had a flight check with the Chief Flying Instructor who has given us such a good report that we have no alternative but to return her to full flying duties.
Her explanations on your various points seem fairly satisfactory, but we shall, of course, keep this Officer under observation.
To be fair to Margie, she was just doing her job, and she was absolutely right to be concerned; the 15th of March 1942 was one of the worst days of ATA's existence, with 6 people dead in 4 separate crashes. Plus, Margie was a very experienced pilot and instructor; if she had concerns about the way Irene was flying, she was aprobably right. But in any case Margie and Irene's personalities and backgrounds were so different, they were perhaps bound to clash.
Pauline thought it best to transfer Irene anyway, with this note in her file:
"Miss Arckless suffers from over confidence and I am not at all satisfied with her ability as a Class I pilot. I should be grateful therefore if you would keep a careful check on her flying and general airmanship."
Irene's next mishap turned out entirely to her credit; on the 20 Aug 1942 she took off in a Mk I Hurricane, and the port undercarriage leg failed to retract. She wrote "I flew around for about 30 minutes trying to get port leg up, or starboard down, by the emergency methods... nothing happened, in any of these directions, the port leg remained down and starboard up.
After this I circuited the aerodrome, wiggled my wings, and made very amazing other actions. By amazing actions I mean: I trimmed aircraft to fly hands off as well as was possible under the circumstances, took both hands off and feet off everything and tried brute force to move the selector lever... during this period the aircraft certainly appeared to perform some remarkable antics!
I then did a further circuit and went in to land. Port wheel fortunately retracted and I made a normal crash landing."
She went back to School, but this time on a conversion course. Her final report was, again, positive:
"from A G Head, Temp. O.C. Training Pool
"a keen and safe pilot who has shown considerable initiative and resourcefulness. A likeable personality who is inclined to be rather high spirited but whose work is of a high standard. An extremely good navigator who will make a most useful ferry pilot.She had to cope with a difficult problem in a Hurricane with undercarriage selector trouble recently, and belly landed it with less damage than the Engineer Officer of the Station had ever seen before with similar circumstances. She was exonerated by the Accidents Committee, thus proving her School reports to carry considerable weight.All her work in Training Pool has been very satisfactory."
She had another accident, on 21 Dec 42; her Airspeed Oxford developed low oil pressure in its starboard engine and she had to force land. The incident was investigated and she was found 'not to blame'.
Sadly however, her next accident - less than 3 weeks later, in the same type of aircraft - was fatal. On the afternoon of Sunday 3 Jan 1943, her Oxford V3888 crashed onto a house on the outskirts of Cambridge when an engine cut during take-off. She was taken to Addenbrooks but pronounced dead.
I don't think Pauline Gower ever warmed to her, actually; rather than the usual fairly positive summary, she managed to damn Irene with faint praise: "her conduct and general character was satisfactory and she performed her duties conscienciously"
Buried Stanwix Cemetery, Carlisle. ATA pilot Ronald Porter (q.v.) is buried in the adjacent plot.
The Inscription reads:
"UNTIL THE DAY BREAK
Treasured Memories of
Second Officer ATA Ferry Pilot who was accidentally killed
at Cambridge while on Service 3 Jan 1943 Aged 27 Years
Beloved Daughter of William and Fanny Arckless
Also William Arckless Dearly Loved Husband of Fanny
Who Died 18 Dec 1965, Aged 74 Years
Also Fanny, Beloved Wife of William
Who Died 11 April 1987, Aged 92 Years"
The ATA Benevolent Fund went to visit her parents, to offer assistance, but reported back:
"Mr Arckless is an ordinary working man, being an organ-builder by trade and I understand that in recent years he has not been fully employed, hence the reason that I deemed it advisable to interview the deceased's parents on the question of the Fund.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Arckless have requested me to thank the Organisation and the Committee for the consideration shown to them, but they feel that, although their daughter contributed considerably to the home, they cannot under the circumstances avail themselves of any monetary allowance which the Committee may have sen fit to grant them as they feel there must be many more deserving cases, namely young widows left with small children."
Cairns Post, 15 Jan 1943; "Irene Arckless, daughter of a Carlisle organ-builder, was known as "the flying school-girl." She realised her school-girl ambition to emulate Amy Johnson. She made her first solo flight when she was 21. She was killed on the day after her 28th birthday [sic]. She had just returned to her station from four days leave. She was engaged to Flight-Lieutenant Thomas Lockyer, a prisoner of war in Germany.
Lockyer's father said last night "Tom and Irene had known each other since childhood. She took flying lessons as soon as she left school. When Tom joined the RAF, she was determined to get her 'wings as soon as he.”
She joined the RAF ferry service in October, 1941 [sic], after she heard that Lockyer was a prisoner. 'One of us must keep flying, she said'.”
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip files):
M.560 2nd Officer Ramchandra Murlidhar Badhe b. 7 Aug 1905, Saugar C.P., British India 24 Jun 1941 to Jan-43
Address in 1941: 19 Hartington Rd, East Feltham, Middx
Next of kin: (brother) Vishnu Badhe, Kelibag, Mahal, Nagpur, India
M.Sc., then an aircraft assembler fitter for Heston Aircraft Co, Hounslow. From whom he received this slightly awkward endorsement:
"I would say that Mr R M Badhe has been in our employ for about three years, and we have always found him to be a first-class reliable man from every point of view, and although it is always difficult to get under the skin of certain classes of Indians, I had no hesitation whatever in recommending him for a commission in the RAFVR, and in your case also I feel that he will give you excellent service... He has always conducted himself here in a very correct and respectful manner."
However, his instructor's report in October 1942 was less complimentary:
"A keen pilot whose assessment can only be judged by his ability to use his intelligence, which is below average. It was necessary to reprimand him for gross carelessness and lack of airmanship and he has been told that if on any future occasion his airmanship is proved to be lacking, his contract will most probably be terminated."
Actually, he did have a few accidents...
- Jul-42, he had a burst tyre on landing a Spitfire (not to blame).
- Sep-42, he landed an Oxford in the wrong direction and collided with another Oxford, severely damaging both (pilot to blame);
- Nov-42, he taxied of the perimiter track (to avoid some cyclists, he said) and nosed over in the soft ground (pilot to blame);
d. 20 Jan 1943 (Died in ATA Service) - Henley L3408 crashed in trees on Ulpha Farm nr Meathop, Westmorland, while attempting forced landing due to engine failure (suspected to be due to water in the petrol system).
Cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 26 Jan 1942:
"He was billeted with us... he made many friends amongst my gentlemen, he was a gentleman in every possible way and we shall greatly miss him"
M.--- 2nd Officer John Robert Baker b. 26 Jun 1915, London 26 Sep 1941 to Nov-41
prev. an electrician for the Borough of Stepney from 1932
prev. exp 25 hrs solo
L/AC in RAF 22 May - 4 Oct 1940. His 'reference' from them to the ATA says "After being reported extremely backward this ex-pupil was tested on 29th Aug 1940 after 5 hours dual on Oxfords, when it was found that he was definitely below average and completely lacking in air sense. His reactions were extremely slow, flying rough, cockpit drill hazy and judgement bad. He was therefore withdrawn from flying training. It is considered that this ex-pupil is entirely unsuited for the work of a Ferry Pilot".
Even his ATA flying test reported him as "keen, but painfully slow at times" and "very lacking in common sense".
Nevertheless, he was taken on as a Cadet.
... And died a few weeks later, in a flying accident.
d. 20 Nov 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Miles Hawk Major DP848 (ex G-AENS) on training cross-country flight ran out of fuel and hit hill nr Priddy Wells Somerset in bad visibility.
M.57 Junior Captain John Lloyd Bebb b. 23 July 1901, Aberystwyth 29 Apr 1940 to Jan-42
prev. Farming, Engineering and Aircraft Operator
prev exp. 700hrs
G-AAHE, a 1929 Avro 594 Avian IV (which competed in the King's Cup, 1931);
G-ACFH, a 1933 Avro 640 Cadet, and G-ACPB, a 1934 Avro Cadet, which he offered to the ATA.
Commended by his C.O. in June 1941 - "outstanding... always willing to start at any time of the day for any destination. One of our best."
d. 30 Jan 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Curtiss Mohawk AR671 stalled attempting forced landing at Pershore Aerodrome following engine failure.
buried Capel Madog.
M.122 * First Officer Francis Everett Bender b. 1904, Lopez Sullivan Pennsylvania c. 20 Oct 1940 to 3 Aug 1941
Address in 1940: Union NY
Arrived in the UK 11 Nov 1940 on the SS Duchess of Atholl, with his fellow ferry pilots Howard Charles Alsop (M.165), - Donald Lee Annibal (M.163), Robert Olyn Gragg (M.173), Dan B Jacques, Charles John Smith, Malcolm F Stewart and Roy Edwin Wimmer.
d. 3 Aug 1941 (Died in ATA Service) in Havoc AH463 which crashed In bad visibility into hills New Cumnock Ayrshire
buried Monkton and Prestick Cemetery
M.264 First Officer John Graham 'Jack' Bergel b. 1 Mar 1902, London 2 Mar 1941 to Nov-41
prev. a journalist for the 'London Evening News' from 1925; "no previous employment"
His brother Hugh said: "Jack was nearly four years older than I was, so that we never overlapped at school, and were never quite as close to each other as I would have liked. All his working life had been spent on the London Evening News, which he joined as a cub reporter. By the time he left to join ATA he was, or had been, wireless correspondent, motor-racing correspondent, music critic, Rugby football correspondent, aviation correspondent and writer of the Diary. But for years his main job had been that of Dramatic Critic, and there must be some who can still recall the reviews he wrote over the initials J.G.B."
prev exp. 160 hrs
He originally applied in July 1940: "My brother Hugh tells me that the A.T.A. is still anxious to recruit ferry pilots. As I am despairing, after ten months, of getting into the RAF in any capacity - I've seen three [selection] boards who all lose interest when they find I'm over 30 and wear glasses - I would like to know if I am any good for your service - which sounds disrespectful, I'm afraid, but isn't meant to be."
He added: "I'm nothing like as good a pilot, naturally, as Hugh, but I can find my way; it always was my one aeronautical talent."
His brother Hugh had learnt to fly in 1928, and had already joined the ATA]
However, when he turned up for a flight test in September 1940, the report was that "this applicant's standard of flying is so low that he cannot be accepted for ATA duties even on light types".
By January 1941 the ATA had realised that it needed more pilots, even if they had to train them themselves. Accordingly, a second test was arranged for the 19th January; this time he was accepted, and duly started on the 3rd March.
By the 7th November, when he was posted to No 6 FPP, he had satisfactorily passed training courses on Classes 1, 2, 3 and 4 aircraft. Sadly, he was killed a week later.
d. 15 Nov 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Blenheim Z6080 stalled on landing approach to Oulton. He "made his final approach too slowly, particularly having regard to the fact that it was a fully equipped Blenheim IV, with inner and outer tanks full."
[Hugh attributed the accident to a faulty air-speed indicator reading, "caused by water in the system, which in turn was caused by aircraft having to live their lives out in the open through all weathers."]
His mother said of him "Jack's happiest months were spent in the ATA".
M.499 2nd Officer Nathaniel Addison Berry b. 31 Aug 1905, London 10 Jun 1941 to Mar-42
prev. director and factory manager, Nathaniel Berry & Sons Ltd, piano manufacturers
Died in ATA Service - flying as 2nd pilot with F/O Thomas Bray (joined 1940) in Hampden X3130 which went missing 18 Mar 1942 after taking off from Kirkbride. Their bodies were later washed ashore - Nathaniel's was found on 11 Jul.
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
E.--- Senior Flight Engineer Arthur Bird b. 23 Sep 1914, Warlingham Surrey 11 Sep 1942 to 24 Jan 1944
father: James Charles Bird
Ed. at Warlingham Council School, and Croydon Polytechnic.
m. 1937 Vera Mabel [Nye], 2 children
prev. an inspector for Tollerton Aircraft Services Ltd - from 1937 in Croydon and then from 1939 in Tollerton, Notts.
Address in 1942: The Bungalow, Highbury Rd, Keyworth Notts.
"Very trustworthy, can be left on his own and will work under any conditions."
Salary at start: £5.5.0. per week, plus £2.12.6. per week subsistence allowance.
Recommended for promotion to Senior Flight Engineer in August 1943, together with Flt. Engineers P.S. Brown and C.E. Duffill: "Although they are slightly under the required time, they have worked extraordinarily hard and well and are all first-class engineers. I feel that they well deserve the benefit of the extra three or four weeks which they lack to bring them up to the official qualifications but, if they fail to obtain their promotion now it will mean a further six months before the possibility comes round again."
The documentation of his promotion hasn't survived, but in any case he died within 6 months:
d. 24 Jan 1944 (Died in ATA Service) - Halifax JP182 flew into Eel Crag 4 miles SW of Braithwaite, Cumbria, during a snowstorm. Pilot Flt Capt Bernard Short (q.v.) also killed.
Much more detail at http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/lakes/jp182.html
buried Edenbridge Cemetery, .
[The headstone says 'Senior Flight Engineer', so his promotion must have been approved.]
His children, Richard and Brenda, were 5 and 2 at the time.
On the 5 Feb 1944, his C.O. Frankie Francis wrote to HQ ATA; "At the funeral the other day, I had intended to speak to his widow about his equipment and the disposal of his car, but she was in a very distraught state, and I thought it would be kinder to write to her and ask when she would be prepared to come and see me... I have accordingly written to her, but have not yet had a reply."
"It is understood that Vera and the two children have very limited resources on which to live."
On the 14th, Vera replied:
"Dear Sir, I am writing to thank you for the money order of £10 you sent me which I recieved safely. Again I thank you for all you have done for my and still doing through these weary days."
She also asked for permission to move her furniture from the rented house in Keyworth down to Warlingham in Surrey, which is where all her relatives lived.
Then on April 11th, Vera wrote this rather heartbreaking letter:
"Dear Sir, I have recieved parcel on the 8th of my husband things, but there are a few thing I would like to know if they could be found that is a pair of Blue Stripe Pyjamas also a Brown leather zip shaving cases which he carried in his A.T.A. bag as the towel was return which was alway carried to-gether, if it can be found I should be very pleased as it was a present to my husband, also about the 2 watches he had on him one was wrist watch the other a pocket watches which he carried in his little pocket off his Tunic where is knife was alway kept,
The Post Office here tell me that I can get a government Pension acording to my husbands wages, Could you tell me if this is true, or how I should go about it, I would like to now the name of the A.T.A. Pilot who was killed with my husband, as it only gave my husband name on the 24th and two(?) more on the 23rd. I am wondering why this is.
Again I thank you and all at the A.T.A. for what you have done for me and my children. Your Truly, V.M. Bird"
The ATA insurance for Flight Engineers was £1,500.
M.150 First Officer John Kenneth Bodinnar b. 9 Jan 1906, Bristol 14 Aug 1940 to 3 Apr 1941
Father: Sir John Francis Bodinnar J.P., The Old Palace, Chippenham, Wilts
[Sir John Francis Bodinnar (1880-1958) was a Company Director (of, among others, the West of England Bacon Company, Ltd) and Mayor of Calne from 1925-27. "On the site of the Old Palace stood the house in which King Alfred is traditionally said to have burnt the cakes."
The Old Palace was bought by the Town Council in 1942 for new offices; it is now the Chippenham Museum.]
Mother: Mabel Frost [Latham]. [d. 1948)
Ed. Malvern College
prev. "various, including fruit growing and engineering" - spent 1926-35 in Canada.
Address in 1940: 5 Alexandra Court, Wembley Pk, Middx
m. 1937 in Kensington, London, Sheila Frances Grace [George, d. 1979]
Next of kin: (wife) Sheila, c/o "Branksome", Old Woking Rd, Pyrford, Surrey
Suspended for 2 days in Dec 1940 for infringement of flying regulations
2 accidents, 1 his fault:
- 6 Feb 1941, he hit a concrete block whilst taxying a Leopard Moth, having to avoid an approaching Hart
d. 3 Apr 1941 (age 35) (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane Z3166 flew into a ploughed field at Gorse Lane, Tarleton, Lancs, in poor visibility.
He was held to blame for the accident, having persevered too long in bad weather. Douglas Fairweather was flying in the same area on the same day, and confirmed that the weather was so bad he had to curtail his own flight.
He had flown 98 hrs in delivering 105 aircraft for the ATA.
Buried in Maidenhead Cemetery, Sec. D. Row L. Grave 7
Sheila wrote to Gerard d'Erlanger: "May I send you my very sincere thanks for your flowers and sympathetic letter on the occasion of my husband's death.
Your kind remarks made me feel very proud of him and I am sure he would not have wished for higher commendation."
Flt-Sgt / First Officer
[Seconded from RAF]
John William 'Jack' Boilstone b. 28 Jun 1915, Stourbridge, Worcs 30 Jan 1943 to 9 Dec 1943
Father: Joseph Pearson Boilstone, a Farmer; mother: Dorothy May [Downing]
m. 1942 in Bromsgrove, Dorothy Margaret [Taylor, b. 1919]
prev. a Motor Tester; RAF from 5 Jul 1941, 10 OTU, Abingdon
prev. exp. 190 hrs on Stearman PT 17, Harvard, Vultee, Oxford, Whitley in UK and USA
Address in 1943: Hillingdon, Highfield Crescent, Blackheath, Birmingham
"A neat and steady pilot of good average ability who takes his work seriously and has the makings of a very good ferry pilot"
"He posseses a quick & keen personailty and his discipline has been exemplary"
One accident, his fault:
d. 9 Dec 1943 in Beaufort II LZ146 which stalled on approach to Kirkbride, dived into the ground 1000ft west of the airfield and was destroyed. Ferry from 44 MU Edzell to 40 APU Melton Mowbray.
Buried St Kenelm's Churchyard, Romsley, Worcs
"Constantly remembered by his wife, parents and all relatives"
FLT SGT J.W. BOILSTONE
FIRST OFFICER A.T.A.
LOVING MEMORIES ALWAYS
OF MY DARLING HUSBAND
WHO LOST HIS LIFE WHILE
ON DUTY AS A FERRY PILOT
DEC 9TH, 1943
AGED 28 YEARS.
OUR GARDEN OF MEMORIES
Dorothy later (1951) m. Alfred J Newman and d. 2008
M---- Cadet Frederick George Bowles b. 26 Mar 1912, Newcastle on Tyne 16 Sep 1942 to Dec-42
prev. an engineering draughtsman
d. 6 Dec 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Magister L8233 spun in near Letchworth, Herts 1.5m SSW of Baldock.
Marked as a red spot on this map::
M.4 Captain Francis Delaforce 'Brad' Bradbrooke b. 14 Mar 1895, Worcestershire 11 Sep 1939 to Aug-41
1935 (Flight) Brief Glory
Ed: Bletchley Grammar School, then Manitoba University
1914-16 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles;
1916-1930 1st Lieut., Canadian Machine Gun Corps;
prev. an aviation journalist, on the staff of 'The Aeroplane'; had flown about 110 types of aeroplane
Seconded to AtFero 20 Mar 1941
d. 10 Aug 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Liberator AM261 crashed into Goat Fell mountain on Isle of Arran after take off from Heathfield, Ayr (22 killed - 5 crew and 17 travelling as passengers)
9 of the victims were Canadian, 5 British, 7 American, and one was an Australian.
11 of the victims were pilots: Josiah James Anderson (Can), Daniel J Duggan (US), Watt Miller King (US), George Thomas Harris (US), Hoyt Ralph Judy (US), John James Roulstone (US), Harold Clifford Wesley Smith (Can), Jack Wixen (US), Capt. Ernest R. B. White (BOAC, ex-Imperial Airways), F. D. Bradbrooke, and John Evan Price (Aus).
10 radio operators, including Albert Alexander Oliver, George Herbert Powell and Herbert David Rees from BOAC, and one Flight Engineer, Ernest George Reeves (US), also lost their lives.
Flight said: "Canada shares with Great Britain the loss of Capt. F. D. Bradbrooke, who, although born in Worcestershire, has spent many years in Canada, where he learned to fly in 1928. Several years ago he came to this country to join the staff of The Aeroplane, of which he became assistant editor. He left that post to become editor of a little journal called The Aero Pilot. On its formation he joined the Air Transport Auxiliary and ferried aircraft from factories to service units, and finally he joined Atfero. He was a very experienced pilot"
"To say only that aeronautical journalism had lost one of its most important figures in the Atfero accident would be very much understating the case. Capt. F. D. Bradbrooke was much more than an aeronautical journalist. He was one of those amateur pilots who had helped to make private flying in this country, and was, at the same time, an "amateur technician " of no mean importance. He had a finger in every pie remotely connected with his primary interest and hobby, and was by way of being a humorist in his own inimitable way.
"Brad" was one of the most enthusiastic persons anyone could possibly meet, and his enthusiasm was catching. As a member of the staff of The Aeroplane he was an unstinting supporter of everything which he felt to be a "good thing," and a somewhat vitriolic opponent of anything which he felt to be useless or silly. When, for instance, the tricycle undercarriage was considered merely as a peculiar kind of throwback, " Brad " was vigorous in his praise, and I was with him when he flew the first tricycle type to appear in this country. The machine in question was a " safety-first " type, and until "Brad" started to expatiate (with his usual lack of professional "tightness"), I had been interested only in the slots and things with which the machine was fitted. It was Bradbrooke, in fact, who helped to make this country "tricycle conscious."
And that was only one of the many ideas which he had sponsored. What was more important is that he was prepared to put his enthusiasm into vigorous practice. In the course of his investigations he would fly almost anything anywhere. And I must say that in his search for truth (of the aeronautical kind) he risked his neck in one or two very queer contraptions so that he could at least give the designer an absolutely fair opinion—in print or otherwise.
At the beginning of this war he was one of the founders of Air Transport Auxiliary, and here again his enthusiasm was terrific. Later, when the Atlantic ferrying business started, he was one of the first to volunteer for the work, and was thereafter - until he started on the work itself - to be seen, so to speak, with a sextant in one hand and a textbook on astronomical navigation in the other. At odd moments he would hoist the sextant to his eye and compute his position—though he knew perfectly well where he was.
When there is peace and civil flying returns we shall miss "Brad", a very great deal. All this war-flying was only for him an interlude preparatory to returning to his greatest interest - civil flying. The only kind of flying which is really worth anything in the long run. Yes, we shall certainly miss him."
A memorial service was held each year on the anniversary of the crash at Lamlash Cemetery, Island of Arran.
ATA's insurance policy paid out £5,000 to his widow Joan, and £2,000 each to the families of the 3 radio operators.
Laurent Frederick Ronald Brandt b. 8 Mar 1909, Widnes, Lancs 25 Nov 1941 to Nov-43
Ed. Leicester Technical College
His mother's maiden name was Minnie Gertrude Willis; she was, apparently, the 7th daughter of the co-founder of the firm Freeman Hardy and Willis. On his marriage certificate, he is named 'Laurent Willis Brandt'
"'ATROCIOUS ASSAULT' ON BOY OF 13
LEICESTER MANAGER FINED
BENCH SAYS THERE WAS NO EXCUSE
What was termed by the Chairman as 'an atrocious assault' by a 23-year old Leicester man on a 13-year old boy was described at Leicester City Police Court to-day.
Laurent Frederick Brandt, a manager, of Friar-lane, Leicester, was fined £5, with the alternative of 26 days' imprisonment, for an assault on Eric Weston, a schoolboy, of All Saints Road, Leicester.
John Haylock, of Southgate, said he saw the boy pass a stationary car in Friar-Lane. "Just as the boy passed Brandt Jumped out from behind the car and kicked him," said Haylock." For ten minutes the boy did not seem to be able to stand up, and he had to be taken to the Royal Infirmary."
There seemed to the witness to be no reason whatever for the assault. "As I passed the car I said 'Are you letting a drop of wind out?' and then - the man jumped straight out and kicked me" declared the boy.
Brandt pleaded guilty, and said that the boy tampered with a sidelight on the car. Brandt 'raised his foot' to the boy because he was holding tools in both hands.
Miss Denise Branson, of Friar-Lane Leicester, said that she saw the boy tampering with a sidelight on Brandt's car.
"This was a most vicious and unprovoked assault" said the Chairman. "You may not take the law into your own hands even if the boy had meddled with your car. The only doubt the magistrates have is whether they should send you to prison without the option of a fine." - Leicester Evening Mail - Tuesday 1 March 1932
"RECEIVING CHARGE DISMISSED
Laurent Fredk. Ronald Brandt, 24, electrician, pleaded not guilty to receiving a silver cigarette-case and a sovereign-case, knowing them to be stolen, from James Arthur Blackburn at Great Clacton.
Mr. Bowman, prosecuting, said Blackburn had pleaded guilty to the theft. The property was taken from the house of Mr. David Jacobs while he was on holiday. Brandt said Blackburn gave him the articles a few days after he met him. He sold the case to buy something for a friend in hospital. Brandt was found not guilty and discharged, and Blackburn was sent to Borstal institution for three years." -Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 26 May 1933
"'PLANE CRASH IN FIELD
Civil Air Guard Injured
Mr. Laurent Frederick Ronald Brandt. aged 30, a member of the Civil Air Guard. crashed at Harmondsworth on Sunday afternoon when flying an Avro Club Cadet two-seater. Mr. Brandt. who lives at Eastcote. was detained in Hounslow Hospital suffering from broken ribs and jaw, with several teeth knocked out. The plane was almost completely wrecked. A passenger in the plane, Mr. Mervyn Basden of Slough, was taken to Windsor Hospital with facial injuries. The crash was in Mr. Philp's field opposite the Technicolor building." - Uxbridge & W. Drayton Gazette - Friday 28 April 1939
m. 1935 Elsie Esme Florence [Fox], (separated)
prev. a radio engineer; Assistant Tester, (Control Room) Generating Station, LPTB
prev. exp. 150 hrs
Applied to join the RAF in Sep 1938 but was unable to join due to "unforeseen domestic circumstances", and again in May 1940 but was unable to obtain his release from his employers.
Postings: 8FPP, 3FPP, 6FPP, 1FPP
Two accidents, neither his fault:
- 8 May 1943, his Magister P2436 lost power after take-off, and he force-landed in a field without damage. He was a 2nd Officer, under training at Barton-le-Clay, at the time
- 3 Sept 1943, another engine failure, another forced landing, this time in a Hart (still under Training) (? - listed as J Brandt)
Appointed as an 'Approved Instructor' on 17 Apr 1943, but taken off instructional duties on 7 Sep 1943.
d. 25 Nov 1943 (Died in ATA Service) Beaufighter X LZ536 dived into ground out of cloud at Cronton Mapley Lancs, nr Burtonwood 8m E of Liverpool
The accident report says, "When accepting this aircraft at a handling Pool, the pilot failed to reveal that he had not flown the type before, did not obtain and read the Handling Notes on the type, failed to obtain a meteorological forecast, and continued too far in bad weather. The aircraft spun out of cumulo-nimbus cloud, crashed, caught fire and was destroyed."
Laurent had changed his next-of-kin from Esme, his wife, to his mother Minnie, but Minnie declined the offer of the £2,500 compensation from the ATA and it went instead to Esme.
His final estate, however, was only £288 (and funerals cost about 30 guineas in 1943, so it wasn't that)
M.194 First Officer Thomas Charles David ‘Tom’ Bray b. 22 Jul 1906, Sheffield, Tasmania 1 Oct 1940 to Mar-42
Next of kin: sister, Sylvia M Bray, 2 Paterson St, Launceston, Tasmania
Prev. exp. 420 hrs
Tom was one of a number of Australians who came over to fly for the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club, but when all civilian flying was stopped on the outbreak of WWII in October 1939, he applied to join the ATA.
They rejected him on the basis of his flight test, but then contacted him again the following July and asked if he would like to be reconsidered; he replied that, in the meantime, he had taken a job with the Rapide Flight of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, but would indeed like to re-apply.
His next flight test in August 1940 assessed him as: “A pilot of limited experience, who has ability and may prove adaptable to modern aircraft, of which he has no experience.”
Thomas then started with the ATA and worked well for about a year at Hawarden, but then resigned as the situation in the Far East deteriorated and he became worried about things at home.
However, his C.O. ‘Wal’ Handley wrote to the ATA to say: “I do not want to lose him, as he is a good pilot”, and they agreed to release Tom in the event of hostilities arising between Japan and Australia.
He withdrew his resignation, but died in an aircraft accident a few weeks later.
d. 18 Mar 1942 (Died in ATA Service) – his Hampden X3130 went missing after taking off from Kirkbride at about 15:00, heading for Thorney Island. He and 2nd Officer Nathaniel Berry (joined 1941) were presumed lost at noon the following day when no sign had been seen of them.
His body was eventually washed up on the shore at Southport, on the 8th June 1942. Cause of death could not be determined. He was buried at Maidenhead Cemetery on the 13th:
As sometimes sadly happened, a final letter from home arrived after his death. It is dated 5 Feb 1942:
“Thursday morning thought I could pen you a few lines while I am waiting for my fruit and vegetable to come in.
Received money last Friday £24 18s 6d don’t know if that was right I haven’t had any letter to say how much you were sending. The last letter received from you was dated back to sometime in Aug and it arrived the first week in Dec. You said in that you would make arrangement and let me know later when and how much. Anyway thanks very much it arrived just in the nick of time. I ran myself a bit short last month paying £25 for wireless and I gave Stan £20, I had to pay £50 for vegetables for the Military for Feb. so you can guess I was just about on the rocks.
Well Tom the war gets closer every day. This is Monday the 9th and the paper says Japs are landing in Singapore. Mum seems to worry about it she is so helpless, and there all day on her own. She seems a lot better than she was last time I wrote, but said she felt crook this morning when she got out of bed.
Our petrol has been cut again so I don’t get out weekends at all, though we did run up to Mabel’s for a few hours yesterday. We have to black out the car lights and everything. What I can see we are going to have a cold black winter. The weather is terribly dry, and vegetables are very dear. But that is all the better for me, can always sell more when it is a good price.
Auntie A had a long letter from Bett. She is doing canteen work three days a week, and said she hadn’t heard any more of you but would write you in a few days. Edward is away a lot at night. Your letter must be hung up somewhere. I wonder if you are getting mine this is the third time since Xmas. We received greeting and it did your mother a lot of good.
Well Tom Rita, Dorothy and myself had a day at the Launceston Cup. Had quite a good day and it cost us 1 shilling for expenses, but it was a very poor meeting, no Melbourne horses, and very poor div’s. I wasn’t game to take my car, as they were checking up on all the cars registered for business, they are not allowed on pleasure trips, and for the first time I realised how hard it will be if I can’t get petrol.
Stan started on his new house this morning. He has two boys at work and they are going to school at night. So he should be alright now.
Business is going well so far, so I suppose I am lucky. There are quite a few shops closing up.
Well Tom it is time I did a bit of work. I have a boy and girl in the shop, they are only 14 years but they do a very good job.
That must be all for now so cheerio and heaps of love from Mum and Syl.”
M.365 First Officer Clarence Brook b. 25 Jun 1919, Featherstone 22 Apr 1941 to Jun-42
prev. a Clerk in West Riding Surveyors Dept., Yorks
RAF Sep-39 to OCt-40, LAC/Sgt.
d. 26 Jun 1942 - died in a motor accident at East Ardsley, nr Wakefield when returning home to visit his mother on weekend leave.
Albert Ronald Humphreys (27), a laboratory assistant, of The Avenue, Ledger Lane, Outwood, near Wakefield, was charged with Clarence's manslaughter, but a plea of dangerous driving was accepted.
At 11 o'clock at night at Ramper's Bend on the Wakefield Road at East Ardsley, Humphreys took the corner at too great a speed. The car turned over and Brook, one of the passengers, was thrown out and killed.
The Judge imposed a fine of £5O and disqualified Humphreys from holding a driving licence for three years.
buried in Pontefract Cemetery
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
(Seconded from RAF)
James Waldron Brown b. 6 Aug 1918, Liverpool 23 May 1944 to Mar-45
prev. a draughtsman
RAF from May-41 to May-44
d. 20 Mar 1945 (Died in ATA Service) - passenger in Anson I DJ471 (pilot Frank Hill, also killed) which collided with a Typhoon at RAF Aston Down, Glos.
Both aircraft were approaching to land, but neither pilot could see the other; the Typhoon struck the Anson from behind and above.
M.704 First Officer James Richard Burton b. 26 Oct 1914, Selby Yorks 2 Dec 1941 to Aug-45
prev. aircraft fitter for Blackburn Repairs, Yorks.
Address in 1941: 61 Armoury Rd, Selby Yorks
d. 30 Aug 1945 (Died in ATA Service) - Firebrand IV EK635 stalled after takeoff from RAF Brough.
The Accidents Committee reported that the aircraft was seen to take off tail-down, and the undercarriage was retracted (thus increasing the nose-up trim); it then climbed to about 300 ft, stalled and dived to the ground.
buried Selby Cemetery
M.5 Captain Francis Joseph Bush b. 26 Apr 1904, Banbury Oxfordshire 11 Sep 1939 - Nov-41
prev. a Manufacturer and Company Director
prev exp 507 hrs. Owned a 1928 DH Moth G-AAAA, then a 1931 DH Puss Moth G-ABLG (which he bought from Margaret Fairweather)
Address in 1939: 76 High St, Watford, Herts
By the 6 Dec 1939, when he still hadn't started flying, he wrote to the ATA, "I was wondering if my Puss Moth (which is in tip-top order) would eventually be of use in the ATA, or do you advise me to try and sell it to be shifted overseas?
I am still at the above address [Green Park Hotel, Bournemouth] waiting for your instructions when and where to report for duty."
[His Puss Moth was impressed 18 Feb 41, and struck off charge for spares 12 Apr 44]
Certificate of Commendation "After a satisfactory test flight at Kinloss, F/O Bush set off on the 19th December 1940, in a Boston for Prestwick. After about 25 miles the starboard engine failed and F/O Bush feathered the airscrew. He then returned to Lossiemouth and landed there. In spite of the fact that the brakes were out of action, the landing was made without damage to the aircraft. He had never flown the type before, and the ATA at that time could not provide handling notes."
"He has beeen outstanding in the way he has worked, and the example he has set."
"A competent pilot and a very good officer"
3 accidents, 1 of them his fault.
d. 23 Nov 41 (Died in ATA Service) - Liberator AL562 engine caught fire and crashed into the sea south of Burrow Head, Wigtownshire, en route Prestwick to Hawarden.
2nd pilot, F/O EE Uhlich (USA) (q.v.) also killed.
'Gen' Genovese (q.v.) wrote later that "the ship was one of the first Liberators in England, but... through some grim blunder on someone's part the anti-aircraft crew had not been advised of its being a new addition to the British Air Force. Elmer Ulich (sic) was shot down and killed by British anti-aircraft fire."
The official accident report says "Insufficient evidence to establish cause but thought to be through bad weather causing aircraft to catch fire in the air."
The ATA insurers paid his mother Edith and sister Violet £2,000.
buried Maidenhead Cemetery
M.457 First Officer Anthony Carpenter b. 4 Sep 1913, London 27 May 1941 to Jun-43
Educated at Caterham School
m. 1940 Ruby Violet [Haines]
RAeC Certificates in 1936 (in an autogiro) and 1938
prev. A/C erection foreman, Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd
Address in 1941: 289 Alleseley Old Rd, Coventry
Postings: 6FPP, 3FPP
"A keen and conscientious officer, inclined to be a little slow."
d. 21 Jun 1943 (Died in ATA Service) - Wellington XIV HF136 crashed and burnt out at Hawarden. Port engine lost power immediately after takeoff, due to an electrical short-circuit which caused the port propeller to feather.
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.31 First Officer Francis Dean Carragher b. 19 Feb 1915, Greenville, Texas 8 Oct 1940 to 1 Feb 1941
1939, when a student pilot at Randolph Field, TX
Father: Sidney Francis Carragher, (Step-father Milton M Cranston), Mother: Amy Carragher Cranston, of 100 Elmgrove Ave, Providence, RI
Five sisters, one brother
Ed. Rhode Island State College (BSc, 1936). President of the 'Phi Delta' student dramatic association:
with thanks to George Cogswell
prev. Flying Instructor at Glendale Airport; 2nd Lieut. US Air Corps 1938-40
prev. exp. 645 hrs on Stearman PT15, Yale, Pursuit P.12, Harvard, B.18, A.17, O.46, BT.14, P.12
Address in 1940: 2920 Ocean Drive, Manhattan Reach, CA
"Mr. Carragher appears to be a man of considerable experience, consequently his handling of twin engine equipment is good" - Flight Test Report in Toronto, Oct 1940
d. 1 Feb 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - while performing unauthorised aerobatics at Ringway airport in Mohawk AR664 - engine failure led to a stall and spin into the ground.
"On February 1st at about 5 p.m. I saw the Mohawk AR664 which Carragher was flying dive down to about 500 ft. and then climb vertical to about 1000 ft. then turn on its back. Just as the machine was almost flat on its back the engine ceased to fire, the machine fell off the loop, came out of the dive right side up and commenced to glide towards the aerodrome, the machine looked to travel about a mile in a glide then did one turn and a half of a spin and went down behind the trees. The flaps and wheels were not lowered." - Joseph Shoesmith, fellow ATA pilot, who was also ferrying a Mohawk from Squires Gate and had landed first.
buried Central Cemetery, Manchester; "His Worship the Mayor of Altrincham, who knew the deceased personally during his posting at Ringway and held a very high opinion of him, attended the funeral."
Some of the cheques written by Francis, found in his personnel file
He was the first American pilot to lose his life in ATA service.
"My own impression, borne out by reports from all quarters, indicated that whereas we may have a number of other pilots as good, and some possibly better than the late Francis Dean Carragher, there was no one of any nationality in this organisation of higher principles and greater all round merit." - F D 'Brad' Bradbrooke, ATA Chief Ferry Officer at the time, who died in ATA Service 6 months later
M.548 2nd Officer Prince Suprabhat Chirasakti b. 4 Sep 1917 or 1918, Bangkok, Siam (Thailand) 9 Jul 1941 to Sep-42
d. 12 Sep 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane XII JS346 collided with hillside in poor visibility at Ewes Les Farm nr Mosspaul Inn, between Hawick and Langholm, Dumfrieshire.
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip files):
M.6 * First Officer John Taverner Wilson Clark b. 9 Apr 1910, London 21 Sep 1939 to May-40
prev. civil pilot - 'B' Licence holder
prev exp. 483 hrs on DH Moth, Puss Moth, Hornet, Leopard Moth, Tiger Moth, Tomtit, Avro 638, 640, 504N, Avian
m. Oct 1934 in London, Norah [Penny or Ford] (one daughter b.1934)
Instructor's Report (Nov 1939) says "has no outstanding faults and has flown the Harvard, Battle and Blenheim very satisfactorily. He should be capable of flying all types."
Address in 1939: 'Crossways', Lower Babington, Wirral, Cheshire
Address in 1940: Meads, Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead, Berks (the home of his brother Paul')
Postings: Filton, 3FPP (White Waltham)
d. 25 May 1940 (the first pilot to die in ATA Service) - took off in Blackburn Botha L6160 from Yeadon but shortly after take-off, finding himself approaching two houses on high ground, banked steeply right and, in doing so, hit a stone boundary wall and crashed in Layton Rd, Horsforth, Yorks..
His next-of-kin (and Executor of hs will) was his brother, Lieut. Paul Clark, RN
buried Yeadon Cemetery, Leeds, Yorkshire
The £2,000 insurance money was paid to his widow Norah in October 1940, but on 15 August 1941 she wrote to the ATA:
I am wondering whether you could advise me or help me in the following manner:
I am left with a small daughter aged 7, and my living to earn, she will have to go to boarding school as I have no income coming in now.
[Is there] a possiblility of my getting a small pension, if not for myself, for my little girl to help towards her education, my husband's family are in Australia and I cannot get assistance from them, could you in any way possibly put me in touch with the right source of approach to anyone who could help me in this matter.
Thanking you in anticipation of a reply.
Norah Clark (Mrs)"
Nothing seems to have come of this, although an ATA Benevolent Fund file was opened for her (but not until July 1945).
M.629 2nd Officer Percival John Collins b. 6 Feb 1912, Woolwich, London 26 Aug 1941 to Jan-42
prev. A Civil Servant
d. 29 Jan 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane V7001 crashed into hillside during snowstorm at Pen-y-Cae nr Ruabon
M.761 3rd Officer (Acting 2nd Officer) Alan Rees Colman b. 3 Jan 1901, Norwich 8 Jul 1942 to Jan-43
6ft 3in tall; educated at Eton and Cambridge
A Director of the family firm, J&J Colman Ltd (Colmans Mustard)
A very keen yachtsman; member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, and 'other local clubs'.
prev. Army Reservist 1932 to 1942 (Major). He went on active service to France with the Norfolk Yeomanry in 1939, returning with the evacuation of Dunkirk.
prev exp. 315 hrs. He had owned 3 aircraft:
- G-ABCD, a 1930 Avian IVM;
- G-ACTL, a 1934 DH Leopard Moth, and
- G-AFBC, a 1937 Percival Vega Gull.
Ferry Pool: No. 6
On Aug 5, 1942, he wrote to Cmdr Bathurst from 'Gastlings, Southill, Biggleswade':
"My dear Bathurst,
I have been expecting to turn out the guard for you at Barton this past 10 days on one of your routine inspections but have been disappointed in that so far.
This is a job to end all jobs as far as I am concerned and have enjoyed nothing so much in years: if you can kindly arrange to forget my existence until the winter afterwards it will be A1 by me!
I have drawn Paull for Instructor and he is first class, as are, I shd think, most of your team here."
He transferred to the Administrative Staff from 1 Dec 1942, as Assistant to the Chief Establishment Officer - essentially, a Personnel Officer, a job for which he was expected to be "occasionally flying".
On the 1st January 1943 he wrote this set of 'Handling Notes':
I venture to put forward for your consideration the suggestion that you should cause to be promulgated amongst O.C.s and Adjutants of this Organisation some technical instruction on the above subject - either orally or in writing.
There is no dispute that the average pilot has more than the Human Average of Prima Donna Complex embedded in his temperament, and it appears probable that, more often than not, it will also be found that this Complex is highest in the best pilots and progresses geometrically with Anno Domini.
The Prima Donna may be defined for this purpose as one who can perform desirable - or even remarkable - feats of virtuosity over almost indefinite periods, granted only that a favourable atmosphere is maintained around her by the thoughtful provisions of four opportunities:
1. To exhibit Personality by indulging in a few little whims.
2. To blow off steam about Everything to a Sympathetic and Untiring Ear.
3. To receive occasional Encouragement or Praise.
4. Never to be criticised - or, if this must be done once in a while, then to have it so well wrapped up in the Chinese or Irish Manner that she may get the Idea without loss of 'face'.
It is undeniably a great nuisance to have to worry about such apparent trifles, especially in wartime, but the fact remains that our job is not to remake human nature, but to try to make the absolute best of the material that happens to be available, and I have a feeling, based on all too little experience admittedly, that we may sometimes be apt, in a natural attempt to produce a well-run and well disciplined show, to pay too little attention to the delicate art of handling our Prima Donnas.
The recent Meadway incident seems to illustrate this. The Army have an excellent and wise tradition that no superior officer should come within striking distance of a soldier who is under the influence of alcohol: I seriously suggest that for at least 24 hours after landing an aircraft, a pilot - if he has any pride at all - will be feeling so low and bloody-minded that it will be well worth his Superior Officer spending a few seconds thought before coming within verbal striking range of him.
... During the four months I spent in E. and AFTS I served under two or three C.O.s and several adjutants, but I do not think any one of them ever took the trouble to find out anything about me as an individual (except possibly my name and flying record) and I suspect that much the same would be true of Meadway. The latter, as it happened, was an easy going type whom you could get anything out of round the the fire over a glass of ale, but practically nothing over the Orderly Room Table or on the Mat, and armed with this knowledge I still believe that ATA might have made a useful servant out of him."
He went on to suggest that "O.C.s and adjutants be impressed with the need for knowing their personnel more intimately than they now do, and...for future appointments the quality of being a Good Mixer be designated a sine qua non for adjutants, and a Major Qualification for O.C.s."
Sadly, he died shortly after in a bizarre accident:
d. Sunday 17 Jan 1943 (Died in ATA Service) - in Hurricane II KX441 which made a normal landing at Sherburn, but struck a very wet patch and nosed over onto its back.
Alan drowned, in about 18in of water, before he could be rescued.
His obituary in the Eastern Daily Press concludes: "Generous, capable, and with the keenest zest for life and all its interests, throwing himself with all his varied gifts into all that he undertook, he inspired those around him to give also of their best. Only those who knew him well realised the depth and sincerity of his desire to help his fellow men, and his loss to those who knew him is an irreparable one."
He was cremated in Leeds, and his ashes were scattered from an aircraft, piloted by Douglas Fairweather, flying over Southampton Waters on the 29th January.
M.114 * Flight Captain Jay Herald Cordner b. 24 Jan 1893, Bethany Nebraska c.8 Sep 1940 to 2 Mar 1944
Military Service in WWI from 5 Jun 1917 to 19 Feb 1919 and 1924-27
prev. a copper miner and farmer, then pilot; "he established and then flew an air-mail route from Kansas to Denver in the early 1920s"
m. 1914 Judith M [Anderson], 2 children
Address in 1930: District H, Denver, Colorado
In the mid-30s he was the pilot of the splendid "sub-stratosphere" Shelton AG-4 Crusader, which was expected to "Whiz-z-z to Paris" but the company folded in 1938 under securities fraud investigations before the Crusader could go into production.
In 1940 they were living with her mother, and his brother-in-law's family in Pasadena, CA
Sailed back to Montreal on the SS Tilapa on 19 Aug 1941, with fellow-pilot John Marine, on a vist to Pasadena. He said "I am sure the British will win. They have so much spirit and actual courage. Even during the height of a bomb raid, they will put on the tea pot for that 4 o'clock cup of tea."
d. 2 Mar 1944 of natural causes at Prestwick, S Ayrshire, Scotland
Buried Cambridge American Cemetery, England
M.625 2nd Officer Timothy John Manley Corsellis b. 27 Jan 1921, Eltham, London 19 Aug to 10 Oct 1941
Father: Douglas Henry Corselis, a Barrister-at-law:
[Douglas died 1 Nov 1930 when his DH.60G Moth G-AAEI crashed and caught fire after he hit the perimeter fence on landing in fog at Stag Lane Aerodrome, Edgware.]
Mother: Helen Mary [ Bendall], of Gaunt Mill, Standlake, Oxford
prev. RAFVR pilot AC/2, LAC 11 Jul 1940 - 14 Feb 1941, based at Carlisle and Cranfield; Assistant ARP Organiser, Wandsworth
prev. exp. 35 hrs in Magister, Oxford
"The reason for my discharge from the RAF was my application to be drafted to a fighter squadron in order that I might avoid the possibility of being ordered to take part in indiscriminate bombing, which I would feel bound to disobey."
[I suppose we should point out that the RAF only allowed its most promising pilots to go for fighter training.]
The Town Clerk for Wandsworth Borough Council (one of his 'referees') said "He is a young man of considerable mental attainment and keen interest. His education at Winchester and work here should fit him for any appointment of responsibility and I have no hesitation in saying he will be thoroughly trustworthy"
Having checked with the Air Ministry to ensure that he was not required by the RAF or for other duties, the ATA invited him for a flight test. The resulting assessment was, "Take-off: Good; General Flying: Poor; Approach and Landing: Fair. Nervous type. 15 hrs for Class 1, Doubtful for Class 2"
Address in 1941: 2 Montague Gardens, London W1
By 27 September, Timothy had completed his Class 1 Technical Course, training in Ground Navigation and Morse Code, and about 25 hrs flying in Magister, Moth and Tutor. He was rated as a pilot of average ability, "but he has made good progress."
He was then cleared to fly Class 1 (light single-engine) aircraft.
d. 10 Oct 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - on his 3rd ferry flight, from Luton to Carlisle, Magister L8286 crashed at Warmanbie House, nr Annan, Dumfries.
He died instantly, from a fractured skull, and inter-cranial haemorrage.
There was "Insufficient evidence to determine the cause of the accident."
Retired Colonel Charles Spencer, the resident of Warmanbie House, said, "I was at the east side of Warmanbie House, when an RAF plane flew over the house from about north-east at a low altitude. I then saw it make a sudden violent swerve towards the north-west and dive out of sight.... In my opinion the engine did not stop prior to the crash." However, other witnesses reported that the plane had circled "a number of times" and the engine did stop before the crash.
Fellow pilot Percy Olieff also ferried a Magister from Luton to Carlisle that day, and had spoken to Timothy en route, at Sealand. "He told me he had stopped at Worcester to refuel, and I expressed surprise at this as the endurance of the Magister is about 3 hours. S/O Corsellis seemed to be jittery and on enquiry admitted that he had had a night out. I asked him why he had not been to see the Doctor, and he replied that he did feel all right."
His body was cremated in Oxford on 15 October 1941, and his ashes were scattered from an ATA Anson over heath land between Oxford and Kemble.
"November 7th 1941
Dear Captain Kiek,
It was good of you to let me come to White Waltham - it comforted me to know that Timothy must have been happy in that atmosphere of efficiency & inspiration & aliveness.
I shall not forget how wonderfully patient & sympathetic you were - it was a hateful job for you to have to do but you did it perfectly and I do thank you.
I think it had to be, with Timothy - I felt sure the moment he started flying - just as I felt sure with his father.
I am thankful he was spared any agony.
The £2,000 insurance claim was paid to his mother Helen on 13 Apr 1942.
Oxford DNB: "As with so many servicemen poets of the period, Timothy Corsellis first had his work published by the admirable Keidrich Rhys, himself serving as a gunner in the Royal Artillery. It belongs to the group of air force poets who include Henry Treece, John Pudney, and Vernon Watkins, while remaining distinctive and troubling. An edition of his collected poems has never been published. Corsellis's originality lies in his ability to reveal youthful disappointment with what was offered him. Barely grown up, and lacking his friend Weir's strong sense of cause, he wrote poetry that is a severe indictment of the grim world into which the war cast him.Sometimes we pray to be hardened and callous,But God turns a deaf ear,And we know hate and sorrow—intimately,And we do not mind dying tomorrow.(Corsellis, ‘Dawn after the Raid’, Poems)"
[Seconded from RAF]
Archibald Campbell Couser b. 5 Jan 1920, Falkirk 7 Sep 1943 to 17 Aug 1944
Father: Archibald Couser
prev. Post Office Telephone Engineer; RAF (LAC)
Address in 1944: 75 High Pleasance, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
One accident, not his fault
- 9 Feb 1944, his Magister was in a "slight collision in mid-air" with another Magister, denting the ends of his propeller.
"A very keen and alert type who has, on the whole, shown average progress and ability although he is a little inclined to rush himself at times in his enthusiasm."
d. 17 Aug 1944 (age 24) as a passenger in Oxford PH235, piloted by First Officer Thomas Frank Thompson (M.841).
Ferrying from Airspeed's factory in Portsmouth to 44 MU Edzell, Angus, Scotland; for an unknown reason (possibly hitting HT cables), the aircraft dived into the ground at about 17:30 near Holmes Chapel, Cheshire.
The other passenger, Third Officer John Douglas Dale (M.968) was also killed.
Buried 22 Aug 1944 in Camelon Cemetery, Falkirk: Sec 12 Grave 662.
"Killed on Active Service in Cheshire, Eng."
Dearly Beloved Son of
ARCHIBALD & LILY COUSER
Died 28th Oct. 1947,
Aged 58 Years.
Also the above
Died 5th Jan. 1980
Aged 85 Years
"Mr and Mrs Archibald Couser, 75 High Pleasance, Falkirk, received official intimation last week that their only son, Third Officer Archibald Campbell Couser, Air Transport Auxiliary, had been killed on active service.
Third Officer Couser, who was 24 years of age, a native of Falkirk and a former pupil of Falkirk High School. On leaving school, he obtained employment in the telephone engineering department of Falkirk Post Office, and continued in that until he proceeded to service with the Royal Air Force in May of last year. In September last he was transferred to the Air Transport Auxiliary. Since his lamented death, his parents have received many letters offering condolences in their bereavement, including one from Sir Stafford Cripps, Minister of Aircraft Production, who wrote: “His work for the Air Transport Auxiliary was, as you know, extremely important to our war effort, and we can ill afford to lose such a valuable pilot and officer as your son had proved himself to be. His loss will be greatly felt by all his colleagues."
Mr A. H. Brown, telephone manager of the South- West Telephone Area, also wrote expressing regret, adding that Third Officer Couser had held the respect and esteem ‘of all his colleagues in the department and that he was of an extremely zealous and industrious nature, and would undoubtedly have had a successful career in the Post Office. Sympathy from the High School was expressed in a letter from the rector, Mr A. C. Mackenzie. In civil life, Third Officer Couser’s chief interest outside of his work was music. He was an accomplished pianist, and was associated as such for some time with the Imperial Dance Band. He was also fond of swimming and skating." - Falkirk Herald - Saturday 26 August 1944
M.---- Flt-Sgt (Seconded from RAF) Maurice Gaston Emile Coutanceau b. 23 Feb 1920 20 Nov 1942 to Oct-43
RAF from 23 Jan 1941 to 19 Nov 1942
d. 26 Oct 1943 (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane IIc LE262 struck hillside at Kinniside Cleator, Cumberland, 10 miles E of St Bees Head, in bad weather
buried St Laurence Church, Upminster, Essex
M.43* First Officer Sydney Edward Cummings b. 14 Dec 1903, London 26 Sep 1939 to Aug-40
Owned 1936 Foster Wikner Wicko GM1 G-AENU
prev exp. 161 hr solo
prev. a construction engineer
d. 29 Aug 1940 (Died in ATA Service) - died from injuries received on 26th Aug; stalled when piloting Curtis Hawk AR666 which caught fire in the air.
M.62 First Officer Stefan Czyzewski b. 11 Jun 1899, Szarpance, Poland 11 Nov 1940 to 21 Jul 1942
"Before 1918 I was forced to be Austrian Citizen, but my nationality was every time Polish."
Ed. University of Vienna, Technical School
Sergeant Pilot in the Polish Air Force Sep-1918 to Jul-1921
A Mechanical Engineer; Chief Engineer for Avia in Warsaw from 1927.
prev. exp 1,500 hrs on "about 70 different Polish, German, French, English and Italian types".
Address in 1940: 19 Racecourse Rd, Ayr, Scotland
He applied to the ATA having been rejected by the RAF, and was assessed initially as a 'capable pilot, but inclined to be heavy-handed."
There is a handwritten note on his file: "My wife Janina Czyzewska is living in Warsaw Pulawska Street, 152 m 11. Because you could not reach her until the War is over the only one thing to do in case of my death is to put the insurance money in my Barklay [sic] bank account in Maidenhead. This is maybe not conforming to your regulations, but I can't help.
To spare you troubles, I can only try very hardly to avoid any deadly accident what I am promising."
He had an unfortunate experience when he unknowingly hit and killed a labourer while taking off in a Wellington at Prestwick in December 1941; he subsequently took time off suffering from a 'lack of confidence'.
d. 21 Jul 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Beaufighter X7764 flew into Glengavel Hill, 7 miles south of Strathaven, Lanarkshire, in bad visibility. He was deemed to be to blame for the accident, having persisted too far in bad weather.
"A good and careful pilot. The fine example he set to others made him very popular."
W.--- 2nd Officer
Elsie Joy Davison
b. 14 Mar 1910, York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1 Jul-40 to 8 Jul 1940
RAeC 1930 1933
Father: Rupert Gustavus Muntz, a clerk (b. 1863 in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, m. 1906, d. 1914); Mother: Lucy Elsie [also Muntz] (d. 1955)
m. 1933 in Chester, William Fettis 'Frank' Davison, an 'engineer (railway rolling stock)', later owner and manager of Hooton Aerodrome in Cheshire:
Co-Director, with Frank, of Utility Airways Ltd
'B' Licence holder. Prev. Exp: 1,265 hrs
Elsie Joy Muntz, who was always known as Joy, and signed herself as ‘E. Joy Davison’, originally wrote to Pauline Gower in early December 1939:
“My Dear Pauline,
I have just this minute got wind of the W.S.A.T.A [Women’s Section Air Transport Auxiliary], and would very much like some further details about it.
At present I am flying for the N.A.C. with Portsmouth, Southsea and I.O.W. Aviation, based at Cardiff, but I am not particularly impressed, though the pay is reasonably good. Could you let me know how much the ATA are offering as a salary, and whether (if you know yet) there will be any chances of promotion later, or will one stay for ever as a Second Officer?
My experience at the moment is nearly 1,300 hours, of which about 600 is on twins and about 100 night. Normal peace-time occupation is Commercial Pilot; age is 29; not married any more (since 20/11/39!) ‘B’ Licence No 2567. Types flown: Moth, Avian, Puss Moth, Fox Moth, Cadet, Swift, Desoutter, Drone, Proga, Monospar, Tiger Moth, Klemm, Airspeed Courier, Airspeed Ferry, Miles Falcon; Privately owned: Cadet; experience: British Isles only.
My best wishes to Dorothy, if you should see her, and of course to yourself.”
By the 9th of December, however, she wrote:
“My Dear Pauline,
Many thanks for your letter and dope enclosed, also for the further circular letter from BA detailing salary etc.
Sorry old thing, but I fear the dough isn’t good enough, particularly considering one would be flying open cockpit stuff for a large majority of the time! Afraid I’m getting soft or old or something, but when I’ve got a job which pays about twice as well and where one earns one’s money in more or less comfort, the change offers no worthwhile attractions! Nevertheless I wish you all very well, and if any of you should happen to come to Cardiff for any reason do look me up. Of course I may be away I can give no promises!
Let me know when you have time and things have progressed a bit further, which of our flying females you have roped in!
Best of wishes to you, my dear, and the very best of luck to you. Awfully glad they picked you to be at the head of this thing. May it and you go far together!”
Six months later, and things had moved on somewhat:
Herewith the dope about me. Since chatting on the phone, I’ve managed to get some extra petrol to cover the trip to Hatfield by car, so think maybe it would save time if I were to come through while the contracts going through official channels – what do you think? If you agree send me a wire, and I’ll pack up and come pronto. Point is, the posts here are awful and I didn’t get your letter till this morning so a whole day was wasted which in these times is the devil!!
What sort of digs accommodation is there around Hatfield? Pretty crowded I reckon.
Am looking forward to coming a lot and so glad I can be of assistance. I’ll tell you more about what’s kept me out of it since N.A.C. cracked up, when I see you!”
Joy started on the 1st of July, 1940.
Exactly one week later, unbelievably, tragically, she died in a crash.
The accident report said that the aircraft made a ‘spiral dive’ (not a spin) at about 600-700ft. "It continued in this spiral until it hit the ground and eye-witnesses, who are experienced pilots, state that they had no reason to consider that it was out of control but, for some unknown reason, it remained in the spiral until it hit the ground."
The pilot/instructor, Sgt l’Estrange was an exceptionally experienced instructor and was well acquainted with Master aircraft; Joy, as we have seen, was an exceptionally experienced pilot on many different types of aircraft.
No cause was ever found for the crash. One theory was that carbon monoxide leaked into the cockpit (despite Joy’s prediction, and unlike many pre-war Miles designs, the Master had an enclosed cockpit) and rendered the two of them unconscious.
Her many friends were aghast; Jennie Broad, who had also just joined the ATA, wrote to Pauline the very next day (9th July):
“Dear Miss Gower,
I would appreciate any information you are able to give me of Mrs Davison’s accident. We were old friends and if there is anything I can do please do not hesitate to let me know at once.
I have written to Mrs Davison’s mother, but as she will probably be in Hatfield before she receives my letter, will you be so kind as to give her, or anyone else representing her, my address and ask them to get in touch with me?”
Pauline wrote straight away to Joy’s mother:
“I should like you to know how we shall miss your daughter. She was a most kind and cheerful member of this Section, and a first class pilot. May I offer you our most sincere sympathy in your bereavement."
Cremated at Bristol.
Nearly a year later, on the 4th July 1941, Joy’s sister, Hope Muntz, wrote to Pauline Gower, asking her if possible to ‘write a few lines to my mother on the 8th…. If you could give any news of the ATA and of Jenny Broad & Mrs Patterson I know she would be so pleased.”
Pauline, of course, did write, to say; “we shall be thinking of Joy and wishing she could still be with us.”
Frank had married fellow aviator Margaret Ann Longstaffe in 1939:
and 3 years after he was killed in a sailing accident in 1949, she became the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic.
M.736 Acting 2nd Officer Hubert James Dixon b. 26 May 1914, Northernden, Cheshire 17 Mar 1942 to 28 Nov 1942
1942 caricature by 'Pat Rooney'
via George Cogswell
prev. an aero engineer, for Ford Aero Engines (Rolls Royce) in Eccles, Lancs.
prev. exp. 97 hrs
Address in 1938: 'Moliere', Wythenshawe Rd, Northernden
Address in 1942: 'Manilla', Nansen Rd, Gatley, Cheshire
Hubert originally applied to the ATA in February 1941, but they replied that they weren't allowed to take pilots of military age unless they had been turned down by the RAF.
He replied that he had indeed offered his services to the RAF, twice, but they had refused him because he was in a strictly reserved occupation. The ATA replied, somewhat archly, that as he seemed now to able to obtain his release, he should go back to the RAF and ask them again...
After another session with the RAF (who still said they couldn't take him), he then talked to the Ministry of Labour and the National Service Controller in Manchester. Who agreed that, if he could find a job of even greater national importance than his current one, they might be able to secure his release.
Finally, the RAF had a chance to turn him down properly, which they duly did because the vision on his left eye was not up to their standards. Hubert said "In my own personal opinion I can see perfectly."
Anyway, by December 1941 the ATA was prepared to offer him a job, and he was eventually taken on as a Pilot Cadet. His instructors (Margaret Ebbage, Harry Woods and Eugene Prentice) assessed him as 'an average pilot' with 'an average amount of common sense.'
After training, he was seconded to 6FPP at Ratcliffe on 27 Nov 1942. He died the next day in an unlucky accident.
d. 28 Nov 1942 (Died in ATA Service) in Defiant I N3319 which stalled and crashed at Wood Lane, Timperley, nr Ringway, while he was attempting a forced landing after an engine problem.
The aircraft ended upside down and on fire with Hubert, already dead, trapped in the cockpit. Harry Warburton, (an ex-RFC pilot) who owned the adjoining nurseries, was the first to arrive on the scene, "followed by many others", who righted the aircraft and carried the body away. Mr Warburton said later that he "was only 12 feet away when the petrol tank exploded."
The Coroner praised the rescuers: "I should like to congratulate Warburton and the others on the very prompt way they responded... they recovered the body as little burned as was possible... it was very commendable. I trust those who were injured will soon be well again."
He was buried at Altrincham Bowden and Hale Cemetery, Cheshire, near Bill Elliott and Earl Renicker (q.q.v.)
"Always thoughtful and kind, a beautiful memory left behind. Mother, Raymond & Dora
with thanks to Barbara Grayson
The ATA's Flying Establishment Officer visited his widow Elsie and her two children in January 1943. Elsie had in fact moved out a few months before Hubert died, and was living with her parents in "rather a humble dwelling, in a poor quarter of Manchester."... "I gathered the impression that Mrs Elsie Dixon was rather young and irresponsible, so I decided to call on the deceased's parents, to obtain what information I could."
Annie (Mrs Dixon senior) agreed, and went as far as to say that "whatever money was given as a lump sum to Mrs Elsie Dixon would be squandered." Annie also showed him a letter from her son dated 12th May 1942, in which he had written "About the insurance - I have had it made payable to you (Annie Dixon 23 Nansen Rd Gatley). If anything should happen I want £800 to go to Elsie and £800 for Michael and the other baby [Martin, who was born 13 September 1942] to be divided equally when they are 21. The other £400 is for you - don't say you don't want it."
And so that is what they did.
M.727 First Officer Alan Blair Dorrell b. 8 May 1910, Worcester 5 Mar 1942 to 1 Dec 1943
Father: John Dorrell, Kylemore, Avenue Rd, Malvern, Worcs.
Ed. Bromsgrove School. Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
"French - moderate", having lived in Paris for 6 months
prev. Director and Secretary of the family drapery firm in Worcester; also Hon. Sec. of the Worcestershire Flying School
RAF Oct 1939- Sep 1940, LAC Air Observer
prev. exp. 20hrs on DH Moth
Address in 1942: Link Elm, Malvern Rd, Worcester
Originally joined ATA in 1941 as an Assistant Accountant, at £400 a year:
Alan's original ATA Identity Card
[He said he wsn't concerned about the salary]
Postings: 3FPP, 1FPP, 2FPP
To begin with, he was trained by Joan Hughes. "A very slow starter but made steady progress and reached a satisfactory standard. He has worked hard and his discipline has been good."
3 accidents, 2 his fault:
- 16 Jun 1942, his Hart swung violently after landing, due to a technical defect
- 21 Jul 1942, he "over-estimated his ability in adverse conditions" in landing a Gladiator, a type with which he was unfamilar, and it swung
d. 1 Dec 1943 in Spitfire VIII JG546 which crashed nr Byron Hall Farm, Stag Lane, Lowton, nr. Warrington, Lancs.
He was flying from Brize Norton to 18MU Dumfries. He dived out of low cloud but over-corrected, the tail struck the ground and the aircraft disintegrated. He was deemed to be at fault, having "persisted too far in a local patch of bad weather."
His CO, Leonard Leaver, reported: "On being handed his chit by the Operations Officer in the morning, his remark was "Thank you very much indeed, this is just the sort of job I like". On the way to Brize Norton in the Anson, First Officer Coopper states that Dorrell was extremely bright and cheerful, and said to him, "This Spitfire job is the nicest job I have had given me this month."
Buried in Maidenhead Cemetery, Section D No 15W; his pall bearers were ATA First Officers KWD Jones, H Freemantle, P Cruttenden, FH Rooke, MB Steynor and J Joss ("or another")
He left £7,265 11s 5d.
Also commemorated on the Bromsgrove School WW2 Memorial, and Malvern WWII Memorial.
M.356 First Officer Claudius Philippe Echallier b. 24 May 1911, Saint-Lager, France 6 Mar 1941 to Jun-44
prev a test pilot; arrived in the UK in June 1940, and worked at the RAF Repair Depot at Burton Wood.
prev exp. 500 hrs
He was in demand as a 'very highly skilled engineer'- The Container Engineering Co. Ltd of Maidenhead even asked if he could be transferred to them, in March 1942.
Although his initial flying reports were fine ("A good pilot, very careful and of good average ability"), in June 1943 he failed the conversion course for Class 5 (4-engine) aircraft (Stirling): "This pilot proved temperamental and erratic and his flying generally was disappointing... especially taxying which was much too fast and careless!" Charles Tutt, who was on the same course, said that, if he had been the instructor, he "would have failed him two hours earlier".
He continued to do good work on single- and twin-engine aircraft, however, and eventually amassed 1,135 hrs in the ATA.
d. 8 Jun 1944 (Died in ATA Service) - Beaufighter NV235 flew into hillside in poor visibility near Mull of Galloway, Scotland.
23-year-old Senior Flight Engineer Royston Edwin Staniford also died in the crash.
After the funeral, his wife Lucienne returned to Scarborough but two days later was taken ill and subsequently had a miscarriage. She returned to France in late 1944.
He is commemorated in Saint-Lager:
M.272 First Officer William Silver Edgar b. 7 Oct 1906, Waco TX 2 Jan 1941 to 2 Apr 1942
from "Fighting Men of Texas" (1948)
'Silver' came from his mother Estelle's maiden name
Educated at Baylor University, Waco
2nd Lieut., Army Air Corps 1932-35, stationed at Ft Crockett, Galveston, TX
Awarded his 'wings' at Kelly Field, Texas in 1933
Author of "Wings across the World", a syndicated newspaper column
Also a pilot, rancher, and with some 'banking experience'
prev. exp: about 900hrs
Address in 1941: 1305 Jefferson Ave, Waco, Texas
His initial ATA test described him as "a rather nervous type, but general flying fair."
"An excellent officer. A keen and reliable pilot."
He had a nasty forced landing on the 2 Mar 1942, in Airspeed Oxford L4597 following an engine failure. "He crash-landed on the ice of Loch Laidon but returned to the burning aircraft and saved the Log Books and his kit. The ice broke under him before he reached the shore and he was completely immersed. He then walked nine miles before he found a barn for shelter."
[During 1978 the two Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah engines from L4597 were recovered by the Scotland West Aircraft Investigation Group using a raft. Subsequently the engines were restored by staff at Rolls Royce’s Hillington site. At least one of them was subsequently put on display at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland.]
He put in a request for a replacement cap, but before this could be actioned died in another accident:
d. 2 Apr 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Spitfire BM358 crashed at Chapel of Garioch, 20 miles NW of Dyce, (or possibly at nearby Boghead, about 4 miles southwest of Inverurie) on a flight from Castle Bromwich to Kinloss.
The very next day, a telegram arrived from home:
"DEAR SILVER LOVE YOU DEARLY WISH HERE EASTER PICTURES RECEIVED NO BON CHOCOLATES SOON - MOTHER DAD"
Buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery, and commemorated at Baylor University: "William Silver Edgar lights up Fountain Mall every day and Robert Warren illuminates the courtyard by the Carroll Science Hall. These two men, along with 123 other Baylor men and women, made the supreme sacrifice in World War II. Now they stand as the honor guard at Baylor in the form of red granite light posts."
M.749 First Officer Roy Leonard Egginton b. 2 Nov 1921, Coventry 20 May 1942 to 9 Jun 1944
Father: Sidney Lawrence Egginton, Little Heath Post Office, Coventry; mother, Florence [Bolton]
Ed. King Henry VIII School, Coventry
prev. a sub-Post Master; RAF LAC from 22 Feb 1941 to 15 Sep 1941
prev. exp. 37 hrs
Address in 1942: Rose-Mary, Coventry Rd, Fillongley, Coventry
He was fined 7s 6d in June 1939 for ignoring a 'Halt' sign while riding his bicycle (!)
Postings: 6FPP, 7FPP, No 782 Sqn RAF (Donibristle), 3FPP
The Air Ministry reported: "After 18 hrs dual and 12 hrs 30 min solo general standard below that required. Extremely slow thinking and has also found great difficulty in mastering the fundamentals of navigation"...
... but his 'reference' from Pilot Officer T C Sumner MSc. said "I found him most capable and can say without hesitation that in many respects he was quite brilliant... he was awarded the 'Holt Memorial' Medal for Service and Leadership"
His instructor perhaps summed it up: "Egginton is a likeable chap, thoroughly trustworthy and keen to fly" but "In war time there are limits to the amount of time we can give to a slow pupil"
6 accidents, only one definitely his fault:
- 23 Aug 1942, a loose stone flew up while taxying and chipped the propeller
- 2 Feb 1943, he landed a Hurricane with gear retracted; the gear operation was faulty
- 29 Jul 1943, an error of judgement while landing a Martlet led to an uncontrolled swing
- 9 Nov 1943, forced landing in a Warwick after engine failure
- 14 Jan 1944, his Swordfish collided with a van while taxying, due to "insufficient care on part of the van driver"
d. 9 Jun 1944 in Avenger II JZ560, which disappeared on a flight from Hawarden to Hawkinge, Kent. It was assumed that he had flown too far and crashed into the English Channel as neither he nor the aircraft were spotted after takeoff, or ever found.
The ATA (who continued paying his salary) even contacted the Red Cross to find out if he had accidentally flown to France and been taken prisoner, but nothing had been reported and he was finally presumed dead after 9 months, although it took until 1 Jul 1946 for probate to be finalised.
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
When Coventry Cathedral was rebuilt in 1953, he was also remembered there:
The Lady Chapel window, situated over the Lady Chapel altar, portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has been given by parents, relatives and friends in memory of six young men of St. Paul's Guild who gave their lives in the Second World War.
Their names—Kenneth Aspell. Geoffrey Burrows. Anthony Crabb. Howard Checkley. Roy Egginton. and Edward Savage - are inscribed in the window. "
M.343 First Officer William Johnston 'Bill' Elliott b. 18 Apr 1917, Chambersburg Pennsylvania 17 Feb 1941 to Feb-42
prev. a flight instructor, charter and barnstorming pilot
prev exp. 786 hrs, mostly on Lockheed 10a
Bill worked for the Stanley Company as a shipping clerk from 1935 to '36, then was a general electrical contractor ('house and motor wiring - small repairs') until he became a flight instructor at his local airport (Sunset Airport, Chambersburg PA)
He had a one-year contract with the ATA, which they wanted to extend - his CO wrote: "First Officers Fitzgerald, Elliott and Hoover. All three excellent pilots and are some of the best types of Americans that I have seen over here. I think everything possible should be done to get these pilots to renew their contracts."
Bill replied that he had decided to return to the US "after February 16th  as soon as the details of my transportation can be arranged", but sadly before this happened he died in an accident.
d. 8 Feb 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Anson W1793 crashed into the side of a hill in bad visibility 3 miles N of Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland. The accident committee concluded that he flew into snow-covered ground "in conditions which would cause confusion between ground and cloud".
He and Earl Renicker (q.v.) were buried at Altrincham Bowden and Hale Cemetery, Cheshire, near Hubert Dixon (q.v.)
"Senior officers were present, with American members of the ATA. RAF men bore the two coffins, which were covered with flags, the Stars and Stripes of America. Air Transport Auxiliary pilots followed the coffin. An RAF Chaplain officiated, and the vicar of Timperley, the Rev. Dr Lindare, assisted." - Manchester Evening News, via George Cogswell
via George Cogswell
He was "an exceptionally careful and steady pilot and his general behaviour was excellent."
His parents Gernard and Louise wrote "He studied hard and to be a good pilot was his whole ambition. Sorry as we are that he had to give his life so soon in this his chosen occupation, we are proud that he was a member of your organisation."
with thanks to Barbara Grayson
M.469 First Officer John Burge Erickson b. 26 Jul 1906, Oklahoma City, OK 9 Jun 1941 to May-42
prev. an airplane mechanic from 1935, and a Flight Instructor at Oklahoma Air College
prev. exp. 3,500hrs
Address in 1941: 220 S Lake St, Ponca City, OK
m. to Dorothy Louise [Young], 1 child
Postings: AFTS, as Instructor
"A natural pilot" - ATA's Chief Instructor T.G.L. Gale said: "It was because I had the highest opinion of his character that I selected him for instructional duties... his work has been excellent and highly successful and has deservedly earned him the praise of his superiors and the gratitude of his pupils."
d. 9 May 1942 (Died in ATA Service) in Blenheim I K7086. Shortly after takeoff the aircraft's tail was broken in a collision with another Blenheim (L8439, piloted by First Officer Richard S Pavey (M.445)) which had also just taken off, and it dived into the ground and caught fire.
Trainee Pilot Thomas Walton, a director of Burnley Aircraft Products Ltd, was also killed. F/O Pavey survived with a fractured shoulder, spinal injuries, shock and burns.
Buried at Maidenhead Cemetery - Sec. D. Row K.K. Grave 21.
His brother Glenn had sent him this photo of himself, wife Ruby and their child outside their house in California in April 1942:
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.322 First Officer Willard Noel Estes b. 15 Jan 1911, Monett, Missouri 15 Jan to 26 Jun 1941
Father, Willard Albert Estes, of 11077 De Foe St, Pacoima, CA
Ed. Will Mayfield College, Marble Hill, Missouri
prev. Flying Instructor, US Army 1930-34 (Fort Francis, Laramie, Wyoming in 1930, a football player for the Army)
prev. exp. 1,050 hrs during 12 years civilian flying
Draft card, 16 Oct 1940
Adress in 1941: 154 West 170th St, Hazel Crest, Illinois
d. 26 June 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - overshot while landing at Biggin Hill in Spitfire Vb P8538, tried to take off but hit top storey of airmen's barrack block.
"He has done a fine job for us and his loss will be greatly felt"
Buried St Mary Cray Cemetery, London Borough of Bromley, Greater London, England
[prev. RAF Flying Officer, 146431]
Albert Edward "Roy" Fairman b. 9 Nov 1921, London 30 May 1944 to 15 Feb 1945
Father: Albert Francis Bessemer Fairman, mother Lily Mildred [Ketley]
Ed. Sir Walter and St John's School, Battersea, London
m. Apr 1942 Grace [Varney]
prev. RAF Flying Officer in Bomber Command from 21 May 1940 to 29 May 1944, based at Abingdon
Awarded the 1939-43 Star for at least 60 days of service in an operational unit, including at least one operational sortie
Injured by enemy action [flak injury to foot] and was released from the RAF on medical grounds.
prev. exp. 550 hrs on DH Moth, Proctor, Anson, Oxford, Hampden, Hereford, Manchester, Lancaster, Whitley
Address in 1944: 32 Middleton Sq, London EC1
Postings: 5TFPP, 6FPP, 14FPP
Albert's Flight Authorization card, 16 Aug 1944
"A pilot of average ability, but very overconfident, combined with a happy-go-lucky kind of temperament. Capable of carrying out some very useful work, but may require curbing as regards weather, and needs firm handling generally"
"It may be that in view of his past experience in the RAF he has disliked the idea of having to pass through Training Pool with some far less experienced, and those who were ab initio."
He was only cleared for Class I and II (single-engine) aircraft, but it was intended that he should later also deliver Class III and IV (twin-engine) aircraft.
d. 15 Feb 1945 from injuries received in the crash of Mustang IV KH838 at Wrightington near Wigan, on a ferry flight from Lockheeds Renfrew to Rootes Meir.
"The aircraft was seen to complete a roll to the left, and commence a second roll. During the second roll the pilot was thrown out of the cockpit... After the crash the shoulder straps of the cockpit harness were found broken."
At the crash site in 2010, including Albert's two younger sisters
See http://laituk.org/P-51KH838.htm, and
which describe the excavation of the crash site.
They speculate that "... the reported manoeuvres... have been identified by experienced pilots as being consistent with an incapacitated pilot unable to maintain control of an aircraft or perhaps trying to hold the aircraft steady with one hand whilst trying to open the canopy to bail out? "
Buried Greenwich Cemetery
"F/Lieut" appears to be a mistake
M.104 Flight Captain Douglas Keith Fairweather b. 25 Oct 1890, Glasgow 11 Sep 1939 [* 11 Jun 1940 as pilot] to Apr-44
(Mother Margaret, née Eureka)
Educated in Glasgow and Berlin; FCIPA, MIESS.
Chief Petty Officer in the RNVR, 1915-19
prev. Assistant Air Attache in the Hague
A Chartered Patent Agent - Cruikshank and Fairweather, 86, St Vincent St, Glasgow, with offices in London and Manchester.
prev exp. 1456 hrs. Owned Leopard Moth G-ACXH
* When Douglas took his test at CFS Upavon on 25 September 1939, he was graded 'D' [Douglas was rather overweight...] and therefore 'unsuitable for ferry work'. His contract with ATA was therefore cancelled on the 1st November, and it took them until the following June to set up their Air Movements Flight and re-start his ATA career as its first C.O..
Douglas wrote to the ATA on 3 Jun 1940: "I think I am due you a line to thank you for keeping the Chester job open until Thursday on my account. The job which you offered is not only tempting but would prove to be more pleasurable than any other now in sight, particularly in view of the possibility that I might not be grounded completely.
If the worst happens, I propose to train down to about 15 stone, so as to fit the RAF harness and go back to try my luck with Squadron Ldr. Cox at Upavaon. I have only to drop a pound a day to be ready for Cox in August, or for the Derby in 1945."
Early days at White Waltham, Anson taxi pilots - Ronny Malcolm (M140), Douglas Fairweather (M104), Jim Kempster and Harry Ellis (M139) (Brief Glory)
He was off sick for 4 months in 1941 and had to have an orchidectomy; when he was recovering, Gerard d'Erlanger (Head of ATA) wrote to him: "It was nice to hear from you and I am glad that the surgeon is satisfied with your progress. Perhaps he has made a new man of you which will be cause for rejoicing all round".
Took command of 4b Ferry Pool, Prestwick, from November 1941 to August 1942.
"An excellent pilot and a most hard working officer who has never spared himself in the slightest. He has served me with absolute loyalty. He has a strong, somewhat excitable, character and a good heart. He has great influence, particularly with the American pilots whom he handles well. He is quite unorthodox and generally seems to get his results in a somewhat disorderly manner."
Not everyone appreciated Douglas' sense of humour; his C.O. MWS Boucher reported on 19 May 1942: "I have today reprimanded Capt Fairweather for 'conduct prejudicial to the interests of the ATA' despite his good qualities... I have been influenced by numerous instances of petty indiscipline which although small in themselves cannot be permitted to accumulate unchecked by official censure. I have handed to Capt Fairweather a list of his typical shortcomings and discussed the matter with him in detail."
d. 3 Apr 1944 (Died in ATA Service) - Anson N4895 lost in Irish Sea on ambulance flight White Waltham to Prestwick to pick up patient (with Nurse Kershaw). His body was washed up on the west coast of Scotland on the 22nd April.
"I was most distressed to learn that Douglas Fairweather was missing... He was such a great personality that his loss will seem a personal tragedy to many - as it does to me. I will of course write to his wife [Margie Fairweather q.v., who herself died a few weeks later]. How sad that he never saw the long awaited baby. My sincerest sympathy in the loss of such an old associate, such a fine pilot, and such a lovable character." Jack Keeling.
Mrs Margaret 'Margie' Fairweather
née Runciman; Mrs King-Farlow
23 Sep 1901, Newcastle-on-Tyne 1 Jan-40 to Aug-44
4-engine (Class 5) pilot
Mrs King-Farlow from 1925 to 1936;
Mrs Fairweather from 1938.
The eldest daughter of Lord Walter and Lady Hilda Runciman.
Her brother Walter (co-Director, with Connie Leathart (q.v.), of Cramlington Aircraft, First Director-General of BOAC, Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, OBE, etc, etc) became the 2nd Viscount Runciman of Doxford, and her sister Katherine ('Kitty') was adjutant for the Women's Section of the ATA from March 1941.
I sometimes feel that Margie gets a bad press; she was, apparently, quiet and rather withdrawn, (nicknamed 'Mrs Cold Front') and, in photos, always seems to have that far-away look in her (green, btw) eyes. But, her ability, and her devotion to duty and to her friends, were never in doubt.
She got her RAeC certificate in 1937. In fact, she acquired her first aeroplane from her brother Walter; a 1931-reg D.H. Puss Moth G-ABLG, which he had flown in two King's Cup races.
She had married Roderick Nettleton King-Farlow in July 1925. Their daughter Ann was born in 1931, but they divorced in 1936, and she then married Douglas Keith Fairweather in March 1938. He was a businessman from Glasgow, and her complete opposite - outgoing, irreverent, and very eccentric.
Margie then sold her aeroplane, and she and Douglas re-registered his Puss Moth G-ABYP in their joint names. Later they also bought a Leopard Moth, G-ACXH.
She had a horrible experience in 1939 when her friend, Dr. Elizabeth Cook, was killed by walking into the propeller of the aeroplane Margaret was about to pilot; they were going to fly to Paris for a holiday, and the plane was standing with the engine ticking over.
So, prior to WWII she was one of the most experienced women pilots in the country, with 1,050 hours of civilian flying, and (from late 1937) was an instructor with the Scottish Flying Club. She had flown Miles Whitney Straights, D.H. Moths, Puss Moths, Tiger Moths, Fox Moths, Leopard Moths, Hornet Moths, Dart Kitten, Taylor Cub, Potez, and Percival Vega Gull, in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, France Switzerland and Austria.
Not surprisingly then, she was one of the 'First Eight' Women ATA pilots at Hatfield, starting in January 1940. Her training went well: "The handling characteristics of the Service trainer were entirely novel to Mrs. Fairweather, but having once mastered the take-off, she had no further difficulty, and is now able to fly both Master and Oxford satisfactorily. Her cockpit drill is excellent'"
Douglas also joined the ATA as a pilot. He was devoted to Margie; as Lettice Curtis says in Forgotten Pilots: he was once heard to say, "I love Margie, better than any dog I ever had," and then more thoughtfully, "or even a pig or a cat."
[For more about Douglas, I can recommend 'Brief Glory - the Story of the ATA']
On the 3rd March 1941 she was one of the four women especially praised by Pauline Gower: "The following pilots during the past year have been outstanding from the point of view of hard work and have set an example to others:- Mrs M Wilberforce [exceptional devotion to duty], Miss M Cunnison [great devotion to duty], Hon Mrs M Fairweather [has shown great devotion to duty, and worked hard and conscientiously as a taxi pilot], and Miss J Hughes [has shown devotion to duty]."
[Mona Friedlander, Rosemary Rees, Lois Butler, Gabrielle Patterson and Winifred Crossley also get a mention [they have 'worked hard and conscientiously'], and Pauline added that "had Miss Amy Johnson still been with us [she had died on the 5th January], her name would have been particularly mentioned".]
In May 1941 Margie requested extra leave:
"Dear Commander Whitehurst,
As you know I have a daughter of twelve years of age. She is at boarding school during the term time, but for half of the period of each holidays I am responsible for her care. With the assistance of my family I have managed up to now fairly well without interfering with my work, but I now, owing to reasons of health and occupation I can no longer count on this help and paid help is almost impossible to come by.
In these circumstances I am writing to enquire whether ATA would consider granting me an extra week's leave in the summer, and a fortnight's extra leave at both Xmas and Easter, it being understood that any leave so granted would be without pay."
The request was granted, and Margie and Douglas took Ann for a holiday in a small farmhouse in Western Scotland [where they acquired a baby goat, which Douglas later took with him on at least one ferry flight.]
She and Douglas were both posted to Prestwick (4b Ferry Pool, Northern Area) in November 1941.
On the 14th December, she wrote to Pauline Gower:
I was hampered in talking to you the other day by the crowd around the telephone, amongst which were persons about whom I wanted to speak.
I am not sure we can make good use of the lady in question at this moment. We need a second ground person in this office but he or she must, as well as doing adjutant duties, be a good shorthand typist. Unless we combine the jobs there isn't sufficient to do. The lady's counterpart is doing 'ops' just now with only moderate success. It would be a pity to get her up here if that falls through. She is too 'choosy' for our mixed bag of aeroplanes to come only as a pilot. I am sorry we raised her hopes so high. Perhaps in a week or two the matter might be reconsidered if you have no other plans in view for her.
I have at last caught a Wellington for myself. I flew it with great pleasure from Prestwick to Sherburne today and am now here on my way back with a Hurricane. I found it very like a big Anson, & I can see no reason why any of the normally hefty of us should find them too heavy. It was tough today & at slow speeds as when coming in to land you have to heave and push but forewarned there is no difficulty. I wonder who of the others have had one and what they think.
We have had a tragedy already in no. 4b FPP. A charming American called Wiley who was posted to us left Speke on Wednesday afternoon & has not been heard of since. It is strange (or perhaps just a matter of psychology) how it always seems to be the nice ones that go and the toughs who remain.
Living in the … hotel as we are doing amongst all the over-night ATA one gets a bit of a … about humanity. I was almost pleased to see Mary H[unter], & Veronica [Volkersz] yesterday by contrast! Douglas is in his element entertaining his visiting pilots; clearly our post war job must be public house proprietors with Douglas as 'mine host'.
Please make Kitty write to me again soon. I loved getting your letters. When are you coming to inspect me? I wish you would.
I would love to have a talk. Are you likely to be at W[hite] W[altham] without warning if I cadge an aeroplane to that point?
with love, Margie."
She was promoted to Flight Captain in February 1942, in charge of the Women's Flight at Prestwick. Her Commanding Officer said that she was a "very reliable and steady ferry pilot... she has been a very real help to me." Shortly after that, she had her spat with Irene Arckless (q.v.)
She also had an 'incident' on the 24th March 1943 - flying a Halifax (she was one of only 11 women cleared for 4-engine aircraft), the bolts securing an engine cowling broke away and fouled a propeller. Luckily, she was uninjured.
However, she was in big trouble in May 1943 - some Flight Captain or other (I can't make out the signature) wrote to Pauline:
"It is observed that F/Capt Mrs Fairweather is not complying with Standing Orders re. her hair. Also, this pilot still persists in wearing grey coloured stockings, whereas black is the order. Will you please be good enough to point out to this pilot that the Commanding Officer's Instructions in regard to 'Dress Regulations' must be complied with."
There is a scribbled note "Is anything ever done?", but, indeed, no sign of anything else happening...
And then, on the 14th September 1943, (so, when Margie was nearly 42), and rather out of the blue , came this:
"Flight Captain Mrs Fairweather is pregnant and I recommend that her contract is terminated with three months' pay in lieu of notice."
[The ATA policy was that women who became pregnant would have their contracts terminated, to give them 3 months salary. However, Pauline soon discovered that Margie was "not interested in the financial aspect, but would rather have her contract suspended" and added,"I think we might well meet her wishes in this case."]
So, her contract was suspended, and she duly returned back to work on the 15th June 1944. By then, sadly, Douglas was dead; he and ATA Nurse Kathleen Kershaw had crashed in the Irish Sea, on a mercy flight to Prestwick. Douglas and Margie's daughter Elizabeth was born a few days after his death.
And then Margie herself died in another crash soon after, on the 4th August 1944. It happened on a communications flight in Percival Proctor III LZ801; the engine 'faded out', she force-landed in a field near Wrexham, but hadn't seen a ditch at the end of it. The aircraft went nose first into the ditch.
She, and her sister Kitty suffering from severe fractures to her right leg, were taken to Chester Royal Infirmary. Margie had serious head injuries; the third person on board, Lewis Kendrick, had minor abrasions. Margie died at 11 p.m., without regaining consciousness.
The technical investigation showed that the vent pipe of the port fuel tank was completely blocked by a film of dope, causing the tank to collapse. "In these circumstances the petrol gauge is likely to have indicated that the tank still contained fuel, when in fact it was dry."
Blame was heaped on everyone involved in ensuring the aircraft had been fit to fly: The Chief Engineer, and the Engineers in Charge at White Waltham, for failing to ensure that it had been serviced properly; the Officer-in-Charge Air Movements Bay; the Engineering Inspector, for failing to ensure that the fitters were competent, and the two fitters who failed to notice the blocked vent.
The report recommended that procedures were changed, and Proctors modified, to prevent it happening again.
The cause of death was 'extensive skull fracture'; I've not come across any reference to Margie's spectacles shattering and contributing to her death, although this has been suggested recently.
She is buried, together with Douglas, in Dunure Cemetery, South Ayrshire. Near Prestwick.
28th August 1944
Dear Mr d'Erlanger,
You will I hope forgive me for being slow to thank you for your kind letter & for what you say of Margaret's work, and I would like especially to thank you for all the kindness and consideration shown to my daughter Ruth & for all the arrangements made for the funeral which we could not have wished otherwise. I would be grateful if you could also pass on our thanks to whoever in the RAF was responsible for allowing her to lie in that little war cemetery beside Douglas. We very greatly valued the kindness that prompted that decision.
I am afraid it will be a long time before Kitty is up & about, but we are glad to have no real anxiety about her.
Margie's loss was "a great blow to ATA, for she was not only one of our best women pilots, but in her modest and enthusiastic manner set an almost unequalled example of unselfish devotion to duty."
Oxford DNB : "Fairweather [née Runciman], Margaret (1901–1944), airwoman, was born at West Denton Hall, near Newcastle upon Tyne, on 23 September 1901, the second in a family of two sons and three daughters of Walter Runciman, first Viscount Runciman (1870–1949), and his wife, Hilda Stevenson (1869–1956) [see Runciman, Hilda]. Margie, as she was always known, was educated initially at home together with her younger brother Steven (later Sir Steven Runciman) by a governess who taught them Greek and Latin at an early age. She then attended a number of educational institutions including The Mount, a Quaker school in York, and Notting Hill high school, from where she went to Girton College, Cambridge. After a year she dropped out of Girton to study singing in Paris, though she never performed professionally. She married Roderick Sydney Nettleton King-Farlow (1900–1988), the son of Sir Sydney Charles Nettleton King-Farlow, at St Margaret's, Westminster, on 15 July 1925. A daughter was born in 1931. The marriage ended in divorce in 1936.
In the autumn of 1936 Margie learned to fly at Newcastle Aero Club and was issued with her aviator's certificate (licence no. 14687) by the Royal Aero Club on 13 January 1937. She was planning to fly solo to Australia but changed her mind when she met a fellow pilot, Douglas Keith Fairweather (1891–1944), son of Sir Walter Fairweather. They were married on 28 March 1938. In that year Lord Runciman was sent on the ill-fated mission to Prague to mediate between the German and Czech governments. Fairweather flew out herself to visit him. During a European tour that same year she and Douglas, under the guise of tourists, photographed unrecorded German airfields. She also sent back letters to her brother Steven which seemingly contained only trivial domestic details. On her return, however, she decoded these to recover intelligence data.
With the threat of war looming, in October 1938 the Civil Air Guard scheme was inaugurated to provide subsidized training of pilots through the civil flying clubs. As experienced pilots, Margie and her husband became instructors at Renfrew. Douglas Fairweather was one of the first to sign contracts with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) for service with the AirTransportAuxiliary (ATA) in September 1939.
Many women, qualified flying instructors with considerable flying experience, volunteered to serve with the ATA. However, the pilots enrolled by BOAC under the ATA scheme were employed in RAF ferry pilots' pools and the RAF would not agree to the employment of women in their ferry pools. This problem was solved in December 1939 when Pauline Gower (who became commandant of the women's ATA) was informed that a small pool of eight women based at Hatfield could be formed to ferry Tiger Moths to stored reserves.
With over 1000 flying hours, Margaret Fairweather was one of that select band who signed contracts with the ATA on 1 January 1940. This departure from tradition caused a furore in a world in which professional women were still a novelty. Press and newsreel gave full publicity to the event and the so-called ‘ATA girls’ were under constant scrutiny. However, ferrying Tiger Moths from Hatfield to storage reserves, some as far away as Kinloss, Perth, and Lossiemouth, and returning by overnight train, often with no sleeper in midwinter, was not the glamorous occupation some imagined. In July 1941 ATA women pilots were cleared to fly operational aircraft and Margaret Fairweather was one of the first four chosen to do practice landings in a Hurricane. These four carried a burden of responsibility as the future of all women pilots in the ATA depended on them.
Meanwhile Douglas Fairweather was joint commanding officer at Prestwick. In 1942 he was posted to no. 1 ferry pool, White Waltham, to take charge of the air movements flight. Margie was then posted to join him. For the rest of her time there she was engaged in communication duties and it was on one such assignment that she met her death—the only one not to survive among the original eight who served from the very beginning.
Gradually more operational types of plane were being flown by women and the progression was made from single engine to twin aircraft to advanced twin, and eventually eleven women pilots were qualified to fly four-engined aircraft. Fairweather was one of the eleven. She was considered by her fellow pilots to be one of the most intelligent and able, though rather quiet and self-effacing. In fact, according to her daughter, her nickname was Mrs Cold Front.
On 3 April 1944 Douglas Fairweather volunteered to go to Prestwick to collect an ambulance case requiring special treatment. In appalling weather, somewhere over the Irish Sea, the Anson came down and both he and the nurse travelling with him were lost. Margie gave birth to their daughter Elizabeth a few days later. Margie returned to flying only to be killed herself four months later. She was piloting a Proctor to Scotland on 4 August 1944 with two passengers on board when the engine failed near Malpas, Cheshire. All three were taken to Chester Royal Infirmary where Fairweather died soon afterwards. Her passengers were her sister, the Hon. Kitty Farrer, adjutant of the ATA, and Louis Kendrick of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. They recovered, escaping with injuries. Douglas Fairweather's body was washed up on the Ayrshire coast. Margaret Fairweather and he were both buried in the small churchyard of Dunure, Ayrshire."
M.--- First Officer Herbert Roy Fields b. 26 Jul 1901, Hull 11 Sep 1939 to Aug-40
a Garage Proprietor in Hull in 1929;
a Company Director in Dunswell E Yorks in 1936
d. 4 Aug 1940 (Died in ATA Service) - Miles Master flew into hill in fog and crashed at Burnhead Tweedsmuir Peebles
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery:
"To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die"
M.557 First Officer Geoffrey Maurice Firby b. 21 Sep 1910, Bradford 10 Jun 1941 to 5 Feb 1944
Father: George Firby, Mother Annie
Ed. Bradford Moor, Ansons Secondary School
m. 3 Jan 1944 Doris [Watmough] S.R.N.
prev. a Haulage Contractor (Own business)
prev. exp. 57 hrs on Gipsy Moth
Address in 1941: 4 Dundas St., Bradford
Postings: 7FPP, 6FPP
Jan-42: Suspended without pay for 7 days and promotion deferred for 3 months for being "AWOL at Christmas 1941 & submitting a false report."
"A hard working and safe pilot, but who is inclined to be irresponsible."
d. 5 Feb 1944 (Died in ATA Service) in Avro Anson W4945 which disintegrated in the air, crashed between Newsham Hall and Walkers Farm, Winston, Darlington and was destroyed.
"Investigations showed that the starboard aileron was struck in flight by a fast moving metal object such as the propeller of another aircraft. This caused dislocation of aileron hinges & subsequent disintegration of the starboard wing. In this connection two Spitfires were observed manoeuvering around the Anson just before the crash. One was reported to have descended and circled the wreckage after the crash."
Buried at Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford
He had only been married 33 days and hadn't informed the ATA, which meant that the insurance money of £2,000 was paid to his nominated next-of-kin, his mother Annie. She agreed to pass on £675 to his widow Doris, who also inherited Geoffrey's estate of £201.
A daughter Christine was born in March 1944 but died shortly afterwards.
M.347 First Officer John Charles Fisher b. 6 May 1918, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs 30 Mar 1941 to Mar-42
a Sergeant Pilot in the RAFVR from Apr-39 to Jan-41; exp. 120 hrs. He was discharged - "unable to complete course following a night crash."
prev. an insurance agent
He proved himself a "quiet, steady and conscientious officer", but had a couple of accidents during his short ATA career; on 25 October 1941 he taxied a Swordfish "carelessly" into a parked Piper Cub, and the following January he suffered head injuries in a forced landing in a Mohawk after engine failure.
His third accident, sadly, proved fatal.
d. 15 Mar 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Oxford X7190 crashed into ground 300' above sea level nr Wigtown. He was deemed to be 'at fault' as he persisted too far in bad weather, "of which the forecast he received gave him warning."
The wreckage was not discovered for 3 days, and the sketch map below shows its location:
He was buried in Newcastle-under-Lyme Cemetery. His parents took some flowers to his grave in September 1943 and were sorry to see a wooden cross had been put there by the ATA, despite his parents having erected a stone memorial the previous November. The wooden cross was later removed.
M.947 2nd Officer Thomas Maxwell Fisk b. 9 Jun 1919, Sydney, Australia 18 May 1943 to 25 Jun 1944
Australian War Memorial
Father: Sir Ernest Thomas Fisk FRSA. 16 Beaconsfield Terrace, Lindfield, Sydney, Australia [Director General of Economic Development, and a former Secretary to the Economic Cabinet, in Australia] - see https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/fisk-sir-ernest-thomas-6177
Ed. Geelong, Australia
prev. a University Student, then an Engineer Officer on board SS "Queen Mary" [Jan-Jun 1942] then SS "Queen Elizabeth"
prev. exp. 10hrs on Gipsy Moth - failed RAF entrance due to his eyesight
Postings: 5TFPP, 4FPP, 1FPP, 83 GSU (Seconded for 1 week)
In October 1943, he and fellow Australian pilot Ian Llewellyn asked for, and were given, permission to wear 'Australia' on their uniforms. "We have lived in Australia all our lives and arrived in this country early this year."
d. 25 Jun 1944 in Mustang III FB348 which crashed near Petworth, W. Sussex. "...the pilot was executing violent manoevres near the ground, probably resulting in a high speed stall. The aircraft then spun to the left and crashed."
Cremated at Golders Green Crematorium; his ashes were scattered from DH Rapide X7417 over White Waltham Airfield on 8 July 1944. Ian Llewellyn and Flt-Sgt Pollard flew as passengers, with Capt. Herbert Mason as the pilot.
M.--- First Officer Luis Goncelvis Fontes b. 20 Dec 1912, London 1 May 1940 to Oct-40
Father Brazilian, mother English
Racing driver [1935 Le Mans winner] and sometime jailbird [spent 3 years in jail - convicted of manslaughter having killed a motorcyclist in a car accident whilst drunk]. Operated a speedboat firm in Torquay.
1935 Miles Hawk Speed Six G-ADGP
1938 B A Eagle 2 G-AFKH
with his sister Ruth, King's Cup 1935
d. 12 Oct 1940 (Died in ATA Service) - while circling to land at Llandow, his Wellington R1156 struck a telegraph pole in Llysworney during a second circuit and crashed into a bank.
Buried Mapledurham, Oxfordshire
King's Cup in 1935, 1938
M.659 First Officer Lee Leslie Garlow b. 4 Oct 1908, Pittsburg PA 8 Aug 1941 to Dec-41
Adopted son of Leonard L Garlow, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Attended Tucson University in 1934-5 and was a member of the Sigma Chi social fraternity.
Next of kin given as: "Mrs Spencer Kennelly, 677 S Bronson, Los Angeles"
prev. Arizona and Michigan Flying Schools, then from 1930 a commercial pilot.
prev. exp. 1419 hrs.
Posted to 8FPP on 13 December, but got lost on one of his first ferry flights (22 December) and force-landed in Eire. See www.ww2irishaviation.com
Joseph 'Gen' Genovese (q.v.) described him as a "tall, handsome, curly-headed fellow with a trim black mustache, who, before coming to England, had made several pictures in Hollywood", although this (as is not unusual with Mr Genovese) may be a slight exaggeration; Lee only seems to have appeared as an extra in the 1938 musical, “Start Cheering”.
'Gen' also says that Lee had "brought the playboy spirit with him from the States, where he had been a rich man's son, a sportsman flier .. but Lee had changed after flying for the ATA for a few months. He was more serious and seemed to take a sincere pride in the work he was doing. He told me once that flying for England was the first real job he had ever had and the first honest responsibility he had ever felt."
His instructors rated him as a "man of excellent character... a good pilot but overconfident."
d. 26 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Hudson III AE489 flew into ground nr Blacklaw Farm, 4 mi N of Stewarton, Ayrshire, 15mi NE of Prestwick, in thick fog.
2nd Officer David Marks (q.v.) also killed.
It appears that Lee had taken the Hudson without proper authorisation, having altered his own paperwork (which was for a Wellington).
Buried Monkton and Prestwick Cemetery, Prestwick, but later moved to the Cambridge American Cemetery.
After his death, his friend Mrs Kennelly claimed to have Power of Attorney for Lee's affairs, and asked for all his belongings "including his wings if possible" to be sent to her, but to "keep such clothes of useful [sic] to others in England."
However, it then emerged that Lee had only been informally adopted by Leonard Garlow and his wife Martha Snyder. Leonard had pre-deceased Lee, but Martha, along with Mrs Kennelly and his natural mother, Elizabeth Squires (formerly Baker) all made a claim to Lee's estate.
His estate (including the £2,000 insurance money) was sent to the American Consulate and it took until 1946 for them to decide that all three women should be joint beneficiaries.
With thanks to Dennis Burke for his research
M.540 First Officer Ernest Edward Gasser
b. 16 Feb 1910, Peoria IL.
Parents both Swiss.
28 Apr 1941 to Dec-41
Studied Engineering and Accountancy in College, then in the US Marine Corps (Radio & Comms) 1931-35
Started flying at Washington Airport on Fleet in 1936, then 1939 on Taylor Cubs and Aeronca. Bought his own Aeronca Chief, took a commercial pilot's license and an instructor's course in Rockville.
A corporal in the Washington DC Special Police, as a radio operator.
prev exp 445hrs on Aeronca, Fleet, Wco, Stinson, Fairchild, Cub.
Address in 1941: 4848 Western Ave, Chevy Chase, MD
Trained on Magister, Hawk, DH Moth and Avro Tutor; completed his training on Harvard and Hurricane in Aug 1941
d. 7 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - in Hurricane IIb Z5663; became lost in snowstorm and nose-dived into ground in Wyre Forest, nr the Button Oak Inn, 5mi NW of Bewdley, Worcestershire.
The Button Oak Inn, 2015
Buried in All Saints Church, Wribbenhall on the 10th December. The pall bearers were Sergeant Pilots Jeffery (Canada), Munro (Canada), Brown (USA), Terry (USA), Isfield (Canada) and Wilson (USA).
Chief Mourners were F/O Jack Terry, F/O Anthony Storey, and Miss Stamford. The many wreaths included one from Mrs Jane Spence, "the only American-born resident in Bewdley."
His wife Mrytle wrote "Numbers of my husband's friends, both officers and fellow-pilots, have written to me. Will you please give them my sincere thanks? I'm glad he made so many friends, and I appreciate their sympathy."
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.900 First Officer John Ludlow Glover b. 4 Jul 1915, Kamloops, B.C., Canada
2 Jan 1943 to 1 Apr 1944
8 May 1944 to 12 Aug 1944
Father: Frank Ludlow Glover (d. 1963)
Ed. University of British Columbia (Mechanical Engineering)
m. (divorced 1944)
Next of kin: (mother) Violet Kathleen Isabelle Glover (d. 1950)
prev. RCAF Sep 1935 to Oct 1939, then RAF Ferry Command (Sgt. Pilot/Navigator)
Address in 1943: (parents) 2392 W.41st Ave, Vancouver. B.C.
Postings: 5TFPP, 4FPP, No. 4 OTU Alness
Instructor's Report Jun 1943: "This pilot has a higher opinion of his capabilities and knowledge than is warranted. However, if he puts himself to it, he can do very well."
Because of a mix-up when he signed his original contract for the ATA, John was being paid American rates, rather than those available to Canadian citizens.
So, in late 1943, towards the end of his first contract, the ATA offered him (and Helen Harrison) an extension on what were called 'Dominion Contracts' rather than those offered to American pilots. However, John said that he "could not afford to accept the terms of a Domininion Agreement owing to commitments at home, including the education of his brother."
By this time, he was one of very few ATA pilots cleared to ferry aircraft from Class VI (flying-boats), and his record since joining ATA being "very satisfactory... he seems to be a very quiet and desirable type of pilot.", they eventually offered him an extension of his existing contract to 31 Mar 1944, with a subsequent Dominion Contract for 11 months, "which he must sign, or go.".
He went. "F/O Glover has decided that he is not prepared to sign a Dominion Contract", and sailed from Scotland on the 10th April in SS Queen Elizabeth, arriving in New York on the 16th..
By the 23 April, however, he had discovered that there were no pilot jobs in N. America for him, and cabled:
HAVE RECONSIDERED DOMINION CONTRACT AM WILLING TO RETURN IF YOU REQUIRE MY SERVICES and then a few days later
I REALIZE MY MISTAKE IN REJECTING YOUR OFFER TO CONTINUE WORKING FOR ATA STOP I HOPE MY REQUEST TO RETURN WILL BE CONSIDERED
He re-started with the ATA on 8 May.
4 accidents, 2 not his fault:
- 10 Sep 1943, the port wing tip float of Sunderland III DD833 collapsed while it was being towed. "probably due to inexperience of pilot and towing crew"
- 24 Dec 1943, he force-landed a Catalina IV after starboard engine failure
- 28 Feb 1944, the port engine of his Anson caught fire in the air and he managed to extinguish the flames (despite, apparently, using the "incorrect method") and landed without damage.
d. 12 Aug 1944, in Barracuda II MD805 on a ferry flight from Wroughton via Kirkbride to Prestwick. He appears to have lost control in performing steep turns around a Tiger Moth, and crashed in a field one mile SW of Annan, Dumfriesshire.
M.432 First Officer William Lionel Godwin b. 15 Jan 1914, Newport Monmouthshire 16 May 1941 to 30 Apr 1944
Ed. The College, Weston Super Mare
Next of kin: (mother) Mary Selina Godwin
prev. Sergeant in RAF Class F Reserve Aug-36 to Sep-39 [Ser. No. 700650],
then an accountant for Somerset County Council, Taunton
prev. exp. 109 hrs on Hart, Tiger Moth, Swallow and Oxford.
Address in 1941: 15 Wilton Gardens, Weston Super Mare, Somerset
William originally applied in August 1940; "I have seen it stated in Flight that you are urgently in need of more pilots in A.T.A. and I have felt moved to write to you. On May 20th this year I was suspended from the RAF as being unlikely to to make a good service pilot because (a) I get air-sickness in violent manoevres (aerobatics etc), (b) ears give some trouble during rapid descents and I am ny nature rather cautious.... If you want an interview, I should be able to come to London this week as I am on leave. However, if you think this is all rather bats - please say so, - gently, in the enclosed envelope."
ATA did not think it entirely bats, but it took them until the following April to give him a flying test ("Flies and lands well. Is not flustered in an emergency, though he reacts rather slowly", and follow up his references ("I have much pleasure in testifying to the personal character of Mr W L Godwin, a member of the permanent accounting staff of this Council.") and offer him a position as a ferry pilot.
Postings: 6FPP, 1FPP, 8FPP
"A keen pilot of average ability, slow to adapt himself and should consequently be progressed gradually on to subsequent types." "A quiet and likeable officer."
m. Mar 1942 WAAF Corporal Sylvia Mary [Earwicker] from the Dental Centre, School of Technical Training, RAF Henlow, Beds.
d. 30 Apr 1944 (Died in ATA Service), in Mosquito MT192, which crashed 2 miles S of Litchfield: "At about 8,000 ft, the A/C turned to port and then dived. At about 200 ft. the machine flattened out, hit the ground and was totally destroyed. Insufficient evidence to determine the cause of the accident but available evidence indicates that the pilot was not responsible."
His C.O., Norman Whitehurst, said "I have always regarded him as one of my most reliable and progressive pilots. He was a man of splendid character, whose discipline was of the highest order, and had he survived would undoubtedly have reached a much higher rank in this organisation. His flying was exceptional, and in this respect he set a first class example to his colleagues."
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.670 2nd Officer Antoni Henryk Gosiewski b. 17 Jan 1900, Warsaw 30 Sep 1941 to 19 Dec 1941
[Antoni Gosiewski lost nearly everything that mattered to him - his country, his wife, his two sons, his career and a large part of his reputation, in two brutal years of war.
Eventually, he only had one thing left to give]
Father: Feliks Gosiewski (dec'd), mother Biernacka Julyanna. One brother (Juljusz) and one sister Eugenia still in Poland with their mother.
Diploma of Engineering
prev. Engine Designer. Polish Air Force from 1923 Lt-Col (equiv. Wing Commander)
Lived in France from Sep 1939 - 26 June 1940; then Pilot Officer in RAF
prev. exp. 1,050 hrs on PZL.11, Anson
The PZL.11, having briefly been considered the most advanced fighter aircraft of its kind in the world during the early 30s, was outclassed by such fighters as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 at the onset of the war.]
Awarded the Polish Virtutu Military (Polish Cross), ZKZ, SKZ, and MZW medals.
Address in 1941: c/o Mrs M Allam, Academy House, Rothesay, Bute
[Officer Concentration Station Rothesay (Polish language: Stacja Zborna Oficerów Rothesay) was a military centre of Polish Armed Forces in the West. Created on August 14, 1940 (Order Nr. L.dz. 1977/I.tjn.40), as Officer Camp Nr. 23, it was located in Rothesay, Bute, Scotland.
Officers of the Polish Army, who were sent to the camp, were billeted in several local hotels, such as „Craigmor”, „Craignetham Private Hotel”, „Madras”, „Glenearu”, „Ardyn”, „Struan”, „Bute Arms”, „Esplanade”, „Grand Marine”, „Royal” and „Victoria”. With the permission of Commander-in-chief of Polish Army and British authorities, families of officers were allowed to join them. The relatives of the officers were treated as foreign subjects, and since the Isle of Bute was located in a protected zone, special permission was required to enter the town of Rothesay.
On August 28, 1940, all officers began compulsory English courses, and on September 10, the camp was renamed into Officer Camp Nr. 2 Rothesay. - Wikipedia]
His application to ATA, dated 9 Sep 1941, concludes: "I want to work for the war effort. I desire to be useful as a pilot, because I have the knowledge, the flying experience (over 1,000 hrs) and the certainty of my hand."
However, one of his 'referees' rather threw a spanner into the works:
I can give you the following information:
1. (Gosiewski) has been dismissed from the [Air] Force as a result of a sentence of a Court Martial in Britain, which found him guilty of the charge of embezzlement committed in Poland.
2. Up till the last year in Poland [he] was a pilot and has had good training, though his occupation did not allow him to fly the most modern types of aircraft. He is a good and able technician.
In my opinion Gosiewski should not be appointed for responsible duties permitting access to secret information; he could, however, be engaged in simple executive work.
... . but a further letter from Major Wladyslaw Zaberowski, Bureau of Staff, Polish General Headquarters, gave a totally different impression:
Answering your question in matters of Lt-Col Antoni Gosiewski Grad. Eng. I declare as follows:
I did not know Lt-Col A Gosiewski until February of this year, when Authorities concerned ordered me to defend his case before the Polish Court Martial in London.
Lt-Col Gosiewski was accused of having appropriated for his private purposes, unlegally, various small amounts of monies (totalling less then £80), which were put at his disposal for the "Representation Fund" of the Polish School of Air Force Officers, which was under his command before outbreak of the war.
I pursued the legal proceedings in this matter with an utmost care, and considering all the facts shown thereby, I came to the conclusion, I am thoroughly convinced a right one, that Lt-Col Gosiewski could not and has not done things he was accused of. Therefore I wrote and signed a Memorandum opposing the verdict, and destined for the General who is responsible for approving such verdicts here. I have to mention that against verdicts of our Court Martials no appeal to a higher court is provided, during the war.
Officers under whose orders Lt-Col Gosiewski has been on duty told the court that their opinion is entirely in favour of his character and behaviour. Their opinion is shared by numerous other Polish Air Force officers, now in service in this country who have heard about the bad luck of Lt-Col Gosiewski in this case.
I have to stress that facts alleged to Lt-Col Gosiewski should have occurred before the war between 1937 and 1939, in Poland, but there nobody has put it forward against him. It was in this country that two of his subalterns accused him, in circumstances where any counter proofs by evidence of witnesses and by documents left behind in Poland has not been feasible.
The Court Martial has based the verdict on the evidence given by these two former subalterns, but giving a supplementary explanation of the verdict stated that, admitting the fact of an unlegal appropriation, this deed has not been committed under influence of mean motives, and therefore the verdict does not include the privation of the accused nor of his high Military Order, the "Virtuti Militari", nor of his Academie degree of M.A.
...There exists the possiblility of applying for a revision of this legal proceeding, when new proofs and new witnesses will be available. This will be done, and I am sure that after our return to Poland this verdict will be cancelled.
After having examined this matter in the Polish Military Intelligence Branch I may state that also their opinion is entirely in favour of Lt-Col Gosiewski.
So the ATA gave him a 15-minute flight test in a Tiger Moth, which was satisfactory; "An experienced pilot, heavy on controls but suitable for Class 2 at once."
On his application form, he gave his next of kin as: "(wife) Umerska Jadwiga [Lis], with the Polish Committee in Lisbon",
and said they had "2 children"
Sadly, by the time he started with the ATA three weeks later, his wife Jadwiga (b. 30 May 1908) and their two sons Krzystof (age 6) and Michal, age 10, had died when the ship in which they were travelling was torpedoed.
"Avoceta left Liverpool on 19 August 1941 and safely reached Gibraltar on 4 September. From there, she made her usual round trip to Lisbon and back. In Lisbon she embarked dozens of refugees from German-occupied Europe: UK subjects who had escaped the fall of France and had been denied leave to remain by the authorities in neutral Spain and Portugal. Most were women and children, some of them of French or Spanish origin, several following their husbands to the UK.
Avoceta was one of 25 merchant ships that formed Convoy HG 73, which left Gibraltar on 17 September bound for Liverpool.
On the night of 25–26 September U-203 fired a spread of four torpedoes from their port side. One hit Avoceta close to her engine room. Admiral Creighton was on Avoceta's bridge, and later recalled that when hit "she staggered like a stumbling horse".
Avoceta sank by the stern, and her bows quickly rose to such an angle that her lifeboats could not be lowered.
123 people from Avoceta were lost. The dead included 43 crew, nine Navy staff, four DEMS gunners and 67 civilian passengers, including 32 women and 20 children, four of which were under one year old." SS Avoceta - Wikipedia
Postings: Training Pool
"An ex Polish Air Force Officer. A most likeable personality, very keen and anxious to produce results... will require help with his English"
- 12 Dec 1941, his Tiger Moth T7610 was caught by a gust of wind after landing and tipped onto its nose, breaking the propeller
d. 19 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) in Master W8479 which flew into Arrant Haw hill, 2.5 m N of Sedburgh, Yorks (now in Cumbria).
Ferry originally started 17 Dec from Reading (Phillips & Powis factory) to 46 MU Lossiemouth, although he stayed at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire on the 17th and 18th Dec due to bad weather.
The wreck was discovered by a shepherd on the 24 Dec, completely smashed and burnt. The weather had been misty all week. There were no witnesses.
"Insufficient evidence to establish cause but it appears that he persisted too far into bad weather"
It was his 3rd ferry flight, having previously flown 37hrs 10min in training on Magister, Battle, Harvard, Hurricane and Oxford.
The body was temporarily moved to the Games Pavilion at Sedburgh School.
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery, Section D No 18KK
With thanks to John Webster
"If anything Gosiewski displayed an over anxiety to produce results... as a result of his keenness he was on one occasion grounded because of his desire to take off in too bad weather conditions."
His cousin asked for his effects to be sent to him or Dr Vedrevczak, because "they are very valuable to me as concerning the family name, and also to his friends. Because even after his death we want the name of this valuable man and officer to be without any shadows."
He left a will, in Polish, naming two executors; one an officer serving in the RAF (Flt-Lt (Dr.) Marvan Vedrzevczak), and the Polish Legation in London. The will could not be proved during the war, so his £2,000 insurance (and £9 19 5d balance of salary) was invested in 1949/51 war bonds and passed on to his executors in 1947.
See also the photos of the crash site at https://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk
M.881 First Officer Gilbert Christopher Gould b. 13 Jun 1906, South Godstone
6 Aug 1941 to 8 Feb 1945
Father: Gilbert, mother: Grace Mildred
Ed. Reigate Grammar School; Goldsmith College, University of London
m. Aug 1931 Esme Maud [Knight, "a well known teacher and vocalist"], 2 children Mary and John b. 1932 and 1937
prev. a schoolmaster in Surrey. RAFO F/O, 1929-1939
prev. exp 80 hrs on DH Moth and 9J, Avro Cadet & 626. One of the founder members of the Surrey Gliding Club at Redhill.
Address in 1941: 'Tanglehedge', Limes Estate, Felbridge, East Grinstead, W. Sussex
Following Lord Londonderry's radio appeal for pilots in March 1941, he applied to the ATA and was given a 15-minute flight test on 7 June; "Good, except for approach and landing".
Postings: 12FPP, 1FPP
Having started as a Pilot Cadet in August 1941, his flying contract was terminated on the 24 Feb 1942 because "an attempt to convert him to Class 2 has revealed that he is unlikely to become a service type pilot", and he was moved into ATA's Accidents Committe, as Joint Secretary (with Gerald Merton), and promoted to Third Officer.
In July 1942 he was 'called up' to the RAF and duly reported for attestation, but the RAF then granted him secondment, back to the ATA, initially until 1 Feb 1943. Further extension might be possible, they said, but only if he was to be employed as a ferry pilot.
He was duly reinstated as a ferry pilot in February 1943, (they described him as "not a very brilliant pilot", but all agreed that he was doing invaluable work for the Accidents Committee) and began negotiations with the RAF to keep him. Eventually, in August 1943, the RAF agreed to extend his secondment whilst he was employed on the Accidents Committee.
He was off sick from 19 Oct to 11 Nov 1943 with "Anxiety State and Depression", and was taken off flying duties again and promoted to First Officer.
His C.O. by this time was the aforementioned Gerald Merton, who reported in Feb 1944 that "He is very keen on his investigational work and does it well. I have had difficulty with him in the past because of his unwillingness to accept and carry out orders from me, and his inclination to be evasive... Recently however, his attitude has been more helpful. A normal increase in salary seems justified."
Towards the end of 1944 however, accidents by then being less frequent with the run-down of ATA, he agreed to return to flying duties, and performed as a "most useful taxi pilot" for 1FPP.
d. 8 Feb 1945, in Fairchild Argus HM188, which hit a survey pylon in bad weather and poor visibility, and crashed in Nor Wood, near Leatherhead, Surrey during a ferry flight from White Waltham to Gatwick (Southern Aircraft Co.).
He was held to blame for the accident, having persisted too far into bad weather.
Cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, Barnet, London
"He took a keen interest in local affairs. He was Hon. Secretary to the Parochial Parish Council." - Crawley and District Observer
"He is not dead, he doth but sleep" ..this knowledge will help me to carry on to fit his children to take their place in the better world we hope to build. .. I am proud that I was privileged to be his wife.
Yours Sincerely, Esme Gould"
M.448 First Officer Vincent George Govett b. 1910, Islington, London 12 Jul 1941 to Sep-41
RAF from 1931; 33 Sqn Bicester from 1932, 503 Sqn Waddington from 1934 then the Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit, Biggin Hill from 1936.
May 1932: "GRANTHAM AIRMAN FINED Vincent George Govett. of No. 3 Flying School, R.A.F., Grantham, was fined 5s at Lincoln Police Court to-day for not having a red rear light on his motor-cycle and 5s for failing to illuminate his identification plate in Lincoln High-street on May 7."
Flt-Lt in RAF Reserve; BOAC, Bristol
d. 8 Sep 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Beaufighter X7640 crashed 3 miles SW of Capel Curig, Snowdonia
M.357 First Officer Malcolm Goss Grant b. 17 Dec 1914, Croydon
21 Mar 1941 to 28 Aug 1942
Educated at Eastbourne College
m. Marie [Plumpton], 17 Feb 1939 in Cullompton, Devon. After the wedding they departed in a Leopard Moth from Exeter Airport and were back in Croydon by 3:30, "subsequently going on to the beautiful little cottage at Newdigate, Surrey, which the bridegroom's father has given them as a residence."
prev. a draper (Grant Bros Ltd, Croydon) then a Link Trainer instructor in Carlisle, Dec-39 to 1941.
Member of Redhill Flying Club from 1936. Prev. exp. 75 hrs. They reported that his flying was "consistently steady and reliable." He first applied to the ATA in Dec 1940, but his flying hours were below the standard required at the time. However, things changed within 3 months and he was accepted for training.
Address in 1941: Gotwick Farm, Orlton Lane, Rusper, Sussex
d. 28 Aug 1942 (Died in ATA Service) in Douglas Havoc Z2299, which dived into the ground at Abington Pigotts near Bassingbourn, Cambs, whilst attempting to land following port engine failure. the accident report blamed a "loss of control on turn towards dead engine in course of circuit at low altitude and with insufficient air speed."
His wife wrote to the ATA afterwards, asking whether they had discovered the whereabouts of his stop watch, silver cigarette case and gold lighter, and key case: "I am only fussing about such things as I would so like to have them for his son - who is only five weeks old - and so, will not remember him at all."
"My great consolation is the fact that he loved every moment of his job, and although you must have many pilots with more experience, you can have few so keen - and for this reason the past eighteen months have been particularly happy."
M.485 3rd Officer John Milne Greaves b. 15 Jan 1909, Oldham 3 Jun 1941 to 30 Jul 1942
prev. in 1931 a Publicity Manager, 1939 an Insurance Broker
Address in 1939: 6 Langdale Ave, Oldham
d. 30 Jul 1942 (Died in ATA Service) Miles Master M7958 engine cut on take-off, stalled avoiding trees and overturned at White Waltham. Instructor Norman Haymanwas also slightly injured.
M.487 2nd Officer Alfred Edward Green b. 8 Feb 1916, Warwick 3 Jun 1941 to Dec-41
married, one son
Owned 1936 BAC Drone 23 G-AEJS
prev. a Cabinet Maker;
He originally applied to the RAF but was rejected, due to "(a) eyesight not up to required standard, (b) feet, in respect of fallen arches". Also, because they noted that there was "no service Trade in the RAF in respect of cabinet-making."
He was also rejected at first (in 1940) by the ATA as his flying test was not up to standard, and became a Fitter and Technical Records Assistant for Air Service Training Ltd in Coventry. By 1941, however, the ATA was less picky and he was finally accepted.
He was assessed as "average, with no special faults but his limited experience demands constant supervision."
d. 9 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane BM955 dived into ground nr Cockerham Rd, Lancaster in bad weather.
buried Old Milverton Churchyard, Warwick
18th Aug 1945: "I have to inform you that my daughter Mrs Joan Constance Green passed away on the 12 May last year after a long illness, she is buried in the same grave as her husband Alfred, they leave a son age 7 years. Yours Faithfully W C Kimberley"
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.586 First Officer Edwin Allan 'Eddie' Grundstrom b. 2 Nov 1915, Springfield, MA 5 Jun 1941 to 7 Oct 1942
His father, Maurice, who was a toolmaker, was a Swedish naturalised American.
Ed. Springfield Trade School
prev. a draftsman, commercial artist and aerial photographer for United American Bosch, Inc.
"Flying privately since 1936. Been in aviation since 1929. Experienced in flying for photography and survey work." Learnt to fly at Alsop Flying Service, Springfield. Approx 780 hrs total.
Address in 1941: 81 Savoy Ave, Springfield MA (parents)
Postings: 6FPP, 8FPP
He did well; "a capable pilot who has worked hard", but he was suspended and fined 2 days pay ($14) in Dec-41 as he "brought a Priority One machine into Ratcliffe when it was well out of his correct course and he had no excuse for doing so."
His original contract expired on the 10 Jun 1942, and he sailed to the US the next day with fellow US pilots Marshall Milton, William Byrd Lee Milton, Manley Fairbrother, Alexander Wilson, Eddie Ballard, and Harry Kindberg.
However, the following month he applied for, and received, another contract, which ran from the 28 Aug 1942.
d. 7 Dec 1942: on the 6 Dec at 6:30pm he fell from the staircase of the Grand Central Hotel, Belfast from the fourth floor to the ground floor.
"He carried out the boyish prank of sliding down the banisters and I regret that on this occasion he overbalanced and fell down the well of the staircase." [In case you're wondering, Edwin was considered to be a man of very temperate habits - a non-smoker and "practically a non-drinker".]
He was taken to the 5th General US Hospital, Musgrave Park, Belfast, apparently suffering from concussion. By 6pm the following evening (7 Oct) a medical bulletin stated that he was expected to be absent from duty for "three or four weeks"; however, he died later that evening from intracerebral hemorrhage.
His friend Marshall Miton officiated at the funeral on the 12th October. Edwin was initially buried in the American Section of the Belfast City Cemetery, but later re-interred in the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial.
Which just left the issue of whether the £2,000 insurance would be paid. Apparently, Edwin had always made a practice of sliding down the banisters and had been repeatedly warned of this; one or two of his fellow pilots "ridiculed the whole question of the claim being submitted."
Things dragged on until December, when the underwriters decided they would give him the benefit of the doubt and pay the compensation. There was a clause in the agreement which excluded death of the Insured "deliberately caused by exposing himself to exceptional danger", but they reckoned that there was not enough evidence for this.
In a final sad footnote, a letter arrived from his friend Arthur (Lee) Bacon after Edwin's death. It reads:
"Hello Eddie (old boy)
Well bud I sure was glad to hear from you. As far as being slow on letters I guess we're both about the same.
You asked me to tell you the news (well there isn't any) so there. I'll just tell you anything, all right? Your brother Harry was home on leave from the Navy for a couple of weeks and does he look good (well fed). He said he likes it alot. Oh yes Harry Herman and some of the boys staged a daylight air raid with flour bags (Sept 20th about 2pm). More fun, I guess that is the most excitement in days, weeks. Al and the rest of the fellows are going to take their test sometime this mo.
You asked me to give you my views of Frances well... I shouldn't even try, because you know all the luck I have with my girl-friends don't you. Don't you?
I will say this tho, if Frances likes you (just for you) and not for the money you have etc etc --, she would make one beautiful wife. (oboy oboy). In fact I think I'll be your ice man, milkman or something so I can call on her when you're not around.
As I told you before tho, nobody can make up your mind for you, if you like her and you want her, the only thing I would tell you to do is go get her.
By the way I'm sure glad to hear that you're flying the big ones now. The only thing that makes me mad is that I'm not there so I can fly with you.
Also can you give Ed B my congrats (I heard he was married). (poor boy).
This letter has taken me an hour to write so I'll stop now.
Boy do I wish you were home. The old town's quite dead without you so hurry back.
Love and kisses, Arthur
p.s. Emma and I aren't doing to bad, we still have our ups and downs just like anybody else you know up and down (oboy)"
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.16 Junior Captain Walter Leslie 'Wal' Handley b. 5 Apr 1902, Birmingham 11 Sep 1939 to Nov-41
Well-known motorcycle racer pre-WWII
d. 15 Nov 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Airacobra AH598 caught fire in the air shortly after take-off from 12 M.U. and crashed nr Fingland, Cumbria.
"Major fire occurred in engine. A/C stalled and crashed. Cause of fire cannot be established but two possibilities:
1. Engine was over-boosted and over-revved on takeoff
2. A/C may have been run up with mixture control in full rich."
'Gen' Genovese was of the opinion that Wal's accident in the Airacobra was due to the fact that American aircraft would allow the pilot to over-rev and over-boost the engine, unlike British-built aircraft which restricted the power to what the engine could take.
A memorial to Walter has recently been erected near where he crashed in his Airacobra after taking off from Kirkbride:
M.383 * Captain Harald Julius Hansen b. 17 June 1892, Bloustrød, Denmark c. 1 May 1941 to 24 Jul 1941
prev. Danish Army 1914-18, army pilot 1918, commercial pilot for Danish Airlines; British Airways (BOAC) from May 1940
m., 4 children
Postings: 2FPP (Whitchurch)
d. 24 Jul 1941 (Died in ATA Service) Anson I R9761 hit by a Blenheim as it was making an emergency landing, at RAF Brize Norton on 22 Jul 1941. Died 2 days later in Radcliffe Hospital Oxford.
His body was repatriated to Denmark.
* Ata File not seen
Flight Engineer 3rd Officer Janice Margaret Harrington b. 28 Nov 1920, Singapore 22 Jul 1943 to Mar-44
Address in 1943: Red Arches, Thicket Rd, Maidenhead; her parents Arthur George and Xenia Ivy Vivian (nee Brandon)) lived at 'The Orchard', Putnoe Lane, Bedford.
Janice attended Bedford High School until age 18, and then Gloucester Training College before becoming a teacher of Domestic Science at the Silver Jubilee School in Bedford. She played lacrosse for the 1st XII at school and college.
When she applied to the ATA she included this reference, from her previous headmistress (K. M. Westaway M.A. D.Litt),:
"I have pleasure in stating that Janice Harrington was a pupil at this School from 1928 to 1939. She took her Cambridge School Certificate in 1937 with credits in English, Scripture, History, Mathematics, Chemistry and Art. She then went into the Sixth Form and took a course of Natural Science together with some Domestic Science. Her work was of a good standard throughout her time here, especially that concerned with Science and Art.
In her last year she was a School Prefect and a House Prefect and she became quite a leader in many ways. She was always original, ingenious and enterprising and contributed enormously both in time and energy when School activities required her undoubted artistic gifts.
She has good presence and very nice manners, and she has a great capacity for hard work."
However, it took a while before the ATA was ready to take her on, partly due to her needing a 'green card'. In the meantime, her career as a teacher had stalled due to 'her failure to get on with a rather acid headmistress', and she had become an aircraft fitter.
She applied in April 1943. She was, she said, 5 ft 3½, healthy and had no defects; she had received some dual instruction, and wanted to become a pilot.
However, it was as a Flight Engineer that she was finally taken on, in July 1943; the ATA had a minimum height limit of 5ft 5 for pilots. She was one of only four women Flight Engineers in the ATA.
Her instructors' comments were outstandingly good - "this girl is very keen, intelligent and enthusiastic about her work, and will make a very competent Flt Engineer... She has a thorough knowledge of the Halifax and is quite capable of carrying out the duties of Flight Engineer on this aircraft... Discipline has been excellent."
Lettice Curtis says "perhaps one remembers her most for being unusually decorative - so much so, in fact, that in 1943 her portrait hung in the Royal Academy Exhibition, painted by Harold Speed who, it was said at the time, considered her one of the most beautiful girls he had ever met."
d. 2 Mar 1944 (Died in ATA Service) with Dora Lang (q.v.), in Mosquito VI HP932, which crashed on approach to Lasham.
"Whilst approaching to land the aircraft appeared to undershoot slightly, the throttles were opened gently and then fully, whereupon the aircraft climbed sharply 100 feet, stalled, crashed and was destroyed.
Insufficient evidence to determine the cause, but it is clear that upon the application of full power the pilot failed to get the stick forward quickly enough to prevent the nose of the aircraft rising.
Insufficient evidence to determine responsibility."
"Dear Mr Harrington,
With the deepest regret I have to inform you the sad news conveyed to you last night regarding the fatal accident to your daughter, which occurred yesterday afternoon, and in which the pilot of the aircraft was also killed.
It is appreciated that this must be a very severe blow to you and your family, and the sincere sympathy of all her friends in the Air Transport Auxiliary goes out to you in your bereavement. Your daughter was very well liked by everyone who knew her and her death is a great loss to this organisation."
"Dear Miss Gower,
It was most kind of you to send a personal note to us about dear little Janice. I can assure you we are proud indeed to be the parents of a girl who gave up her safe profession as a domestic science teacher for the dangerous one, and only regret she was not spared longer to serve the noble cause you represent."
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery, beside Dora Lang:
"In proud and loving memory of 'J'"
[Seconded from RAF]
John Walter Hawkey b. 2 Jun 1920, Parkhill, Ontario, Canada 19 Mar 1943 to 24 Jan 1944
Father: Joseph John Hawkey (d. 1921)
Next of kin: (mother) Mrs Beatrice Belknap [Hill] Dixon, Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada
prev. exp. 265 hrs on Harvard, Fleet, Master, Spitfire
prev. RCAF, RAF
Enlisted in Toronto in 1941, received his 'wings' 12 Jan 1942 from St Hubert, Quebec and was posted to England.
"Has had a lot of posting and little flying so browned off"
Postings: 5TFPP, 3FPP
5TFPP: "He is regularly ferrying Hurricanes, Masters and similar types. It will not be long before he is flying Spitfires. His general character is good... a well-disciplined NCO [he was a Flt-Sgt at the time]"
When with 3FPP, he stayed in accommodation at 5 Waltham Place, Cliveden Rd, Chester (Mrs B J Kelly)
30 Nov 1943: "This pilot requires hospital treatment and is unfit for flying. He will be admitted to Preston Military Hospital tomorrow."
He reported back on the 9 Dec 1943, but died a few weeks later in an accident:
d. 24 Jan 1944 in Mostyn Hall Military Hospital nr Chester, following an accident the day before in Beaufighter X NE474, piloted by First Officer (RAF Sgt.) Eric Brunskill, which was hit by Mustang AG597 landing on the wrong runway at Hawarden. Pilot Officer E Vincent, RCAF, was also a passenger and suffered severe burns.
Buried Blacon, Chester, Sec. A. Grave 1073
After his death, his landlady Mrs Kelly went every week to put fresh flowers on the grave, and to keep it tidy.
Also commemorated on his mother's grave at Mars Hill Cemetery, McGillivray, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada
"Beatrice (Hawkey) Dixon 1886-1975
P/O John W. Hawkey RCAF 1920-1944 Killed on Active Service at Cheshire, Eng."
M.839 First Officer David Russell Hayward b. 7 Jun 1920, Adelaide, Australia 9 Dec 1942 to 21 Apr 1945
Father: Edwyn Walton 'Jim' Hayward CBE, OBE, a director of John Martin's department stores [d. 1933], mother Eileen Frances [Russell, originally a New Zealander]
Moved to the UK when 5 years old [but wrote 'Australian' on his application form]
m. 1941 in London, Peggy Alice Georgina [Farmer]
prev. RNVR; Fleet Air Arm 27 May 1940 - 4 Sep 1942 Temp. Sub-Lieut (Air) on HMSs Furious, Argus, and Eagle
prev. exp. 200hrs in Tiger Moth, Magister, Battle, Gladiator, Master, Proctor, Swordfish, Albacore, Skua, Roc, Fulmar, Hurricane
Address in 1942: c/o H L Farmer, Esq., 31 Eresby House, Rutland Gate, London SW7
Discharged as unfit for First Line flying - he was "consistently ill at sea"
Postings: 9FPP, 1FPP
Two accidents, one his fault:
- 15 Dec 1943, he undershot the runway during a forced landing in Walrus HD916 after engine failure and/or bad weather; he sustained head injuries and concussion, and spent 3 weeks in hospital at East Grinstead.
d. 21 Apr 1945 in Fairchild Argus II HB595, which crashed 3/4 m west of RAF Lasham.
He had arranged to sleep in the aircraft, which needed to be at White Waltham early the next morning, after attending a function in the RAF Mess. He may have lost track of time though, as he took off at 03:30, failed to fully open the starboard fuel cock, and crashed.
Buried Maidenhead - 21W Section D
M.403 First Officer Stanley Richard Herringshaw b. 2 Mar 1905, Erith, Kent
6 Apr 1941 to 23 Jan 1944
ed. at Elborow and Rugby
m. 1936 Myra Helen [Small], 3 children
RAFO from 1928 to 1941; Studied Engineering at Imperial College London, then an Aeronautical Draughtsman for Fairey & Co.
prev. exp. 188 hrs in 'Hart, Audax, DH87, DH Tiger Moth, Miles Hawk, Blackburn B2'
Address in 1941: 12 St Mary's Walk, Hayes, Middx. Later moved to "Ashfield", Milmer Rd, Burnham, Bucks.
Originally applied to ATA in Aug-1940 but withdrew owing to 'circumstances beyond my control', and re-applied in Mar-41.
"A keen, hardworking pilot who is progressing well, and developing into a first rate ferry pilot. Discipline Good." [Frankie Francis] He was offered a place as an instructor but turned it down as he wanted to continue ferrying, and felt he did not have the right temperament to be an instructor.
d. 23 Jan 1944 [Died in ATA Service] in Beaufort N1001 which crashed at Chobham, Surrey, after a fire in the port engine caused by a 'seizure of a wrist pin'.
Buried Maidenhead (Section D No, 16W)
Third Officer [Flight Engineer] Stanley Edwin Cooke also died.
W.49 * 3rd Officer Bridget Grace Marian Ledger Hill b. 7 May 1914, Camberley 15 Aug-41 to Mar-42
Prev. Exp: 78 hrs solo
Bridget's father was Major-General Walter Pitts Hendy Hill and they lived in Amesbury, Wilts.
She earned her RAeC Certificate in Feb 1939 in Wiltshire. That September, within a fortnight of war being declared, she wrote to Marion Wilberforce;
"I am writing to know if you have any sort of flying job to offer me. I had almost completed my instructor's course, during which I did some blind flying - this was interrupted by the outbreak of war. I do hope you can find some use for me, as I adore flying and have spent everything on my training as an instructor."
And, to back her up, her instructor wrote "I hereby certify that Miss Bridget Hill has carried out 108 hours flying, of which 78 have been solo. During her training as a pilot she has shown very good progress, and as a cross-country pilot I would place her as above average.
She has learned quickly and has displayed remarkable common sense in the matter of estimating the weather in the interests of safety.
While flying here she started an instructor's course and, although this was not completed, she gave evidence of ability as an instructor."
She was actually a bit too early: "I regret to inform you that we are not considering employing lady pilots in the ATA at the moment. In any case the minimum solo flying experience requred is 250 hours. We are filing your letter, however, and if in the future the position should change we would get in touch with you."
They didn't, of course, get in touch with her, so in May 1940 she wrote again, and was offered a test.
This, as she admitted later, was a disaster: "I am more than aware what a mess I made of my test, but I think the strongest nerves could hardly help being affected by waiting from 10 to 5 with so much at stake!"
However, by December of 1940, she was brave enough to write to Pauline Gower, again; "There has been so much in the newspapers of the expansion of the ATA, that I have decided to risk bothering you again by writing to know if there is any hope for me."
This time they wrote back to say No (again) - and you still need at least 150 hours.
Most people would probably have given up by now, but Bridget was made of sterner stuff. She took a job driving a mobile canteen but, here she is again, on the 10 Mar 1941: "I am answering the appeal made on the wireless this evening by Lord Londonderry to members of the Civil Air Guard and holders of 'A' licences.... I am hoping that there is some chance of my being able to be of service."
At last, they relented, and offered her another test on the 2 April 1941. She was grateful, excited, and a bit apprehensive; "One is bound to be a bit rusty not having flown for so long..."
Her test was with Margaret Cunnison, and this time it went OK - "quite good, but would need some further training".
Even then, there was another couple of months' wait until, finally, she got the call: "Please report 15 July for 15 Aug."
She was delighted.
Kitty Farrer, the ATA Adjutant, filled in a little essential background knowledge: "She tells me she is a Baha'i, but would be satisfied with any form of christian burial!"
After 4 months at Hatfield, she was posted to Hamble, then Training Pool. Her flying instruction went well. "She is shaping very well indeed. An intelligent, hard-working pilot. Expected to do well." She completed 23hrs on Tiger Moth, 4hrs 45min on Magister.
She was seconded to No 15 Ferry Pool (Hamble) on the 19th Jan 1942, and made 75 ferry flights, totaling 129.35 hrs, in the following few weeks. She flew Tiger Moths, Puss Moths and a Wicko.
Sadly, however, she was killed at 12.20pm on the 15 Mar 1942 when flying as a passenger in Fairchild Argus HM178, which stalled and crashed onto a bungalow when returning to land at White Waltham after bad weather.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 17 Mar 1942: "AIRWOMEN KILLED Ferry Pilots' 'Plane Hit Bungalow. The Ministry of Aircraft Production announces that Flying Officer Graham Lever, Third Officer Bridget Hill, and Third Officer Bessie Sayers lost their lives in a flying accident on Sunday. The accident occurred in the course of their duties with the Air Transport Auxiliary. The 'plane crashed on to a bungalow. A fourth passenger in the machine, also a woman A.T.A. officer, was injured. Twenty-six people were injured when they rushed to the house to extricate the passengers in the 'plane. It is believed that the petrol tank in the machine exploded. The injured woman passenger was Third Officer P. D. Duncan."
THROWN CLEAR At the inquest, which was adjourned until April 14. the Coroner stated that Miss Duncan, who was in hospital, had had "an extraordinary escape." It is understood that she was thrown clear of the house as the 'plane crashed, and escaped with cuts and bruises. Among the injured were children who were in the street. The petrol tank exploded some time after the crash, owing, it is believed, to contact with a fire in the kitchen. A man named Croft, living in an adjoining bungalow, was blown through a window into the street and badly hurt but a child in the front room of the bungalow was rescued almost uninjured. "
She is buried in Britford Cemetery.
[Her older brother, Brigadier Stanley James Ledger 'Speedy' Hill, DSO**, MC, was a World War II Commander who joined the British Airborne Forces at an early stage, fought in North Africa and went on to play a vital role in the D-Day landings and the crossing of the Rhine:
"My Dear Miss Gower, I must write and tell you once again how happy in, and proud of, her Corps Bridget was. It was all one great adventure for her, and her purpose in life was to make it a success... The man who stood next to me at her graveside would have been her husband and it is so sad to think that they were deprived of that great happiness."
"I wouldn't have had my darling in any other service... it was a wonderful life and she was so supremely happy."
M.734 First Officer Frank Hill b. 14 Oct 1912, Great Yarmouth 31 Mar 1942 to 20 Mar 1945
Father: Frank Powell Hill, mother Edith Caroline [Brewer]
Ed. Bishops Stortford College
prev. Confectioner, Cake Maker and Caterer
prev. exp. 86 hrs in Gipsy and Cirrus Moth, Hornet Moth
In 1933, as a result of a motorcycle accident, his left leg was amputated between the knee and ankle... "as I learnt to fly in 1935 you will see that all my flying has been done with this disability"
m. 1938 Marjorie Muriel [Clogg]
He spent 1939 and 1940 as a volunteer in the Finnish-Russian War
Address in 1942: Blue House, Warren Lane, Hopton, Gt Yarmouth
Postings: 7FPP, 3FPP, 6FPP, 9FPP
Reprimanded in Jul 1944 for "Taxying with insufficent care"
"Although of a quiet nature, he seemed very keen to do his job and this he carried out in a satisfactory manner... safe and conscientious"
"A most reliable and cheerful officer who has become the mainstay of the Pool (9FPP)"
6 accidents, only one his fault:
17 Mar 1943, forced landing in Henley L3244 due to progressive engine failure
5 Jun 1944, the port tyre of his Typhoon JR205 burst, he swung of the runway and ground-looped, and the undercarriage collapsed
10 Jul 1944, the incident which led to his reprimand - he taxied Hurricane IV LF451 into an (unmarked) heap of gravel and cement bags. Flying Control was jointly held to blame
13 Oct 1944, a forced landing in Vengeance RB539 after the port escape panel blew off in flight
7 Feb 1945, another forced landing, in Typhoon Ib RB476, after a leak covered the windscreen with oil
d. 20 Mar 1945 (Died in ATA Service) - in Anson I DJ471 (passenger James Waldron Brown, also killed) which collided with Typhoon JP433 at RAF Aston Down, Glos.
Both aircraft were approaching to land, but neither pilot could see the other, and the Typhoon struck the Anson from behind and above.
Buried Hopton St Margaret Churchyard, Gt Yarmouth
"My great burden has been eased by the glowing tributes paid to my husband" Marjorie M Hill
The £2,500 insurance was paid to Marjorie on 30 April 1945.
M.---- First Officer George Washington Holcomb b. 1 Jun 1909, Georgia 12 Dec 1940 to Mar-41
Electrical Engineering Diploma
prev. Asst Manager in retail seed business
prev. exp. 800 hrs
d. 27 Mar 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Miles Master T8822 flew into a hill in bad visibility
buried Whitehaven, Cumbria
[Seconded from BOAC]
Herbert John 'Horse' Horsey b. 26 Nov 1899, Cheshunt, Herts 1 Jan 1940 to 6 Jan 1941
RNAS and RAF in WWI, then joined Supermarine, followed by British Marine Co. as a flying-boat captain on the route from Southampton to Guernsey. When BMC became part of the newly-formed Imperial Airways in 1924, he was one of their 16 founder-pilots.
In June 1927, he created a new record for big passenger aeroplanes, by flying from London to Cologne in one hundred and sixty minutes, at an average speed of 130 miles an hour.
Address in 1932: 138 King's Hall Rd, Beckenham, Kent
d. 6 Jan 1941 (Died in ATA Service) after he hit cables and crashed on 2 January, 2.5 miles NW of Wroughton ferrying Curtiss Mohawk IV AR658.
G.P. Olley wrote in his obituary: "An atmosphere of gloom settled over the war-time base of British Overseas Airways Corporation when the tragic news came through that Captain H. J. Horsey ('Horse' to his friends, and that meant every one) had died suddenly from the injuries he had received in an accident some days before."
Gordon reported that, a few days before, "poor old 'Horse' was concerned that he had broken his clean record - up to then, he had never had a major crash, or harmed a hair of the head of a single passenger."
Herbert is buried in Hatfield Heath, Essex.
M.791 2nd Officer William Charles Lyndon 'John' Humphrey b. 31 Jul 1917, Dublin 8 Jul 1942 to 20 Aug 1943
Father: William E Humphrey, mother Harriet V
Ed. Gresham School, Holt; Jesus College, Cambridge
prev. RAF 1940-41 AC2 pilot under training; Sep 1941 Royal Navy
Address in 1942: Holton Hall, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin
d. 20 Aug 1943 in Spitfire VIII JF844. The aircraft dived out of cloud into the ground at Luckley Farm, nr. Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, and was destroyed. "The pilot was probably flying too near the cloud base and inadvertently entered a patch of low cloud, thereafter losing control of the aircraft."
Buried Whitechurch Cemetery, County Dublin, Ireland
M.772 First Officer John Denis Hurley b. 3 May 1913, Dublin 17 Jul 1942 to 18 Dec 1943
Father: Denis Hurley (a retired police superintendent), mother Elizabeth Mary [Madigan]
Ed. Christian Brothers School, Dublin
prev. RAFVR 25 Nov 1940 - 19 Jan 1942 (LAC Cadet Pilot) at Reading
prev. exp. 93 hrs on BA Swallow, Tiger Moth, Magister
Address in 1942: 30 Clondarf Rd, Dublin / 75 Cambridge St, Victoria, London SW1
March 1942: "Last November I made an unsuccessful attempt to join your organisation as a pilot. If you will be good enough to read on I think I can now show some reason to suppose I could measure up to your medical exam now, if you give me another chance."
John explained that he had recently been rushed to Charing Cross Hospital for an operation on a perforated duodenal ulcer. "I had been a stomach sufferer, on and off, for many years... now that that is all over, I feel pretty good, and without the accompanying pain."
They did give him a second chance, (obviously), and he passed both the medical and the flying test.
Postings: 8FPP, 16FPP
"Good type of Irishman" (!)
"A steady and reliable pilot whose flying is methodical and his drill good. A good officer."
2 accidents, one his fault:
- 24 Feb 1943, he taxied his Argus FK347 into a "small brick structure - "7ft x 5ft x 3ft" and damaged the wing
d. 18 Dec 1943, when ferrying Hampden AD736 from Aldergrove to Hawarden. He approached the landing at Hawarden "rather low" and the port engine failed. The aircraft, turned, rolled over and crashed inverted. "Insufficient evidence to determine responsibility."
Buried Mt Jerome Cemetery, Harold's Cross, Dublin
In Loving Memory John Denis Hurley 30 Clondarf Road Died 18th December 1943
Also My dear Husband Denis John Hurley
Died... June 1956 Aged 79 Years
M.777 First Officer Reginald John Richard Jackson b. 1 Nov 1908, Cheltenham, Glos. 8 Jul 1942 to 23 May 1945
Father: Richard William Jackson [a retired builder], mother, Mary Elizabeth [Turbyfield]
Ed. Cheltenham Central School
m. 1930 Elsie May [Martin], 1 son
prev. Transport Contractor (own business); RAFVR Sgt, 2 Jun to 10 Dec 1941
prev. exp. 17 hrs on DH Moth
Address in 1942: 54 Eldon Rd, Cheltenham
Postings: 4FPP, 3FPP
"A keen pilot of average ability who completed by flying the Hurricane very well. "Inclined to be careless at times... a good navigator"
In Jun 1944, he requested a transfer to 9FPP (Aston Down), to be near his wife, who had been suffering from poor health and was unable to get any domestic help, but this doesn't seem to have happened.
Reprimanded in March 1945 for Loss of Ferry Pilot's Notes
Three accidents, two definitely not his fault:
2 Dec 1943, he was initially blamed for overshooting a landing in Defiant TT.1 AA493. However, it was subsequently discovered that the approach speed published in the ATA Pilot's Notes was incorrect if the turret had been removed, so he was exonerated, and the figure amended.
- 7 Aug 1944, during a take-off from Crosby, the navigator's escape hatch of his Beaufort I JM546 detached and damaged a propeller
d. 23 May 1945 in Tempest V NV666 which disappeared during a flight from Hawarden to Kirkbride.
By the 3 Jun 1945 no further news had been received, so they presumed that he had crashed into the Solway Firth, or the Irish Sea.
On the 6 June, his wife Elsie wrote to the ATA: "Of course I have realized for some time that there was no hope of the safe return of my husband. Naturally it was a deadful shock to my son and me, and I have been quite ill over it...I must admit that I will find this rather difficult financially... I have had many offers of loans from relatives, but daren't accept them until I know what position I shall be in with regard to re-payment"
The ATA continued to pay Reginald's salary [£370 a year] until presumption of death was formally established, and eventually paid the £2,500 insurance to Elsie on the 21 Jan 1946.
"my husband was very proud of being a member of ATA and loved his work"
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial
and on Cheltenham's War Memorial:
with thanks to Reg's grandson, David, who also tells me: " My grandmother did not talk about him much (it was old and tragic news to her), and neither did my father (I suspect that he did not know his father well as he was sent to boarding school when young and may not have seen a lot of him)... I found out quite by accident that he is commemorated in Cheltenham when visiting (I was born in England but have lived for most of my life in Canada). I did not know the memorial was there, walked past it quite by luck and was astounded to see his name as I had no idea it was there."
M.823 * First Officer Donald Alexander Jameson b. 30 Mar 1910, Redhill, Surrey c. 1 Jul 1941 to 24 Apr 1943
prev. a stockbroker
Address in 1939: Doran Court, Redhill, Surrey
m. Oct 1940 in Surrey, Beatrice Joan [Allen]
- 2 Nov 1941, the propeller of his Spitfire AA969 was damaged, due to pilot "taxying across a strong wind without a man on the tailplane"
- 11 Nov 1941, damaged his Hurricane RE467 when he retracted the undercarriage before being properly clear of the ground
d. 24 Apr 1943 (Died in ATA Service) Mustang AG471 blew up and crashed 1m SW of Bottisham, Cambs, on a ferry flight from 12MU Kirkbride to Bottisham
Buried Christ Church, Shamley Green, Surrey
Warrant Officer / First Officer
[Seconded from RAF, Ser. No. 968927]
Charles Aidan Vernon Jefferys b. 30 Aug 1910, Tetbury, Glos. 15 Dec 1942 to 10 Mar 1944
Ed. St Pauls School
m. Dec 1934 Mary Gertrude [Burton] in Stroud, Glos.
prev. an 'Engineering Representative'
prev. exp. 394 hrs plus 1.45 hrs night on Tiger Moth, Magister, Lysander, Oxford, Blenheim, and Wellington.
Address in 1942: The Woodlands, Malpas, Newport, Mon.
Seconded due to a) lack of night flying experience, and b) being of a 'highly nervous type'.
"A keen and sensible type of N.C.O. who should prove a useful ferry pilot. He was somewhat slow in emergency but he possesses good air-sense and is unlikely to come to grief."
" A very nice type whose flying is unfortunately not too good. He is under-confident and does not use his head but tries very hard."
d. 10 Mar 1944 (Died in ATA Service) in Wellington II W5385 which after an excessive take-off run, rose slowly and then struck trees 1/4 mile N
NW of Aldergrove aerodrome en-route Vickers Armstrong Shawbury.
Technical examination showed the elevator trimmers and trimmer control to be in the 'fully nose-down' position. "Evidence also showed that the pilot did not do the preliminary cockpit check in the normal fashion, since he took over the aircraft with engines running and did not run them up. The pilot appears to be to blame for this accident."
"Always in the thoughts of wife Mary and son Peter."
In April 1944, Mary wrote to the Under-Secretary of state for Air, the Rt Hon Harold Balfour, to ask for his help: "As you know it was always understood that Peter should follow on at his father's school St. Paul's and he should be starting this coming winter as a boarder. Public Schools as you know are somewhat heavy on the pocket consequently it is imperative that I leave no stone unturned to improve my pension."
She reckoned that, due to Charles having being seconded from the RAF as an NCO, her pension would only amount about 2 guineas a week. He was unfortunately not eligible for the ATA death insurance payment of £2,000.
Peter did start at St Paul's, but by September 1945 Mary wrote again to say that she found her RAF pension "quite inadequate to cover his expenses and tuition."
Could the ATA, therefore please help them to emigrate to the USA? She wanted Peter to finish High School, and then Harvard "at my fiance's expense". Perhaps they could allow her 'free or reduced passage by way of practical appreciation of my husband's services and death?"
They said, well, no, or to put it another way: "It does seem that there is no justification and no argument that we could put forward in any way that will enable us to assist her in her request." Perhaps her fiance could stump up a bit extra?...
Anyway, Mary married Irvin B Miller in Sep 1946 in Newport, and sailed to New York in July 1947, stating that she was intending to stay in the USA.
W.12 First Officer Amy Johnson CBE b. 1 July 1903, Hull 25 May-40 to Jan-41
Mrs Mollison from 1932 to 1938
Amy was 'a slight young woman with heavily lidded eyes, dentured teeth, a shy smile and a soft Yorkshire accent' [she later developed a rather fake upper-class BBC one, possibly under her husband Jim's influence].
By 1929, a secretary (albeit one with an economics degree, and an engineer's licence to go with her aviator's certificate) turned solo record-breaking pilot and all-round nation's sweetheart. Married for six years to Jim Mollison (which was a Big Mistake).
On May 26th, 1932, after her solo flight from America, Amelia Earhart was the guest of the Royal Aero Club in London, and amongst the ladies in attendance were Lady Bailey, Amy, and Winifred Spooner (less than a year before her untimely death).
"First combined aviation with work in a law office, but specialized on the former and in 1930 made a solo flight to Australia by way of learning her job. Has established a high reputation as a long-distance navigator-pilot in flights, many of which were records, to various parts of the world. Has not done much racing yet" 
Amy originally applied to join the Air Transport Auxiliary on 29 February 1940. At the time she gave her address as the 'St George and Dragon Hotel, Wargrave', and quoted her previous experience as 'approx 2,000 hrs day, 500 night'. 'Types flown' were 'Most light types, several twins, Ford Tri-motor - about 50 in all'.
The form also had a space for "have you any foreign experience?", in which she wrote 'Nearly all except S. America.' She was, shall we say, not your typical ATA applicant.
After being made redundant, like Joy Davison (q.v.), when National Air Communications closed down, she spent the next few months trying to find something better, but to no avail. On the 20th April, ATA Womens Commandant Pauline Gower wrote to her to ask if she was still interested in joining, and, if so, "I shall be glad if you will forward us by return your log book and licence for inspection". Two days later Amy sent the documents, but asked if they could be returned as soon as possible, as she needed them for her medical examination on the 7th May.
A week later, Amy received a circular letter: "Dear Madam, We are holding interviews and flight tests here on Monday next, the 6th May, at 11a.m. Kindly let us know if you intend to be present". She wrote a short note back on the 2nd May:"I note the arrangements for Monday at 11a.m. & will be there".
This was the famous occasion when Amy turned up and saw another applicant "all dolled up in full Sidcot suit, fur-lined helmet and goggles, fluffing up her hair etc - the typical CAG Lyons-waitress type."... "I suddenly realised I could not go in and sit in line with these girls (who all more or less looked up to me as God!), so I turned tail and ran."
Luckily for her, when she telephoned ATA to make some excuse about having the 'flu, they said the job was being kept open for her anyway, the test was just a formality, and she could start when she liked. Which she duly did, on the 25th May, as a 2nd Officer.
Her initial instructor's report was OK: "A good average pilot who had no difficulty in converting to both Master and Oxford aircraft. Should be suitable for modern single engine service types and multi-engine trainer types. With a further period of dual should be quite suitable for Blenheim type."
Despite her extreme reluctance to join the ATA in the first place, clearly thinking it was beneath someone with her great experience (she thought she could have had Pauline Gower's job, "if I had played my cards right and cultivated the right people"), Amy settled well into the job and "worked hard and conscientiously". She was promoted to First Officer on July 1st 1940.
She was killed 5th January 1941, aged 37, after baling out into the Thames Estuary from Airspeed Oxford V3540. It seems likely that she was run over by the boat trying to rescue her.
A flurry of urgent telegrams and letters hurtled around on the 5th and 6th January, as everyone tried to find out what had happened to her:
ADDRESSED TO ALL RAF FLYING UNITS AND WESTON SUPER MARE FROM AIR MINISTRY: OXFORD V3540 MISS AMY JOHNSON LEFT SQUIRES GATE 1045 HOURS 5/1. REQUEST NEWS OF ANY SUBSEQUENT LANDING IMMEDIATELY. ALL UNITS TO ACKNOWLEDGE.
They all replied, along the lines of this one from No 3 Ferry Pool, Hawarden: REGRET HAVE NO INFORMATION REGARDING F/O AMY MOLLISON OXFORD V3540 (They obviously forgot she was divorced).
By the evening of the 6th, the concern was for the second of the two people thought to have been on board: IDENTITY OF PASSENGER OF OXFORD V3540 PILOTED BY MISS A JOHNSON WHICH LEFT SQUIRES GATE 1045 5/1. TWO PEOPLE BALED OUT IN THE ENGLISH CHANNEL IDENTITY OF SECOND UNKNOWN
It was headline news in all the papers, of course:
Gloucester Citizen, 7 Jan 1941: "AMY JOHNSON DROWNED. BALED OUT OVER THAMES ESTUARY. Amy Johnson, the airwoman, is feared to have drowned after baling out of her plane over the Thames Estuary on Sunday. A woman passenger with her in the plane also baled out, and they came down some distance from a boat. An Officer who jumped into the sea in an effort to save them is also believed to have drowned. Just before Miss Johnson baled out her plane was seen to dive towards the sea. A speedboat put out immediately, but the men aboard failed to find her or her passenger. The flight authorisation papers from her machine were, however, picked up from the sea.
A Good Swimmer. Her father. Mr. W. Johnson, a Bridlington fish merchant, was telephoned by Miss Pauline Gower, head of the Air Transport Auxiliary, saying that the wreckage of his daughter's aeroplane had been found in the sea. Mr. Johnson told our reporter:— " Everyone knows Amy's skill as a pilot. If there had been any chance of getting the machine down safely she would have done it. She must have been injured, too, before she landed in the water, for she was a good swimmer. 'We were looking forward to having her home at Christmas, but she had to cancel her visit because of flying duties. I spoke to her last Saturday night. She was very cheerful. She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary six months ago. She knew it was a risky job, but she felt she had do something for Britain, and flying was the job she knew best. Our one comfort is that she gave her life for her country.'"
The mystery of the 'passenger' was addressed by Pauline a few months later:
Hull Daily Mail, 27 Aug 1941: "AMY'S LAST FLIGHT Miss Pauline Gower, Commanding the Women's Section Air Transport Auxiliary, stated yesterday at a London luncheon that she had checked Johnson's last flight and had "absolutely no doubt how she died" in the Thames Estuary last January. The famous airwoman, Miss Gower said, ran short of petrol in bad weather, and when she baled out "it was just bad luck that she happened to be over water. In baling out the type of 'plane she was flying it is often necessary to jettison a door, and this door coming down may have given rise to the rumour that there was another passenger aboard."
Pauline wrote to Amy's parents on the 10th January: "Apart from the loss to the Nation of one who, by her achievements, had endeared herself to all, we are suffering our own particular loss. Since she had been with me, she not only proved herself to be a pilot of the calibre one might expect, but we had come to rely on her and she had made friends with all and sundry."
Amy's aircraft included:
a 1928 DH.60G Gipsy Moth (G-AAAH) which she named 'Jason', and is now in the Science Museum;
a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-AAZV, 'Jason II';
a 1930 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-ABDV, er, 'Jason III'.
After 1930 she owned:
a 1932 DH.60G III Moth Major, G-ABVW,... ummm, let me guess... yes... 'Jason 4', and
a 1932 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ACAB, 'The Desert Cloud'
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial:
M.65 * First Officer Ernest Arthur David 'Jim' Kempster b. 9 Oct 1900, Leighton Buzzard c. 15 May 1940 to 29 Jun 1945
prev. a motorcycle speedway rider
Early days at White Waltham, Anson taxi pilots - Ronny Malcolm, Douglas Fairweather (M104), Jim Kempster and Harry Ellis (M139)
d. 29 Jun 1945 (Died in ATA Service) Anson I DG916 crashed into River Rhine en route Le Bourget to Pilsen due to bad weather.
Flt-Engineer Harry Race was also killed, and he is buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.
Jim Kempster's body was never found.
Commended for "valuable service in the air", 14 Jun 1945
M.24 Flight Captain Donald Ian Menzies Kennard b. 3 Apr 1895, Prestwick 11 Sep 1939 to Sep-42
prev. Scots Greys, Highland Light Infantry;
RFC then RAF 1914-1919, 1921-22 (retired due to ill health)
pre-WWII racing and professional pilot - about 7,000 hrs exp on light types
d. 15 Sep 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Liberator III FK217 swung on take off at Boscombe Down, hit a hangar and caught fire. Flt-Eng FH Moseley also killed; 2 other aircraft damaged.
Tony Phelps (q.v.), who was due to fly in the Liberator, wrote about it later: "Not Ken. It just couldn't be Ken. One of the Grand Old Men of flying. A founder member of the ATA and one of the best pilots who ever lived."
His ashes were scattered off the coast of Scotland on 22 Sep 1942.
W.52 First Officer Dora Lang b. 30 Mar 1914, London 8 Sep 1941 to 2 Mar 1944
Father: Thomas William Tily, a Garden Contractor, d. 1969; Mother Amelia [Fielding] (m. 1902) of 103 Stanlake Rd, Shepherds Bush
One brother (Thomas William II, b. 1902) and a sister Amelia May (b. 1904, d. 1967 in Cape Town, SA)
m. Oct 1935 Henry Albert Lang, a motor engineer
She joined the government-subsidized Civil Air Guard flying scheme, and got her RAeC Certificate in March 1939. She gave her occupation then as 'fancy goods manufacturer'.
Intriguingly, she referred to herself then as 'Miss Dora Tily'.
Prior to WWII, she had 12 hours solo on Gypsy Moth, B.A. Swallow and Miles Magister (later supplemented by, as she wrote, '26 hours duel with the RAF') - she was a Corporal in the WAAF, stationed at Hornchurch in Essex as a 'plotter'.
She wrote originally to the ATA in March 1941, following an appeal put out on the wireless by Lord Londonderry:
I possess a pilot's 'A' licence and would very much like to qualify as a ferry pilot. I have 25 hours in my log book and have since done some passenger flying in RAF machines (Magisters). I am studying for a navigator's licence. I would be pleased of the opportunity to fly at my own expense to complete the required number of solo hours necessary to qualify for the advanced training provided under your scheme. I will be very eager to hear if any arrangements can be made.
ACW Dora Lang."
She got the standard reply at the time which was a) you need more hours, and b) we have no training facilities so, No.
She didn't give up, though; she wrote back straight away to say "I am informed by the Air Ministry that I may be able to do the training in Southern Ireland. Can you tell me how many hours I need?"
Well, they said, 50, although people may come here for a flight test with 30.
While she was mulling this over, (things changed quite rapidly for the ATA as 1941 wore on), on the 29 July they said, actually, "there are a few vacancies, come to Hatfield for a flight test."
She took her test on the 9th August, it was satisfactory, and she reported for duty on the 6th September as a Second Officer.
Postings: 6FPP, 4bFPP, 15FPP
She flew 17 hrs on Moths, 2 on Harts, 8 on Magisters, and a Swordfish, and was posted to training pool in March 1942. Her instructors' reports were consistently positive: "This pupil came to ATA at practically 'ab initio' stage, but very satisfactory progress made in school has been furthered during stay with T.P. and she should make an excellent ferry pilot. Keen and quietly confident.... very active and attentive".
In May 1942 she went on the conversion course for Hurricanes, and was then posted to Prestwick in July. She was recommended for Class 4 conversion at an early date: "an intelligent and conscientious pilot whose flying is neat and tidy. "
She was promoted to First Officer in March 1943.
She had an 'incident' in June 1943, for which she was held responsible; when taking off in Spitfire BL991, she attempted to retract the undercarriage too soon after take-off and the throttle slipped back, allowing the aircraft to sink until the propeller tips hit the ground.
Otherwise things progressed well, until the 2nd of March, 1944, when she had two accidents in rapid succession.
She had just been off sick for 2 days, but said she felt better. With her Flight Engineer Janice Harrington (q.v.), she ferried a Hudson VI FK458 to RAF Cosford, but then ground looped on the icy runway, causing slight damage to the port wing, which she did not report. She and Janice had examined the undercarriage but couldn't see any damage; she then had lunch at RAF Cosford, and "both she and her flight engineer appeared very calm and cheerful, and neither showed any sign whatever of tiredness or strain."
Marion Wilberforce wrote that "F/O Lang was a most straightforward officer, and I feel convinced that she would have reported the possibility of damage to the wing had she suspected that such might have occurred. If such damage had been revealed her Pool C.O. would have been contacted before she was allowed to leave the Pool."
They were allowed to leave, however, and she and Janice were then killed in Mosquito VI HP932, which crashed on approach to Lasham.
The official report says "Whilst approaching to land the aircraft appeared to undershoot slightly, the throttles were opened gently and then fully, whereupon the aircraft climbed sharply 100 feet, stalled, crashed and was destroyed.
Insufficient evidence to determine the cause, but it is clear that upon the application of full power the pilot failed to get the stick forward quickly enough to prevent the nose of the aircraft rising.
Insufficient evidence to determine responsibility."
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery - Sec. D. Row W. Grave 18
Janice was buried alongside her - Sec. D. Row W. Grave 19.
On the 10th, her husband wrote: "during her service with the ATA my wife always received the greatest kindness, and she was very proud to be serving in your organisation."
On the 3rd May, her mother added this: "I know my daughter was very happy in her work & with her many kind friends in the ATA & wish to thank them for all their sympathy in our great loss."
It looks like Henry remarried almost immediately - in October 1944 - to Margaret C Cowper, and died in 1950.
The location of her log books (which may have been given to Henry, or Dora's parents, at the cessation of hostilities) is unknown.
M.113 * First Officer Aage Valdemar Helstrup Laursen
b. 23 Nov 1915, Copenhagen 26 Aug 1940 to Nov-40
(naturalised Canadian 1932)
previously (from Jul 1939) a Pilot Officer in the RAF. Before that, he had been involved in a flying accident whilst being carried as a passenger, and this "seemed to affect him when he had to be carried as a passenger or member of the crew". However, they said "I have no hesitation in recommending him as a pilot. He has more sense of responsibility than most pilots of his age".
d. 4 Nov 1940 (Died in ATA Service) - Oxford R6019 flew into hill at Brynford nr Holywell, Flintshire, in poor visibility
buried Hawarden, Cheshire
M.228 First Officer Philip Francis Lee, Jr b. 14 Dec 1905, Baltimore, MD 17 Aug 1940 to Aug-41
Learnt to fly in 1928, then was an airline pilot, circus joy-ride pilot and instructor.
prev. exp. 1,150hrs
Address in 1940: Dayton, OH
Postings: 3FPP, 6FPP
Seconded to Atfero 20 Mar 1941
He was offered an extension to his 1-yr contract, but declined: "It is purely a matter of finances as I have enjoyed working for your organisation."
d. 14 Aug 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - one of four ATA pilots, travelling as passengers, amongst the 22 killed in the crash of Liberator AM260. Others were Elbert Anding (M.316), Buster Trimble (M.112) and Martin Wetzel.
The cause of the crash was that "the pilot in command [Cpt Richard Charles Stafford of BOAC] started the take off procedure from runway 06 which was not suitable for the takeoff as it was too short for such aircraft."
Philip's widow Nell Cole Lee was also, like Mrs Anding, convinced that BOAC or Atfero was responsible by negligence for his death, and in fact threatened to sue them for damages. The situation was not cleared up until 1943, when the British Government agreed to provide her with an ex-gratia payment of $8,000, of which $2,000 was invested for her 2 children (Helen Cole Lee and Francis, who was born after Philip's death).
She then wrote, "May I offer you my sincere thanks and appreciation for the grant. While it is true that the death of my husband did not leave me in dire straits, it is also true that my children will not have all the advantages in life that they would have had had he lived."
The official ATA report summed it up in November 1944: "Thus, a case which had developed a very unpleasant atmosphere, and might well have left an unhealed focus of bitter anti-British sentiment, was concluded on an entirely satisfactory note."
M.181 First Officer Alexander Ronald Leslie-Melville b. 13 Dec 1905, Chelsea, London 4 Dec 1940 to Jun-42
prev. a journalist
prev. exp. 'about 700 hrs'
RAF 1924-30; entered Cranwell from Eton, Jan-24 ; P/O from Dec-25, eventually F/O
Invalided out "solely through being unfit for tropical climates"
RASC Nov-39 to Apr-40 (Driver)
RAE Farnborough Jul-40 to Dec-40, to do Pilot's Notes on aeroplanes. "The work I am doing is a useful one, but I do feel that there must be many better-qualified people to do it who for one reason or another cannot fly, and I really believe I would be more use as a pilot."
1 Sep 1940, he wrote:
"Dear Mr d'Erlanger,
You may not remember me, but we were at Eton together (I was at S.G.L.'s, 1919-23) & I remember you perfectly well, although we did not happen to come across each other very much.
I happened to see Keith Jopp today at Boscombe Down, who told me that you wanted experienced pilots in ATA. I believe you would find that I was all right, & for my part there is nothing I should like more than to get back to flying..."
He was offered a contract on the 16th September; after his 15-minute Tiger Moth flight test, the Chief Flying Instructor recorded that he was "above the average", except that " He flies with a little too much abandon and all turns are too steep"
He was posted to Kirkbride (west of Carlisle, the 16th and last Ferry Pool to be opened), but his father died in October 1941, and he applied for a transfer to be nearer London to wind up the estate. This was not possible, however, and he wrote to ATA a month later:
"I have suffered from Lupus Erythematosus since 1928... since joining ATA a year ago I have been able always to go to London to get the regular treatment, from the doctor I have had for years, that this complaint necessitates... I must therefore request to be posted immediately to White Waltham, with permission to take one day off a week instead of two consecutive days a fortnight."
While this was being considered, he had a car accident, in December 1941; this left him with severe concussion and some 'postconcussional phenomena such as slight giddiness on turning quickly". His doctor wrote "I recommend that he not return to flying for at least three months."
In fact, he did not return to flying until May 1942, doing a refresher course from 8 May to 2 June. He had made arrangements to move into a small cottage owned by Anthony Phelps (q.v.), but before that could happen he was killed in a flying accident.
d. 12 June 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane AG680 crashed into a hill at a height of over 1500ft in Keld, N Yorkshire, in poor visibility and low cloud.
He was blamed for the accident, having persisted too far over high ground in bad weather. Also, "He failed to obtain weather information for his route before taking off and continued to fly in conditions worse than those prescribed in ATA Standing Orders."
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery
"They shall mount with wings as eagles"
M.353 First Officer Graham Oliver Lever b. 31 Dec 1914, Hook, Hants 21 Mar 1941 to Mar-42
prev. ground engineer
RAF trainee pilot, Jun-40 to Feb-41 - "The reason for his withdrawal from training is due to the failure to pass his examinations."
prev. exp. 166 hrs
Address in 1941: Dixons Rd, Broughton, nr Stockbridge, Hants
He bought himself this 1932 Aston-Martin Le Mans, [registered APG 410, previously owned by Richard Shuttleworth; it still exists] in September 1941, for £175.
d. 15 Mar 1942 (Died in ATA Service) piloting Fairchild HM178 which stalled and crashed on approach to White Waltham. His fellow ATA pilots Bridget Hill and Betty Sayer (qqv) were also killed; Pamela Duncan (qv) was thrown from the aircraft during the crash and suffered burns.
He had turned back due to bad weather, but was held to blame for the accident.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 17 Mar 1942: "AIRWOMEN KILLED Ferry Pilots' 'Plane Hit Bungalow. The Ministry of Aircraft Production announces that Flying Officer Graham Lever, Third Officer Bridget Hill, and Third Officer Bessie Sayers lost their lives in a flying accident on Sunday. The accident occurred in the course of their duties with the Air Transport Auxiliary. The 'plane crashed on to a bungalow. A fourth passenger in the machine, also a woman A.T.A. officer, was injured. Twenty-six people were injured when they rushed to the house to extricate the passengers in the 'plane. It is believed that the petrol tank in the machine exploded.
Among the injured were children who were in the street. The petrol tank exploded some time after the crash, owing, it is believed, to contact with a fire in the kitchen. A man named Croft, living in an adjoining bungalow, was blown through a window into the street and badly hurt but a child in the front room of the bungalow was rescued almost uninjured. "
buried at Broughton Church, Hants
Aston Martin offered £50 for his car - "we are afraid that the recent petrol restrictions have severely hampered car sales."
M.127 First Officer Robert Serge 'Bobby' Loewenstein b. 17 Jun 1910, Brussels 15 Jul 1940 to Mar-41
prev exp 350hrs. Owned a Stinson
A Company Director. Son of the famous financier.
He wrote to Gerrd d'Erlanger: "I am told that I have an opportunity of joining the Fleet Air Arm, but as I have offered my services to you and I have two friends, Leo Partridge and Rupert Bellville, in the ATA, I would naturally prefer to join your organisation."
Address in 1940: Woolley Grange, Littlewick Green, Nr Maidenhead
Next of Kin: a) Mr Jack Misonne, Villa Begonia, Biarritz, France, b) Mrs Burnaby, Thorpe Satchville, Melton Mowbray, Leics.
Waived his ATA salary: "It is my opinion that everyone who is in a position to undertake war work without remuneration should do so. Therefore I suggest my salary be paid towards the start of a charity fund for the pilots [and dependents] of the ATA."
d. 29 Mar 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Blenheim V6263 stalled and crashed on undershot approach to White Waltham.
Millionaire Buried At Twyford
Fellow-members of the Air Transport Auxiliary attended the funeral last Thursday of Pilot-officer "Bobby" Lowenstein, the millionaire owner of the Pinfold, Thorpe Satchville. who met his death as the result of accident at an air port.
A requiem mass was held In the early morning at Melton Catholic church, and during the afternoon a service for Protestant friends was conducted by Father A. E. Bermingham.
The coffin lay in state in front of the altar, draped with the Belgian flag and the Union Jack By it was a hoseshoe of flowers in the Belgian colours. After the service the coffin was taken to Twyford. for the interment.
It is believed that Pilot-officer Lowenstein had only two relatives alive, an aunt and an uncle, now in Biarritz, who escaped from Belgium at the time of King Leopold's capitulation."
Grantham Journal, 10 Apr 1941
M.543 2nd Officer Jack Allen Marcus b. 30 Sep 1909, Kansas City MO 22 May 1941 to 29 Aug 1941
father: Aaron (dec'd), mother Leah (or Ada)
ed. Lathrop Trades, Kansas City
moved to New Orleans c. 1928
m. Katharine [san Salvador]; 1 daughter [Kathleen Mary] b. 1940
prev. a charter pilot for Crescent City Airways, New Orleans
prev. exp. 1,800 hrs
Address in 1941: 1140 Toledano St, New Orleans, Louisiana
Postings: Training Pool Only
d. 29 Aug 1941 (Died in ATA Service), in Lysander T1675. He flew too far into bad weather and hit a hillside at New Luce, nr. Castle Kennedy, Scotland. He was also carrying a passenger (against regulations, as he was still a trainee), LAC Costine from the RAF.
He was assessed as being to blame for the accident.
Buried Glebe Cemetery, Stranraer:
"2nd Officer Marcus was of a cheerful and engaging disposition and had many friends during his comparatively short period of service with ATA."
His daughter Kathleen was born 11 months before Jack's death. His wife Katharine "made no spontaneous appeal for financial assistance", so the ATA asked the Red Cross to see if she needed any.
As it turned out, she did; Jack's death had left her living with her mother-in-law (who was in poor health) and unable to work because of the baby, on the $50 a month Social Security (Survivor's Insurance), of which she gave her mother-in-law $25.
The ATA decided to award her the full £2,000 ($8,000) insurance money, with half of it being invested in long-term US War Bonds for the benefit of the baby.
Katharine wrote to the ATA on 4 Jul 1942, "I am happy to inform you that I am in complete accord with your plan and most grateful for your generosity."
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M --- 2nd Officer / Air Gunner David Aaron Marks b. 31 Dec 1909, Holloway, London 16 Oct 1940 to Dec-41
prev a Fruit Broker
"A keen and intelligent man"
d. 26 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - as passenger in Hudson AE489 which flew into ground at Stewarton, 15mi NE of Prestwick, in thick fog.
Pilot Lee Garlow also killed.
Buried Jewish Cemetery, Willesden NW10
"He was very popular with every one he came in contact."
Sgt / First Officer
[Seconded from RAF]
Francis Robert Marsh b. 17 Sep 1921, Bromley, Kent 1 Dec 1942 to 29 May 1944
Father: Francis Alexander Marsh, "Trading Business"; mother: Eliza Ann Grace [Lawrence]
m. 1942 in Bromley, Florence Elaine [Berryman]
prev. An Accountant; RAF from 21 Dec 1940 to 30 Nov 1942
prev. exp. 112 hrs on Tiger Moth, Harvard, Master, Spitfire in the UK and Canada
Address in 1944: 35 (later, 48) Roslin Way, Bromley, Kent
Postings: 3FPP, 7FPP
"Has not proved satisfactory at this Pool [3FPP]. He is slow in obeying orders and gives the impression that he feels that obedience to an order should not clash with his own convenience. As a pilot he is over confident and does not use his head."
"[7FPP] Discipline: Improved... should show more keeness in his job but otherwise handles his aircraft in what appears to be a safe manner... will not be ready for Class 4 until he loses his over-confidence"
- 18 Feb 1943, forced landing in Hart K6522 at Luton after he saw smoke coming from the engine (coolant leak)
d. 29 May 1944 - his Beaufighter NV195 disappeared on a ferry flight from Sherborne to Lossiemouth. A similar aircraft was seen (by two fishermen) to crash in the Firth of Forth at about that time, and then a fuel tank belonging to this aircraft was discovered on 30 May by a Mr. Martin Thorburn, a painter from North Berwick.
1 Jun 1944 - "Thank you for your letter received this afternoon. It was, as you say, very much of a shock for me. Somehow one expects these kinds of things with Bomber or Fighter Command but not so much with ferrying.
I suppose you have no idea how the accident occurred. Was it due to a fault in the aircraft or in the engine? Or was it the weather? He was usually very careful - more than ever lately as I am expecting a baby in September, Please give me any further information as soon as possible. Yours Sincerely, Florence E Marsh"
Their daughter Janet was duly born in September 1944.
Francis' body never being found, he was finally presumed deceased on 2 Feb 1945.
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial:
W.55 3rd Officer Joan Esther Marshall b. 20 Aug 1913, Port Elizabeth, SA 1 Oct-41 to Jun-42
Prev. Exp: 30 hrs solo
Joan was educated 'privately' in South Africa, and moved from there to Northumberland in 1926, aged 13, with her family - father Walter (a farmer), mother Eda, 2 elder sisters Brenda and Eda, and brother John.
She then went to the College of Domestic Science, Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, and from there she became Catering Manager for Airwork at Heston, working for Susan Slade (q.v.); she earned her RAeC Certificate in 1937, in Gloucester.
She originally applied to the ATA in December 1940 (Susan had started with the ATA the month before), citing as her next of kin her sister Brenda Anderson, of Dyce, Aberdeenshire. By then she had 60 hours flying experience, of which half were solo, on "Moth I, II, Avro Cadet, Cirrus Moth, Leopard Moth, and Whitney Straight".
Things then moved quite quickly (Susan must have put in a good word), and the following February (1941) she went for a test; Margaret Cunnison reported that she was "worth training and has the makings of a good pilot. Needs about 5 to 8 hours dual".
As was often the case, she was then told to stand by, as there was no vacancy.
And then a vacancy came up in July; they wrote to her and said "Can you report September 1st"; she wrote back and said "Sorry, no - Airwork need me until October. I am very disappointed indeed."
"Never mind", they said, "we can wait", and she duly started on the 15th October 1941. She was billeted in North Mimms (you may know it, lovely place) at 2 guineas a week.
She trained on the Miles Magister: "Her general flying is fair and shows average ability, but as her navigation was not yet up to OC standard, I have recommended further training. She misjudged a forced landing, but appears to understand the necessary procedure... average ability, keen, sensible; enthusaism apt to outweigh caution in selecting weather".
She was appointed Cadet on the 15th Feb 1942, then Third Officer 6 days later. She was off sick for a few weeks in March, with a chest infection then tonsillitis.
Sadly, she was then killed on the 20 Jun 1942, in Master I N7806 which spun into the ground when approaching to land at White Waltham. The official report said it was due to "a spin caused by stalling on a turn during a landing approach, for which it has been impossible to find a reason."
She was buried in Maidenhead Cemetery (Sec. D. Row K.K. Grave 24.); her pall bearers were Pauline Gower, and her fellow Third Officers Winnie Pierce, Louise Schuurmann, Katie Williams, Mary Wilkins, Irene Arckless, and Benedetta Willis.
Pauline wrote that "her general character and behaviour were excellent in every respect", and her sister Brenda added that "we know that she was very happy in her work at White Waltham and that, if it had to happen, she would most certainly have wished to die as she did, flying."
[Seconded from RAF, Serial No 1292918]
Deryck John Michael 'Mickey' Martin b. 21 Aug 1919, Bridport, Devon 15 Dec 1942 to 11 Oct 1943
B.Sc. (Lon) at King's College, 1940
Address in 1942: 34 Marlow Rd, Maidenhead
prev. RAF 21 Oct 1940 - 15 Dec 1942
prev. exp. 127hrs in Tiger Moth, Harvard, Oxford, Wellington, in UK and S. Rhodesia
"Although the above-named member of the RAF is a clever and intelligent fellow, it is unfortunate that he suffers considerably from air-sickness. If he could overcome this difficulty, he should prove to be a very good ferry pilot."
17 Aug 1943, he was held to blame for a take-off accident in a Wellington.
"All through his training he has been exceptionally keen, well behaved and willing but his flying has been rather erratic and not as sensible as would be expected from his experience and intelligence."
d. 11 Oct 1943 (Died in ATA Service) in Hurricane I L2026 which crashed at Cranage Farm, Kilmany, Fifeshire, after engine failure.
buried Baptitst Chapel, Marlow Rd, Maidenhead (where his father Arthur was the minister)
"He was a popular young man; he was a member of the Maidenhead Tennis Club and his wide circle of friends deeply mourn his loss."
M.29 Flight Captain Walter Mason b.18 May 1892, Bury St Edmunds 11 Sep 1939 to Nov-42
1918-25 Military Accounts Dept, Puna, India
Director of Mason & Co, Military Bootmakers, Catterick Army Camp Yorks
(click to enlarge)
A "careful and conscientious, but rather nervous pilot"
d. 21 Nov 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Typhoon Ib DN251 crashed at Banbury Farm, 1.5 miles SW of Burwarton, Shropshire in bad visibility
This was his first accident, having safely delivered 482 aircraft.
M.537 2nd Officer Stephen William McFarland b. 6 Mar 1918, Mt. Vernon, OH 1 May 1941 to Sep-41
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):
[Seconded from RAF]
John Christopher Milliken b. 19 Sep 1922, Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire 6 Jan 1943 to 20 Aug 1943
Father: Mr Herbert Ernest Milliken (a farmer turned "broadcasting official"), mother Charlotte Jane [Goodbody]
prev. a farmer
prev. exp. 125 hrs in Stearman, Vultee, Harvard, Oxford, Wellington (some of this in Georgia and Alabama, USA - he trained at the Chicago School of Aviation in Albany, GA from August 1941)
RAF Sgt from 4 May 1941, based at RAF Shawbury and Lossiemouth; suspended due to 'inability to see & fly well at night"
Address in 1943: Bicknell Farm, Blagdon, nr Bristol
"Has worked hard throughout [his Class 3 & 4 training] and although he started rather poorly has proved quite steady and should make a good type of ferry pilot. Average ability."
d. 20 August 1943 in Barracuda II BV759, which crashed in a field nr. Rufford Bombing Range, Mansfield, Notts after engine failure following a carburettor fault. Delivery from Blackburn Aircraft, Brough, to 15 MU (RAF Wroughton, Wilts)
"1316791 Flight Sergeant J C Milliken. Pilot, Royal Air Force. Sometime of Bicknell Farm"
Buried St Michael and Angels Churchyard, Butcombe, Somerset
M.---- Cadet Eric David Mills b. 19 Jun 1907, Manchester 10 Jun 1941 to 28 Jun 1941
F/O in RAF 1928-32
prev. in Advertising with Chestor Studios, London
d. 28 Jun 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - in Miles Magister P2402 (William Hampton, the pilot, fractured his skull) which collided with Fairey Battle R7372 while both were landing. George Kemp (see above) and Philip de Walden Avery (see above) in the Battle were uninjured.
buried Marylebone Borough Cemetery
M.1043 3rd Officer James Milson b. 2 Dec 1911, Chilton, Co. Durham 27 Dec 1943 to 15 Nov 1944
Father: William Sowerby Milson, mother Frances [Evans]
Ed. "Public School"
He emigrated to Canada in May 1928, describing himself as a "Pony Driver" looking for "Farm Work"
m. 1935 in Swansea, Canada, Myrtle Davina [Geldart]. She was 18, also from Durham, England but had moved to Canada as a one-year-old. They had one son, James William, b. 1935
prev. cleaner; cutter grinder for John Inglis Co.
Address in 1943: 5 Emmett Ave., Mt. Dennis, Ontario, Canada
"He came to Canada some fifteen years ago and, under local regulations, is now considered to be a Canadian citizen. In view of this and the fact that he has a home and family over here, it was felt that he should be offered a Dominion Contract."
He was the last American or Canadian pilot taken on by the ATA : "We felt morally obligated [to him] at the time overseas recruitment ceased."
Postings: 5TFPP, 16FPP
d. 15 Nov 1944 when ferrying Seafire III NN494 from Kirkbride to RNAS Donibristle, which crashed at Pettinain near Carstairs in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. The crash happened as he broke out of cloud in a snowstorm and hit the ground near Grange Hall Farm.
He was judged to be 'at fault', having persisted too far in bad weather.
Buried Tudhoe, Co. Durham:
"Beloved husband of Myrtle
A Silent Thought
A Secret Tear
Will Hold his Memory Dear"
"Those connected with [the ATA] who had cause to know T/O Milson thought very highly of him and deeply regret his untimely end."
M.656 First Officer Rev. William Byrd Lee Milton b. 17 Aug 1907, Baltimore, Maryland 22 Jun 1941 to Feb-43
Brother of Rev. Marshall McCormick Milton, also an ATA pilot - 'The Flying Parsons'. (see above)
m. to Frances Gordon Thornton, from Fredericksburg, 1 daughter.
prev. Priest (Rector of St John's Episcopal Church and Merchant's Hope Church, Prince George County, VA);
Civil Engineer. Chemist.
2nd Lieut., US Army 307th Cavalry Reserve Jun-29 to Jun-34.
Said he had owned a Taylorcraft, Piper Cruiser, and "Stinsons"
Address in 1941: Fredericksburg, VA
"Extremely keen and steady type. This pilot tries very hard but lacks natural aptitude and is inclined to be heavy-handed."
"He would make a good officer if he talked less and paid more attention to his appearance."
Head of ATA Gerard d'Erlanger replied to him in October 1941; "In reply to your memorandum of October 9th, I sincerely appreciate your offer to act as honorary chaplain to the ATA, but regret that I cannot see my way to acquiesce thereto. [which I think means "No"].
Thank you nevertheless for the suggestion."
While on leave in Virginia Beach in July 1942, William sent a nice postcard to Flt Captain Stock, the Establishment Officer for the ATA:
1 incident and 1 accident:
- 4 Nov 1942, Hampden force landed after engine problem.
- 14 Nov 1942, Martlett IV swung after take-off and starboard undercarriage collapsed. Pilot to blame.
d. 23 Feb 1943 (Died in ATA Service), ferrying Beaufort DX118 from 44 MU Edzell to 5 OTU Long Kesh, N. Ireland which suffered starboard engine failure "on a type on which single-engined flight is critical" and crashed on Brownhart Law, near Makendon, Northumberland.
Map Coords 55.383333, -2.333333
In 2014, Jim Corbett found "a lot of wood and plexiglass from the nose section" on Brownhart Law:
His CO, Bert Yardley, wrote: "Milton was a strange personality, and had a strange mentality towards his job. My pilots usually go straight to destination. The Royal Observer Corps have plotted Milton for me and I find he rarely takes a straight line, but wanders all over the place. He left Edzell about 2 hours before the other four pilots and it is my carefully considered opinion that he employed his usual method - getting above the cloud (against which he has been warned) and in this case got lost. Instead of going back to where he knew it was clear, he thought he was further East than he actually was and thought to break cloud over or near the coast, with disastrous results. From experience I know this to be a most treacherous strip of country and cannot be trifled with."
A silver chalice was presented in 1948 to St John's Episcopal Church, Hopewell, in his memory.
M.285 First Officer Stanley Eric Mitchell b. 26 Aug 1918, Hastings
24 Feb 1941 to 25 Sep 1941,
30 Jan 1942 to 6 Sep 943
Father: Thomas Edward Mitchell, a Hotel Keeper; mother,Ada Agnes [Clements],
Ed. Clarks College, Ealing
prev. Royal Navy; Air Branch RNVR 21 Feb 1939 - 6 Jun 1940 then Sub-Lt, RNVR (HMS Tormentor, Warsash, Hants)
"Suspended from flying duty due to a failure to complete the fighter deck landing course"
prev. exp. 122 hrs on Hart, Master, Skua, Roc, Gladiator
m. Oct 1941 in Somerset, Tessibel Maria [Phillips] (b. 1922 d. 2015)
Address in 1941: Worcester House, West Hill Rd, Bournemouth.
In 1942: Glen House, Saltford, Somerset
Postings: 2FPP, 8FPP
On 26 September 1941, the contracts of 4 pilots were terminated and they were taken on by BOAC, "for special work":
"I have instructed First Officers Worcester, MacCallum, Thornhill and Mitchell to report to you immediately... these are the officers I have selected from the applicants for duty in Africa and I feel pretty certain the first three will prove entirely suitable... Mitchell I am not so sure about..."
but three of them (Worcester, MacCallum, and Mitchell) were given three months notice after a few weeks, and reverted to ATA.
"An average pilot whose general flying is satisfactory, but he should pay more attention to accuracy, His accidents do not appear to have affected his flying, although he did show signs of nervousness with the Blenheim"
"Very keen to get on with the job"
In August 1942 he delivered 42 aircraft; his C.O. Leonard Leaver said, "I must admit it is a heavy month's work"
"He has been of great service to the ATA"
6 accidents, 4 his fault:
- 29 May 1941, pilot error in a Spitfire caused the selector lever to stick
- 29 Jan 1942, forced landing (due to running out of fuel, not his fault) in Hereford L6100, with undercarriage retracted . [A complaint was also lodged against him, for taking off from the wrong runway]
- 12 Apr 1942, uncontrolled swing when landing Beaufort IN1105 too fast, caused an undercarriage leg to collapse
- 5 Jul 1942, he had engine trouble with Beaufighter EL235 and overshot the forced landing, striking telephone wires and stalling (not his fault)
- 20 Jul 1942, heavy landing in Hurricane IIc HV310 and broke an undercarriage leg
d. 6 Sep 1943 in Beaufighter VIF ND173 at St. Athan. He took off with the tail trim fully aft; the aircraft climbed steeply then stalled and crashed.
Cremated at Pontypridd Crematorium
He died intestate, so his wife Tessibel inherited his estate of £1,400, (which included the £2,000 insurance provided by the ATA).
M.387 First Officer Cyril Walter Morris b. 30 Apr 1912, Mansfield 6 May 1941 to 17 Sep 1942
Ed. Central School, Coventry
m. Jan 1936 Lorna Grace [Hill], of Coventry House, Dunton Bassett, Rugby; 1 daughter Josephine b. Q3 1936
prev. a Builder and Contractor; Sergeant in RAF, 2 Nov 1939 - 4 Apr 1941
prev. exp 151 hrs on Leopard Moth, Swallow, Avro Tutor, Chilton, Taylorcraft & Cub
Address in 1941: 240 ~Walsgrave Rd, Stoke, Coventry
Postings: 6FPP, 3FPP
"This officer gives occasional trouble on questions of general discipline and behaviour, both on and off duty.... he is very sure of himself... very cocksure and self-opinionated"
"Quite a capable pilot"
5 Accidents, only one deemed to be his fault:
- 11 Dec 1941, his Hurricane IIb AP594 sank so deeply into unmarked piece of soft ground that it nosed over, 'in spite of men on tail', damaging the propeller
- 13 Mar 1942, in another Hurricane, N2666 the gun compartment cowling came loose in flight
- 3 Apr 1942, he taxied his Anson into some barbed wire due to 'bad cornering in difficult conditions, and with a stiff tailwheel pivot'
13 Jul 1942, the port undercarriage leg of his Beaufighter IV EL241 collapsed on landing, and
d. 17 Sep 1942 when he lost control in cloud (which was 10/10ths at 1,000ft) and his Spitfire Vb EP893 dived into the ground at Saighton, nr Chester, shortly after take-off from Hawarden
Buried St Michaels Cemetery, Stoke, Coventry
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
MARCH 19TH 1961, AGED 74 YEARS
ALSO OF HIS WIFE
MAY 12TH 1961, AGED 75 YEARS
CYRIL WALTER MORRIS
AIR TRANSPORT AUXILLARY
IN PROUD AND LOVING MEMORY OF
A BELOVED HUSBAND AND DADDY.
KILLED SEPT. 17TH 1942.
HIS ONLY THOUGHT WAS TO SERVE
"To: Commanding Officer, ATA,
I am writing to thank you most sincerely for your letter expressing your personal sympathy in my sad loss and for all the kindness you have shown & the help you have given me.
Our small daughter is a great comfort to me & I trust she too will one day be proud to know that you held him in such high esteem as a pilot, & that he died serving his country.
Yours Sincerely, Lorna G Morris"
M.737 First Officer Robert Graham Morris b. 29 Dec 1910, Epsom, Surrey 15 Apr 1942 to 3 Jan 1945
Father: Alfred G Morris. Mother: Elizabeth Marian [Turner], of Dunnose Cottage, Bonchurch, Isle of Wight
Ed. Kingston Grammar School
m. 1939 Barbara Katherine [Mew], one son Robert J. b. late 1944/early 1945
prev. Ground Engineer for Air Service Training, Hamble
prev. exp. 8 hrs in Moth, Spartan, Avian, Aeronca
Address in 1942: 22 Crowsport, Hamble, Hants
Robert originally applied to the ATA in March 1941, but his recorded hours (8) were too low for him to be considered, and it wasn't until the Director of the Isle of Wight Flying Club certified that he had another 20 hrs unrecorded that they re-considered. His flight test was in November 1941.
Postings: 1FPP, 2FPP, 7FPP, 6FPP, 16FPP, [RNAS Arbroath], 9FPP
"An average pilot and a good navigator" "Morris has very little experience prior to joining ATA and should be treated very gently."
Early on, his instructor reported that "while some progress has been made he does not possess any real aptitude for flying", but later reports were much more positive: "A confident pilot of better-than-average ability"
- 2 Mar 1943, when his Wellington X LP249 nosed over having been caught by a gust of wind. Pilot to blame for not keeping the stick central or forward, for taxying down-wind
- 26 Aug 1944, in Mustang III FB199, which veered sharply to starboard on take-off, reason unknown.
d. 3 Jan 1945 in Auster PJ222 which hit trees and crashed near Gatwick Airfield, during a ferry flight from 20MU Aston Down, to B56 [Belgium]. He was flying in gusty conditons and was not strapped in, so possibly he lost control after striking his head on the roof.
Insurance of £2,500 was paid in March 1945.
Buried St Boniface Church, Bonchurch, Ventnor, Isle of Wight.
M.1005 3rd Officer John Platt Murphy b. 2 Aug 1911, Manchester 31 May 1943 to 25 Nov 1944
Father: John Henry Murphy, a Water Works Engineer; mother Margaret Elizabeth [Gosling]
Ed. Manchester Grammar School, Manchester College of Technology
m. 1938 in Stockport, Alice [Webster]
prev. Director and Printing Works Manager, Dean & Co, Stockport; "in control of a staff of approx. 120 employees"
"Not exempt - recently de-reserved"
Ab initio pilot
Address in 1943: 29 Daylesford Rd, Cheadle, Cheshire
"As a regular reader of 'Flight' for some years, I am very keen to fly and regret that circumstances did not enable me to join the RAF as a pilot when still young enough.
Sports: Swimming, cricket, tennis and lacrosse
Hobbies: Gardening, photography, foreign touring, amateur motor engineering"
Postings: 5TFPP, 16FPP, 7FPP, 3FPP
Salary: £285 p.a. from 26 Jul 1943
"This pilot had not flown before he came to ATA. He has proved slow to get started on new things but keen and hardworking." "He is on the nervous side and his flying would improve if he put more dash and decision into it."
3 accidents, one his fault:
- 13 Dec 1943, in Magister N4583; the undercarriage collapsed on landing due to the brakes binding
- 22 Jun 1944, his Harvard IIb FX285 nosed over when he applied the brakes while taxying to take-off. He was blamed for this, as he had previously noticed that the brakes were 'fierce'
d. 25 Nov 1944 in Barracuda II MX709, which flew Into the ground at Annesley North Railway Junction ("near the signal box"), nr Hucknall, Notts in bad visibility during a ferry flight from 15MU Wroughton to RNAS Dunino.
"There is a conflict between eye-witnesses who are positive that the aircraft was on fire before the crash, and the evidence from subsequent technical examination which strongly indicated that fire only occurred after the crash."
"Insufficient evidence to determine the responsibility for this accident."
Buried Cheadle Cemetery, Manchester
Probate of £3124 15s 7d was granted to Alice on 27 January 1945.
Alice married Rowland Pollitt in 1948; he died in 1971.
W.125 3rd Officer Lesley Cairns Murray b. 22 Jan 1917, Edinburgh 1 May-43 to Apr-45
Prev. Exp: 6 hrs solo
Having learnt to fly under the Civil Air Guard scheme in 1939, Lesley first applied for the ATA in March 1941:
Mrs Clayton suggested that I should write to you for information with regard to the possibility of joining the ATA.
I am enclosing my pilot’s log book from which you will see that I have not had very much experience [she had 6 hours solo]. This is due to the fact that I started flying under the CAG Scheme, and had to have my lessons at the weekends whenever possible, or on occasional evenings after work. Civilian flying was stopped very shortly after I got my A Licence. My log book seems to be complete with the exception of one trip, dual, to Le Bourget, France, and an hour’s landing practice, solo, on about the last flying day before the war.
I know that it is impossible to judge future possibilities on such limited experience, but my instructor at Horton Kirby Flying Club seemed quite confident that I would make a good pilot, and suggested that I should take an instructor’s Licence with a view to teaching there.
I would be most obliged if you would keep my log book and licence until such time as you think it possible for me to have a test or an interview.”
It proved to be a long wait. Meanwhile, she joined the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, continued to send letters asking to join the ATA, and continued to get rejection letters back.
Finally, two years later in March 1943, she got an interview with Pauline Gower, and went for her flying test. It’s a wonder she could remember anything at all about flying an aeroplane, but she scraped through somehow:
“A highly educated girl but appeared nervous during the examination [blimey, there's a surprise]. Somewhat under confident but careful.”
On the 22nd May 1943, she finally got her long-awaited call-up to the ATA, and grabbed the chance with both hands. Her final training report in July 1944 says this:
“This pilot promises to become a ferry pilot of high order. She tackles all her work with quiet confidence and it is difficult to believe that she had so little experience prior to joining ATA. Her discipline and appearance are both excellent and she will be an asset to any Pool she joins.”
Sadly, she died within a year; on the 20 April 1945, her Hudson V AM854 got out of control and spun into the ground near Popes Field, Taplow, Berks.
buried in Chislehurst cemetery, Kent
Cadet Geoffrey Bernard Regan also died with her.
M.30 First Officer Carill Stanley Napier b. 29 Apr 1907, London 11 Sep 1939 to Apr-41
6ft 1½in. Educated at Radley, 1921-29
Learnt to fly at Stag Lane, 1928
Apprenticed to Petters Ltd, Yeovil 1928-29, then Ricardo, Shoreham 1929-30
Son of the famous engine-maker Montague.
Competed in the King's Cup in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1937
"His one recreation apart from flying is the commendable indoor sport of darts. Believes that air-racing is good fun only when taken not too seriously.''
Technical Director and engine test pilot to Cirrus Hermes Engineering Co., and then from 1937 Chief Engineer (Engines) for Blackburn Aircraft Ltd.
prev exp 1600hrs. Owned 1931 Avro Avian G-ABIB
d. 29 Apr 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - on 3 Jan 1941, his Blenheim L1100 swung on takeoff from West Raynham and hit a hangar. Investigation showed that Carill had neglected to tighten the throttle friction nut, which was a contributory factor.
He was taken to Kings Lynn Hospital suffering from spinal, ankle and head injuries, then transferred to RAF Halton on the 8th February but died there from sepsis which led to heart failure.
Fellow pre-WWII air racer Peter Richards said "He was always cheery and a first class companion. If I had any technical troubles he would take endless trouble to help me out."
M.382 2nd Officer John Alexander Nathan b. 21 Dec 1917, Oxford 22 Apr 1941 to 8 Feb 1942
Find A Grave Memorial
Ed. Bryanston School, Blandford; Jesus College, Cambridge (BA Hons, Geography)
Next of Kin: (mother) Phyllis M Nathan (later Poyser) Savernake, Thurlestone, S Devon, later Stratfield Mortimer, nr Reading, Berks
prev. Sgt in RAFVR; Link Trainer instructor, RAF Uxbridge, Oct 1940 to 28 Jan 1941 "Unfortunately, his ability to lecture is not up to the required standard... he has applied for his release from the RAF"
prev. exp. 72 hrs in Puss Moth (G-AAYC, belonging to his father Major A A Nathan), Moth, Tiger Moth, Avian. Member of the Civil Air Guard, Cambridge University Aero Club; 'B' Certificate for gliding.
Address in 1941: Green Firs, Wellhead Lane, Westbury, Wilts
He actually passed his flight test on 20 Dec 1940 ("Good material. Requires training and practice flying to bring him up to the 100 hrs total"), but it took the ATA until 13 Apr 1941 to call him in.
Postings: 2FPP, Training Pool, 6FPP
His instructor, J Watson, rated him "Quick to learn, intelligent. A trifle lacking in confidence, but will doubtless improve with experience"
2 accidents, both deemed to be his fault:
- 1 Jun 1941, a landing accident in Magister T9913;
d. 8 Feb 1942 (Died in ATA Service); after landing Tiger Moth BB691 at RAF Ouston, he turned into the path of a landing Spitfire.
"It is with profound regret that I hear of the fatal flying accident of Mr Nathan, a most lovable young man who, along with the rest of his friends, has given his all, to benefit us." R A Gill, Manager, National Provincial Bank, Beaconsfield
Buried St.Mary Churchyard, Stratfield Mortimer, Berkshire
W.97 2nd Officer Mary Webb Nicholson b. 12 Jul 1905, Greensboro, N.C. 1 Aug-42 to May-43
"Subject is described as being about 36 years old and was divorced from Dr. Harris Preston Pearson. She was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on July 12, 1905 and is the daughter of Francis H and Frances M Nicholson; both described as being native born Americans.
Her parents reside at 2400 Walker Avenue, Greensboro N.C. for the past 30 years and own their house at this point. Her father is about 70 years old and is employed as a salesman by the Cole Chemical Co. of St. Louis Missouri. He has been here for several years and prior to that was with the North Carolina Bank & Trust Co. for a number of years. Public records disclose that he filed a petition in bankrupcy on June 28, 1930 and was discharged on October 16, 1930. The family is well regarded locally and informants state that subject's parents are not known to have ever engaged in un-American activities.
Subject obtained her early education in Pomono, Cal. and later attended Guilford College, Guilford, N.C., Women's College of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, N.C.
She has done considerable flying and it is reported by our correspondents that she is the first woman in North Carolina to receive a commercial pilot's license. She had been employed by the Hickory Memorial Hospital, Hickory N.C. for about one year as business manager, but had to resign from her position in October of 1936 due to an injury sustained in an accident. She later was engaged on airport promotional work for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, and in June of 1937 entered the employ of Miss Jacqueline Cochran, 300 5th Avenue, NYC, doing private secretarial work. She is employed at the above business address and also at 435 East 52 Street, NYC where Miss Cochran maintains Apartment #9-A. This latter party operates a cosmetics business but is well known as one of the outstanding aviatrix in this country.
Subject is highly regarded as to character and habits and is said to be a member of the ninety-nines which is an outstanding women's aviation organisation, as well as the National Aeronautics Association.
She is not addicted to the use of intoxicants or narcotics and is not connected with any labor or political organizations. Informants state that subject has never engaged in any un-American or subversive activities.
Subject had resided with her parents since birth up to 1936 when she moved to Hickory, N.C. in keeping with the requirements of her position at that time. She gives another former residence as 435 East 52nd Street, NYC. This is the residence of Miss Cochran and building management authorities at this address advise that subject never lived here but is well known to them in connection with Miss Cochran.
She has been living at 333 East 53rd Street, NYC since May of 1938 and leases a two rooms apartment at a rental of about $60. per month. She lives alone and is reported to be a satisfactory tenant here. Informants at the various places of residence advise that subject associates with good reputable persons coming from good class families, and in all quarters checked the opinion was expressed that subject is thoroughly American in her sentiments."
She also had to complete a 'next of kin' form, naming her father; the form was witnessed by Emily Chapin, a fellow American ATA pilot who also joined the ATA in August 1942. She gave her religion as 'Christian Scientist"; her flying hours to date were 606 hrs 36min, making her one of the more experienced women to join the ATA.
In more detail, she gave her education as:
- Pomona High School, 1922
- Guilford College, Guilford, N.C. 1923-24
- Women's College of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, N.C. 1 year - 1925
- Southern Brothers University, Portsmouth, Ohio (Secretarial Certificate) 1 year - 1928.
As for her detailed flying history, she said she "began flying July 21, 1928 at the Raven Rock Flying School, Portsmouth, Ohio. Received ground instruction and 17 hours flying time. Private license at Greensboro, North Carolina October 17, 1929. Limited commercial license at Winston Salem N.C. October 17 1929. Carried passengers on week-ends at Winston Salem until Oct. 1934.
Transport License in Wilmington, N.C. July 4th 1934. Barnstorming on week-ends in small North Carolina towns, including stunting exhibitions until February 1936. Started flying school in Hickory N.C. instructing 15 primary students between June 1 and September 20 1936. Various flying around New York and North Carolina since that time. Over 250 hours cross country flying. 7 hours link training.
Ships flown: Taylorcraft, Luscombe, Waco 10, Pitcairn Orowing, Monocoupe, DH Moth, Waco 9, Eaglerock, Challenger, Fairchild 21, 22, 24, Commandaire, Travelaire, Spartan, Cutiss Robin, OX Bird, Waco C, Waco N, Jensen Trainer, Pitcairn, Fleetwing, Beechcraft Kittyhawk, Waco F, Great Lakes, Fleet, Stinson Reliant, Stinson 105, Rearwin."
All of which was sufficiently impressive for them to offer her a position straight away.
She arrived in the 8th and final group of American (and Canadian) women aviators, together with Mikkie Allen, Emily Chapin, Gloria Large, and Bobbie Sandoz.
She started her training course but, perhaps surprisingly, seems to have found it hard going to begin with; she was signed off sick for two weeks for 'Debility/ Reactionary exhaustion' in October 1942.
On the 10th December, Cadet Nicholson had he honor to report that:
"On December the 9th, I lost my black leather handbag with black shoulder strap containing - in addition to the usual cosmetic items, handkerchief, purple fountain pen - a black leather pocket book holding the following important items:-
American Passport; Alien Registration Certificate; National Registration Card, Clothing Coupn Book, Personal Ration Card, 19 pound-notes, Autographed American Dollar note, Address Book and family photographs.
The last time I saw the handbag was when I placed it in Locker No. 13 at 09:30 hours, and I missed it at 17:00 hours when I prepared to leave the airfield for the day.
I have made a careful search of the locker and have retraced my movements during the day without success in locating trhe missing article.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, Mary Nicholson, Cadet"
.. all of which sounds pretty serious, but I'm afraid the outcome is not recorded in her file.
Anyway, less than 3 weeks later, she passed the training course and was duly promoted to 3rd Officer. She was W.97 - the 97th woman pilot in the ATA (out of an eventual total of 168).
Early 1943 therefore found her flying 'Class 1' (light single-engined) aircraft like the Fairchild Argus and DH Tiger Moth, until she went on the training course for 'Class 2' (advanced single engined) in February, passing that in March and being promoted to 2nd Officer. Her confidential report says:
"In the I.F.T.S. this pilot did some 75 hours flying and proved a steady pilot who took a great interest in her work. In A.F.T.S. she reached a good standard in technical subjects and in her navigational flying. Her Class 2 flying was steady and good. In Training Pool her work was excellent and she has all along impressed her instructors as being a cautious pilot who is out to do the best ferrying job she can. Her behaviour as an officer was good and she should prove a useful ferry pilot at any Pool, and is now capable of flying all Class 2 aircraft up to and including Spitfires."
Pauline Gower wrote to Mary's parents on the 13 May 1943:
"Your daughter Mary has given me your address as I feel I must write to you myself to tell you how well she is getting on. She is just about to pass out from her training and she has shown great powers of hard work and intelligence during the time she has been in this country. Every day she is proving her ability as a pilot and I am very pleased with her in every respect.
You will be interested to know she has now flown both Spitfires and Hurricanes and you can understand how pleased she is to have handled these aircraft which played such a prominent part in the Battle of Britain.
With kind regards, Yours Sincerely, P. Gower, Commandant Women"
Mary was posted to No. 12 Ferry Pool (Cosford) on the 22nd of May 1943.
That same day, the 22nd of May, Mary was killed when her Miles Master W9029 crashed at 17:00 hours at Littleworth, near Worcester. According to an eye-witness, the airscrew came away from the aircraft before it crashed and burst into flames.
Later technical analysis showed that a failure of lubrication to the propeller reduction gear caused a ball race to fail, and the propeller and reduction gear flew off. On gliding down the aircraft struck some farm buildings. Mary was deemed to be 'not at fault' for the incident.
Her funeral was on the 29th May. Pauline Gower is named as 'Senior Pilot to attend' on the official forms for the funeral, but Giles Whittell (via Ann Wood) states that "Gower failed to attend the funeral, even though Nicholson had been based at White Waltham. Sometimes, just when they most needed to be warm, the Brits could be breathtakingly chilly."
Whittell, Giles (2008-09-04). Spitfire Women of World War II (p. 218).
Pauline now had to write another, ghastly letter to Mary's parents, less than a month after her previous one.
"I do wish to express my very deep sympathy to you both on the loss of your daughter Mary. It grieves me very much to have to follow my last letter to you with this one of sympathy.
As I remarked to you before, your daughter was doing very well and you have every reason to be extremely proud of her. She was a good pilot, a hard worker and full of the spirit which we need so much these days.
She will be much missed by her many friends in this country and all those with whom her work brought her in contact.
Again, let me tell you how very much I feel for you in your loss.
With kind regards, Yours Sincerely, Commandant Women"
Even worse, Mary's mother had written to her on the 11th May, and the letter arrived after Mary's fatal accident. It is a normal, chatty family letter:
My Dear Mary,
I was overjoyed to receive your cable Sun a.m. Was sure a message would come from you and nothing did me so much good as to know you are well and happy.
Had cards from David, Ruth and H. And Frank & I. gave me a navy slip.
No news from Herbert, but hardly expect him to think of such things, and Julia is too busy decorating their home. She doesn’t write to her own mother, so guess I can’t expect it.
They have a lovely home and were decorating and putting in handsome new rugs from wall to wall.
Harold and Ruth have a very comfortable, attractive aptm., large enough for them, but not for company. The baby girl has arrived, & is named Ann Frances. I was so anxious for them to name her Mary Webb, and would like Ann Webb much better or Cole if they wanted to use my name. As it is Ruth has named them both for her Bro and Sister, but I think she was partial to Ann. I guess Harold doesn’t have much say so, and as Dad wrote Herbert I don’t appreciate having my name stuck in as tho for appeasement. Dad and I sent Harold $50.00 and Frank added $25, as he is hard pressed with this big expense coming on almost before he could get the other baby paid for. Eddie is not a bit like Harold, except his eyes are blue, has a long face and perfectly straight hair that won’t lie down, but is a fine sweet little boy. I hope the girl will look like the Nicholsons.
Ruth has her hands full, has help only one day a week. Harold did all the spring cleaning. He is a sweet boy as you know and so proud of his babies.
Re and Nancy are lovely girls, and beautiful, and both very bright. Re gets high grades and takes part in all the school activities. Nancy is a lively bird, beautiful big blue eyes, and sings so well, she catches tunes from the radio and sings with it so well. We enjoyed our visit with them, but have had a time catching up with my work. Have the garden in fair condition now, but have done no spring cleaning. We are raising 50 chicks in the yard, so as to having something to eat.
I went to entertain some of the soldiers all along and they like fried chicken.
Frank told me you had directed him to give me $50.00 for class instruction. I had just made my application to Mrs. Matters of Great Neck, N.Y., feeling sure the money would be supplied as I having been saving some for a time. She has her class in late summer, and I do not know yet if she can take me as they have only 30 in a class. If I do go, I sure wish you were in N.Y. I appreciate so much your thoughtfulness. But will wait to take the money later. I have my hands full with all the work here, garden, and Reading at Ch., which takes much time. I am wearing a real pretty navy sheer with lace collar, and hope to find a pretty lavender or orchid later.
We sent you a box recently, containing a w. Bottle, the man at W.Rich & Co. gave Frank with their compliments. I will get off some orange juice to you soon. Tell me if their is any special thing we can send you.
David is liking his work & is Cpl. Aren’t we proud of him, he is in the office and doesn’t have K. P. which suits him. Earl Garrett joined the Navy. Cousins Tom & Sola both passed on recently.
We have two nice quiet couples in the house now, Capt. and Sgt., & their wives & don’t enjoy smelling bacon grease and cigarettes early in the morning, but glad to help out in the very congested condition, and it makes me get up early. Lots of people I meet send messages to you.
Had a letter from one of your friends saying you are well and writing, tho we don’t get letters from you often. Dad is in W. Cas for a few days. Please write soon.
Much love Mama.
Mary was the only American woman to be killed on active service with the ATA.
Geooffrey Hudson kindly tells me that, in 2019, "on the anniversary of her death, I and a small group of fellow historic aviation enthusiasts/researchers finally marked the site of the crash of her Miles Master II in Littleworth, Worcesterhire. We felt that the fact that she was something of an aviation celebrity in North Carolina and beyond, was involved with Amelia Earhart in the founding of the Ninety-Nines’s and yet her death and crash site was unmarked was something of an insult to her memory. She was an exceptional woman.
We therefore placed a memorial plaque on the wall adjacent to the barn that her aircraft struck and burnt. The Memorial Service was conducted by the Rev Mark Badger and the plaque unveiled by John Webster of the ATA Association. We interviewed two surviving witnesses to the crash and a third later came forward. The event was covered by local news media including the BBC;-
The crash site is on private property but the current owners of the location are, with prior notice, happy to allow visitors to attend."
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip files):
M.384 First Officer Isidro Juan 'Sid' Paredes
b. 6 Apr 1907, San Antonio TX
(father Quintin originally Mexican and his mother American)
25 Mar 1941 to Nov-41
His father was the Resident Commissioner of the Philippines to the US.
Degree in Business Studies from Detroit Inst. of Technology in 1927.
Employed by the Ford Motor Co, and had a brief career as a boxer; returned to the Philippines in 1931.
Jul-37 to Jan-41, 1st Lieutenant in USAAF.
He fractured his skull in a crash on 15 Feb 1939 near Bloomsdale, Missouri, and later had plastic surgery:
prev exp. 800 hrs
married, (err, three or four, or five, times... see later...), 2 adopted children
After training on Magister, Harvard and Hawk aircraft, he progressed to Hurricane and Oxfords, then passed Class 4 training (on Blenheims) 9 Oct 1941 - assessed "a good average, with no special faults".
Back in the Philippines, the Assembly of the Municipal Council of Posserabio (?) resolved as follows:
WHEREAS, the son of the Hon Quintin Paredes, has eventually blazed a brilliant career as an aviator and an officer of the RAF thus giving testimony to the world of the capability of Filipino manhood at all eventualities in the event of war;
WHEREAS His Majesty the King of England has relieved him from duty as a pilot of a combat plane of the famous Royal Air Force and assigning him instructor for the Royal Aviators, in the manipulation of American made fighting planes and giving him rank of a CAPTAIN in the regular army thus crowning him with another glory which the Philippines should be proud of;
it was RESOLVED that
the Municipality to greet and congratulate the young aviator Isidro Juan Paredes Jr, and that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Great Aviator ISIDRO PAREDES, Jr, for his information.
However, the first time he flew a Hampden, he stalled and crashed it:
d. 7 Nov 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Hampden P5396 crashed on approach to Burtonwood Aerodrome after opening up for second circuit after mis-landing.
Philippines President Quezon (who seems to have mixed Isidro up with somebody else) wrote to Isidro's father to inform him that his son, "a volunteer with the R.A.F., participated in a British mass air raid on German-held territory and apparently was wounded but was able to land on English soil before he died." Hmmm...
Buried Sankey Cemetery, Warrington. He was the first Philippino casualty of WWII and his body was later repatriated to the Philippines, according to CWGC.
Although Isidro was only with the ATA for less than 8 months, it took them and the US Consulate until 1948 to sort out who should get his personal effects and the proceeds of his estate (which actually only amounted to a few hundred dollars - he 'left a lot of debts'). The reason was simple; there was "uncertainty over which of the four wives is the legal one".
For the record, therefore, what happened was (as far as I can make out, and using contemporary newspapers and the photos found in his personal effects):
- Isidro originally married Nena Barbast in the Philippines in 1931. The marriage was not a success and they separated, but, by 1934, "owing to the inflexibility of Philippine domestic laws" they had not been divorced.
- [He then got engaged to a wealthy 15- (or 17-) year old heiress called Colletta Mulvihill, but she ran off (with Sid's engagement ring) and married a coal-truck driver called Tom Green (or Creen), 'for a lark'.
The marriage lasted 4 days ]
- He then married Gracia M Marques, but they were divorced on 17 Oct 1938.
- Before the divorce became final, however, Isidro seems to have married Alamar Trevinio (also known as Josephine, b. 6 Nov 1915 in Texas) in Mexico c.27 May 1938.
'Best wishes and Good luck May God Bless you, Yours Josephine'
- There was later a suit for divorce filed in Texas, but it was withdrawn by Alamar. In fact, Isidro specified her as his wife and next of kin when he joined the ATA. They adopted two children (Linda Victoria, b. 6 Nov 1940 in San Antonio and Sidney John, b. 21 Jan 1940 in Chicago), and I think this must be them:
- Isidro then married Virginia Urbina on 31 Dec 1940 (again, without waiting for a divorce from Alamar). It appears that he and Virginia were later divorced.
Kate Worledge, in a strikingly similar pose to Josephine...
- Isidro then moved to the UK, and married 34-year-old Kate Worledge (a spinster, address 'The Blossom Hotel, Chester') in Chester, England, on 28 Jul 1941. He produced papers which showed that he was divorced from 'Gracia M Paredes, nee Marques'. Which was true, (she was indeed his second wife), but perhaps not quite the whole story...
Anyway, Kate moved to London and gave up all claims on his estate; what was left of it eventually found its way to Josephine, who had moved to Manila.
M.547 First Officer Cletus Lloyd 'Clyde' Park b. 9 Jul 1909, Salem in Dent, MO 15 May 1941 to Jan-42
Houston Post, October 1941
His father was Jesse L Park, mother Lula, and he had a brother and two married sisters: Sanford R, Mrs Alice Hendricks, and Mrs Lucile Faulk.
I'm not sure how he came to be accepted for the ATA; his May 1941 flight test at Uplands Airport, Ottawa, said "This applicant carried out a very poor test and due to nervousness he is not considered suitable for ferry work. FLYING WAS DANGEROUS."
This article appeared in the 'Houston Post' in 1941:
"Ferrying planes around on the British Isles is a tough job because there is so much fog. Take it from Clyde L Park, a 29-year-old former Houstonian who is now in England doing just that for the British Government.
Mr. Park started learning to fly at the Cunningham Airport in Houston last January. After 35 hours of instruction he obtained his private licence. Then he hitchhiked to Canada and received five months of training at a Canadian government school.
Park ferried a bomber to England for the RAF and stayed in Englnad to fly for the Air Transport Auxiliary. He is stationed now at the White Waltham airdrome at Maidenhead, Berkshire, England.
In a letter written Sept 14 to "all the gang" at Cunningham Airport, which bore a sticker, "opened by examiner 1541", Park said, "I will try to tell you what little I can about England and my flying here."
Scissors had been used on the letter, to clip out parts of a sentence in which Park apparently had told how long it took to cross the Atlantic and at what port he landed.
"We came to London by train", he wrote. "There were 12 US pilots and we sure blew our top the first two nights in London. Night life is quite gay in the old city, but part of it sure has been hit hard. They sent us on to White Waltham airdrome where they gave us two months training, ground school and flying. My first ship they put me in was a Harvard, which is the North American trainer with a constant speed prop, flaps and retractable gear. Boy, did I have my hands full? Ha!"
"I had an English instructor and he had a lot of patience or I never would have made it. He soloed me in two hours and I got about 10 hours on the Harvard. I went from there to [Lysanders], Battles, Hurricanes, then Spits."
"I have flown every single motor type of aircraft they have and I think the Spitfire is the sweetest one of them all. It is fast as hell but very easy to handle and doesn't have any bad tricks."
"We ferry all over the British Isles and when we have had a few months' experience on single motors they send us back to school and give us twin motor conversion. I am about due for my twins now."
"I like the job OK if the weather would stay good. But this stuff is hell, you can't tell 15 minutes ahead what it is like. We have lost two of the boys that came over with me. One flew into the hills in Scotland and the other flew into the Irish Sea. The damn soup closed in on them."
"It is good experience as we get to fly so many different types of aircraft, and it shakes you sometimes when you get one that you know nothing about where all the knobs and gadgets are. All they give us is notes on the take off, revs and cruise and you have to figure the rest out."
"Did you know Clyde Forman? He is here, doing OK. He was on the boat with Nance and one of three that got here."
Park said his rating now is first officer, with two stripes in the shoulder."
d. 30 Jan 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Hind K6838 crashed into high ground on Eaglesham Moor 10mi S of Glasgow in snowstorm. He had failed to get a weather forecast for the route before taking off.
... And I found this photo in his file:
but I don't know who she is...
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.226 First Officer Sydenham 'Armstrong' Payn b. 6 Feb 1903, Dover, Kent 23 Sep 1940 to 22 Sep 1942
Ed. 'Public School'
m. 1923 Una St Mary [Kittoe]
Address in 1940: Vince Cottage, Kingsdown, Deal, Kent
Next of Kin: (brother) Squadron Leader Murray Payn, [who had "taught Prince Bernard to fly at Hatfield", according to Lettice Curtis]
prev. a Company Director; also a racing motorist [at Brooklands, and in the 1931 French Grand Prix]
prev. exp. 390 hrs
Had owned an SE5A and a 1929 Avro 504K G-AARV [which he wrote off in an accident in 1931], but had also flown "Tiger Moth, Miles Hawk, Comper Swift, Desoutter etc"
Postings: 1FPP, 2FPP, 15FPP
"An extremely keen and helpful member of the Pool"
Rather accident-prone, though... 9 accidents in 15 months, (admittedly only 3 of them deemed to be his fault)
- 2 Nov 1940, accident in a Hurricane, "not blamed but guilty of indiscretion and poor judgement";
- 17 Nov 1940, hydraulic failure in a Master, "pilot showed good judgement";
- 18 Dec 1940, taxied a Hurricane into a parked lorry, due to low brake pressure;
- 13 Feb 41, heavy landing in a Hurricane, damaging a wing tip;
- 26 Apr 1941, landed a Spitfire with the undercarriage up;
- 8 Jun 1941, accident in a Tomahawk (for which he was deemed "Not Responsible, as information which would have helped was not available to him");
- 3 Nov 1941, collided with a stationary Blenheim in (of all things) a Handley Page Hereford, after his port engine failed, and
- 18 Nov 1941, forced landing in a Swordfish after engine failure;
- 25 Jan 1942, forced landing in a Spitfire after engine failure.
d. 22 Sep 1942, at the Victoria Hospital in Deal, while on sick leave, "after a short ilness"
Buried St James Cemetery, Dover
His brother Murray wrote to Gerard d'Erlanger: "[His death] is very sad but I would like you to know that Armstrong was very happy in the ATA."
M.55 * First Officer Leslie Arthur Phillips b. 11 Dec 1900, Northampton 18 Jul 1940 to Feb-41
prev. a builder and estate developer
d. 9 Feb 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - misjudged landing approach to Stoke-on-Trent in Spitfire P7960, stalled and the starboard wingtip and tail hit the roof of a house.
W.36 First Officer
Honor Isabel Pitman
Mrs Pomeroy Salmon
b. 30 Oct 1912, London 1 Mar-41 to Apr-43
Father Ernest, mother Frances Isabel (Butler), who was Irish. She was an heir to the Pitman (of shorthand fame) family fortune.
Honor learnt to fly originally in 1927 (at the age of 14) at the Bristol and Wessex Aero Club but "because of my age, I always had to fly with someone & could never go to other aerodromes to land." Eventually, in 1936, she passed her RAeC Certificate and had done 120 hours before the start of WWII.
She was in Australia in 1938, and then started as a driver in the 12th Oxford Motor Transport ATS on the 1st September 1939; however, when she heard that the ATA was on the lookout for people with flying experience, she wrote to them in March 1940:
"I would very much like to know if there is the possibility of my joining your section of the service? I am an 'A' pilot & have only done about 120hrs flying in small club planes - Swallows, Cadets and Aroncas, but I am prepared to take any training in any line if I could help you. 4 years ago I joined the FANYs [which I gather stands for First Aid Nursing Yeomanry] in hopes of a flying section being started, but this never materialized.... I had been hoping on my return from Australia last year to have my own plane & work for my 'B' licence but instead I have had to content myself with reading text books."
The ATS, by the sound of it, didn't want to release her, and in December 1940 she asked the ATA to "please write to my Group Commander so that she can have a letter to show the 'powers that be' that the work I am asking to transfer to will be more important than the work I am doing at this present".
Eventually she was invited to do a flight test, which she passed, although the assessment was that she lacked experience and would need to be carefully supervised during her development. She enjoyed the experience, though: "Monday was a wonderful break to this humdrum war life for me, I thought everyone was so kind."
However, as there were no vacancies at the time for less experienced pilots, she was placed on a waiting list. She wrote: "I am of course very disappointed to hear you now cannot take me, but I am still bouyed up hoping one day you may call me up. In the mean time, I have a very interesting job and am trying to persuade myself that I am lucky."
She started her probationary month with the ATA in March 1941, and became Mrs Pomeroy Salmon in June.
1942 caricature by 'Sammy' Clayton
Her subsequent flying career started well but she then suffered two accidents in two days; firstly, on the 5th March 1942, she taxied a Spitfire into an unmarked soft patch, then on the 6th the starboard undercarriage of a Hurricane collapsed.
These events left her in what was called in those days a 'very highly strung condition', and she was given a month's rest, and then a refresher course.
The instructor's report was ambivalent: "This pilot needed a refresher and has benefitted by being returned to school. Her chief fault is her attitude towards her job. If she can be persuaded that flying is, after all, a very ordinary occupation, with common sense the main ingredient and that an ordinary sensible woman makes a better ferry pilot than a temperamental prima donna, she will do better and inspire greater confidence."
via Andrew Heron
Unfortunately her subsequent reports, whilst allowing that she did improve generally, continued to express doubts: "An unstable type. She admits she gets into a flap flying with an instructor, and claims she has no difficulty in navigating solo. Apparently tends to rely on Bradshawing [i.e. following railway lines] so I did not destroy her confidence in that, but showed her more polished methods."... "Very self-important at times"... "This pilot occasionally flies well - but not so well as she thinks she does. Her progress will need very careful watching".
She had another mishap, on the 26th August; she overran the perimeter of the runway in a Spitfire and nosed over in a heap of rubble, damaging the propeller. She was, however, deemed "Not responsible, as she had to swerve to avoid an Oxford landing"; lack of aerodrome control was blamed.
But still the worrying comments from her instructors kept coming: "She is not very bright when any difficulty arises. She is definitely very over-confident, and also lost herself on one occasion"... "this pilot has taken a long time to reach an average standard. Has worked hard and been very attentive, but should be watched carefully"..."Her greatest trouble now is her forgetfullness. Her flying is satisfactory but she is apt to forget things"
She was allowed to carry on flying, however; perhaps it was because everyone seems to have liked her, and valued her as a companion.
Eventually, what now seems inevitable happened; on the 19 April 1943 she flew on in bad weather instead of turning back, and was killed when her Airspeed Oxford MN765 hit high ground near Devizes.
She was deemed to be 'at fault' for her fatal accident.
Memorial in St Peter's Church, Dyrham (with thanks to Andrew Heron)
Western Daily Press, 24 Apr 1943: "The death of First Officer Honor Isabel Pomeroy Salmon (30), of the Air Transport Auxiliary, is announced. Daughter of and Mrs Ernest Pitman, of The Cottage, Dyrham, Glos., and the grand-daughter of the late Sir Isaac Pitman, of Pitman's shorthand, she attended school at Abbot's Hill and at Westonbirt School, near Tetbury. and at the age of 17 became a member of the Bristol Flying Club, taking her licence and becoming a keen pilot. She was a keen breeder and trainer of ponies, and frequently hunted with the Duke of Beaufort's pack and took part in point-to-point meetings. In June, 1941, she married Major H. Pomeroy Salmon, of the 3rd Hussars. She had been a member of the A.T.A. for two years."
WILL OF MRS. HONOR SALMON First Officer Honor Isabel Pomeroy Salmon left £30.279 7s. 2d. gross, with net personalty £28,131 6s. 6d She left her shares in Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons, Ltd., and Dun Mallard, Ltd., to the children of her brothers Isaac, Christian and John, together with her leasehold property, the site of 1, Amen Corner, London (destroyed by enemy action) and the right to receive war damage compensation. Subject to the disposal of her effects she left the residue to her husband, to whom, together with her brother Christian E. Pitman, Doynton House, Doynton, probate has been granted. "
Pauline Gower should have the last word, perhaps. "Honor will be very much missed not only as an excellent pilot but as a friend. She was a charming and gallant person."
M.437 First Officer Ronald Arthur Porter b. 6 Apr 1913, Carlisle 15 May 1941 to Mar-42
prev. a Joiner and Cabinet Maker
prev exp 100hrs
Sergeant in the RAF from Aug-40, on Link Trainer based in Cambridge
d. 15 Mar 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Spitfire Vb AD296 crashed in poor visibility at Lochembrech Hill nr. Castle Douglas
Buried at Stanwix Cemetery, Carlisle. ATA pilot Irene Arckless (q.v.) is buried in the adjacent plot.
The inscription reads
"In Loving Memory of
F/O RONALD A. PORTER, A.T.A.
The Beloved son of
HENRY and ANN PORTER,
Who was accidentally killed
March 15th, 1942
Aged 28 Years"
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.208 * 2nd Officer John Richard Pruden b. 13 May 1910, Redditch, Worcestershire c. 21 Nov 1940 to 12 Aug 1942
m. 1935 Nellie Eileen [Terry]
prev. Managing Director of an Ironmongers, General Drapers and Furnishers
Member of Air Defence Cadet Corps in 1939
Address in 1942: 24 Salop Road, Redditch
d. 12 Aug 1942 (Died in ATA Service) in Spitfire V EP748, which went missing on a ferry flight from Desford to Prestwick. The aircraft was last seen off Girvan.
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial:
M.395 First Officer Richard William Purser b. 5 Sep 1919, Slough 1 Apr 1941 to Sep-41
prev Acting Sergeant, RAF Sep-39 to Feb-41. Ex RAF - "failed to complete course in Rhodesia. 50 hrs solo"
d. 14 Sep 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Oxford X6958 crashed on farm at Sandon Rd, Weston-on-Trent nr Stafford, in bad visibility.
M.33* Captain Percy Randall b. 26 May 1900, Englefield Green 11 Sep 1939 to Mar-41
A 'Garage Proprietor' in 1933
d. 17 Mar 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane I Z7010 flew into high ground at Bledlow, Bucks in bad visibility.
M.--- 2nd Officer Ivan Christian Randrup b. 9 Jan 1915, Whitley Bay, Northumberland 1 Nov 1940 to Jan-41
prev. Chief Pilot of AllFlights Ltd, Heston from Mar 1939 - Jan 1940, then Chairman of Directors.
Jan-Feb 1940 Temp 2nd Officer for BOAC (left for reasons of ill health)
prev exp. 484 hrs (owned D.H. Moth G-ABJZ)
He was 'known to have previously had considerable income from his late father's estate in Denmark'.
Instructor's report says "This pilot is enthusiastic and rather temperamental. He is full of ideas, many of which are incorrect and he will need constant supervision... but his flying in Class I [single-engine] is very satisfactory".
d. 29 Jan 1941, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in the RAF Ambulance at Edzell Camp, Kincardineshire, while being moved to the operating theatre.
M. 48 * Captain Stephen Peter Reed b. 15 Sep 1912, Sandwich, Kent c. 1 April 1940 to 23 Sep 1940
Father: Alfred Stephen Reed (d. 8 Oct 1939); Mother: Madeline Cecil [Murphy-Grimshaw]
prev. Lieut. in Royal Artillery; BOAC Pilot
Summoned in 1933 for "causing unnecessary noise with his car."
He said to PC Durrant, who arrested him, "I don't as a rule try to square you people, but if you can see your way clear to overlook this I will have the car altered". However, the Chairman of the Bench was determined to stop "this nonsense of these horrible contraptions called sports cars" and fined him £1.
Address in 1935: RA Mess, Fort Brockhurst, Gosport, Kent
Address in 1940: Westover, Croyde Bay, Devon
d. 23 Sep 1940 (age 28) (Died in ATA) Beaufort swung on approach and wing hit ground at Dumfries
* Personnel file missing
M.510 First Officer Earl Lamar Renicker b. 16 Nov 1906, Minot ND 23 Mar 1941 to 7 Feb 1942
Father: Sherman Edward Renicker (a shoemaker), Mother: Della Marie [Thornton], of 803 Dayton, Wichita, Kansas
Ed. Hutchinson High School, Kansas
prev. Pressman for McCormick-Armstrong , Wichita; Pilot for Vacin Flying Service, Enid, Oklahoma; 2nd Lieut., Air Corps Reserves 1940-41
prev. exp. 725 hrs
"A very doubtful starter. Flies unintelligently but might be given the chance of some work in Class I before firmly deciding whether or no he is suitable for conversion to Class II" - Initial Flight Test Report, 1 April 1941
Postings: 2FPP, 14FPP
In June 1941 he applied for permission to possess a .45 automatic "for self protection in case of emergency"
He completed Class III and IV training in October 1941, but "in view of the fact that his claim to 700 hrs previous experience has not been verified and that he has not been thoroughly tried out in Class 2, his progression to more difficult types should be closely supervised"
4 accidents, 1½ his fault:
- 30 Sep 1941, he 'mishandled' the brakes of his Proctor BV545 at Netheravon, and nosed over while taxying
- 7 Dec 1941, the port leg of his Hampden AT145 collapsed, after a normal landing at High Ercall
- 22 Dec 1941, taxying another Hampden, AT174, under ground crew guidance, the tail hit a barbed wire fence (jointly to blame)
"The three accidents he has had recently rather indicate a certain carelessness on his part and I suggest that he is given a final warning to the effect that another accident directly attributable to his negligence will result in his dismissal" 14 FPP CO Bobby Wardle, 29 Dec 1941
d. 7 Feb 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Hampden AT231 crashed on Lord Bradford's Estate, Weston under Lizard, Staffs after port engine fire.
He and Bill Elliott were buried at Altrincham Bowden and Hale Cemetery,Cheshire, near Hubert Dixon.
"Senior officers were present, with American members of the ATA. RAF men bore the two coffins, which were covered with flags, the Stars and Stripes of America. Air Transport Auxiliary pilots followed the coffin. An RAF Chaplain officiated, and the vicar of Timperley, the Rev. Dr Lindare, assisted.
Mrs Emily Lawrence, with whom Renicker was billeted, was at the funeral" - Manchester Evening News, via George Cogswell
via George Cogswell
with thanks to Barbara Grayson
Earl's mother wrote to his landlady, Mrs Lawrence: "It just seems like I can't get over it, I was looking forward to seeing him this spring. It was such a terrible shock. You all were so nice to give him such a nice funeral, and I'm so appreciative.
Honey, I just write awhile and then cry awhile."
Although Earl said that he was 'single' and specified his mother Della as his next of kin on his ATA Form, it later turned out that this was not quite the whole truth: he had in fact married Thelma Jane [Lavigne] on the 26 Aug 1929 in Spearfish, Lawrence, ND, and they had a daughter, Dorothy Ilene (b. 1926). Thelma wrote to the ATA in March 1942:
"I am writing in regards for information concerning the death of my husband. Mr Earl Renicker who was killed Feb 7. We received word through his mother in Wichita, Kans of his death. We have tried many times to get in tuch with him through his mother with out success. Family trouble. We have a daughter Dorothy. She went to visit her grandmother & while their a Mr Ralph Holcombe who was in service with her father in England. He told her about her father & the work he was doing in England. That was the first information we had in regards to him."
Thelma then volunteered the information that she and Earl had divorced 19 May 1941, 2 months after he joined the ATA, but still insisted that Dorothy (age 16) should be his next of kin.
The ATA Insurance, plus the balance of his estate, amounted to £2,103 16s 11d. This was ready to be paid by September 1942, but was held up "awaiting decision of US Courts as to legal claimant".
The only clue I have as to what happened is in a letter from Earl's mother Della, dated 12 Oct 1942:
"Dear Sir: In answer to your recent letter I want to say that I received the disc and chain of Earl's and will see that his daughter gets it, and I want to thank you very much for sending it, also thank you for every thing. You people have certainly been good to us,
Sincerely, Mrs S E Renicker"
Dorothy later married a Mr Paul E Rusher in Ohio, and died in 2007.
M.635 First Officer Norman Kenneth Rodway b. 13 Dec 1915, Liverpool 5 Aug 1941 to 11 Dec 1942
Father: Arthur Raymond Victor Rodway; mother Kate
Ed. Holt Secondary School, Liverpool
In 1933, he was fined 40 shillings for "having driven a motor-cycle in Chester Road, Dunham Hill, without due care and attention"; a year later he was remanded at Southport on a charge of "stealing a sports car worth £225 from the centre of the town." When he was arrested, the police found thirty-seven auto ignition and door keys.
Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 21 November 1934:
"Decent Lad Who Stole A Car
"You ought to have been sent to gaol, but you are only a lad, and the bench don't want to start you on a criminal career. If you do it again, however, you will go to gaol without the slightest hesitation." Alderman J E. Willett, chairman, at Southport, to-day, said this when Norman K Rodway, aged 18. of Vandyke-street, Liverpool. was fined £25 after pleading guilty to stealing a motorcar valued £225, the property of Bamber's, Birkdale. Mr. J. G. Barr, prosecuting. said the motor-car was taken from Lord-street on Saturday night and garaged in Liverpool by the accused. He was arrested on returning to the garage, and when brought to Southport was found in possession of thirty-seven ignition and motor doorkeys. In reply to Mr. W. H. Rallis (for accused), Detective-Constable Mighall said Rodway had given the police every assistance, and seemed to be a decent lad.
In May he was fined at Liverpool City Sessions in each of two cases of stealing cars. and a third case was taken into consideration. Mr. Bells told the bench that Rodway was the son of a highly respectable Liverpool business man, and was originally apprenticed with a Liverpool drapers. He got in with several adventurous youths, and four, including Rodway, decided to go to London, to get a ship to Australia.
"ABSOLUTELY MAD" The difficulty was getting there, and they took a car, but it broke down. They reached London by getting lifts on lorries, and wandered about for a week trying to get a ship. The whole thing was absolutely mad, and realising they must get back to Liverpool, they took another car from Hampstead, and drove to Liverpool. Rodway was in the habit of hanging about Speke Aerodrome, and took a third car out of a park there, but only drove about for ten minutes, and left it. Regarding the car taken from Southport, he intended to drive it back to Southport, when he was arrested. Rodway now came before the court full of remorse.
A congregational Minister said Rodway was a boy of excellent character, and his father was a deacon"
m. 1935 Kathleen Philomena [Duffy], 1 child, Kenneth Raymond b. Nov 1935 (d. 2016 in France)
prev. a "Viewer" [also described as an Aircraft Fitter and Salesman] for Napier, Liverpool
prev. exp. 57 hrs on Tiger Moth, Avro Avian, Hillson Praga
Address in 1941: 73a Muirhead Ave, Liverpool
Norman originally applied to the ATA in March 1941, however they replied that they were not allowed to consider applications from pilots of military age (he was 25) unless they had been turned down by the RAF for some reason. Norman replied that he had "failed to pass full medical standard" for the RAF, but pointed out that he had no difficulty in passing his medical for his 'A' Licence, and had "never experienced any ill-effects while piloting aircraft".
His flight test went well, and the ATA took up references; the Rev. Machin, of Hartington Rd Congregational Church, said Norman was "strictly honest, diligent, most willing, highly intelligent - a young man of many gifts and of great promise; and will endeavour to give the utmost satisfaction to his employers."
Postings: 6FPP, 7FPP
"An average pilot, a good worker and a well-conducted officer, likely to make a good all-round ferry pilot if not progressed too rapidly".
Reprimanded once: 28 Nov 1941, suspended for 3 days without pay; "failed to report an accident"
3 Accidents, all his fault:
- 14 Oct 1941, a 'bad landing by inexperienced pilot' in Swordfish W5848; starboard undercarriage collapsed and the lower main plane was damaged.
- 2 Jul 1942, his Spitfire Vb EP521collided with another aircraft after landing, due to the windscreen being obscured with oil
d. 11 Dec 1942 in Spitfire Vc ES260. He took off from Kinloss after the last landing time, on a flight to Litchfield via Dyce estimated to take 17 minutes, but crashed in the dark 40 minutes later, at about 17:35, adjacent to the airfield at Dyce. The aircraft landed down wind into the airfield lights, stalled and crashed before reaching the runway.
"It was unfortunate that his sense of duty to his job tended to make him a little over-confident in his flying"
Buried Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool - Sec. 1A. Gen. Grave 217
His widow Kathleen was in financial difficulties while the ATA insurance was being processed, and also needed an operation which required a 3-week hospital stay and a month's convalescence. The ATA lent her various amounts of money to tide her over, and it wasn't until 14 May 1943 that the balance, some £1,830, was paid to her.
She said "as the interest from [the insurance money] together with the fifteen shillings a week pension I receive would not be sufficient to cover Kenneth's education, I shall certainly have to take a position of some kind."
She moved to 37 Stamfordham Drive, Liverpool, and married Richard Earl Slee in 1954. Kenneth then moved in with them in 1957, but Richard died in Jan 1958, and Kathleen then married Joseph Azzopardi, from Malta, in 1966. She died in Malta 24 Jul 1988.
M.169 First Officer Thomas William Rogers b. 7 Jan 1917, Blaencwm, Camarthenshire 19 Nov 1940 to Dec-41
prev. an amateur steeplechase jockey
RAF Sep-39 to Sep-40
prev exp. 168hrs on Airspeed Oxfords
On applying to the ATA, he got this splendid endorsement from his local vicar; "He comes from very fine stock and he has entered into his heritage with a sense of real responsibility... As his vicar, I can speak of a good and reliable parishioner; as a personal friend, I know his honesty and sincerity will commend him to others as his fine qualities have commended him to me. "
d. 10 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Botha W5103 crashed at Blacklow Meadow, 2 miles NE of Glossop. His body wasn't discovered until 3 days later, buried in the mud beneath the burnt-out aircraft.
M.66 * First Officer Henry John Norman Rowe b. 31 Oct 1896, Lewisham, London ?16 May 1940 to 15 Jun 1944
Father: Thomas Holman Rowe; mother, Susan Kate [Rice]
RFC in WWI; 2nd Lieut. in 1917 (RAeC Cert 5375, photo missing)
Address in 1917: 28 Courtenay St, Newton Abbott, Devon
m. 1925 in Gt Yarmouth, Rosalie Beatrice [Moore]; 2 children (incl. Pamela b. 1928)
In 1939, he lived at 162 The Greenway, Harrow, with his younger brother Leslie, and was a "Counting House Manager - Textiles" and RAFVR
Address in 1944: 15 Nithsdale Rd, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
d. 15 Jun 1944 at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, from injuries received in Albermarle I P1563, which crashed Into a barn during an attempted overshoot after landing at Ashbourne Airfield, Derbyshire.
The co-pilot survived.
Buried Weston-super-Mare Cemetery
M. 39 * First Officer Leonard Satel b. 6 Nov 1901 or 1907, Glowice?, Poland c. 21 Jun 1940 to 28 Oct 1940
Pre-WWII, pilot for LOT - he is mentioned as being a 'half-million-kilometer pilot' in 1934:
"With our brave pilots the second "millioner" will be Mr. Długaszewski, who will complete his million probably this summer, and then pilots Mitz, Płonczyński, Karpiński and Witkowski, who are missing more or less 100,000 km. In [order] then go pilots Dmoszyński, Barciszewski and Tokarczyk, who completed half-million in 1932, pilots Klisz, Jakubowski, Pecho - half-million in 1933, pilots Bocheński, Satel from 1934, pilots Świtalski, Sławiec, Lewicki, Kotarba, Nartowski and Bargiel from 1935."
Quite possibly he is in this photo, showing "P. Kazimierz Burzyński (with flowers) surrounded by fellow pilots and the managers and officers of the P. L. L. "Lot" airline" in 1936.
The majority of PLL LOT staff were evacuated in September 1939. Leonard flew Lockheed Electra SP-LMK with 10 passengers to Perth, Scotland, arriving 21 Sep 1939.
Lockheed L-14H Super Electra SP-LMK - one of 10 aircraft of this type purchased by LOT Polish Airlines and then operated in the years 1938–1939
Address in 1939: Flat 4, 29 Nottingham Place, Marylebone, London
d. 28 Oct 1940 (Died in ATA)
"On October 28, 1940, I was a five-year-old pupil at Castle Road School, now Lightwoods School, Warley, on the Wolverhampton Road near to the old Warley Odeon. As we were leaving school that afternoon there was an explosion, and a column of smoke could be seen down the hill beyond the Odeon.In those days a five-year-old could run around the streets with impunity, and I made my way alone to the junction of Birch Lane and Hagley Road West. An aircraft had crashed there, and men in uniform were scrambling about in the smoking wreckage.
I saw a body lying at the side of the road covered with some kind of blanket. I picked up a couple of pieces of metal, which I still have, from the wrecked aircraft.
One of the men shouted at me, and I ran off to my home at 284 Hagley Road West, about 200 yards away.
The aircraft was a Blenheim Mark IV bomber. One of its wings had been severed when it struck the cable of the barrage balloon located in Ridgeacre Road, Quinton, causing the aircraft to crash.In recent years, I have confirmed that the pilot, the sole occupant of the aircraft, whose body it would have been that I saw at the crash site, was First Officer, Leonard Satel of the Air Transport Auxiliary. He lived in Maidenhead and was based at White Waltham Aerodrome, Berkshire. He was Polish.
First Officer Satel will never enjoy the publicity attached to the spitfire women of the Second World War. He will never receive the recently-announced award acknowledging his service with the Air Transport Auxiliary.
The fact that he was Polish speaks for itself. He was fighting his war against Nazi Germany, the aggressor who had torn his own country apart, and against whom England had declared war. It was ironic and a tragedy that in the year following the invasion of his homeland First Officer Satel, all the way from Poland, should lose his life by misad-venture in Quinton." JOHN SANDERS, Stourbridge
Buried Brandwood End Cemetery, Birmingham
"NOTE: The name of L. Satel did not find its rightful place on the Monument to the Honor of Polish Aviators who died in 1939–1945, located in Pole Mokotowskie in Warsaw. It is also permanently omitted in the vast majority of statements of airmen who paid tribute to their lives during aviation activities during World War II. That is why the figure of Leonard Satel (1901–1940) and the memory of his aviation achievements deserve special attention and respect."
Probate (for his effects, £110 13s 2d in England) was finally granted on 16 Feb 1954 to "Stanislaw Zebrowski, Head of the Legal Department of the Polish Consulate General in London, and Franciscek Morenc, Consular Attache, attorneys of Tadeusz Leonard Tabenski."
Tadeusz Tabenski was also a pre-war LOT pilot.
W.43 3rd Officer Betty Eileen Sayer b. 18 Sep 1917, London 1 May-41 to Mar-42
Illustrated News, 1942
Daughter of Samuel Arthur Sayer (a chartered civil engineer) and of Elizabeth Emma [Mills], of Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey.
Betty's niece tells me that "They came back to England in 1916 or 17 because Elizabeth was pregnant and wanted to give birth in England. She was afraid of U-boats and so came on the trans-Siberian railway but it took a long time as they got caught up in the Russian revolution and spent days parked in sidings. I think they spent several weeks on the train. I think they ended up in Sweden and had to get a boat across to Scotland."
[Davd Cooke has discovered that Samuel Sayer headed the architectural department of a company named Republic Land Investment, which was responsible for designing the New Asia Hotel in Shanghai. This was opened in 1934 and is still a landmark building – see http://www.newasiahotelshanghai.com/ ]
Betty and her elder sister Kathleen then sailed, with their mother Elizabeth, from England to Canada in 1919, and back from Japan in 1927.
Elizabeth died in October 1932 in her early 40s (apparently "she died of cirrhosis of the liver, was most annoyed by it as she had never drunk alcohol") and in the following year Betty and Kathleen (by then 15 and 19) sailed to Shanghai.
"From all accounts Betty was a bit of a tearaway (possibly taking after her mother). I remember seeing a letter from my grandfather to my mother after Betty had come back saying how much he missed her and commenting on her lively behaviour.
As far as ships go I remember my mother (Kathleen) saying quite late in life that she thought that every ship she had sailed on had ended being sunk!"
Betty was then back in England for a few years, and took her Royal Aero Club certificate in 1937.
Prev. Exp: 37 hrs solo
Betty was an 'Assistant Passenger Agent', working for Messrs Butterfield and Swire in Shanghai in 1940, but she had gained her Royal Aero Club 'A' Licence 3 years before. So, when the call came for women pilots for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), she didn't hesitate; clutching this letter of introduction, she made her way back to England:
She explained to the ATA that her licence had, in fact, expired in August 1940; she had got half way through the course for a 'B' licence but abandoned this to return to Shanghai to join her father. She had 37 hrs 51 min solo, out of a total of 90 hrs 55min - "chiefly Tiger Moths and Gypsy I"
'Well', said the ATA, 'as you've come all this way, you'd better have a flight test.' Which she did, and it was satisfactory.
As quite often happened, nothing happened. When they finally did write, it was to say that there were no vacancies, and anyway, "nobody with less than 50 hrs solo can be accepted at the moment."
Betty was understandably, a tiny bit annoyed. She wrote to them, again: "I told you at the time about my solo hours... there would seem to be little point in my carrying out a flight test... I have travelled here from Shanghai for the express purpose of doing something to help the war effort... Could you please let me know when I may expect to hear from you, as naturally I do not wish to do nothing whilst awaiting a communication from you... I might join the WAAF, although naturally I would prefer to become a member of the ATA."
They wrote back on the 28 March 1941: "You are on the first reserve", then on 5 April the long-awaited call came through: "Please report on May 1st".
Betty was keen, and started instruction; she was 'shaping well', but the next setback came on 9 May:
"We have sufficient pilots to cope with our work at present, and we do not require your services. You had slightly less experience than any of the pilots we have taken on so far."
ATA Senior Commander Pauline Gower was not best pleased, either; she wrote to her boss, "I have had to dispense with the services of Miss Sayer as a pilot... You instructed me to bring our numbers up to 40, and this is what I have done."
Poor Betty was shunted off to the non-flying staff, as a Secretary on 3 pounds 10 shillings a week. There she languished for a few weeks until, on the 3 July 1941, in another triumph of long-term planning, she was... put on the flying strength once again. She had another test, on the 17th:
"Miss Sayer is obviously inexperienced and requires more practice with forced landings and compass turns. Try her again after another 20 hours dual and solo"
By the 9th Aug 1941 they reported: "Better: her turns near the ground have improved... enterprising and sensible in her flying."
The final, bitter blow was only just round the corner, however; on the 15 Mar 1942, she (with Bridget Hills (q.v.)) was killed at 12.20pm on the 15 Mar 1942 when flying as a passenger in Fairchild Argus HM178, which stalled and crashed onto a bungalow when returning to land at White Waltham after bad weather.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 17 Mar 1942: "AIRWOMEN KILLED Ferry Pilots' 'Plane Hit Bungalow. The Ministry of Aircraft Production announces that Flying Officer Graham Lever, Third Officer Bridget Hill, and Third Officer Bessie Sayers lost their lives in a flying accident on Sunday. The accident occurred in the course of their duties with the Air Transport Auxiliary. The 'plane crashed on to a bungalow. A fourth passenger in the machine, also a woman A.T.A. officer, was injured. Twenty-six people were injured when they rushed to the house to extricate the passengers in the 'plane. It is believed that the petrol tank in the machine exploded.
Among the injured were children who were in the street. The petrol tank exploded some time after the crash, owing, it is believed, to contact with a fire in the kitchen. A man named Croft, living in an adjoining bungalow, was blown through a window into the street and badly hurt but a child in the front room of the bungalow was rescued almost uninjured. "
She was buried at Maidenhead Cemetery - Sec. D. Row K.K. Grave 19., and is named on the memorial at Stoke d'Abernon.
Pauline wrote that "she was a vey keen pilot, who had her heart in her work. She flew well and had the makings of a good ferry pilot."
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
M.381 1st Officer Alexander Scott b. 22 May 1900, Kingstown, Carlisle 15 Apr 1941 to Mar-42
prev. Royal Navy 1917-18 (Boy 1st Class) - 'usual war medals';
[He joined on 22 May 1918, served on HMSs Powerful, Cardiff, Victory I, and Royal Sovereign firstly as an 'engine cleaner', then 'Fireman, Railway', until the end of WWI)
from 1924, a salesman for the United Yeast Co., and a member of the Carlisle Flying Club;
RAF Aug-40 to Jan-41 (Link Trainer Instructor).
prev exp 84 hrs on Gipsy Moth, Hornet Moth.
m. 1922 in Carlisle, Lillian [Snowden], 2 children: Beryl b. 1922, Ernest b. 1927
Postings: 15FPP, 16FPP
After his initial flight test he was described as "steady, but slow, particularly in navigation"
d. 15 Mar 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Spitfire AD395 hit high ground in poor visibility at Breconside Farm, Durisdeer
Buried Carlisle Cemetery
The inscription reads:
"In Loving Memory ofAlexander Scott 1st Officer ATABeloved Husband of Lilian ScottDied 15 March 1942 Aged 41 YearsAlso Beryl Their DaughterDied 18 September 1942 Aged 20 Years"
M.247 First Officer Kenneth Meryl Seeds b. 14 Oct 1910, Oklahoma City 19 Nov 1940 to Oct-41
prev a pilot instructor, CPTP Training Program, Idaho, and for Southern Air Service, Pocatella, Idaho
prev exp. 1550 hrs. Started flying in 1936, and operated his own flying school, firstly in Los Angeles during 1937-8 and then Burley, Idaho in 1939.
Postings: 1FPP, 14FPP, 8FPP
In July 1941, he wanted to resign from the ATA, quoting "personal, domestic and family" reasons. However, as he had not served for 12 months, this was refused. He asked again in September, but was again turned down.
Those reasons became clearer later in September 1941, the month before he died:
"Young Taplow Woman's Death - Tragic End to courtship with American Ferry Pilot"
A verdict of 'suicide' was recorded by the Manchester City Coroner on Monday, when he held an inquest on Miss Doris Hume, aged 26, Weymouth Lodge, Ellington Rd, Taplow, who died as the result of septic abortion.
Evidence showed that the deceased, who was employed by a firm of insurance brokers in Maidenhead, associated with an American Ferry Pilot in Maidenhead and Manchester. She spent a week-end with him at a Manchester hotel and shortly before her death she went to see him at Manchester. He booked a room for her at the hotel where he was staying. She seemed so ill that he called a doctor. She later went into a nursing home, where she died some time after an operation had been performed.
Kenneth Meryl Seeds, an officer in the Air Transport Auxiliary, said he was married and his wife and children were in California. He came to England in 1940 and first met Miss Hume in Maidenhead. They commenced to keep company, and Miss Hume knew he was a married man.
The Coroner: "You are quite sure about that?" - Yes
The Coroner said that was not a court of morals. With regard to Mr Seeds' conduct he would only say that his own thoughts would probably be sufficient castigation. Properly used the pills were harmless, but improperly used in large quantities they could, as had been seen in that case, be very harmful"
d. 8 Oct 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Wellington Z8424 hit the summit of Snaefell, Isle of Man, in generally good visibility, although parts of the Isle of Man were in fog.
He had earlier flown a Havoc from Belfast, which developed engine trouble; he landed it at Hawarden and handed it over as unserviceable. Fellow ATA pilot O E Armstrong wrote "The weather from Hawarden via Rhyl was perfect...I flew at 2, 000 feet all the way leaving the Calf of Man about 5 miles to starboard... I am at a loss to account for the accident, as I am sure that F/O Seeds must have flown above the fog on his way over, otherwise he would not have decided to return... what I am afraid happened was that he endeavoured to fly below cloud and was off course. Approaching the Isle of Man he found that the fog was right down on the surface, so decided to climb above it."
He was buried at Jurby, IoM with full military honours.
These are photographs of Kenneth's funeral on the 13th October:
The ATA agreed in 1942 an ex-gratia payment of $8,000 to his wife and step-daughter Betty Jo. His wife, who had been left penniless and had taken a job at the Vega Aircraft Co., wrote "I am extremely happy at the fine and generous way the British Government has seen fit to handle this matter."
3rd Officer / Flying Officer
[Transferred from RAF]
Michael George St. John Seelly b. 20 Mar 1923, Wolverhampton 20 Jun 1944 to 10 Feb 1945
Father: Dr. Edward St. J Seelly, a Surgeon; mother Vera Adelaide [Pye, who d. 24 March 1923, i.e. 4 days after Michael's birth]
Edward then m. 1925 Gertrude [Downing]
Ed. N.C. Pangbourne; Univ. of Cambridge (Part I of Engineering Tripos)
prev. RNR 1937-1940; RAFVR 1941-44, Flying Officer from Sep 1942
prev. exp. 450 hrs on Stearman, Vultee, Harvard, Kingfisher, Catalina, Oxford, Blenheim, Bisley, Beaufighter in UK, USA and Canada
Address in 1944: Frampton-on-Severn, then Cleveland, Seaview Rd., Herne Bay, Kent
The RAF Selection Board described him thus: "Has the impulsiveness and overconfidence of youth. He has intelligence and could do well if he could apply himself."
He had suffered a fractured skull in an air accident in 1943, but made "a good recovery"
Postings: 9FPP, 5TFPP, 2FPP, 4FPP
"We have all gained the impression that he suffers from a rather big dose of over-confidence"
Michael's Flight Authorization Card, 24 Aug 1944
"If he is going to be any use to ATA he will have to realise that his past experience is comparatively small, and that he still has a lot to learn... If he does not realise this, he will inevitably have accidents, in which case the organisation will be better off without him."
d. 10 Feb 1945 in Miles Martinet RG883 which crashed into a slag heap at Thankerton Colliery, Holytown, 4 miles NNE of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in bad weather on a ferry flight from NAS Evanton to NAS St. Merry.
He was deemed to be at fault for the accident, having persisted in conditions of "snow, low cloud and visiblity of less than 200 yards."
Cremated at Holmer Burial Grounds, Holmer, Herefordshire
"Dr. Edward St. John Seelly was, until a few days ago, in practice in Frampton-on-Severn, [Gloucestershire]"
[Seconded from RAF]
David Martin Selby b. 7 Dec 1921, London 21 Feb 1943 to 18 Sep 1944
Father: Henry S Selby, mother Annie F [Sleat]
Ed. Alleyn's School, Dulwich, London
m. 1942 Dorothy [Winter] , one child
prev. Insurance Clerk; RAF Sgt Pilot
prev. exp 260 hrs on Tiger Moth, Oxford, Anson, Bisley (Blenheim Mk V)
Address in 1943: 59 Horniman Dr., Forest Hill, London SE23
6 Jul 1944: "This pilot's house was recently bombed and I granted him two days compassionate leave... He has found another house"
Address in 1944: 28 Netherby Rd, Honor Oak, SE23 (parents' home)
Postings: 5FTPP, 16FPP
"His Class I flying was very disappointing" but "He was given Class III conversion in view of his previous experience and did quite well"
"He has proved himself a reliable and steady pilot"
d. 18 Sep 1944 in Beaufighter X KW326 which crashed into the sea 1.5 miles from shore after the port engine caught fire on takeoff from Lossiemouth.
His body was recovered on the 21 Sep and buried in Camberwell New Cemetery, Honor Oak.
"His untimely end has been a great blow to his father and myself, as we loved him very dearly. Yours Faithfully, A F Selby"
"OFFERS IN WRITING - Velocette motor cycle, the property of the late S/O D M Selby. Age and mileage unknown, but probably 1932/34 model; at present at No. 16 Ferry Pool, Carlisle"
"Reference sale of motor cycle, I am prepared to offer the sum of £5 - F/O J Huxley, 16FPP"
His wife Dorothy m. 1948 George W H Painter
(Flt Sgt, Seconded from RAF)
John Shepherd b. 13 Apr 1921, Cardiff 18 Jan 1943 to Nov-43
"This pilot came to ATA from the RAF with a little over 200 hours on light types. His Class 1 training was rather slow and although he showed about average ability his judgement and airmanship were not very consistent"
d. 3 Nov 1943 (Died in ATA Service) Beaufighter X NE203 hit the ground in a vertical dive, 6 mi W of Wrexham. The investigation concluded that "the pilot flew into cloud and lost control of his aircraft."
buried Cardiff Central Cemetery
M.275 * First Officer John Charles Shirley b. 10 Oct 1907, Berkswell, Solihull 7 Jan 1941 to 7 Aug 1943
Father: William James Shirley , mother Annie [Turrall], both d. Jan 1945
m. 1935 Joan Mary [Penrice], one son Ivor Roderick b. 1943 d. 1987
prev. Motor Engineer
Address in 1930: Shirley's Garage, Meriden, nr Coventry
RAeC Certificate 9556 (Midland Aero Club, 22 Sep 1930, photo missing)
Address in 1943: 500 Stratford Rd, Birmingham 11
Postings: 6FPP, 7FPP
- 5 Sep 1942, he allowed the tail of his Proctor DX241 to rise too high during take-off, and the propeller 'pecked the ground'
- 15 Sep 1942, poor landing in Spitfire Vb ER139, followed by over-zealous use of the brakes resulted in the aircraft tipping onto its nose
- 19 Mar 1943, forced landing flying Oxford HN117, after he struck balloon cables (which he should have known about)
- 16-May-43, forced landing in Argus HM179 after the engine cowling came loose and damaged the propeller
d. 7 Aug 1943 in Wildcat IV [Martlet] FN249 which crashed at Pitbauchlie, Dunfermline.
Buried Meriden (St Lawrence) Churchyard, Row 9 Grave 320
Coventry Standard, 14 Aug 1943:
"MERIDEN FUNERAL OF FIRST OFFICER J. C. SHIRLEY. A.T.A.
The funeral took place on Thursday of First Officer John Charles Shirley, Air Transport Auxiliary Service. He was 35 years of ape, and was the second son of Mr. VV. J. Shirley of Shirley's Garage, Meriden. He was educated at Meriden C.E. School, and on leaving he helped his father and brother in the garage business.
He was a member of the choir at Meriden Church and of the Bible Class held by Mrs. Rankes at Meriden Hall. He was confirmed at Berkswell Church.
He continued to assist his father and brothers in the firm of W. J. Shirley and Sons until his marriage in 1933 to Joan Mary, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Penrice, of The School House, Meriden (Mr. Penrice at that time was headmaster at Meriden School). He then went into business on his own account in Birmingham, first with a book shop and then with a greengrocery business at Stratford Road, Sparkhill.
He was always keen on flying, and five years before the outbreak of the war [sic] he obtained his Pilot’s "A" licence. He joined the Civil Air Guard before the outbreak of war, and when this body was disbanded on the commencement of hostilities he volunteered for the Roval Air Force, but was not accepted.
Nineteen months ago he volunteered as a Ferry Pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary Service, and was accepted. During the time with this service he had two forced landings without mishap, and on another occasion his plane hit and snapped the cable of a balloon screened by cloud over a town in the north-east of Scotland.
He leaves a widow and one child, a boy not yet a month old. He died on his wife's thirtieth birthday, and had only seen his baby for two days."
M.146 Flight Captain Bernard Short b. 1 Jul 1910, Hull 22 Jul 1940 to 24 Jan 1944
Father: Joseph Short, (a blacksmith for the railway company, d. 1938 in Hull Mental Asylum); Mother: Jane Hannah [Atkinson]
Ed. Boulevard Nautical College
m. Oct 1934 in Yorkshire, Vera Annie [Ryder] (one son, Bernard Ryder Short, b. 1 Sep 1938, d. 2016; they divorced in 1943)
prev. 'Business Proprietor (this may mean 'Newsagent'); Engineer (presumably for North Eastern Airways, who flew Couriers, Envoys and Rapides), 'short time spent at sea'. Sergeant pilot in the RAFVR from Dec 1938 to Jul 1940
prev. exp. 400 hrs on 'Avian, Moth, Hart, Hind, Audax, Blackburn B.2, BA Swallow, Puss Moth, Wellington' (He also said he had spent 50 hours 'as passenger' on DH Rapide, Oxford, Airspeed Envoy, Avro 504, Avian, Vega Gull, Anson and Stinson - so presumably he wasn't ever a pilot for North Eastern Airways.)
He was awarded his RAF 'Wings' in 1939, flying Wellingtons.
Also said he owned an Avro Avian, but I can't find any registered in his name.
Address in 1940: 26 Chamberlain Rd, Hull
Grounded in Jan 1940 by the RAFVR for a 'defective left eye' and although he said he had specialist treatment and "can now pass all medical examinations", he was released.
Postings: 1FPP, 14FPP
His flying in Nov 1940 was considered so poor that, rather than training him to fly Class III and IV aircraft as requested, they sent him back for a refresher on Class 2 twins and said that he was "not capable of flying twin aircraft." He did, however, subsequently pass for Class III in January 1941, and Class IV in May.
His personnel file contains details of one week's flying in June 1942 - 12 different aircraft types, 25 hours as pilot and 4 hours as passenger.
He did manage to rack up 11 accidents, 6 his fault:
- 9 Sep 1940, he misjudged the landing in a Lysander and hit a boundary wall
- 29 Nov 1940, an 'error of judgment' in a Hurricane (details missing)
- 28 Feb 1941, forced landing in an Oxford after engine failure
[Off sick from 29 Feb to 6 Mar 1941]
- 20 Mar 1941, commended for behaving 'with extreme coolness in a difficult situation' after a technical defect in an Anson
- 30 Aug 1941, he 'failed to make a successful takeoff' in a Leopard Moth, after making a forced landing in it the previous day
- 1 Oct 1941, his Oxford X6976 swerved off the runway during landing at Burtonwood, and collided with a pile of tarmac. He was held responsible but in mitigation he was examined and found to be unfit.
"I interviewed him and told him that in view of his accident record he would have to go very carefully. He is a very keen pilot but rough and it occurs to me that he may be in a nervous condition... I also discussed with him the need for having his tonsils attended to... " - ATA's Chief Medical Officer
- 20 Feb 1942, an unknown object 'fouled the propeller of his Walrus W3070' (? - --- --- maybe a bird?)
[The Walrus was "the only aircraft I actively disliked", said ATA pilot Mary Wilkins (later Ellis). She went on, “It flapped about all over the sky. On land it was like a penguin but apparently it was good on the sea. It had a mind of its own.“]
- 6 Oct 1942, the cockpit hood of his Spitfire V W3773 blew off in flight, due to incorrect insertion of port jettisoning pins (not his fault, apparently)
- 2 Apr 1943, another Walrus I, X9482, in which he ground-looped at Kirkbride by trying to turn off the runway too early
[Demoted to First Officer for one month from 1 Oct 1943 for 'wilful disobedience of Standing Orders C.2 and D.21']
[C.2 - Flying an aircraft without proper authority; D.21 - Intermediate landing without Authority" referring to his ferrying of Lancaster DV266 on 1 October]
- 19 Oct 1943, a forced landing at Wheaton Aston after the exhaust manifold joints blew, causing damage to the ignition harness of his Barracuda II DT824
"A quiet, likeable and hard-working pilot"
d. 24 Jan 1944 (Died in ATA Service) - Halifax II JP182 (Merlins) flew into Eel Crag 4 miles SW of Braithwaite, Cumbria, during a snowstorm.
"The cause appears to have been an error of judgement on the part of the pilot who, instead of attempting to take a course round the coast, attempted to fly over mountainous country at a height which only gave him a small clearance over the peaks. He was flying in a snow shower against a 60mph head wind and probably encountered a strong down current."
Flt. Eng. Arthur Bird also died in the crash.
One of the search party said: "I knew it was absolutely impossible for any one to be alive amongst the tangled wreckage...the weather was very bad. Whilst I was on top of the Crag the body of the plane was blown over by the wind, and it rolled down the crag side."
Buried Ringway St. Mary and All Saints Churchyard, Altrincham
via George Cogswell
Bernard's will stipulated that his estate should be divided:
- one half in trust for his son, and
- one-twelfth each to his sister, cousin, 2 brothers, a John Short, and his friend John Potter.
Nothing, therefore, to Vera ...
W.24 Flight Captain Eleanor Isabella 'Susan' Slade b. 10 Jan 1904, Hong Kong 1 Nov-40 to Jul-44
1928 c.1935 ATA, with Graham Head
"Efficiently managing the day-to-day business [of the King's Cup] was dynamic little Susan Slade... herself a pilot of considerable ability who has her own Moth". C G Grey
In Holland, with Lyndsey Everard et al
On one flight with her elder sister Betsy in 1938 over Germany, having missed their destination, they came down at the Berchtesgaden; Herr Hitler was away at the time, but the servants gave them a conducted tour.
Rallye Aerien, Chateau d'Ardenne 17-19 May 1930 with Adelaide Cleaver
She won the first All-Ladies Race at Sywell, Northants in September 1931 (the Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce was second).
On the 21st May 1940, Susan wrote to Cmdr Gerard d'Erlanger, the head of the ATA, whom she knew quite well from before the war. She said:
I'm writing to ask if you will have any vacancies for ATA girls - I did apply originally but I had to give up the idea as Airwork refused to release me under about three months & I could not even attend the flying test as I couldn't be spared on the day it took place.
The situation is slightly different now. It seems fairly certain that we shall be turned out of Heston at any moment & apart from running the show here the rest of my work should only take about one week per month, which I feel someone else could be found to do. I should have a certain amount of clearing up to do naturally & so, as the date of the evacuation is unknown, I cannot say when I would be free.
I also feel that having spent 11 years in learning something about flying, I would be more useful at the present moment making use of this knowledge. I have already filled in the forms & if you think you could make use of me I could probably come for a test any time.
I shall be very grateful for any advice you can give me."
Susan was, indeed, one of the most experienced women aviators in the country - on her original application form, dated the previous December (1939), she quoted a total of 579 hours (1 of them night-flying) on "DH60, DH80, DH85, Avro Avian, Cadet, Klemm, Bluebird, and Puss Moth, in the British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland."
In support of her new application, Airwork's Managing Director M D N Wyatt wrote this, in September 1940:
"Miss E. I. Slade was employed by this Company from February 1929 to June 1940. Her duties entailed the management of the Airport Hotel and Restaurant and she also had considerable responsibilities in connection with the Airport Club. During the time she was employed by Airwork Limited she carried out her duties satisfactorily, and we can confidently recommend her for any position of trust."
She eventually signed up on November 1st, and reported for her Flight Test on the 24th, with this outcome:
"Miss Slade is assessed a pilot of average ability. Her chief fault is inaccurate turns; difficulty is also experienced in settling down on a Northerly course."
Not brilliant, then, but at least Mr McMillan then went on to say "It is recommended that her appointment be confirmed".
Susan duly started, and by January 1942 was being recommended for promotion to Flight Captain by Marion Wilberforce (Officer Commanding No 5 Ferry Pool, q.v.): "I have every confidence in recommending First Officer Slade to be considered for promotion on February 15th. She has shown great devotion to duty, accepted responsibility, and taken over command of the Pool when necessary."
This despite the first of her little mishaps - on 6 Aug 1941, she made a heavy landing in a Miles Master at Brize Norton, and was deemed to be 'at fault'.
The powers that be more-or-less concurred: 'First Officer Slade works hard, and in the absence of O.C. No 5 FPP (i.e. Marion Wilberforce) in fact takes over Command of the Pool. She is conscientious and hard working [I think you already mentioned that, actually], but hardly to be classed as a full time pilot".
["hardly to be classed as a full time pilot" is rather an odd thing to say, don't you think... what can they possibly mean?]
Her flying instruction report, unfortunately, makes less than inspiring reading; she "had considerable difficulty at first and her progress has been slow throughout. She has a temperamental nature and it was necessary to change her instructor."
I'm inclined to think that this was a clash of personalities between her and the original instructor. I haven't come across anyone else who thought that Susan was 'temperamental'; quite the opposite, in fact - for example, in December 1942, the replacement instructor reports that she is a 'keen pilot with a most likeable personality".
Anyway, the following January (1943), here we go again; she over-corrected landing a Mosquito, and the undercarriage collapsed. Again, she was deemed to be 'at fault'.
People were starting to get the (mixed) message; her confidential report from her Commanding Officer in February 1943 says she "has carried out her duties as Flight Captain in a very satisfactory manner. Her sense of discipline is good, and she is a capable organiser and can always be trusted to do her job efficiently and well. She should make a good Second in Command."
... followed by the usual sting in the tail: "An average pilot".
In March 1944, she was driving back in the dark to her billet after duty, turned a corner and ran into a lorry. She said it wasn't showing any lights (the driver said, oh yes it was) but in any case she hit some scaffolding which was sticking out of the back of the lorry and had some considerable injuries to her head and face, needing dental and other repairs. She was off work for a month, returning to duty on the 13th April.
Three months later, she was dead; on the 13th July, piloting Wellington Z1690, she crashed after take-off at Little Rissington. The aircraft "turned through 50 deg to starboard, lost height, crashed in a field and was totally destroyed."
The Gloucester Echo reported it thus; "DIED IN SWERVE TO AVOID VILLAGE. RISSINGTON INQUEST A 40-years-old woman's dive to death in a service 'plane she was flying over the Cotswolds, and her swerve to avoid crashing on a village, were described at an inquest held at Little Rissington on Thursday.
The inquest was on Eleanor Isabella Slade, a single woman, who held the rank of Flight Captain in the Air Transport Auxiliary and the Coroner (Mr. J. D. Lane) recorded a verdict of "Death by Misadventure." Capt John Denys Mead, Air Transport Auxiliary, said that Miss Slade was the daughter of the late Marcus Warre Slade, a barrister, and of Mrs. Slade, of Minerva House Farm, Stanwell Moor, Colnebrook, Bucks. She was detailed on July 13 to take a 'plane to a certain R.A.F. station.
Dr. John Terence Gardiner, serving as a Flying Officer and medical officer at an R.A.F. station, stated that he was informed of a crash and, on arriving on the scene at 6.40 p.m. he found the aircraft on fire. He examined the body of the pilot and in his opinion death was due to multiple injuries and burns. After a number of technical witnesses had been heard, Police Special-Sgt. Sidney Taylor, stationed at Great Rissington, stated that at 6.15 p.m. on July 13 he saw a number of 'planes in flight, one of them flying low and heading for the village. It swerved, and Sgt. Taylor heard it crash about half a mile away in a field known as Whaddon, on Glebe Farm, Great Rissington.
CAUSE UNKNOWN A maintenance engineer was unable to account for the crash.
Recording his verdict of 'Death by Misadventure,' the Coroner expressed sympathy with Miss Slade's mother and her colleagues, and spoke of her courageous act in swerving to avoid what would almost certainly have been a crash on the village, involving perhaps the lives of several people. "
I have found references to this accident claiming that 'elevator trim' was suggested as a cause, but I have found no evidence for this; on the contrary, both the official investigation and the subsequent inquest found 'insufficient cause to account for the accident.' The starboard engine was being examined at one stage, but nothing seems to have come of that.
The wreaths at her funeral were from just about everyone she worked with:
"With love from Peter and Winnie Fair;
With deepest sympathy from Ken Howitt;
With love from Lois Butler;
With deepest sympathy from Engineering and Instruction Officers and Staff, ATA Thame;
With deepest sympathy from Station Officers and Personnel ATA Thame;
C.O. ATA & DWF on behalf of ATA;
Mrs Gerard d'Erlanger;
O.C. and Staff Officers No 5 TFP;
Pilots and Clerical Staff No 5 TFP;
Instructors, Staff and Pupils IFTS, and
O.C. No 12 and Pilots"
Brief Glory - The Story of the ATA - says "her death in the air was an irreparable loss to the Thame Ferry Pool and to civil aviation".
All of which goes to show that, even with her perceived limitations as a pilot, Susan Slade was a hard-working and trusted administrator, and an extraordinary, talented and much-loved lady.
r., with ??, Connie Leathart, Lady Runciman, HH Leech, Flt Lt Clarkson
Susan lived at Mallard's Court, Stokenchurch and is buried in Stokenchurch..
a 1927 DH.60X Moth (G-EBSA), then
a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth (G-AAIW), and
a 1931 DH.80A Puss Moth (G-ABLX).
M.794 First Officer Henry Edward Spain b. 18 Feb 1923, Sandwich, Kent 2 Sep 1942 to 28 Oct 1945 (dec'd)
Father: George, a leather merchant; mother Ethel May [Johnson]
Ed. Manwoods, Sandwich
prev. road transport driver; LAC 125667 in RAF 1940-41 (discharged on medical grounds)
Address in 1942: 23 Tredworth Rd, Gloucester
Postings: 9FPP, 6FPP, 1FPP, 14FPP, 4FPP
Reprimanded 26 Jul 1944 for Loss of Ferry Pilots Notes;
Demoted to Third Officer for 3 months from 21 Oct 1944 for "a flagrant breach of flying discipline". A witness said "At about 14:50, I heard an aircraft diving low over the airport buildings, and on looking out of my office saw a Mosquito do a roll at low altitude over Ringway Airfield. The starboard engine was feathered."
His C.O. at 14FPP, Bobby Wardle, said "There is no room at Ringway for irresponsible pilots of this type and I consider the ATA is better without them. I therefore request that F/O Spain is removed from this Pool forthwith."
4 accidents, none his fault:
- 14 Apr 1943, when he landed his Hurricane IIc and then discovered that the tailplane and rudder had been damaged by loose stones thrown up by his port wheel;
- 29 Dec 1943, a brake defect caused him to taxy his Albacore into the nose of a parked Whitley;
- 1 Aug 1944, another brake defect, this time in a Hudson, led to a broken-off tailwheel, and
- 9 Dec 1944, Commended for a forced landing in a field after engine failure in a Proctor.
"As a pilot he has worked hard and well but he is apt to let his boisterous youth take the upper hand."
He died 28 October 1945 (aged 22) as the result of an accident during the 'winding up' dinner and dance in the Officers' Mess at Ratcliffe Aerodrome.
Johnny Jordan (q.v.) said he attended the party with a woman friend, and got there at 9:45 pm. He met Spain during the evening. They were close friends at Ratcliffe. They had a few glasses of beer together; beer was the only drink. At about midnight some of the officers dared the girl who had accompanied him to throw her glass through the bar window, and she did so. The Adjutant (Capt. Rome) then appeared, and Jordan and Spain (who were 'merry') tried to get him to get a cigar from his office. He resisted, and raised his arm, and the glass struck Spain in the eye and broke. From what he could see there was nothing deliberate about it.
Henry was taken to Leicester Infirmary but failed to recover from the anesthetic after an operation.
Returning a verdict of Accidental Death, the coroner remarked that "of all people the Air Force [sic] were entitled to enjoy themselves. It was however a great pity that this farewell party was marred by what was really nothing more than a bit of horseplay, and that only by a few."
W.31 First Officer Phyllis Margery Spiller b. 23 Nov 1905, Streatham London 1 Mar-41 to Dec-41
[Not in 'Forgotten Pilots or 'Brief Glory']
Margery was that rare phenomenon - a female commercial pilot before WWII. Flight followed her progress thus:
10 October 1935: "South Coast Flying Club. Miss Spiller, in fact, was the first person to get her 'A' Licence with the Club, having completed her test on Saturday half-an-hour before Mr Myers."
23 October 1937: "London Flying Club. Miss Spiller completed the 'B' tests and made a night flight from Croydon to Lympne."
9 December 1937: "South Coast Flying Club. A very successful dance was held on November 27, when over a hundred members and guests attended. Miss Spiller, a member of the Club and a 'B' Licence holder, turned up in the Puss Moth which was at one time the property of the Duke of Windsor, then Prince of Wales."
1 December, 1938: "Miss Margery Spiller has joined the instructional staff of the Sheffield Aero Club as chief instructor and manager at the club's new aerodrome at Firbeck, near Worksop."
16 February 1939: "Eastbourne. Miss Margery Spiller has taken over from Mr W.S. Coates as instructor in conjunction with Mr. T.G Stubley."
If you can bear to read it (I warn you, it doesn't end happily - she died in May 1942), here is the correspondence which passed between Margery and the Air Transport Auxiliary:
3 Dec 1939. To: Air Transport Auxiliary, Womens Section, Air Ministry. Dear Sir,
I hear you are opening up a womens section of Air Transport Auxiliary. May I apply for a job?
I have a 'B' Licence and have flown over 2,000 hrs solo - 250 hrs on a D.H. Dragon. I have been Chief Instructor at the Eastbourne Flying Club. Last spring and summer up to when war broke out I was flying the D.H. Dragon for Air Dispatch - Croydon - an army co-operator.
I wonder if you will kindly forward this letter to Mrs Pauline Gower - who I believe is representing women in this Section.
I desperately need a job - as flying is my living.
(Miss) Margery Spiller
5 December 1939. To: Miss Pauline Gower
Sandown Court, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Dear Miss Gower,
I attach a letter from Miss Margery Spiller in the hope that you can deal with it. I am afraid I know nothing about the Women's Air Transport Section which this lady mentions.
Yours truly, C. Fraser
7 Dec 1939. Dear Miss Gower,
Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting you - will you please accept my hearty congratulations in having been made head of the Womens Section of the A.T.A.
I wish you all the luck in the world in your new venture.
Yours Sincerely, Margery Spiller. 'B' Licence [subtle stuff, Margery]
9 Dec 1939. Dear Sirs,
Thank you for your letter of the 8th inst. calling me up for a flying test, which I will be very grateful to attend at 9:30 a.m. on Dec 15th.
It will mean a very long journey for me - but I will arrive in Bristol the day before. I wonder if you would be able to give me some idea as to what one has to do for the flying test. I have not flown since the 2nd week of August and I expect I shall feel somewhat strange and all last spring and summer I was flying a DH Dragon and as it will be impossible to hire and practice on a similar machine betwen now and my exam, I may not do my best and may get turned down. Will the examiners take into consideration that I have not flown a small aeroplane for over 12 months and I have not been up for over four months!!!
Thanking you. Yours Truly Margery Spiller.
20 Dec 1939. Dear Miss Gower,
I feel I must write and thank you for having been so perfectly sweet and kind to me last Friday. It is a great consolation to know that there is at least one woman pilot devoid of swank. If I was in your shoes I am afraid I would be just a little conceited!
It was a terrible disappointment not getting through the test as I am desperately in need of a job, and flying is my job. I can't imagine why I fell to bits. I somehow got the idea in my head as I hadn't seen an aeroplane for five months that I would not be able to fly it. I can honestly say that I did not understand what the examiner was saying in the front seat - he told me to fly back to the aerodrome before I really realised what course to steer. As you note by my logbook, for the last 100 hours all my courses were northerly, so I can fly on a northerly compass course!!!
Last night I played in a darts match at the local ARP Ambulance Depot. Well the darts went in every direction except on the board, and I am considered the local 'champ! Went to bits because I knew I was playing against crack players. I compare this with the flying test - got all fussed - and self-conscious when I know there is a better pilot in the front seat.
It was kind of you to offer me another test last Friday - but very unfortunate I could not make it owing to the bad weather conditions. I do hope I shall have the luck to do another test soon and have another chance. I do need a job as I am very hard up Heaven knows what will happen if I don't get a job soon.
Should you ever give me a job, you would find me perfectly sound and reliable. Can handle machines well in rough weather. I am tough and very fit I am not likely to break anything - at least I have been fortunate up to now. I am very careful as one must never get over-confident. Experience in hours makes you realize that aeroplanes if treated badly sometimes will turn round and bite!
Wishing you a very Happy Xmas and lots of luck in the New Year.
Please forgive this long letter. Yours Sincerely, Margery Spiller.
p.s. It does hurt when aeroplanes will fly over my house. It is worse than getting over any love affair!
11 Mar 1940. Dear Miss Gower,
Just a few lines to ask if you will kindly bear me in mind should you require any more pilots. It is not necessary to say how very keen I am to get a job as you know all about that, but I would like to say that should you ever give me a job, I am prepared to work very hard, do as I am told etc.! So as to be a real help to the ATA. If I don't do 50 hrs before the end of May I shall loose my 'B' Licence!!!
Kindest Regards, Margery Spiller.
p.s. I am still running around in a tin hat driving an ambulance, but often make epic armchair flights. Perhaps the four months rest has done me good as I am terribly fit.
28 April 1940. Dear Sirs,
I hear you may employ C.A.G. members to ferry machines etc. I have a 'B' Licence - instructors endorsement, and have done over 2,000 hrs - 250 hours on twins - Dragon and Rapide - can fly anything and have never had an accident. I was chief instructor at the Eastbourne Flying Club - and last summer I was employed by Air Dispatch, Croydon flying twins on Army Co-operation. I have been out of work since the war started. The Womens Auxiliary did not give me a job. It seemed unfair - as I have done more hours than any of them - and have a clean record. I suppose it is because I have no influence.
Last October I received a letter from the C.A.G. Ariel House London saying they may use me as a 'ferry pilot' or on general communications.
I an desperately in need of a job, as I have been out of work sometime. Flying is my job.
I would be so grateful if you can help me. Although I am a woman surely there is something in the flying world I can do.
[Her letter was referred to Cmdr d'Erlanger on 3 May 1940]
8 May 1940, from Henrietta Stapleton-Bretherton. Dear Miss Spiller,
Miss Gower has asked me to reply to your letter of the 28th ultimo, to the Civil Air Guard at Bristol, which has been forwarded to her.
Miss Gower put your name forward again when more candidates were required to take a flying test but in view of the fact that you failed on your test it was decided that others should have the same chance as you did, before you were called up for a second test. Candidates are judged solely on their merits and no amount of influence would obtain you a job in the ATA if you were not up to the standard of flying proficiency required. Likewise if you are up to that standard you are given the same opportunities as everyone else. You were given your chance and unfortunately you did not at that time prove that you had the necessary flying proficiency.
Miss Gower hopes that you will be given the opportunity of taking the test again at a later date should you still wish to do so.
14 May 1940. Dear Madam,
Will you kindly thank Miss Gower for the kind consideration, and let her know that I will be very glad to do another flying test. After my remarks in my letter to the CAG I think it very sweet of her to still bear me in mind. When I heard that others had been called up, I could not help feeling very hurt and disappointed, as I was under the impression that I would be called up for a test in the second 'batch'.
Yours Truly, Margery Spiller.
26 June, 1940. Dear Miss Spiller,
If you are still anxious to join the Women's Section of the ATA, will you please let the writer know immediately stating how soon you can report for another flying test at Hatfield Aerodrome, Herts.
Dear Miss Gower,
I feel I must write and ask you if you will be kind enough to help me. Please don't think I want to be unpleasant but I am sure you will agree that I have been treated in the most unsporting and cruel manner. Why the A.T.A. will not employ me I can't think. It is all so mysterious. After having done a flying test with you (and a very fair test I think it was), I understood I was taken on - and then filled in the necessary forms, and then the following day the non committal phone call from you postponing everything. One thing is certain - and that is that I have a very bad enemy somewhere - who has given you the wrong impression of me, and has succeeded in keeping me out of work in aviation for over twelve months. It is a very poor excuse to say that I "suffer with nerves" which is a lie - and perfectly ridiculous. I don't drink, and I have not had a single accident during the 2,000 hours that I have flown and out of those 2,000 hours I did a season's joy-riding at Blackpool with Mrs Joy Davidson. The only fault they can find is that three times while flying with Air Dispatch I 'turned back' - on account of 'no see - no fly'. I should always turn back when I could not see the ground any more - and when my altimeter showed only 500ft! providing of course I had no wireless operator.
I am so deadfully unhappy, and don't know what to do about it all. I do so want to join up with you. I know I am a bit rusty, but I feel that after a few landings and take-offs I should be perfectly O.K. You know that don't you?
I am not a difficult person to work with and I have never had a row with anyone. Should I ever have the luck to be taken on in the A.T.A. I should be perfectly humble and start all over again - I would not talk - except to tell my troubles to you - if I had any. I know I should work well and try to please the A.T.A. in every way. Won't you let me have a crack at it? I would love to go to the C.F.S. and travelling in trains at night would not bother me in the least.
Just before war broke out I had great trouble at home. I had to give up my instructors job at Sheffield, and return home. My dear mother died very suddenly - in fact she committed suicide. She had had several operations and I suppose could not face another. Afterwards while flying with Air Dispatch I was rather run down and 'spat' at one or two people over the maintenance of a particular machine - I suppose the shock of mother's death upset me - and also being left with very little money. I have never told any of my flying friends about mother's tragic death - but I feel that you are such a nice person that you may be sorry for me and understand.
When I heard that I was supposed to 'suffer with nerves' I thought perhaps someone in the flying world had heard about mother, and tried to make out she was mad - and being jealous spread it around that I was nervy. It is not true - my health is perfectly sound and my medicals at the Air Ministry have always been good.
Forgive me writing this awful long letter, but I have tried to explain things. Can anything be done about me?
I enclose a letter I received from one of the Miles Bros of Philips & Powys - reading it appears that a man called 'Delanger' is up against me. I have never met him. How I wish I could call in at Hatfield and have a talk - but as I am an A.R.P. ambulance driver I am not allowed to leave the town - besides I have given up the car. It is so difficult to explain by letter.
Could you spare the time to ring me up one morning - phone Preston 2431. I will be in any morning all this week.
Yours Very sincerely, Margery Spiller.
p.s. Capt. Harry Love at R.A.F. Aerodrome Sywell writes that he will be very glad to give me a reference, should you require one. He employed me at Eastbourne Club as an instructor.
Dear Miss Spiller,
I received your letter yesterday. I had intended to write to you concerning the possibility of you joining the Air Transport Auxiliary, but I did not know your new address.
I would point out that you are labouring under a delusion in thinking that you have an enemy in Mr. d'Erlanger or anywhere in the Air Transport Auxiliary. Personal prejudice, even if it existed, which I am sure it does not, would never be allowed to interfere with the engagement of a pilot, and I must say that although I quite understand your feelings, I do not think you do yourself or your chances any good by writing such letters.
I pointed this out to you some time ago, if you remember. However, I am now able to offer you a position as a pilot in No.5 Ferry Pool on a month's probation, providing the Air Ministry sanction the granting of a contract. Will you please send me three copies of a photograph of yourself. It should be head and shoulders, without a hat, and on receipt of these photographs, we will send them to our Administration Officer, and he will communicate with you here in the near future.
21 Nov 1940. From: Henrietta Stapleton-Bretherton, Adjutant.
To: Mr Purnell, Establishment Officer, White Waltham.
Miss P.M. Spiller passed her test here on 29.6.40. I shall be glad if you can get her pass through as soon as possible. Will you please communicate with her at 60, Wiltdean Court, Preston, Brighton, where she has gone to live, as 'Dene Place' is now shut up.
26 Nov 1940. Dear Miss Gower,
I was so pleased to receive your letter and to hear that you will give me a job. I do hope I shall make a success of it. I promise you I will try to do my best in every way. I enclose the photographs you asked for.
I wonder if the A.T.A. will kindly write to Capt. Jennings-Bramley A.R.P.O., Brighton, saying that you have called me up and ask for a transfer to the A.T.A. I would be very much obliged if you would. I propose leaving the A.R.P. say two weeks from next Wednesday. I would like a weeks rest before I start work with you. I imagine it will take about three weeks before my papers go through.
Could you suggest somewhere for me to live in Hatfield, and would it be possible to bring my old wire terrier dog as I don't know what to do with the poor little chap. It would break his heart to leave me. I thought perhaps someone may know of a kindly landlady who would not object to looking after him when I am away. He is a very old dog and gives no trouble, and I just couldn't bear to leave him.
Does one get paid during the four weeks on probation? Monthly or weekly? Would I be allowed to have a uniform providing I wear no stripes, only wings. It would save the bother of bringing lots of clothes, and would be inspiring. If allowed where do I get the uniform? Would it be cheaper to get flying kit at Hatfield - or shall I rush up to town and get a rigout, and what do you wish me to get? At the moment I have nothing as I gave it all away thinking I would never fly again.
Should I be allowed to start off with a blue uniform I could send the measurements and could have any necessary alterations made down here by my tailor. My wardrobe is so low at the moment, as I have been wearing uniform in the A.R.P.. If I could start with your uniform it would save buying a lot of things. Should I be unfortunate and not be taken on after the months probation, I would be quite prepared to take the loss.#Please excuse all these questions but they do seem rather necessary as I cannot call to see you.
Thanking you for your kind consideration. Margery
28 Nov 1940. Dear Miss Spiller,
Miss Gower has asked me to reply to your letter and to acknowledge receipt of the photographs.
Miss Gower will write to Capt. Jennings-Bramley, and will ask for you to be transferred to the Women's Section, Air Transport Auxiliary.
When your contract has been signed, Mr. Purnell, Administration Officer of the Air Transport Auxiliary, at White Waltham, will tell you when to report for duty. This will probably not be for some weeks.
Before joining us, most pilots come here and arrange about their own billet, but if you are unable to do this, I will book you a room at the Stone House Hotel for a few days, and this will enable you to look round yourself afterwards. The Stone House has no accommodation for dogs.
You will be issued, on loan, with flying kit and your pay will start from the date upon which you join. No uniform of any kind is issued to pilots until they complete their probationary month. Yours Sincerely, (Adjutant)
8 Feb 1941. Dear Miss Gower,
I do hope nothing has gone wrong with my contract to join the A.T.A. It is nearly three months since I last heard from you. I have moments of 'panic' when I think about it.
It is rather awkward not knowing when I have to report to you for duty - as I can't make any definite arrangements about 'rooms'. I have written to various addresses at Hatfield, but there doesn't seem anywhere to live there. How I wish you operated from Gatwick Aerodrome as I live so near and it would save me from keeping two places going. I suppose it would be ridiculous of me to ask if I could be fitted in at Gatwick. I heard that you did send a machine round London for that purpose. Should I have to live a little way out of Hatfield could you arrange for me to have an extra supply of petrol coupons? I have a 12 h.p. car and I only have 6 galls per month. It would take all that to get from here to Hatfield. I wish I could run up and have a talk with you. It is so difficult to explain all this by letter.
I do hope I shall make a success of the job. Believe me I do want to do my very best both in the air as a pilot and on the ground. When I start work I wonder as a special favour if you would personally give me a few 'circuits'. It would give me confidence. I have the greatest faith in you as after all you are one of the pioneers of flying & you are the right person in the right job. Please accept Best Wishes for a Happy New Year. Yours Sincerely, Margery.
10 Feb 1941, Dear Miss Spiller,
In reply to your letter of the 8th inst., addressed to Miss Gower, we have not yet received your pass from the Air Ministry, and until this comes through you will not receive your contract. There is always unlimited delay in this connection, and you will have to wait patiently until it is received.
I am afraid you have been misinformed about a taxi machine picking up pilots who live in or around London. There has never been any such means of conveyance. If you live within a radius of ten miles of Hatfield, it will be possible for you to have a little extra petrol to get to and from work.
As I said in my letter of the 28th November last, it would be better if you stayed the first few days at the Stone House and looked round for living accommodation from there.
You will be notified by Captain Kiek at White Waltham when to report here for duty. Yours Sincerely, (Adjutant)
19th February. Dear Miss Spiller,
Will you please report here for duty on March 1st.
During your probationary period you will be paid at the rate of £230 per anum, plus £7.10.0 subsistence allowance. Subject to your probationary period and final test proving satisfactory, you will then be rated as Second Officer and be entitled to a basic salary of £230 per annum plus £8 per month flying pay, plus £15 per month subsistence allowance.
If you require any further information, I shall be pleased to let you have it.
Yours Faithfully, (Adjutant)
29th February 1941. Chief Instructor To: O.C. No 5 F.P.
Re: 2nd Officer Spiller and Clayton.
The above have this day successfully passed a confirmation of appointment flight test.
Both these officers are considered good pilots for the experience they have had and are likely to become useful ferry pilots.
29 May 1941: Instructor's Report:
Flies well and carefully. Little lacking in confidence and although quite good shows experience of only about 300-400 hours rather than the 2,000 claimed.
29 May 1941: This one is self-explanatory:
1 Jun 1941. To: The Accountant, B.A.T. From: Henrietta
Thank you for your letter of 25th May.
Miss Spiller is employed at this Ferry Pool, and the above address will find her. Her Commanding Officer has spoken to her about this matter, and Miss Spiller has said that she will look into it.
White Waltham. Sunday. Dear Miss Gower,
I hear we are retuning to Hatfield soon, as we have finished school. I wonder if you could do me a secial favour? and give me permission to stay here, and go over every morning in the Anson? I am so terribly happy and settled in my billets, and was so uncomfortable at Hatfield.... I am staying with some friends of my family and living a normal comfortable home life, which makes such a difference to my work.
Am working very hard and do hope you will receive a not-too-bad report. In haste. Please accept my love. Margery.
White Waltham. Monday. Dear Miss Gower,
Thank you so very very much for giving your permission for me to stay on here until we move to Luton. It really is most kind of you and it helps no end. How relieved I am to know that 'we girls' are sticking together under your control, although it is rather fun landing out at various aerodromes. It is more interesting and broadens our 'flying views' and I think shows the men that we can fly as well if not much better than they can.
Please may I learn to fly the Anson, so that when Margie [Fairweather] is off I could take it to Hatfield and back. It would be empty, and I know I could do the job, as I feel happy on twins (or used to). It would be a lovely way to start on a machine like that in case later on I may be needed on something big.
Please do let me? I would feel more useful. I am getting on very well and doing everything very quietly. Am so terribly happy, and love my job. I hope to have dual on the Harvard tomorrow. Do hope I put up a good show and that you will be pleased and never regret having taken me on in the A.T.A.
Am so grateful to you. Love, Margery.
6 Nov 1941. From: A.B. Macmillan, Chief Instructor.
This is to certify that First Officer M. Spiller (Miss) has this day completed a course of training qualifying her to fly Class 2 aircraft.
Confidential School Report
This Officer is a good pilot and her progress during the course has not been unduly slow. She is inclined to underconfidence however and when nearing the end of the course she became over anxious about the result and was obviously trying too hard. She was granted 7 days leave, returned and passed out with assessment average.
8 Nov 1941. To: Chief Accountant.
Please note that F/O Miss Spiller is entitled to receive "First Officer C" pay as from and including 7.11.41
4 Dec 1941. To: Miss P Gower, C.O. 5FPP, Hatfield. From: O.C. RAF Sealand, Flintshire, Wales
RE: 1st Officer Spiller
This pilot has twice recently landed at Sealand and telephoned us up asking for us to take on her machine. Each time she has given personal reasons for wanting to get back, and also complained that she is very frightened of the types of machines she has been flying, namely: Hurricanes and Masters.
This morning when she telephoned us she claims to have been at Sealand for a week, and to be short of money and laundry. We have been flying between here and Prestwick on at least three days during the last six, and at any rate there has been good enough weather for her to fly her machine into Hawarden. She seemed extremely reluctant to do this, but I think it is wrong that we should be asked to take machines from other aerodromes than Hawarden.
On both these occasions I felt more or less obliged to take over the machine, as this officer sounded very nervous and worried about her job, so I decided that it would be unwise to leave her there with it.
...Perhaps some steps can be taken to prevent this pilot continuing this practice.
[Margery went off sick on the 21st December]
12 Jan 1942. From: Dr J.G. Thwaites, Brighton
This is to certify that Miss M Spiller is suffering from debility after mumps and is not fit to return to duty.
26 Feb 1942. From Establishment Officer. To: Chief Instructor
Re: Acting F/O P.M. Spiller
According to our records the above officer has been absent from duty since 22.1.42 suffering from mumps. Her flying pay and subsistence allowance were accordingly stopped after a fortnights absence, but in view of the exceptionally long time she has been off duty I should be glad to know whether you wish any further action taken.
16 Mar 1942. From Dr. E.F.Bambury M.D, 10 Harley St London W.1
This is to certify that Miss M. Spiller is not yet fit to resume flying duties. She probably will be able to resume her duties within two months.
20 Mar 1942. From : Kitty Farrer (P.A. to Miss Gower) Dear Margery,
Miss Gower has just received your Medical Certificate dated March 16th.
In view of the fact that you have now been away on sick leave for the past three months and that this last certificate states that you "will probably be able to resume duties within two months", Miss Gower considers that it would be much more satisfactory if you were to see the Chief Medical Officer of A.T.A.
She has therefore arranged for him to see you on Tuesday March 20th[sic], and has asked me to write to you to ask you to report to him at White Waltham on that date. I understand that he will probably be able to see you at any time during the day.
11 May 1942. From Mrs Nicholas, 30 Aberdeen Pl, St John's Wood London NW8. Dear Miss Gower,
Just a short note to let you know that my cousin Margery Spiller died this morning from cancer, she unfortunately left it too long before consulting a Dr. as to what really was the trouble. I am glad to say she did not realise how seriously ill she was & it really is a happy release under the circumstances.
I wonder if you could let me have the address of her billets at Hatfield also at White Waltham as I understand she has left belongings at both places, also I believe she had some flying kit at Hatfield but I do not know if it is her property or issue & the same with her uniform, I would be glad if you would let me know.
The funeral as far as I know will be on Thursday next at Croydon Crematorium being the nearest place to Sevenoaks if any of her particular pals would come, to know [sic].
12 May 1942. From: Pauline Gower. Dear Mrs Nicholson,
Thank you very much for your letter of the 11th May. I am more sorry than I can say to hear the sad news about Marjorie [sic, I'm sorry to say] Spiller, and please accept my very deep sympathy.
She will be a great loss to us, not only as a pilot, but as a very charming companion, and I know that I am speaking for all her colleagues, as well as for myself.
Unfortunately, I shall not be able to go to the funeral myself, but I believe that some of her friends are coming.
With again my deepest sympathy. Yours Sincerely, Commandant of Women Pilots.
12 May 1942, From Flt. Capt. Stocks, Establishment Officer, ATA. Dear Mr Spiller,
It was with deep regret that I learnt from the Commanding Officer of the death of your neice - Miss P.M. Spiller, and I am directed to express the heartfelt sympathy of the Commanding Officer and fellow A.T.A. pilots in your sad bereavement.
No doubt you are aware that your neice had been with this organisation for over twelve months, and it is felt that had she been spared, her adaptability and proficiency would have made her an excellent ferry pilot, and her loss is one that we can ill afford.
15 May 1942. From P.A. Spiller, to Establishment Officer, ATA. Dear Capt Stocks,
I deeply appreciate the kind lines of sympathy in which you have expressed the sympathy of the Commanding Officer and fellow A.T.A. pilots, including yourself, to me in the sad death of my neice Miss P.M. Spiller who has been with you all for a long time now.
Your reference to her adaptability, and proficiency, is also gratefully acknowledged, for I know her whole heart and soul was in the war job which she had undertaken.
I will ask you to kindly convey my thanks, and the contents of this letter, to all who knew my neice and have so kindly thought of me in my bereavement.
I am, Yours Sincerely, P.A. Spiller
Flight recorded her passing, thus:
28 May 1942: "We regret to record the death, at Sevenoaks, after an illness, of Marjory [sic, and I wish somebody would spell her 'f'ing name right for goodness' sake] Spiller , who was Chief Instructor to the Eastbourne Flying Club before the outbreak of war, and afterwards joined the women's section of the A.T.A.
She learnt to fly at Shoreham in 1935 as a member of the South Coast Flying Club and gained an instructor's endorsement to her 'B' licence in 1938."
15 May 1942. From Betty Nicholas. Dear Miss Gower,
Thank you very much for your kind sympathy and the lovely flowers.
I am sure Margery would have been very honoured to know that she was missed as she was so proud of being in A.T.A. & of being of some use to the country during these trying days.
Margery's flying record in the ATA:
Moth: 74hrs 50min;
Magister: 18hrs 35min;
Tutor: 4 hrs 35min;
Hart: 1hr 10min;
Harvard: 3hrs 30min;
Battle: 1hr 05min;
Hurricane: 1hr 30min;
Master: 4hrs 25 min
M. --- Cadet William Arundell Stewart b. 7 Aug 1915, Pateo, North Island NZ 29 Oct 1941 to Dec-41
d. 9 Dec 1941 - natural causes (peritonitis)
M.724 2nd Officer James Hector Stubbs b. 6 Sep 1913, Liverpool 31 Mar 1942 to 12 Dec 1942
Father: James Sanderson Stubbs; mother (and next-of-kin) Dorothea Noel [Capstick]
Ed. St Edwards, Oxford ["it was in the Second World War and the R.A.F. in particular, that the names of Guy Gibson, Douglas Bader, Adrian Warburton, Arthur Banks, Alec Cranswick and others raised the School’s profile to national fame"]
m., 1939 Marjorie Duxbury [Shuttleworth], but she applied for a divorce in 1942.
prev. 2nd-Lt. in Royal Engineers, 1938-41 [served in Egypt, invalided out with a duodenal ulcer]. Applied to RAF but was refused.
prev. exp. 150hrs on Tiger Moth, Avian, Leopard Moth, Puss Moth, Comper Swift, BA Swallow
Address in 1942: 'Kelvin', New Chester Rd, Hootton, Cheshire
He originally applied to the ATA in March 1941, but the interview process, bad weather, and a subsequent shortage of training places, delayed his start until the end of the following March.
His references were very good: "I had a high opinion of Mr Stubbs"... "With regard to your enquiry re Mr J H Stubbs, he comes of a very good family who were resident in this disctrict until his father fell on bad times... I believe he will give every satisfaction."
Postings: 8FPP, 6FPP, 3FPP
"An average pilot but inclined to be overconfident." "He worked well and proved he has a capacity for hard work above the average"
2 accidents, one his fault:
- 1 Aug 1942, after landing his Miles Hawk HL538, it swung violently due to excessive friction in the port wheel bearing
d. 21 Dec 1942; his Spitfire Vb JG924 struck telegraph wires, crashed near the Post Office, Mollington, 3.5 miles N of Chester, and was totally destroyed. "Pilot was off course and apparently 'shooting up' friends on ground, in contravention of Standing Orders, and is held responsible."
buried Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool, and also commemorated on the family grave along with his mother Dorothea Noel (d. 1965), and his sister, Kathleen Isobel, who was also killed in a flying accident: she died, with her husband Donald, in the crash of a British European Airways Vickers Viscount G-ALWE on 14th March 1957.
The £2,000 insurance money was paid to his mother in April 1943.
M.488 2nd Officer Henry Edward Taylor b. 23 Apr 1904, London 22 May 1941 to Aug-41
prev. A Stockbroker, then with the Ministry of Economic Warfare
d. 17 Aug 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Avro Commodore stalled on approach and crashed at White Waltham aerodrome on the 10th August; Henry had multiple fractures and chemical burns, and died in hospital a week later.
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery:
28 Oct 1941 "Please let me know what has happened to P.O. H. E. Taylor who was with you on a 'course' in June and July last... It is so unusual for him not to answer letters and we have become extremely anxious. He has no living relations and we are his oldest friends. Valerie Clemson-Young"
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):
[Seconded from RAF]
Thomas Frank Thompson b. 31 Mar 1921, London 28 Jan 1943 to 27 Aug 1944
Father: Thomas George Thompson, mother: Fanny Edith Rosetta [Galloway] of 54 Patmos Rd, London SW9
Ed. Reay Central Borough Polytechnic (National Certificate of Electrical Engineering)
prev. an electrical engineer; Sgt, RAF Lichfield from 14 Jan 1942
prev. exp. 140 hrs on Tiger Moth, Oxford, Wellington
Address in 1944: 521 Lordship Lane, E Dulwich, SE22
"Turned down night flying - scared" "Rather nervous"
Postings: 6FPP, 5TFPP, 14FPP
Reprimanded for negligence on 18 Nov 1943 when he taxied Hurricane Z4924 into a mooring block at Barton airfield and nosed over, damaging the propeller. His instructor said "I firmly believe that this pilot's trouble is due to a very poor retentive memory and inclined to carelessness and taking chances"
3 other accidents, one his fault
- 27 Oct 1943, forced landing in Anson N9536 after engine failure
- 30 Nov 1943 in Barracuda II LS486 which weather-cocked to starboard when landing, ran off the runway and the undercarriage collapsed.
On 21 Jun 1944 he was absent, having been on leave; when he returned he said this was due to "some trouble with a flying bomb which had damaged his house"
"A quiet and efficient pilot and a well disciplined NCO." "Navigation and map reading very good"
d. 17 Aug 1944 (age 24) in Oxford PH235.
Ferrying from Airspeed's factory in Portsmouth to 44 MU Edzell, Angus, Scotland; for an unknown reason (possibly hitting HT cables), the aircraft dived into the ground at about 17:30 near Holmes Chapel, Cheshire.
The two passengers, Third Officers John Douglas Dale (M.968) and Archibald Campbell Couser (M.967) were also killed.
"HOLMES CHAPEL 'PLANE CRASH
Three pilots of the Air Training Auxiliary (A T.A.) were killed when their 'plane crashed in a field off Knutsford-road. Holmes Chapel, last Thursday. They were Thomas Frank Thompson (23). chief pilot, of 31 Patmos-road. London ; John Douglas Dale (23). of 14. St. Mary's Crescent, Blackhill. Durham, and Archibald Campbell Couser (24), of 73, High Pleasance Falkirk. Their 'plane was seen flying low over the the village before diving suddenly to earth. The bodies were recovered from a wood thirty yards away.
At the inquest conducted by Mr R. A. Daniel on Monday Dr. A. D. Picton said he saw the machine flying level over the village at about 500 feet. Within a second or so it went into a fairly steep dive and crashed behind some trees. His impression was that the engines cut out and that the machine then dived. Before that he thought the engines were working normally.
Norman Forshaw, electrical engineer, Macclesfleld Road. Holmes Chapel. and Walter Caulfield, 30. Middlewich-road, Holmes Chapel. also gave evidence.
A Captain of the A.T.A. said it was a bad crash—too bad to ascertain any technical cause. The Coroner recorded a verdict of " Accidental death" in each case.
First Officer Moore. A.T.A., thanked the local police for their assistance. " - Winsford Chronicle - Saturday 26 August 1944
Buried Streatham Park Cemetery, London
M.690 First Officer William Thompson b. 1 Oct 1914, Lanchester 11 Nov 1941 to 6 Oct 1944
via Dave Bowman
prev. a Joiner and cabinet maker
c.1938, with Tiger Moth 'AEWG at Newcastle/Woolsington
"He was passionate about flying and like many young enthusiastic would-be flyers who didn't come from well heeled backgrounds he worked extra hard to raise the funds to learn to fly, cycling some considerable distance to get to the airfield. He ended up in ATA as he was unfit for military service due to a pre-war accident at work which left him with a badly damaged foot and leg.
I do know he was an accomplished maker of furniture and remember as a child the superb aircraft models crafted from scrap, collected I believe from the Ratcliffe hangars .He was described to me by someone who knew him at Ratcliffe as a quiet unassuming person who got on with the job and was noted for doing a lot of flying."
d. 6 Oct 1944 when his Lancaster I MC918 collided in flight with Blenheim VZ946 (flown by RAF F/O Tucker, with his instructor Flt-Sgt Field) near RAF Spitalgate, Lincs.
ATA 3rd Oficer (Flt-Eng) Dennis John Richard Howell in the Lancaster, and Flt-Sgt Field in the Benheim, were also killed in the accident. F/O Tucker escaped by parachute.
William was buried in Hollywood Avenue Cemetery, Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne (Section A Grave 80)
M.740 2nd Officer Patrick Morgan Trevor-Williams b. 15 July 1920, East Preston, Sussex 20 May 1942 to 15 Jan 1943
5ft 1.5in tall
mother: (and next-of-kin) Clara [Foster]
Ed. Bloxham School
Address in 1942: 'Berthorpe', Puttenham Heath Road, Guildford, Surrey
prev. staff engineer for S Smith , Bishops Cleeve; RAF Sep 1939- Aug 1940 (LAC, Pilot under training)
Suspended for 1 day in Nov 1942 for Loss of Ferry Pilot Notes (he also lost his cap and badge, for which he had to pay two-thirds of the cost of a replacement).
"A good officer and a pilot who, despite his limited experience prior to ATA, shows good promise. He is keen and has a capacity for getting on with the job in a quietly efficient manner."
d. 15 Jan 1943; he "persisted too far in bad weather (fog)", flying Master III W8840, and crashed into New Barns Farm, Bottom House, 5 miles from Leek, Staffs. [Map Ref VK4576]
Buried Leek Cemetery [his mother requested that he be buried close to the accident site)
"5 Mar 1943
I visited Mrs Trevor-Williams and she informed me that the death of her son had not affected her financial position and in fact she was proposing to buy a cottage with the insurance money due to her. She has five grown-up children still living and in my opinion she is about sixty years of age [she was 62]. In conclusion, I am of the opinion that Mrs Trevor-Williams is not in any way entitled to receive assistance from the ATA Benevolent Fund."
"5 Apr 1943
Thank you very much for the cheque for £2,422. I am truly sorry that Patrick's very happy time with the ATA ended with such tragic suddenness.
With Kind Regards, Clara Trevor Williams"
M.112 First Officer Walter Lee 'Buster' Trimble b. 9 Jun 1908, Ft Worth, TX 25 Aug 1940 to Aug-41
A commercial pilot since early 1929
prev. exp. 3,000 hrs
Address in 1940: 506 W Central Ave, Fort Worth TX
He requested that $25 a week of his $100 salary should be paid to the Red Cross Society.
"A pilot whose ability on twin-engined aircraft is well above the average." "His general flying instilled confidence."
The ATA offered him a contract extension following on from his 1-year term, which would have been from the 24th August 1941.
d. 14 Aug 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - one of four ATA pilots, travelling as passengers, amongst the 22 killed in the crash of Liberator AM260.
Others were Philip Lee (M.228), Elbert Anding (M.316) and Martin Wetzel.
The cause of the crash was that "the pilot in command [Cpt Richard Charles Stafford of BOAC] started the take off procedure from runway 06 which was not suitable for the takeoff as it was too short for such aircraft."
The ATA offered his mother an ex-gratia payment; she declined it at the time, but much later (in 1959), her circumstances having obviously changed, she did apply for a grant (and, I assume, receive it - his personnel file does not describe the outcome).
M.632 First Officer Elmer Edward 'Dutch' Uhlich
b. 21 Jun 1914, Riverside MI
21 Jul 1941 to Nov-41
d. 23 Nov 41 (Died in ATA Service) - Liberator AL562 caught fire and crashed into the sea south of Burrow Head, Wigtownshire, en route Prestwick to Hawarden.
'Gen' Genovese (q.v.) wrote later that "the ship was one of the first Liberators in England, but... through some grim blunder on someone's part the anti-aircraft crew had not been advised of its being a new addition to the British Air Force. Elmer Ulich (sic) was shot down and killed by British anti-aircraft fire."
The official accident report says "Insufficient evidence to establish cause but thought to be through bad weather causing aircraft to catch fire in the air."
The letter to his father says "At the time of writing I can add no further information as the investigation is proceeding and may possibly not yield anything conclusive. You will understand, of course, that in aircraft accidents it is sometimes impossible to ascertain the cause and in such cases it is better not to speculate on them."
... Sounds to me like 'Gen' might be right...
Pilot F/O Francis Bush also killed.
Buried Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial:
[Seconded from RAF]
Edward Easton Vergette b. 5 May 1921, Grimsby 21 Sep 1943 to 27 Oct 1944
Ed. Royal Masonic School
He and his younger brother John were left the "residuary estate of Robert Spencer Vergette in trust" in 1929
m. Jan 1943 in W. Kirby, Cheshire, Ethel Marion [Griffiths]
prev. "Articled Pupil Auctioneer"; RAF Sgt Pilot from 24 Sep 1940 (Good Conduct Badge, w.e.f. 2 Oct 1943)
prev. exp on Master and Hurricane
Flying accident in Dec 1941 - he "was in Ely Hospital for three months"
Address in 1943: 'Clavis', Meols Drive, W. Kirby, Cheshire (parents-in-laws') then 'Derwent', Thame Rd, Haddenham
Postings: 5TFPP, 3FPP
"... quite satisfactory...provided he does not regard it all as 'all too easy' and tries continually to improve his flying and airmanship, he should make a good ferry pilot and officer"
Two accidents, one not his fault:
- 4 May 1944, forced landing in Hurricane II HV729 when a wrongly-installed petrol cock caused the fuel to be drawn from the reserve tank only
d. 27 Oct 1944 in Defiant T4019 which dived into the ground SW of Hawarden airfield on a ferry flight from Hullavington to Donibristle. Whilst circling the airfield prior to landing, the engine revolutions were observed to be fluctuating; the aircraft then stalled and crashed at Pear Tree Farm. A subsequent investigation of the badly damaged wreckage failed to reveal the cause.
Cremated at Landeican Crematorium, Birkenhead
"My daughter Marion wishes me to thank you for the offer of assistance should she need it immediately, & to tell you that she does not need this help. She much appreciates the expressions of sympathy conveyed in your letter on behalf of the ATA.
Yours Truly, Joan Heron Dodd"
"The death of my elder son... leaves me so broken. I felt he was not fit, and did my utmost to stop him returning to flight duties. What a spirit!... His only brother is out in Iraq and my late husband served right through the 1914-1918 war.
Yours Sincerely, Annie May Vergette"
Probate of £1,782 16s 11d was granted 20 Apr 1945 to "Joan Heron Dodd (wife of Henry Ayscough Dodd) and Joan Marjorie Griffiths spinster."
2nd Officer (Nursing Sister)
Kathleen Mary Vickery b. 13 Jun 1912, Wellington, Somerset 19 Oct-42 to Apr-44
Mrs Kershaw from Jan 1944
d. 3 Apr 1944 (Died in ATA Service) - with Douglas Fairweather (q.v.)
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial:
E. Flight Engineer Harold Frank Peter Waldron b. 11 May 1915, Blewbury, Berks [unknown] to 22 Apr 1943
Father: Frank Waldron, mother Elsie, of Didcot, Berkshire.
d. 22 Apr 1943 in Catalina FP321
"Flt-Capt Carreras(q.v.) was instructing on a Catalina aircraft. Through no fault of his own the aircraft crashed on to the sea and the crew were thrown into the water. F/O Gibbs lost an arm, and but for Flt-Capt Carreras's efforts would have lost his life.
Flt-Capt Carreras also made the utmost efforts, but just failed, to save Flt-Engineer HFP Waldron from drowning, and helped other members of the crew to safety. He himself had experienced considerable shock and bruising."
His body was never found.
Commemorated at Runnymede:
M.234 * First Officer Martin Joseph 'Marty' Wetzel b. 1913, New York, NY c. 26 Sep 1940 to 14 Aug 1941
1940 Feb 1941
both parents German
Moved to Jamesburg, NJ at age 5
prev. a bricklayer, prize fighter (professional welterweight then light-heavyweight, apparently), cabaret dancer, organiser of a dance orchestra, and political work (Member of the Middlesex County Democratic Committee)
He also owned a night club (The Paddock) and was the owner and founder of Jamesburg Airport.
He had been flying for about 6 years, and owned a "5-passenger Fleet biplane."
Address in 1940: Monroe, NJ
Arrived in the UK on the 'Duchess of Atholl' 5 Oct 1940, with fellow pilots Roger Inman, Howard Mussey, Edward Vencill, William Cummings and Constant Wilson.
He and Franklyn Mershon were recruited together by Erroll Boyd. "He checked everything in a big file. My German name probably made him suspicious."
Once in the ATA, he said his only worry was "the Brooklyn Dodger baseball team."
"On her last fatal flight Amy Johnson and Wetzel were on the same 'run'. Martin wrote that he was forced down because of the weather but Amy Johnson went on to her death.
Wetzel has been through several air raids but still is unable to sleep through one undisturbed. That is not the case with Franklyn Mershon of Robinsville, who went abroad with Wetzel. "Mershon doesn't wake up even in the worst of it. One night the explosions shook me out of bed so often I decided to stay up. I went to Mershon's room but he was still snoring away as if nothing was happening." Central New Jersey Home News
Seconded to AtFero, Apr 1941
d. 14 Aug 1941 - one of four ATA pilots, travelling as passengers, among the 22 killed in the crash of Liberator AM260 when taking off from Ayr.
The others were Philip Lee (M.228), Buster Trimble and Elbert Anding.
buried Cambridge American Cemetery
M.962 3rd Officer Joseph Francis [Jose Francisco Jorge Santiago] Wheelock b. 20 Jul 1913, Managua, Nicaragua 18 May 1943 to 27 Nov 1944
Father: Thomas Wilfred Wheelock (b. 1874 in Lima, Peru); Mother: Maria Benita [Corazo], both of Managua, Nicaragua
Ed. Alabama University (BSA)
prev. exp. 34.5 hrs on single engine light planes
prev. a Coffee Planter
Address in 1943: 9 Taviton St, Euston London WC1
Rejected by RAF as medically unfit - "bilateral nerve deafness"
"Mr Wheelock is the owner of coffee lands here in Managua and has left behind him considerable wealth as much as a very comfortable life with a high social standing and a host of friends and relatives"
His flight test report says "Left S. America to help with the war. A keen and alert type who should be given a chance" and "Rather talkative but keen"
The ATA hurriedly checked, and "Confirmation that Nicaragua is actually at war with the Axis has been received from the Foreign Office"
Postings: 5TFPP, 2FPP, 7FPP, 3FPP
17 Aug 1943: he had a little 'misunderstanding' with the RAF Duty Officer at RAF Ternhill over how much fuel he needed; "although a flight of 35 to 40 miles could easily be accomplished within safety limits, it must be remembered that the pupil is a temperamental foreigner who has been instructed always to ensure that the tanks of the aircraft are full before a cross country flight."
On the 18 August, he was given permission to wear shoulder flashes bearing the word "Nicaragua"
By the 26 Sep 1943, he had reached a "lowly" Class I standard, but he "had to be taken off Hart training as he did not appear able to manage this type"
"His future flying will have to be carefully watched as, although he is keen and willing, his ability is limited."
He sustained a broken collarbone when hit by a taxi Anson in August 1944, and returned to the USA from 11 Sep to 15 Oct 1944.
d. 27 Nov 1944 in Mosquito VI NT147 piloted by First Officer Allen Pollock, which hit a flock of birds on a ferry flight from Hawarden to 44MU Lixell via Kirkbride. They arrived at Kirkbride with the port engine feathered, and crashed when attempting to go-round after the undercarriage indicator showed the wheels unlocked. F/O Pollock only suffered superficial cuts and bruises, but Joseph was fatally injured on the head.
Buried Carlisle Cemetery
His will left the benefits of his life insurance of 3,000 USD "in loving remembrance, divided thus:- Two thousand dollars to my mother and one thousand to Rosita Arguello Solorzano. I beg that my mother forgives me for all the trouble I have caused her". He left his house in the Avenida Hospital to his son, Armando Solis, when he should reach the age of 25.
And his estate amounted to 121,226 Nicaraguan Cordobas!
M.85 Captain Frank Ashton White b. 22 May 1909, Newton Abbott, S. Devon 11 Sep 1939 to 7 Aug 1944
Father: Frank White, Mother: Elsie Mary [Geatches]
Ed. Mount Radford, Exeter
Airline pilot at Bristol Airport in 1933
m. 1936 Fanny Dieudonnee 'Donnee' [Vallance]
prev. exp. 350hrs
Address in 1939: 63 Coombe Lane, Westbury on Tryn, Bristol
One of the first 22 ATA pilots, who joined on the 11th September 1939.
Postings: 1FPP, 4FPP(as CO, later demoted), 4aFPP, 6FPP (as second-in-command), 14FPP
He was relieved of his position as C.O. at Prestwick because (ATA Commanding Officer) Gerard d'Erlanger did not consider that Frank "exercised sufficient control over himself or his personnel".
Jan-43, from O.C. No 1 F.P.: "This pilot is a most valuable member of the Pool, who has performed all his duties - flying and administrative - with very great distinction. I have nothing but praise for him, and can recommend that he be considered for promotion if a suitable opening be forthcoming. I am at a loss to understand why he did not succeed when he was O.C. No 4 F.P. Such shortcomings as he exhibited at Prestwick seem to have been completely overcome."
9 accidents, 1 his fault:
- 28 Mar 1940, his Spitfire P9422 nosed over during taxying, due to an unmarked soft patch in the runway
- 10 Feb 1941; forced landing in Hurricane I P3935 after an engine failure
- 1 Jun 1942, a forced landing in Spitfire EM590 after suffering excessive oil pressure
- 20 Jun 1942, the tail wheel of his Anson was damaged whilst taxying over rough ground
- 9 Dec 1942, part of the fabric of the starboard wing of his Whitley III detached in flight
- 11 May 1943, the tail wheel of his Wellington XH329 collapsed after a normal landing
- 13 Jul 1943, his Beaufort I struck a lorry and subsequently landed wheels up at the destination
- 1 Jul 1944, he could not lower the undercarriage of his Mustang I AG384 due to a stuck selector lever, and made a wheels-up landing
d. 7 Aug 1944 (Died in ATA Service) - Spitfire LFIX MJ413 stalled after take off and dived into ground at Ratcliffe.
"It is considered that the pilot took off in a hurried manner, started a steep climbing turn immediately after becoming airborne, and whilst in a vertical bank the aircraft stalled and crashed."
Buried in Newton Abbott Cemetery:
His son tells me that "... the arrival of the telegram announcing his death is by far the clearest and most vivid memory of my childhood. My father had a few days leave, and so that he could see his parents as well as us, my mother had taken me to Newton Abbot. The telegram arrived when we we were at lunch. It was addressed to my mother, and she said “Oh, it’ll be from Ashton [as she called him] he said he’d let us know what train he’d be on”.... although I was only 6, I can remember that room in every detail, and where each of us was sitting, my grandparents, my mother and I."
[Frank's wife Dieudonnee had a son, Philip Frank Vallance White, on 2 Jan 1945. She married Bruce Anstey White, Frank's younger brother, in 1948]
W.99 2nd Officer Taniya Whittall b. 16 Jun 1919, Lindfield 1 Sep-42 to Apr-44
Prev. Exp: 6 hrs solo
Mother: Nancy (Meates) Father: Francis Vaughn (dec'd); her only sister lived in America.
Member of the Civil Air Guard in pre-WWII, ATA in WWII.
Taniya first applied to the ATA on 21 Mar 1941:
“In response to your appeal for ferry pilots, I wish to volunteer. I joined the Civil Air Guard at Redhill Aerodrome Surrey in September 1938, and gained my ‘A’ licence in May 1939. I have done approximately 30 hours flying (6 hours solo) on D.H. Gypsy I. I am 21 years of age, physically fit, and after the Civil Air Guard was disbanded I worked for 6 months at Headquarters Fighter Command Special Duties Branch as a plotter. I should be very grateful if you would inform me whether there is any possibility of my being accepted for ferry pilot duties”
They said “Nope”:
“I am afraid your experience does not come up to the required standards”
So in Jan 1942 she joined the WRNS, as a staff car driver.
She persevered, however, and applied again in August 1942. One of her ‘referees’ gave her this ringing, if slightly weird, endorsement:
“I have known Taniya Whittall 7 years as her people are neighbours of ours. And I would say she was quite trustworthy and reliable if in a position of access to secret information. Rather more so than is normal, as she is not talkative and has a head on her shoulders.”
... in any case, her initial assessment was OK:
“8 Aug 1942 – Avro Tutor 25 min. Take off (1) Poor (2) Fair. General flying “good – she possesses air sense.... A very good average pilot. Smooth and accurate handling... intelligent and very keen. She has plenty of confidence; in fact if she had any more she would definitely be over-confident.”
and she was accepted on the 16Sep 1942 as a Pilot Cadet, later being promoted to Third Officer in Jan 1943, and Second Officer in Jun 1943.
She did have a couple of accidents in 1943:
- 10 Sep 1943 in Spitfire XI EN341; undershot landing
- 24 Nov 1943 in Spitfire VIII JF895; heavy landing, followed by ground loop,
But when she was killed, it was as a passenger in a Lancaster I R5672 which crashed near Caistor at 17:00 on 8 Apr 1944.
Yorkshire Post, 12 Apr 1944: "WOMAN PILOT IN AIR CRASH ONE OF 9 KILLED From Our Own Correspondent GRIMSBY. Tuesday A verdict that she was killed accidentally in an aeroplane crash while travelling as a passenger was returned at Lincolnshire Inquest this afternoon on a woman ferry pilot, Second Officer Taniya Whittall (24), of the Air Transport Auxiliary, whose home was at Baskings, Selsfield, East Grinstead. Sussex.
She was one of nine people killed in an aeroplane which crashed near Caistor on Saturday. It was stated that she, with Wing Commander Campling and a Flight Engineer, boarded the machine at one Lincolnshire aerodrome to fly to another.
Gerald Richard Simpson, a student, said he saw the machine near Caistor flying at about 300 feet and losing height. The engines seemed to splutter and stop. There was an explosion and the machine crashed in flames. Squadron Leader James N. Ogilvie said the machine was completely wrecked and fragments scattered over wide area. He picked up A.T.A. cap, a powder compact, and a pilot's licence granted to the woman."
The compact and her wrist watch were salvaged, the rest destroyed. Taniya was not on duty at the time (it was her first day on leave), having delivered an aircraft the day before.
With thanks to Bill Merry
She was buried at West Hoathly; her mother received a cheque for £2,500 from the insurance.
Her mother said “ She loved her job, and was never so happy as when she was at it.”
M.427 First Officer Joseph 'Stuart' Wiley Jr b. 10 Jan 1913, Pine Bluff, AR 14 Apr 1941 to Dec-41
Address in 1941: 2287 Cove Rd., Merchantville NJ
Arkansas National Guard from 1932-35
a Commercial Pilot
"Extremely hard working and capable"
He was one of three survivors of the 14 American ferry pilots sunk in the 'SS Nerissa'.
d. 10 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Kittyhawk II AK575 left Speke at 16:15. Stuart "appeared not to be too familiar with the controls of the aircraft as he spent approximately 20 minutes in running up the engine and receiving advice from the delivery crew". When last seen he appeared to be "heading north with the aircraft properly under control", but he was never seen again. He was formally presumed dead 6 months later.
Margie Fairweather wrote: "We have had a tragedy already in no. 4b FPP. A charming American called Wiley who was posted to us left Speke on Wednesday afternoon & has not been heard of since. It is strange (or perhaps just a matter of psychology) how it always seems to be the nice ones that go and the toughs who remain."
"To Stuart, Happy Memories of June 1941. Mildred"
[His fiancee's name was Marion Wilson and she lived in Little Rock...]
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial:
M.980 2nd Officer Thomas Blair Willans b. 26 Jul 1903, Dublin 14 Jun 1943 to 12 Jan 1945
Father: Richard Harte Keatinge Willans; mother, Georgina Blow or Blois [Goodman]
Ed. Wellington College, RMA Woolwich
m. 1929 Edith Daphne [Traill], 2 children
prev. From 1921, a rancher, and manager of the Traill's estancia in Argentina, which was adjacent to his. Lieutenant in 15th Field Brigade, Royal Artillery, Aug 1923 to Jun 26
prev. exp. 205 hrs in UK, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, in DH Moth, Fleet, Fairchild 22, Stinson Reliant, Rearwin, Focke-Wulf, Aeronca Super Chief.
Learnt to fly in 1931 at the London Aeroplane Club; for his ATA application, he gave Pauline Gower as one of his references because "she was getting her 'B' Licence in 1931 at Stag Lane at the same time... I hope she will remember me."
Address in 1943: Estancia la Esterlina, Carlos Pellegrini, Santa Fe, Argentina and c/o Mrs Traill, 13 Lansdowne Rd, Bedford
Travelled from Argentina (passage paid for by the UK) in Feb 1943 to join the RAF, but there was a typo on his application form; it said his date of birth was 1909. Once he arrived and the mistake was discovered, he was rejected by the RAF as 'Too Old', and offered to the ATA (who also thought he was a bit old, even for them).
He then had a flight test in an Avro Tutor with ATA on 19 May; "General Flying Good but take-off Very Bad and handling Very Rough Indeed"
"Wishes his papers expedited as he has very little money"
Postings: 5TFPP, 2FPP, 16FPP, 3FPP
"A careful reliable pilot"
Two accidents, neither his fault:
- 18 Dec 1944, ferrying Vengeance IV FD132 from Air Dispatch Cardiff to 48MU Hawarden, the port undercarriage leg failed to lock down and on landing he collided with a Lancaster, damaging the port wing and propeller.
d. 12 Jan 1945 in Dumfies and Galloway Hospital, from injuries received in Wellington IV PF896 which was in collision with RAF Anson LV219 at Dumfries Airfield. Both aircraft were attempting to land, the Anson in front. A red verey light was fired from the ground, and the Anson then climbed into the path of the Wellington. The five crew onboard the Anson were killed.
Buried Headington Cemetery, Oxford
"The Willans name remains strong in Argentina. Tom's son Richard Robin, was President of the Media Luna [polo] Club. Robin, a Cambridge man, took the Warwickshire Cup in England with the Buccaneers Team in 1969. Andy Willans took the gold cup Campana del Deserto" Polo in Argentina: A History
M.835 * First Officer Roderick Williams b. 20 May 1899, Inverness ?? Oct 1941 to 4 Feb 1945
Father: Lewis Charles, mother Catherine Isabella [MacDougall) of 11 Paton St., Haugh, Inverness
Served two years apprenticeship (May 1915 to Jul 1917) in the motor garage of the Rose Street Foundry and Engineering Company in Inverness
RFC from 31 Jul 1917 (Farnborough, 39 Sqn from Jan 1918, 45 Sqn from 26 Mar 1918
RAF from 1 Apr 1918 (Camel, then SE5 pilot from 9 Oct 1918) Invalided to England 19 Dec 1918 then ground duties only.
Transferred to unemployed list, 1 May 1919
prev. 17 years at Chapman, Ltd., Motor Engineers, Inverness; Instructor at Inverness Gliding Club
m. Isobel Ann Hood [Menzies]
Address in 1945: Catherine Cottage, 9 Ardross Pl., Inverness
d. 4 Feb 1945 (Died in ATA Service) in Barracuda III PM859, which crashed into two semi-detached houses at Timperley, Cheshire during "unauthorised low flying" on a ferry flight from Ringway to Kirkbride.
Manchester Evening News, with thanks to Michael Warburton
A later resident of the (rebuilt) house, discovered that Roderick had been billeted there whilst stationed at Ringway, and the assumption therefore is that Roderick was circling the house at low altitude and either lost control or suffered an engine failure. The inquest was held in camera. Roderick's ATA Personnel file is missing, so we may never know exactly what happened..
M.649 2nd Officer Richard Horry 'Mike' Winn b. 27 Jul 1900, Hurlingham 22 Jul 1941 to 28 Jan 1942
Father: William Richard Winn
Ed. Whitgift School, Croydon; St George's School, Harpenden
m. Jul 1925 in Dorking, Surrey, Freda Mary [Phizacklea, b. 3 Mar 1903 in Staffordshire], 4 children (Anne b. 18 May 1926, Phillppa Jane b. 22 Apr 1930, Stephen Richard b. 7 Feb 1933, Nicholas b. 3 Aug 1935)
In 1931, he was in financial trouble, accused of obtaining money by false pretences. He pleaded guilty and, according to the Diss Express, 13 November 1931:
"on oath said that he was a married man with two children, one five years old and the other eighteen months. He was educated at Harpenden and joined the Royal Air Force as a cadet, subsequently obtaining a commission. He resigned this in 1927, and was placed on the reserve.
At the time he resigned he was suffering from neurasthenia and this was in consequence of an experience he had in March 1927. At that time he was with others in charge of aeroplane over the North Sea. The plane came down and he with the others hung on to the side for seven hours till they were rescued.
He had been in receipt of approximately £100 a year reserve pay, but this had ceased, and from time to time he had been assisted by friends. He was in a had way in September and improperly drew cheques. Now he was anxious to make a clean breast of the whole matter. "
He was bound over for a year.
Address in 1941: Carleton Hall, Penrith, Cumbria or Knapp Cottage, Corscombe, Dorchester, Dorset
prev. F/O, RAF and RAFVR, Nov 1925 to Oct 1930; a farmer, and mathematics teacher at a Prep School
prev. exp. 400 hrs on Avro 504, DH9a, Bristol Fighter, Vickers Virginia (!)
He originally applied to the RAF in May 1940, and they decided to give him a flight test.
However, following this the ATA informed him that his flying was judged to be "below the standard required for entry into the ATA" and "In these circumstances, we are unable to offer you an appointment as pilot."
However, by the 11 Jan 1941 the ATA wrote to him, "as a result of the lowering of the entrance standard it has now become possible to reconsider previously unsuccessful applicants.", and offered him another flight test.
He seems to have ignored this letter, but then wrote to the ATA on 11 Mar 1941:
Will you please send information about condictions of service, rates of pay etc in the Air Transport Auxiliary?
I am 40½ & retired from the RAF in 1931. I have about 400-500 hours flying - half of this on twin engined aircraft - but I have not flown for 10 years"
His second flight test on the 9 Apr 1941 went reasonably well: ("Take-off, fair; General Flying, good; Approach, poor; Landing, fair"), although he was rated "Doubtful for Class 2".
"Well-disciplined, keen and likely to prove a useful and capable ferry pilot"
d. 28 Jan 1942 (Died in ATA Service) in Master T8614 which he was ferrying from Prestwick (having been held there for 2 nights by bad weather) to Catterick.
The weather was snowy, cold and cloudy; the aircraft crashed at about 1,500ft near Stainmore, 6 m E of Brough, Westmorland, possibly due to icing.
The aircraft and his body were not discovered until 4 Apr 1942.
Photos of the crash site are here
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery
It turned out that Richard and his wife Freda, shortly before his death, had been declared bankrupt. He left no money whatsoever, and in fact there was an outstanding deficit of £2,349 18s 5d - plus, there were outstanding school fees to pay.
In March 1942, (so, after Richard went missing but before he was found), Freda became very ill and had to go into hospital for a serious operation; during that time Gerard d'Erlanger (ATA Commanding Officer) and his wife, cared for her two girls in their own home.
Normally, the ATA would have paid out £2,000 compensation to Freda under their insurance policy. Unfortunately, this would simply have been swallowed up by the public trustee for the benefit of the creditors.
The ATA Benevolent Fund met, considered her case and agreed to award her £94 4s "to clear the educational arrears of your two boys" and £30 to cover "maintenance for the next six weeks and travelling expenses", together with an offer to interview her and discuss the matter further.
On the 25 August 1942, the ATA's Deputy Chief Establishment Officer, Mr Staple, wrote to Mrs d'Erlanger at Lane Farm:
"Dear Mrs d'Erlanger,
I wonder if you could help me at all over the case of Mrs Winn? You know her well personally I believe, and have shown infinite kindness in taking in her children, and in various other ways, and if you could give me some assistance in her case at the present moment, I should be very grateful.
You know approximately what her circumstances were, how both she and her husband were bankrupt? Captain Stocks, the Flying Establishment Officer, with some assistance from this department, has been taking endless trouble with her affairs, and has been successful beyond all anticipation. He employed my suggestions to ask local [Maidenhead] solicitors, Messrs Smallman and Son, to get in touch with Mrs Winn, and the result of it all - without worrying you with any unnecessary detail - is that we managed to get the Trustees in Bankrupcy to withdraw their claims, so that Mrs Winn now stands to get the bulk of her husband's Insurance money.
All this had been going ahead well, until this morning, when Mr Smallman sends me a letter from Mrs Winn, a copy of which I enclose, and you will see it is to the effect that she proposes to leave Mr Smallman and take certain advice. I cannot stress too much how ill-advised Mrs Winn is to take this action at this time. Her affairs have been admirably dealt with by Mr Smallman, and what is more, she has behind Mr Smallman Captain Stocks, Mr Bathurst and myself looking after them. If she goes and employs, at this stage, some strange country solicitor from the wilds of Cornwall to take over her affairs, she will probably upset the whole apple-cart.
You, I think, have some influence with her. Do you think you could write to her, saying that this has been pointed out to you by me, and urging her to let things go on in Mr Smallman's hands as they have been in the past, and to allow him to complete matters. I think that a letter of that kind coming from you might be effective."
Mr Staple also wrote to Freda, advising her to let Mr Smallman continue with the case, and continued tirelessly working on her behalf. Largely thanks to him, in December 1942, Freda received £568 10s via the Workmen's Compensation Act.
By the following July, she had received the remainder of the £2,000 ATA insurance money.
On 27 May 1946, at St Mary's Church, Bodmin, Freda (age 43) married David Lincoln Bateson USN (age 24), from Boston, Massachusetts. They, together with Stephen, Nicholas and Phillippa Jane, sailed to New York in January 1947.
W.104 2nd Officer Jane Winstone b. 24 Sep 1912, Wanganui, NZ 19 Aug-42 to Feb-44
Mother Lena Storme Clapham, father Arthur, a chemist.
Jane had New Zealand Pilot's "A" (Private) Licence (No. 291) issued 14th August, 1931 and had completed 113 hours 40 minutes solo flying on D.H.60, D.H. 82, Miles Hawk, and Taylor Cub, but the license had expired in May 1939. She was working as her father's assistant at 10 Plunket Street, Wanganui in late 1941 when she contacted the ATA to see if they could offer her anything. The reply was somewhat guarded:
"It would appear from your previous experience that you would make a suitable ferry pilot, but we must advise you that any steps you may take to join this organisation are your own responsibility entirely and any expenses incurred in connection therewith must be borne by yourself."
It was then March 1942 when she wrote to Pauline Gower at 'Hadfield, England':
I am writing to enquire whether there are any vacancies for a qualified pilot in your organisation. I am twenty seven years of age and very interested in flying, having my pilots' license with approximately 120 hours flying time.
If you consider that there are any opportunities for me, please advise me and also what steps it will be necessary for me to take."
She sent a note from her old instructor at the Western Federated Flying Club, Flt-Lt Ian Keith:
"I have known Miss Jane Winstone from approx. 1930 when she first commenced flying under my tuition. She proved a very apt pupil and went solo very quickly. From then on she practised continually and represented our Club (one of the largest in New Zealand) in open non handicap competitions for landings, against senior men pilots and was successful in attaining first place each time she competed thus winning the Pageant Cup for the Club.
Her flying has always been consistent and she has never caused the slightest trouble through breaches of regulations etc. She also displays a keen sense of responsibility and I have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone regarding her services in a flying capacity."
In July, the ATA also checked up with her friend Miss Trevor Hunter, another New Zealander who had joined them the previous November. She said that she'd be fine:"Jane is used to responsibility, and is a very stable character"
Jane travelled to the UK in July, clutching letters of introduction from none other than the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Honourable W.J. Rogers, Mayor of Wanganui. Both letters "testify to her qualifications as a flyer and state that Miss Winstone was the third lady in New Zealand to qualify as a pilot."
She attended a flying test (and had her medical) on the 28th July. The report was encouraging; she "flew better than expected after a break of 2 years. Good hands; confident; capable of being trained for ferry duties."
You might think that, in the face of this overwhelming chorus of praise, the ATA would snap her up straight away. Not quite; they left her to cool her heels for a few weeks, until W.H. Sutcliffe from Rolls Royce tried to move things along:
"10th August 1942
Dear Mr McMillan,
I am writing to you on behalf of one of our test pilots Flt-Lt McKenzie, who has asked me if I could persuade you to hurry along the appointment of a Miss Jane Winstone whom you have already tested. Apparently she was engaged to his brother who unfortunately is missing on one of the recent raids. She has travelled all the way from NZ to join him, and it has come as a bitter blow to find him missing.
Apparently you cannot employ her as a pilot for another month, but could you find her a ground job in the meantime? She is brooding away the time in London with just nothing to do. Your help would be very much appreciated."
It worked. Jane started her training on the 19th August 1942.
Things did not go smoothly at first; "her flying was only moderate and she had considerable difficulty with navigation probably because of the big change in flying in England." She also had several breaks owing to illness - in fact, she was mostly off sick from the 23rd November 1942 to the 4th February 1943.
Things improved after that; she did 30 hours ferrying of Class 1 types, "working hard and showing common sense in the way she tackled her work" and then a further 56 hours ferrying of Class 1 and 2 types - Fairchild, Master II, Martinet, Hurricane, Swordfish, Auster, Proctor, Harvard, Lysander and Spitfire - where "all her work was steady and capable." She was promoted to 2nd Officer on the 25th August 1943.
Sadly, she was killed on the 10th February 1944 as she took off in Spitfire IX MK616 from Cosford. The engine partially failed, picked up twice, then failed completely, and the aircraft stalled and spun into the ground 2 miles north of the airfield, in Tong, Shropshire.
She was buried on the 15th February at Maidenhead. In April, Trevor Hunter asked for some flowers to be placed on her grave but a year later Sqn-Ldr V. S. Howarth wrote to Cmdr Barbour at the ATA: "While on a recent visit to Maidenhead, I visited the grave of the late Jane Winstone, who was a very close friend of mine. I intended to photograph the grave so as to send prints to her parents in New Zealand, but was most grieved to find that the grave did not show any signs of the care and attention one would expect... I might add that the graves of other ATA pilots in this particular cemetery were in a similar condition."
They agreed: "Unfortunately, the Cemetery which is owned by a Company, is not very well kept. The only staff is one aged gardener to help the Superintendent, and they cannot keep pace with the work. It is hoped that the Cemetery will be taken over by the Maidenhead Borough Council, and that would probably help matters."
[At the time, the cemetery was owned by The Maidenhead Cemetery Company; it was eventually taken over by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in the 1950s.]
The graves are now well tended by CWGC:
Jane's fiancé, Angus Carr MacKenzie, was later officially assumed ‘lost at sea’.
After the war, Trevor Hunter took Winstone’s logbooks to Wanganui and gave them to Jane’s mother.
M.330 First Officer Harry Wolff b. 31 Jan 1907, Malden MA 27 Jan 1941 to Oct-41
prev. a Flight Instructor and commercial pilot
d. 28 Oct 1941 (Died in ATA Service) - Beaufighter T3045 stalled on approach, crashed at Norton crossroads between Shrewsbury and Wellington.
[Seconded from RAF]
Basil Frederick Wrightson b. 13 Feb 1922, Grimsby 16 Oct 1943 to 13 Feb 1945
Basil's ATA Identity Tag - He was a Methodist, hence the 'METH'
Father: George Heath Wrightson (d. 28 Jul 1941). Mother: Laura [Tiede]
Ed. Barton on Humber Grammar School; St Johns College Yorks
prev. RAF Jan 1942 - Oct 1943
prev. exp. none [ab initio pilot cadet]
Address in 1943: 78 Blundell Ave, Cleethorpes, Lincs.
Postings: 5TFPP, 1FPP, 6FPP, 4FPP
"He has made very steady and regular progress and has proved to be a thoroughly reliable and likeable officer."
d. 13 Feb 1945 in Spitfire XVI TB329, which crashed in a field at high speed, at Opbrakel, Belgium on a ferry flight from 84 GSU, Lasham to Reception Flight B60, Belgium.
"The pilot appears to be to blame for the accident, having persisted too far in bad weather. The conditions at the time of the acident being 100yds visibility with cloud on the ground"
Buried Ronse [Renaix], Belgium
"Treasured Memories of a dear son and brother. A staunch and loyal friend"
His personal effects contained "a number of wireless parts, technical publications etc, some of which belong to S/O J E Ball, [John Edward Ball, a Canadian pilot, q.v.] with whom he shared a workshop for the purpose of constructing wireless sets."
"Dear Captain Mead,
My daughter and I are stunned by the tragic news regarding my son. He was such a fine lad and a good son & was loved by all who knew him."
"I hope you are right in your conviction that my son did not suffer in any way and I wish I could feel the same... The strain of it all is beginning to tell and I am going to have great difficulty to bear my loss.
Thank you very much for your kindness
The ATA paid Laura £2,000 insurance on 30 Mar 1945.