- Flight Engineers -
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.
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'"
E.107 Flight Engineer Alice Barbara McMurray b. 19 Jul 1922, Bearsden, Glasgow 19 Apr-43 to Jul 45
prev: fitter, Handley Page Ltd
Mrs Thomas from Jun-45
Flt Engineer Mrs Phyllis Olive Pierce b. 6 Jun 1918 26 Oct-43 to Apr-44
d. 29 Mar 2013
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: