ATA Stories 1ATA Stories 2ATA Stories 3ATA Stories 4ATA Stories 5The ATA & Re-enactingInformation RequiredRememberLinks

7img031.jpg

Diana Barnato Walker MBE
1918-2008

In 1941, after seving as a nursing auxiliary with the British expeditionary force, which had been driven from France by the German invasion the year before, she passed rigorous tests and became a member of what The Times of London dercribed in 2005 as "the pluckiest sisterhood in military history" the women's arm of the Air Transport Auxiliary. At only a little over five feet tall, she often needed a special cushion to allow her to reach the controls of the aircraft she flew.

Diana alone delivered 260 Spitfires during her four years in uniform, according to wartime records.  September 1944, she delivered 33 aircraft of 14 types. Pilots were often asked to fly in poor weather conditions, without instruments, weapons and radios.  She survived many brushes with death, she wrote in her 1994 autobiography, "Spreading My Wings" that she owed her survival to a "guardian angel". Twice the unarmed planes she was flying came under attack by German aircraft, but she emerged uninjured.  A total of 16 women, piloting aircraft on ferry runs were killed in the war, nearly one in six, a ratio that aviation historians say was worse than that suffered by the Royal Air Force wartime fighter pilots.

Diana Walker continued to fly after the war, when she flew her own light aircraft around Britain encouraging young women to take up careers in aviation through an organization known as the Women's Junior Air Corp.  In 1963, at the age of 45, she became the first British women to fly faster than sound when she piloted a two-seat RAF Lightning fighter at a speed of 1,262 miles an hour over the North Sea

Freydus Sharland

Freudus Sharland was just 19 when she started flying Spitfires.  She said: I was often frightened, especially in bad weather.  Many times I wondered if I would ever see the aerodrome again, we lost so many friends., and the next morning their name would be scrubbed of the board in the office and the place would be horribly quite.  At the end of the war we were obviously very relieved, yet I also remember feeling sad it was over.  Mrs Sharland from Benson Oxfordshire, became a commercial pilot and once single-handed delivered a plane to Pakistan, where she was barred from the men only officers' mess.

Mary Ellis

Escaped unhurt from two crash landings. 'She said looking back, I suppose I was very lucky, but when you are in your early twenties, you don't think of danger.  Back then people thought a women was odd even wanting to fly.  Mrs Ellis was managing director of Sandown Airport Isle of White.

Mrs Lofthouse

Mrs Lofthouse ended up piloting 18 different aircraft, including Spitfires and Hurricanes.  Mrs Lofthouse from Cirencester Gloucestershire, said:  The weather was our biggest enemy.  We didn't have radio contact with the ground and there was a couple of times I thought I'd lost one of my nine lives. We're all very pleased about the award that is to be given.  The only thing is, it's come too late, there aren't so many of us left.


Ministry of Aircraft Production
Millbank S.W.1.

Commodore G d'Erlanger CBE Air Transport Auxiliary

In these great days of the magnificent victory of our fighting forces in Europe, I send to you and all your members of the Air Transport Auxiliary my congratulations and my most sincere thanks for a great job well carried through.
The ATA have formed an essential link between the factories and the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm. 
The unfailing regularity with which they have cleared aircraft from the factories in all weathers and under all conditions has enabled us to maintain our programmed flow of production.
Since D.Day the ATA have made a valuable contribution to the victory by supplementing the facilities for air transport to and from the Continent of Europe.
In the course of of these onerous duties there have been many casualties in the ranks of the ATA anf today we remember with pride those who thus gave their lives in the service of the country.
This great service faithfully, unobtrusively and constantly performed has earned for every member of the ATA the gratitude of the country. The Air Council wish to associate themselves with me in this expression of admiration and gratitude to all ranks of the ATA.
15 May 1945

1.jpg

 With the exception of Capt Bradbrooke (Co-pilot) most of the ATA personal were travelling as passengers on the aircraft.  All were laid to rest in Kilbride Old Churchyard. The Liberator had left Heathfield, Ayre aerodrome, en route to CFB Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. (Later RCAF Station Gander)  The passengers would crew up and return later with new aircraft.



80.jpg

Maureen Dunlop

First Officer Maureen Dunlop (right) one of the ferry pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary



Sir Frederick Alfred Laker
1922 - 2006

Freddie Laker, as most people know him was the first person to introduce the so called No Frills Airline system, one which has a proven track record to this day.  Freddie was from Kent and began work at Short Brothers Aviation, joining the Air Transport Auxiliary from 1941-1945.  In 1960 he joined British United Airways where he was manager for five years.  It was while he was with British United that he learned the airline managing business.  In 1966 he formed his own airline Laker Airways, using aircraft purchased from BOAC.  In 1973 the company submitted an application to the British Air Transport Licensing Board to launch it's trans Atlantic Skytrain service. The application was not granted until 1977, meanwhile other major airlines had lowered their price to just above Lakers.  Skytrain was extremely popular, and Laker was popular with the general public.


Francise Delaforce Bradbrooke 

Francise Bradbrooke, a keen and experienced pilot was barred by colour blindness from getting a professional licence. A senior member of the Aeroplane Magazine staff, the ATA presented him with opportunities which fulfilled his wildess dreams.  From the start he assisted Gerard d'Erlanger in the ATA's organization and was the Commanding Officer of it's first ferry pool.  Later he became the ATA's chief ferry officer, and was acting such when in of 1941; he volunteered for and was accepted into B.O.A.C.  In August that year he was second pilot in a B24 Liberator, flown by Capt E.R.B. White, one of B.O.A.C's most experienced pilots, when after take-off from Prestwick on it's way to Gander Newfoundland, the aircraft hit one of the highest points on the Isle of Arran killing all occupants.

6.jpg


 Kilbride Cemetry, Lamlash, Isle of Arran

The Consolidated B24 Liberator LB-30A AM261 crashed into the hillside of Mullach Buidhe 2,366ft, near Brodick on the Isle of Arran August 10th 1941, all aboard were killed.  The aircraft had a crew of five and seventeen passengers.  The conditions at the time were described as; overcast with low visibility and rain.  The crash was recorded as a navigational error.  

B.O.A.C.
Ernest Robert Bristow White (35) Pilot in command
Henry Samual Green (30) radio officer Atlantic Ferry Command burried in Brookwood Military Cemetry

A.T.A.
Francise Delaforce Bradbrooke Capt co-pilot
Albert Alexander Oliver Radio 0fficer
George Herbert Powell Radio Officer
Herbert David Rees Radio Officer

R.A.F. Ferry Command (RAFFC)
James Josiah Anderson Capt - Ralph Bruce Brammer Radio Officer
John Beatty Drake (26) Radio Officer (Canada) - Daniel Joseph Duggan (39) Capt (USA)
George Thomas Harris Capt - Hoyt Ralph Judy (24) Capt
Wilfrid Groves Kennedy Radio Officer - Watt Miller King (27) Capt (USA)
George Laing (35) Radio Officer (Canada) - William Kenneth Marks Radio Officer
Hugh Cameron MacIntosh (27) Radio Officer (Canada) 
John Evan Price (30) Capt (Australia)
Ernest George Reeves Flight Eng - John James Rouleston First Officer
Harold Clifford Wesley Smith (50) Capt - Jack Wixen Capt (USA)