Canadian Pilots

  • Bradbrooke, Francis Delaforce

     M.4  Captain  Francis Delaforce 'Brad' Bradbrooke

    flag england

    flag canada

     b. 14 Mar 1895, Worcestershire  11 Sep 1939 to Aug-41 

     ata f d bradbrooke 1935 1935 (Flight)  ata francis bradbrooke2Brief Glory   ATAM  


    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

     B 24 Liberator RAF Bomber

    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.

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


  • Butler, Lois (W.3*)



     W.3 *  First Officer

    Mrs Lois Butler

     flag canada -> flag UK

    3 Nov 1897, Montreal, Canada 

    15 Feb 1940 to 31May 1945 

        RAeC 1929  KC1933 Lois Butler King's Cup 1933  Lois and Winnie at Hatfield  Lois and Winnie at Hatfield  


    née Reed

    the "beautiful" [so said Harald Penrose] wife of Alan Butler. (Later, the 'Flying Grandmother')

    Her first husband (Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh William Knox-Niven) having died in 1923, she married Alan Butler in 1925; together they had a daughter and a son.

    15th in the Women’s Combined Alpine Skiing at the 1936 Winter Olympics, skating for her native Canada (although she was a member of the British Team before that).

    Postings: 5FPP

     1942 caricature by 'Sammy' Clayton

    Completed more than 1,000 hours, in 36 types of aircraft.

    2 accidents, neither her fault:

    - 24 Jan 1942, the wing flaps of Hurricane AG202 were damaged by water from melting snow, during a precautionary landing at Abingdon

    - 6 Aug 1942, a forced landing at Cranwell in Anson DG761, after starboard engine failure

    Post-WWII, the Butlers moved to Rhodesia and bought a tobacco farm, but eventually moved back to Studham Hall, Bedfordshire.

    She owned a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth G-ABGX, which was sold in France in December 1934, re-registered as F-AMRX and whose registration was finally cancelled in 1936.

    d. 17 Aug 1970 in Piraeus, Attiki, Greece from a heart attack while on holiday, and is buried in Studham.

  • Colby, Louise Marie Melina (W.48*)

     W.48 *  2nd Officer  Mrs Louise Marie Melina Colby
        b. 5 Dec 1910, Montreal Canada 1 Aug 1941 to 31 Dec 1941 

     louise colby 1936  RAeC 1936



    née Morin, father Alexandre Ovide Morin

    Educated at the Institut Normal Catholique Adeline Desir, Paris

    m. Oct 1931 in Woking, Surrey, William Marcus Colby, b. 1903, a Stockbroker (partner in Walter, Walker & Co. from 1933) :

    william marcus colby 1936

    They got their RAeC Certificates at the same time [and look, they had their photos taken in the same place!]

    Address in 1941: The Tile House, East Horsley, Surrey

    However, in 1941 she gave her next of kin as her sister, Mrs D. West, 666 Kensington Gardens, London W8.

    [William was in the RAF from December 1939 to August 1945]

    Postings: 5FPP

    She had one accident: 20 Nov 1941, at White Waltham, in Hart L7213 - "Unsuccessful forced landing after engine failure due to (1) incorrect cockpit drill prior to take-off and (2) failure to make quick survey of cockpit which would have revealed that main petrol cock was off."

    She was then off sick until the 2 Dec, returned briefly but then off sick again from the 9 Dec to the 17th.

    Contract Terminated 31 Dec 1941

    d. 1995, Surrey [William d. 1991]


  • Cowan, Willard Edwin

     M.660 * First Officer   Willard Edwin Cowan
    flag canada

     b. 8 Jan 1898, Wentworth, Ontario,

    but travelled to UK in Jun 1919 as a 21 yr old student, and again in 1922.

     25 Nov 1941 to 30 Nov 1945




    m. 1919 Patricia Jessie [Hamilton]; 5 children (inc. Patricia b. 1919, Mary b. 1923, Lenora b. 1924)

    RAF May 1923 - 29 Nov 1927

    Portsmouth Evening News, 6 May 1925:


    Expensive Outfit.


    How a young Canadian, and Flying Oflicer, aged 27, found himself in difficulties, and eventually had recourse to money lenders, was told to the Winchester Bankruptcy Court yesterday, when Willard Edwin Cowan appeared for his public examination in bankruptcy.

    His liabilities were stated to be £420, and his assets nil, and he alleged that his difficuties were caused by illness in his family and injuries to himself by a flying accident in Irak, having caused his expenditure to exceed his pay.

    Flying Officer Cowan stated that he was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and joined the Canadian Army in December. 1910, came to England, and in June 1917 obtained a commission, and was transferred to the Royal Naval Air Force. He served in the war until December, 1919, when he received a gratuity of £150 and returned to Canada.

    For a time he was out of employment, but subsequently obtained clerical work. In September 1922 he returned to England, was for a time without employment, living on money he had saved whilst in Canada and proceeds from the sale of furniture.

    In July 1923 he joined the Royal Air Force in which he holds a commission as Flying Officer, receiving pay at the present time amounting to £450 a year. When in Irak his total pay was £55 a month, and had he continued to receive this he could have met his liabilities.

    Married in 1917, his wife had five children. He had been living beyond his means, mainly due to the illness of his wife and family, and in order to meet pressing claims has been borrowing from moneylenders and others. He had known he was insolvent since July 1924.

    Replying to the Assistant Official Receiver, debtor said that in one instance when he negotiated a loan for £30 with a moneylender he actually received £27 in cash, paying £3 commission for the introduction.

    Examining debtor on his bills, the Assistant Receiver commented the items that "four shirts. £2 12s.; hat, £3 13s. 6d.; flannel trousers, 2 guineas” seemed rather extravagant, and debtor agreed, but said that he ordered a complete outfit from the firm, who had only one price. and he was not in a position to pay cash. 'This bill was increased subsequently to £200 and he had paid £56 15s. off it. 

    Debtor intimated his willingness to set aside £5 a month from his pay, and the examination was closed, subject to the signing of the notes."

    m. 1982 Ellen E [Harris]

    d. 4 Aug 1990, Luton

  • Davison, Elsie Joy (W.---)

     W.--- 2nd Officer 

    Elsie Joy Davison 

    née Muntz, 

    flag canada

    b. 14 Mar 1910, York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  1 Jul-40 to 8 Jul 1940 

      elsie muntz 1930 RAeC 1930   joy davidson 1933  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:

       RAeC 1927


    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:
    “Dear Pauline,
    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.

     Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):


  • Fairley, Charles Harry

     M.883 * First Officer   Charles Harry Fairley
    flag canada  b. 16 Oct 1923  9 Mar 1943 to 30 Jun 1945 




     m. Jun 1945 Betty K [Abbott]

    Sailed back to Montreal with Betty on the "Manchester Trader", 8 Jul 1945.

    d. 8 Dec 1985, San Luis Obispo, CA

  • Glover, John Ludlow

     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:



    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.


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

  • Harrison, Helen Marcelle (W.75)

     W.75  First Officer Helen Marcelle Harrison 
     flag canada  b. 7 Dec 1909, Vancouver, B.C., Canada 1 May-42 to 22 Mar-44 


    helen barnes 1934

    RAeC 1934


    W075 Harrison Helen 



    ata helen harrison 





    nee Testemale

    Father : Albert Jules Testemale, Mother: Gertrude Helen Marie [Harrison], a midwife, d.1958

    Ed. in England and Belgium

    Lived at The Hostry, Llantilio Crossenny, Abagavenny from 1910-1926

    m 1927 Robert W Barnes in Steyning, Sussex [divorced, 3 sons Robert, Peter and David]

    prev. Flying Instructor

    Learnt to fly in 1933 at the Sussex Aero Club, when living at Coombe Dingle, Queens Park Rd, Caterham, Surrey

     She owned 3 aeroplanes in England before WWII, all based at Shoreham;

    - G-ACMH, a 1933 Miles Hawk (sold to Denmark in Sep 1934),

    - G-ACGB, a 1933 DH Fox Moth (sold to India in Mar 1935), and

    - G-ACWW, a 1934 Miles Hawk Major (sold to Leslie Hiscock in 1939). She entered this in the London to Cardiff Race in October 1934, piloted by J Sale.

    She then changed her name by deed poll to Harrison in Apr 1935, and announced it in The Times: "I HELEN MARCELLE HARRISON, of 33, Heathurst Road. Sanderstead. Surrey, hereby give notice that I have RENOUNCED and ABANDONED the NAME of HELEN MARCELLE BARNES. and that I have assumed and intend henceforth on all occasions whatsoever and at all times to SIGN and USE and to be called and known by the name of HELEN MARCELLE HARRISON in lieu of and in substitution for my former name of HELEN MARCELLE BARNES. And I also give notice that such change of name is formally declared and evidenced by a Deed Poll under my hand and seal, dated the 20th day of April. 1935"

    Sailed from England to South Africa in Dec 1935 

     m. Louis Botha de Waal (divorced 1939)

     Sailed back to England from Cape Town in Feb 1938, then to New York in Apr 1939. When there, she stayed with her mother, Gertrude, at 5102 Evelyn Byrd Rd, Richmond, VA.

     In July 1939, the Star-Phoenix of Saskatoon, said "Flying around Hamilton these days is a young Vancouver-born woman whose exciting aviation career has taken her over most of South Africa, Great Britain and the United States."

    "The Vancouver aviatrix has spent most of her time over the past six years in the air. She said she found flying cost money, so she turned instructor and taught at the Pretoria and other flying schools throughout South Africa. She holds five aviation licenses, including English 'A' and 'B' commercial, a South African 'B' licence and both United States and Canadian commercial licenses."

    She flew on a Trans-Canada Airlines Lodestar from Toronto to New York on 3rd March 1942 for her interview with Jackie Cochran. She then sailed to the UK with Evelyn Hyam to join the ATA, arriving 25 May 1942.

    While with the ATA, she sailed to New York on 21 Jul 1943, and returned as supernumerary co-pilot in Mitchell FR185, 19-24 Sep 1943.

    Address in 1942: 680 Oriole Parkway, Toronto

    Sailed to New York on the Queen Mary, 31 Mar 1944.

     In 1949, she was living with her parents in Curtis St, Lochdale, B.C.

    m. 1969 Donald M Bristol, and thereafter was known as Harrison-Bristol

    In 1973, named to the Order of Icarus and in 1974, Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame: "The career dedication of her flying skills to instruct an almost entirely male population of students, despite adversity, has substantially benefited Canadian aviation."

    d. 27 Apr 1995 - Blaine, WA



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

  • Hawkey, John Walter


    Pilot Officer

    [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:

     beaufighter 6

    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 CemeteryMcGillivrayMiddlesex CountyOntarioCanada


    "Beatrice (Hawkey) Dixon 1886-1975

    P/O John W. Hawkey RCAF 1920-1944 Killed on Active Service at Cheshire, Eng."


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

  • Holley, James Henry

     M.---- 2nd Officer  James Henry Holley 
    flag canada   b.1899 or 1900  22 Apr 1941 to 23 Aug 1941

     [Possibly emigrated to Canada aged 11 in 1912]

    RFC in WWI; an instructor at Manston, Kent

    He "taught Sir Alan Cobham to fly":

    ata james holley and alan cobham 

    Sir Alan Cobham, famous British Airman, was taught to fly by a Winnipeg man, James Holley - The Winnipeg Tribune, 17 Jan 1927

     They met again during Sir Alan arrived in Winnipeg en route to the Pacific Coast and had a chat about 'the good old days'.

    m. 1921 Anna [Sparling] in Winnipeg

    Owned a 1927 DH Moth, G-CAIL, which later became part of Western Canada Airways' fleet. He also acquired G-CANO, a 1928 Avro Avian III, from WCA.

    He was involved in an aeroplane and car tour from Saint Paul to Winnipeg tour in 1928:

    "The delegation, led by Captain J. H. Holley, air pilot for the Western Canada Airways corporation, made arrangements for the international goodwill tour, the Canadians pledging their support and co-operation and offering the hospitality of Winnipeg during the first of the Crookston group.

    Captain Holley, considered one of the best pilots in Canada, declared he would fly down to take part in the Crookston air derby and would be accompanied by at least one other ship from his company."

     In 1930, he was Sales Manager of the Detroit Aircraft Co. He flew a Lockheed Vega to break the commercial speed record at Felts Field; Washngton; "he expects to exceed a speed of 185 miles per hour."

    Sailed back to Montreal on 5 October 1941 with fellow ATA pilots Clark Trumbull, Constant Wilson, William Englander, John Sleeper, Walter Lewis, Vernon Meyer, Marvin Tuxhorn, Herbert Termaine, Willie Crews and Leland Lloyd

  • Howitt, James Francis

     M.423 First Officer   James Francis Howitt
    flag canada   b. 20 Apr 1914, Guelph, Ontario 9 Apr 1941 to 31 Dec 1941 

    ata james howitt ATA




    Next of kin: Father, John J Howitt, 407 Water St, Guelph.

    A former employee of a dairy firm, who used his savings to get to England. 

    A 'non permanent gunner' in 1938 with 43rd B.T.Y., R.C.A.

    P/O with 242 Sqn RAF, Jun-39 to Dec-40 - the first all-Canadian squadron of the RAF.

    In September 1940, according to The Ottawa Journal, he "cracked up and was sent to hospital. Doctors told him he couldn't fly a fighter plane again. He heard he was being sent back to Canada.

    'I didn't want that', Howitt said. 'Any kind of flying is better than none at all, so I volunteered for the ATA and was accepted.' " 

    Address in 1941: Marbrock, Smedley St, W Matlock, Derby

    Postings: 14FPP

    Off sick from 14 Dec 41 to 28 Dec with 'nervous apprehension', perhaps brought on by the 2 forced landings he had (a Spitfire in August, and an Anson in October, both due to engine failure).

    [Contract Terminated 31 Dec 1941)

    d. November 2, 2002, Guelph

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

  • Jenkins, John William

     M.225  First Officer John William Jenkins 

    flag canada

      b. 13 Jn 1910, Toronto 23 Sep 1940 to Sep-41 



    son of Thomas Jenkins

    Address in 1940: 59 Ashes Rd, Causeway Green, Langley, Birmingham

    Moved to 106 Winona Dr, Toronto after leaving ATA

    prev. a commercial pilot, then Volunteer pilot in Finnish Air Force, Feb - Mar 1940

    prev. exp. 560hrs

    "Has proved himself a most reliable, keen and hardworking pilot. Unfortunately, he became nervous and worried about his flying and is in need of an extended leave."

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


  • Large, Kathleen Gloria (W.---)

     W.--- Cadet   Kathleen Gloria Large
     flag canada b. 29 Jan 1923, Charlottetown, Canada  5 Jul-42 to Sep-42 


    ata gloria large 1942

    The Charlottetown Guardian, 1 Aug 1942



    The Charlottetown Guardian, Aug-42: "Gloria is the daughter of Mr and Mrs H R Large of this city. Mr Large served in the World War with the Royal Flying Corps as a pilot. He enlisted in the early days of the war along with five other signallers. Weeks, Stewart, McLeod, Gardner and Whitlock who all made a good record overseas."

    [Contract Terminated by ATA - 'Unlikely to become an efficient Ferry Pilot']

    "Well done Gloria - the first Canadian Woman Ferry Commander visits her native city.

    Gloria has made good in a big way. She passed the most rigid air test examinations as well as in meteorology, navigation, air rules, and other exams which entitled her to the rank of Flight Lieutenant in the RAF. Quite an accomplishment for a girl only 19. Miss Large now ferries all types of aircraft and will soon take her place with the British Air Transport Auxiliary in England."

    [Perhaps the best we can say about this piece of nonsense - she was only ever a Cadet, and her ATA contract was terminated within a month of her starting - is that 'there was a war on'.]


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

  • Laursen, Aage Valdemar Helstrup

     M.113 * First Officer  Aage Valdemar Helstrup Laursen 

    flag denmark ->

    flag canada

     b. 23 Nov 1915, Copenhagen  26 Aug 1940 to Nov-40 


    ata aage laursen





    (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".

    janes airspeed oxford

    d. 4 Nov 1940 (Died in ATA Service) - Oxford R6019 flew into hill at Brynford nr Holywell, Flintshire, in poor visibility

    buried Hawarden, Cheshire

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


  • Leith, Thelma Olga (W.---)

     W.---  Cadet

    Thelma Olga Leith

    Mrs Wall

    flag canada + flag scotland

     b. 14 Mar 1916, Toronto  18 May-43 to 17 Aug-43

     ata thelma leith 1934 This may well be her, at the Inverness Games in 1934 (The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News)


    Father: Thomas Geoffrey Leith (Canadian); Mother: Olga Renfrew Schwartz

    Next of kin: (Aunt) Mrs Robertson-Eustace

    Ed. Luckley College, Wokingham

    prev: ATS Subaltern from 1938 (MT Driver)

    prev exp: 28hrs

    Address in 1942: Merethold, Wrecclesham, Farnham, Surrey

    One accident, her fault:

     - 6 Aug 1943, she made a rough landing in a Hart, the port wing touched down and the a/c ground-looped.

    Contract Terminated by ATA

    m. 1946 Capt. Jack Murray Wall, in Hampshire

    d. 25 Nov 1989 in South Africa

     Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):

    download grey

  • Lussier, Betty Ann (W.103*)

     W.103 * 3rd Officer  Betty Ann Lussier 
     flag usa  +  flag canada  b. 20 Dec 1921, Medicine Hat, Alberta Canada 11 Nov 1942 to 28 Apr 1943

     betty lussier ata



    Father: Emile John Lussier DFC [b. Illinois, RAF in WWI, Squadron Leader in the RCAF in WWII] 

    Mother Vera [Fleming, Canadian]

    Her father's parents were born in France and England, her mother's parents were American and Canadian.

    The family moved to Rock Hall, Maryland in 1924, where they ran a dairy farm.

    Ed. Rock Hall High, Washington College, University of Maryland

    She and her sister Nita competed in the 1940 and 1942 South Atlantic Association Outdoor Swimming championships for the 'Kings of Columbus' team; Betty won the 100m breaststroke race both times, and was third in the 220 yd freestyle in which Nita came second.

    ata betty and nita lussier 1942 Nita, 18, and Betty aged 20

    She learnt to fly under the Civilian Pilots Training program.

    prev. exp 240hrs

    ata betty lussier 1942 1942

    Betty and Nita both wrote to Jackie Cochran in Mar 1942 hoping to join the ATA but were rejected; Nita joined the RCAF Women's Division instead, but Betty built up her flying hours and then used her Canadian birth to volunteer directly as a British citizen.

     Address in 1942: 815 North Charles St, Baltimore MD

    Postings: 5FPP

    She wrote a series of articles for the Baltimore Sun during her time with the ATA. One, called 'Wartime England from the Sky'  describes a delivery flight. It ends:

    "Slowly the coast began to take shape... There was the Channel with its foaming breakers rolling in upon a gray-white beach. Several rugged cliffs added that painted-there-on-purpose look to the scenery. In between two of those imposing cliffs my destination aerodrome sprawled like a lazy spider stretching out its legs. I glanced once more at the quiet green countryside, the calm, blue sky, the monotonous rolling waves and throttled back to land in the midst of the bustling activity of England at war."

    ATA Total flying hours: 197, on Tiger Moth, Magister, Master, Hart, Fairchild, Auster.

    [Resigned to join OSS]

    Post-ATA, a member of US OSS (Office of Strategic Services) - X2 counter-espionage unit, analysing messages from German units. She also helped to establish a network of undercover agents to spread misinformation in Algeria, Italy, Sicily and France.

    Her fiance, Lt. Charles Thomas Chittum USAAF, was killed in a car accident in July 1943.

    m. 1945 in France, Ricardo Sicre aka Richard Sickler, USAAF, also ex-OSS (4 sons) (divorced 1975)

    Post-WWII, Special Correspondent of the Baltimore Sun, living in France.


    Amid my Alien Corn (1957);

    'One Woman Farm (1959);

    'Intrepid Woman: Betty Lussier's Secret War, 1942-1945' (2010)

    ['Intrepid Woman' is an interesting account of her time with the ATA and OSS.

    Unfortunately, it has a few passages where Betty has clearly mis-remembered the events. For example, in April 1943 (just before she left the ATA) she says that her classmate and friend, "Tanya" met her death. "It was an ugly end for vivacious Tanya, with her long blond hair, her cornflower-blue eyes, and her sunny nature. The engine of the Oxford she was to deliver cut out on takeoff. She had no speed to do a dead-stick, straight-ahead emergency landing. The Oxford went engine first into the ground and exploded." 

    Apart from the fact that an Oxford has two engines, Taniya Whittall (who was indeed a classmate of Betty's) was still alive until April 1944, and did not die in an Oxford, but as a passenger in a Lancaster. Betty may have mixed up Taniya with Irene Arckless, who died in an Oxford accident in January 1943.

    Betty then describes a fellow pilot cadet: "Another American pilot, Betty McDougall, was accompanying me. She was one of the "older women" whom Jackie Cochran had brought over from the States". Not quite right; Elizabeth Anderson Macdougall (also a classmate of Betty's) was Scottish, and had joined the ATA independently.

    Betty also says she left the ATA in April 1943 because she was told she would not be allowed to fly to Europe after D-Day, and describes the build-up of forces ready for the invasion; the problem here is that, a) when she left the ATA, the (June 1944) invasion was not even agreed, let alone planned in any detail or resourced, and b), the person who decided that women were not to be allowed to fly to Europe (which they eventually did, actually) was Trafford Leigh-Mallory, who didn't take up his post until August 1943.]

    In 2008, at the time that Gordon Brown presented medals to the surviving members of the ATA, she said "They paid us the same as men and advanced and promoted us just as if we were real citizens. It was the first time I saw equality with men, and that really amazed me."

    d. 30 Nov 2017 - Rock Hall, MD

  • Milson, James

     M.1043 3rd Officer  James Milson 
     flag england   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."

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

  • Milstead, Violet Beatrice (W.111)

     W.111  First Officer   Violet Beatrice 'Vi' Milstead
     flag canada  b . 17 Oct 1919, Toronto, Canada  5 Apr 1943 to 31 Jul 1945

     ata vi milstead  ATA



     Father: Harold Milstead, mother: Edith (both b. England)

    Commercial Licence 1940; Instructor's Licence 1941

    prev. Worked in her mother's wool shop, and Flight Instructor at Barker's Field, Toronto

    prev. exp. 1,000hrs


    Sailed back to Nova Scotia on 18 Aug 1945

    m. 1947 Arnold Warren (d. 2000), and they spent 1952-3 in Indonesia, where he was an instructor

    Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, 2014

    d. 27 Jun 2014


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

  • Orr, Marion Alice (W.112)

     W.112  2nd Officer Marion Alice Orr 
     flag canada  b. 25 June 1918, Toronto, Canada  5 Apr 1943 to 1 Oct 1944 

     W112 Orr Marion  ATA

     ata marion orr  ATA     1941  


     née Powell

    Father: John Thomas Powell (d. 1920), mother: Lillie [Taylor] (Fuller, d. 1940)

    prev. Manager and Chief Flight Instructor at St Catherine's Flying Club, Ontario

    Commercial Pilot's licence in December 1941

    m. 1942 Darwin Kitchener 'Deke' Orr (a fellow flight instructor, also from Toronto; they separated "shortly afterwards")

    Made one trans-Atlantic flight as 'supernumerary co-pilot' (i.e. 'passenger') in B-17 HB815, 10-11 Jun 1944

    Sailed back to the USA, on the 'Queen Mary', arriving on 8 Oct 1944

    Appointed to the Order of Canada, 6 Jul 1993

    d. 4 April 1995 in a car accident - Peterborough, Ontario


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

  • Rochfort, William Patrick D'Oyly

     M.61  First Officer William Patrick D'Oyly Rochfort 

    flag canada

     b. 4 Nov 1912, Victoria, BC  12 May 1940 to Jul-43 

      ata william rochfort 1938 1938      


    prev. Commercial Pilot

    prev. exp. 625 hrs

    Postings: 6FPP, 16FPP

    "Has worked well, but entirely lacks any discipline."

    d. Feb 1985 - Eastbourne, Sussex 

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


  • Rudge, Frances Mary (W.161)

     W.161 3rd Officer  Frances Mary 'Frankie' Rudge 
     flag canada b. 25 Dec 1914, Hamilton Ontario  21 Feb 1944 to 27 Apr 1945 

     frances rudge ATA ATA



    Father: William Rudge, Mother: Mary, of 214 W Washington St, Painesville, OH, USA

    Ed. Harvey High School, Painesville, OH

    prev: Private Secretary; WAAF from 19 Aug 1941 (Section Officer from 8 Dec 1941) stationed at Greenock and then RAF Loughborough and Church Fenton.

    Ab initio pilot

    1 accident:

    - 1 Sep 1944, a forced landing in Magister I T9747 after engine failure on take-off. After landing, the aircraft over-ran the airfield boundary and was damaged


    Exp. in ATA: Magister: 103hrs 45min; Proctor: 38hrs 50min; Fairchild: 34hrs 55min; Moth: 12hrs 40min; Auster: 6hrs 05min; Swordfish: 3hrs.

    m. 27 May 1944 in Haddenham, Bucks, Sgt Fergus Herbert Clarke Horsburgh of 6 Alexandra Place, Stirling, Scotland - they had originally met on the boat coming over from the USA in 1941.

    Travelled back to Canada 23 Oct 1945 but returned to the UK

     Their son Brian Rudge Horsburgh died in 1969 aged 19 in Ottowa. Fergus was resident in Chateauguay, Quebec at the time.


    d. 4 Mar 2005 - Exmouth, Devon


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

  • Russell, Margaret Elspeth (W.134)

     W.134 2nd Officer  Margaret 'Elspeth' Russell 
     flag canada   b. 14 Jul 1922, Montreal, Canada 25 Sep 1943 to 31 Oct 1945 


    margaret russell 1945  RAeC 1945

     ata elspeth russell ATA    

     Father: William Russell

    Ed. King's Hill, Compton, Quebec; McGill University

    prev. exp. 150 hrs

    Address in 1943: 'Hillcrest', Matane, Quebec

    Arrived in Liverpool from Nova Scotia on 19 Oct 1943

     m. 1945 in Hendon, London, Gerald Burnett (q.v.), a fellow ex-ATA pilot

    They settled in Matane, Quebec, and formed their own airline: Matane Air Services.

    Later, a flight instructor

    "In 2002 Elspeth was inducted posthumously into the Quebec Aviation Hall of Fame."

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

  • Stewart, Malcolm Ferguson

     M.161 First Officer  Malcolm Ferguson Stewart 

     flag usa

    flag scotland


    b.  19 Jan 1909, Boston, Mass. 21 Oct 1940 to 8 May 1941 

      in 1927, age 18

      1938 (Boston Globe)    


    Father: Alexander Stewart, (b. Scotland). Mother: Christine [Ferguson] (b. Nova Scotia)

    Nationality: "Scottish, Canadian and Honduran"

    6ft ; blue eyes, brown hair

    Ed. Hyde Park High, Harvard (Naval Science; B.A. in International Law, 1930)

    prev. US Army Air Corps 1932-37 (Lieut); Honduran Air Force Jan 1938-Oct 1940 (Captain); Commercial Pilot

    In Honduras, he was head of the school of military aviation for the Republic of Honduras, "one of the most responsible jobs ever given to an American in Central America"


    m. 15 Dec 1934 in Portsmouth, NH, Jean [MacLeod]

    Address in 1940: 40 Alaric St, W Roxbury, Mass.

    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, Francis Bender and Roy Edwin Wimmer.

     Postings: 2FPP

     Off sick in Mar 1941 with influenza

    2 accidents, 1 his fault:

    - 15 Dec 1940, unable to start the engine of his Fairey Battle after landing in wet weather

    - 12 Jan 1941, forced landing in a Hurricane; he persisted too far in bad weather


    Shortly after his return to the US (4 Jun 1941), he registered for the US Draft:

     By Jul 1942, he was in the USAAF attached to TACA "on a special mission with the US Army Engineers", based in Trinidad. His job there toook him to "British Guiana, Surinam, Curacao, Aruba, Venezuela, Antigua, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Barbados, and other Caribbean areas"

    m. Olga (one son, Robert N)

    Chief of the Honduran Air Force

    d. 13 Jul 1949 (age 41) - Tegucigalpa, Honduras

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

  • Vincent, Edward

     M.906 *

     Pilot Officer

    [Seconded from RCAF]

     Edward Vincent
       b. 1923, Ontario 25 May 1943 to 25 Mar 1944 




     m. Iris Madeline [Moyes]

    One accident, not his fault:

    - 23 Jan 1944, the accident in which John Hawkey was fatally injured and First Officer Eric Brunskill suffered severe burns; the Beaufighter in which he was travelling was hit by a Mustang landing on the wrong runway at Hawarden.

    Edward was admitted to the Military Hospital, Chester and then RAF Hospital Cosford with burns to his legs and hands, transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead on 8 Mar 1944 and became a  member of 'The Guinea Pig Club' - one of 649 Allied Aircrew treated there for burns injuries.


    d. 1976, Ottawa, Canada

  • Walmsley, Elwood Palmer

     M.329  First Officer Elwood Palmer Walmsley 

    flag canada

    flag usa

     b. 3 Nov 1914, Toronto Canada, naturalised American

    1 Feb 1941 to 31 Jan 1942

    [364 days]


     ata elwood walmsleyJan 1941 Chicago Tribune



    m. Dorothy 'Laverne' [Stark], 2 sons

    prev. flying instructor

    prev. exp. 2,225 hrs

    Address in 1941: 922 Gordon Terrace, Chicago, IL, USA

    [His brother-in-law Ken Fogelberg joined the ATA in May-41; Ken was married to Laverne's sister Jeslyn.]

    Postings: 1FPP

    "Has completely overcome his difficulties with regard to discipline and is now an excellent pilot and an excellent influence on the Pool as well."

    Joined RAF Ferry Command but d. 28 Mar 1943 (age 28) when Baltimore FA427 crashed and burned on takeoff at Nassau.

    Buried in Puerto Rico's National Cemetery

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


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