M.85   Captain Frank Ashton White 

flag england

b. 22 May 1909, Newton Abbott, S. Devon  11 Sep 1939 to 7 Aug 1944 


ata frank white 1933  1933

   ATAM  ATAM   


 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


spitfire lfix

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]


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



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