W.4

Flight Captain

Mrs Winifred Mary 'Winnie' Crossley

 flag england

 9 Jan 1906, St Neots.  1 Jan 1940 to 30 Nov 1945 


RAeC 1934

     

 

nee Harrisson

Her father was a G.P. Dr. Ernest  Henry Harrisson and they lived at 'The Priory' and/or 'The Shrubbery', St Neots. He was famous for bringing the St Neots [Miles] quadruplets into the world in 1935.

She had an older brother [John Ernest McRae], a  twin sister [Daphne Louisa], a younger brother George Granville, and a younger sister Muriel (b. 1912).

Educated at Burchett House, Dorking

m. Sep 1926 James Francis 'Frank' Crossley. In 1930 they lived in Mallowry, Riseley, N. Beds.

They had 1 child, John James, b. 1929 (he apparently "often flew with her.") **

ata winifred and daphne harrisson The Tatler, 1935

prev. exp 1866 hrs on 'most single engine types; slight knowledge of twins'.

Owned a DH Gyspy Moth I in 1935. Learnt to fly at the Norfolk and Norwich Aero Club.

prev. performed aerobatics with CWA Scott's 'Flying for All' Aerial Circus:

winifred crossley 1936

Mrs. Crossley, the Display's lady aerobatic pilot, with Master Rice (whose father deals with the publicity) and the Hillson-Praga Baby monoplane.  [Flight, Apr 1936)

3 Sep 1936: (Flying for All) "Mrs. Winifred Crossley provides one of the most amazing features of the display. She is the first woman acrobatic pilot, and although she has only been flying for two years she has reached a surprisingly high standard."

... then the only woman pilot for Air Publicity Ltd, Heston from 1936, towing advertising banners; for example, in July 1937 she flew over Whitehall towing a banner reading "Give All Civil Servants Pensions".

Lived in Gamlingay, Beds from 1932-39. Represented Bedfordshire at lawn tennis.

Address in 1940: Newhaven Court Hotel, Cromer, Norfolk


4-engine (Class 5) pilot

Postings: Hatfield, 5FPP, 9FPP, 6FPP, 4FPP

 1942 caricature by 'Sammy' Clayton

"General Conduct: Average. Qualities of Leadership: Not markedly good. A pleasant and amiable person who is friendly and helpful to her less experienced colleagues."

"Has now cultivated a sense of responsibility. Very reliable pilot."

ata winifred and joan 1940  with Joan Hughes in 1940

 

In 1944 Norman Whitehurst wrote: "A smooth and polished pilot. She is apprehensive of poor weather to an extraordinary degree for such an experienced and good pilot. Discipline is fair and her influence, which is considerable, is not perhaps always in the best interests of the unit. She has lately shown improvement in this respect. She is at all times an amiable person of great charm and is extremely kind-hearted."

ata winnie and peter fair ELC

Separated from her first husband Frank; in 1943 she married Canadian airline captain Peter Cleugh Fair, later General Manager of BOAC-owned Bahamas Airways in Nassau.

Daily Record - Thursday 09 September 1943: "FLYING ROMANCE. Mrs. WINIFRED CROSSLEY, one of Britain’s finest women fliers, is spending a golfing holiday in Ayrshire with her fiance, Captain P. C. Fair, of British Airways. Slim, dark-haired, she is the daughter of the late Dr. E H Harrison, who brought the St. Neots quads into the world. She flew milk for the quads from London daily during the first weeks of their life. Captain Fair, who has been flying for 18 years, says that his bride-to-be is a better pilot than himself. She has done 4,000 flying hours, probably far more than any other woman in the world."

Peter Cleugh Fair (b. 18 May 1906 in Ontario) had travelled to England in 1927 and joined the RAF. He was promoted to Flying Officer in Dec 1928, was stationed at Uxbridge in 1934, and eventually was placed on the retired list at his own request in April 1937.

Andy Pickering tells me that "Peter Fair was an Imperial Airways pilot who lost a Lockheed model 14 Super Electra in the Mediterranean on Dec 21st 1939, G-AFYU. It seems it was the first ever BOAC loss, the company having only being formed a few weeks before. There were 6 survivors from a complement of 11, Fair being injured and rescued by a French ship off Sicily after a RN search."

In  January 1955, when 'fun-loving royal' Princess Margaret flew from London to Trinidad for an official visit, she was piloted by "Captain Peter Cleugh Fair, 48-year old Canadian who has flown the Atlantic nearly 400 times.

peter cleugh fair 1955

Captain Fair is one of BOAC's senior commanders and has logged more than 13,000 flying hours."

** Sadly, her son died in 1950: "On November 18, 1950, at Bovey Tracey. John James Crossley, only son of Mr. Frank Crossley and Mrs. Winifred Fair" Western Morning News

Western Times - Friday 24 November 1950: "LOSS TO PARISH.—The death of Mr. John Crossley has cast a gloom over local cricketing circles. Deceased was only about 22, and had been a playing member of the Bovey Tracey Cricket Club for some years. He lived at Harbertonford. His death came with tragic suddenness. He was at Bovey Tracey on Thursday night last, and, not feeling very well, went to bed. Returning to his home, he became worse, and on Saturday was removed to Bovey hospital, where he died soon after admission. Only a fortnight ago he received the president's bat for being the best all-rounder for last season. Mr. Crossley was a nephew of Dr. John Harrison, the president of Bovey Tracey Cricket Club. There was a large attendance at the funeral service held in Bovey Tracey parish church. The Rev. G. O. C. Duxbury, M.A.. vicar, officiated. Members of the club acted as bearers."

ATA women in Nassau 1957

l to r Ann Wood-Kelly, Lettice Curtis, Ruth Ballard and Winnie, Nassau 1957 (ELC)

They came back to the UK to visit Alan and Lois Butler in Studham in 1960.

Peter died in 1961, and was buried with his mother [Sophia Meiklejohn Cleugh Fair] and brother [Howard Cleugh Fair] in Pennsylvania. 

Winnie moved back to the UK and d. 1984 in Aylesbury, Bucks.

[Ultimate trivia fact: Winifred's younger sister Muriel married Peter Fair's brother Alfred!] 


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

 

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