W.17

Commander 

Mrs Marion Katherine Ogilvie Wilberforce   

flag scotland

b. 22 Jul 1902, Aberdeen 1 Jan 1940 to 1 Aug 1945 

  

  RAeC 1930

 ata marion wilberforce 1940 1940    

 

 née Ogilvie-Forbes

Father: John Charles M Ogilvie-Forbes, the 9th Laird of Boyndlie, Aberdeenshire, "a dour character who studied for the Anglican priesthood but was converted to Rome by Cardinal Newman and devoted most of his time after that to serving the Vatican as a Papal Chamberlain." - Dublin Evening Herald

Mother: Anne Marguerite

One of 7 children

Ed. Convent of Jesus and Mary, Stony Stratford; Somerville College, Oxford (Agriculture)

"At Oxford she took a keen interest in sports: she was an accomplished exponent of ju-jitsu and was a member of the women's mountaineering team. She also acted in the productions of the university's French Club."

She owned G-EBQV, a 1927 DH.60 Moth, (withdrawn from use in 1936), and then G-ADMP, a 1936 DH.87b Hornet Moth which was impressed as BK837 on the 5 Sep 1940, and written off in 1941: "She used them to ferry livestock to and from her Essex farm, Nevendon Manor, sometimes from as far afield as Hungary."

  Nevendon Manor, Wickford, Essex

She entered the Hornet Moth for the 1936 Cotswold Handicap Air Race, held to celebrate the opening of the Gloucester and Cheltenham Airport. 

"From 1929 she had also taken a keen interest in the work of the Fairbridge charity whose aim was to take orphaned children from overcrowded British cities and find them homes in agricultural communities in the Dominions. In the late 1920s and early 1930s she visited Canada and Australia to look over farm schools there. She continued her involvement in the Fairbridge Farm Schools until late in her life. Having no children herself, she often had Fairbridge children to stay with her for extended periods."

m. 1932 in Ventnor, IoW Robert William Francis Wilberforce, a solicitor

["Her husband-to-be was for some time undecided between the state of matrimony and a vocation to the priesthood, eventually deciding to test the strength of the latter by spending six months in a monastery. When this period was over Marion was at the monastery gates to collect him"

 prev. Flying Instructor and Charter work for Southend Flying Club

prev. exp 900 hrs


One of the 'First Eight' women pilots in January 1940:

 Marion far right

 

 Postings: 5FPP (as CO)

 4-engine (Class 5) pilot

 ata_marion_wilberforce_by_sammy.jpg  1942 caricature by 'Sammy' Clayton

Off sick from 31 May to 10 Aug 1943 after a thyroidectomy

 3 accidents, one her fault:

- 8 Apr 1942, the hood of her Battle V1234 came loose and blew away

- 25 Sep 1942, landing at Little Rissington in Tomahawk AH901, she swung off the runway to clear a vehicle and the aircraft tipped over

- 23 Jan 1944, she collided with a Jeep in her Spitfire. She was not held to blame as "the jeep stopped within a few feet of her; she could not reasonably have seen it in these conditions."

She declined an MBE.


"Marion Wilberforce was the quintessential 'Atagirl': resourceful, daring and skilled, with more than a touch of eccentricity in her make-up."

 She carried on flying until she was 80, in the second of her Hornet Moths which she called the "Old Lady's Bath Chair":

  Aberdeen Evening Express, 1970

 She was also Master of the Essex Union Hunt in 1970, and had to apologise to a local family after their little girl's tabby cat was found dead near the route the Hunt had followed. She visited the family's caravan, apologised, offered sympathy and "offered to replace the cat."

 

d. 17 Dec 1995, aged 93 - Stroud, Glos.

Buried St Joseph Roman Catholic ChurchyardBishop ThorntonHarrogate BoroughNorth YorkshireEngland

 

[Unacknowledged quotes are from her obituary in The Times] 

 


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

 

 

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