W.44  First Officer Mary Berta de Bunsen 
 flag UK b. 29 May 1910. Madrid, Spain  1 Aug 1941 to 1 Aug 1945 


mary de bunsen 1934



Mary de Bunsen 1941 




Mary was born in Madrid, the daughter of Sir Maurice William Ernest de Bunsen, Bart, GCMG, GCVO, CB, the British Ambassador there.

 "Miss Mary de Bunsen, the youngest daughter of Sir Maurice and Lady de Bunsen, is making her debut this year" - The Bystander, 1928

She had been dragged round dances and hunt balls by her parents in the hope of finding her a suitable husband - these were, of course, in short supply after the carnage of WWI. "I was far too innocent to realise... that with a lame leg [after a childhood attack of polio] and horn-rimmed glasses I stood no chance whatever". 

She ws an aeronautical journalist, especially writing about women pilots - see http://www.afleetingpeace.org/index.php/pioneering-women?filter_tag[0]=24

When WWII broke out, she joined the London Auxiliary Fire Service as a driver, and then, on the 1 May 1941, the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service.

"In May 1940 Air transport Auxiliary tested my flying and turned me down, for I was very rusty and the standard for women was still high. But it was a bitter moment, for those of us who were accepted that day had the dewy, sparkling look of souls reborn"

Wrote "Gliding with the Germans" in 1940

Address in 1941: Redwode, Chiddingford, Surrey

Postings: 5FPP, 15FPP, 16FPP, 7FPP

"Wears spectacles. Slight Limp"

 Class 4+ Pilot

9 accidents, 

- 2 Jan 1942, an error of judgement in Hurricane L1975, but she was not held responsible as she had "never passed through T.P."

- 2 May 1942, a wheels-up landing in Spitfire P7623 after the selector lever jammed

- 2 Sep 1942, her Spitfire EP825 nosed over after she taxied into an unmarked soft patch

- 9 Sep 1942, a poor landing in Spitfire Vb (Tropical) ER266 damaged one undercarriage leg

- 26 Nov 1942, the undercarriage of her Spitfire Vc ES111 collapsed on landing, due to a fault

- 16 Feb 1943, yet another Spitfire (MB274) undercarriage collapse; this time she was held to blame as she had failed to control the swing in a crosswind landing

- 5 Oct 1944, a forced landing in Avenger II JZ427 after the engine cut intermittently

- 21 Dec 1944, the starboard engine of her Hudson I P5419 caught fire when starting

- 20 Apr 1945, a forced landing in Anson I PH693 after suffering low oil pressure and high engine temperature


"This pilot has been a great asset to the Pool, (7FPP), both as regards to her flying and also in respect of social activities. She voluntarily undertoook the duties of Mess Secretary, and has been tireless in her efforts to make a success of everything she has undertaken"


She wrote the excellent "Mount up with Wings" in 1960, about her life, her time in the ATA, and her life-saving heart surgery.

d. 1982 - Weymouth, Dorset.


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

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