Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

The girls of the ATA

Discussion in 'Women at War' started by brianw, Jun 28, 2014.

  1. brianw

    brianw Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Bridgend, Mid Glam.
    via War44
    The girls of the ATA (Unofficial Motto: Anything To Anywhere)

    During the Battle of Britain one thought vexed Dowding more than any other, he had enough aeroplanes but never enough pilots. The factories were more than capable of turning out new fighter aircraft to replace losses but Fighter Command needed every pilot it could find for combat duties.
    Many old pilots have been heard to say that even after a day where a squadron was reduced to just a handful of barely serviceable aircraft in combat, by breakfast the following day they were back up to full strength again.

    This wasn't entirely due to the heroic efforts of the ground crews virtually rebuilding their charges overnight, nor was it down to those vital but inexplicable wartime ingredients - mystery and magic, but more to the efforts of the ferry pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) flying the replacement aircraft directly from the factories to the frontline aerodromes where they were needed. They also ferried aircraft to and from overseas locations.

    [​IMG]
    First Officer Maureen Dunlop. The female pilots had a high media profile

    Of the 1,318 pilots, 166 were women; in fact it was the first instance of gender equality in the workplace with the female pilots being paid exactly the same as the male pilots.
    Some of the girls were experienced pilots before they joined the ATA; one such was Amy Johnson who sadly lost her life along with 14 others of her comrades on ferrying duty.
    At first the female pilots were allowed to fly only training and transport type aircraft such as the Anson while the more "glamorous" jobs were left to the men but once the girls proved that they too could fly Spitfires and Hurricanes there were no further barriers as to type, except the very largest flying boats.

    [​IMG]
    Diana Barnato Walker climbing into the cockpit of a Spitfire while serving with the Air Transport Auxiliary

    The pilots were qualified by "class" rather than on an aircraft type as with combat crews, so once a ferry pilot was qualified to fly a Lancaster they were automatically cleared to fly other four engined heavy bombers too even if they had never seen the type before. Each pilot was given a set of "Ferry Pilot Notes" which listed all the vital figures and information a pilot needed to safely fly the aircraft from one place to another. Ferry pilots were expected to fly anything they were cleared on at any time. That meant they could be delivering a Halifax to its HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit) in the morning and a Spitfire to a frontline squadron in the afternoon.

    Awards and commendations
    During its period of operation between 15 February 1940 and 30 November 1945 members of the Air Transport Auxiliary won or were awarded the following:

    2 Commander British Empire (CBE)
    13 Officer British Empire (OBE)
    36 Member British Empire (MBE)
    6 British Empire Medal (BEM)
    1 George Medal
    6 Commendations
    5 Commended for Gallantry
    18 King’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air

    In addition to its aircraft ferrying role, the ATA provided a passenger ferrying facility for service personnel on urgent duties and also flew some air ambulance work.
    During the war the ATA delivered over 308,000 aircraft of 130 different types.


    Air Transport Auxiliary - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  2. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0
    via War44
    Right on sisters. I heard somewhere that the only job women were absolutely not allowed to do during wartime, was coalmining. The steel works was just fine, but not coalmines.
     
  3. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Messages:
    449
    Likes Received:
    0
    via War44
    I know that searching the internet today we can just about find anything we want about WW2, but most of the information such as this seemed to have taken its time to go global if you understand what I mean. As a youngster at school all the books in the library were of battles, weapons and machinery etc, nothing I read told me of the ATA girls or any other small associations that worked in the background. Even the home guard seemed to have been scarce, or did I miss it all? :wtf:
     
  4. brianw

    brianw Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Bridgend, Mid Glam.
    via War44
    I know what you mean, I was in school during the 50s and 60s too.
    Looking back now with a more enquiring mind, I think that things war were still a bit raw so people tended to try to look at history in terms of battles won and the "good times".
    Some of the stories by their very nature had to stay secret; Bletchley Park, RAF Medmenham and other stories but some seem to have just become lost in the mists of time, even though the information is out there on the world-wide web somewhere if one only has the time to look for it.
    That's the beauty of websites like War44; people like us try to do the digging and then bring the stories together albeit briefly in one place dedicated to the men and women whose lives were changed by the events of history.
    As the Second World War rapidly passes from living memory, it becomes even more important that the people, places and events are presented in a way that everybody can appreciate.
     
  5. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,324
    Likes Received:
    10
    via War44
    The internet was a god send for WWII buffs, especially for bringing stories as above to the forefront for everyone to learn and understand that the fight was not only done by Soldiers but by Women and people at home also. I didn't find out about my Mother in Law who was a supervisor in the construction of Parachutes during the war years until she was on her death bed, and my Father in Law a deserter who worked on the land through these years. People just didn't talk about it.
     

Share This Page