A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

photo: 1927, aged 23

Mr Alfred Charles Morris Jackaman

A civil engineer from Slough; in 1936 he and Marcel Desoutter decided that an airport at Gatwick might be a nice idea (it was, after all, "outside the London fog area").

He later married Australian-born Muriel Nora 'Cherry' Davies and they ended up near Sydney; he died in 1980, but she survived until 2011 - aged 101. see


King's Cup in 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1934

F/O R W Jackson

King's Cup in 1929

photo: 1912, aged 18

in 1920

Lieut John Herbert 'Jimmie' James

b. 2 June 1894 in Narberth, Pembrokeshire (which is in Wales); in 1913, he and his brother Henry were the first people in Pembrokeshire to build and fly their own aeroplane (just think of that, now 1). It was a sort-of-Caudron biplane and during its first flight it fell 60 feet to the ground, luckily without serious injury, and had to be rebuilt. It worked all right after that, though.

 After WWI, he became test pilot to the British Nieuport Company; in April 1920 he flew the Nieuport in Bombay on a publicity trip, and its handling was "much admired". Nieuport later became Gloster Aircraft, and among his many accomplishments was the British Speed Record of 196.6 mph in a Gloster Bamel in 1921.

d. 4 Feb 1944, although he had "given up flying some time before".

Aerial Derby in 1920, 1921, 1922


1 you have to say this in a singsong Welsh accent, you understand


Mrs J J James owned 1929 Supermarine Air Yacht, G-AASE, which crashed in the Gulf of Salerno in January 1933

joan jenkinson 1935

Joan Molesworth Jenkinson

31 October 1935: "WORRY DRIVES MAN TO NEEDLESS SUICIDE Dramatic evidence was given Mrs. Joan Jenkinson, the youngest daughter of Sir James Dunn, the Canadian financier, at the inquest at Hammersmith to-day on her husband, Mr. John Anthony Jenkinson, who was found shot in his Chelsea home on Tuesday. A verdict of "Suicide while of unsound mind" was returned. Mrs. Jenkinson told the coroner that her husband was 29 years of age, and a cigar merchant. His general health had not been very good of late, and he had been in a nursing home for little while. He had been depressed owing to financial troubles. She had been away, and when she returned home on Tuesday she found a letter on the table in her husband's handwriting addressed to her. She had lunch with him afterwards, but returned about 4:40pm to find him dead."

One of the ATA Women

 photo: 1933, aged 58

Mr Ernest J Jobling-Purser

From Sunderland, maker of Pyrex glassware


King's Cup in 1937

photo: 1930, aged 27

Lieut Caspar John, RN

son of Augustus (the artist and well-known pacifist); mother died when he was 3; later became Admiral of the entire Fleet, which must have gone down well with his dad. Died in 1984.

King's Cup in 1930, 1931, 1932

Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson, Hull's Finest

a.k.a. Amy Mollison

Born 1st July 1903 in Kingston upon Hull;  Amy was 'a slight young woman with heavily lidded eyes, dentured teeth, a shy smile and a soft Yorkshire accent' [she later developed a rather fake upper-class BBC one, possibly under her husband Jim's influence].

 amy johnson 1929

By 1929, a secretary (albeit one with an economics degree, and an engineer's licence to go with her aviator's certificate) turned solo record-breaking pilot and all-round nation's sweetheart. Married for six years to Jim Mollison (which was a Big Mistake).

On May 26th, 1932, after her solo flight from America, Amelia Earhart was the guest of the Royal Aero Club in London, and amongst the ladies in attendance were Lady Bailey, Amy, and Winifred Spooner (less than a year before her untimely death).  More details here.

"First combined aviation with work in a law office, but specialized on the former and in 1930 made a solo flight to Australia by way of learning her job. Has established a high reputation as a long-distance navigator-pilot in flights, many of which were records, to various parts of the world. Has not done much racing yet" [1936]

Amy originally applied to join the Air Transport Auxiliary on 29 February 1940. At the time she gave her address as the 'St George and Dragon Hotel, Wargrave', and quoted her previous experience as 'approx 2,000 hrs day, 500 night'. 'Types flown' were 'Most light types, several twins, Ford Tri-motor - about 50 in all'.

The form also had a space for "have you any foreign experience?", in which she wrote 'Nearly all except S. America.' She was, shall we say, not your typical ATA applicant.

After being made redundant, like Joy Davison (q.v.), when National Air Communications closed down, she spent the next few months trying to find something better, but to no avail. On the 20th April, ATA Womens Commandant Pauline Gower wrote to her to ask if she was still interested in joining, and, if so, "I shall be glad if you will forward us by return your log book and licence for inspection". Two days later Amy sent the documents, but asked if they could be returned as soon as possible, as she needed them for her medical examination on the 7th May.

A week later, Amy received a circular letter: "Dear Madam, We are holding interviews and flight tests here on Monday next, the 6th May, at 11a.m. Kindly let us know if you intend to be present". She wrote a short note back on the 2nd May:"I note the arrangements for Monday at 11a.m. & will be there".

This was the famous occasion when Amy turned up and saw another applicant "all dolled up in full Sidcot suit, fur-lined helmet and goggles, fluffing up her hair etc - the typical CAG Lyons-waitress type." ... "I suddenly realised I could not go in and sit in line with these girls (who all more or less looked up to me as God!), so I turned tail and ran."

Luckily for her, when she telephoned ATA to make some excuse about having the 'flu, they said the job was being kept open for her anyway, the test was just a formality, and she could start when she liked. Which she duly did, on the 25th May, as a 2nd Officer.

Her initial instructor's report was OK: "A good average pilot who had no difficulty in converting to both Master and Oxford aircraft. Should be suitable for modern single engine service types and multi-engine trainer types. With a further period of dual should be quite suitable for Blenheim type."

Despite her extreme reluctance to join the ATA in the first place, clearly thinking it was beneath someone with her great experience (she thought she could have had Pauline Gower's job, "if I had played my cards right and cultivated the right people"), Amy settled well into the job and "worked hard and conscientiously". She was promoted to First Officer on July 1st 1940.

She was killed 5th January 1941, aged 37, after baling out into the Thames Estuary from Airspeed Oxford V3540. It seems likely that she was run over by the boat trying to rescue her.

janes airspeed oxford

A flurry of urgent telegrams and letters hurtled around on the 5th and 6th January, as everyone tried to find out what had happened to her:


They all replied, along the lines of this one from No 3 Ferry Pool, Hawarden: REGRET HAVE NO INFORMATION REGARDING F/O AMY MOLLISON OXFORD V3540   (They obviously forgot she was divorced).

By the evening of the 6th, the concern was for the second of the two people thought to have been on board: IDENTITY OF PASSENGER OF OXFORD V3540 PILOTED BY MISS A JOHNSON WHICH LEFT SQUIRES GATE 1045 5/1. TWO PEOPLE BALED OUT IN THE ENGLISH CHANNEL IDENTITY OF SECOND UNKNOWN

It was headline news in all the papers, of course:

Gloucester Citizen, 7 Jan 1941: "AMY JOHNSON DROWNED. BALED OUT OVER THAMES ESTUARY. Amy Johnson, the airwoman, is feared to have drowned after baling out of her plane over the Thames Estuary on Sunday. A woman passenger with her in the plane also baled out, and they came down some distance from a boat. An Officer who jumped into the sea in an effort to save them is also believed to have drowned. Just before Miss Johnson baled out her plane was seen to dive towards the sea. A speedboat put out immediately, but the men aboard failed to find her or her passenger. The flight authorisation papers from her machine were, however, picked up from the sea.

A Good Swimmer. Her father. Mr. W. Johnson, a Bridlington fish merchant, was telephoned by Miss Pauline Gower, head of the Air Transport Auxiliary, saying that the wreckage of his daughter's aeroplane had been found in the sea. Mr. Johnson told our reporter:— " Everyone knows Amy's skill as a pilot. If there had been any chance of getting the machine down safely she would have done it. She must have been injured, too, before she landed in the water, for she was a good swimmer. 'We were looking forward to having her home at Christmas, but she had to cancel her visit because of flying duties.  I spoke to her last Saturday night. She was very cheerful. She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary six months ago. She knew it was a risky job, but she felt she had do something for Britain, and flying was the job she knew best. Our one comfort is that she gave her life for her country.'"

The mystery of the 'passenger' was addressed by Pauline a few months later:

Hull Daily Mail, 27 Aug 1941: "AMY'S LAST FLIGHT Miss Pauline Gower, Commanding the Women's Section Air Transport Auxiliary, stated yesterday at a London luncheon that she had checked Johnson's last flight and had "absolutely no doubt how she died" in the Thames Estuary last January. The famous airwoman, Miss Gower said, ran short of petrol in bad weather, and when she baled out "it was just bad luck that she happened to be over water. In baling out the type of 'plane she was flying it is often necessary to jettison a door, and this door coming down may have given rise to the rumour that there was another passenger aboard."


Pauline wrote to Amy's parents on the 10th January: "Apart from the loss to the Nation of one who, by her achievements, had endeared herself to all, we are suffering our own particular loss. Since she had been with me, she not only proved herself to be a pilot of the calibre one might expect, but we had come to rely on her and she had made friends with all and sundry."


MacRobertson Race in 1934

King's Cup in 1936

One of the ATA Women

Amy's aircraft included:

a 1928 DH.60G Gipsy Moth (G-AAAH) which she named 'Jason', and is now in the Science Museum;

a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-AAZV, 'Jason II';

a 1930 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-ABDV, er, 'Jason III'.

After 1930 she owned:

a 1932 DH.60G III Moth Major, G-ABVW, ... ummm, let me guess... yes... 'Jason 4', and

a 1932 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ACAB, 'The Desert Cloud'.

Flt-Lt Wiliiam Evelyn Patrick Johnson

King's Cup in 1932

photo: 1931

Mr A CP Johnstone

A ground engineer with Cirrus Engines. He was taught to fly by the late Col. G. L. P. Henderson, and obtained his "A" licence in 1929. The 1931 King's Cup was his first air race.

King's Cup in 1931


mini - c h johnston

'Maj C H Johnstone'

seen here in 1915

I think this must be Cyril Hubert Ralli Johnston

A Motor Engineer, b. 9 June 1892 in London.

 photo: 1916, when a Captain in the Welsh Regt, aged 26

mini - h w g jones2

In 1924

Flt-Lt (later Sqn Ldr) Hubert Wilson Godfrey Jones

I think he might have been Welsh


King's Cup in 1924, 1925, 1926, 1928

photo: 1926, aged 21

Mr Norman Herbert Jones

A Paper Maker from Surrey

King's Cup in 1927, 1928

Sqn-Ldr Arthur Gordon Jones-Williams MC & Bar

Known as 'John Willy'; Welsh Regiment (attached to RFC) in WWI (11 victories).

killed in 1929 in the Fairey Long-Range Monoplane which crashed near Tunis while trying to break the world distance record; buried in Newtimber, Sussex.

King's Cup in 1928

in 1919

photo: 1920, aged 24

Capt William Lancelot Jordan DSC DFC

b. 3 Dec 1896 in Georgetown, South Africa

Appointed Temporary Captain for service with the forces in E Africa from 1st July 1916 (the day that the Battle of the Somme began) and then went on to join the RNAS and then the RAF. Flying the Sopwith Camel, he ended the War with 39 victories before being rested in 1918, and was transferred to the unemployed list in September 1919.

Got married in Kobe, Japan, in 1921 to Hazel Thorne - she was from London, so I've no idea why they were in Japan.

August 1925: "AIRMAN KILLED WHEN MOTOR CAR SKIDS. 'Death by misadventure' was the verdict at the inquest at Guildford on William Lancelot Jordan, of Greylake, Beaconsfield Road, Blackheath who died in Guildford Hospital from injuries received when thrown from his motor car on the Hog's Back, near Guildford, on Thursday night (20 Aug).

Jordan, who was in the Air Force during the war and brought down about seventy enemy aeroplanes, was driving with his wife from Bournemouth to Blackheath when his car skidded on the wet road, struck the bank, and turned over twice. It was stated at the inquest that Jordan had not been driving at excessive speed. His first question after the accident was 'Is my wife all right?' Mrs Jordan was seriously injured, but is recovering."

Aerial Derby in 1920

ginette jullian

Ginette Marie Helene Jullian 

Not really an aviator at all (parachuting out of a perfectly good aeroplane in 1944 doesn't count), Ginette failed the training course for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1943, but went on to become an S.O.E. secret agent, 'Adele'.

b. 8 Dec 1917 in Montpellier France; father George, formerly in a shipping firm; mother Yvonne Lozes. Married at age 16 (one son), divorced.

pi01 475

She travelled to England in 1940 'to be with her fiancé', but he (Philippe de Scitivaux - an aviator in the Free French Air Force) was shot down and taken prisoner in April 1942. He was then sent to Oflag XXI-B in Poland, so she must have been at rather a loose end.

She spent the first 3 months of 1943 training with the ATA (although no record of her flying, or of what her instructors thought of it, survives), then immediately applied to SOE to be trained as an 'agent in the field'. 

She was initially told she would not be needed, so then went off to the B.C.R.A. (which was the French Intelligence Service set up by de Gaulle while in the UK) for 8 months.

By early 1944 she was back with the S.O.E.; they found that she had good morse (16 wpm, apparently), and was "Keen on silent killing and has a fair working knowledge." [Presumably this was thanks to her BCRA training, as I don't think the ATA syllabus covered 'silent killing'.]

SOE wrote that she was "very keen and enthusiastic about her job. Lived in Algeria where she was married. Often talks about North Africa which she knows well. Her character is mentally stable. She is a quiet type of girl, rather on the shy side but is determined and obstinate".

She parachuted into occupied France on the 7th June, 1944 to be a W/T operator, but soon discovered that all the people she was supposed to contact were nowhere to be found. However, she found some others and they spent 3 months generally harrassing and sabotaging the Germans. After that she didn't want to return to the UK; re-united with Philippe, they married and moved to Tahiti. 


She drowned there in 1962 while scuba-diving; Philippe, by then a Vice Admiral, died in Toulon in 1986.

[with thanks to Justin Davis]


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