A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

photo: 1929, aged 25

Flt-Lt Henry Richard Danvers Waghorn

'Dick', another of the Schneider Cup winning team in 1929, also a member of the GB skiing team in 1930, and a burly rugby-player to boot.

Killed in 1931 after bailing out of a Hawker Horsley from Farnborough and hitting a building.

 

King's Cup in 1930

photo: 1932, aged 23

Mr Robert John Waight

'Bob', joined de Havilland in 1928 and their chief test pilot from 1935; killed flying the TK4 at Hatfield in October 1937 - a few weeks after the race.

Hatfield later turned into an industrial estate (sigh) and Waight Close is named after him.

 

King's Cup in 1936, 1937

 

 photo: 1930, aged 20

Mr Francis Robert Walker

an accountant from Bayswater

 

King's Cup in 1932, 1933

mini macr - walker (2)

Henry Campbell ‘Johnnie’ Walker

 

Born 15th March, 1908, in Edinburgh, but moved to New Zealand when 8 years old, so really.

Got his aviator's certificate in 1930 but had only flown about 250 hours, none of it outside NZ, at the time of the Race. Joined Union Airways, then Squadron Leader in the RNZAF during WWII; awarded Air Force Cross in January 1943.

Post-war with New Zealand Airways - did the delivery flight of their first Viscount in 1957, and was still around when it was replaced by the Boeing 737.

Died c. 11th Nov 1991, in Wellington, N.Z., aged 83

MacRobertson Race in 1934

photo: 1927, when a medical student, aged 28

Mr Alexander Frew Wallace

born in Kalmalcolm, Scotland

 

King's Cup in 1929

photo: 1930, aged 22

Mr Kenneth Herbert Fraser Waller

'Ken', b. 7 April 1908, in Lambeth, London

As you can see, he was over 6ft 4in in height. Despite this, learnt to fly in Kent, got his aviator's certificate in 1930 and then became an instructor at Brooklands in Surrey.

Pilot, with Owen Cathcart Jones, of one of the D.H. Comets for the MacRobertson Race in 1934; given third prize (erroneously, in my view, but it's probably a bit late to say that now).

In 1935, got annoyed with Owen Cathcart Jones for something he said in his book that Ken felt "reflected on his courage and ability as a pilot", and even went to court over it. Owen replied that "that was the last thing he intended, as Mr. Waller and he had been, and still were, very good friends", which seemed to settle the matter.

He and Max Findlay competed in the Schlesinger Race to South Africa in 1936, in an Airspeed Envoy (No 13), but this crashed on take-off in Northern Rhodesia, killing Findlay and the radio operator; Ken was thrown out through a hole in the fuselage and badly hurt.

After WWII, became Miles Aircraft's chief test pilot (he delivered a Hillman Minx car to Orkney in 1948 at a cost of £35, you may remember). Died sometime before February 1986.

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MacRobertson Race in 1934

King's Cup in 1935, 1937, 1938

Schlesinger Race in 1936

photo: 1933, aged 22

Mr John Anthony Crosby Warren

a Cambridge M.A., "pilot for Parnall and Nash and Thompson; 6 feet 5in tall'. [Or possibly he was "over 6 ft 8in"!] 

Killed on 27 April 1944, in an accident when flying a prototype Gloster Meteor.

 

King's Cup in 1938

photo: 1925, aged 27

Mr Guy Nevile Warwick

Oh dear. A barrister from Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

In June 2004, Air Crash Investigation and Archaeology (ACIA) reported that 'the remains of ANEC Missel Thrush, G-EBPI, have been found on Broad Law, near St. Mary's Loch in the Scottish Borders.

The aircraft, a competitor in the King's Cup Air Race, crashed in cloud on 20th July 1928 during the Newcastle to Glasgow leg of the race. The pilot, Mr Guy Neville Warwick, was sadly killed.

ACIA members Jim Corbett, Scott McIntosh and Alan Hudson discovered the fragmented remains after a long search on the southern slopes of the mountain, eventually finding the fragments in a stream below the reported crash location. Reports that the engine remained on the mountain proved unfounded."

King's Cup in 1928 (killed during the race)

photo: '26, aged 20

Mr Dudley Alastair Nixon Watt

'Dangerous Dan'; address given as c/o Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, Surrey.

Killed in WWII: 6th October 1940, in a Swordfish from HMS Furious off Clacton; buried there (CWGC 24913106)

 

King's Cup in 1927

Mrs E N (or M) Watt owned

a 1929-registered Avro 504K, G-AAFJ, and then

a 1930 Avro 504K, G-ABBF.

(It's possible this is Elize Watt, first wife of Dudley A N Watt).

mini - f g c weare

Flt-Lt Frank Gerald Craven Weare, M.C. in 1917,

when a 2nd Lieut, The Buffs

b. 15 Jun 1896 in Tunbridge Wells

Air League Challenge Cup in 1923

 

 Mr John C Webster

 

 "The first overseas entrant for the King's Cup air race—Mr. John C. Webster, of Montreal —wants to take the cup back to Canada and fill it with snow. 'Snow' he said, 'is a good friend of the Canadian flier.'

'I made the longest flight of my life when I made the practice flight over the course for the King's Cup race', he confessed, with a boyish smile, 'though I have been flying for three years. The course is nearly 1,000 miles long, and we don't often fly as much as that in a day—even in Canada. When I start in the race from Heston Air Park on July 25th, I will be starting the hardest day's flying of my life'.

'Britain may not be very big, but viewed from the air there is so darned much of it. Out there, you can fly hundreds of miles without noticing much difference in the landscape, but here everything down below seems to be all of a heap. And that just about describes your weather, too.'

Mr. Webster is a member of the Montreal Flying Club, whose chief instructor is Captain ("Tony") Spooner, brother of Miss Winifred Spooner, the famous woman flier."

 

"TRAGEDY has overtaken Mr. J. C. Webster, the Canadian pilot who recently took part in the King's Cup air race on a Curtiss-Reid "Rambler." While flying over St. Hubert [Montreal] aerodrome, it is stated, the machine got into a spin and crashed, Mr. Webster sustaining injuries from which he died later in hospital. His death occurred a few hours before an official reception, which was to have been given to celebrate Webster's return from England."

From Shediac, N.B. His father established the Webster Memorial Trophy - the premier Canadian aviation award - in his memory.

King's Cup in 1931

photo: copied from http://www.stuartwilliams.net

Flt-Lt Sidney Norman Webster

'Pebbler' Webster, from Walsall. 1927 Schneider Cup winner; later Air Vice Marshall; died 1984

 

King's Cup in 1928

The Hon. Alice Florence Westenra

from Devon but b. Dublin 20 Jan 1895; owned a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-AAJZ.

photo: 1925, aged 32

Hon Richard Westenra

Lady Mary Bailey's brother; skinny-dipper extraordinaire; died in 1944. Lady Mary was at his funeral.

King's Cup in 1932, 1933

photo: 1948, aged 46

Mr Allen Henry Wheeler CBE MA

b. 1903. After Eton and Cambridge, RAF Officer (Engineering); at Boscombe Down and Farnborough during WWII; later, aviation consultant (The Blue Max, Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, etc). Shuttleworth Trustee; died 1984

 

King's Cup in 1929

Sqn-Ldr Harold Alfred Whistler DSO, DFC

 

Dorsetshire Regt. in WWI, a 'gallant officer of fine judgement and power of leadership'. Later Group Captain.

Killed in the crash of Imperial Airways' ''Hannibal', which disappeared on a flight in the Persian Gulf, 1st Mar 1940; commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.

King's Cup in 1930

Mr R A Whitehead

King's Cup in 1928

Dr. Edward Douglas Whitehead Reid

 b. 22 Jun 1883 in Canterbury Kent

A GP (as was his father). "He had a fine athletic figure, and was a good all-round athlete".

In WWI he served as surgeon in the Duchess of Westminster Hospital in France, and later in Egypt. Taught to fly by pilot friends, he bought his first plane (G-EAFH, an Avro 504) in 1922, then the same year acquired the first privately-owned SE5a (G-EAZT) before swapping it for another (G-EBCA) which he then raced in the 1923 Aerial Derby. This latter aircraft was somewhat underpowered at the time and apparently could only just reach 65mph. (He finished last, even on handicap).

He bought his first SE5a for £30 from an enterprising mechanic who had been given 5 war-surplus ones to smash, but instead carefully took them apart, piled them up to look "like firewood", bought the lot for a fiver at auction and then carefully re-assembled them.

He housed his aircraft in his own hangar on his own aerodrome, flew to "just about every air meeting of importance", and often took part in races.

He was a friend of the novelist Joseph Conrad, and in 1927 recalled him saying after his first flight that flying was easy "compared to rounding Cape Horn in a sailing vessel in a storm". But then, apparently Conrad said that about everything, except writing a novel.

Later, a Flight Lieutenant with 601 (County of London) Bomber Squadron and President of the Kent Gliding Club.

Killed 20 Oct 1930, aged 47, near Maidstone, Kent after he crashed during an attempted forced landing in his Westland Widgeon II G-EBJT 'Wendy'. He and his passenger, 21-year old Irene Burnside, were returning from a gliding exhibition and had run into bad weather. She was killed outright, he died a day later from his injuries.

Aerial Derby in 1923

ATA Taniya Whittall

Taniya Whittall

RAeC Certificate No 18148, 13 May 1939

b. 16 Jun 1919, Lindfield

Mother: Nancy (Meates) Father: Francis Vaughn (dec'd); her only sister lived in America.

Member of the Civil Air Guard in pre-WWII, ATA in WWII.

Taniya first applied to the ATA on 21 Mar 1941:

“In response to your appeal for ferry pilots, I wish to volunteer. I joined the Civil Air Guard at Redhill Aerodrome Surrey in September 1938, and gained my ‘A’ licence in May 1939. I have done approximately 30 hours flying (6 hours solo) on D.H. Gypsy I. I am 21 years of age, physically fit, and after the Civil Air Guard was disbanded I worked for 6 months at Headquarters Fighter Command Special Duties Branch as a plotter. I should be very grateful if you would inform me whether there is any possibility of my being accepted for ferry pilot duties”

They said “Nope”:

“I am afraid your experience does not come up to the required standards”

So in Jan 1942 she joined the WRNS, as a staff car driver.

She persevered, however, and applied again in August 1942. One of her ‘referees’ gave her this ringing, if slightly weird, endorsement:

“I have known Taniya Whittall 7 years as her people are neighbours of ours. And I would say she was quite trustworthy and reliable if in a position of access to secret information. Rather more so than is normal, as she is not talkative and has a head on her shoulders.”

... in any case, her initial assessment was OK:

“8 Aug 1942 – Avro Tutor 25 min. Take off (1) Poor (2) Fair. General flying “good – she possesses air sense....  A very good average pilot. Smooth and accurate handling ... intelligent and very keen. She has plenty of confidence; in fact if she had any more she would definitely be over-confident.”

and she was accepted on the 16Sep 1942 as a Pilot Cadet, later being promoted to Third Officer in Jan 1943, and Second Officer in Jun 1943.

She did have a couple of accidents in 1943:

-          10 Sep 1943 in Spitfire XI EN341; undershot landing

-          24 Nov 1943 in Spitfire VIII JF895; heavy landing, followed by ground loop,

but when she was killed, it was as a passenger in a Lancaster I R5672 which crashed near Caistor at 17:00 on 8 Apr 1944.

Yorkshire Post, 12 Apr 1944: "WOMAN PILOT IN AIR CRASH ONE OF 9 KILLED From Our Own Correspondent GRIMSBY. Tuesday A verdict that she was killed accidentally in an aeroplane crash while travelling as a passenger was returned at Lincolnshire Inquest this afternoon on a woman ferry pilot, Second Officer Taniya Whittall (24), of the Air Transport Auxiliary, whose home was at Baskings, Selsfield, East Grinstead. Sussex.

She was one of nine people killed in an aeroplane which crashed near Caistor on Saturday. It was stated that she, with Wing Commander Campling and a Flight Engineer, boarded the machine at one Lincolnshire aerodrome to fly to another.

Gerald Richard Simpson, a student, said he saw the machine near Caistor flying at about 300 feet and losing height. The engines seemed to splutter and stop. There was an explosion and the machine crashed in flames. Squadron Leader James N. Ogilvie said the machine was completely wrecked and fragments scattered over wide area. He picked up A.T.A. cap, a powder compact, and a pilot's licence granted to the woman."

The compact and her wrist watch were salvaged, the rest destroyed. Taniya was not on duty at the time (it was her first day on leave), having delivered an aircraft the day before.

She was buried at West Hoathly; her mother received a cheque for £2,500 from the insurance.

Her mother said “ She loved her job, and was never so happy as when she was at it.”

Marion Ogilvie Wilberforce in 1930

Marion Ogilvie Forbes as was; b. 22 Jul 1902 in Aberdeen.

One of the first eight women pilots to be recruited by the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1940, "Marion Wilberforce was the quintessential 'Atagirl': resourceful, daring and skilled, with more than a touch of eccentricity in her make-up."

She was one of seven children of John Ogilvie-Forbes, the 9th Laird of Boyndlie, Aberdeenshire. After being educated by French governesses and at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Stony Stratford, she got a degree in agriculture at Somerville College, Oxford in 1922.

From her obituary: "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.

In 1932 she married Robert Wilberforce, although this union was not always a foregone conclusion. 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. She, meanwhile, had begun a career in London, on a field sports magazine, and began flying, encouraged by her two brothers. Her own first aircraft was a de Havilland Cirrus Moth from which she graduated to the Hornet Moth. In these aircraft, which she used to ferry livestock to and from her Essex farm, Nevendon Manor, sometimes from as far afield as Hungary, she had notched up 900 hours by 1940.

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."

d. December 17 1996, aged 93.

Marion Wilberforce owned a 1927 DH.60 Moth, G-EBQV.

 d r williams

Lt David Reginald Williams

 England-Australia Race 1919

Miss Elise Williams, in 1930

from Penton Hall in Staines, b. 28 Jun 1898, owned a 1930 DH.60M Moth, G-AAVU

photo: 1933, when a bank clerk, aged 24

Mr Charles Henry Willis

'Assistant instructor to the Insurance Flying Club'

 

King's Cup in 1937

 photo: 1928, aged 21

mini - philip wills2

In 1939, setting the British gliding height record of 14,200ft

Mr Philip Aubrey Wills CBE

b. 1907; he went to Harrow.

a 'warehouseman' from London; pioneering, record-setting and record-breaking glider pilot at Dunstable.

President of the British Gliding Association; Chairman of the Royal Aero Club; Director of Operations in the Air Transport Auxiliary during WWII; later General Manager of BOAC.

d. January 1978 aged 70.

 

King's Cup in 1930

photo: 1915, when a Lieutenant in the 10th Royal Hussars, aged 30

photo: 1930, aged 45

Capt Charles Benjamin Wilson MC

born in Manchester; listed 'racing, travelling and yachting' as his recreations; High Sherriff of Norfolk in 1942; died 1957

 

King's Cup in 1928, 1930

photo: 1930, aged 43

Mr George Noel Wilson

a 'merchant' from London, born in Darlington; died 1957

 

King's Cup in 1931

 

photo: 1936, aged 28

Mr Hugh Joseph Wilson

"Tough, broken-nosed" Hugh "transferred to the RAF Reserve in 1934 after serving with shore-based boats and float-planes and with the school of Naval Co-operation at Lee-on-the-Solent. Later chief flying instructor to the York County Aviation Club at Sherburn-in-Elmet. Now flying instructor to the Blackburn RAF Civil FTS at Hanworth and demonstrating B.2 Trainer and Cirrus-Minor-in-B.A. Swallow alternately"

 

King's Cup in 1936, 1938

photo: 1936

Flt-Lt J B Wilson

"Gained a certain wisdom when in the RAF by ascending to 20,000 feet daily on meteorological duties, weather or no. Thereafter took Desoutters through anything on taxi and charter work. Chief Instructor at Hanworth until acquired by British Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd for test pilotage. One of nature's quietest birdmen."

 

King's Cup in 1934, 1935, 1936

Mary Stewart Dashwood Wilson

b. 28 April 1886, from London.

Got her RAeC certificate in May 1929 aged 43, and bought a 1927 DH.60 Moth, (G-EBRY) which she later sold to the Isle of Wight Flying Club.

 

1931

Flt-Lt Cyril Beresford Wincott

 

b. 1896; RNAS in WWI, then went out to East Africa for 3 years to make his fortune growing coffee, but as the fortune did not materialise came back and joined the RAF. Pilot at Martlesham Heath (in 1931 he was Flight Commander, 22 Squadron),

later Air Commodore, Ministry of Aircraft Production during WWII, Officer 'in charge of the West Coast, USA' in 1943 (sounds like a nice job) and Air Attache to Moscow (sounds like a horrid job) after WWII; died 1972

King's Cup in 1931

 jane winstone

jane winstone 1942 ATA

Jane Winstone

jane winstone signature

 b. 24 Sep 1912, Wanganui, NZ; mother Lena Storme Clapham, father Arthur, a chemist.

Jane had New Zealand Pilot's "A" (Private) Licence (No. 291) issued 14th August, 1931 and had completed 113 hours 40 minutes solo flying on D.H.60, D.H. 82, Miles Hawk, and Taylor Cub, but the license had expired in May 1939. She was working as her father's assistant at 10 Plunket Street, Wanganui in late 1941 when she contacted the ATA to see if they could offer her anything. The reply was somewhat guarded:

"It would appear from your previous experience that you would make a suitable ferry pilot, but we must advise you that any steps you may take to join this organisation are your own responsibility entirely and any expenses incurred in connection therewith must be borne by yourself."

It was then March 1942 when she wrote to Pauline Gower at 'Hadfield, England':


"Dear Madam,

I am writing to enquire whether there are any vacancies for a qualified pilot in your organisation. I am twenty seven years of age and very interested in flying, having my pilots' license with approximately 120 hours flying time.

If you consider that there are any opportunities for me, please advise me and also what steps it will be necessary for me to take."



She sent a note from her old instructor at the Western Federated Flying Club, Flt-Lt Ian Keith:


"I have known Miss Jane Winstone from approx. 1930 when she first commenced flying under my tuition. She proved a very apt pupil and went solo very quickly. From then on she practised continually and represented our Club (one of the largest in New Zealand) in open non handicap competitions for landings, against senior men pilots and was successful in attaining first place each time she competed thus winning the Pageant Cup for the Club.

Her flying has always been consistent and she has never caused the slightest trouble through breaches of regulations etc. She also displays a keen sense of responsibility and I have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone regarding her services in a flying capacity."


In July, the ATA also checked up with her friend Miss Trevor Hunter, another New Zealander who had joined them the previous November. She said that she'd be fine: "Jane is used to responsibility, and is a very stable character"

Jane travelled to the UK in July, clutching letters of introduction from none other than the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Honourable W.J. Rogers, Mayor of Wanganui. Both letters "testify to her qualifications as a flyer and state that Miss Winstone was the third lady in New Zealand to qualify as a pilot."

She attended a flying test (and had her medical) on the 28th July. The report was encouraging; she "flew better than expected after a break of 2 years. Good hands; confident; capable of being trained for ferry duties."

You might think that, in the face of this overwhelming chorus of praise, the ATA would snap her up straight away. Not quite; they left her to cool her heels for a few weeks, until W.H. Sutcliffe from Rolls Royce tried to move things along:


"10th August 1942

Dear Mr McMillan,

I am writing to you on behalf of one of our test pilots Flt-Lt McKenzie, who has asked me if I could persuade you to hurry along the appointment of a Miss Jane Winstone whom you have already tested. Apparently she was engaged to his brother who unfortunately is missing on one of the recent raids. She has travelled all the way from NZ to join him, and it has come as a bitter blow to find him missing.

Apparently you cannot employ her as a pilot for another month, but could you find her a ground job in the meantime? She is brooding away the time in London with just nothing to do. Your help would be very much appreciated."


 It worked.  Jane started her training on the 19th August 1942.

Things did not go smoothly at first; "her flying was only moderate and she had considerable difficulty with navigation probably because of the big change in flying in England." She also had several breaks owing to illness - in fact, she was mostly off sick from the 23rd November 1942 to the 4th February 1943.

Things improved after that; she did 30 hours ferrying of Class 1 types, "working hard and showing common sense in the way she tackled her work" and then a further 56 hours ferrying of Class 1 and 2 types - Fairchild, Master II, Martinet, Hurricane, Swordfish, Auster, Proctor, Harvard, Lysander and Spitfire - where "all her work was steady and capable." She was promoted to 2nd Officer on the 25th August 1943.

spitfire ix

Sadly, she was killed on the 10th February 1944 as she took off in Spitfire IX MK616 from Cosford. The engine partially failed, picked up twice, then failed completely, and the aircraft stalled and spun into the ground 2 miles north of the airfield, in Tong, Shropshire.

She was buried on the 15th February at Maidenhead. In April, Trevor Hunter asked for some flowers to be placed on her grave but a year later Sqn-Ldr V. S. Howarth wrote to Cmdr Barbour at the ATA: "While on a recent visit to Maidenhead, I visited the grave of the late Jane Winstone, who was a very close friend of mine. I intended to photograph the grave so as to send prints to her parents in New Zealand, but was most grieved to find that the grave did not show any signs of the care and attention one would expect ... I might add that the graves of other ATA pilots in this particular cemetery were in a similar condition."

They agreed: "Unfortunately, the Cemetery which is owned by a Company, is not very well kept. The only staff is one aged gardener to help the Superintendent, and they cannot keep pace with the work. It is hoped that the Cemetery will be taken over by the Maidenhead Borough Council, and that would probably help matters."

[At the time, the cemetery was owned by The Maidenhead Cemetery Company; it was eventually taken over by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in the 1950s.]

Jane's fiancé, Angus Carr MacKenzie, was later officially assumed ‘lost at sea’.

After the war, Trevor Hunter took Winstone’s logbooks to Wanganui and gave them to Jane’s mother.

John Henry Wright

b. 8 November 1894 in Clark Mills, N.Y

d. 1 May 1979, aged 84

 

MacRobertson Race in 1934

 photo: 1930, aged 42

Sqn-Ldr (later Wing-Cdr) John Whitaker Woodhouse

from Devon; pre-WWI, a well-known car and motor-cycle racer. A member of No. 4 Squadron in WWI, he was the first pilot to land a spy successfully behind the German lines, and was also lost over the North Sea for several hours after having attacked and driven off a Zeppelin.

In 1931, he was in command of No. 207 (Bombing) Squadron at Bircham Newton.

King's Cup in 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934

James 'Jimmie' Woods

 

b. 13 Nov 1893 in Udny, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

"JIMMIE WOODS is reluctant to talk about himself, and cannot believe that anyone is interested in such personal matters as his age and birthplace. He was born "in Scotland about thirty-nine years ago," served with R.F.C. and R.A.F., and has flown some 11,000 hours."

He spent eleven years a pilot with West Australian Airways, Ltd., flying up and down the 2,035-mile coastal route from Perth to Wyndham, and across the 1,453-mile transcontinental route from Perth to Adelaid; in 1933 he flew a Gipsy Moth from Australia to England.

Woods spent some time at the Lockheed plant in Burbank, flew across America in a Boeing 247, (which he described as "a very clean job"), then flew to England and collected the late Lt.-Com. Glen Kidston's Vega at Hanworth.

Died 9th May, 1979, aged 85

 

MacRobertson Race in 1934

 

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