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ATA Lesley Murray

Lesley Cairns Murray 1939

in 1939

Lesley Cairns Murray

lesley murray signature

b. 22 Jan 1917 in Edinburgh

Having learnt to fly under the Civil Air Guard scheme in 1939, Lesley first applied for the ATA in March 1941:

“Dear Madam,

Mrs Clayton suggested that I should write to you for information with regard to the possibility of joining the ATA.

I am enclosing my pilot’s log book from which you will see that I have not had very much experience [she had 6 hours solo]. This is due to the fact that I started flying under the CAG Scheme, and had to have my lessons at the weekends whenever possible, or on occasional evenings after work. Civilian flying was stopped very shortly after I got my A Licence. My log book seems to be complete with the exception of one trip, dual, to Le Bourget, France, and an hour’s landing practice, solo, on about the last flying day before the war.

I know that it is impossible to judge future possibilities on such limited experience, but my instructor at Horton Kirby Flying Club seemed quite confident that I would make a good pilot, and suggested that I should take an instructor’s Licence with a view to teaching there.

I would be most obliged if you would keep my log book and licence until such time as you think it possible for me to have a test or an interview.”

It proved to be a long wait. Meanwhile, she joined the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, continued to send letters asking to join the ATA, and continued to get rejection letters back.

Finally, two years later in March 1943, she got an interview with Pauline Gower, and went for her flying test. It’s a wonder she could remember anything at all about flying an aeroplane, but she scraped through somehow:

“A highly educated girl but appeared nervous during the examination [blimey, there's a surprise]. Somewhat under confident but careful.”

On the 22nd May 1943, she finally got her long-awaited call-up to the ATA, and grabbed the chance with both hands. Her final training report in July 1944 says this:

“This pilot promises to become a ferry pilot of high order. She tackles all her work with quiet confidence and it is difficult to believe that she had so little experience prior to joining ATA. Her discipline and appearance are both excellent and she will be an asset to any Pool she joins.”

Sadly, she was killed within a year; on the 20 April 1945, her Hudson V AM854 got out of control and spun into the ground near Popes Field, Taplow, Berks. Cadet Geoffrey Bernard Regan also died with her.