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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.

 

Taniya Whittall  With thanks to Bill Merry

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.”