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Jane Winstone

 

jane winstone

 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."

jane winstone 1942

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:

jane winstone signature


"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.