The Men of the Air Transport Auxiliary - Joined 1942


ata 1FPP

No.1 Ferry Pool Ferry pilots and Instructors. L-R; ‘Bill’ Harben, W J White, Jim Mollison, P L Burnett, Joan Hughes, Stewart Keith-Jopp, ‘Ben’ Warne, ‘Doc’ Whitehurst, J Shoesmith, ‘Red’ Imes, R H Henderson, Harry Ellis, Lettice Curtis, Klemens Dlugaszewski, Vic Pieper.



6 Jan 1942 to Nov-45

First Officer


David John Coopper

 ata david coopper

 ata david coopper 2 ATA

 b. 20 Apr 1915, Bristol

prev. A clerk with WD &HO Wills, Bristol; RAFVR Sgt. Pilot 1937-41


Ferry Pools: 2, 3, 8

"An extremely conscientious pilot"


d. Apr 2000, Bristol


20 Jan 1942 to Oct-44

2nd Officer


Eric Noel Crowder

 ata eric crowder 1931 1931

ata eric crowder

ata eric crowder 2 ATA

 b. 4 Dec 1903, Chester

prev. Managing Director, RC & EN Crowder [Hardware Merchant], Seller St, Chester

'Perfectly happy when flying up to Class 3, and in these classes he is a most useful ferry pilot."

"I consider he has reached the limit of his ability."

d. 1979


17 Mar 1942 to 28 Nov 1942

Acting Second Officer


Hubert James Dixon

ata hubert dixon 1938 1938

ata hubert dixon ATA

 b. 26 May 1914, Northernden, Cheshire

prev. an aero engineer, for Ford Aero Engines (Rolls Royce) in Eccles, Lancs.

prev. exp. 97 hrs

Address in 1938: 'Moliere', Wythenshawe Rd, Northernden

Address in 1942: 'Manilla', Nansen Rd, Gatley, Cheshire


Hubert originally applied to the ATA in February 1941, but they replied that they weren't allowed to take pilots of military age unless they had been turned down by the RAF.

He replied that he had indeed offered his services to the RAF, twice, but they had refused him because he was in a strictly reserved occupation. The ATA replied, somewhat archly, that as he seemed now to able to obtain his release, he should go back to the RAF and ask them again ...

After another session with the RAF (who still said they couldn't take him), he then talked to the Ministry of Labour and the National Service Controller in Manchester. Who agreed that, if he could find a job of even greater national importance than his current one, they might be able to secure his release.

Finally, the RAF had a chance to turn him down properly, which they duly did because the vision on his left eye was not up to their standards. Hubert said "In my own personal opinion I can see perfectly."

Anyway, by December 1941 the ATA was prepared to offer him a job, and he was eventually taken on as a Pilot Cadet. His instructors (Margaret Ebbage, Harry Woods and Eugene Prentice) assessed him as 'an average pilot' with 'an average amount of common sense.'

After training, he was seconded to 6FPP at Ratcliffe on 27 Nov 1942. He died the next day in an unlucky accident.

220px Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I in flight

d. 28 Nov 1942 (Killed in ATA Service) in Defiant N3319 which stalled and crashed at Wood Lane, Timperley, nr Ringway, while he was attempting a forced landing after an engine problem.

He was buried at Altrincham Bowden and Hale Cemetery, Cheshire, near Bill Elliott and Earl Renicker (q.v.)

 ATA Memorial Herbert Dixon

with thanks to Barbara Grayson

The ATA's Flying Establishment Officer visited his widow Elsie and her two children in January 1943. Elsie had in fact moved out a few months before Hubert died, and was living with her parents in "rather a humble dwelling, in a poor quarter of Manchester." ... "I gathered the impression that Mrs Elsie Dixon was rather young and irresponsible, so I decided to call on the deceased's parents, to obtain what information I could."

Annie (Mrs Dixon senior) agreed, and went as far as to say that "whatever money was given as a lump sum to Mrs Elsie Dixon would be squandered." Annie also showed him a letter from her son dated 12th May 1942, in which he had written "About the insurance - I have had it made payable to you (Annie Dixon 23 Nansen Rd Gatley). If anything should happen I want £800 to go to Elsie and £800 for Michael and the other baby [Martin, who was born 13 September 1942] to be divided equally when they are 21. The other £400 is for you - don't say you don't want it."

And so that is what they did.

M ---

29 Apr 1942 to Jun-42



John Henry Adams


 b. 20 Jan 1921, London

prev. a General Clerk, then RAF from 1941-2

[Contract Terminated by ATA - inefficiency]


8 Jul 1942 to Jan-43

3rd Officer (Acting 2nd Officer)


Alan Rees Colman

ata alan colman 1932 1932

b. 3 Jan 1901, Norwich


6ft 3in tall;  educated at Eton and Cambridge

A Director of the family firm, J&J Colman Ltd (Colmans Mustard)

A very keen yachtsman; member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, and 'other local clubs'.

prev. Army Reservist 1932 to 1942 (Major). He went on active service to France with the Norfolk Yeomanry in 1939, returning with the evacuation of Dunkirk.


prev exp. 315 hrs. He had owned 3 aircraft:

- G-ABCD, a 1930 Avian IVM;

- G-ACTL, a 1934 DH Leopard Moth, and

- G-AFBC, a 1937 Percival Vega Gull.


Ferry Pool: No. 6

On Aug 5, 1942, he wrote to Cmdr Bathurst from 'Gastlings, Southill, Biggleswade':

"My dear Bathurst,

I have been expecting to turn out the guard for you at Barton this past 10 days on one of your routine inspections but have been disappointed in that so far.

This is a job to end all jobs as far as I am concerned and have enjoyed nothing so much in years: if you can kindly arrange to forget my existence until the winter afterwards it will be A1 by me!

I have drawn Paull for Instructor and he is first class, as are, I shd think, most of your team here."


He transferred to the Administrative Staff from 1 Dec 1942, as Assistant to the Chief Establishment Officer - essentially, a Personnel Officer, a job for which he was expected to be "occasionally flying".


On the 1st January 1943 he wrote this set of 'Handling Notes':

"Prima Donnas

I venture to put forward for your consideration the suggestion that you should cause to be promulgated amongst O.C.s and Adjutants of this Organisation some technical instruction on the above subject - either orally or in writing.

There is no dispute that the average pilot has more than the Human Average of Prima Donna Complex embedded in his temperament, and it appears probable that, more often than not, it will also be found that this Complex is highest in the best pilots and progresses geometrically with Anno Domini.

The Prima Donna may be defined for this purpose as one who can perform desirable - or even remarkable - feats of virtuosity over almost indefinite periods, granted only that a favourable atmosphere is maintained around her by the thoughtful provisions of four opportunities:

1. To exhibit Personality by indulging in a few little whims.

2. To blow off steam about Everything to a Sympathetic and Untiring Ear.

3. To receive occasional Encouragement or Praise.

4. Never to be criticised - or, if this must be done once in a while, then to have it so well wrapped up in the Chinese or Irish Manner that she may get the Idea without loss of 'face'.

It is undeniably a great nuisance to have to worry about such apparent trifles, especially in wartime, but the fact remains that our job is not to remake human nature, but to try to make the absolute best of the material that happens to be available, and I have a feeling, based on all too little experience admittedly, that we may sometimes be apt, in a natural attempt to produce a well-run and well disciplined show, to pay too little attention to the delicate art of handling our Prima Donnas.

The recent Meadway incident seems to illustrate this. The Army have an excellent and wise tradition that no superior officer should come within striking distance of a soldier who is under the influence of alcohol: I seriously suggest that for at least 24 hours after landing an aircraft, a pilot - if he has any pride at all - will be feeling so low and bloody-minded that it will be well worth his Superior Officer spending a few seconds thought before coming within verbal striking range of him.

... During the four months I spent in E. and AFTS I served under two or three C.O.s and several adjutants, but I do not think any one of them ever took the trouble to find out anything about me as an individual (except possibly my name and flying record) and I suspect that much the same would be true of Meadway. The latter, as it happened, was an easy going type whom you could get anything out of round the the fire over a glass of ale, but practically nothing over the Orderly Room Table or on the Mat, and armed with this knowledge I still believe that ATA might have made a useful servant out of him."

He went on to suggest that "O.C.s and adjutants be impressed with the need for knowing their personnel more intimately than they now do, and ...for future appointments the quality of being a Good Mixer be designated a sine qua non for adjutants, and a Major Qualification for O.C.s."


 Sadly, he died shortly after in a bizarre accident:

Hurricane II

d. Sunday 17 Jan 1943 (Killed in ATA Service) - in Hurricane II KX441 which made a normal landing at Sherburn, but struck a very wet patch and nosed over onto its back.

Alan drowned, in about 18in of water, before he could be rescued.


His obituary in the Eastern Daily Press concludes: "Generous, capable, and with the keenest zest for life and all its interests, throwing himself with all his varied gifts into all that he undertook, he inspired those around him to give also of their best. Only those who knew him well realised the depth and sincerity of his desire to help his fellow men, and his loss to those who knew him is an irreparable one."


He was cremated in Leeds, and his ashes were scattered from an aircraft, piloted by Douglas Fairweather, flying over Southampton Waters on the 29th January.

M ---

2 Aug 1942 to Nov-42



John Tait Abernethy


flag scotland b. 30 Nov 1915, Glasgow


[Contract Terminated by ATA - held responsible for accident to Hind 25 Oct 1942: stalled whilst landing]


9 Sep 1942 to Dec-44

First Officer


Ernest Lynton Blow


ata ernest blow 1936 1936

ata ernest blow ATA

 b. 9 Dec 1906, Dunstable

prev. F/O in  RAFVR 1939-41; Test Pilot for Airspeed

prev. exp. 3,843 hrs;


- 1930 Avro 616 Avian IVM G-ABDP

- 1931 DH.80A Puss Moth G-ABMC

- 1936 BA Swallow L25C Mk.2 G-AEKG

 "A keen and efficient pilot and a good officer"

d. 2003, USA


11 Sep 1942 to 24 Jan 1944


Senior Flight Engineer

Arthur Bird


 b. 23 Sep 1914, Warlingham Surrey

father: James Charles Bird

Ed. at Warlingham Council School, and Croydon Polytechnic.

m. 1937 Vera Mabel [Nye], 2 children

prev. an inspector for Tollerton Aircraft Services Ltd - from 1937 in Croydon and then from 1939 in Tollerton, Notts.


Address in 1942: The Bungalow, Highbury Rd, Keyworth Notts.

"Very trustworthy, can be left on his own and will work under any conditions."


Salary at start: £5.5.0. per week, plus £2.12.6. per week subsistence allowance.

Recommended for promotion to Senior Flight Engineer in August 1943, together with Flt. Engineers P.S. Brown and C.E. Duffill: "Although they are slightly under the required time, they have worked extraordinarily hard and well and are all first-class engineers. I feel that they well deserve the benefit of the extra three or four weeks which they lack to bring them up to the official qualifications but, if they fail to obtain their promotion now it will mean a further six months before the possibility comes round again."

The documentation of his promotion hasn't survived, but in any case he was dead within 6 months:

 Halifax Bomber 2 ExCC

d. 24 Jan 1944 (Died in ATA Service) - Halifax JP182 flew into Eel Crag 4 miles SW of Braithwaite, Cumbria, during a snowstorm. Pilot Flt Capt Bernard Short also killed.

Much more detail at http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/lakes/jp182.html


buried Edenbridge Cemetery, .

 ata arthur bird memorial

[The headstone says 'Senior Flight Engineer', so his promotion must have been approved.]


 His children, Richard and Brenda, were 5 and 2 at the time.


On the 5 Feb 1944, his C.O. Frankie Francis wrote to HQ ATA; "At the funeral the other day, I had intended to speak to his widow about his equipment and the disposal of his car, but she was in a very distraught state, and I thought it would be kinder to write to her and ask when she would be prepared to come and see me... I have accordingly written to her, but have not yet had a reply."

"It is understood that Vera and the two children have very limited resources on which to live."


On the 14th, Vera replied:

"Dear Sir, I am writing to thank you for the money order of £10 you sent me which I recieved safely. Again I thank you for all you have done for my and still doing through these weary days."

She also asked for permission to move her furniture from the rented house in Keyworth down to Warlingham in Surrey, which is where all her relatives lived. 


Then on April 11th, Vera wrote this rather heartbreaking letter:

"Dear Sir, I have recieved parcel on the 8th of my husband things, but there are a few thing I would like to know if they could be found that is a pair of Blue Stripe Pyjamas also a Brown leather zip shaving cases which he carried in his A.T.A. bag as the towel was return which was alway carried to-gether, if it can be found I should be very pleased as it was a present to my husband, also about the 2 watches he had on him one was wrist watch the other a pocket watches which he carried in his little pocket off his Tunic where is knife was alway kept,

The Post Office here tell me that I can get a government Pension acording to my husbands wages, Could you tell me if this is true, or how I should go about it, I would like to now the name of the A.T.A. Pilot who was killed with my husband, as it only gave my husband name on the 24th and two(?) more on the 23rd. I am wondering why this is.

Again I thank you and all at the A.T.A. for what you have done for me and my children. Your Truly, V.M. Bird"


The ATA insurance for Flight Engineers was £1,500.


16 Sep 1942 to Dec-42



Frederick George Bowles


ata frederick bowles1938 1938

ata frederick bowles ATA

 b. 26 Mar 1912, Newcastle on Tyne

prev. an engineering draughtsman

janes magister

d. 6 Dec 1942 (Killed in ATA Service) - Magister L8233 spun in near Letchworth, Herts 1.5m SSW of Baldock.

Marked as a red spot on this map::

Bowles crash site


16 Sep 1942 to Nov-45

First Officer


John Caister Cooke

ata john cooke 1938

 ata john cooke 2 ATA

 b. 26 Jan 1908, Spalding

MA Oxon

prev. a Maths Lecturer, Raffles College Singapore;

Flt Lt. in the Malayan Volunteer Air Force, Sep-40 to Aug-42


Ferry Pools: 3, 7, 16

"A sound pilot of good average ability who made rapid progress."

later published several aeronautical engineering papers, e.g. "Supersonic laminar boundary layers on cones, (Aeronautical Research Council. Current papers, no. 1063)" (1969)


d. Sep 1991 - Dover, Kent


13 Oct 1942 - Sep-45

First Officer


Mervyn George Chadwick


 ata mervyn chadwick ATA

 b. 18 Jun 1907, Barnes

"slight limp left leg"


19 Nov 1942 to Apr-45

First Officer


Edmund Antony Henry Hay Currie

ata edmund currie ATA

 b 24 Sep 1921, Liverpool


RAF from Mar 1941

d. 1995, Plymouth


20 Nov 1942 to Oct-43

Flt-Sgt (Seconded from RAF)


Maurice Gaston Emile Coutanceau


 b. 23 Feb 1920

RAF from 23 Jan 1941 to 19 Nov 1942


Hurricane II

d. 26 Oct 1943 (Killed in ATA Service) - Hurricane IIc LE262 struck hillside at Kinniside Cleator, Cumberland, 10 miles E of St Bees Head, in bad weather 

buried St Laurence Church, Upminster, Essex

M. ----

[Seconded from RAF, Ser. No. 968927]

15 Dec 1942 to 10 Mar 1944

Warrant Officer / First Officer Charles Aidan Vernon Jefferys

ata charles jefferys ATA

 b. 30 Aug 1910, Tetbury, Glos.

Ed. St Pauls School

m. Dec 1934  Mary Gertrude [Burton]  in Stroud, Glos.

prev. an 'Engineering Representative'

prev. exp. 394 hrs plus 1.45 hrs night on Tiger Moth, Magister, Lysander, Oxford, Blenheim, and Wellington.

Address in 1942: The Woodlands, Malpas, Newport, Mon.

Seconded due to a) lack of night flying experience, and b) being of a 'highly nervous type'.


Postings: 16FPP

 "A keen and sensible type of N.C.O. who should prove a useful ferry pilot. He was somewhat slow in emergency but he possesses good air-sense and is unlikely to come to grief."

" A very nice type whose flying is unfortunately not too good. He is under-confident and does not use his head but tries very hard."


 vickers wellington

d. 10 Mar 1944 (Died in ATA Service) in Wellington II W5385 which after an excessive take-off run, rose slowly and then struck trees 1/4 mile N
NW of Aldergrove aerodrome en-route Vickers Armstrong Shawbury.

Technical examination showed the elevator trimmers and trimmer control to be in the 'fully nose-down' position. "Evidence also showed that the pilot did not do the preliminary cockpit check in the normal fashion, since he took over the aircraft with engines running and did not run them up. The pilot appears to be to blame for this accident."


Buried Stroud. 

 ata charles jefferys grave 

"Always in the thoughts of wife Mary and son Peter."   www.findagrave.com



In April 1944, Mary wrote to the Under-Secretary of state for Air, the Rt Hon Harold Balfour, to ask for his help: "As you know it was always understood that Peter should follow on at his father's school St. Paul's and he should be starting this coming winter as a boarder. Public Schools as you know are somewhat heavy on the pocket consequently it is imperative that I leave no stone unturned to improve my pension."

She reckoned that, due to Charles having being seconded from the RAF as an NCO, her pension would only amount about 2 guineas a week. He was unfortunately not eligible for the ATA death insurance payment of £2,000.

Peter did start at St Paul's, but by September 1945 Mary wrote again to say that she found her RAF pension "quite inadequate to cover his expenses and tuition."

Could the ATA, therefore please help them to emigrate to the USA? She wanted Peter to finish High School, and then Harvard "at my fiance's expense". Perhaps they could allow her 'free or reduced passage by way of practical appreciation of my husband's services and death?"

They said, well, no, or to put it another way: "It does seem that there is no justification and no argument that we could put forward in any way that will enable us to assist her in her request." Perhaps her fiance could stump up a bit extra?...


Anyway, Mary married Irvin B Miller in Sep 1946 in Newport, and sailed to New York in July 1947, stating that she was intending to stay in the USA.


15 Dec 1942 to

[Seconded from RAF, Ser No. 1331104]

Sgt Pilot C R Todd



15 Dec 1942 to 

[Seconded from RAF, Ser No. 1292918]

D J M Martin