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


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