Mrs Mildred Mary Bruce

   in 1930

The Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce

b. Mildred Petre on 10 November 1895 in Chelmsford, and married the Hon Victor Bruce in 1926 (although they divorced in 1941).

Raced motor cars, speedboats and aeroplanes, and became a millionaire in her own right through her business interests.

In 1927, published her 'lively holiday narrative' called 'Nine thousand miles in eight weeks' about her journey by motor-car from John o'Groats through England, France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. [51 photographs, 12/6d net.]

She then did 6,000 miles in Sweden and the Arctic, and drove from Cairo to Cape Town, but was fined 10 shillings for careless driving when she got back to London. She ignored a policeman's signal and got in the way of other traffic; the officer was of the opinion that she "shouldn't be in charge of a car". She was also probably the first woman ever arrested for speeding.

She then set the record for a double crossing of the English Channel in 1928, getting to Calais and back to Dover in 1hr 47min in a speedboat.

Two months after getting her RAeC Certificate, having only flown 40 hours or so and having had 5 lessons in navigation, she flew solo round the world in her Bluebird IV G-ABDS in 1930-1 (although she sensibly went across the Pacific and Atlantic by ship), and then  tried to fly to Cape Town in an autogyro in 1934, but only got as far as France.

To see the (silent, unfortunately) video of her starting her round-the-world trip and getting a goodbye kiss from (I think we must assume) the Hon Victor Bruce  -  click here.

[One of the Bluebird's engineers reckoned that G-ABDS stood for 'A Bloody Daft Stunt'].

And to hear her speak, see the latter half of this video here.

Founder and joint managing director of Air Dispatch Ltd from 1934, which carried freight and passengers between London and Paris using D.H. Dragonflies.

She owned, at various times:

  • a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-AAZO which was taken over by the RAF in 1940 but 'hit a tarsprayer' in June 1941;
  • a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ABDG (scrapped in 1943);
  • the 1930 Blackburn L.1C Bluebird IV, G-ABDS, in which she performed 'A Bloody Daft Stunt' in 1930-1 of flying solo round the world;
  • a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ABGS, which she bought from Emma Bettina Elizabeth Amy Malcolm;
  • a 1931 Blackburn L.1C Bluebird IV, G-ABMI;
  • a Bristol F.2B Fighter, formerly J8258, registerd G-ABXA in 1932;
  • a 1933 DH.84 Dragon, G-ACDL, and
  • a 1933 DH.60X Moth, G-ACMB.

d. 21 May 1990 aged 94; her ashes were scattered in Golders Green Crematorium

 

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