Mary du Caurroy Tribe, Duchess of Bedford

  b. Mary du Caurroy Tribe in 1865 in Stockbridge Hants, the second daughter of the Rev. W H Tribe; he later became Archdeacon of Lahore and (after growing up in Sussex, where she and her elder sister Zoe were looked after by their uncle and aunt), she lived there for several years. It was in Lahore that she met, and married, Lord Herbrand Russell, who in 1888 became the 11th Duke of Bedford.

She was probably best known as an aviator, but had several other strings to her bow; she was a member of the Society of Radiographers, and was "interested in natural history, especially ornithology". To prove this, she once shot 200 pheasants in a day and (although presumably not the same day) caught 18 salmon weighing 200lb.

Actually, she wrote scientific papers on ornithology, and was a member of the British Ornitholgists' Union.

She was deaf (I'm not sure if this was always true, or if it developed later on in life).

During WWI, Woburn Abbey was turned into a hospital and every morning the Duchess would "go on duty at 5 or 6am, and in her nurse's dress would assist at nearly every operation." The King was pleased to award her the 'Royal Red Cross, in recognition of her valuable nursing services', in Jan 1918.

Her personal pilots included C D Barnard, James Allen and (from 1934) R C Preston, but she herself learned to fly in 1933.

Dame Mary from 1928.

She owned:

a 1927 DH.60X Moth, G-EBRI;

the 1927 Fokker F.VIIa, G-EBTS, 'The Spider', in which she broke the England-Cape Town record in 1930;

a 1928 DH.60G Gipsy Moth (G-AAAO);

later she owned

a 1931 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ABOC, later sold in Kenya,

a 1932 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-ABXR,

a 1933 GAL ST.4 Monospar 2 G-ACKT, registered in October, in which her personal pilot, James Bernard Allen, was killed in December 1933, and finally

a 1934 D.H.60G Moth G-ACUR in which she flew out over the North Sea in March 1937 ...

... and disappeared.

 

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