An almost-full Geoffrey Page Centre at The Wing heard journalist and author Melody Foreman tell the fascinating story of Air Transport Auxiliary First Officer Mary Wilkins Ellis on Sunday (17 Feb).
While based on her autobiography of Mary Ellis, a farmer’s daughter from Oxfordshire who joined the ATA in 1941, Melody’s talk, The Life And Times Of A Spitfire Girl, painted a broader picture of the service that provided such valuable support to the Royal Air Force during the war.
Mary Wilkins Ellis went on to fly 400 Spitfires and 76 different types of military aircraft, including Wellington Bombers and Mosquitoes, before the war came to an end.
Melody’s insightful presentation included Mary’s own favourite story about the time when she delivered a massive Wellington Bomber to a front line squadron, only to be asked: “Where is the pilot?”
When Mary was unable to convince the male ground crew that she had flown the aircraft to the squadron single-handed, they searched the whole of the aircraft before conceding that she must, after all, have flown it there herself.
Melody told the story of many of the female ATA pilots who helped ferry aircraft from factory to front line squadrons during the Battle of Britain and throughout the rest of the Second World War, but also made the point that men, too, were a vital part of the service.
The third talk in this spring’s series of presentations takes place on Sunday 24 March, when Judy Williams, a daughter of Wing Commander Ronald Kellett, will talk on his time as Squadron Commander of 303 (Polish) Squadron and other posting during World War II.
In the meantime, the Trust is holding a free screening of the David Walliams film Grandpa’s Great Escape at 2pm on Sunday 10 March.
The film show will again take place in the Geoffrey Page Centre at The Wing, but while admission is free, booking is essential as numbers are limited to just 50.
Grandpa’s Great Escape is a heartwarming tale based on Walliams’ book of the same name. It features a former Spitfire pilot, now elderly and forgetful, who enlists his grandson to help him escape from the old people’s home he thinks is a prisoner-of-war camp.
With a star-studded cast including Tom Courtenay, Kit Connor, Jennifer Saunders and Michelle Dotrice, this promises to be a great afternoon’s entertainment. All the other attractions at the site will also be available, including the shop and café.
Book by ringing 01303 249292 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org