Sad to report that I have learned that Mary passed away on Tuesday 24th July 2018. Mary was a kindly, determined and remarkable English lady, who achieved so much during the war in an unfussy way, along with her colleagues and after it on the Isle of Wight. Her memory and story will live on and the part she played in Hampshire’s wartime efforts. Runge and I treasure our meeting with Mary last August. She was an inspiration, still driving her car at almost 101 years of age. HAPPY LANDINGS Mary.
Hampshire’s own former Air Transport Auxiliary( ATA ) ferry pilot, Mary Ellis gave a rare recorded interview to Tony Knight in August 2017, about her fascinating career delivering front line fighter planes in World War 2.
LISTEN to Mary’s exclusive interview below. ( Copyright 2018 Tony Knight ).
Following the publication of her life story ‘ A Spitfire Girl ‘ told to author Melody Foreman ( Frontline Books 1996 ), Mary Ellis agreed to talk to me about her truly remarkable life delivering aircraft from the factories to operational airfields around the UK.
One of about 160 women who answered the call for pilots to deliver war-time aircraft urgently required by the RAF. Mary, a sprightly centenarian is still driving her car locally. She told me about her experiences : learning to fly; joining the ATA; flying 400 types of aircraft ranging from DH Tiger Moth, Gloster Gladiator, Fairey Swordfish, Hawker Hurricane, four engine Wellington bombers, to the iconic Vickers Supermarine Spitfire. Mary was one of the first women to fly a Gloster Meteor jet and has had a long and distinguished career. She’s also great fun to meet, with a cheery smile and a sharp memory for detail and her past experiences..
Not content to have achieved so much, Mary was also a rally driver, managed a commercial airfield and ran her own fashion boutique. Clearly determined, capable and a high achiever in all she undertakes, Mary is still, at 101, a truly a remarkable, engaging and elegant woman.
Mary has recently been awarded the
‘ Freedom ‘ of the Isle of Wight for her
distinguished service to the country
in World War 2.
Mary’s story as told to Melody Foreman, in ” A Spitfire Girl ” was published in 2016 by Front Line Books and is a wonderfully detailed and engaging read.
LISTEN to Mary’s exclusive interview below : ( Copyright Tony Knight ).
Sound recording and photography TONY KNIGHT Copyright 2017
SoundWrite productions 2017 copyright material