Farewell to a really brave soul who risked her young life almost every day for the good of the country - for all of us, in other words - and yet how many have heard of Mary Ellis before she appeared in the news today?

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Farewell Mary Ellis ... The passing of a very brave Briton. By Rob enwiki [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Mary Ellis, 101 years old, is believed to be the last of the lady pilots who flew Spitfires that my dad helped build in Salisbury.

She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), which delivered Spitfires and bombers to RAF airfields during the war.

Mary Ellis was a pioneer of the profession, too, for the Telegraph tells us that when the second world war began, women were not allowed to fly military aircraft.

Highly dangerous work

In 1940, the rule was dropped and the young Mary Wilkins,in her early twenties, joined up.

Training for her began in Tiger Moths and by the end of the war had flown for more than 1,100 hours flying 56 different types of aircraft.

Here's a Briton who performed highly dangerous, really important deeds for her country, back in an age when brave people did amazing highly dangerous work for their country, neither for fame nor profit.

Mary Ellis is the perfect example of those true great Britons we so seldom hear about.

Not for financial reward, she performed astonishingly and with enormous courage for the good of us all. Lamentably, for all of her amazing deeds, we only hear of her today through her death. Farewell to a very brave soul!

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

Wikipedia on Mary Ellis

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