Hereford & Worcester

Plaque to remember trailblazing 'rock star' WW2 pilot

Mary Nicholson
Image caption Mary Webb Nicholson was an experienced pilot who came over from the US to help in the war effort

A plaque in memory of an American pilot who died while transporting aircraft for the RAF during World War Two is set to be unveiled.

Mary Webb Nicholson died when the aircraft she was delivering to RAF Ternhill crashed in Littleworth, Worcestershire, on 22 May 1943.

Historian Geoff Hudson said she was "a rock star" - the only member of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) not to return to the United States after the war.

He said she "needed to be recognised".

Ms Nicholson, who was born in Greensboro in North Carolina, "set a number of records" when it came to flying, Mr Hudson added.

She was the first pilot to gain a licence in the state, paying for lessons by doing parachute jumps "when people had never seen a parachute", he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Nicholson died when the Miles Master aircraft she was flying crashed

Ms Nicholson was one of 25 experienced female pilots from the USA to join the ATA in the UK, ferrying aircraft from factories to airfields for the war effort.

She was transporting a Miles Master aircraft when its engine failed and she crashed into a farm building.

The plaque has been put up on a barn wall in the village of Littleworth - the nearest point to the crash site.

Mr Hudson said Ms Nicholson was celebrated in the USA, where she is remembered in museums and her hometown, but her death was "pretty much unremarked" in Britain.

"That simply isn't good enough," he said. "This woman has sacrificed her life and needs to be recognised."

The plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony at 15:00 BST.

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