Monument campaign for WWII female auxiliary pilots

Spitfire pilot Joy Lofthouse
Image caption Spitfire pilot Joy Lofthouse learned to fly before she learnt to drive

A campaign is under way to raise £15,000 for a national monument to commemorate the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) girls of World War II.

The funds will pay for the monument's design and installation at The National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire.

The campaign was started by an Oxfordshire car dealer, who aims to donate a proportion of his takings.

The ATA was formed on 15 February 1940 and its pilots moved aircraft from factory to airfield during the war.

The pilots were those considered unsuitable for front line duty and included the pioneering British aviator Amy Johnson.

Johnson and 14 other female pilots died during the war while undertaking the vital role of ferrying military aircraft around the country.

Joy Lofthouse was one of the first female pilots to fly a Spitfire during World War II and learned to fly before she learned to drive.

She attended the launch ceremony in Abingdon on Wednesday, where the organisers staged a Spitfire flypast.

Mrs Lofthouse said: "It's very rewarding that we are now being feted in a way, it livens up old age."

Image caption Lodge Hill Garage in Abingdon is donating money for the monument

She was trained to fly all types of single-seater aircraft with the ATA during the war.

The auxiliary suffered 156 casualties, mostly due to bad weather, but Mrs Lofthouse said at the time she was not put off flying.

"When you're young you don't think about the danger," she said.

The man behind the campaign, car dealer Peter Jewson, intends to donate £5 from every car he sells at his garage in Abingdon for a whole year.

Mr Jewson said: "I believe that their bravery, sacrifices and service to the country should be celebrated."

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