9 Sep 2008 07:00 AM
Aviation heroes honoured by Prime Minister

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (142) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 9 September 2008

Men and women who served in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) during the Second World War will today be honoured by the Prime Minister at a reception in Downing Street, where they will be awarded a special badge of recognition for their contribution to the war effort.

The men and women of the ATA, including the female pilots known as the 'Spitfire Women', delivered over 309,000 aircraft between factories and front line airfields during the war and returned them when they were damaged.

Veterans will also attend a reunion at White Waltham airfield near Maidenhead - the original headquarters of the ATA - where they will have the opportunity to view an exhibition of ATA memorabilia and enjoy a display of war time aircraft.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

"I am honoured to have this opportunity to give my thanks to the men and women of the ATA. Their dedication and efforts during the Second World War can not be overestimated. They can be rightly proud of their contribution to defending this country during its darkest hours. It is a great privilege to meet so many of them today and to hear of the work they undertook and their sacrifice they made to ensure the delivery of aircraft for the front line."

Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"It is humbling to hear of the work undertaken by these brave men and women and it is right that we remember those who served and recognise their vital role in the war effort."

The ATA was a civilian unit founded in 1939, and included pilots, flight engineers, ground engineers, flying instructors, operations officers, meteorological officers, nurses and doctors, administration staff and Air Cadets. They were based at 14 ferry pools, across the country.

The group had a remarkable delivery record and very few aircraft were lost or damaged. Tragically 173 air crew personnel lost their lives on ATA missions, including Amy Johnson, the pioneering female civil aviator. By 1945 there were 650 ATA pilots from 22 countries around the world including Chile, South Africa and the United States.

Notes to Editors

1. Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly announced that a Veterans Badge would be awarded to members of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in recognition of their important work during the Second World War on 20 February 2008.

2. An Air Transport Auxiliary Veterans Badge (also known as 'ATA Veterans Badge') can be issued to any man or woman who served in the Air Transport Auxiliary between 3rd September 1939 and 30th November 1945. ATA Veterans Badges can only be issued posthumously to Next of Kin where death has occurred since the date of introduction - 1st February 2008.

3. If you, a friend or a relative are eligible for a badge please telephone 0800 089 1945 or email ATAveteransbadge@dft.gsi.gov.uk

4. Alternatively please write to the DfT at:

Air Transport Auxiliary Veterans Badge
Department for Transport
1/25 Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR


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Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk