January 8

In 1942 Britain asked the US to build for us the new British Specification B24, Liberator four engine Bomber. The first plane was sent from Arizona to St Johns, Newfoundland, flying by day with five crew, they made the journey in three days, the Pilot and Engineer were both British, on landing they went immediately to the canteen Bar and got stuck into that Canadian Beer.

The plane was refuelled  and checked over; the new  pilot clambered alone into the Cockpit, started the aircraft and took off into the black evening sky, flying completely alone, using only compass, air speed indicator and a height above sea level indicator, the flyer had to leave the seat (No Automatic Pilots during the War),  manually alter, propeller pitch control, fuel control valves, supercharger controls, engineering information dials, as well as making tea and sandwiches for the many hour flight, not forgetting taking a ‘pee!

As the Sunrise in the East came over the Horizon the part-time Aviator had to prepare to land the massive bomber on the long runway at Keflavick in Iceland, where at last the young Woman would go to the female quarters and sleep.  She would hand over to another Aircraft Delivery Pilot, who would take the plane to Prestwick in Scotland and thence to Manchester where the MEN would take over to do the really dangerous work.

It is worth noting that this Bomber had never before made this journey, in fact no Bomber had ever crossed the Atlantic before.

John Cook

ps  No SHE didn’t get a medal