Berkshire

'Rare' Air Transport Auxiliary pilot's logbook sold

Lesley Cairns Murray Image copyright C&TAuctioneers
Image caption Lesley Cairns Murray flew Spitfires and Hurricanes as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary

An "extremely rare" logbook which belonged to a female pilot killed a week before the end of World War Two has sold at auction for £2,900.

Lesley Cairns Murray flew Spitfires and Hurricanes as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) based at White Waltham, near Maidenhead, in Berkshire.

The 28-year-old died in a crash in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, while flying a Hudson Aircraft on 20 April 1945.

Her story was unearthed after her logbook was found buried in a loft.

Image copyright C&TAuctioneers
Image caption The lot included photographs of the crash in 1945

The lot, which included pictures of Ms Murray, fetched more than the estimate of £800 to £1,200 at the auction on Wednesday.

Her logbook showed she trained in summer 1942, before beginning ferrying duties in October, where she flew Spitfires, Hurricanes, Swordfish, Defiants and Seafires.

What was the ATA?

The ATA was set up to deliver aircraft fresh off the factory production lines to the airfields during the World War Two.

The organisation hired people who couldn't join the Royal Air Force at the time, including people who weren't medically fit, women, and foreign nationals.

The pilots had to be capable of flying a full range of aircraft - 147 different types - from Tiger Moth trainers, through frontline Spitfires to heavy bombers such as the Lancaster.

Tim Harper, an auction consultant, said the discovery of the logbook was a "lucky break" after a woman contacted them to look at some "aviation books" in her loft.

"It wasn't until we got it back to the office that we realised it was an ATA logbook, it's a very rare logbook to find," he added.

Image copyright C&TAuctioneers
Image caption The logbook sold for £2,900 at auction

Mr Harper said he could not be sure about the circumstances surrounding Ms Murray's death, but added research suggested she "took a colleague up for a little bit of a joyride" before the crash.

At the time, investigators said there was "insufficient evidence" to determine what was responsible for the accident, but added it "could have been due to loss of speed".

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