The good folks at Arnos Vale Cemetery noticed that it’s 70 years ago today – July 8 – that Elsie Davison died.
She was just one of the many casualties of the Second World War, no more or less deserving of commemoration than all the others.
But she is quite interesting. She was almost certainly the first British woman pilot to die in the war, and quite possibly the first woman pilot on any side to be killed.
Elisie Joy Davison (nee Muntz) was born in Canada, came to Britain as a child and got the flying bug. People are often surprised at how many female pilots there were back in the days when women were supposed to be housewives, mothers, primary school teachers or nuns.
As one of the first women to join the Air Transport Auxiliary, she was killed in a training acident in a Miles Master advanced trainer at RAF Upavon, Wiltshire. She was an experienced pilot and mechanic, and it’s thought that she and the instructor were unconscious due to carbon monoxide poisoning when the airfraft crashed. She was 30 years old.
Her sister organised the funeral and cremation at Arnos Vale Cemetery, where her name appears on a memorial plaque.
More on her at the Arnos Vale website here.
More on the Air Transport Auxiliary and its Bristol connections here.
And the National Portrait Gallery have pictures of her here.
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