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The story of the unsung heroines who flew the newest, fastest, aeroplanes in World War II -- mostly in southern England where the RAF was desperately short of pilots. Why would the well-bred daughter of a New England factory-owner brave the U-boat blockades of the North Atlantic in the bitter winter of 1941? What made a South African diamond heiress give up her life of house parties and London balls to spend the war in a freezing barracks on the Solent? And why did young Margaret Frost start lying to her father during the Battle of Britain? They -- and scores of other women -- weren't allowed to fly in combat, but what they did was nearly as dangerous. Unarmed and without instruments or radios, they delivered planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary to the RAF bases from which male pilots flew into battle. At the mercy of the weather and any long-range enemy aircraft that pounced on them, dozens of these women died, among them Amy Johnson, Britain's most famous flyer. But the survivors shared four unrepeatable years of life, adrenaline and love. The story of this 'tough bunch of babes' (in the words of one of them) has never been told properly before. The author has interviewed all the surviving women pilots, who came not just from the shires of England, but also from the U.S.A, Chile, Australia, Poland and Argentina. Paid GBP 6.00 a week, they flew -- in skirts -- up to 16 hours a day in 140 different types of aircraft, though most of them liked spitfires best. Key title Includes PS Section / A fitting compliment to Patrick Bishop's bestselling 'Fighter Boys', 'Spitfire Women of World War II' looks closely at pilot heroines of World War II and the constant dangers they faced, despite being forbidden to fly in combat. / 'Fighter Boys' has sold over 116,000 copies in the UK alone. / Full assistance from ATA Association is confirmed to help publicise this title. / 'Spitfire Women of World War II' is guaranteed widespread media attention.
Giles Whittell is a leader and feature writer on The Times, for whom he has worked as correspondent since 1993. He has written three previous books -- 'Extreme Continental', 'Central Asia' and 'Lambasa County'. He lives with his wife and two sons in South London.
'Thrilling!I love this kind of book.' Times 'Some of the Air Transport Auxiliary's female pilots may have objected to being called "tough" simply because they were women -- but they were as tough as nails all the same, as this superb account makes clear. They flew unarmed, without instruments, in atrocious weather, and hardly paused to grieve when their comrades started crashing into hillsides. At long last these magnificent women have the tribute they deserve.' Sir Ranulph Fiennes 'The breadth of Whittell's research leaps of the page in telling encounters with the now-aged survivors.' Scotsman 'An eye-opening and at times very moving illustration of the courage and sacrifice of women who deserve to be remembered alongside their more celebrated male counterparts.' Literary Review 'Extraordinary stories of women who had little fear and minimal concern for the enormous step they were taking in banging "Good grief, it's a girl!" condescension on the head.' Good Housekeeping 'Thrilling!I love this kind of book.' The Times 'The breadth of Whittell's research leaps of the page in telling encounters with the now-aged survivors.' The Scotsman 'An eye-opening and at times very moving illustration of the courage and sacrifice of women who deserve to be remembered alongside their more celebrated male counterparts.' Literary Review