Air Transport Auxiliary At War written by Stephen Wynn and published by Pen & Sword Books – £14.99 – Softcover – Pages 144.
This book looks at the invaluable work carried out by members of the Air Transport Auxiliary during the course of the Second World War. Comprised of both men and women, it was a civilian organisation tasked with the collection and delivery of military aircraft from the factories to the RAF and Royal Navy stations. Men who undertook the role had to be exempt from having to undertake wartime military service due to health or age, but other than that there were very few restrictions on who could join, which accounted for one-legged, one-armed, one-eyed and short-sighted pilots being accepted.
Initially it was only men who were allowed to carry out this service, but by December 1939, British authorities were persuaded by Pauline Gower (the daughter of Sir Robert Vaughan Gower, a wartime Conservative MP, and an accomplished pilot in her own right), to establish a women’s section of the Air Transport Auxiliary, of which she was put in charge. The first eight women were accepted into the service, but it would not be until 1943 that its male and female members received the same pay.
This is a really good book packed with lots of detail and information about an organisation I knew little about. Whilst I had heard about the Transport Auxiliary before it was really fascinating to find out all the details about what they did and who they helped, and actually who the auxiliary relied on to do the work. Having read other similar books it does seem that the role of women during WW2 could have been utilised better, or even it’s nice to see how much effort they brought to fighting in the war rather than the stereotypical views we usually get presented with. As usual, there are some great pictures in this book that support some of the stories and evidence, but as usual, this is a Stephen Wynn book, an author I always enjoy reading. I would heartily recommend this book, it was nice to read a book on a subject that isn’t often covered.