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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008, 16:11 GMT
Spitfire heroine's joy over medal
An undated photo of Margaret Frost during her wartime years
Margaret Frost flew spitfires, hurricanes and mustangs
A woman who was among the pilots who flew replacement fighters to RAF bases during World War II has spoken of her joy at the recognition for her work.

Margaret Frost, 87, is one of 15 women and 100 men who are to have a special merit award for serving in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).

The parson's daughter from Bwlchllan, near Lampeter, Ceredigion, flew spitfires, hurricanes and mustangs.

She said: "We just went wherever we were needed to go."

The ATA played a pivotal role in ensuring the RAF received the planes it desperately needed as fighter pilots fought dog fights with the Luftwaffe.

Made up of old WWI pilots, injured airmen and women who had private flying experience, it ferried new and repaired fighters, bombers and other aircraft from factories to frontline bases.

Margaret Frost
I think that we were extremely lucky when I look back to be able to fly those planes when we all so wanted to do that
Margaret Frost

Ms Frost won her wings in 1938, after just 15 hours in the air, only five of them solo.

She was rejected by the ATA when she volunteered after war broke out because she was just under the 5ft 4in (1.62m) height requirement and was considered too inexperienced.

But the need for pilots was so great three years later that, aged 22, she was accepted, only to face objections from her father.

She said: "Villagers where we lived heard about it [and] phoned my father to congratulate him and I overheard him say I would not be allowed to do it.

"Soon after he got a second call and he then said he wasn't sure whether I should do it.

"By the third call he was saying he was delighted and so I suppose he was swayed by public opinion."

Margaret Frost during her wartime years
Her father was swayed by 'public opinion' to let her join the ATA

She was posted to "number 15 ferrypool" based at Hamble, near Southampton, and flew spitfires, hurricanes, mustangs and barracudas all over the UK.

She said: "We were not allowed to fly above 2,000ft (600m) and there was no radio contact so it could be quite lonely.

"And, of course you didn't meet many people during the war because you were busy doing it all.

"But I think that we were extremely lucky when I look back to be able to fly those planes when we all so wanted to do that."

She added: "It is marvellous to get the recognition but I also feel very embarrassed about it all really because there are so few of us left.

"I should think that the original girls who started it all would be turning in their graves now at all the fuss.

"When the war was all over people just went their own way and didn't want any recognition. That was just the way it was.

"Nobody wanted any fuss they just did what was needed doing at the time and after the war got back on with their lives."



SEE ALSO
Honour for WWII Spitfire pilots
20 Feb 08 |  Scotland
Lasting tribute to wartime hero
25 Sep 07 |  England
WWII hero pilot statue unveiled
19 May 07 |  Tayside and Central

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