Reminder of a female pilot’s wartime bravery at auction in Kent

The poignant final entry in Lesley Cairns Murray's logbook.

A flying log book belonging to one of the female pilots of the Air Training Auxiliary (ATA) who became famous for ferrying planes in the Second World War has been sold at Kent saleroom C&T.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Tom Derbyshire

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Lesley Cairns Murray was killed aged 28 in a crash while flying a Hudson aircraft on April 20, 1945. The Londoner, who trained in the summer of 1942, began ferrying duties in October that year (female pilots were not allowed to fly in combat).

Her logbook was sold together with photographs of Murray and her crashed aircraft as well as research identifying her grave in Chislehurst. Offered in Tunbridge Wells on April 24 with an estimate of £800-1200, it sold to an online bidder at £2900.

C&T ephemera specialist Tim Harper said: “We had a lady whose husband had been a collector. We put some of his things in the last sale but when I went down there again the lady said ‘we’ve had a bit of a flood, have a look in the loft, it is a real mess’. When it turned up this logbook she had no idea it was there.”

Harper added that Murphy was so keen to be in the action she drove an ambulance – including at Dunkirk – before she was able to join the ATA. “She lived life to the full from what we understand and put in over 500 hours flying, as shown in the logbook. She was apparently the last female in the RAF or ATA to be killed in the war. A number lost their lives ferrying aircraft.” Her final flight may not have been authorised – taking an air cadet up for a spin.

Murphy was one of three sisters, two of whom were killed during the war. The family of the third tried to buy the logbook at the sale but were unsuccessful.