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A Spitfire Girl (ePub)

One of the World's Greatest Female ATA Ferry Pilots Tells Her Story

Aviation > WWII Military > Frontline eBooks > Frontline: Aviation WWII Women of History

By Melody Foreman
Frontline Books
File Size: 9.6 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16 black and white images
ISBN: 9781473895386
Published: 6th December 2016


£6.99 Print price £25.00

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National Publicity

As featured in the Daily Express - The Spitfire Girl: How a farmer's daughter became a WWII pilot

Author article as featured on Family Tree website - The aviation achievements of ‘Spitfire girl’ Mary Ellis

As featured on BBC News - WWII Spitfire Pilot Mary Ellis from Isle of Wight turns 100.

As featured on The Times - Spitfire Mary Reaches For The Skies Again At 99

As featured on Daily Mail Online - Mary Ellis celebrates her Centenary 

As featured in The Mirror - 100-year-old woman who flew Spitfires during World War Two gets behind the controls again

As featured in The Mirror (17/02/17) - Amazing 'lost' photos of world's greatest female World War Two pilot finally released

As featured on Daily Mail Online (17/02/17) - Britain's Blitz girl: Forgotten images of female pilot who flew spitfires during the Second World War are revealed two weeks after she celebrated turning 100

As featured in The Sun - World War Two heroine revealed in incredible forgotten images of greatest female pilot who flew Spitfires for the RAF during the Blitz


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We visualise dashing and daring young men as the epitome of the pilots of the Second World War, yet amongst that elite corps was one person who flew no less than 400 Spitfires and seventy-six different types of aircraft and that person was Mary Wilkins.

Her story is one of the most remarkable and endearing of the war, as this young woman, serving as a ferry pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary, transported aircraft for the RAF, including fast fighter planes and huge four-engine bombers. On one occasion Mary delivered a Wellington bomber to an airfield, and as she climbed out of the aircraft the RAF ground crew ran over to her and demanded to know where the pilot was! Mary said simply: I am the pilot! Unconvinced the men searched the aircraft before they realised a young woman had indeed flown the bomber all by herself.

After the war she accepted a secondment to the RAF, being chosen as one of the first pilots, and one of only three women, to take the controls of the new Meteor fast jet. By 1950 the farmer's daughter from Oxfordshire with a natural instinct to fly became Europe's first female air commandant.

In this authorised biography the woman who says she kept in the background during her ATA years and left all the glamour of publicity to her colleagues, finally reveals all about her action-packed career which spans almost a century of aviation, and her love for the skies which, even in her nineties, never falters.

She says: I am passionate for anything fast and furious. I always have been since the age of three and I always knew I would fly. The day I stepped into a Spitfire was a complete joy and it was the most natural thing in the world for me.

A tale of a remarkable lady. Throughout the book there is a true sense from Mary of passion and pride in her achievements. Chapter by chapter the true scale of what Mary accomplished can be read in detail, added to which is a personal touch that energises the most passive of readers. Many women helped the war effort, but this tale of a ferry pilot really highlights the collective effort and sacrifice people made. It goes to show the people ‘behind the scenes’ were just as valuable as the men fighting on the frontline.

The moment Mary is called up to fly her first Spitfire left me with tingles and a real sense of awe. What an amazing adventure for anyone I am sure, but to be a woman in a male dominated world is incredible. To see the faces and reactions of the men as Mary landed these aircraft would put a smile on anyone’s face! Her experiences are interspersed with technical elements of knowledge in regard to the aircraft and a learning journey for any reader. There is a sense of a humble and grounded lady just getting on with her job. A tone of downplaying the phenomenal work she did is evident and instead of languishing in the glory, Mary simply got on with the role she was assigned.

The pictures add context to the narrative, and it is lovely to see the world through Mary’s eyes come alive. A super read and although not a genre I would normally turn to, it was a delight to read.

The Rolls Royce Heritage Trust

Mary Ellis comes across as a remarkable person. Her post-war career is just as impressive as her wartime exploits, and included a successful period as the only female airport manager in Europe, running Sandown Airfield on the Isle of Wight, and a successful career as a rally car driver – clearly speed was her thing! Her stories from the ATA were a mix of the light hearted, especially with the joy of flying and the friendships formed, and the dangers of flying with several of her friends dying in air crashes. As a result this is one of the most interesting Second World War autobiographies I’ve read (and probably one of the last to be written as the generation that flew in the war disappear).

Read the full review here

History of War

Listed in ‘Further Reading’ part of Women With Wings article

Britain at War, March 2021

Not only does [Mary] tell her own amazing story she reminiscences about many of the female colleagues.
The story needs telling and the authors have succeeded in writing a readable and captivating book.

De Havilland Moth Club

As featured in

Battle of Britain Historical Society, Autumn/ Winter 2019

Through Foreman, Ellis is able to tell her story in the first person. This invites readers into her story and lets you feel as though you are listening to Ellis telling you about her history of daring flight deeds. The stories included throughout the book emphasizes the strength and courage of Ellis. She was a dedicated pilot who constantly pushed herself to complete her runs and was involved in her own dangerous situations. Her legendary landing of a Wellington bomber to an airfield is a tale that surprised a number of of male counterparts. Her discussions of her achievements are inspiring and filled me with pride for all of the women who served. Ellis was a hero who tells her story with humility and constant regard for those she served with. Her story is heartfelt and empowering and the perfect read for not just history buffs, but those who want to be inspired by the heroic acts of women throughout history.

Read the full review here

The Nerdy Girl Express

As featured by

Dover Express, 14th February 2019

As featured by

Isle of Thanet Gazette, 15th February 2019

Author talk/book referenced in article 'Battle of Britain remembered in talks at Memorial'

Isle of Thanet Gazette, 1st February 2019

As featured in

New York Times

As featured in

The Irish Times

As featured in

The Telegraph 27/7/18

As featured in

The Independent 3/8/18

Article: 'Mary Ellis: Pioneering aviator, one of the last of Britain's Second World War female pilots' as featured by

The Scotsman, 28th July 2018 - words by Ceylan Yeginsu

As featured in

The Times 28/7/18

As featured in

Sydney Morning Herald 28/7/18

As featured in

Daily Mail 28/7/18

As featured in

The Guardian 28/7/18

Author talk as featured by

Sevenoaks Chronicle, 17th May 2018

A remarkably vivid account of a passion for flying and its fulfillment in the service of the Air Transport Auxiliary.

RAF Historical Society Journal 66

Article by Clare Mulley on A Spitfire Girl as featured in

History Today, June 2017

This is the remarkable story of a woman who was born to fly.
Someone once said "There are no extraordinary people: only ordinary people who have done extraordinary things".

I thoroughly recommend you read this book and see if you agree.

The Spitfire Society

Article as featured in to mark Mary's 100th birthday

RAF News, February 24th 2017

Foreman who has skilfully woven what must have been a long series of meandering conversations, over endless pots of tea at Mary's Isle of Wight home...

... This is a lovely book, and such a refreshing change to be able to read such 'ripping yarns' about a young girl pilot instead of the usual archetypal swashbuckling and testosterone-fuelled fighter boy. It is highly recommended.

Britain at War - reviewed by Andy Saunders

A great story from a great lady. Few have had the privilege to fly a Spitfire. Even fewer have been women and now Mary Ellis flies a Spitfire again at 100 - Outstanding. This is an account by one of the young ladies who served their country in time of war, flying combat aircraft between factories, repair centres and RAF airfields, showing great courage. Just don't miss this fantastic
story. Very strongly recommended.

Read the full review here.


Mary supplies photographs of time long ago when she was the happiest standing with flying colleagues, and tells about her hit and miss of flying from the first time she enters the cockpit to the time she hangs up her propellers. Her life story was the need for flying so was it such a shock) that she thrived for speed, which is why she got into car racing, which shouldn't be a surprise. I'm not going to reveal anymore about Mary's life adventures, so if you enjoy the thrill of speed and soaring in the air I would recommend you read this book of this woman who really had lived.

Read the full review here.

Oh My Bookness

As featured in.

The Sun 20/2/17

As featured in.

The Daily Mail 20/2/17

As featured in.

The Mirror 20/2/17

As featured in1

Essence Magazine

As featured in

Antiques Diary, March 2017

This book recounts one woman's experiences as a wartime female pilot.
It describes how she became interested in flying while very young, and how at school in her teens she was able to go for flying lessons insteadvof playing hockey !
Having qualified as a pilot she thought she would have to give up flying for the duration of the war ; but then she heard an appeal for women pilots for the Air Transport Auxiliary in the autumn of 1941.
Mary describes her training for the ATA, her first flight in a Spitfire, and the perils an excitement which arose from flying many different types of aircraft. She includes tales of the amusing and sad events during those years, and of the sometimes-hostile , sometimes- incredulous behaviour she experienced from the men she encountered during her work. And she speaks of other pilots she knew.
Marys post-war life is also covered. She flew the Gloster Meteor , took up rally driving, and became the Commandant of Sandown (isle of wight) Airport. In recent years, she has gained a degree of celebrity status as one of the few remaining ATA women pilots.
The book also includes a comprehensive list of the aircraft she flew , and the airfields she served.
'A Spitfire Girl ; Mary Ellis - one of the worlds greatest female ferry pilots as told to Melody Foreman ' is a valuable addition to the non- fiction books about the Air Transport Auxiliary .
Read It !

Amazon Reviewer

As featured in.

The Daily Express 2/1/17
 Melody Foreman

About Melody Foreman

MELODY FOREMAN is a journalist with experience in newspapers and television documentaries. She also works as a book sommelier and public speaker. Melody is the author of the best-selling Bomber GirlsA Spitfire Girl, the biography of Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Mary Wilkins Ellis, The Wreck Hunter: Battle of Britain and the Blitz, and two books about the history of Kent. Melody is a regular contributor to national publications including Britain at War magazine. She maintains an avid interest in the social history of both the First and Second World Wars, literature, art, film and theatre studies. www.melodyforeman.co.uk

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