Helena gets second award

A FELIXSTOWE woman has become one of the rare holders of two special badges to mark her extraordinary dedication and war service.

A FELIXSTOWE woman has become one of the rare holders of two special badges to mark her extraordinary dedication and war service.

Helena Davey served as a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) by night and the Land Army and Timber Corps by day during the Second World War.

Earlier this year, she was presented with the Land Army medal and now she is the holder, too, of the ATA Veterans Badge.

Presenting the award, mayor of Felixstowe Mike Deacon said the women of the ATA - known as the Spitfire Women - did an amazing job.

“It's a great privilege to present an award like this because we should never forget what people in this country went through in war-time,” he said.

“It is very difficult to imagine what it was like and all they were involved in.

Most Read

“Service like that of Miss Davey was extraordinary and the award is fully deserved.”

Mr Deacon said it was an even greater pleasure to present it as Miss Davey had been one of his teachers at Felixstowe Modern School, today Orwell High.

Admiring her badge, Miss Davey, 96, of Foxgrove Retirement Home, High Road East, said: “It's lovely - very nice.

“I am sure I don't deserve it.”

The ATA had a variety of men and women workers, including female pilots who delivered more than 309,000 aircraft between factories and front line airfields during the war and returned them when they were damaged.

Miss Davey did learn to fly but didn't take her pilot licence, and worked on the ground crew.

In the Land Army and Timber Corps, she worked in the New Forest helping to provide wood for building ships and planes, and also on the fields in Suffolk.

After the war was a teacher in Woodbridge and Felixstowe before retiring in 1973.

She was also a councillor, serving on Felixstowe Urban District Council, of which she was chairman in 1965-66, and a magistrate from 1965 to 1982. She is also a Freeman of the Borough of Ipswich.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to the ATA badge holders.

“Their dedication and efforts during the Second World War can not be overestimated. They can be rightly proud of their contribution to defending this country during its darkest hours,” he said.

Give your views on the ATA's service - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Air Transport Auxiliary

The ATA was a civilian unit founded in 1939.

It included pilots, flight engineers, ground engineers, flying instructors, operations officers, meteorological officers, nurses and doctors, administration staff and Air Cadets.

They were based at 14 ferry pools, across the country.

The group had a remarkable delivery record and very few aircraft were lost or damaged.

Tragically 173 air crew personnel lost their lives on ATA missions, including Amy Johnson, the pioneering female civil aviator.

By 1945 there were 650 ATA pilots from 22 countries around the world including Chile, South Africa and the United States.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter