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The spirit of a woman - Diana Barnato Walker

We have just learned of the Patrick O' Brian Discussion Forum, which explores subjects interesting to readers of the Aubrey/Maturin novels.

Recently Christo posted a fine tribute to Diana Barnato Walker. No doubt he was inspired by O' Brian's heroine, Diana Maturin, for Diana Barnato Walker was like her in having great spirit and beauty. She was a heroine of World War II.


Diana Barnato Walker climbing into a Mk IX Spitfire.
ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) pilots ("Atagirls") were expected to fly in all weathers without navigational aids.

Diana Barnato Walker, who has died aged 90, was one of the great women pilots. She was the only British woman on record to fly, at the controls of a Mk IX Spitfire, over the Channel into occupied Europe during the second world war. Volunteering for service in September 1939, she delivered 260 unarmed Spitfires from factories to RAF airfields between 1942 and 1945. She was quietly proud of the fact that she managed to land each and every one, whatever the weather, without so much as a scratch.

The Telegraph also pays tribute to her.