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British pilot's log book found decades after WW2 Taplow plane crash

The logbook of a female British pilot who died in a crash in Taplow during World War Two has been uncovered.

Lesley Cairns Murray was a pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) when she was killed in a crash near where the BMW dealership in Bath Road is today.

Her logbook was discovered in an attic in Middlesex and went up for auction in Kent yesterday, fetching £2,800.

Richard Poad, chairman of Maidenhead Heritage Centre in Park Street, which contains a permanent exhibition on the ATA, said he hoped the centre may be able to contact the new owner of the logbook and make a copy.

He said: “We can’t afford to buy it ourselves but it would be quite nice if we could take a look it, it would tell us more.

“It would be interesting to look at it because it’s an intriguing local item with a little mystery.”

Murray was the last female pilot to die flying for the ATA during the war when she crashed on April 20, 1945.

She was accompanied by 16-year-old cadet Geoffry Regan, who also died in the crash.

Scotswoman Murray had set off from White Waltham Airfield on the day piloting a twin-engine Hudson trainer aircraft.

During her time at the ATA, Murray flew a variety of aircraft including Spitfires, Hurricanes and Swordfish. The ATA was a civilian service that delivered aircraft from factories to RAF bases.

Aside from the details of the crash, very little is known about Murray herself. Her final ATA training report says: “Her discipline and appearance are both excellent and she will be an asset to any pool she joins.”

The logbook was discovered in the loft of a woman whose late husband had a keen interest in the ATA.

Tim Harper, a consultant at C&T Auctioneers who discovered the log book, said: “I managed to find this logbook and didn’t realise what it was because they are not uncommon.

“It was only when we got back to the office that we realised it was an ATA book. She did everything that the men did back then, it’s good to see."

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