Auntie Doris’s They Died Too Young #19: Amy Johnson. Died 5th January 1941 aged 37.

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I liked Amy Johnson. She was born and brought up not far from where I was, although she was about 10 years older than me and came from a much posher family. Her dad had made a fortune in wet fish, and had enough money to buy her a gypsy moth aeroplane for her 26th birthday. Once she had her own ‘plane there was no stopping the lass. The following spring she flew from England to Australia in just under three weeks. It was a solo flight an’all. There were a lot of blokes who thought women were the inferior sex who got a bit hot under the collar about that one.

They called women pilots aviatrixes in those days, and after her trip to the other side of the world, Amy was the most famous aviatrix ever. She even got the CBE off the King in London! After that she went gadding off all over the place in her aeroplane, Russia, Japan, South Africa, India, America, the ruddy lot. You could tell that she was a real lady though. No man had ever been to such a variety of far flung places without coming back covered in tattoos, but Amy wasn’t like that. Apart from a few nice hats and a couple of pairs of silk drawers, she didn’t go in for tourist souvenirs.

She married Jim Morrison at the height of her fame, but she got divorced from him pretty sharpish when he got fat, grew a beard and took to exposing himself on stage. The papers said that it was an amicable split, because she wanted to spend more time on her flying career. The truth was that he was weighing his side of the plane down on their flights together, making it difficult for her to steer, and having too much of an impact on fuel costs.

When the war started, she got a job with the Air Transport Auxilliary. She was a sort of aeroplane deliver woman flying planes around the country so they would be ready for different RAF bases to go and bomb Germany with. Unfortunately one night, the plane she was flying crashed into the River Thames. They reckon some bugger shot her down, thinking that she was a German. But it all got hushed up. Apparently, she managed to jump out with her parachute before the smash, but she landed in the water, which was ruddy freezing, and she had no chance. They never did find her body.

She continued to enjoy the thrills of flying on the other side though, and is proud of the fact that she has her place in the history of pop music. When she got back from that flight to Australia, Jack Hylton got his orchestra together and made a real song and dance about her. In “Amy Wonderful Amy” the singer, Pat O’Malley slobbers on about how he can’t be blamed for falling in love with her. And on the B side of the record, he works himself into a proper lather with a song called “What a Silly Place to Kiss a Girl.” The filthy so and so!

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