Molly first started flying as a little girl, as a passenger with her brother Arthur in his open cockpit Gypsy Moth. She said she was never frightened – not then, nor when flying for ATA during the war. By 16 she had already had flying lessons and by 19 she was married to Bernard Rose. He went off to war (and ended up as a prisoner) while she worked as a ground engineer at Marshalls. When she joined ATA, her training took place at Luton and for twin engined aircraft at White Waltham, and then she was posted to the all-women pool at Hamble. On one occasion she developed an ‘intimate relationship with a Boston’, which she was to deliver from the south of England to Prestwick; unfortunately the journey took several days!
Molly only had one accident. She was flying a Fairey Swordfish (the ‘stringbag’) near the Wrekin (not the flattest terrain in England) when the engine cut out. Changing fuel tanks didn’t work and nor did anything else, so a forced landing became inevitable and she chose the biggest of a bunch of small fields. From above she couldn’t tell that it sloped downhill – and a Swordfish had no brakes. So through the far hedge she went and into the next field where a farmer’s boy and two horses were ploughing the field. Molly missed the boy and his horses, but the plane flipped onto its back and she was left hanging in her straps. Once she released herself and crawled out, she left the lad in charge of the wreck and went to the farmhouse to call for help from the nearest ATA base at Cosford. A couple of bruises were her only injuries and she ended up going out to dinner with her brother-in-law.
On another occasion, ferrying a Spitfire from Eastleigh to the north, she tried to creep under cloud over the Cotswolds but came face to face with a hill. Quick reactions and the power of the Spitfire saved her from a fate suffered by several of her ATA colleagues.
After her husband was released and returned to Britain, Molly left ATA and never flew an aircraft again. ‘For 70 years nobody asked about it and you didn’t even think of talking about it’, she said but she relished the renewed interest in ATA in recent years. Her wonderful memories are part of British history.