war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper



Honor Isabel Salmon

The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) is credited by the first Baron Beaverbrook as being soldiers "fighting in the struggle, just as completely as if they had been engaged on the battlefront". A civilian group formed from pilots who, through disability, age, or their sex, were considered unsuitable for the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm, they flew military aircraft to required destinations, carried service personnel and acted as air ambulances. Some 12% of the pilots were women, of whom 15 lost their lives.

One was Honor Isabel Salmon. A granddaughter of Sir Isaac Pitman, she was born at Kensington on 30 October 1912, and attended Westonbirt School, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. She married Major Henry Salmon at St Peter's Church, Dyrham, Gloucestershire, on 20 June 1941.

A First Officer of the ATA, Mrs Salmon is now buried in St Peter's churchyard, having lost her life in an air accident whilst ferrying an aircraft near Calne, Wiltshire, on 19 April 1943.

A plaque at the church records that two of her brothers also lost their lives.  John Pitman, a Captain in the 3rd King's Own Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps, was killed on service in Palestine on 1 October 1943, and is now buried at the Khayat Beach War Cemetery, Israel. Peter Pitman-Butler, Captain in the 7th Queen's Own Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps, who died from wounds received in action on 17 July 1940, is buried in the Cairo War Cemetery, Egypt.

Honor Salmon's gravestone
detail from the memorial in St Peter's churchyard, showing Honor Salmon's name
St Peter's church and churchyard, with memorial

Copyright 2011 Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved