Joy Lofthouse

Second World War


Joy Lofthouse was a pilot who flew bombers and fighter aircraft for the ATA during the Second World War.

Born on 14 February 1923 in South Cerney in Gloucestershire, Lofthouse was educated at Cirencester Grammar School. She was working as a cashier at Lloyds Bank when the Second World War broke out.

In 1943, after seeing an advert in a magazine calling for women to learn how to fly, Lofthouse successfully applied for the ATA. Unknown to Lofthouse, her sister Yvonne Wheatley had also applied and was accepted into the service. Together, Lofthouse and Wheatley served in what the press of the time dubbed ‘Attagirls’ for the duration of the war.

Lofthouse completed her training at Thame in Oxfordshire, learning to fly a range of single-seater aircrafts. Remarkably, she learned to fly before obtaining her driving licence. In 1944, she was posted to Hamble, where her duties included the transportation of aircraft, medical supplies and personnel to bases around Britain. Over the course of her time with the ATA, Lofthouse flew a range of aircraft, including Hawker Tempest Vs, North American Mustangs and Spitfires. In 1945, she also trained to fly two-seater aircraft. She had little chance to implement this training, however, as with the end of the war came the end of the ATA. In peacetime, jobs for women pilots became nearly non-existent and Lofthouse stopped flying, training to become a teacher.

The full extent of Lofthouse’s wartime contribution was not recognised until decades after the end of the war, when the role of women during the conflict started to become more widely-acknowledged. In the last decades of her life, she became re-involved in the world of aviation. Here, she became a patron of the charity Fly2Help, which encouraged young people to learn to fly and gave talks to women considering careers in the RAF.

In 2008 Joy Lofthouse was awarded a commemorative badge for the Attagirls, issued by the government. She died on 15 November 2017, aged 94.