Second World War veteran remembers lost friends on Battle of Britain anniversary
AS people across Gloucestershire remembered those who died during the Battle of Britain, Joy Lofthouse was paying her respects to the friends she lost in the conflict.
Ms Lofthouse was one of a select band of female pilots to fly during the Second World War.
The 90-year-old from Cirencester still has lucid memories of her close friends who were killed during the decisive confrontation between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force 73 years ago today.
A member of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) during the war, Ms Lofthouse mastered flying 18 different planes.
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She was responsible for delivering planes between factories and RAF bases across the country, and kept a steady stream of jets available for the battles ahead.
As thousands stood in remembrance of the dead airmen who died in the battle, Ms Lofthouse spent a quiet moment reflecting.
She said: “I can still remember it so clearly. I was not yet in the airforce, and was working at the bank when it happened.
“One of the boys I was very friendly with was killed during the battle, and he was a really good friend of mine.
“One of my other friends I went to grammar school with was also killed during the Battle of Britain.”
She joined the ATA after they ran out of qualified pilots in 1943, when she was just 20 years old.
Together with her sister, Yvonne, they were taught to manoeuvre different sorts of airplanes, although she was determined to become a specialist with the Spitfire, which was one of the most used during the Battle of Britain.
She left the ATA after two years in service and came to Cirencester.
“My time in the air force was fantastic, I absolutely love it,” she added.
“During those days, we were not so affected when you heard someone had died. It was a case of stiffening your back and getting on with it.
“When you think about how many were killed during those days, everyone lost a loved one. It was tough, we had to go on, but we remember them all.”