Margaret Wilson: Flying Nightingale, 95, seeks fellow nurse's family

From BBC - October 28, 2017

One of the last living air ambulance nurses to have served during World War Two is seeking help with tracking down a former colleague's family.

Margaret Wilson, 95, was one of 95 nurses who risked their lives transporting nearly 100,000 wounded soldiers to British hospitals.

Known as the Flying Nightingales, the nurses went unrecognised until 2008.

Mrs Wilson says she hopes to contact the family of Margaret Walsh, one of two nurses who died in action.

The nurses were sent into mainland Europe from three bases in England from 1944. Because their outbound planes were carrying ammunition supplies for the forces, they were unable to use the Red Cross emblem to protect them from attack.

Although the nurses were given parachutes, they were told they were not allowed to use them if the plane was shot down on its return from Europe.

Instead, they had to stay with the wounded soldiers and be on hand to provide medical support should anyone survive the crash.

In 2015, the BBC tracked down Lilian West who believed she was the last living Flying Nightingale.

But, following the article, London-born Mrs Wilson, who now lives in Perth, Australia, came forward.

She said had never been on an aircraft before she applied to join the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

"The reaction I would have now would be, 'Hey, no way. I am not going up there'," she said. "But it's amazing the sort of things you do during a war."

Mrs Wilson was stationed at Down Ampney, in Gloucestershire, and shared a hut with another nurse - Margaret Walsh, whose plane went down over the Channel in April 1945.

Miss Walsh, 33, from Hove, Sussex, was lost along with the crew.

It is believed she was the daughter of Major Patrick Walsh and Mary Margaret Walsh

"Margaret used to read cards and we used to take the mickey a little bit," said Mrs Wilson.

"One day I came back from my flight into the hut and I saw she was upset. She was due to go out and she had obviously seen something on the cards.

"I said, 'If you are worried, I will take your place on the plane. No problem. I am all dressed to go.' But Margaret would not let me.


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