In the previous edition of the Military History Journal (incorporating Museum Review), Vol 12 No 6, December 2004, we featured an article based on an interview with 'Jackie' Moggridge (nee Dolores Theresa Sorour) held during her November 2001 visit to the South African National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. Jackie, who served as a radar operator and ATA ferry pilot during the Second World War, as a pilot in the post-war Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and later became a commercial pilot, told her story in a delightful sequence of highly entertaining, modest anecdotes which are preserved in her own voice on a tape recording held in the Museum's Archives.
More recently, a copy of her book, Woman Pilot (Michael Joseph Ltd, 1957, revised edition by Pan Books Ltd, London, 1959) was donated to the Museum Library and, again, her vitality and vibrant sense of humour permeates the account.
Sadly, Jackie Moggridge passed away on 7 January 2004. A private last farewell, planned by her family to scatter her Ashes at Dunkeswell Airfield, was to be held on 7 April, but has been postponed. A very special Spitfire, No ML 407, owned and piloted by Carolyn Grace, was to fly into Dunkeswell Airfield for the ceremony. This particular Spitfire has had a long association with Jackie Moggridge. Shortly before the D-Day Landings in 1944, as a wartime ferry pilot, she delivered the aircraft to 485 NZ Squadron at Selsey, West Sussex, and, fifty years later, on 29 April 1994, aged 71, flew the same Spitfire at Duxford. Its role in commemorating this remarkable woman pilot will thus serve as a fitting tribute to a woman who described the Spitfire, known to be a difficult aircraft to fly, as flying 'like a Tiger Moth, very easy and delicate - a lady's aeroplane really .. .' That Jackie held the Spitfire in high regard is evident in her detailed memory of her first flight in one, from Oxford to Turnhill Aerodrome: ' ... I got out and I kissed that Spitfire on the nose as I was terrified but, as I say, I prayed hard and God flies it for me.'
In January 1945, Jackie married the late Lt Col Reginald Moggridge RE, and had two daughters and two grandchildren. After the war, she also became an accomplished performer with the Taunton Amateur Operatic Society and, until 1979, took part regularly in performances, always approaching her role, whether as principal, dancer or member of the chorus, with professionalism and a determination 'to get it right'. She loved Opera and Ballet, and also enjoyed oil painting and needlework.
Jackie Moggridge will be deeply mourned by all who met and knew her.
Susanne Blendulf Editor/Curator of Insignia
South African National Museum of Military History
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