WOMEN WITH WINGS

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH 

Clare Mulley reveals their stories

Aviatrixes risked their lives, either delivering thousands of aircraft to their RAF colleagues, or as pioneers for the future generation.

Anna Leska-Daab waited until the early hours before climbing quietly over the airfield fence. She was on home turf, so despite the pitch darkness she knew her way around the hangars - but everything else had changed. It was late September 1939. Poland had been invaded first by Nazi-Germany less than four weeks earlier, and then by the Soviets. Forced to retreat, the remains of the Polish armed forces were regrouping overseas. A liaison pilot with the Polish Air Force who had become separated from her unit, Leska-Daab had been ordered to surrender.

Still wearing the blue uniform of which she was so proud, she now disobeyed a direct command, stole across the dark expanse of the Nazi-occupied airfield, and clambered into the nearest cockpit.

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