A PLAQUE has been unveiled to honour an American pilot who died in a crash near Worcester during the Second World War.

Mary Webb Nicholson died after the plane she was transporting for the RAF suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure and struck a farm building in Littleworth, just South of Worcester.

On Wednesday afternoon historians, aviation researchers and Littleworth villagers all gathered for a service officiated by Reverend Martin Badger, which led to the unveiling of the plaque.

Organiser, historian Geoff Hudson, said: "Mary Nicholson was an accomplished American aviatrix.

"She became a rock star in America.

"She set a number of aviation records before volunteering to join a group of pilots headed by Jacquie Cochran-Odlum.

"They were charged with delivering aircraft to RAF stations throughout the UK.

"Ms Nicholson was the only one to lose her life when the Miles Master aircraft she was delivering to RAF Ternhill suffered mechanical failure.

"She was killed by the impact and ensuring fire on May 22, 1943.

"In the USA, especially North Carolina (where she was born) her record breaking exploits and subsequent sacrifice in the ATA are marked by museums and other tributes but, until now, her contribution has gone unremarked in the UK."

A year before her death she was invited to present a paper "Women in Aviation" at a symposium at North Carolina College on women's life and work.

Although unable to attend, as she attended ATA training in the UK, her mother proudly read her words, which included the line: "(It) is not too much to imagine that women will be given an even greater part in protecting the freedoms of our democracy.

"If they are called upon to give this service, the women of America will not be found wanting."

At the event the new plaque was unveiled and blessed on the remaining barn wall - marking the site of the famous crash in St James Close, which has been visited by American tourists.

On the new plaque it has the ATA logo, and underneath reads: "In tribute to Mary Webb Nicholson, July 12 1905 - May 22 1943.

"This plaque marks the site of the accident that claimed the life of Pilot Second Officer Mary Webb Nicholson.

"The aircraft she was delivering suffered a serious mechanical failure. It stuck this barn and caught fire.

"Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Mary gave her life in the defence of the UK as a volunteer member of the Air Transport Auxiliary.

"She was the only American woman to be killed on active service with the ATA."

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