Published: 00:01, 05 January 2017
A historian claims Amy Johnson’s death was deliberately covered up after she was sucked into the propeller of the ship trying to rescue her.
Johnson – the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia – crashed off the Herne Bay coastline 75 years ago today, aged 37.
Now Dr Alec Gill, who has written a book about the pilot, thinks her death was intentionally covered up when she was struck by blades of the ship’s propeller in the Thames Estuary.
“It is all speculation because I was not there and few people alive today were,” Dr Gill said.
“She was serving her country and she died serving her country – I am not out to knock Amy Johnson.
“But the Royal Navy would not want to admit they killed Britain’s top pilot – I think it was a cover-up.”
Dr Gill has based his revelations on comments made by the son of an officer who was on board the HMS Haslemere – the ship sent to rescue Amy Johnson from the water.
Harry Gould was a Naval reservist on HMS Haslemere.
"I think it was a cover-up..." - Dr Alec Gill
His son, also called Harry, has recalled his father’s account of that day, saying how his dad saw Johnson dragged under the boat.
Harry, 84, told Dr Gill: “My father saw she was getting too close to the stern and shouted up to the bridge, telling them to cut the engines because they were going the wrong way.
“But they did not listen.
“A few seconds later she was dragged under the boat.”
A statue of Johnson, whose body was never found, was erected on Herne Bay seafront last year.
Dr Gill, whose book is called Hessle Road Tomboy, added: “In 1941 during the war, the Royal Navy would not want the truth to come out about the most famous female pilot in the world.
“They kept their cards close to their chest and it was a gory end to a colourful life.”
More by this authorDan Wright