Thursday, 30 June 2016

Morna Vaughan

Morna with her Standard in 1933

Morna Vaughan was a British rally driver from the 1930s onward. She is mostly remembered for her drives in the Monte Carlo Rally between 1931 and 1952, which were often eventful rather than strictly successful.

Morna was born Morna Lloyd Rawlins in India, in 1882. Rallying was very much a second career for her; she was one of the first wave of women to qualify as medical doctors, and worked as an Army surgeon during the First World War. This made her one of the first female surgeons in the UK. After the war, and her 1917 marriage to Francis Vaughan, she continued to practise. She was the head of the “Female VD” department (genito-urinary medicine) of Guy’s Hospital in London from 1917, until at least 1935. In addition to this, she was a consultant surgeon to several London hospitals, specialising in women’s GU medicine.

She began driving in 1924, when she was forty-two. Her first major competition experience seems to have been in 1930, when she entered the JCC Half-Day Trial, in a Standard. She was one of the “First Class” award winners. Trials were something to which she would return throughout her career, with some success. That year, she drove a Wolseley Hornet at Shelsley Walsh, making the climb in 80.8 seconds.

Her first Monte Carlo Rally was in 1931, and she drove a Riley. She does not appear on the lists of finishers, but there are no reports of her getting involved in any particular accidents or other drama.

In 1932, she was sixth in the Light Car class of the Monte Carlo Rally, driving a Triumph Nine. This year, she also won her only Monte Coupe des Dames. This was in spite of a lengthy stop close to the end of the rally, when Morna and her co-driver, Charlotte Nash, a medical student, stopped to help another crew. They set several broken legs and gave extensive medical assistance, giving up any chance of a good final time, but still hanging on to the Ladies’ prize.

The following year, she drove a Standard on the Monte, with Elsie Wisdom as her navigator. They started from Tallinn in Estonia. Later in the year, Morna did the RAC Rally in a Wolseley Hornet. Her co-driver’s name is not recorded, and she may not have finished.

After 1933, she took a break from international competition. That year, she entered the Colmore Trial for at least the second time, winning a third class award in the Standard. Between then and 1937, she was an active and enthusiastic member of the Women’s Automobile and Sports Association (WASA), the British women’s motorsport association. She took part in their trials, which often seemed to be held in the Cotswolds, in the Standard.

Her fourth Monte was in 1937. Driving the Standard, she did not make the finish this time, due to accident damage. Her last pre-war event was the 1939 Monte, still driving the Standard. She finished in 48th place, trailing Yvonne Simon and Louise Lamberjack for the Coupe des Dames.

Unusually, she resumed her motorsport activities after World War II. By this time, she had retired from medical practice and was well into her sixties. In 1951, she returned to the Monte Carlo Rally, in an AC Ace, but did not finish.

Her last major rally was the 1952 Monte. In classic style, this was an eventful test for Morna, now 69. In an interview at the start, she professed not to remember how many rallies she had taken part in. She completed the greater part of the event in a decent time, but unfortunately ran out of petrol near Paris. Despite terrible winter weather, she managed to refuel, with the help of a passerby, and get on her way again. However, somewhere near Clermont-Ferrand, another car ran into the back of her Jowett Javelin, which burst into flames. She was not seriously hurt.

After her retirement from medicine, she lived on a smallholding. She died in 1969.

Morna’s collection of trophies and newspaper cuttings is now held at the National Motor Museum. Their online summary of its contents was a great help in writing this article.

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