Monday, August 08, 2016

Anne Haywood, American Red Cross Aero Club, 385th Bomb Group... nose art painter and morale booster extraordinaire

Born half-Austrian, half-English, Anne Haywood spent two years in Austria tutored by French and Austrian governesses before attending an English finishing school.

 Having been painting since the age of two, she planned to go to Paris to study art after leaving school. But the onset of war changed things and like many women in Britain she sought work to aid the war effort.

Anne applied to the British Red Cross but her application was refused because her mother was Austrian. Undeterred, Anne joined the American Red Cross and worked in the Aero Club at Great Ashfield, base of the 385th Bomb Group.

Serving an endless supply of hot coffee and doughnuts she became a great listener to many an airman's woes. Her artistic talents were soon recognized and put to work and one of the first assignments was to paint wall murals in the Aero Club and then the Officers' Club.

 It was not long before she was heavily engaged in the painting of nose art onto the group's Fortresses. The sight of an attractive young 24-year-old woman roaming the airfield brought many an admiring glance, as did her paintings on the noses of the planes.

Her work was considered of such importance as a morale booster to the group that Lt.Col. Vandervanter, the group CO, wrote to the local Labour Exchange to request her deferment from other war work. She was driven out to the remote hardstands by an MP in a jeep and collected later as she was not allowed to use the base bus.

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