Eye airfield painting to boost memorial funds after Hardwick Warbirds visit

As part of the USAAF 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project funding process, a painting of Janie the Must

As part of the USAAF 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project funding process, a painting of Janie the Mustang flying over Eye airfield has been auctioned off with all the proceeds going to the project. Pictured is artist Neil Higgs and Keith Taylor who bought the painting. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

They were fighters and bombers that were a common sight over the East Anglia countryside in the Second World War.

And now a tribute to those brave American pilots and aircrew has raised £1,000 for a project set up to remember the sacrifices made by United States Army Air Force at a north Suffolk airbase.

Aviation artist Neil Higgs has painted a scene that would have been common sight in the war of a bomber being escorted by two Mustang fighters as they head off on a bombing mission.

The painting features the Eye Airfield-based bomber Carolina Moon leaving the base with two Mustangs, Janie and the Marinell, which were based in Essex and Cambridgeshire in the war.

On Saturday Mr Higgs handed over the painting to its new owner Keith Taylor, who had purchased the eye-catching piece of art for £1,000 in an online auction.

All of the funds from the oil painting's auction will go towards the 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project, which will be unveiling a memorial at Eye Airfield in May as a tribute to the American crews that served there from June 1944 to the end of the war with B-24 and then B-17 bombers.

The painting, which took two and a half months to complete, was handed over at the Hardwick Warbirds military collection, near Harleston, and which is home to the original fuselage of the Marinell and a Mustang painted as the Janie.

Most Read

Mr Higgs, who is from Essex, was inspired to take up his painting brushes after he visited an open day at Hardwick Warbirds and met Maurice Hammond, Diane Hammond and Leah Young, the last two of which are also involved with the Eye memorial project.

At Saturday's handover was Richard Flagg, chairman of the 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project.

He said: 'This is a very generous donation and it will go a long way to helping the group with its memorial project plans.'

Mr Higgs said he hoped to originally raise £700 from the painting's auction and was pleased to be able to support the bomb group memorial plans.

Mr Taylor, 49 and from Teeside, said he bid £1,000 for the painting as it appealed to him and it was nice to be able to support a community project.

The 490th Bomb Group flew 158 missions from Eye Airfield.

The original Janie P-51 Mustang was flown by major Bill Price from Raydon Airfield in Essex while Marinell operated from Fowlmere Airfield and was shot down over France in August 1944, leading to the death of its pilot Lt Myer Winkleman.

The remains of the Marinell turned up for sale in the 1990s and were then bought by Mr Hammond.

Have you organised an event to mark the region's military heritage? Email anthony.carroll@archant.co.uk