Can you help solve the mystery of the wartime Bovingdon belles?

The important role played by Bovingdon Airfield in the Second World War is sometimes not appreciated by those who know the site today as a popular market location.

Bovingdon was built by construction firm John Laing & Son Ltd in 1941-2, as a three-runway bomber airfield designed to be used by the Royal Air Force.

Second World War artwork mystery at RAF Bovingdon

Second World War artwork mystery at RAF Bovingdon

The 8th US Air Force 92nd Bomb Group arrived there in mid-August 1942 and was assigned the role of the 1st B17 Combat Crew Replacement Unit (CCRU).

Combat crews of other bomber units arriving in Britain during the next two years received their indoctrination at the station before being assigned elsewhere.

The very first hostile mission flown from the base was to France, to destroy an enemy aircraft factory in Meaulte. The attack took place on August 21, 1942, and two Allied planes were lost.

Following the Allied invasion of Europe, the CCRU was disbanded in September 1944.

The airfield then became the base for the European Air Transport Service.

Many thousands of GIs returned to their homes in the USA via the terminal at Bovingdon.

High-profile Hollywood stars who had signed up were stationed there – Clark Gable, James Stewart and William Holden were all at Bovingdon at some time during their war service.

Other famous wartime visitors included Bob Hope, Eleanor Roosevelt and Glenn Miller.

Control reverted to the RAF on April 1946 and the aerodrome was then used for civilian airlines.

John Young, one of the Guild of Aviation Artists, often visited the base from his home in Chesham.

However, there is a mystery that surrounds a selection of photographs within Dacorum Heritage Trust’s collection.

The images, which show a number of different paintings of women in 1940s style, appear to have been taken in a shed.

They look as if they have been painted on plaster, and are similar to the iconic ‘nose art’ which was often featured on the fuselage of Second World War planes.

Often the planes were given names, such as Yankee Doodle or Memphis Belle, with matching images on the sides of the aircraft.

Many attempts have been made to find out where these paintings are now, but these have all been unsuccessful.

Even Ray Potter, who wrote the Dacorum Heritage Trust booklet on the history of Bovingdon Airfield, does not know the answer.

If you, or someone you know, can give us any information about these paintings, or where they are now, please contact The Dacorum Heritage Trust. We would love to hear from you.