Martlesham Heath: Film on war veteran to hit silver screen

Martlesham Heath WW2 veteran in new documentary
Robert H Barnhart, a fighter pilot with the Unite

Martlesham Heath WW2 veteran in new documentary Robert H Barnhart, a fighter pilot with the United States Army Air Force had a photo of his wife Margie painted on his aircraft during his time in England based at Martlesham Heath. He found a portrait painter and paid him $35 at the time. ES 13.8.12 - Credit: Contributed

A FILM telling the story of a Second World War American serviceman is to hit the silver screen.

Veteran Robert Barnhart, a fighter pilot with the US Army Air Force, paid a portrait painter $35 to paint a photo of his wife Margie on his aircraft during his time based at Martlesham Heath.

Nose Art and Pin Ups, which features interviews with pilots and crew, explores the themes of nose art featuring pin-ups of girls back home and American states as well as humorous images of animals and cartoon characters.

Gail Downey initially produced the film on DVD but it will now be screened at a cinema in Essex.

She made the documentary film because she was worried that the number of living veterans was decreasing.

She self-funded a trip to America to meet nose art crew pilots and crew members.

She said: “These were young men, thousands of miles from home, who faced death every day and they told me the artwork personalised their aircraft and gave them something ‘to pat’ before and after every mission.

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“It was also much easier to talk about ‘Our Gal Sal’ or ‘Turnip Termite’ then plane number 123.

“People remember names, not numbers.” The documentary gives an insight into how the lives of military personnel were made that little more bearable with the morale boost that nose art provided.

Of all the bombers that fought in the war, only one in seven of the bomber and fighter crews returned.

Nose Art and Pin Ups is being shown at Saffron Screen in Saffron Walden, as part of its Best of British Cinema season, on May 25.

Rebecca del Tufo, the cinema’s programming manager, said: “We are delighted to show this moving and fascinating film and to shine a light on the history of the area and the US servicemen who came to our area during the war.

“We would love to hear from anyone who remembers the US Air Force while they were based here.”

Visit for tickets.

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