50th Station Complement
Jack Loman was better known for his wartime mural work, some of which is preserved and still exists today. But many veterans remember him as the 44BG artist. Born in California, Jack enlisted in 1942 aged 25 years old having worked as a clerk. He seems to have been a natural artist and his talent was soon noticed even before he was sent to England to become part of the 50th Station Complement based at Shipdham alongside the 44BG and the 14th Combat Wing headquarters. He has become best known for the wall art painted for the Officers and Enlisted Mens Lounges as well undertaking many nose arts.
His administrative tasks involved the tracking and updating of the War Room map at the 14CBW headquarters and the marking of bombing raids. On occasions he is believed to flown after some missions in order to observe the success of such raids. General Leon Johnson, CO of 44BG, became aware of his artistic skills and requested him to paint the large glass map which covered the whole of Northern Europe. More lowly members of the 44BG recall him painting many of the nose arts in the group with special recollection of him painting the famous Flying Eight Ball emblem designed originally by Disney Studios.
Jack recalled that he purchased basic artists oil paints from a local Norwich store, Jarrolds, and was surprised to learn many years later that his work had survived the ravages of time, even some which had been exposed to the weather as the buildings and roofs crumbled. He had done some art work for a Colonel while still in the US prior to deployment overseas.
He recalled he had to work fast and that several of his artworks never got finished – quite likely these were nose arts on Liberators which did not make it home. Sadly, like so many artists, Jack does not seem to have ever signed any of his nose arts making it hard to identify them for certain. His mural work though displays his high level of skill working with limited materials, displaying Elvgren and Vargas-style pin ups and portraits. Loman’s wartime work has featured in a multi-page article in National Geographic in March 1994 bringing his work to countless thousands more than the airmen based at Shipdham in WW2.
Jack Loman arrived in England in October 1942 and remained until June 1945. . Whilst at Shipdham, he met his future wife Monica, a British nurse, and they married in 1943 in a local church. Returning to the US post war he qualified as a Civil Engineer and Draughtsman, becoming city engineer for Los Olivos, CA and later manager of the Santa Barbara Airport. Despite suffering a stroke he continued painting even at the age of 85 and until his death in 2004.
© Ray Bowden 20 October 2021