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naomi heron maxwell 1934

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naomi heron maxwell 19342 1934

Helen 'Naomi' Allen

Allen Naomi 1 with Cobham's Flying Circus

...my mother-in-law is 96, so her memory may not be what it was. Today, I mentioned I was going to the ATA Museum.

She said "I met a ferry pilot a few times, she was Mrs Allen, and she flew planes across the Atlantic".

"Oh yes", I thought "I'm not sure any ATA women ferry pilots actually did that, but anyway..."

"Really" I said.

"Yes, she came to visit her mother-in-law who was our neighbour, Kitty Allen. This was when my sister worked at Bletchley Park."

"Right", I said, thinking "OK, there were 2 Mrs Allens in the ATA..."

"Yes, it was terrible how her husband died. It was after an operation. Apparently it was quite a straightforward operation, he woke up, said 'Hello Darling' and then promptly had a heart attack and died".

"OK", I thought, Helen Naomi Heron-Maxwell's first husband Mr Allen died in... let me see... January 1939, after they were married in ... March 1938..."

"Maybe Helen or Naomi Heron-Maxwell?", I said.

Allen Naomi 2 ATA

"That name sounds familiar. Her family were very upper-crust, you know. Very well-connected. And another thing, who was it lived at Sissinghurst?" (Which I think signified the end of that part of the conversation).

So, I searched the Times Archive. Good grief, in 1939, 

"ALLEN. On January 23rd 1939, in Austria, following an operation, FRANCIS CECIL HOWARD, adored husband of Naomi (nee Heron-Maxwell) and son of Mrs WHR Allen of Periwinkle, Long Acre Lane, Sisley, Sussex, aged 34"

And moreover, I discovered that Naomi moved to Los Angeles in 1948, married again, divorced and then moved into Leisure World in Laguna Hills, California, dying there in 1983.

Which is exactly when we lived in Mission Viejo, California - a few miles from her. If only I'd known!

(Mind you, Owen Cathcart Jones only lived a few miles in the other direction - if only I'd known, again!)

So there you go. (Nearly) a brush, or two, with dramatis personae... 

One of the ATA Women