Speaker Alan Forster talking about – The frieze on Greenway library wall

Alan Forster, a National Trust volunteer, gave a most engaging presentation to Bishopsteignton Probus Club about the World War Two frieze at Greenway. He described how Greenway, Agatha Christie’s holiday home, was requisitioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in WW2. The house was occupied by Flotilla 10 of the U.S. Coast Guard in the preparations for D-Day.

They were sailing a new type of landing craft called a Landing Craft Infantry or LCI that was capable of landing 200 troops directly onto an enemy beach. Because of its flat bottom and no keel it was unpleasant to sail in and the crew maintained that ICL really stood for ‘Lousy Civilian Idea’.

Alan showed a black and white clip of a film made during the war by the U.S. Navy giving a description of the vessels and their deployment. He described how the library was used as their recreation and ‘mess room’ with a bar set up in the alcove. During their six months stay, Lt. Marshall Lee, one of the landing craft captains who was a graphic artist, painted the twelve coloured murals that make up the major part of the frieze. The murals were painted using just four colours: blue, khaki, black, and white, depicting incidents that occurred during their eleven months’ journey to Greenway. Each of the friezes shows scenes around the building, commissioning and use of the vessels with images of the crews in and around the USA and Europe.

Agatha Christie’s autobiography shows that she was delighted with the mural.

ATTACHED PHOTO shows Alan Forster, left, being thanked by Probus chairman, Peter Hartley.

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