Knightshayes CourtMilitary site
Built in 1874 for the Heathcote-Amory family.
One of 16 country houses or 'flak homes' which catered for approximately 25 airmen at a time to come for Rest and Recuperation away from the stress of flying missions. Run by the American Red Cross, each serviceman was entitled to at least one rest period during their 25-30 mission tour.
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Construction of Knightshayes Court was completed in 1874 for the Heathcote Amory family who had become successful in the lace-making business. Located 2 miles north of Tiverton in Devonshire, it had all the facilities desirable in a USAAF Rest Home although it was quite late in the war before it could be released for that purpose.
For USAAF combat air crews in the UK, home leave was impossible. So the doctors responsible for their well-being believed the next best thing would be Rest Homes, using the tranquillity, comfort and freedom from military routine achievable at English country houses or hotels.
Aircrew could, at least once during their tour, come for a week away from the horrors of war. After which it was hoped they would return to their units, refreshed.
On arrival they were provided with civilian clothes. Uniforms only appeared for the evening dinner. Air Service Command supplied an administrative commanding officer, an adjutant and enlisted helpers. A Medical Officer, rotated each week from operational units, provided any necessary emergency care or medical advice.
American Red Cross girls acted as hostesses, supervising the recreation and dining. The American Red Cross also employed and managed the civilian staff needed to run the house and maintain the grounds.
Knightshayes Court joined the programme on 6th October 1944. It was set up to accommodate 40 officers and was allocated to the 1st Bomb Division.
Returned to the family after the war, the house and gardens came into the ownership of the National Trust in 1973 and are open to the public.
The house was given the status of Grade I listing in 1975.
- Military/Civilian/Mascot: Civilian
- Nationality: American
- Unit: American Red Cross
- Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
- Nationality: American
- Unit: 56th Fighter Group 61st Fighter Squadron
- Service Numbers: O-704086
- Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
- Role/Job: Fighter Pilot
Summary details added from information supplied by
Barry Anderson, Army Air Forces Stations (Alabama, 1985) / D A Lande, from Somewhere in England (Airlife Publishing, UK, 1991).
Report to the Surgeon, HQ Eighth Air Force, dated 11 Dec 1944; 'Flak' Houses Then and Now, Thomas, After the Battle.