Transport driver (Aircraftwoman Florence Miles)

Unit Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force
Place Oceania: Australia, Queensland, North Queensland, Cairns
Accession Number ART24393
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 87 cm x 102.3 cm x 5.6 cm; unframed: 66.2 x 81.1 x 1.6 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Maker Heysen, Nora
Place made Australia: Queensland, North Queensland, Cairns
Date made May 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Heysen selected Aircraftwoman Florence Ethel Miles as the subject for this painting, since she saw Florence as a 'young, forward lass'. Miles enlisted in the WAAAF in 1942, aged 21. Prior to the outbreak of war she had worked as a sales assistant for a shoe company in Melbourne. She held a driver's licence and had gained considerable experience driving a variety of vehicles. Once enlisted, she was sent to the Engineering School and served at the No. 25 Operational Base Unit in Queensland. Given her experience with vehicles, it was inevitable that she would become a driver during the war. 'Transport driver' is a compelling portrait of a confident young woman who, despite the masculine uniform and large leather gloves, retains her femininity. Heysen first made a sketch of Miles in charcoal. She transferred this to canvas, placing the figure in a bus, a vehicle that required strength to manoeuvre.