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Athea Mary H. Nicholson Westland ( 1897 - 1966 )

Althea Mary H. Nicholson was born in 1897 to a lead glass merchant in London. In 1930 she married Francis Campbell Westland, a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Engineers. Following her husband’s sudden death in 1941, Althea was on her own.

Perhaps through the kindness of her late husband’s military connections, Westland secured a job as a civilian with the British MFAA in February 1947. As a MFAA Officer for Land North Rhine Westphalia, in Düsseldorf, Germany, Westland visited the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point on many occasions. There, she investigated claims for looted art and met with Monuments Man Lt. Theodore A. Heinrich, Chief of the MFAA Branch of the Office of Military Government for Greater Hesse, regarding inter-zonal shipments of looted works of art.

In addition, Westland acted as a valuable contact between the Institute of Archaeology at University College London and the Römisch-Germanische Kommission in Frankfurt. When the Institute’s Director, Vere Gordon Childe, was unable to send books to his German colleagues, to whom he was fiercely loyal, he enlisted Westland to transport the books for him. She remained involved in efforts to preserve European cultural heritage until at least 1951.

Following her return to England, Westland became an expert in English furniture and textiles. During the 1960s she worked for the British Army Museums Ogilby Trust, a private charity devoted to preserving the rich history of British Army regiments and corps. She died in Hertfordshire, England in 1966.

The Foundation wishes to express thanks to Dr. Katie Meheux, Acting Site Librarian and Deputy Librarian at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, for her help with this biographical profile. Anyone with any further information is invited to contact abottinelli@monumentsmenfoundation.org.