Thursday, August 29, 2019

Olive Hockin (1881–1936) – British artist, suffragette, author

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for this post

Olive was born early in 1881 in Bude, Cornwall, UK.  Her parents were Edward Hockin and his wife, Margaret Sarah Hockin, nee Floyer.   Edward died in June 1880, shortly before Olive was born.  Olive had a brother, Arthur, b. 1878

Olive studied art at The Slade School of Art.  By 1911, she was living in Berkshire and described her occupation as “artist".

She was imprisoned for four months in 1913 for bomb attacks at the home of Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. Papers with Olive's address were found at the scene of the attack and wire cutters and paraffin were later discovered at her home. While she was in prison, Olive agreed not to go on hunger strike providing she could continue to create art.  Olive continued exhibiting at the Society of Women Artists, at the Walker Gallery and until 1915, at the Royal Academy.

During the First World War, Olive  joined the Women’s Land Army and worked on a farm in Dartmoor, Devon. She wrote a book describing her experience as a Land-girl entitled “Two Girls on the Land: Wartime on a Dartmoor Farm”, published by E. Arnold, London, 1918.   Here is a quote from the book:

“In those early days of the War it was not common for a young woman to go about seeking situations as a farm-hand.  In the West Country especially, such a thing was almost unknown and long after the sight of lady farm-workers had become a commonplace in the home counties, th idea would be greeted with sceptical and derisive laughter by the slow-moving old farmers of Devon.” (Chapter 1 – “Arrival”, p. 8).
"Moorland View" watercolour by Olive Hockin

In 1922, Olive married John H. Leared who trained polo ponies in Cheltenham. They had two sons.

The National Portrait Gallery has a picture of her by the Criminal Record Office, and two pages of picture called "Surveillance Photograph of Militant Suffragettes", also by the Criminal Record Office, which includes her.

Cover of the Summer edition of the Suffragette publication "Votes for Women" designed by Olive Hockin. Date: June 26th 1914
And “Moorland View” watercolour

Olive Hockin cover design for "Votes for Women"

Find my Past and
Free BMD

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Gilbert Rogers (1881 – 1956) – British Artist

With thanks to Sally Enzer for use of her research material from 'Gilbert Rogers - A Life'.

Gilbert Rogers was born on 9th November 1881 in Freshfield, Lancashire, then a small
village some fourteen miles north of Liverpool. His father, William Rogers, was a watch
and clockmaker, whose family had migrated to Liverpool from North Wales in the 1840s.
Gilbert’s schooling began at the Liverpool Institute, a short distant from the family
home at 14 Falkner Street. Displaying early artistic talent he went on to study art at the
Liverpool City School of Art where he later became a tutor as well as working as a
professional portrait painter. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1909, 1910, 1912
and 1914.

He enlisted into the ranks of the Royal Army Medical Corps on 9th November 1915 (Army
No. 78529) for Home Service and was sent to Eastbourne for his military and medical
training. He eventually became an instructor at the RAMC officer training school at

In 1918 he was called upon to manage a small group of RAMC soldier-artists who had
been commissioned by the Committee for the Medical History of the War to record the
war work of the military and civilian medical services (including the British Red Cross
Society & Order of St John of Jerusalem & the Voluntary Aid Detachment) both at home
and abroad. Rogers travelled to the Western Front in July 1918. The artists worked from
the Avenue Studios, located off Fulham Road in London, and were provided with art
materials, props and staff to assist them. In total they produced some six hundred pieces
of work which included paintings, models and bronzes. He was commissioned as a
Temporary Lieutenant for this role and received the Military MBE in the Peace Gazette of
June 1919. These artworks formed the Medical Section of the Great War Exhibition
which opened on the 9th June 1920 at the newly-established Imperial War Museum at
Crystal Palace, Sydenham Hill. The art works were later distributed to various military
establishments and can now be found at both the Imperial War Museum and the
Wellcome Collection in London.

After demobilisation in April 1920 Gilbert Rogers returned to Liverpool and became a
director of his younger brother’s furniture manufacturing and upholstery company, Guy
Rogers, Ltd. It was a popular local employer and the brothers were a respected and
successful partnership.

In 1922 Rogers became President of the Artists’ Club, a long-established gentlemen’s
business and social club, and maintained close links with the Liverpool artists community,
although there is no evidence that he continued his work as a portrait painter.

In 1924 he married Gertrude Jane Iceton in 1924, the former wife of his friend and art
school tutor, Arthur Baxter. The couple moved out of Liverpool and set up home on the
Wirral Peninsula, where Gilbert Rogers died on 20th May 1956 at their home in Oxton.

A number of Gilbert Rogers’ war-time oil paintings have been included in exhibitions
across the country to commemorate the centenary of the Great War, which has brought
renewed interest in this previously largely uncelebrated.

Sally Enzer <>

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Joyce Dennys (1893 – 1991) – British WW1 artist, VAD and nurse

Isabelle Dorothy Joyce Dennys was born in Simla, East Punjab State, India on 14th August 1893.  Her parents were Charles John Dennys, an officer in the British Army, and his wife, Lucy Wineward.

The Dennys family returned to Britain in 1886. Dennys enjoyed drawing lessons throughout her schooling and later enrolled at Exeter Art School.

Joyce was studying art when the First World War broke out. She volunteered to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment but, as she was too young to qualify as a VAD nurse, Joyce worked initially at General Duties at the Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital in Budleigh Salterton from December1914 - December 1915. Joyce said ‘All I ever did was to wash up plates and dishes, knives and forks. I had never done anything of the kind before because those were the days of servants, and in spite of being so poor, my parents had two.’

Sometime around 1915, Joyce drew the artwork for a VAD poster, used nationally to recruit women to Voluntary Aid Detachment work.

In early 1916, Joyce passed the Red Cross examinations to become a nurse and went to work at Hospital No. 2 in Exeter. Joyce’s friend Mary Tindall began composing humorous verses to accompany Joyce’s paintings. Joyce approached a publisher and their work was accepted and published. ‘Our Hospital ABC’ represents not only the alphabet but also the Australian (Anzac), British and Canadian soldiers who were treated at Hospital No.2 in Exeter.

“When we took it in turns to do night duty (…) I would get out my candle and my paint box and paint all night. The night surgeon said, “I really think that little nurse might wait ‘til I’ve finished my rounds.”’

In 1919 Dennys married Thomas Cann Evans, a young doctor who had been in Australia in 1914 and and who had been a major in the Australian Army Medical Corps.  Joyce and Tom moved to Australia. While living in New South Wales, Joyce's work was constantly in print and exhibited in many galleries. In 1922, the family moved back to Britain and settled in Budleigh Salterton, Devon. Joyce studied at the London Art School and continued to paint, draw and publish for the rest of her life. In 1926, painter Joyce Dennys (1893–1991) and writer Edmund George Valpy Knox, aka Evoe (1870 – 2 January) collaborated on A Winter Sports Alphabet.

Joyce died in London in 1991 and was cremated. Her ashes were scattered off the coast of Budleigh Salterton.


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Geneste Penrose, MM (1889 - 1974) and Alan Edmund Beeton, MC (1880 – 1942) – artists who worked in a Camouflage Unit on the Western Front WW1

Alan Beeton self portrait
Alan Edmund Beeton was born on 8th February 1880 in Hampstead, London.   His father was Henry Ramie Beeton, a Member of the London Stock Exchange and his mother was Elizabeth Mary Ann Beeton, nee Dibley.  Alan had a sister, Mary, who was born in 1876.

The family bought an estate, “Hammonds” in Checkendon, near Reading in Berkshire,UK and entertained guests at weekend house parties, among the guests was the playwright George Bernard Shaw.

Alan was educated at the Collegiate School, Horton Hall School preparatory school and Charterhouse School, before going on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge.

When the First World War broke out, Alan enlisted in the Infantry as a Private and was then commissioned into the Royal Engineers.  He was posted to a Camouflage Unit, which came under the command of the Royal Engineers (known as the Sappers), who were producing camouflage in a small factory just behind the front-line in Aire near Hazebrouck. For his work, Alan was awarded the Military Cross, was mentioned twice in despatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre. He also found time to do his own work.

Among Alan’s fellow artists in the Camouflage Unite was the woman who was to become his wife.

Geneste Penrose was born in Wiltshire on 3rd September 1889.  Her parents were John Penrose from Devon, a Church of England Minister, and his wife, Jane E. Penrose.  In 1891, Geneste’s father was Vicar of West Ashton Church, Westbury, Wiltshire.  Geneste’s siblings were John, b. 1887 and Mary, b. 1888.
Geneste Penrose self portrait Camouflagae
Unit WW1

Geneste studied art at the Slade in London. She joined the Army and served as a Deputy Administrator on the Western front with the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, where she was attached to a Camouflage Unit.

Alan and Geneste returned from the war as pacifists, both of them horrified by the whole experience. It bound them together. They were married in 1919.   In 1838, Alan was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Art.  In 1939 Alan and Geneste were living in Henley, Oxfordshire, UK.

Alan died in December 1942 and Geneste died in 1974.

Sources: Find my Past and

Friday, July 5, 2019

Henry Tonks (1862 - 1937) – British, doctor, artist and art teacher

With thanks to Sergio Sbalchiero for telling me that Henry Tonks served on the Italian Front during the First World War

Henry Tonks self portrait
Henry Tonks was born in Solihull, UK on 9th April 1862. His family owned a brass foundry in Birmingham. He was educated at Bloxham School and Clifton College in Bristol, before going on to study medicine at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton (1882–85) and the London Hospital in Whitechapel (1885–88). He became a house surgeon at the London Hospital in 1886, under Sir Frederick Treves. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1888 and moved to the Royal Free Hospital in London. He taught anatomy at the London Hospital medical school from 1892.

Beginning in 1888, Henry attended evening classes at Westminster School of Art, under Frederick Brown. He exhibited paintings with the New English Art Club from 1891 and became a member of the Club in 1895.  In 1892, Henry became a teacher at the Slade School of Fine Art, thus becoming "the most renowned and formidable teacher of his generation".

During the First World War, Henry resumed his medical career in 1914, working initially at a prisoner of war camp in Dorchester, and then at Hill Hall in Essex. He made pastel drawings of Auguste Rodin and his wife, who were refugees. He served as a medical orderly at a British Red Cross hospital near the Marne on the Western Front in France in 1915, before joining an ambulance unit on the Italian Front.
Henry Tonks "An Advanced Dressing Station, France" 1918

In 1916, Henry was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps and worked for Harold Gillies producing pastel drawings recording facial injury cases at the Cambridge military hospital in Aldershot and the Queen's Hospital, Sidcup. In 1918, Henry was appointed an Official War Artist and accompanied John Singer Sargent on tours of the Western Front. In August 1918, they both witnessed a field of wounded men near Le Bac du Sud, Doullens, which became the basis for Sargent's vast canvas, “Gassed”.  Henry then accompanied the British Expeditionary Force to Archangel in Russia in 1919 as an official war artist.

Henry retired in 1930 declining the offer of a knighthood. An exhibition of his work was held in London at the Tate Gallery in 1936 - the second retrospective at the Tate for a living British artist. He died at his home in Chelsea on 8th January 1937.

Photograph showing Henry Tonks second from the left at The Villa Trento in Dolegnano, Italy - from Imperial War Museum

This amazing website - the link to which was sent to me by Sergio Sbalchero, shows some of the portraits painted by Henry Tonks of serious facial injuries sustained during WW1

Thursday, June 27, 2019

William Thomas Wood (1878 - 1958) - British artist

Mainly a landscape and flower painter, William Thomas Wood was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK on 17th June 1878. His parents were Thomas Wood, a builder, and his wife Anne, née Clarke,  He received his formal art education at the Regent Street Polytechnic and in Italy.

By 1900 William was living in Putney, London.  He exhibited his first work, entitled "Summer Heat" at the Royal Academy. In 1909, William married artist Camille Bernice Knowles. They had a son and a daughter. 

During the First World War, William served as a kite-balloon observer in the Royal Flying Corps. He  was appointed Official War Artist in The Balkans in 1918. Largely as a result of his war experience, Arthur J. Mann hired William to illustrate his book “The Salonika Front” ( A. & C. Black, London, 1920).

From 1900 – 1947 William exhibited over fifty-five works at the Royal Academy. He lived for most of his life in London, exhibiting his work frequently. William's work was extremely popular during his lifetime and he had a number of one-man shows at the Leicester Galleries, as well as receiving nine official public purchases. William was elected an Associate of the Royal Watercolor Society (R.W.S.) in 1913, and became a full member in 1918. He served as Vice President of the R.W.S. from 1923-1926 and became a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (R.O.I.) in 1927. 

William died on 2nd June 1958.

Works by William T. Wood can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the museums in Hull, Leeds, Manche­st­er and Perth.

WW1 works:

“Brought down in Flames”

“The great Fire, Salonica: The Famous White Tower in the Foreground” and “The Fire, Salonica: The Last Phase.” The Great Fire of Salonika occurred in 1917.
Find my Past

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Felix Vallotton (1865 - 1925) – French artist

Self portrait 1923
Born Felix Edouard Vallotton in Lausanne, Switzerland on 28th December 1865, Felix studied art in Paris where he made his home, becoming a French citizen in 1900. 

When war broke out in 1914, Felix tried to volunteer for service in the French Army but was turned down because he was too old. In 1915–16 he returned to the medium of woodcut for the first time since 1901 to express his feelings for his adopted country in the series, “This is War”.

War painting by Felix Vallotton
In June 1917, the French Ministry of Fine Arts sent him, along with two other artists, for a three-week tour of the front lines. The sketches he produced became the basis for a group of paintings, The Church of Souain in Silhouette among them, in which he recorded with cool detachment the ruined landscape. The works made by the three artists were presented at the Musée du Luxembourg.

Verdun by Felix Vallotton
After the First World War, Felix travelled to different regions of France until 1924, continuing to paint.

In 1925, Félix Vallotton was hospitalized in Paris to have an operation but unfortunately he did not survive and died on 29th December 1925.

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for reminding me that I had not yet posted my write-up about Felix Vallotton

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Mary Riter Hamilton (1873–1954) – Canadian Artist

AMary Riter Hamilton Exhibition Panel
Mary Riter Hamilton was commissioned by the Canadian War Amputees Association to go and paint what she saw of the desolation left by the conflict. In May 1919, Mary travelled to France, where she lived for three years in a tin hut among the members of the Chinese Labour Corps who cleared away the mess left by the conflict.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to live there back then? The water table had become contaminated early on in the war and food was scarce. As local people began to return to the area, they shared their food with Mary but it obviously was not like the food you can get if you visit the area now! Food was scarce and indigestible.

One of Mary's paintings on the Western Front
Nothing daunted, Mary painted on, in spite of being attacked by some of the members of the gangs of bounty hunters, etc that roamed the area in the immediate aftermath of the war. Her health suffered and she lost the sight of one eye.   Before she returned home, some of Mary's amazing paintings went on display in London and Paris. When she returned to Canada, Mary donated her 300+ paintings to the National Archives and never painted again. Photo: one of Mary Riter Hamilton's paintings on the Western Front.

You can see more of Mary's WW1 work on and find out more about the Canadian War Amps

"Trenches on the Somme" by Mary Riter Hamilton

David McLellan (1886 - 1962) – Official WW1 Photographer

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for bringing David McLellan to my attention
and setting me off on a voyage of discovery to find out more about him

David McLellan was born on 18th March 1886 in Islington, London, UK.  His parents were J.W. McLellan, an architectural photographer, and his wife, Mary Ann A. McLellan nee Haydon. David had the following siblings: Violet, b. 1885, Wallace, b. 1888 and Archie, b. 1889.  The family lived in Highbury Grove, Islington.

During the First World War, David joined the Royal Flying Corps as a photographer in 1915 and was promoted to Flight Sergeant in 1916. In 1917, he became an official war photographer for the “Daily Mail” and the “Daily Mirror” newspapers. One of only five official photographers on the Western Front, David’s task was to generate positive propaganda.

In 1917, David married Hilda Ellis..  By 1939, David and Hilda were living in Eastville Avenue, Hendon, Middlesex, UK, where David died in 1962.

Much of David McLellan's First World War work is in the safe-keeping of the Imperial War Museum in London. 

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and

Photograph by David McLellan - WAACs drawing petrol July 1918 - Western Front Etaples.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Margaret Rose Preston (29 April 1875 – 28 May 1963) - Australian artist and printmaker - Occupational Therapy Teacher WW1

With grateful thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for bringing Margaret and her work to my attention

Margaret Rose Preston 
Margaret Rose Preston was born on 29th April 1875 in Port Adelaide, Australia.   Her parents were David McPherson, a Scottish marine engineer, and his wife Prudence McPherson. Margaret was the first-born child;  her sister Ethelwynne was born in 1877.

In 1885, the family moved to Sydney and Margaret was educated at Fort Street Girls' High School.  She demonstrated an early aptitude for art, first with china painting. Margaret took private art classes with William Lister Lister, an Australian artist and seven times winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape art.

In 1899, Margaret set up her own studio and later taught at St Peter's College and at Presbyterian Ladies' College in Adelaide.

After the death of her mother, Margaret travelled to France in 1912 with Gladys Reynell (1881–1956), one of South Australia's earliest potters. When war was declared in August 1914, Margaret and Gladys moved to  Britain.  Margaret studied pottery and the principles of Modernist design at Roger Fry's Omega Workshops. Later, she and Gladys taught pottery and basket-weaving as therapy for shell-shocked soldiers at the Seale Hayne Military Hospital in Devonshire. During that time, Margaret exhibited her work in both London and Paris during this period.

Example of Margaret's artwork
In 1919, Margaret travelled to America for an exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On her way back to Australia, she met her future husband, William George "Bill" Preston, a recently demobilised Second Lieutenant of the Australian Imperial Force. They were married on 31st December 1919 and settled in Mosman, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.

Margaret died on 28th May 1963.

Source:  Wikipedia

Friday, May 31, 2019

Charles Edward Dixon, R.I. (1872 – 1934) - British artist

 "Windy Corner of the Battle of Jutland"

Charles Dixon was born in Goring-on-Thames, UK on 8th December 1872. His parents were the artist Alfred Dixon and his wife, Mary Jane Dixon, nee Whitwam.   Charles had a brother, Frederick Geroge Dixon, who was born in 1877.  In 1891, the family lived in Alfred’s studio in Marylebone, London.

Encouraged by his father, Charles became a professional artist, and soon had a successful practice producing nautical scenes, both watercolours of coastal life and large oil paintings of historical or contemporary naval subjects. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and several of his paintings are now in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in London. Charles first exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of 16 before contributing regularly to the magazines “The Illustrated London News”, “The Graphic” and “The Sphere”.   He was a fried of Sir Thomas Lipton, grocery magnate and travelled with him on each of the five Shamrock boats that Lipton entered for the America’s Cup races.

Charles also exhibited at the New Watercolour Society and various other venues and was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1900.  He was a keen yachtsman and lived in Itchenor on the Sussex coast in the UK. Charles died at his home on 12th September 1934.

The little boy in the painting is Alfred Dixon’s young son, Charles Edward Dixon, in an actual incident when he had been lost and picked up by the police. Having escaped the clutches of the law, the boy grew up to become a famous painter of water traffic on the Thames. The “Morning Post” carried an amusing review of the painting when it was exhibited at the RA in 1876: ‘The smallest figure upon this canvas is by far the most important personage of the scene. He is a mite of a child, certainly not more than three years old, who, having lost his way, has been taken by the police to a station- house, where he now sits at the end of a long bench, the very picture of infantile sorrow and bewilderment. There is something exceedingly tragi-comic in the disconsolate woe-begone air and manner of this tiny wanderer, as, with head slightly drooping on one side, he looks furtively from under his little hat at the gigantic policeman who has “run him in,” and who, standing in awful majesty, with his back to the fire, surveys him with some such expression of haughty patronage as an elephant might be imagined to bestow upon a flea. That august “Bobby” has not as yet quite fathomed the “Gainsborough” mystery, and he is still some what at sea about the Clerkenwell explosion: but on the present occasion he has on hand a case fairly within the compass of his professional abilities. He is proud of his capture, and evidently intends to make the most of him. So the prisoner is to understand that violence on his part will be of no avail to him, and that the best thing he can do is to submit patiently to his fate. Never surely were greatness and smallness brought into more ludicrous contrast; but it might hurt the consequence of the “force” to be told what is nevertheless the fact, that the captive excites far more interest than does his captor. The group of sergeants seated at the table, and so zealously employed in making out their sheet of night charges as to be apparently unconscious of the presence of their burly brother in arms (or rather in truncheons) and of his prisoner, is highly characteristic, and the whole scene is depicted with a quaint, quiet humour not to be resisted. This is a clever and original work, full of drollery not unrelieved with a touch of homely pathos, so that one hardly knows whether to bestow tears or laughter on the lilliputian wayfarer who is “miles away from home”. Why so good a picture should have been placed above rather than upon the line is a mystery past finding out by any one not in the confidence of the Hanging Committee.’

Find my Past and Wikipedia

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Charles Ernest Butler (1864 – 1933) – British artist

Charles Ernest Butler, born in 1864 at St Leonards on Sea, Sussex, UK, was a portrait and landscape painter. He also painted mythological and other figure subjects.

Charles studied at St Johns Wood School of Art and also attended  Royal Academy schools. Charles exhibited his work at The Royal Academy (R.A.) in London, The London Salon and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. He died in 1933.

His painting “Blood and Iron”, painted in 1916 was exhibited at the Royal Academy. The painting depicts Kaiser Wilhelm II on horseback, followed by his army. He is turning back and looking indifferently at the civilian victims at his feet. Hovering behind the Kaiser, the Angel of Death urges him along his path of destruction. In the background, a city — thought to be Louvain, in Belgium — is ablaze. In the foreground, Christ is helping the fallen.

Blood and Iron (German: Blut und Eisen) is the name given to a speech made by Otto von Bismarck on 30th September 1862, when he was Minister President of Prussia.


James Clark (1858–1943) – British Artist and Stained Glass Designer

James Clark was born on 25th March 1858 in West Hartlepool, in the north-east of England, the eldest son of William and Ellen Clark.  His paternal grandfather came from Lanarkshire.  James’s father, William, went to work in the shipbuilding industry in Hartlepool and later, after spending time in South Africa, he set up a pawnbroking business in Hartlepool. James first trained as an architect, entering the office of the prominent local architect James Garry when he was twelve years old. His father paid for him to have watercolour painting lessons and in 1875 James gave up his architectural career for life as an artist, moving to London in 1877.

James won a scholarship to study at the National Art Training School, finishing his training in Paris, eventually attending the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he studied under Léon Bonnat.

James married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth Hunter, in 1882 and the couple had three sons and three daughters.

James became famous shortly after the start of the First World War, when he painted “The Great Sacrifice”. The painting was reproduced as a souvenir print for the Christmas edition of “The Graphic”, a British weekly illustrated newspaper published from 1869 until 1932.  The prints were eagerly purchased, with one reviewer saying it had "turned railway bookstalls into wayside shrines." Framed copies were hung in churches next to Rolls of Honour, and clergymen gave sermons on the theme of the painting.

The original oil painting was purchased by Queen Mary, wife of the British monarch King George V and hangs in the church at Whippingham on the Isle of Wight, where it is a memorial to Prince Maurice of Battenburg, who was killed in action at Zonnebeke, in the Ypres Salient, on 27 October 1914.
James also painted “The Bombardment of the Hartlepools”.

After the war, James Clark designed a number of war memorials and several stained-glass windows, in both Britain and Canada, reproduced his painting, for instance, the 1916 memorial window in St Margaret’s Church, Mountain Ash, Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales.

James and Elizabeth were living in Reigate, Surrey in 1939 and James died there in January 1943.

"The Bombardment of The Hartlepools"


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Victor Rousseau (1865 – 1954) - Belgian sculptor, writer and poet

A chance find on the Facebook Group Cemeteries & Memorials of the Gret War, was a post about the Belgian Gratitude Memorial of The First World War that is situated on the Embankment in London, UK.  The main sculpture was the work of Belgian sculptor Victor Rousseau.

Victor Rousseau was born in Feluy, Hainaut, Belgium on 15th December 1865 in “La Sonnette.”  His parents were Emile Rousseau and Philomène Duquesnes and his family were stone masons.   Victor took refuge in Britain during the First World War, returning to Belgium when the war was over.

Victor died at his home in Vorst (Forest), Brussels, on 17th March 1954. A street in Feluy was named after Victor.

Between 1935 and 1953 Victor wrote his memoirs, “Country pictures from my childhood,” as well as numerous “Notes” and over 300 poems.

I am now trying to find poems written by Victor Rousseau.

Photograph of the Belgian Memorial in London reproduced here by kind permission of photographer Kim Haslam - Photos ©️Kim Haslam 2019…/Anglo-Belgian_Memorial,_London

Monday, May 13, 2019

Christina Broom (1862 - 1939) - photographer - Britain's "first female press photographer"

 "the UK's first female press photographer".

Christina Livingston was born in King's Road, Chelsea, London, on 28th December 1862,  the seventh of eight children born to Alexander Livingston (1812-1875), a master bootmaker and his wife, Margaret Fair (1826-1884), who were from Scotland.

In 1889, Christina married Albert Edward Broom (1864–1912). They had a daughter, Winifred Margaret, who was born 7th August 1890. After the failure of the family ironmongery business and other business ventures, Christina borrowed a box camera and taught herself the rudiments of photography. She set up a stall in the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, selling postcards of photographs that she had taken. She maintained the stall from 1904 until 1930.

When the family moved to Burnfoot Avenue, she used the coal cellar as her dark room. She was assisted by her daughter Winifred, who left school early in order to help her mother. Albert wrote the captions for the postcards.

Christina was appointed official photographer to the British Army's Household Division - at that time comprising the 1st Life Guards, 2nd Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) - who were responsible for ceremonial duties. From 1904 until 1939, Christina had a darkroom in the Dvision Headquarters at Chelsea Barracks.  She also photographed local scenes, including those at the Palace, as well as The Boat Race and Suffragette marches.

Albert died in 1912 and Christina and Winifred moved to Munster Road, Fulham. Christina took the professional name of Mrs Albert Broom.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Christina's photographs were published in magazines such as the “Illustrated London News”, “The Tatler”, “The Sphere” and “Country Life”.

Christina died on 5th June 1939 and was buried in Fulham Old Cemetery.

Collections of Christina’s photographs are held at the Museum of London, the National Portrait Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, London, the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, the Royal Maritime Museum, Greenwich, the Guards Museum, London; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library; the Hammersmith and Fulham Archive and the National Army Museum; Maidstone Art Gallery, Kent; and the Harry Ransom Center and the Gernsheim Collection, University of Texas, both at Austin, Texas, United States.

Source:  Wikipedia

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for her research into Christina Broom.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Colin Unwin Gill (1892 –1940) – British artist – WW1 war artist

Colin Unwin Gill was born at Bexleyheath in Kent, UK on 12th May 1892.  His parents were George Joseph Gill, who worked for the Metropolitan Water Board, and his wife, Sarah Sharey Gill, nee Driver.  Colin’s siblings were Alan Streatfield Gill, b. 1896 and David Ashdown Gill, b. 1904. By 1911, the family were living in Sevenoaks, Kent.  Colin was a cousin of Eric Gill (1882 – 1940), who became a sculptor

Colin studied art at the Slade School of Art, and in 1913 became the first recipient of the Rome Scholarship in Decorative Painting to the British School in Rome.

When war broke out in 1914, Colin was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery and was posted to the Western Front as a Second Lieutenant with the 17th Heavy Battery.  In 1916, he was seconded to the Royal Engineers in order to work as a camouflage officer.  In March 1918, Colin was sent back to Britain, suffering from exposure to poison gas, where he recuperated in the Hospital for Officers on the Isle of Wight.

In May 1918, Colin volunteered to work as a war artist but was turned down and continued to work as a camouflage instructor.  He returned to France on 7th November 1918 visiting Mons hours after it had been retaken by the Allies.

In 1919, Colin married Phyllis Seyler Andrews.

After the war, Colin  returned to the British School in Rome. In 1939, he received a commission to paint murals at the Johannesburg Magistrates' Courts and died  in South Africa on 16th November November 1940.

WW1 Paintings: Portrait of a Gunner and Heavy Artillery.

Will Dyson (1880 – 1938) - Australian artist, writer and poet

Known to friends and family as Bill, William Henry Dyson was born in Alfredton, now in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, on 3rd September 1880. His father was George Dyson, a hawker who became a mining engineer, and his mother was Jane Dyson, née Mayall.  Educated at state schools in Ballarat and South Melbourne, Will became an artist like his brother, Ambrose (1876 – 1913), and went to work for the “Adelaide Critic”.

In 1910, Will married Ruby Lindsay.  Ruby came from a well-known family of artists. The couple went to live in London and Will found work with the “Weekly Despatch”. He also drew some coloured cartoons for "Vanity Fair" magazine, which he signed with the pen-name "Emu". Some time later, he began to contribute to the British newspaper “The Daily Herald” (1912 – 1964). His work soon became popular and in 1914, Will published some of his work in a publication entitled “Cartoons”.   In 1915, he was made an official Australian War Artist on the Western Front.

Will was not concerned with his personal safety and was wounded twice while sketching on the Western Front.  Exhibitions of his work were held in London.  In November 1918, Will published a book of his work entitled “Australia at War”.

Ruby died in March 1919 and Will was overcome with grief. Not long after his wife's death, Will drew a cartoon, entitled "Peace and Future Cannon Fodder", which was remarkable in its uncanny foresight.  Published in “The Daily Herald” on 13th May 1919, the cartoon depicted David Lloyd George, Vittorio Orlando and Georges Clemenceau (the Prime Ministers respectively of Britain, Italy and France), together with Woodrow Wilson, (the President of the United States), emerging after a meeting at Versailles to discuss the Peace Treaty. Clemenceau, who was identified by his nickname "The Tiger", is saying to the others: "Curious! I seem to hear a child weeping!" A child in tears stands behind a pillar and a poster proclaims "1940 Class".

In 1920, Will published some of Ruby’s work – “Drawings of Ruby Lind (London, Cecil Palmer 1920) and he also published a volume of his poems – “Poems in Memory of a Wife”.

Will then took up dry pointing and he quickly mastered the possibilities of that medium. In 1925, he returned to Australia for five years and worked for th “Melbourne Herald” and “Punch”.  After a successful exhibition of his dry point creations in New York, Will held an exhibition in London.  He worked again for "The Daily Herald" while there.  Will died on 21st January 1938.  He and his wife are buried together in Section D10 of Hendon Cemetery in London NW7.

“Surrender” a poem by Will Dyson

Now wrap you in such armour as you may,
And make your tardy peace with suffering,
Since grief must be your housemate to the end ...
Nor is it meet that in these bloody years
Such traffic you should make of common wounds.
What is your grief above our mortal lot
That in a world where all must carry scars,
You clamour to the skies as though were fall’n
A prodigy to earth in this your woe.
Now make your peace, and go as you have gone:
The world was so before this grief befell,
But you, the broken, have in breaking learned
A wisdom that you lacked when you were whole.
... in your veins no flavoured stuff doth flow
That fate should beat upon your head in vain.
... Now bend thee to the yoke,
And teach thy heart no longer to rebel.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Francis Edgar Dodd RA (1874 – 1949) was a British artist and printmaker

A post by Chris Dubbs on the Facebook Page Artists of the First World War led me to research Francis Edgar Dodd.

Francis Edgar Dodd was born on 29th November 1874 in Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales. His parents were Benjamin Dodd, a Wesleyan Church Minister, and his wife, Jane Frances Dodd, nee Shaw. Francis had the following siblings:  Benjamin Herbert, Frederick R., Gertrude Helena, Walter Stanley and Elsie Lilian.   In 1881 the family lived in Bolton, Lancashire and in 1891 they lived in Barony, Kelvin, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Francis studied art at the Glasgow School of Art, where a fellow student was Muirhead Bone, who married Francis’s sister Gertrude Helena. In 1893, while studying in Glasgow, Francis won the Haldane Scholarship, awarded by the Trustees at the School  for travel. That enabled  him to study art in France, Italy and later Spain.  Francis returned to Britain in 1895, where he lived in Manchester, before moving to Blackheath in London in 1904. While in Manchester, Francis became friendly with Charles Holden, the architect.

In 1911, Francis married Mary A. Ingle. The couple lived at Arundel House, Blackheath Park, in Blackheath, London SE3.

In 1916, Francis was appointed official war artist by Charles Masterman, the Head of the War Propaganda Bureau (WPB), replacing Muirhead Bone.    He served on the Western Front and painted over thirty portraits of senior military personnel.  On 5th June 1918, Francis joined the Royal Navy.

Surrendered U-boat under British flag 20 Nov 1918 by Francis Dodd. IWM image

Francis was appointed a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in 1929, a position he held for six years. He was elected  an Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1927 and a full Member in 1935.

After the death of his first wife, Francis married Ellen Margaret Tanner in March 1949.  Ellen was the model for his painting “Lady in Black”.  Francis died at his home in Blackheath on 7th March 1949.

Portrait of Francis Dodd painted by his nephew Stephen Bone (13 November 1904 – 15 September 1958) – son of Muirhead Bone and Francis’s sister Gertrude.

Charles Henry Holden Litt.D, FRIBA, MRTPI, RDI (12 May 1875 – 1 May 1960) – architect

Charles Henry Holden Litt.D, FRIBA, MRTPI, RDI (12 May 1875 – 1 May 1960) – architect - and his wife, Margaret Steadman (née Macdonald, 1865–1954), a nurse and midwife, rushed to help in WW1.

During the First World War, Margaret Holden joined the "Friends' Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in distress" which helped refugees of those countries stranded in London by the conflict. Charles Holden served with the Red Cross's London Ambulance Column as a stretcher-bearer transferring wounded troops from London's stations to its hospitals. Holden also served on the fire watch at St Paul's Cathedral between 1915 and 1917.

On 3 October 1917, Holden was appointed a temporary lieutenant with the army's Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries. He travelled to the Western Front for the first time later that month and began planning new cemeteries and expanding existing ones.

Charles described what he saw: “The country is one vast wilderness, blasted out of recognition where once villages & orchards & fertile land, now tossed about & churned in hopeless disorder with never a landmark as far as the eye can reach & dotted about in the scrub and untidiness of it all are to be seen here & there singly & in groups little white crosses marking the place where men have fallen and been buried.”

In September 1918, Charles transferred to the Imperial War Graves Commission (now called the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) with the rank of Major. From 1918 until 1928 he worked on 69 Commission cemeteries, initially, managing the drawing office and working as the senior design architect under the three principal architects in France and Belgium - Edwin Lutyens, Reginald Blomfield and Herbert Baker

In 1920, he was promoted to be the fourth principal architect. His work for the Commission included memorials to the New Zealand missing dead at Messines Ridge British Cemetery, and the Buttes New British Cemetery at Zonnebeke.

In 1922, Holden designed the War Memorial Gateway for Clifton College, Bristol, using a combination of limestone and gritstone to match the Gothic style of the school's buildings.

Portrait of Charles Holden by his friend the artist Francis Edgar Dodd.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Philip Connard, CVO, RA, (1875 - 1958) - British artist

Philip Connard was born in Southport, Lancashire, UK, on 24th March 1875.  He left school to go out to work as a house decorator, enrolling to study art at evening classes.  Philip won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London.   After a brief period in France, he returned to London and worked as an illustrator, before taking  up a teaching post at Lambeth School of Art.

During the First World War, Philip volunteered and joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner (Private).  He was posted to France, where he took part in several actions before being sent home suffering from Shell Shock.  By then, he had attained the rank of Captain.

Appointed as an official war artist by the Royal Navy, Philip painted the surrender of the German ship SMS “Goeben” and “St George's Day: Bridge of HMS 'Canterbury', on Patrol Work when the Great Naval Raid on Zeebrugge and Ostend Took Place” on 23rd April 1918.

Elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1918, Philip became a full Academician in 1925. He was Keeper of the Royal Academy school - the principal tutor - from 1945 to 1949. He was member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours. In 1950, Philip was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

Philip never forgot his roots, founding The Southport Palette Club in 1921 in order to hold annual exhibitions of the work of local artists. He was President of the Club until his death on 8th December 1958.

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for posting this painting on Artists of the First World War Facebook Group Page.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Gertrude Leese (1870-1963) – British VAD, artist and illustrator

Clare Walters, writer, has researched Gertrude. Clare says:

“During the First World War, Leese volunteered in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) at Etaples, in an Allied military camp that had many hospitals on site. The Imperial War Museum holds five sketches Leese made while there, which she donated to the museum in 1954. These delicate, dynamic ink-on-paper illustrations give us a glimpse into life on a busy wartime base.

During the first decade of the twentieth century she illustrated a number of books for George Bell and Sons, including George Sand’s La Mare au Diable and François le Champi in 1908, and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe in 1909. Her name is credited in substantial type on the covers and title pages of these books, and each includes a generous mix of black-and-white line illustrations and coloured plates. She had studied with Max Bohm (1868-1923) at the international art colony in the fishing port of Etaples, and her work was shown at the ‘Salon des Artistes Français’ in Paris in 1902.

Leese was friends with many artists of the time, including Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), co-founder of the Vorticist movement, and Helen Saunders (1885-1963) and Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939). Along with Lewis and others, Saunders and Dismorr both signed the original Vorticist manifesto in 1914 and they are depicted in William Roberts’ 1961 painting, held in the Tate, The Vorticists at the Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel: Spring 1915 (the restaurant was in Percy Street, London). Leese was also close friends with her second cousin, Catherina Dawson Giles (1878-1955), known as Kathie, another painter who knew this group.

In 1924 Leese, then in her fifties, studied at the Académie de la Palette in Paris, where Dismorr had studied earlier in 1910-13. Subsequently she sketched and painted many other European scenes, including a number of the French Riviera and the Mediterranean. But it is the immediacy of these simple wartime sketches that are particularly poignant, as they are such a clear and vivid reminder of the people involved in that challenging and harrowing time of more than 100 years ago.”

Clare Walters

If anyone has a photograph of Gertrude, please get in touch.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Walter E. Spradbery, DCM (1889 – 1969) British Artist

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for telling me about Walter and thanks to Walter’s cousin, Philip Spradbery, who has a lifelong passion for painting, who kindly supplied additional information and to Sergio Sbalchiero for finding paintings by Walter.

Walter Ermest Spradbery was born on 29th March 1889 in East Dulwich, London, UK. His parents were Joseph Spradbery and his wife Emily Spradbery, nee Feltham.  Walter had a brother, Charles V., b. 1879.

Walter studied at Walthamstow Art School, then worked as an art teacher. He regularly exhibited his work at the Royal Academy. His main artistic media were water colour, linocuts and poster design. Walter designed posters for London transport companies and for British Rail.

During the First World War, Walter, who was a pacifist, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served as a medical orderly and stretcher-bearer on the Western Front. He served with 36 Field Ambulance during the Somme Offensive in 1916 and was Mentioned in Despatches several times for bravery rescuing wounded men under fire.   He was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

On 11th November 1918, Walter wrote to his Mother:

"Hostilities ceased on all fronts at 11 o’clock today. Oh happy mothers, happy sweethearts, happy wives, whose loved ones will come safely back... and those lone souls who have lost their very own; today is too unkind to them - how can they face our joy? 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men' - an unseen choir sings it in our breasts - prompting men to evolve a better world more worthy of our ideals and aspirations. Let us begin."

On 21st August 1929, Walter married opera singer Dorothy D’Orsay (maiden name Horsey) and the couple lived in Epping Forest.   They had two children.

Walter died in Epping, Essex in 1969. An exhibition of the work of WW1 artist Walter Spradbery was held in 2018 at The Epping Forest District Museum.

A biography of Walter Spradbery’s life and times, "My Dear Jim", has been compiled and published by his son, John Spradbery (Mail order from Elizabeth Spradbery:


A poem by Walter Spradbery written in 1915 and kindly supplied by his cousin, Philip Spradbery.


“Eyes Have They, But See Not”

The flowers that grow on Barnham’s plain
Are beautiful to see;
The bugloss and the speedwell’s blue
Fair as a summer’s sea,
Blue as a summer’s sky are they
As a child’s eyes may be:

And the tender little pansy’s
Uplifted cherub face,
With golden eye, and purple wings
And unpretentious grace,
Peeps shyly from amid the grass
In every shady place.

But wearily we drag our feet
Over the jeweled sods,
And discipline, it weighs us down
With the curse of an iron rod;
And ‘iron rods’ we carry
To kill the sons of God.

The cranebill’s starry floweret
Is scattered o’er the plain;
Its pale magenta blossoms
We trample in our pain,
And dully long for peace, and love
And our dear homes again.

With iron heels we tread them down,
We tread them in the sand;
We crush their beauty ’neath our feet
Too tired to understand
The ugly ruthless thing we do.
Now war is on the land.

The golden gorse, across the heath
Is a mass of yellow flame;
Its unconsuming fires praise
The Sun God’s glorious name.
But war it burns things black and dead,
And fills men’s hearts with shame.

And scarlet is the pimpernel
And bright the poppy’s red
But brighter still is the blood we’ll spill
Ere we ourselves are dead:
No flower so rich, in the deep dug ditch,
As the blood our guns may shed.

The grass is worn with the ceaseless tread
Of our marching to and fro,
And where we drill on the mossy hill
Great bare patches show;
For ’neath the heel of the War God’s foot
No fair thing may grow. 

But time revenges the patient weak
Whom the Ruthless crush and kill,
And delicate things that droop and die,
Like the flowers on the grassy hill,
Will bloom again on another plain
Fairer and sweeter still.

The barren stretch of Flander’s plains
Is desolate and bare,
And the shriek of shell, and stench and smell
Float on the morning air
And splintered stumps are all that speak
Of what once blossomed there.

Yet the flowers our feet have trodden down
Will be born again,
And rich and fine, on Flander’s fields,
Will dance in the gentle rain
Will dance on the dead that feed their roots
The countless, ghastly slain.

The little flowers we’ve trodden down
Will scent each ugly grave,
Will hide the ghastly torn limbs
O the coward and the brave
And gaily smile at the morning sun,
O’er the foolish and the knave.

Oh, the river runs o’er Barnham’s plains
This where our horses drink –
And a thousand fair and charming things
Blossom on its brink.
But we have trod them in the mud
Nor paused to praise or think.

The pinkish purple loose-strife
Bows on the river’s edge,
Forget-me-not and orchids,
The flowering rush and sedge
While briar rose and bryony
Entangle in the hedge.

And crowsfoot gleams on the river,
Like snowflakes in the sun
And sways in the moving waters
That over the pebbles run.
But we cannot pause for such a thing,
Who’re crossing the stream with a gun.

But the rivers which flow in Flanders
Are rivers of blood methinks
And will, one day, colour the roses
Whose roots from that soil drink,
And a thousand flowers will blossom
Where a corpse now rots and stinks.

And we who train at Thetford
Parade on Barnham Hill
And prod coarse sack with bayonets
To gain the skill to kill
To disembowel and mutilate
Men who are brothers still.

While all around is beauty
And overhead the sky,
Where fleecy clouds in freedom float
Over the men that die;
And nature laughs at our folly
As we pass her treasures by.

With a garland of peaceful beauty
She tempts us to lay down our arms;
With a myriad of fearless blossoms
She mocks at our childish alarms,
With a tangle of wonderful flowerets
She seeks to ensnare us with charms.

Oh, he who sees God in a daisy,
Can see more clearly in man,
The light of the Glorious Eternal
That through all Living Things ran,
When the wheels of time first started,
And the Song of Life began.

Walter E. Spradbery (1915)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Arthur Royce Bradbury (1892 - 1977) – British artist

Born on the 17th September 1892 in Preston, Lancashire, UK, Arthur specialised in painting portraits, landscapes and seascapes in oil, watercolour and pastel. He was an accomplished etcher and taught art at the Pembroke Lodge School and Wimborne Grammar School. He studied at the St. John’s Wood School of Art before being accepted at the Royal Academy Schools. In 1913 he lived in Bournemouth, then Parkstone, Dorset in 1915, before moving to Poole.

Arthur trained as a cadet with the Merchant Navy, serving on the West African trade route, before taking up art. It was then that he made several voyages on the barquentine ‘Waterwitch’ carrying coal and china clay from Cornish ports. The ‘Waterwitch’ was the last trading square rigger in British service at that time.

He became an Associate of the Royal West of England Academy and exhibited there and elsewhere, mainly portraits. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1913 - a work entitled ‘Iris’ - and went on to exhibit fourteen works there. Examples of his work may be seen at the Liverpool and Brighton Public Art Galleries.

Arthur served during The First World War as a Second Lieutenant with the 3rd Bn. Dorsetshire Regiment (London Gazette, 26 July 1915) and was then attached to the Dorset Regiment and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

On 27th July 1924, Arthur married Evelyn Ethel Mate 27th July 1924 and the couple lived in Poole, Dorset.  Arthur died in 1977.