I’m back. Sorry for the break. I was reading new things and trying to write a lot. Not quite sure about why everyone is commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of Passchendale though. Bit premature. Still, I trust the monarch and everyone else will be there for the anniversary of the Battle of the Menin Road as well. Or not. And yet again, I was the only one off the coast of Mers el Kebir this year.
You could listen again to what Today had to say. The Guardian marks the anniversary of the start of the Third Ypres campaign. Not the battle of Passchendaele. And with a selection of 14 images, 7 of which you’ve seen before. That must have been difficult reporting, what with the emailing the Imperial War Museum for the most hackneyed images in their archive and all. Still, probably better than the BBC’s effort to replicate the success of last year’s Somme messageboard on the Today website. 3 responses? Looks like a year after the Diana-isation of the Somme, nobody’s actually that bothered. Still, interesting to compare the remembrance of the battle over twenty years, particularly with this BBC account from 1987.
I was quite tough on the IWM. Look, they are putting on a Falklands exhibit (which should support the sales of Forgotten Voices of the Falklands War). And here is what looks like a really interesting exhibition.
An adapted version of a review for the Journal of Army Historical Research
This is an exhibition that will spark a great deal of thought and conversation, both about the history of camouflage and the purpose of the Imperial War Museum.
‘Camouflage’ has four sections – concealment, distortion, deception and advertisement. They chart the rise of camouflage over the twentieth century and its spread into the worlds of popular culture and fashion. Camouflage is defined very broadly, so that it includes not only a variety of DPM, but also the ‘escape boots’ manufactured for British aircrew, which could be cut down to resemble civilian shoes. A particular theme is the involvement of artists in the development of camouflage.
There are many points of interest for the expert and the non-expert alike. ‘Camouflage’ would therefore make a suitable excursion for readers and their long-suffering partners, friends and families. The exhibition opens with a greatcoat spattered with paint by the French artist and soldier Eugene Corbin: the progenitor of today’s camouflage uniforms. Towards its end is the camouflaged kit produced by the American army for pregnant soldiers. Even those familiar with the dazzle-patterns applied to British ships during the First World War will probably not have considered how these were developed. Here are the drawings and model ships produced to test out different designs. The latter are arrayed like a particularly well organised herd of miniature zebra in the corner of the room: each a work of art in its own right. ‘Deception’ features not only detailed descriptions of the creation of fake trees to act as observation posts on the Western Front during the First World War, but also amusing footage of British troops inflating, and then manoeuvring a decoy tank in 1944. Several reviewers have noted Roland Penrose’s slide of his lover Lee Miller, semi-naked and camouflaged, which was used to spice up his Home Guard lectures. Read the rest of this entry »