HMS LION lying below the Forth Bridge, 1920
Wood, Frank Watson (1862-1953). Watercolour signed and dated 1920 and titled by the artist "Sunset on Forth, HMS LION".
16 x 44.5 cms (6 1/4 x 17 1/2 ins approx)
HMS LION is painted here by Frank Watson Wood in her familiar lair, the battle cruiser anchorage below the Forth Bridge, Edinburgh in Scotland. Wood has dated the painting 1920, the same year that the battle cruiser was paid off into the Reserve Fleet in March, along with her surviving sister, PRINCESS ROYAL. In March, her last month in the active fleet, she was commanded by Captain Albert Addison CMG RN and she did briefly fly the flag of Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes KCVO CMG DSO, Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron. Wood has duly painted an admiral’s flag at the fore though artistic licence has made it what appears to be a full admiral’s flag!
This is the battle cruiser in her final guise with the clinker screen added to the top of the fore funnel in 1919 being the most obvious feature: it was an attempt to solve the same old problem which had never really gone away in so many of the capital ships of that time from their first commissioning through to their final paying off. Indeed, during her preliminary sea trials in January 1912 the bridge in LION was hopelessly smoked out by the fore funnel which at that stage was close up against it. The ship was taken in hand in May of that year to have this rectified and the offending funnel was moved aft and all three were heightened by twelve feet in an attempt to prevent those on the bridge and compass platform being asphyxiated and blinded by swirling smoke and funnel gases. With all 48 boilers connected and batting along at full chat the problem was never really cured and the fitting of that clinker screen was a very final attempt at rectification!
Another member of the Battle Cruiser Squadron, HMS TIGER (Captain the Hon WHD Boyle CMG MVO ADC RN), lies at anchor over on the left. She was to have a very conspicuous mainmast added in 1921 and her captain subsequently succeeded as 12th Earl of Cork and Orrery in 1934 and ended his career as Fourth Sea Lord.