R Class battleships in the Med, 1935
Wood, Frank Watson (1862-1953). Watercolour, signed and dated 1935 and annotated "HMS REVENGE & 2nd Battle Squadron".
37 x 53 cms (14 1/2 x 20 3/4 ins) approx
Price on application
This original has been sold and is no longer available.
Prints of this may be available on: Maritime Prints.
The 2nd Battle Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet consisted, in 1935, of a mixture of classes of battleship. Wearing the flag of the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet, Admiral Sir William James GCB CVO, was HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH (Captain S St Leger Moore RN) but the remainder of the 2nd BS was composed of R Class battleships. Shown here by Frank Watson Wood are HMS REVENGE (Captain Lancelot Holland RN) wearing the flag of the Flag Officer Commanding 2nd Battle Squadron (and Second in Command Mediterranean Fleet), Vice Admiral Sir Charles Forbes KCB DSO. Next in line is HMS RESOLUTION (Captain J H D Cunningham MVO RN), then HMS RAMILLES (Captain R Leatham RN); and astern of her is HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN (Captain Bertram Ramsay MVO RN). Now we come to artist's licence for the last ship in the line (HMS ROYAL OAK) was not there at all: she was refitting in Devonport but Wood's commissioner perhaps wanted all the Rs to feature in the painting?!
Those who know their naval history of WW2 will spot some Big Names here: Admiral Forbes became C-in-C Home Fleet in the early years of the war ( with a sobriquet of "Wrong way Charlie"!); Lancelot Holland was lost in the HOOD in May 1941 when flying his flag in her; John Cunningham became C-in-C Med and in 1946 he relieved Sir Andrew Cunningham as First Sea Lord. Bertram Ramsay played a key role in the Dunkirk evacuation as Vice Admiral Dover and was central in the planning and execution of Operations Torch and Husky. He was appointed Naval C-in-C for the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force for the invasion of Europe in 1944 (Operation Neptune) but was killed in an air crash whilst enroute for a meeting with General Montgomery.
Frank Wood's draftsmanship here is exemplary and REVENGE is faithfully shown without an overlong bows (often a hallmark of his!). Its a striking painting which at present is undergoing a light clean to restore it to its original condition.