HMS CHAMPION leaving Portsmouth
Miscellaneous. Watercolour signed J H Batchelor, dated '22 and annotated CHAMPION by the artist.
10 x 18 1/2 ins (25 x 40 cms) approx
HMS CHAMPION painted here off Southsea on England's south coast, has just left Portsmouth naval base and is headed for Outer Spit Buoy, for generations the departure/arrival point for all outward/inward bound ships of a certain size. Nameship of the class of 6 light cruisers (CALLIOPE, CAMBRIAN, CANTERBURY, CASTOR and CONSTANCE were the other five), the ships were originally of two classes, CHAMPION and CALLIOPE having twin screws and two 6 inch and eight 4 inch guns, the remaining four being four shafted ships with three 6 inch and six 4 inch guns. The former were first retro-fitted with the latter's gunnery arrangement and then all six of the class were converted to carry four 6 inch guns with lighter AA guns and smaller weapons. CHAMPION was the only one of the six not to have a mainmast but they all have attractive lines, the clipper bow adding a marked gracefulness to them which has been well captured here by the artist. CHAMPION first commissioned at the end of 1915 and served as leader of the Grand Fleet's 13th Flotilla: she was thus heavily involved in the fighting at Jutland, the 13th being attached to Beatty's battle cruisers. One of the flotilla's captains, Commander The Hon Barry Bingham, was subsequently awarded the VC, an honour he first heard of when he was serving in a German prisoner of war camp. CHAMPION joined the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron in 1919 and was part of Portsmouth's Torpedo School Squadron from 1920 - 22, in which role she is painted here.
The artist, John Henry Batchelor MBE (b. 1936) is a well respected illustrative artist and his paintings and diagrams have been widely published around the world. He is also a stamp illustrator and during a quarter of a century designed 864 stamps for 49 countries which, we are told, probably makes him the world's most prolific stamp illustrator! In 2013 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for "services to illustrating".