HMS HOOD at sea
Maritime Originals. Watercolour signed (LL).
22 x 35.5 cms (8.66 x 14 ins) approx
If any one ship in the Royal Navy could be said to have been the embodiment of British sea-power between the Wars, said Sub Lieutenant Ludovic Kennedy RNVR, it was "the Mighty HOOD". She was an old lady by 1941 when she sailed to meet the brand new German battleship BISMARCK and had not lost her elegant, majestic and striking looks or her formidable armament or speed. But the promised long refit in 1939 to build in more horizontal armour and update her many gunnery and machinery systems had once again been postponed because, quite simply, the First Sea Lord could not do without her at sea. She did have a brief refit just before the war to increase her anti aircraft armament and fit her with the latest radar systems but the upper deck armour was not part of this: she like her sister battle cruisers at Jutland, remained horribly vulnerable to plunging shellfire. And this was ultimately to prove her ruin when she met BISMARCK.
Dr Oscar Parkes OBE MB ChB was a doctor in general practice, qualifying in 1914. He joined the Royal Navy in 1915 and after some sea time was appointed to the Naval Intelligence Division at the Admiralty. In 1919 he became official naval artist and director of the naval photographic section at the Imperial War Museum and although he left the Service in 1920 he had already been appointed editor of Jane's Fighting Ships, the annual world famous publication founded in 1897: he was to occupy this post with distinct success for some 17 years. During these years he was still painting and his works are much admired and collected these days though there are far too few of them! His accuracy of draftsmanship is a much respected feature of his paintings and his naval watercolours are in the collections of both the National Maritime Museum Grenwich and the Imperial War Museum. All the while he remained involved in medical practice and was for a while on the staff of Fordinbridge hospital in Hampshire. In 1958 he retired and went to live in Northern Ireland where he died aged 72 that same year. Painting, his garden and the Royal Navy were his abiding passions we are told.