Bawden, Edward (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 4622
Production date
  • whole: Duration 135, Number Of Items 5
Alternative names
  • Undefined: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British official war artist in France, East Africa and North Africa 1940-1942; survived sinking of RMS Laconia in Atlantic, 9/1942; internee in Casablana, Morocco, 1942; official war artist in GB, Middle East, Italy, Greece and Austria, 1943-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Aspects of period as official war artist in France, 1940: background to becoming an official war artist; travelling to France with Edward Ardizzone; attachment to Manchester Regt at Halluin, France; visits to First World War cemeteries; making drawings of military court martial; problems with civilian appearance; drawings of bombed Armentieres; carrying his artist supplies; evacuation from Dunkirk, 5/1940; return to GB. Recollections of period as official war artist in Egypt and East Africa, 1940-1941: sight of three burning merchant ships at Southampton at start of voyage to South Africa; voyage to South Africa; flight to Cairo, Egypt; reaction to arrival in Africa; making drawings at Cairo hospital; difficulties of working in heat; journey to Khartoum, Sudan; drawing Sudan Defence Force personnel in Khartoum, Sudan. REEL 2 Continues: contracting malaria in Sudan; drawing at Gubba, Sudan; journey to Ethiopia with Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Athill’s force; relations between Ethiopian and Sudanese; memories of Sudanese servant, Mohammed; sight of dead men and camel in desert; problems of chikka fleas; impressions of Addis Ababa, 5/1941; drawing Emperor Haile Selassie; second bout of malaria; drawing Ethiopians; impressions of Ethiopian landscape. Aspects of period as official war artist in North Africa, 1941: journey to Egypt; move into Western Desert; drawings of Siwa Oasis; drawing sunken ships at Tobruk and Benghazi; painting techniques. REEL 3 Continues: Aspects of sinking of RMS Laconia in Atlantic, 9/1942: voyage aboard SS Stratheden to Cape Town, South Africa; torpedoing of RMS Laconia off Lagos, Nigeria; abandoning ship; bodies of drowned Italian POWs in water; period in life boat including being towed by German U-156; rescue by Vichy French ship. Aspects of period as internee in Vichy French internment camp in Casablanca, Morocco, 1942: relations with Vichy French; conditions in camp; liberation by Americans; return to GB via US. Aspects of period as official war artist in Middle East, 1943-1944: return to Cairo, Egypt; drawings in Baghdad, Iraq; drawing Kurds in Kurdistan; impressions of Kurds; meeting artists in Baghdad; journey by boat to Kut-Al-Imara, Iraq; description of Marsh Arabs’ houses. REEL 4 Continues: opinion of food; drawing female soldiers; difficulties of drawing in heat; drawing a variety of subjects; joining Middle East Anti-Locust Unit expedition to Saudi Arabia; wildlife encountered; freedom to choose subjects. Aspects of period in GB, 1944: return to GB; difficulty in finding subject in Southampton Docks. Aspects of period as official war artist in Italy, Greece and Austria 1944-1945: move to Italy; drawing Bechuana troops in Cesana; joining Partisans in Ravenna; problems with cold weather; joining William Coldstream in Florence; drawings in Florence; sight of Italians released internment camps; memories of William Coldstream. REEL 5 Continues: visit to Greece, 1945; return to Italy; visit to Austria, 1945; socialising with fellow artists in Rome, Italy, 1945; attitude towards exhibitions of war art; attitude towards role of official war artists; opinion of value of official war artist scheme.

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