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Rear-Admiral Sir Henry Harwood (1888-1950)

BHC2753
Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Harwood, Henry

Object details:

Object ID BHC2753
Description A three-quarter length portrait to the left, showing Harwood in his vice-admiral's undress uniform with his hands in the jacket pockets and his cap under his left arm. Painted from a wartime photograph, it is signed ‘Wales Smith’. Henry Harwood Harwood became a ‘Britannia’ cadet in 1903, gaining first-class certificates in every subject in his lieutenant’s examinations. In 1911 he chose to specialise in torpedoes, serving as torpedo officer in a number of ships. Although he saw no action in the First World War, he was made an OBE in 1919 ‘for valuable services in HMS ‘Royal Sovereign’’. He was promoted commander in 1921 and captain in 1928. In 1936 he was appointed Commodore in command of the South American squadron. He received acclaim for his action against the German pocket battleship the ‘Admiral Graf Spee’ in which three British cruisers – HMS ‘Ajax’, ‘Achilles’ and ‘Exeter’ – engaged at the Battle of the River Plate on 13 December 1939, inflicting serious damage on the enemy. Trapped in Montevideo harbour, and falsely believing that a larger British force lay in wait, the German commander, Captain Hans Langsdorff, scuttled his ship on 17 December, providing the British with some welcome good news. Harwood was promoted rear-admiral and appointed KCB, the news reaching him by wireless. After a time on the Naval Staff at the Admiralty he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, as Acting Admiral, while Sir Andrew Cunningham went to America to plan future operations. This was a special promotion for his rank and experience and followed Churchill’s wish for a commander who had shown aggressive ability. After ten months, Cunningham returned from America, and the command was divided with Harwood becoming Commander-in-Chief, Levant. He was then appointed Second in Command of the Eastern Fleet but had a heart attack, was invalided home and placed on sick leave for twelve months. When fit for service, he was appointed to the Orkneys and Shetlands Command. He was invalided out of the Navy in 1945 with the rank of Admiral.
Date made 1945, circa

Artist/Maker Wales-Smith, Arthur Douglas
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 762 mm x 610 mm x 18 mm
Parts
  • Rear-Admiral Sir Henry Harwood (1888-1950) (BHC2753)
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