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HMS 'Implacable' in the Dardanelles, 25 April 1915

BHC0659
Oil paintings

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Object ID BHC0659
Description (Updated October 2014) Signed by the artist, lower left. This image is accurate as regards the pre-Dreadnought battleship 'Implacable', commanded by Captain Hughes Campbell Lockyer (1866-1941), which is firing her forward guns. Troops of the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers are in the boats towed in strings by steam launches. The picture depicts the start of the landing at X Beach, Cape Helles, on the Gallipoli peninsula, on 25 April 1915. They commenced disembarkation from the 'Implacable' at 04.30 and completed it at 05.15. As soon as they were clear the ship opened fire on the adjacent W Beach and later suppressed fire from Turkish positions overlooking X Beach. All of 'Implacable's' troops were ashore by 07.00 without casualties. She was the only warship that successfully landed men at X Beach, Lockyer succeeding where others failed by taking her close inshore and disobeying orders by first shelling the enemy beach positions rather than concentrating his fire on the coastal ridges above. He later wrote, in a short published account of 'Implacable's' part at Gallipoli, that if other ships had also done this many soldiers of 29th Division would not have gone into what he called a ‘Death Trap'. He was made CB and Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy for his part there. X Beach, which is probably the one at which the ship is directing fire before the troops land, was subsequently known as Implacable Beach. If this is correct then the Gallipoli peninsula is on the left, with the southern side of the Dardanelles visible on the right. The picture is in its original plain oak frame bearing an inscribed plaque - probably made in a naval machine shop - which reads: 'Presented to / Capt. Hughes C. Lockyer C.B. R.N. / By the Officers of / H.M.S. Implacable / Dardanelles, 1915'. It was presented to the Museum by Miss Lena Lockyer in 1972 – who appears to have been a daughter of Lockyer’s only son (also named Hughes Campbell and himself a naval captain, 1902-71) – along with family papers and other items. Dawson did monochrome black-and-white work like this for conversion to printed forms, many as magazine illustrations, and much of it in gouache rather than (as here) oil paint. This painting was originally done for such an illustration, published in 'The Sphere' of 25 September 1915 and then reissued as a print of which there are two copies among charts in the Lockyer collection, LOC298:6/12A and B. The former is blue-grey on white paper and the other printed in sepia. The captioning is slightly different in each and 12A bears a text description of the action. The text also mentions that the illustration was done by Dawson from a sketch by an eye-witness. 'The Sphere' was a well-known and long-lived news magazine (1900 - 64) for which Dawson did much work, including in both World Wars. In 1918 he witnessed George V's review of the Grand Fleet in the Firth of Forth on 20 November and the German High Seas Fleet arrival there for internment the following day. Four views by him of these events appeared in 'The Sphere' of 7 December (no. 985, pp. 178 - 83) two -one being of the royal review - as double-page spreads. However, statements in (generally inadequate) biographical accounts of Dawson that this was a 'special issue' illustrated by him, either of the surrender or other events of the war, are incorrect: it was a normal weekly number, including coverage of other things. Officers of 'Implacable' would certainly have seen the present image in the magazine and presumably approached him to purchase the painting as a gift for Lockyer thereafter, possibly when he left the ship. It is also possible, though to be confirmed, that the published version was a monochrome drawing in gouache and that this is an oil replica. A later (1941) example is Charles Turner's 'Sinking of the "Bismarck"' (BHC0679) which is an oil replica of a drawing he originally did for the 'Illustrated London News'.
Date made 1915

Artist/Maker Dawson, Montague
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials Oil on canvas; original oak frame and steel plaque
Measurements Painting: 510 mm x 760 mm; Frame: 609 mm x 865 mm x 65 mm; Weight: 9.2 kg
Parts
  • HMS 'Implacable' in the Dardanelles, 25 April 1915 (BHC0659)
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