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War in the Trenches

Robert George Talbot Kelly (1861-1934)




7 x 10 inches

'A Century of British Art: 1900-1945', Chris Beetles Gallery, 21 June-17 July 2021, No 36

Though it is not known whether Robert Talbot Kelly undertook any service during the First World War, his painter son, Richard, served as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in France between 1915 and 1918. Richard saw combat in the battles of Loos (1915), the Somme (1916) and Arras (1917), and was awarded a Military Cross in June 1917. Wounded by a shell blast at the Battle of Passchendaele in August 1917, he convalesced at home until April 1918, when he returned to France. Later that year, he taught camouflage at the School of Artillery, Larkhill, Wiltshire. He made a number of watercolours and drawings of his experiences in France (that are now in the National Army Museum), and the present watercolour, by his father, may be based on one of those or on Richard’s memories. Richard’s memoir, A Subaltern's Odyssey: Memoirs of the Great War, 1915–1917, was published posthumously in 1980.