Parachute Flares, circa 1941
Framed (ref: 4651)
Oil on canvas
19 3/4 x 13 in. (50 x 33 cm)
Exhibited: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 142.
Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 142, page 183.
During the early 1930's Rowe made designs for Communist Party publications and spent eighteen months travelling and working in the Soviet Union. In 1934 he helped establish the Artists' International Association whose work included helping refugees from Hitler's Germany and providing medical aid to the British International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.
In this painting though the town has already clearly suffered extensive damage from bombing, the Luftwaffe has returned. Parachute flares have been dropped in an effort to illuminate the target for the bombers while anti-aircraft fire from British batteries peppers the sky with red shell bursts.Target marking was used differently by the RAF and the Luftwaffe. The latter literally attempted to illuminate the target so that their crews could visually identify their aiming points on the ground. The techniques developed by Pathfinder Force for the RAF depended upon precision navigation. This meant that even in poor weather or cloud, when the target could not be seen at all by the high altitude Main Force, that if they dropped their loads on the marker flares positioned by the Pathfinders from low level, they knew that their bombs would be on the aiming points.Caught in the middle of the maelstrom that is about to break loose are the vehicles of the Fire or Rescue Services who braved the destruction to save as many lives and as much property as possible.
We are grateful to Andrew Cormack for assistance.