A Recent Adventure (Flying bomb) September 2006

In September 2006 Rob was invited by Jean de WITASSE, Marquis de THEZY to visit and work for a few days at the World War Two German V1 Flying Bomb launch site located on his estate near Vironchaux, North of Abbeville, France.

The V-1, the first of Hitler's "Vengeance weapons"

The V-1, the first of Hitler’s “Vengeance weapons” (also known as a flying bomb, buzz bomb or doodlebug) was a pilotless monoplane that was powered by a pulse-jet motor and carried a one ton warhead. It was launched from a fixed ramp and travelled at about 350mph at 4,000ft and had a range of 150 miles (240km). It was 8 metres (25 feet) long and had a wingspan of about 5.5 metres (20 feet).

Germany fired 9,521 V-I bombs on Southern England. Of these 4,621 were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire or by RAF fighters such as the Spitfire or the new turbojet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. An estimated 6,184 people were killed by these flying bombs.

The site to which Rob was invited has not been accessible to the general public and is therefore pretty much as the Germans (and the RAF bombers) left it. The encroachment of ivy and other vegetation, the gradual decay of the concrete structures, the height of the trees and the thickness of the leaf canopy that cuts out much of the light, contribute to the dank and sinister atmosphere which Rob has tried to capture in his drawings. Occasional openings in the leaf canopy caused by some of the larger buildings and clearings produce strange, dramatic and almost theatrical spotlight effects in the otherwise unbroken gloomy darkness of the interior of the wood.

The launch site complex, concealed in approximately 5 acres of thick woodland, consisted of the launching ramp together with workshops, checkpoints, explosives and detonator stores, tunnels for the assembly and storage of the flying bombs, offices, and a network of narrow concrete roadways for transferring the bombs to the ultimate checking station where final adjustments were made to the guidance systems and gyroscopes prior to launching.

All the drawings Rob made over the four day period were on A3 format and the media used included charcoal, Graphite, ink pen and black gouache applied with airbrush. They were all executed entirely on site and timed and dated immediately on completion.
The work will be incorporated into his major collection, available for hire to Art Galleries and other institutes of education and culture, under the title of “Echoes of War 1939-45” or as part of his joint exhibition with Mohsen Keiany “Two Artists, Two Wars” (see web page “Exhibition and Lecture Service”)