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WW1 Artist, Ernest Burgess, Part 2

Posted by Sam Willis, on August 18th, 2014


The second of two sketchbooks, this is a collection of artwork by Ernest Burgess, who served as a Gunner in the Royal Navy during the First World War (1914-1918) and up until 1924. The images depict naval vessels and action during the war, primarily in the Channel and Mediterranean theatres. Unlike the first sketchbook, this collection is supported by Burgess’ own characterful captions, which give valuable insight into the individual’s experience of naval life.

Burgess’ account here extends past the end of the war, and captures notable scenes from its aftermath. The caption for fig. 17 discusses the scuttling of the German fleet in 1919. Burgess was tasked with salvaging the German destroyers, a job which – owing to the winter weather – he describes as “NOT funny!”.

Burgess also details two collisions, one aboard the escort ship P.28 and one aboard the Royal Sovereign. Fig. 20 is a particularly impressive image, showing the extent of the damage to the Sovereign after its collision with HMS Tiger.

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