List of camoufleurs

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Cover of The Fortnightly Fluer magazine for Second World War camoufleurs.
The Fortnightly Fluer, the magazine for "Camou-Fluers" of Middle East Command, April 1942. Illustration by Brian Robb.

A camoufleur or camouflage officer is a person who designed and implemented military camouflage in one of the world wars of the twentieth century. The term originally meant a person serving in a First World War French military camouflage unit.[1] In the Second World War, the British camouflage officers of the Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate, led by Geoffrey Barkas in the Western Desert, called themselves camoufleurs, and edited a humorous newsletter called The Fortnightly Fluer.[2][3] Such men were often professional artists. The term is used by extension for all First and Second World War camouflage specialists. Some of these pioneered camouflage techniques. This list is restricted to such notable pioneers of military camouflage.

André Mare's ink and watercolour sketch Le canon de 280 camouflé (The Camouflaged 280 Gun), c.1917, shows a Cubist artist's work for the French army in the First World War.

Surrealist artist Roland Penrose wrote that he and Julian Trevelyan were both "wondering how either of us could be of any use in an occupation so completely foreign to us both as fighting a war, we decided that perhaps our knowledge of painting should find some application in camouflage."[4] Trevelyan later admitted that their early efforts were amateurish.[5] Working in camouflage was not a guarantee of a safe passage through the war. Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola's Section de Camouflage, founded in September 1914 in the French army, developed many new techniques, some of them highly dangerous, such as putting up artificial, camouflaged trees at night to replace actual trees with cramped observation posts. The cubist painter André Mare was wounded while preparing one such observation tree. Fifteen of his camoufleur colleagues were killed during the First World War.[6]

Some camoufleurs such as Solomon J. Solomon, aged 54 at the start of the First World War, believed that artistic skill was necessary for the design or construction of effective camouflage. He wrote that "the camoufleur is, of course, an artist, preferably one who paints or sculpts imaginative subjects. . . He must leave no clues for the detective on the other side in what he designs or executes, and he must above all things be resourceful. But his imagination and inventiveness should have free play".[7]

Not all the camoufleurs were artists. John Graham Kerr and Hugh Cott were zoologists, though Cott was also a skilled illustrator. Both men believed passionately that effective disruptive camouflage was vital, especially in the face of aerial observation, but they had difficulty persuading authorities such as the British Air Ministry that their approach was the right one. At least one Royal Air Force officer felt that Cott's camouflage was highly effective, but, since it would demand the presence of a skilled artist for every installation, too costly to be practical.[8]

First World War[edit]

Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola
Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola, leader of the pioneering French First World War camouflage unit.
First World War camoufleurs
Name Dates Nationality Description
Barry Faulkner 1881–1966 American Painter of murals; organized artists for training as camouflage specialists, leading to the founding of the American Camouflage Corps in 1917.[9]
Louis Guingot 1864–1948 French École de Nancy painter; invented modern military camouflage in 1914, which was initially rejected by the French Army.[10]
Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola 1871–1950 French Symbolist pastel painter; leader of French Camouflage Department in First World War[11]
Jean-Louis Forain 1852–1931 French Impressionist painter, member of de Scévola's team[12]
John Graham Kerr 1869–1957 Scottish Embryologist, advocate of ship dazzle camouflage in First World War, influence on Hugh Cott (Second World War camoufleur)[13]
Paul Klee 1879–1940 German-Swiss Painter using expressionism, cubism and surrealism. Camouflaged aircraft during the war.[14][15]
Loyd A. Jones 1884–1954 American Leader of scientific research section of U.S. Navy camouflage unit in First World War[16][17]
Franz Marc 1880–1916 German Expressionist painter, printmaker; pioneered pointillist canvas tarpaulin camouflage[18]
André Mare 1885–1932 French Cubist painter, camouflaging artillery guns and observation trees[19]
Kimon Nicolaïdes 1891–1938 American Art teacher, served in France with the American Camouflage Corps[20]
Solomon Joseph Solomon 1860–1927 British Academic painter, pioneer of camouflage netting[21]
Abbott Handerson Thayer 1849–1921 American Painter, discoverer of countershading[22]
Leon Underwood 1890–1975 British Avant-garde sculptor, colleague of Solomon, made 'tree' observation posts[7]
Edward Wadsworth 1889–1949 British vorticist painter, designer of dazzle camouflage for ships[23]
Everett Warner 1877–1963 American Impressionist painter, inventor of Warner System camouflage measure for ships[24]
Norman Wilkinson 1878–1971 British Marine painter, pioneer of dazzle camouflage for the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy[25]

Second World War[edit]

Photograph of Geoffrey Barkas.
Geoffrey Barkas, British Army's Director of Camouflage, Middle East during Second World War.
Second World War camoufleurs
Name Dates Description
Tony Ayrton 1909–43 British painter, camouflage in Western Desert: Operation Bertram[26] died 1943.[27]
Geoffrey Barkas 1896–1979 British film maker, Director of Camouflage, Middle East Command[28]
Hugh Casson 1910–99 British architect, worked on camouflage for Air Ministry 1939–1944[29]
John Codner 1913–2008 British painter, camouflage in Western Desert[30]
Edward Bainbridge Copnall 1903–73 British sculptor, born in Cape Town; camouflage in Western Desert 1942[30]
Hugh Cott 1900–87 British zoologist, author of textbook Adaptive Coloration in Animals, government Advisory Committee on Camouflage 1939–40, advisor to British Army during Battle of Britain, Chief Instructor at Camouflage Training and Development Centre, Middle East at Helwan, Egypt[31]
Frederick Gore 1913–2009 British fauvist painter, camouflage officer for southeast England preparing for D-Day landings[32]
Stanley William Hayter 1901–88 British surrealist painter, printmaker; with Roland Penrose set up camouflage training unit[33]
Ivan Konev 1897–1973 Russian general, responsible for maskirovka including army-scale camouflage and dummy units in the Battle of Kursk, achieving tactical surprise[34]
Jasper Maskelyne 1902–73 British stage magician, camouflage in Western Desert 1942, exaggerating his role and effectiveness[35]
Oliver Messel 1904–78 English stage designer, pioneer of pillbox (concrete strongpoint) camouflage[36]
Colin Moss 1914-2005 British social realism artist, camouflage officer at Civil Defence Camouflage Establishment (CDCE), Royal Leamington Spa, senior lecturer of figure drawing at the Ipswich Art School[37]
Roland Penrose 1900–84 English surrealist artist; teacher of camouflage, author of Home Guard Manual of Camouflage[38]
Peter Proud 1913–89 Scottish film art director, camouflage in Western Desert 1942 including Siege of Tobruk and dummy port at Ras el Hillal; invented "Net Gun Pit";[39] the second-in-command, to Barkas, in Middle East camouflage
Fred Pusey 1909–83 British film art director and production designer, camouflage in Western Desert 1942 including dummy railhead at Misheifa, dummy port at Ras el Hillal and Operation Crusader[40]
Brian Robb 1913–79 English painter, illustrator, Punch cartoonist; camouflage in Western Desert, Operation Bertram 1942[41][42]
Johann Georg Otto Schick 1882-? German art professor, from 1935 director of the newly formed camouflage department (named "T" for "Tarnung", camouflage) where he designed a series of disruptive patterns for camouflage clothing including Platanenmuster (plane tree) and erbsenmuster (pea dot) for the Waffen-SS.[43][44]
Peter Scott 1909–89 British ornithologist, conservationist and painter of wildfowl, and naval officer exploring ship camouflage[45]
Edward Seago 1910–74 English post-impressionist painter, camouflage advisor to Field Marshal Auchinleck;[46] invalided 1944
Alan Sorrell 1904–74 English neo-romanticist painter and illustrator; camouflaged Royal Air Force aerodromes[47]
Basil Spence 1907–76 Scottish architect (Art Deco style 1933); officer in British Army's Camouflage Training and Development Centre (CDTC) at Farnham[48][49]
Steven Sykes 1914–99 British stained glass designer, ceramist and painter; first Grade 2 Camouflage Staff Officer in British army; created dummy railhead at Misheifa, Egypt in 1941, dummy port at Ras al Hilal, Cyrenaica in 1942.[50][51][52]
Ernest Townsend 1880–1944 British portrait painter; camouflaged roofs of Rolls-Royce aircraft engine factories in Derby as houses[53]
Julian Trevelyan 1910–88 British printmaker and teacher; pioneer of desert camouflage and deception[54]


Post-war camoufleurs
Name Dates Description
Timothy O'Neill American designer of digital camouflage pattern MARPAT.[55]


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