List of camoufleurs

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The Fortnightly Fluer, the magazine for "Camou-Fluers" of Middle East Command, April 1942. Illustration by Brian Robb. The Fortnightly Fluer Magazine Cover, April 1942.jpg
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.


Andre Mare's ink and watercolour sketch Le canon de 280 camoufle (The Camouflaged 280 Gun), c.1917, shows a Cubist artist's work for the French army in the First World War. Andre Mare 1885-1932 Camouflaged 280 Gun sketch in ink and watercolour.jpg
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

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

Second World War

Geoffrey Barkas, British Army's Director of Camouflage, Middle East during Second World War. Geoffrey de Gruchy Barkas 1896-1979.jpg
Geoffrey Barkas, British Army's Director of Camouflage, Middle East during Second World War.
Second World War camoufleurs
Tony Ayrton 1909–43British painter, camouflage in Western Desert: Operation Bertram [25] died 1943. [26]
Geoffrey Barkas 1896–1979British film maker, Director of Camouflage, Middle East Command [27]
Hugh Casson 1910–99British architect, worked on camouflage for Air Ministry 1939–1944 [28]
John Codner 1913–2008British painter, camouflage in Western Desert [29]
Edward Bainbridge Copnall 1903–73British sculptor, born in Cape Town; camouflage in Western Desert 1942 [29]
Hugh Cott 1900–87British 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 [30]
Frederick Gore 1913–2009British fauvist painter, camouflage officer for southeast England preparing for D-Day landings [31]
Stanley William Hayter 1901–88British surrealist painter, printmaker; with Roland Penrose set up camouflage training unit [32]
Ivan Konev 1897–1973Russian general, responsible for maskirovka including army-scale camouflage and dummy units in the Battle of Kursk, achieving tactical surprise [33]
Jasper Maskelyne 1902–73British stage magician, camouflage in Western Desert 1942, exaggerating his role and effectiveness [34]
Oliver Messel 1904–78English stage designer, pioneer of pillbox (concrete strongpoint) camouflage [35]
Colin Moss 1914-2005British social realism artist, camouflage officer at Civil Defence Camouflage Establishment (CDCE), Royal Leamington Spa, senior lecturer of figure drawing at the Ipswich Art School [36]
Roland Penrose 1900–84English surrealist artist; teacher of camouflage, author of Home Guard Manual of Camouflage [37]
Peter Proud 1913–89Scottish film art director, camouflage in Western Desert 1942 including Siege of Tobruk and dummy port at Ras el Hillal; invented "Net Gun Pit"; [38] the second-in-command, to Barkas, in Middle East camouflage
Fred Pusey 1909–83British 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 [39]
Brian Robb 1913–79English painter, illustrator, Punch cartoonist; camouflage in Western Desert, Operation Bertram 1942 [40] [41]
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. [42] [43]
Peter Scott 1909–89British ornithologist, conservationist and painter of wildfowl, and naval officer exploring ship camouflage [44]
Edward Seago 1910–74English post-impressionist painter, camouflage advisor to Field Marshal Auchinleck; [45] invalided 1944
Alan Sorrell 1904–74English neo-romanticist painter and illustrator; camouflaged Royal Air Force aerodromes [46]
Basil Spence 1907–76Scottish architect (Art Deco style 1933); officer in British Army's Camouflage Training and Development Centre (CDTC) at Farnham [47] [48]
Steven Sykes 1914–99British 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. [49] [50] [51]
Ernest Townsend 1880–1944British portrait painter; camouflaged roofs of Rolls-Royce aircraft engine factories in Derby as houses [52]
Julian Trevelyan 1910–88British printmaker and teacher; pioneer of desert camouflage and deception [53]


Post-war camoufleurs
Timothy O'Neill American designer of digital camouflage pattern MARPAT. [54]

Related Research Articles

Camouflage Concealment in plain sight by any means, e.g. colour, pattern and shape

Camouflage is the use of any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see, or by disguising them as something else. Examples include the leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier, and the leaf-mimic katydid's wings. A third approach, motion dazzle, confuses the observer with a conspicuous pattern, making the object visible but momentarily harder to locate, as well as making general aiming easier. The majority of camouflage methods aim for crypsis, often through a general resemblance to the background, high contrast disruptive coloration, eliminating shadow, and countershading. In the open ocean, where there is no background, the principal methods of camouflage are transparency, silvering, and countershading, while the ability to produce light is among other things used for counter-illumination on the undersides of cephalopods such as squid. Some animals, such as chameleons and octopuses, are capable of actively changing their skin pattern and colours, whether for camouflage or for signalling. It is possible that some plants use camouflage to evade being eaten by herbivores.

Jasper Maskelyne British stage magician

Jasper Maskelyne was a British stage magician in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of an established family of stage magicians, the son of Nevil Maskelyne and a grandson of John Nevil Maskelyne. He is most remembered for his accounts of his work for the British military during the Second World War, in which he claimed to have created large-scale ruses, deception, and camouflage in an effort to defeat the Nazis.

Operation Bertram World War II deception operation

Operation Bertram was a Second World War deception operation practised by the Allied forces in Egypt led by Bernard Montgomery, in the months before the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942. Bertram was devised by Dudley Clarke to deceive Erwin Rommel about the timing and location of the Allied attack. The operation consisted of physical deceptions using dummies and camouflage, designed and made by the British Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate led by Geoffrey Barkas. These were accompanied by electromagnetic deceptions codenamed Operation Canwell, using false radio traffic. All of these were planned to make the Axis believe that the attack would take place to the south, far from the coast road and railway, about two days later than the real attack.

Military camouflage Camouflage used to protect from enemy observation

Military camouflage is the use of camouflage by an armed force to protect personnel and equipment from observation by enemy forces. In practice, this means applying colour and materials to military equipment of all kinds, including vehicles, ships, aircraft, gun positions and battledress, either to conceal it from observation (crypsis), or to make it appear as something else (mimicry). The French slang word camouflage came into common English usage during World War I when the concept of visual deception developed into an essential part of modern military tactics. In that war, long-range artillery and observation from the air combined to expand the field of fire, and camouflage was widely used to decrease the danger of being targeted or to enable surprise. As such, military camouflage is a form of military deception.

Hugh B. Cott English zoologist and camouflage expert (1900–1987)

Hugh Bamford Cott was a British zoologist, an authority on both natural and military camouflage, and a scientific illustrator and photographer. Many of his field studies took place in Africa, where he was especially interested in the Nile crocodile, the evolution of pattern and colour in animals. During the Second World War, Cott worked as a camouflage expert for the British Army and helped to influence War Office policy on camouflage. His book Adaptive Coloration in Animals (1940), popular among serving soldiers, was the major textbook on camouflage in zoology of the twentieth century. After the war, he became a Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. As a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, he undertook expeditions to Africa and the Amazon to collect specimens, mainly reptiles and amphibians.

Norman Wilkinson (artist) British artist

Norman Wilkinson was a British artist who usually worked in oils, watercolours and drypoint. He was primarily a marine painter, but also an illustrator, poster artist, and wartime camoufleur. Wilkinson invented dazzle painting to protect merchant shipping during the First World War.

Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola French painter (1871–1950)

Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola was a French painter. He is known for his pioneering leadership of the Camoufleurs in World War I.

R Force Military unit

R Force was a British deception force during World War II that consisted of armoured vehicles, field engineers and a wireless unit. During Operation Fortitude it attempted to exaggerate the strength of Allied forces in Britain, and deceive German intelligence about Allied intentions. Later it performed a similar role during the fighting in Western Europe in 1944–45. It was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel David Strangeways.

Geoffrey Barkas

Geoffrey Barkas was an English film maker active between the world wars.

Steven Sykes (artist)

Steven Barry Sykes was a British artist, known for his Gethsemane Chapel in the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral. He was active in the British desert camouflage unit in the Second World War, and was responsible for the dummy railhead at Misheifa and for the effective camouflage and large-scale military deception in the defence of Tobruk in 1942.

Tony Ayrton English artist

Antony Maxwell Ayrton known as Tony Ayrton, was an artist and camouflage officer. He is best known for his work on the large-scale deception for the decisive second battle of El Alamein, Operation Bertram.

From the Camouflage staff I was given a most devoted and effective sapper, Major Ayrton, who became my assistant and worked miracles.
--- Colonel Charles Richardson, deception planner for El Alamein

Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate Military unit

The British Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate organised major deception operations for Middle East Command in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. It provided camouflage during the siege of Tobruk; a dummy railhead at Misheifa, and the largest of all, Operation Bertram, the army-scale deception for the decisive battle of El Alamein in October 1942. The successful deception was praised publicly by Winston Churchill.

Peter Proud was a British film art director. He made a major contribution to wartime camouflage and deception operations in the Western Desert, especially in the siege of Tobruk.

Frederick Leonard Alfred Pusey was a British film art director and production designer, and a Second World War camouflage officer. His artistic skill was put to use on large-scale deception schemes in the Western Desert, including a dummy railhead and a dummy port.

John Whitlock Codner was a British painter and wartime camouflage officer. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and his works remain in major collections to this day.

Brian Robb was a painter, illustrator, and cartoonist. He worked for Shell and London Transport, designing posters and advertisements, and as a cartoonist for Punch magazine. During the Second World War, he served as a camouflage officer in the Western Desert. He taught at Chelsea College of Art before and after the war, before becoming head of illustration at the Royal College of Art.

<i>Adaptive Coloration in Animals</i> 1940 textbook on camouflage, mimicry and aposematism by Hugh Cott

Adaptive Coloration in Animals is a 500-page textbook about camouflage, warning coloration and mimicry by the Cambridge zoologist Hugh Cott, first published during the Second World War in 1940; the book sold widely and made him famous.

Snow camouflage Camouflage coloration for winter snow

Snow camouflage is the use of a coloration or pattern for effective camouflage in winter, often combined with a different summer camouflage. Summer patterns are typically disruptively patterned combinations of shades of browns and greys, up to black, while winter patterns are dominated by white to match snowy landscapes.

<i>Dazzled and Deceived</i> Camouflage book by Peter Forbes

Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage is a 2009 book on camouflage and mimicry, in nature and military usage, by the science writer and journalist Peter Forbes. It covers the history of these topics from the 19th century onwards, describing the discoveries of Henry Walter Bates, Alfred Russel Wallace and Fritz Müller, especially their studies of butterflies in the Amazon. The narrative also covers 20th-century military camouflage, begun by the painter Abbot Thayer who advocated disruptive coloration and countershading and continued in the First World War by the zoologist John Graham Kerr and the marine artist Norman Wilkinson, who developed dazzle camouflage. In the Second World War, the leading expert was Hugh Cott, who advised the British army on camouflage in the Western Desert.


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