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'Bristol Fighter "ground strafing", Arras Front 1918'

Pen and ink and watercolour by Lieutenant Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly MBE, MC, RI (1896-1971), Royal Field Artillery, 1918.

As 1918 progressed the British and Imperial forces on the Western Front increasingly developed the concept of the 'all arms' battle in which artillery, armour, aircraft and infantry operated effectively together. Air power was a key component of this and ground attack aircraft played an important role in the British advances following the Battle of Amiens in August 1918.

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery in 1915. He transferred to the 52nd Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. He arrived in France in May 1915, serving in the 9th (Scottish) Division. As part of an 18-pounder gun battery crew, Talbot Kelly took part in many of the major offensives of the Western Front. He regularly served as a Forward Observation Officer, tasked with spotting where the artillery shells were landing. The unique vantage point of the battlefields that this job gave him, inspired him to draw his experiences. Talbot Kelly also witnessed the aerial dogfights over the Western Front and many of his works reflect his fascination with the war in the air.

Talbot Kelly was wounded by a German artillery bombardment at Passchendaele in August 1917. After recuperating back in England he returned to France in the Spring of 1918. Talbot Kelly went on to teach camouflage at the School of Instruction for Royal Horse and Field Artillery (Larkhill). He applied to join the Royal Air Force but was posted to the flying school just as the war ended.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1994-12-30-1


Not NAM Copyright, Artist's Copyright


National Army Museum, Formation gallery

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