Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week: 101

‘Surrender Englander!’

Fred A. Farrell (1882-1935), ‘Surrender Englander!’ – Neuville St Vaast, chalk, bodycolour and ink on dark brown paper.

On Monday a candle-lit service at Westminster Abbey and a ‘lights out’ event concluded a day of ceremonies marking 100 years since Britain entered the First World War, in what was collective act of remembrance.

In late 1917, Fred A.Farrell – commissioned by the city of Glasgow – went to the Front as a war artist, attached for three weeks to the 15th, 16th and 17th battalions of the Highland Light Infantry in Flanders. He was in France in late 1918, attached for two months to the staff of the 51st (Highland) Division. In between, authorised by the Ministry of Munitions and the Admiralty, Farrell documented with drawings the home effort of women in Glasgow’s munitions factories, shipyards and engineering works.

One of Farrell’s works that has continued to attract attention is this poster-like propagandist piece – a reconstruction of a much recounted event that reportedly took place in April 1916. During darkness a German officer climbed the barbed wire, pointed his revolver into a British trench and shouted, ‘Surrender Englander!’ An NCO of the 8th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, who was stationed in the trench, had a hand grenade in his hand. Without pulling the pin, he threw it at the German, shouting, ‘I am no Englander; I’m a Scotsman!’ The force of the blow killed the German. Apparently it was later discovered from German prisoners that this incident prevented a further attack.

An exhibition of Fred A. Farrell’s drawings can be seen at an exhibition currently running at Glasgow Museums, until 23 November. ■

Fred A. Farrell: Glasgow's War ArtistGlasgow Museums’ exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue of Farrell’s war drawings – Fred A. Farrell: Glasgow’s War Artist – with essays providing historical context and highlighting the importance of this rare and singular collection.

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