AFTER SAINT-NAZAIRE

An exhibition of drawings and gouaches by
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LIEUTENANT PHILIP DARK RN (1918-2008)
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recording his Captivity after the Raid on Saint-Nazaire and
the POW Camps Milag O, the ‘Aufnahmelager’ (Dulag), and Marlag,
on Luneburg Heath, near Bremen from March 1942 – May 1945.

Midday Saturday 23rd January – 6pm Saturday 20th February 2016

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Talk

Nicholas Beattie, Chairman of the Saint-Nazaire Society and son of Sam Beattie VC will be talking about the Raid on Thursday 18th February at 6.30pm.

We can only seat twenty so it essential to book.
Please email gallery@abbottandholder.co.uk or call 020 7637 3981.

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The Raid on St Nazaire on 28th March 1942 was the most spectacular Commando raid of WWII. Of the 611 men involved 200, amongst them Dark, were captured. In conjunction with his written account of the Raid and his subsequent imprisonment – which we make available at the foot of this page – these drawings and paintings give us a vivid idea how those 200 men spent the next 38 months of their lives.

Dark had only the briefest of art school training before the War – he had been a medical student. But what his work lacks in technical skill it makes up for with an on-the-spot determination to get life down ‘as it is’; the paintings and drawings were made both to record daily life in a POW camp and to express the emotional cost of that existence. Dark was to become an eminent Professor of Archeology in later life having been introduced to the subject by a series of lectures given in Marlag O by an U.S. Marine POW, the Conjunctive Archeologist Walter Willard Taylor. His interest in how humans cope in confined worlds was surely fired by his own wartime experience.

That these works survived at all is remarkable. Before the evacuation march Dark rolled them into canisters made from discarded KLIM (Red Cross powdered milk) cans and hid them in the roof of his hut. A POW too ill to be marched out rescued them as the hut was being burnt down, and they arrived by post at Darks London address six months later, just in time for Christmas 1945.

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Brief Chronology

1942
March 28th: Dark captured during ‘Operation Chariot’, the Raid on St Nazaire.
April 22nd: POW camp Milag (Merchant Navy Camp) ‘The Black Hole’,
Westertimke, near Bremen. (No.s 9, 28, 49, 54).
May 11th: ‘ Aufnahmelager’ (Sorting Camp) also known as Dulag (Transit Camp) Westertimke, Near Bremen.
(No.s 2 4, 5-7, 16, 22, 30-37, 39, 47, 48, 50, 56, 61).
September 8th: Marlag O (Naval Officer Camp) Westertimke, near Bremen, Lower Saxony. (No.s 1, 3, 8, 10-15, 17-21, 23-27, 29, 40-46, 51-53, 55-60, 62-78).

1945
April 9th: German march POWs from Marlag to Lubeck.
By April 24th: in Lubeck.
May 3rd: British tanks arrive.
May 9th: Flown back to Britain.

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Sketches of the Raid on St Nazaire and
Sketches made while evacuating POW Camp Marlag O

Look Back This Once: Prisoner of War in Germany in WWII

This account was written by Philip Dark in 1994 using diaries and notes kept during his incarceration as a Prisoner of War in ‘Marlag O’ (Naval Officers Camp), near Bremen, between April 1942 and May 1945. An edited version of it was published by the Honolulu Academy of Arts as a catalogue to accompany their exhibition In Captivity: Images from World War II by Prisoner of War Philip Dark in 1994.

A digital copy of this Manuscript is made available below by kind permission of the Artist’s Estate. Click the book to enlarge and read. ‘Esc’ will return you to this screen.