LAC Scrapbook Page from 1944

Tinning Scrapbook Page from 1944

In January 1944 Tinning completes a tour of duty with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion attached to the 6th British Airborne Division at Bulford Camp where he depicts scenes relating to their training exercises. Personally, he kept some sketches and small souvenirs from this period. Seen above is a watercolour sketch on which he inks: “Sunday Morning Service “Y.M.C.A.” Hut Bulford 1 Cdn Para Btn Jan 44″; below the sketch is a Parachutist Badge (known as “Parachute Wings) which the Canadian paratroopers received after passing their course at Bulford. A gold maple-leaf embroidered in the centre of the insignia indicates the recipient is Canadian. This scrapbook page is part of the Tinning fonds at Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

A Fort Ambleside Gun 1943

From Tinning’ diary while on furlough in Vancouver: “Wed 10 Nov 43 Command car called for me at 0900 hrs and took me to Ambleside where I did 4 pictures – one good, two possible. Home by 1800 hrs.” Seen below is Tinning’s sketch of a 3.7” anti-aircraft (AA) gun position at Fort Ambleside on the North Narrows of Burrard Inlet opposite Stanley Park.[LAC 1990-143-9] Below the sketch is a photo to demonstrate the accuracy of the sketch –  an essential requirement for Canadian War Artists: “Accuracy was paramount, and the degree to which the artists saw this as important can be seen in their thousands of detailed small sketches of equipment, vehicles, and uniforms”. [Dr. Laura Brandon]

Chain Rock, St. John’s 1943-2017

Chain Rock is on the Battery (city) side of the narrow entrance to St. John’s Harbour opposite Pancake Rock 174 metres away. As early as 1770 a defensive chain was stretched between both rocks at nightfall to prevent entry of enemy ships. In World War I the chain was replaced with anti-submarine nets. In World War II each side (designated as Fort Chain Rock and Fort Amherst) had camouflaged anti-naval and anti-aircraft defences. From Tinning’s Diary: “Wed 25 Aug 43 In morning did work cleaning up stuff til 10:30 – reports etc. – car then for Chain Rock. Did a w-c of one of the 75 mm guns and gunners. [CWM #19710261-5575] No good. Lunch at Chain Rock.

75 mm Gun, St. John’s Newfoundland 1943; watercolour on paper; 38.5×50.7 cm; CWM 19710261-5575; Photo Dec. 2017 by Tinning’s grand-nephew.

From Tinning’s Diary: “Mon 30 Aug 43 Shot rifle out on rocks with Ron and Sergeant Major Lasson – hell of a cold I have. Lunch. In afternoon did some work on the “Pay Parade” picture. Did a sketch of Machine Gun position point No. 2 gun – and other sketches.” [One of these sketches is seen below as CWM# 19710261-5623.]

Fort Chain Rock 1943; sketch drawing; coloured pencil on paper; 25.2×32.8 cm; CWM 19710261-5623; Photo from December 2017

Tinning Christmas Card 1950

“From My Window” Christmas Card 1950; watercolour on paper; 15.6×13  cm ; Courtesy: MJMAG

This sketch of the Montreal skyline is a view painted from the rear window of Tinning’s atelier/apartment at 1178 Phillips Place where he lived between 1947 and 1963 and in which he saw many changes to his beloved adopted city. In the distance is the soaring hulk of the Sun Life Building. Tinning never tired of this cityscape and drew it many times throughout the four seasons. The Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery (MJMAG) has two watercolour variations of this scene. In the early 1960s his view of the Sun Life was obliterated by the massive Place Ville Marie complex. Tinning writes in a sketchbook that this building will cast its shadow over Montreal, cut off [his] views, and disrupt proportions of the city.

1st Canadian Parachute Battalion

In February 1944 Tinning observed a training exercise by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion on Salisbury Plain. Conducted to simulate an invasion of Normandy the Canadian paratroopers were dropped wearing full gear alongside metal containers packed with mortars and ammunition. The object of the exercise was to drop 500 paratroopers with supplies and have the drop zone cleared of men, supplies and parachutes within fifteen minutes. One particular difficulty involved gathering up the parachutes that had become fouled in trees. The three paintings below show a progression of events as Tinning (an official army war artist) recorded them for posterity. At left – a paratrooper opens a container on the field; in the centre is a preparatory sketch of a container parachute fouled in a tree; and on the right is a “finished” oil painting of the scene. These works are in the Tinning fonds at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa.