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The Unknown Warrior - Watercolour of H.M.S. Verdun, 1919
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The Unknown Warrior - Watercolour of H.M.S. Verdun, 1919

Measurements: Overall: 14.7cm (5.75in) x 24cm (9.5in)

£1275

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Watercolour on paper. Port bow view of the V-class destroyer H.M.S Verdun. Signed and dated  lower right  ‘Colin Gray / 1919’. Contained in a silver frame hallmarked Birmingham 1916, and inscribed ‘H.M.S Verdun, April 2nd 19’.
 
H.M.S. Verdun was launched in 1917 and named for the heroic defence of Verdun by the French in 1916. She served with the Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla in the Grand Fleet. In November 1918 under the terms of the Armistice, she participated in Operation ZZ and formed part of the combined Allied fleet that led the German High Seas Fleet into captivity at Scapa Flow. She also led H.M.S. Oak, with King George V, Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales on board, through the interned German fleet. In November 1920 Verdun was selected in tribute to the French to carry the Unknown Warrior across the English Channel. While berthed at the Quai Carnot at Boulogne-sur-Mer on 10 November 1920, Marshal Foch made a speech on the dockside before the White Ensign was lowered to half mast while the coffin was carried up the gangplank and piped aboard with an admiral's salute. An escort of six battleships accompanied Verdun through the mist to Dover where six senior officers from the three Armed Services bore the coffin ashore. The Unknown Warrior was taken by train to London for burial the following day at Westminster Abbey.
 
H.M.S. Verdun went into reserve at Rosyth as part of the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla until September 1939, when she was converted into an anti-aircraft escort. On 1 November 1940 she was bombed with eleven dead including her captain. She afterwards served with the Harwich Force escorting convoys along the east coast. In November 1941 an attack by German E-boats sunk three British merchant ships in her convoy.  In early 1942 she formed part of the escort screen for heavy units of the Home Fleet supporting the Arctic convoys. Verdun was placed in reserve after V.E. Day and scrapped in 1946. Her ship's bell now hangs on a column in Westminster Abbey, close to the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. 
 

 

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