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    Posted: 07 Jun 2016 at 11:52
On 12 August, Dr Jonathan Black of Kingston University will discuss '‘Havoc from the Heavens’: The Contribution of British Air Power to the Destruction of Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Turkish Forces in 1918 through the eyes of British War Artist Lieutenant Sydney Carline RAF.'

The lecture will argue that Sydney Carline (1888-1929), in the work he produced for the British Ministry of Information 1918-19, offered a unique perspective of the successful application of British airpower in the destruction of Austro-Hungarian Armies in North-Eastern Italy and of Ottoman Turkish forces in Palestine, September-October 1918.

Carline was the one official British war artist who was also a trained fighter pilot and had two kills to his credit by the end of the war. He volunteered for the RFC in 1915, flew during the Somme Campaign in August 1916 (and was shot down and seriously injured). Towards the end of 1917, he was posted as part of an RFC force of five (later increased to seven) squadrons sent in support of the British Expeditionary Force to Italy hurriedly dispatched to keep the country in the war after its catastrophic defeat at Caporetto in October-November 1917.

Between January and July 1918 Carline flew over a hundred combat missions over the Austro-Hungarian lines; in August 1918, he was appointed an official war artist by the Ministry of Information’s recently established RAF Fine Art Section understandably keen to promote the achievements of the new Royal Air Force.

Carline accompanied missions which strafed and bombed retreating Austro-Hungarian forces during the Battle of Vittorio Vento in October-November 1918. Carline described the RAF as having unleashed ‘havoc from the heavens’ on the enemy, pursuing them ceaselessly to the point of utter disintegration.

After the war, Carline and his brother Richard were sent by the RAF to Palestine and Syria to record evidence for the significant role played by six (later nine) RAF and RAAF squadrons in the destruction of Ottoman forces in the area during Allenby’s September-October 1918. After three months they moved to Mesopotamia and accompanied RAF missions against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen. They recorded evidence of the new ‘air control’ policy of cost-cutting Imperial policing. The Carlines were recalled in November 1919 and Sydney held a well-received exhibition of over 300 works from Italy and the Middle East in London in March 1920.


This lecture will be held in the RAF Museum lecture theatre at 12:30PM on Friday 12 August 2016.

This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited. Booking is quick and easy, we just need some basic contact information.


Jonathan Black read History with History of Art at the University of Cambridge, then spent five years in the wine trade. Between 1997 and 2003, he obtained an MA and Ph.D. in History of Art from University College, London. Hi MA focused on the English Futurism of CRW Nevinson (1913-1916) while his Ph.D. explored the image of the British soldier, or 'Tommy', in the First World War Art of C.R.W. Nevinson, Eric Kennington, and Charles Sargeant Jagger.c 1915-1925. Jonathan has curated several exhibitions and his 2011 monograph, The Face of Courage: Eric Kennington, Portraiture and the Second World War, coincided with the opening of an exhibition with the same title at the Royal Air Force Museum. This exhibition comprised of 40 of Kennington's Second World War pastel drawings and lithographic prints. He is currently Senior Research Fellow in History of Art at Kingston University.
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