List of camoufleurs

A Camouflage Officer, or camoufleur, is a person who designed and implemented military camouflage in one of the world wars of the twentieth century. The term originally meant a person serving in a First World War French military camouflage unit.[1] In the Second World War, the British camouflage officers of the Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate, led by Geoffrey Barkas in the Western Desert, called themselves camoufleurs, and edited a humorous newsletter called The Fortnightly Fluer.[2][3] Such men were often professional artists. The term is used by extension for all First and Second World War camouflage specialists. Some of these pioneered camouflage techniques. This list is restricted to such notable pioneers of military camouflage.

Surrealist artist Roland Penrose wrote that he and Julian Trevelyan were both "wondering how either of us could be of any use in an occupation so completely foreign to us both as fighting a war, we decided that perhaps our knowledge of painting should find some application in camouflage."[4] Trevelyan later admitted that their early efforts were amateurish.[5] Working in camouflage was not a guarantee of a safe passage through the war. Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola's Section de Camouflage, founded in September 1914 in the French army, developed many new techniques, some of them highly dangerous, such as putting up artificial, camouflaged trees at night to replace actual trees with cramped observation posts. The cubist painter André Mare was wounded while preparing one such observation tree. Fifteen of his camoufleur colleagues were killed during the First World War.[6]

Some camoufleurs such as Solomon J. Solomon, aged 54 at the start of the First World War, believed that artistic skill was necessary for the design or construction of effective camouflage. He wrote that "the camoufleur is, of course, an artist, preferably one who paints or sculpts imaginative subjects. . . He must leave no clues for the detective on the other side in what he designs or executes, and he must above all things be resourceful. But his imagination and inventiveness should have free play".[7]

Not all the camoufleurs were artists. John Graham Kerr and Hugh Cott were zoologists, though Cott was also a skilled illustrator. Both men believed passionately that effective disruptive camouflage was vital, especially in the face of aerial observation, but they had difficulty persuading authorities such as the British Air Ministry that their approach was the right one. At least one Royal Air Force officer felt that Cott's camouflage was highly effective, but, since it would demand the presence of a skilled artist for every installation, too costly to be practical.[8]

First World War

First World War camoufleurs
Name Dates Nationality Description
Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola1871–1950FrenchSymbolist pastel painter; leader of French Camouflage Department in First World War[9]
Jean-Louis Forain1852–1931FrenchImpressionist painter, member of de Scévola's team[10]
John Graham Kerr1869–1957ScottishEmbryologist, advocate of ship dazzle camouflage in First World War, influence on Hugh Cott (Second World War camoufleur)[11]
Paul Klee1879–1940German-SwissPainter using expressionism, cubism and surrealism. Camouflaged aircraft during the war.[12][13]
Loyd A. Jones1884–1954AmericanLeader of scientific research section of U.S. Navy camouflage unit in First World War[14][15]
Franz Marc1880–1916GermanExpressionist painter, printmaker; pioneered pointillist canvas tarpaulin camouflage[16]
André Mare1885–1932FrenchCubist painter, camouflaging artillery guns and observation trees[17]
Kimon Nicolaïdes1891–1938AmericanArt teacher, served in France with the American Camouflage Corp[18]
Solomon Joseph Solomon1860–1927BritishAcademic painter, pioneer of camouflage netting[19]
Abbott Handerson Thayer1849–1921AmericanPainter, discoverer of countershading[20]
Leon Underwood1890–1975BritishAvant-garde sculptor, colleague of Solomon, made 'tree' observation posts[7]
Edward Wadsworth1889–1949Britishvorticist painter, designer of dazzle camouflage for ships[21]
Everett Warner1877–1963AmericanImpressionist painter, inventor of Warner System camouflage measure for ships[22]
Norman Wilkinson1878–1971BritishMarine painter, pioneer of dazzle camouflage for the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy[23]

Second World War

Second World War camoufleurs
Name Dates Description
Tony Ayrton1909–43British painter, camouflage in Western Desert: Operation Bertram[24] died 1943.[25]
Geoffrey Barkas1896–1979British film maker, Director of Camouflage, Middle East Command[26]
Hugh Casson1910–99British architect, worked on camouflage for Air Ministry 1939–1944[27]
John Codner1913–2008British painter, camouflage in Western Desert[28]
Edward Bainbridge Copnall1903–73British sculptor, born in Cape Town; camouflage in Western Desert 1942[28]
Hugh Cott1900–87British zoologist, author of textbook Adaptive Coloration in Animals, government Advisory Committee on Camouflage 1939-40, advisor to British Army during Battle of Britain, Chief Instructor at Camouflage Training and Development Centre, Middle East at Helwan, Egypt[29]
Frederick Gore1913–2009British fauvist painter, camouflage officer for southeast England preparing for D-Day landings[30]
Stanley William Hayter1901–88British surrealist painter, printmaker; with Roland Penrose set up camouflage training unit[31]
Ivan Konev1897–1973Russian general, responsible for maskirovka including army-scale camouflage and dummy units in the Battle of Kursk, achieving tactical surprise[32]
Jasper Maskelyne1902–73British stage magician, camouflage in Western Desert 1942, exaggerating his role and effectiveness[33]
Oliver Messel1904–78English stage designer, pioneer of pillbox (concrete strongpoint) camouflage[34]
Colin Moss1914-2005British social realism artist, camouflage officer at Civil Defence Camouflage Establishment (CDCE), Royal Leamington Spa , senior lecturer of figure drawing at the Ipswich Art School[35]
Roland Penrose1900–84English surrealist artist; teacher of camouflage, author of Home Guard Manual of Camouflage[36]
Peter Proud1913–89Scottish film art director, camouflage in Western Desert 1942 including Siege of Tobruk and dummy port at Ras el Hillal; invented "Net Gun Pit";[37] the second-in-command, to Barkas, in Middle East camouflage
Fred Pusey1909–83British film art director and production designer, camouflage in Western Desert 1942 including dummy railhead at Misheifa, dummy port at Ras el Hillal and Operation Crusader[38]
Brian Robb1913–79English painter, illustrator, Punch cartoonist; camouflage in Western Desert, Operation Bertram 1942[39][40]
Johann Georg Otto Schick1882-German art professor, from 1935 director of the newly formed camouflage department (named "T" for "Tarnung", camouflage) where he designed a series of disruptive patterns for camouflage clothing including Platanenmuster (plane tree) and erbsenmuster (pea dot) for the Waffen-SS.[41][42]
Peter Scott1909–89British ornithologist, conservationist and painter of wildfowl, and naval officer exploring ship camouflage[43]
Edward Seago1910–74English post-impressionist painter, camouflage advisor to Field Marshal Auchinleck;[44] invalided 1944
Alan Sorrell1904–74English neo-romanticist painter and illustrator; camouflaged Royal Air Force aerodromes[45]
Basil Spence1907–76Scottish architect (Art Deco style 1933); officer in British Army's Camouflage Training and Development Centre (CDTC) at Farnham[46][47]
Steven Sykes1914–99British stained glass designer, ceramist and painter; first Grade 2 Camouflage Staff Officer in British army; created dummy railhead at Misheifa, Egypt in 1941, dummy port at Ras al Hilal, Cyrenaica in 1942. Gethsemane Chapel, Coventry Cathedral, 1960.[48][49][50]
Ernest Townsend1880–1944British portrait painter; camouflaged roofs of Rolls-Royce aircraft engine factories in Derby as houses[51]
Julian Trevelyan1910–88British printmaker and teacher; pioneer of desert camouflage and deception[52][53]


Post-war camoufleurs
Name Dates Description
Timothy O'NeillAmerican designer of digital camouflage pattern MARPAT.[54]


  1. Newark, T. p 56.
  2. Forsyth, 2012. pp 250–251.
  3. Sykes, 1990. pp 78–79.
  4. Forbes, 2009. pp 137–138.
  5. Forbes, 2009. pp 143–144.
  6. Newark, T. pp 54–56.
  7. Newark, T. p 60.
  8. Forbes, 2009. pp 140, 145.
  9. Forbes, 2009. p 104.
  10. Behrens, Roy False Colors || Art, Design and Modern Camouflage. Dysart, 2002.
  11. Forbes, 2009. pp 84–88.
  12. Partsch, Susanna (2007). Klee (reissue) (in German). Cologne: Benedikt Taschen. p. 35. ISBN 978-3-8228-6361-9.
  13. "Paul Klee". 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  14. Van Buskirk, H. "Camouflage". Transactions of the Illuminating Engineering Society, Vol 14, 21 July 1919, pp 225–229.
  15. Warner, Everett L. "Fooling the Iron Fish || The Inside Story of Marine Camouflage". Everybody’s Magazine, November 1919, pp 102–109.
  16. Newark, T. p 68.
  17. Forbes, 2009. p 105.
  18. "Kimon Nicolaides". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  19. Forbes, 2009. pp 106–109.
  20. Forbes, 2009. pp 102–103.
  21. "Vorticism". Edward Wadsworth. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  22. Behrens, Roy R. (2009). "CAMOUPEDIA". Everett Warner. Bobolink Books. Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  23. Forbes, 2009. pp 90–100.
  24. Stroud, R. 2012. pp 192–197;
  26. "De Gruchy family sought by family of war hero". This is Jersey. Jersey Evening Post. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  27. Esher, Lionel (17 August 1999). "Obituaries: Sir Hugh Casson". The first architect since Lutyens to become President of the Royal Academy, Casson emerged triumphant. The Independent. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  28. Barkas, 1952. p 141.
  29. Forbes, 2009. pp 139–157.
  30. Foss, Brian. War paint || art, war, state and identity in Britain, 1939–1945, Yale University Press, 2007. p 16.
  31. Roosevelt, Michael A. "Stanley William Hayter & Atelier 17". Atelier Contrepoint.
  32. Glantz, 1989. pp 153–154.
  33. Forbes, 2009. pp 158–159.
  34. Hamilton, James; Robinson, William Heath. William Heath Robinson. Pavilion, 1995.
  35. Frances Spalding (1990). 20th Century Painters and Sculptors. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 1-85149-106-6.
  36. Forbes, 2009. pp 138, 143, 151–152.
  37. Stroud 2012, pp 91–98, 100–108, 121–128, 137–143, 152–154.
  38. Barkas, 1952. pp 159–161.
  39. Rankin, 2008. pp 365–366.
  40. Crowdy, 2008. pp 178–181.
  41. Peterson, D. (2001). Waffen-SS Camouflage Uniforms and Post-war Derivatives. Crowood. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-86126-474-9.
  42. "Schick, Johann Georg Otto (1882-)". Kalliope-Verbund. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  43. Forbes, 2009. pp 172–173.
  44. "The Papers of Edward Brian Seago". GBR/0014/ESEA. Janus (database). Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  45. Sorrell, Mark,Sorrell, Alan Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.
  46. "Edinburgh, Ravelston Dykes Road, Ravelston House, Garden". A set of oblique aerial photographs of Ravelston House garden with military vehicles, Edinburgh taken as a camouflage test. Sir Basil Spence Archive. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. 14 March 1944. pp. Canmore ID 273364. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  47. Goodden, H. 2007.
  48. Harrod, Tanya (24 February 1999). "Obituaries". Steven Sykes. The Independent.
  49. Stroud, 2012. pp 121–128, 138–143.
  50. Forbes, P. pp 155, 161–163.
  51. Allard, Sarah; Nicola Rippon (2003). Goodey's Derby: Paintings and drawings in the collection of Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Breedon Books.
  52. Forbes, P. pp 137–162.
  53. Forbes, Peter (16 May 2011). "Butterfly Effect". How a fragile winged insect has transformed modern warfare and medicine. New Statesman. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  54. Fusco, Vincent (3 June 2010). "West Point explores science of camouflage". U. S. Army. Retrieved 24 August 2017.


  • Barkas, Geoffrey; Barkas, Natalie (1952). The Camouflage Story (from Aintree to Alamein). Cassell.
  • Crowdy, Terry (2008). Deceiving Hitler: Double Cross and Deception in World War II. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-135-9.
  • Forbes, Peter (2009). Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage. Yale. pp. 155–156. ISBN 978-0-300-12539-9.
  • Forsyth, Isla McLean (2012). From dazzle to the desert: a cultural-historical geography of camouflage (PDF). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
  • Glantz, David (1989). Military Deception in the Second World War. Cass Series on Soviet Military Theory & Practice. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-71463-347-3.
  • Goodden, Henrietta (2007). Camouflage and Art: Design for Deception in World War 2. Unicorn Press. ISBN 978-0-90629-087-3.
  • Newark, Tim (2007). Camouflage. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-51347-7.
  • Rankin, Nicholas (2008). Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914–1945. Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-22195-0.
  • Stroud, Rick (2012). The Phantom Army of Alamein: How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-4088-2910-3.
  • Sykes, Steven (1990). Deceivers Ever: The Memoirs of a Camouflage Officer. Spellmount. ISBN 0-946771-54-5.
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