Saturday, November 3, 2012

Camouflage Artist | Henry C. Grover

We wish we knew more about Henry C. Grover (above). Described as being from Boston, during World War I he was—

in direct charge of camouflage painting of all vessels—those of the United States Shipping Board and the United States Navy, the work for the Navy being done in coordination with the proper official in each naval district corresponding to each of the districts of the Shipping Board. The camouflage painting of all vessels by the baffle system [an alternative name for dazzle camouflage] is necessary and obligatory. It supersedes all other methods.•

We recently found an essay by him, titled "Developing Methods of Ship Protection"•• in which he writes that—

Camouflage painting was considered so important [during WWI] that it became a part of the construction division of the [Emergency Fleet] corporation. A nationwide organization was built up, there being district camoufleurs in 11 different districts of the country, distributed according to the requirements of the work. The organization was started at the home office in Washington under the management of Henry C. Grover, and within a short time about 150 men were actively at work and graded as district camoufleurs, camoufleurs and assistant camoufleurs. There were also subdistricts in charge of resident camoufleurs who were stationed at Portland OR, Los Angeles, Norfolk VA, Providence RI, and Montreal, Canada.

Early in 1918 a training school for camouflage painters was started [by William Andrew Mackay] in New York. From this school graduate camoufleurs were detailed to other districts when they were competent to apply designs to ships and had a thorough understanding of the dazzle theory.

Reproduced below are four photographs of dazzle-camouflaged ships that were published with Grover's essay. From top to bottom, they include (1) the USS Isanti camouflaged, (2) a dazzle camouflage pattern on the starboard side of the SS Crawl Keys, (3) and (4) camouflage patterns on two other US ships (not identified).

• Edwin D. Twombley, "How the Paint Box Baffles the Submarine," New York Tribune (August 25, 1918), p. 6, reprinted in SHIP SHAPE: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook.
•• William Courtney Mattox, ed., Building the Emergency Fleet. Cleveland OH: Penton Publishing, 1920, pp. 89-97.