image Collections in Focus: Soldiers in a Wooded Landscape

Painting by Ivan Stuart Appleton, titled Soldiers in a Wooded Landscape, 1966. E:03.0015.02.

Soldiers in a Wooded Landscape by Ivan Stuart Appleton was painted in 1966 during the Cold War.

The painting shows soldiers mending or arming a missile, in a small forest clearing in West Germany. We shared this painting on social media in March 2010, asking for ideas and more information about what this scene shows.

Ron Nicholls, who served with REME in the 2nd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery Light Aid Detachment, got in touch. In Nicholls’ words:

‘the painting depicts an ‘Honest John’ tactical battlefield, nuclear capable missile. The missile was in use with most NATO countries during the 1960s and early 1970s. It could be launched at great speed but only had a range of 15 miles. The missile is on the demountable launch cradle. The painting also shows a Meadows generator set and support vehicles. I remember them on Hohne ranges when I was with 2nd Field Regt, RA LAD.’

We have three paintings by Appleton in our collection, all painted in 1966 and showing REME soldiers on manoeuvres in West Germany. You can view these paintings and another from the collection of The Royal Hospital Chelsea on Art UK.

We do not know too much about Appleton, though he might have served in World War One with the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, then C Battalion, Tank Corps. Whether he continued to serve after the Great War or simply maintained an interest in military subjects is unclear.

REME Museum has a collection of paintings, drawings and prints showing the Corps activities, personnel and history. Some paintings are on display at the Museum, while others are loaned to Battalions where they are displayed in headquarters, offices and conference rooms.

If you can tell us more about this painting or would like to view or loan it, please contact us.

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