Mallock and Paulin – a story of the Royal Tank Regiment Memorial in Whitehall Court, London

BY RICHARD MADDOX

SCULPTOR VIVIEN MALLOCK FRBS is well known for her public and private figurative work, much of which is of military or political subjects.

Working mainly in bronze her sculpting career started almost 30 years ago with a commission from the Museum of Army Flying in Hampshire, England to sculpt portraits of a number of well-known Second World War aviators to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Since then she has produced a wide number of pieces ranging from small animal and bird pieces, through statues and busts of subjects as diverse as the Queen Mother, English football manager Brian Clough and player Arthur Wharton – the first professional black football player in the world – to military commanders.

She also sculpted the ‘Closing the Gates’ piece at Hougoumont Farm on the Waterloo battlefield site in Belgium unveiled on the bi-centenary of the battle in 2015 (1).

As well as these ‘heroic’ pieces, her work is often reflective such as the Soldier of World War One at Tidworth in Hampshire and Soldier of World War Two; pieces that show respectively a WW1 British soldier returning home and a seated soldier resting, having read a letter.

Placed outside the D-Day Museum in Southsea, near Portsmouth this second work acts as a counterpoint to the statue of Field Marshal Montgomery (a second casting of another of her works installed at Colleville in Normandy) nearby.

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Her Royal Tank Regiment Memorial in London was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on 13 June 2000 and depicts the crew – Commander, Main Gunner, Loader, Driver and Machine Gunner of a British ‘Comet’ tank from the late Second World War (2).

The sculpture is based on a maquette made by fellow artist and sculptor George Henry Paulin ARSA in 1953 and in her interpretation are approximately 11/2 life size.

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Mr Paulin at work on the 51st (Highland) Division Monument before its installation at Beaumont-Hamel

Like Mallock, Paulin made many examples of public art, including those with a military theme. Having served in the First World War he worked on a number of war memorials including the massive 51st (Highland) Division Monument (unofficially known as ‘the Stane Jack’) (3) as well as those in a number of Scottish towns.

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The legend at the base of the RTR Memorial (‘Through mud and blood to the green fields beyond’) is an interpretation of the Regimental colours of brown, red and green and signify the ‘journey’ of tanks in battle (4).

When the Tank Corp (the direct antecedent of the Royal Tank Regiment was first formed in 1917 it had no Corp colours. Just prior to the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 Brigadier General Hugh Elles, Commanding the Tank Corps in France wanted to make his tank visible to his troops.  Obtaining some coloured remnants his wife sewed them together to make a flag that could be flown from ‘Hilda’ Mk IV tank and the lead tank of ‘H’ Battalion his selected command vehicle.

The original flag in is the Tank Museum’s collection at Bovingdon in Dorset, England (5).

Paulin is said to have modelled the Commander figure in the maquette on his own son. It is also said that  when she came to make the finished sculpture, Mallock  used Paulin’s grandson (himself as former member of the British Army) as the model for the same figure (6).

SOURCES:

(1) http://www.vivienmallock.co.uk/ retrieved 13 July 2017

(2) http://www.royaltankregiment.com/en-GB/rtrmemorialstatue.aspx retrieved 13 July 2017

(3) http://www.mcjazz.f2s.com/WW1_WarBonds.htm retrieved 13 July 2017

(4) http://www.royaltankregiment.com/en-GB/regcolours.aspx retrieved 13 July 2017

(5) http://www.tankmuseum.org/museum-online/medals/recipient/B495 retrieved 13 July 2017

 (6) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Henry_Paulin retrieved 13 July 2017

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