WWI Dazzle Ships Repainted in Honor of Centenary

Some people are unhappy about current plans to have two WWI Dazzle Ships repainted in honor of the centenary this year. Many see it as a slight against the solemnity of a vicious and horrific war, which claimed the lives of many over its course. The war was a page in history which to some led lambs to the slaughter, fighting a sense of idealism greater than themselves. The Dazzle Ships to be repainted in honor of the WWI centenary are to many a simple reminder of the tragedy.

Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has stated that WWI was actually a period of great cultural revolution, and the repainting of the Dazzle Ships is an honorary celebration of that culture, combining art with the remnants of warfare. Many artistic talents lost their lives in the conflict, and those which people are able to name are just those talents which had already come to fruition before the war’s passing. There is literally no telling how many bright futures were lost to obscurity upon their deaths.

Modern day example of the WWI camouflage paint job.
Modern day example of the WWI camouflage paint job.

The Dazzle Ships, so-named due to the style of camouflage which was used to obscure their outlines on the horizon during naval warfare, were both decorated in WWI, and some feel that to repaint them now is to take away from the history of military bravery which lived at their helms. This actually led to the creation of the sort of camouflage with which we are familiar today.

Such camouflage was by far not the only innovation seen in WWI, with tanks and mustard gas being responsible for many of the lives lost at battle. Those who oppose the repainting of the Dazzle Ships feel that to pay tribute to such innovation is, in a sense, to pay tribute to the same process of thought that resulted in the bloody and tragic deaths of many young fighters on both sides, The Guardian reports.

There are certainly many others, however, who feel that the Dazzle Ships were not just an instrument of violence, but a deterrent to it as well. The camouflage was not part of the weaponry, but a part of defense which kept many WWI fighters who were fired upon from being successfully hit. Proponents of the event claim that this is the true reason for the WWI Dazzle Ships being repainted in the first place. Whether they are right or not, many people will get a rare glimpse at what the antiquated style of camouflage looks like up close.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE