Extraordinary sketches and paintings made by a young Brancaster artillery officer killed during the Second World War are to be published for the first time.
Julian Cory-Wright died just two months short of his 28th birthday and his last sketches were made shortly after D-Day on board the ship taking him to Normandy where he was to lose his life on June 26, 1944.
A member of a well-known Norfolk family, he was a gifted artist, recording people and places encountered from his schooldays through office life and military training to his ill-fated departure from Tilbury Docks.
From Norfolk to Normandy: The wartime art of Captain Julian Cory-Wright RA, helps chart his journey from the unspoilt coast of north-west Norfolk where he spent much of his youth to the more hostile shoreline of northern France. The book reproduces around 190 of his paintings and drawings created prior to and during the war years.
The Cory-Wrights were part of the Brancaster social scene from the 1930s to the 1950s, prominent members of the sailing club and the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club (Julian is on the club’s roll of honour at the RWNGC gates).
After the outbreak of the war, Julian spent four years training in gunnery in remote parts of Britain where he continued to draw and paint everyday military activities as well as the wild landscapes around him.
His remarkable portfolio of paintings, drawings and prints depicts soldiers training and at rest, as well as scenes on board the liberty ship Fort Biloxi bound for Normandy.
Letters to his parents and wife paint a moving picture of a young man stoically enduring the long years of military training while longing for action.
Sadly, Julian survived for just a few days following the landing in Normandy, and is buried in the British Military Cemetery at Tilly-sur-Seulles.
The tin trunk containing his personal possessions was returned to his family towards the end of 1944. It contained, among other things, his paint box and brushes, and the books of sketches he made before and during that fateful voyage to Normandy.
The dumper truck he drew being loaded on board the Fort Biloxi at Tilbury may never have made it on to the beaches of Normandy (it was washed overboard during violent storms), but his sketch books got there and back to Brancaster. From Norfolk to Normandy not only provides a long-awaited showcase for a talent lost to war, but shares for the first time this personal testimony with a wider audience.
Mascot Media, the publishers based on the Norfolk Broads, helped Julian’s daughter Juliet Webster tell the story of her father and his family, as well as reproduce art from his schooldays at Eton, the family home at Brancaster, during his training with the Royal Artillery and from his final voyage to the French coast.
From Norfolk to Normandy: The wartime art of Captain Julian Cory-Wright RA, 160 pages, hardback, £25, ISBN 978-0-9954651-2-1, is published this week by Mascot Media (www.mascotmedia.co.uk).
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l An exhibition marking the centenary of Julian Cory-Wright’s birth opens at the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral, on Friday, November 4.
It is called Wartime Watercolours and is being staged by Juliet – who was aged just two when her father died – and the exhibition will be open from 9.30am-4.30pm Monday-Saturday, and from noon-3pm on Sundays, until Monday, November 21.