This caricature of HMS Venomous,
painted on the back of an old chart
and signed CRVH, was presented to its CO, Lt Henry Dumaresq Durell RN
by C.R.V.H. in June 1943. It was painted shortly after the surrender of
Axis forces in North African and the first through convoy from Gib to
Alex. The tide of war was changing and the euphoria which followed may
explain this amusing but accurate painting of HMS Venomous which anybody who had
served on a V & W would immediately recognise.
The only officer with the initial CRVH on HMS Velox in June 1943 was Lt C.R.V. Holt RNVR. Penny Durell turned detective and traced his artist daughter Ianthe Vesey Hudson living in South Africa. She recognised her father's style and handwriting and like her father (and grandfather) she signed her paintings with her initials. Ianthe put Penny in touch with her brother Nicholas Holt in England and he sent me a copy of the journal his father had kept (now in the RN Museum, Ref. 1991 57/4) recording in considerable detail events on the convoy from Gib to Alex which Venomous and Velox had escorted as far as Tripoli before handing over to escorts from Malta. This was received just in time to add to the book and a poster of the painting was made for display and sale at the book launch. David and Penny Durell and Nicholas Holt came to the launch at the RN Museum in Portsmouth and met former Midshipman Stephen Barney who had served with Henry Durell on Venomous and remembered him fondly.
Lt Cdr H.D. Durell RN (1912-44)
The grandson of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles C.J.B. Elliot, KCB,
Henry Durell was educated at the Nautical College, Pangbourne, and
commissioned as a
Midshipman in the RNR before joining the New Zealand Shipping Co.
He entered the Royal Navy in 1937 serving on HMS Rodney and HMS
Tartar before being appointed
CO of HMS Venomous in
February 1943. He
left in October and took command of HMS
Isis in December and was promoted to Lt Cdr
on 14 July 1944 six days before he was killed along with most of the
ship’s company when Isis hit
a mine off the Normandy coast. There is a
memorial in Portsmouth cathedral to those killed on HMS Isis.
Lt Christopher R.V. Holt VRD RNVR (1915-97)
The eldest son of Vice Admiral Reginald Vesey Holt, he was a stockbroker before the war and a talented amateur artist. After officer training at King Alfred he served on three destroyers, HMS Ashanti, Malcolm and Hurricane, before joining HMS Velox in March 1942. In October 1943 he was posted to HMS Spragge, a frigate. He returned to stockbroking after the war and became senior partner and later Chairman of James Capel & Co. He retired from the RNVR as Lt Cdr in 1957. His family published a memoir of his wartime service in the Navy which can be viewed and downloaded as a PDF by clicking on the link. For further details of his naval career see his entry on unithistories.com
in the wake of HMS Venomous
on this web site
See some of the new photographs taken aboard HMS Venomous by AB Cyril Hely in 1942-3