What exactly IS the dangerous work they are doing? Two drums each tied to an oar onshore, three men walking out to an object carrying two oars, the object stuck on an offshore sandbank with threespikes sticking out of it.Is it an enemy mine?What is in the two drums ashore tied to an oar?I just don't get it. Explanations offered please. John Godrich,Artist with interest in war weaponry.
Thanks John - the dangerous work was defusing a magnetic mine, only the second to have washed up on a beach. The barrels were used for flotation/marking the site of the mine, not sure about the oars! The full story is told in my book 'Ravilious in Pictures: The War Paintings', which I would recommend if you're interested in war art. When this picture was shown at Dulwich Picture Gallery recently, I met the son of the centre figure of the three walking towards the mine, Commander West.