I’ve been creating character drawings for about four years now, and as my skill has developed, they have slowly become more detailed, especially in commissions from members of the Royal Navy, scattered with little items or equipment that anyone who served in the RN would recognise. I love doing them as the content can be quite random but are also great fun to do - I often find myself laughing aloud in the middle of them. But it’s the wonderful memories of my time as a Wren Aircraft Mechanic (WAEM) in the 1980’s that I love the most.
Back then one of the highlights of the new year was the arrival of Cockpit the Flight Safety Calendar containing twelve pieces of Tugg’s artwork. They were hard to get hold of as they seemed to end up in the main offices, but we always had one in the Junior Rates Crewroom. We’d all flick through it, looking for characters that looked like people we knew, laughing at the bad examples of flight safety on a squadron or flight deck and also because we could see ourselves in each of them. It was little details, the look the Senior Maintenance Rating (SMR) was giving someone up to no good, the sarcasm in the text Or the sheer charm of a sailor eyeing up a young wren in Stores...as below!
Cecil ‘Tugg’ Wilson joined the Royal Navy in 1947 as an aircraft mechanic and was promoted in 1964 to officer. He served on air stations and ship flight decks, including HMS Ocean, HMS Ilustrious and HMS Eagle. He took early retirement in 1971 to become a full time cartoonsist, having realised that the popularity of his drawings could make him a living. Not only were his drawings in Navy Newsletters, Navy News and Cockpit, but he also had work published in The Times, The Daily Mirror and Jack Speak - a very popular book on Naval Slang written by Rick Jolly. The Navy News wrote this about him after his death in 2006.
“Tugg had a keen eye for Jack humour and skill to portray it with superb visual impact.”
The last couple of years I have been asked to do several commissions for ex forces, but mainly RN clients, and someone commented that my work “was a bit like Tuggs”... what a compliment that was, although no one could come close to doing what he did, it made me think. Yes maybe there are some similarities, the fact that I served as a Wren allows me to add those ‘extra’ details that only ‘we’ would notice. I’ve seen those expressions, ill fitting overalls and untidy crewrooms. I experienced the ‘eyeing up’ from sailors and mundane tasks we had to do. So I’d like to think Tugg’s influence has somehow got me here, and will encourage me to continue to create even better artwork which evokes memories, just as his still does, fourteen years after his death in 2006. Thank You Tugg..