The painting features members of the British Red Cross issuing comforts to prisoners of war at Brussels. At the end of the Second World War, Red Cross gift bags containing 'comforts' were issued to British Commonwealth and American Prisoners of War on their release from prison camps. In this painting, a British Red Cross relief team are handing out bags each containing essentials such as toothpaste, toothbrush, shaving equipment, face cloth, soap, cigarettes and chocolate to POWs at an air strip in Brussels before they were flown home. Doris Zinkeisen was the official artist for the North West Europe Commission of the Joint War Organisation of the British Red Cross and Order of St John during the Second World War. Doris was a well-known artist, trained at the Royal Academy Schools, and had exhibited her work in London, Paris and the United States. She had also helped to nurse wartime Blitz casualties in London. Both Doris and her sister Anna, who was also a talented artist, had first trained as VADs during the First World War.
Evelyn Bark, of the Joint War Organisation, remembers seeing Doris at work at the liberated Belsen camp: ‘She arrived at Belsen while I was there, and I watched her start a painting of the saddle-room, where camp survivors were washed and disinfected.’
Where to see this painting?
British Red Cross Museum and Archives
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