Thomas Hennell was a writer, illustrator and artist, well known for agricultural scenes and his work during the Second World War. He was born in 1903 in Kent. He was educated at Regent Street Polytechnic. He became a qualified teacher and taught art.
In the 1930s he suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to hospital. His friend and fellow artist encouraged him to record his illness. Hennell wrote an account of his time there called ‘The Wilderness’.
Hennell mainly worked in watercolour, focusing on landscapes and the countryside. He was influenced by the painter and lithographer Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864-1950). He became a member of The Royal Watercolour Society and exhibited with the New English Art Club.
Half way through the Second World War, Hennell started working for the Ministry of Information, replacing Eric Ravilious who had just become the first salaried war artist to die during service in 1943. He was send to Reykjavik, Iceland, where he documented the military activity. He then was posted to north east England, recording fishing and ship building.
Hennell also accompanied the troops on the D-Day landings; he was transferred to the Royal Navy unit and travelled to Belgium and Holland in 1944.
He became the third salaried war artist to die during service. In 1945 he was attacked by a mob in Java and disappeared. He was presumed dead.