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Works by McClelland Barclay in the Navy Art Collection

"Heroes of the South Seas" sketches

McClelland Barclay made the following sketches that he titled, "Heroes of the South Seas," between late 1942 and June 1943. He mailed them to a friend in the United States shortly before his death aboard LST-342 on 18 July 1943. In August of that year, this friend informed the Navy of her possession of the sketches and suggested they be published in book form, with any profits turned over to Navy Relief. Possibly this had been Barclay's intention as well. The sketches were delivered to the Navy's Office of Public Relations (Pictorial Section). In the mid-1980s, they were transferred to the Naval Historical Center's Art Collection. The Center is unaware that these images were ever published, or even displayed publicly until now.

The labels underneath the images are transcriptions of Barclay's handwritten notes, jotted down on the same sheet of paper where he sketched. Text in italics indicates that Barclay is quoting his subject.

Always one who wanted to improve his art from first-hand experience, Barclay once told an interviewer, "I have been called a `pretty girl artist,' but I am going to get in all of the front-line action I can. I want to bring out the idea that wars are fought by men, and not just by their tools." With the dozens of portraits he created during his service, Barclay managed to bring out that idea very well. The faces of the men and women Barclay committed to paper, along with the anecdotal evidence he recorded in the margins, reminds us that individuals make up a navy. As he told the San Francisco Examiner in March 1943, "A camera cannot catch the human element of a fight, the sweat and blood and courage our boys expend every time they face the enemy. That's what I'm going back out there now to do."


Ensign John William Finn
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, ca. 1943



"Mickey" "Slingblote" NATTCTR Norman Oklahoma
Now Ensign John William Finn, USN, formerly Aviation Chief Ordinance Man - since 1935
Joined Navy 17 years - July 1926 of Los Angeles Cal. - 5'9" - weight 155 lb

"I see these old meatballs on the bottom of 'em - this is the real McCoy it's the God damn Japs."

Kaneohe - Dec. 7th 1941 -- Directed and pointed out duties to whatever men were handy.

"All were eager to fight but some didn't know what to do. I came out of the armory out of the hanger and there was Little Peterson [draw him] wide eyed like saucers, firing with his 30 cal machine gun right over the top of 'Bucky's' head (Bucky Walter from Sallisaw Oklahoma, half Irish, half Indian) so I moved Peters' machine gun out so he wouldn't shoot Bucky's head off - a great big guy and we needed him. Then I loaded for Pete a couple of times and then put someone else on Pete's gun."

Where were you wounded first?

"I was firing a 50 cal. and the Japs would come in strafing. They'd come right down the machine gun barrell [sic] it seemed, firing their 20 mm cannon and 30 cal. By that time all the planes we had were destroyed and on fire. I believe they hit me first in the right thumb and left forearm. I remember I had to reach over with my right arm because my left wouldn't work."

How many times were you hit?

"The doctor said 19 holes in me - arms, belly, feet, head graze - mostly small fragment of 20 mm shells."

Unsung hero - Alfred Dominic Perucci, hometown Worcester Mass - naval Ammunition depot S.W. Australia - "He got the ball rolling before I ever got there. He rescued guys off burning airplanes that people told me were dead so I forgot about 'em. They were in PBYs moored in the bay."

Congressional Medal of Honor - Sept 1942 - Look up citation - public relations


Robert James Peterson
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, 1943 ca.



"Pete" Aviation Chief Radioman Robert James Peterson - Colorado
join 18 years - in Navy 7 years - always in aviation

Awarded NAVY CROSS - Sept. 15, 1942 - Citation -
in Dec. 7th attack on KANEOHE, Hawaii -

"[I] was one of the first to man a machine gun on construction stand on a ramp down by the planes - so many couldn't count them it was too fast to count - shoot holes in the gas tanks which stream out - I thot [sic] they were layin' a gas attack. Put out a fire on a burning PBY with CO2 extinguisher - operated machine all thru [sic] first attack lasting about one hour and twenty minutes - during second raid about half hour. Four loaders were wounded on our gun including John Finn aviation chief ordnanceman who was given Congressional Medal of Honor."

Present station - top turret gunner on a Liberators, also second in charge of radio gang of the squadron. Been in raids on Tulagi and other actions South Pacific.


LCDR T.K. Bowers
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, ca. 1943



LT. Comdr. Tom "Tommy" K. Bowers USN
Naval Academy class 1932 - entered 17 years- NAVY CROSS - Dec. 8 to 26-1941- CAVITE BATAAN CORREGIDOR

13 passengers in PBY, crew six - Especial noted for having blown up ammunition dumps at Cavite so they couldn't fall into Jap hands. Had a sector of beach defence [sic] - 3 points to cover in three bays. Commanded own personnale [sic] from ammunition depot who had been turned into infantry to fight along with army ground troops.

"In February ordered to Corregidor where my units continued to fight in defence [sic] of beaches and I was on duty with the inshore patrol - We had patrol boats (mine sweepers) - all of the naval vessels still left.

Ordance [sic] officer for what was left of the 16th Naval District - ordered to leave April 29 1942 - flown out at 11:15 PM for Lanao - gassed up then flew to Darwin - hopped the desert to Perth - Airplane tender was Shark Bay - 500 mi north of Perth

Aboard airplane: Army Nurse, Two civilian women, 3 Naval, Few army aviators



LT(jg) John Stansbury Baylis, Jr.
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, 1943 ca.



John Stansbury Baylis Jr. LT.jg. USNR 2 years Coast Guard Academy - New York City - 28 years - active Sept. 24, 1941 - Trained at Melville Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center - Command PT boat - Oct. 1942 - Service in Pacific

"Haven't slept off my ship since I took command."

Father is Captain of the Coast Guard. I used to spar with Capt. Baylis in the boxing room of the New York Athletic Club from time to time.


LT(jg) Frank "Skip"H. Dean
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, 1943



Lt. jg. Frank H. Dean, Jr. USN - Silver Star June 5, 1943 - "Skip"


LT(jg) R.F. Lynch, Jr.
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, 1943



Lt. jg R.F.Lynch, Jr. New York - Fordam [sic] Univ. PT Boat School Melville, R.I.
26 years - started actively in PT Boats June of 1942 - Decoration Silver Star - Feb 8, 1943


LCDR Barry Kennedy Atkins
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, 1943 ca.




CDR Frank A. Munroe, Jr.
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, 1943 ca.



Frank A. Munroe, Jr. Comdr USNR - Naval Academy class '25 - 17 year matriculated - From Annapolis, Md - Captain U.S.S. Hilo - converted of Wm B. Leeds - tender for PT boats - took command June 11, 1942


North of Buna - View of PT Boat
McClelland Barclay
Oil on canvas board


Torpedo Boat 14 Firing
McClelland Barclay
Conté crayon on paper, 1943



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Online Exhibits that feature McClelland Barclay's work

Recruiting Posters for Women from World War II -- The WAVES
Navy Art Gallery exhibit: The Normandy Invasion

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17 May 2005