Measures to combat the threat of submarine attack took many forms, but perhaps the most intriguing and creative was the invention of dazzle. Intended to confuse rather than disguise, dazzle patterns were unique to every ship and sought to fool the U-boat commanders as to the direction, speed and exact position of the allied target.
Dazzle was the invention of the maritime artist and poster designer, Norman Wilkinson. Designs were worked up by art students of the Royal Academy and painted first onto scale models, and tested with the aid of a periscope, before being applied at full scale.
By the end of the war more than 2,000 ships had been ‘dazzled’.