A FASCINATING account has been given of how a Keighley man imprisoned as a conscientious objector in the First World War went on to become an acclaimed camouflage artist during World War Two.

George Demaine was also highly respected for his work in the movie industry, using his artistic talents to create film sets and models.

George was born in 1892 and lived until his teens at Malsis Crescent in Keighley.

His father, Frederick William Demaine, was a time-keeper in a local mill and his mother Isabella worked as a draper.

The family were members of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Fell Lane.

George initially attended Keighley School of Art and then gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where he studied sculpture.

Still a committed Wesleyan Methodist, he joined the Royal College Christian Union and to indicate his opposition to the 1914-18 war, signed-up to the No-Conscription Fellowship.

But in 1916, he received his call-up to the armed forces.

“George appeared before Chelsea Military Service Tribunal and claimed exemption on the grounds of his religious beliefs and objection to war,” said Colin Neville, the Silsden arts enthusiast who set-up the Not Just Hockney project to showcase local artists’ work.

“He was one of 16,000 men in Britain who claimed exemption from military service during the 1914-18 war on the grounds of conscientious objection.

“However, very few were granted full exemption and many accepted non-combatant roles. The Chelsea Tribunal only allowed George exemption from combatant military service and he was deemed liable for call-up to the Non-Combatant Corps.”

But George renounced any work that assisted the war effort and he refused to comply with a notice to report for army training. He was arrested and appeared before the magistrates court and following conviction was taken to an army depot in East London. After disobeying an order he faced a court martial on May 30, 1916, when he was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour.

Mr Neville said: “Until the end of the war there followed a ‘cat and mouse’ routine whereby – on release from prison – he was immediately re-arrested and sent back to the army, where he again refused to serve. This led to a further court martial and more imprisonment with hard labour.”

George was finally released on April 16, 1919, having served a total of more than two years in prison.

He returned to the Royal College of Art and graduated in 1921.

Six years later he married Ruth Bartlett, a New Zealand-born photographer, and they had a son in 1929.

By 1931 George had found work with British Dominion Studios as a designer of film sets. He also built model dummies for use in more-dramatic scenes.

The studios were destroyed by fire in 1936 and George subsequently worked with Ealing Studios and for the Rank Organisation, but also continued creating and exhibiting his own artwork.

During the Second World War, living in London, he was appalled at the damage caused to civilian targets by enemy bombers and painted the scenes.

He successfully applied to work as a camouflage officer at the Civil Defence Camouflage Establishment. Its main priority in the early stages of the war was to use camouflage to deceive and decoy enemy bombers, by disguising factories and other strategic targets. Later in the war, its work shifted to the production of dummy tanks and landing craft.

George worked there until 1943 and then subsequently moved back into film set design for the Rank Organisation, including building model sets for the 1946 movie Great Expectations.

As well as being an accomplished sculptor and model maker, he was a talented watercolour painter. He exhibited his work at shows of the Royal Academy, Royal West of England Academy and Alpine Club Gallery and at Cartwright Hall in Bradford.

George died in 1966.