The art of war

Menin Gate Will Longstaff 1927 Source Aust War MemorialANZAC art at its best.

It was Capt. William Frederick Longstaff of Eltham who painted this timeless war gem – Menin Gate at Midnight, 1927 – as his tribute to the fallen soldiers who lay buried in unmarked WWI graves on the battlefields of the western front.

Capt. Longstaff was an Australian painter who served in the Boer War, and then in the Great War in France and in the Middle East during 1915-17.

In 1918 he became an official ‘war artist’ and was famous for his art commemorating those who gave their lives in the First World War.

The painting shows the ghost-like images of soldiers marching past the Menin Gate.

You’ll find Capt. Longstaff’s painting in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

And who was Capt. Longstaff’s commanding officer while in the Middle East? None other than Banjo Patterson.

Capt. Longstaff was the cousin of Sir John Campbell Longstaff, also an Australian painter and war artist, and multiple winner of the Archibald Prize. Sir John won the Archibald in 1935 for his portrait of Banjo.

What is the Menin Gate?

A war memorial located in Ypres, Belgium, called ‘The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing’.

It was built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1927 as a dedication to Commonwealth soldiers buried in unmarked graves in the Ypres region during WWI. Soldiers would pass through this region on their way to the front line.

The ANZAC spirit, in its 100th commemorative year, is alive and well. Just ask the young artists who produced this gem on a schoolyard fence in Capt. Longstaff’s home town:

ANZAC 100 poppy tribute 2015

LHenderson is a communications specialist.

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