Australians advancing from Villers-Bretonneux, August 8th 1918
ID numberART15522
Collection typeArt
TitleAustralians advancing from Villers-Bretonneux, August 8th 1918
Measurementsheet: 45.2 x 73 cm (irreg.); image: 45.2 x 73 cm
Object typeDrawing
MakerLongstaff, Will
Place madeFrance
Date made1918
Physical descriptionwatercolour over pencil, heightened with white, with gouache on paper
Copyright
  • AWM copyright
  • Copyright expired - public domain
DescriptionThis is a depiction of what was a very large and important battle, best known as the Battle of Amiens. The Australian Corps of four divisions with one in reserve advanced on a frontage several kilometres wide with a British corps (the III Corps ie. ‘3’) on the left and the Canadian Corps on the right. The infantry advanced with tanks behind heavy artillery fire. No.3 Squadron AFC flew above. At the centre of the picture is a captured German gun, one of more than 150 taken by the Australians that day. In left foreground is a Lewis light machine-gun crew supporting the advance of its own platoon (about 20-30 men). To the left a member of the medical corps attends a wounded man; the handling of casualties was one of the ingredients of the finely developed plan for that day. The open spaces depicted demonstrate that this was mobile fighting over a considerable distance quite different from the trench warfare of the earlier years of the war.

Will Longstaff was born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1879. From 1900 to 1901, he served with the South African Light Horse in the Boer War. Following his return to Victoria, he taught art privately with Leslie Wilkie at Eltham. He enlisted with the Remounts in October 1915 and served in the Middle East and France before being invalided to England in October 1917. While serving in Egypt, he made pictorial records of the ANZAC Mounted Division and the Desert Column. He then served in England with the B Sub-Depot, Westham. In 1918, he was trained in camouflage work in London with Frank Crozier, J. S. MacDonald and James Scott, and he was subsequently appointed as an Official War Artist working as officer in charge of camouflage for the 2nd Division AIF in France.