Captain William Frederick Longstaff
|Birth date:||25 December 1879|
|Birth place:||Australia: Victoria, Ballarat|
|Death date:||01 July 1953|
|Death place:||United Kingdom: England, Sussex, Littlehampton|
|Conflict:||First World War, 1914-1918|
William Frederick Longstaff was a cousin of the portrait painter Sir John Longstaff. From 1900 to 1901, Will Longstaff 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 1st Australian Remount Unit in October 1915 and served in the Middle East, where he made pictorial records of the ANZAC Mounted Division and the Desert Column. He then served in France before being invalided to England in October 1917.
In 1918, Longstaff was trained in camouflage work in London with fellow Australian artists Frank Crozier and James F. Scott; he was subsequently appointed an official war artist working as officer in charge of camouflage for the 2nd Division AIF in France, where he saw out the end of the war. As an official war artist he depicted a variety of subjects, including landscapes, buildings, battles and allegorical scenes.
After the war, Longstaff joined a group of artists working for the Australian War Records Section at the St John's Wood studio, London, preparing material for display in the proposed Australian War Memorial. These included paintings depicting the battle of 8 August 1918 and the breaking of the Hindenburg line (25 September). Longstaff later moved to Sussex, where he lived quietly with his second wife and two children.
Longstaff's Menin Gate at midnight is one of the best-known paintings in the Australian War Memorial's art collection. In the years following the First World War, this painting's tribute to sacrifice, combined with its spiritualist overtones, struck exactly the right chord with many Australians who had lost family and friends in the war. Longstaff painted the work after he had attended the unveiling ceremony of the Menin Gate memorial at the entrance of the Belgian town of Ypres on 24 July 1927. This memorial was dedicated to the 350,000 men of the British and Allied forces who had died in the battles around Ypres. It was purchased by Lord Woolavington in 1927, who in the same year presented the painting to the Commonwealth of Australia.
Rolls and Awards
- Rank: Captain
- Date of embarkation: 12 November 1915
- Place of embarkation: Melbourne
- Unit: Australian Remount Depot
- Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
- Awarded: Mention in despatches
- Unit: Remount Section
- Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
Watercolour sketch depicting a view of Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France. 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...
Watercolour sketch depicting a view of the Somme Valley near Villers-Bretonneux. There are three figures in the centre of the image and an unhitched wagon to their left with a grove of trees behind the wagon. There is a vast expanse of plain and in the background is what appears to be a wood. Will...
The right hand panel of a panorama sketch for 'Dugouts near Villers-Bretonneux'. This painting depicts dugouts set in the side of earth works, a corrugated iron lean-to and two soldiers. Verso: two canvas covered trucks are parked on the side of a road lined with trees. From the artist's sketchbook...
Four pencil drawings of a donkey and anatomical parts of the donkey including the head, the back half and the forelegs and chest in profile. Verso: A pencil drawing of the town of Villers Bretonneux. From the artist's sketchbook covering the campaign on the Western Front during July - November 1918.
Watercolour sketch depicting the ruins of a building in a village in France. A soldier is standing in the ruins with a pack on and rifle. 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...
Watercolour sketch depicting the salvage dump at Glisy with horses and wagon being unloaded by two soldiers. There are tents in the background and the dump contains boxes and empty artillery casings. Will Longstaff was born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1879. From 1900 to 1901, he served with the South...
Watercolour sketch depicting the dug-outs outside the village of Glisy. 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...
Pencil sketch depicting a General services articulated limber wagon which, among other things, was used to transport ammunition and equipment. The inscription relates to the formation of the colour patches which were displayed on the rear at these vehicles. The patches shown on the right relate to...
|Date of birth||1879-12-25|
|Date and unit at enlistment (ORs)||1915-10||1st Australian Remount Unit|
|Date of embarkation||1915-11-12|
|Date of recommendation honour or award||1917-09-11|
|Date wounded||1917-10||Invalided to England.|
|Date of death||1953-07-01|