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The art of war

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New Zealanders adorn themselves with red poppies on Anzac Day, the 25th of April, to commemorate and remember the huge sacrifices made by Kiwi soldiers during the Gallipoli Campaign.

With few soldiers remaining, the art of war will soon be the only way for us to ‘remember’ what it was like.

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim of the campaign was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. But at the end of a hellish war, Gallipoli remained firmly in the hands of its Turkish defenders.

Thousands, from both sides, lost their lives - 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8,500 Australians. Among the dead were 2,779 New Zealanders.

With the natural passing of the few remaining soldiers who remember those days vividly, (yet rarely speak of them), their children and younger generations of New Zealanders will be left with just tales, old photographs, drawings and paintings.

Today, I felt it was appropriate to highlight one of our soldier war artists who, through his art, gave us a glimpse of the world into which they were thrust so suddenly.


P03643.001 HoraceMooreJones 

Horace Millichamp Moore-Jones

“You can imagine what it must be like to live, day after day, facing plateaux that are covered with one’s dead comrades, whose faces had grown black by the time we could reach them, and the over-powering sickening stench. And what it meant to sit, eating one’s bread and jam surrounded by millions of flies who had been bred on dead bodies.”

Known as 'Sapper Moore-Jones', Horace was a painter in oil, watercolour and pastels. Born in England in 1868, he settled in Auckland with his parents in 1885. He studied art in both Sydney and London and, under Anne Dobson, a portrait painter and sculptor, whom he later married.

In 1914, in his mid-40s, Horace enlisted in the British section of the NZEF (New Zealand Expeditionary Force). To gain acceptance to the unit he shaved off his moustache, cropped his hair and lied about his age, pretending to be 32.

Horace was sent to Gallipoli with engineers and, because of his artistic ability, was deployed as a topographical draughtsman to draw maps which were used to calculate enemy positions and triangulate targets. Wounded in 1915 and, despite his drawing hand being injured, he still managed to make up to 80 watercolours of Gallipoli whilst recovering in England.

His most recognised work was ‘Private Simpson, D.C.M., & his donkey at Anzac’ painted from a photograph three years after the Gallipoli landings.


simpson donkey painting

Title: Private Simpson, D.C.M., & his donkey at Anzac, 1918.
Artist: Horace Millichamp Moore-Jones
Description: Watercolour from ‘The man with the donkey’ series. Donkeys were used to haul equipment and water up the narrow paths and to evacuate wounded back to the beach.


ART96511 HoraceMoore Jones
Title: The landing at Anzac 25th April 1915
Artist: Horace Millichamp Moore-Jones
Description: This painting is the earliest known artistic representation of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915, by a professional artist who was also a participant.


Anzac1 620x310
Artist: Horace Moore-Jones
Description: Landscape of Anzac Cove during the 1915 World War 1 campaign at Gallipoli.

An exhibition of Horace’s watercolour work toured New Zealand in 1917 to help raise funds for the RSA. Thousands attended the exhibitions and heard his talks about the Gallipoli campaign. His sketches provided images of the war through which those at home could feel closer to family and friends involved.

The New Zealand government refused to buy any of his work, so Horace sold them to the Australian government for what amounts to about $130,000 today. This collection can be viewed on the Australian War Memorial’s website.

By 1916, Britain, Australia and Canada had each established official war art programmes to document their country’s activities in the first world war (and to use for propaganda). However, New Zealand lagged behind its allies because its wartime government considered war art to be unnecessary and expensive.

Unlike the official war art programmes established for Britain, Canada and Australia, the majority of New Zealand’s official war artists were soldiers seconded from the ranks of the NZEF. Writing stories, composing poems and songs, sketching, and drawing cartoons or caricatures were all actively encouraged within the NZEF as a healthy way to deal with the long periods of idleness that occupied much of a soldier’s life.

New Zealand employed its first official war artist in April 1918 –  Lance Corporal Nugent Welch, from the 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He was followed by George Edmund Butler, an English artist, Alfred Pearse and, following the outbreak of the Second World War later in 1941, Peter McIntyre.

Anzac war art:

maori turks
Title: 'The spirit of his fathers'
Artist: William Blomfield
Description: This work appeared in the December 1915 issue of the New Zealand Observer. It shows a Māori soldier charging two Ottoman Turk soldiers with the ghost of a Māori warrior behind him. Cartoons like this attempted to evoke the spirit of the Māori god of war, Tū-mata-uenga, to encourage Māori participation in the war.

* 'Recruitment cartoon for Māori', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/conscription-propaganda-poster-for-maori, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 1-Aug-2016


maori ww1 001

'Maori Contingent departure, 1915', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/native-contingent-depature, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Mar-2016


full Maori Battalion No 1 Outpost Gallipoli Turkey

Maori Contingent soldiers at No 1 Outpost, Gallipoli, Turkey Maori Contingent, No 1 Outpost, Gallipoli, Turkey. Read, JC: Images of the Gallipoli campaign. Ref: ¼-058101-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22330949


The New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion was first raised in 1915 and served at Gallipoli and the Western Front.

"By the end of the war, 2227 Maori and 458 Pacific Islanders had served in what became known as the Maori Pioneer Battalion. Of these, 336 died on active service and 734 were wounded. Other Maori enlisted (and died) in other battalions as well."



NCWA 00532.previewTitle: The Homecoming from Gallipoli, 1916
Artist: Walter Armiger Bowring
Description: The landing of New Zealand’s first wounded – 15th July 1915


NCWA Q00387.previewTitle: Departure of the Hospital Ship "Maheno", 1915
Artist: Walter Armiger Bowring
Watercolour, 567 x 799mm

To learn more about studying creativity and art at The Learning Connexion call 0800 278 769, or request a prospectus.

* Information sourced from nzhistory.govt.nz, www.teara.govt.nz and warart.archives.govt.nz


  • Michael
    27/04/2017 3:28am (7 years ago)

    Wonderful article. Very informative and highlights the need to document our relatively short time on earth for future generations.

  • Shelley seay
    25/04/2017 9:15am (7 years ago)

    Great article. Thanks.

  • Jean Vandermolen
    25/04/2017 4:22am (7 years ago)

    So fantastic to see the work of these early artists and photographers. It makes me realise how important it is to paint a record of your time on this earth. It also reminds me, not only of man's inhumanity to man but also of his profound humanity!

    Thank you.