Will Dyson

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Will Dyson, Coming Out at Hill 60, c1918.
Will Dyson, In the Tunnell-Hill 60, c1918.
Will Dyson, Tunnellers Under German Territory, c1918.
Will Dyson, Dead Beat, c1918.
Will Dyson, The Mate, c1918.


Dyson was born at Alfredton, near Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, the son of George Dyson, then a hawker and later a mining engineer, and his wife Jane, née Mayall.[1]

Will Dyson married Ruby Lindsay from Creswick in September 1909.

As an artist Will Dyson was best known as a caricaturist, and was Australia's first official war artist.

Will Dyson died in London in 1938.[2]

Military Experience

Dyson was a committed Australian nationalist and it was this dedication that informed his application to join the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as an artist. In 1916, he wrote to AIF commander General Birdwood, stating his aim "would be to interpret in a series of drawings, for national preservation, the sentiments and special Australian characteristics of our Army". Without pay and allowance, he was granted a position as Honorary Lieutenant and in December 1916 travelled to the Western Front. In May 1917, he was formally appointed as the first official war artist attached to the AIF.
Dyson was not interested in portraying great battle scenes, but instead offered compassionate, engaging representations of the ordinary Australian soldier. Unlike his earlier, satirical cartoons that exaggerated and mocked the physical characteristics of a subject, in his war art pose and gesture are used as powerful expressions of a soldier's experience. Slumped shoulders, drooping heads and vacant stares demonstrate sheer physical exhaustion and complete mental fatigue, as with Coming out on the Somme (ART02276). Depicting life away from the frontline, Dyson also shows the distinctive swagger and charm of young Australian men, in such works as The batman (Compree washing madame) (ART02431).[3]

Dyson was wounded at Messines and Zonnebeke.[4]

Will Dyson was the first Australian artist to visit the front during World War One. He travelled to France in December 1916, recording the Australian involvement in the war until until May 1917.[5] [6]

Dyson was appointed an Official War Artist, attached to the AIF in May 1917, working in France and London throughout the war. His commission was terminated in March 1920.[7]

Will Dyson visited Hill 60 where the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company had already operated for months counter-mining German tunnellers, prior to the opening of the Battle of Messines.[8]

See also

1st Tunnelling Company

Hill 60


Other links








--Cgervasoni (talk) 21:13, 30 April 2014 (EST)

Can you assist this project by supplying photos or more information on Will Dyson? We are looking for copies of photographs and memorabilia relating to tunnellers from the Ballarat Electorate. If you can help, please drop us a line: miningmudandmedals@gmail.com