Horace Millichamp Moore-Jones was a painter in oil, watercolour and pastels. Born in England in 1868, he settled in Auckland with his parents in 1885. He moved to Sydney in 1888, studying art in both Sydney and London.
Moore-Jones enlisted in the British section of the NZEF (New Zealand Expeditionary Force) in 1914, aged 47, and served as a Sapper in the 1st Company NZ Engineers at Gallipoli.
There, he worked for Lieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood’s Anzac Corps Headquarters as a topographical draughtsman. He also worked on a large series of watercolours and drawings of the Anzac landscape, some of which were later completed in England. Towards the end of 1915 his drawing hand was injured. While recovering in England, he somehow managed to produce nearly 80 watercolours of Gallipoli.
These watercolours were first exhibited at New Zealand House, London, in April 1916, and were received well by the military and public. The head of the NZEF, Alexander Godley, stated: ‘Nothing that I have seen or read on the subject of Anzac brings more vividly to my memory the pleasantest features of our sojourn there.’ Moore-Jones was more critical of his experience, saying that Gallipoli was like eight months of hell:
‘You can imagine what it must be like to live, day after day, facing plateaus 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.’
Moore-Jones also had a private showing to the Royal Family. A portfolio of his prints was published in 1916, and an exhibition of his works toured New Zealand in 1917 to raise funds for the RSA. The New Zealand Government turned down the opportunity to purchase this collection, which was later purchased by Australia for the Australian War Memorial.
Moore-Jones’ most widely recognised work was not painted at the battlefront, but from a photograph. His depiction of Private Simpson and his donkey was done when Moore-Jones was showing his watercolours in Dunedin in 1918. He altered the composition of the photo to make the image more dramatic.
Moore-Jones died of burns received while rescuing people from the Hamilton Hotel fire in 1922.