The grooms, Happy Valley, Franvillers

Will DYSON: artist

Not On Display

About the work

This image demonstrates Dyson’s exceptional draftsmanship in depicting three soldiers as groomsmen exercising the officers’ horses of an Australian Light Horse Regiment. After the Gallipoli campaign, most of the Light Horse were ordered to defend Egypt from the Turkish forces. However, Light Horse Divisional cavalry squadrons went with their divisions (namely the 4th and 13th) in 1916 to the Western Front in France. Franvillers is a village in the Somme, near Amiens and stands above the River Ancre. In 1917, the 31st Battalion of the Australian Infantry spent 3rd and 4th January in Franvillers on their way to Cardonette and is apparently the only time Australian Infantry spent there. Franvillers has a Communal Cemetery which was used from May 1916 to May 1918 and contains eight Commonwealth burials and its Extension used from April to August 1918 by ambulances engaged in the defence of Amiens contains 248 burials with five German burials.
The horses of the Light Horse Regiments were called walers and were strong stockhorses from New South Wales known for their courage, speed and stamina. Everything the Light Horse trooper needed for fighting had to be carried by him and his horse. When fully loaded, the walers often carried 130-150 kg for long distances, often for days at a time. A deep bond grew between each man and his horse as they came to depend on each other for their lives. Many men and horses were lost in battle and at the end of hostilities, the Light Horse Brigade horses were left in Egypt and France: those in France were often sold to local farmers to replace lost farming stock while those in Egypt were often shot by their distraught riders as they were not allowed to return to Australia.
The grooms, Happy Valley, Franvillers
Artist/Maker and role
Will DYSON: artist
51 x 76.5cm (sheet)
43.4 x 60.2cm (image)
Credit line
Gift of Sir W. Ellison-Macartney, 1919
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the prints in our collection.