News from the Green Howards
MENIN CROSSROADS RETURNS TO THE MUSEUM
The oil painting of the Menin Crossroads has returned to the Museum after six months of conservation work on the canvas and frame.
The painting by Chevalier Fortunino Matania depicts the late afternoon of 22nd October 1914 when there was a moment of brief respite for the beleaguered men of the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment. With the Battalion's machine guns positioned on either side of the tree-lined Ypres to Menin road the officers take a pause to review the situation, while the wounded are tended inside and outside the ruined house which serves as their temporary field hospital.
Many of the officers and soldiers in the painting are named including Private Henry Tandy who carries a wounded soldier in the foreground of the picture. In a short spell of five weeks, between 25th August and 28th September 1918, Private Tandy was awarded the three highest awards for gallantry in the face of the enemy and, because he refused to take promotion, became the most highly decorated private soldier in the Great War. By November 1918 he had been awarded the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal and five mentions in Despatches.
The painting was commissioned in 1925 and it is likely that Matania was chosen because he was famous for his overwhelming desire for accuracy. He would visit wounded men taking with him a box of toy soldiers so that they could re-enact a scene for him. Certainly the painting is an incredibly powerful image of the First World War allowing a momentary insight into what it must have been like on the Ypres to Menin Road in 1914.
If you would like to know more about the painting our next lecture on Friday 20th May at 7pm will include details of the men depicted in the painting.