The War Artists

War Chronology of Paul Nash

Before the onset of war Nash was establishing himself as a serious artist. He was a regular exhibitor with the New English Art Club in London.


  • 4th August: Britain declares war on Germany while Nash, his wife Margaret and his brother John (Jack) are on holiday visiting their friends Gordon and Emily Bottomley at Silverdale in the Lake District.
  • Mid August: The Nash Brothers volunteer to do some harvesting as farm labourers
  • September: Nash attempts to enlist with the Artists Rifles for home service but is rejected by the Recruiting Sergeant because he is an inch too short for the standard 6ft.
  • 10th September: He is successful the second time and is enlisted as a private in D" Company of the 2nd/28th Battalion of the Artists' Rifles, London Regiment of Territorials.
  • The 38th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps was renumbered the 20th Middlesex Rifle Volunteers in 1880 and in 1908 it became the 28th County of London Battalion (Artists' Rifles) of the London Regiment. During WWI, the number of volunteers to join the Artists' Rifles was so large that it split itself into two and eventually 3 lines: numbered the 1/28th, the 2/28th and the 3/28th London Regiment.
  • He becomes Private 2655, known to his comrades as 'Private Nash'.
  • September/December: Training, exercising, marching and drilling begins at various parts of London including Regents Park, Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath.
  • 17th December: He marries Margaret at St Martin-in-the-Fields and then honeymoons in Somerset.
  • Lance Sieveking's makes this comment about Nash in his book. "Private Nash was a small, neatly made, closely knit young man, who held himself well. He was always alert, standing very straight. Also he was dexterous in all his movements, managing his rifle and all the drill with a smart accuracy that won the approval of Captain "Tommy" and the sergeants".


  • He moves to barracks at Roehampton with the Artists Rifles.
  • He is stationed at barracks at Romford where he meets and forges a great friendship with Edward Thomas.
  • May/June: He becomes a Map Instructor at Romford Camp.
  • 24th December: He is posted at the Tower of London and witnesses a German Zeppelin raid over the city. (London was a prime target for these raids; 127 persons were killed and 352 injured in the city during the period from May to December 1915 alone).
  • During this period of time Nash was probably promoted to Lance Corporal as a result of further training. As a Lance Corporal he would have been required to supervise a small team of up to four soldiers in a section. He would have had opportunities to undertake further specialist military training.


  • January: Exhibition of Paintings and Etchings by members of The Artists Rifles takes place at the Leicester Galleries. Nash had three of his paintings shown.
  • August: He starts Officer Training
  • 19th December: He becomes a Second Lieutenant and is commissioned into the 3rd Battalion Hampshire Regiment.
  • 1917

  • January: He is posted to the 15th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, 41st Division.
  • January/February: Stationed at the new barracks in Gosport. He is part of A Company awaiting posting to France.
  • February 22nd: He sails for Le Havre from Southampton with his Battalion.
  • February 26th: He reaches Rouen where he is stationed at his Depot.
  • March: He moves up to Northern France and joins the Reserve Line in the trenches where he manages to work on his first six sketches which he sends home to his wife.
  • April: St Eloi, Ypres Salient, Belgium. He finally gets sent to the Front Line.
  • April: Gets sent to Divisional School for a month’s course which he dislikes and during this time he produces another 20 sketches.
  • May 12th: Returns to France.
  • May 25th: Back in trenches near Ypres, a few days before The Battle of Messines he slips in the dark and injures himself.
  • May 26th: He soldiers on but is in much pain so the doctor sends him off to a clearing station where he is told he has broken his 9th rib.
  • May 27th/June: He is sent on to No14 General Hospital B.E.F and then invalided to the Swedish Hospital in London.
  • August: He is given the 'all clear' from hospital.
  • Nash works from his front-line sketches to produce a series of drawings. This work shows the influence of the Vorticist movement and is well-received when he exhibits at the Goupil Gallery. The title of the show is 'Drawings made in Ypres Salient by Paul Nash'.
  • He decides he wants to go back to the front line but this time as an Official War Artist.
  • Nash meets his colleague Mr John Buchan at the Foreign Office who works at the British War Propaganda Bureau (WPB) and is also the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps.
  • As a result of some hard campaigning from Nash’s well connected friends, along with the successful reviews of his Goupil Gallery show, Charles Masterman, head of the government's War Propaganda Bureau recruits Nash as an Official War Artist
  • He is sent to Southampton where he awaits his call to go to France.
  • November: He finally reaches France.
  • November 13th: He meets up with his brother (now a Sergeant) Jack who has been in service with the Artist Rifles for a long time.
  • Nash is stationed near Ypres for about a week where he produces fourteen drawings of different aspects of the battlefields of Passchendale (the Third Battle of Ypres or "Passchendaele" has just finished).
  • His visit to Brigade HQ at Zillebecke provides him with the access he needs to visit the places he wants.
  • He sketches from the old German Front Line, The Menin Road, the Mule Track and Inverness Copse among others.
  • He visits Vimy Ridge.
  • December: His time is up and he returns to England, a changed man.
  • 1918

  • His sketches are nervously received by Charles Masterman at WPB. They are bleak and truthful.
  • May: Following orders he holds an exhibition at Leicester Galleries titled 'Void of War: An Exhibition of pictures by Paul Nash.'
  • He is commissioned to paint a panel 14 feet by 7 feet for the Imperial War Museum.
  • He persuades the Foreign Office to remove his Brother from the front line and make him an official war artist as well.
  • The two Nash Brothers move to Chalfont St Peter where they start work on their commissions.
  • Nash paints with oils for the first time.
  • Nash's work includes The Menin Road and We Are Making a New World.
  • They move to London where they set up in a new studio.
  • November 1918: The Armistice is signed and the war is over.