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Introduction: 'The Lost Generation'

CivilisationBrian Hatton died in the First World War aged 28, on 23rd April 1916, at the Battle of Oghratina in Egypt, where he had been sent to fight the Turkish forces that had joined the central powers (Germany Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria) in 1914. Volunteering in the heat of battle to ride for help from the nearby Gloucester Regiment, Brian disappeared into the desert and was never seen again. His body was found months later. In his wallet was a tiny photograph of his wife.

From an early age, Brian Hatton showed a keen interest in horses in action. The first image, ‘The Tournament’, demonstrates his remarkable observation of horses and armour. Many of his early drawings and paintings were influenced by the stories of King Arthur and his knights, Walter Scott and Byron, so reflect scenes of conflict.

On the 4th September 1914, Brian joined the Worcester Yeomanry as a trooper. During his time in the army, Brian produced several pieces of work including, ‘Civilisation’, ‘Scene in the Café Royale’, ‘Advance Guard Patrolling a road’ and ‘Signalling, Enemy in Sight’. These continued to reflect his fascination with horses. Most of these were completed using charcoal, black ink and white gouache with a grey wash.

The young men who volunteered to fight for their country had little idea of what lay before them, yet within days or weeks of reaching the front line they had experienced the realities of war.

‘Civilisation’ (see image above)

Brian drew this in 1915, before he went into active service. It was based on accounts he must have heard, in spite of censorship. It was very different from the works he had produced before. He may have wanted to offer this to a newspaper, but it is unlikely that a picture showing so clearly the stark horrors of war would have been printed.

During the First World War, 908,371 soldiers from the British Empire were killed in action, or died of their injuries or disease. These countries included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. Approximately 750,000 of these men were from Great Britain. The men who died in this war became known as ‘The Lost Generation’.

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