Bertie Studley Fiven (Australian, 1889-1958)

The Great Court, Trinity College Cambridge (c.1917)

14.5 x 9.5 cm

Watercolour

Signed and inscribed ’31st Bn AIF’

Born in Carlton, Victoria, Australia, Fiven enlisted in 1915 in C Company of the 31st Australian Infantry Battalion in July 1915. In November 1915 he embarked on either HMAT Wandilla or HMAT Bakara from Melbourne. Whilst on board the ’31st Recorder’ newspaper was produced (it ran to only one issue, published in the middle of the Indian Ocean on 1st December 1915) and Fiven produced the illustration for the front cover. He then served in Egypt defending the Suez Canal from the Turks. The Battalion then served in France in the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916, suffering 500 casualties and serving no further part in the war until 1917, where it was on the edge of the Battle of Passchendale in September. The Battalion being disbanded in March 1919, Fiven returned to Australia, returning as a Lieutenant on 15 May 1919 to the relief of his mother Mary and his sweetheart May Moore – whom he married on 16 August 1919.

There was a policy during the war of rotating troops away from the front line, and Fiven will have spent some rest time in Cambridge when he painted this picture.

He died in Heidelberg in Australia in 1958.