There we were the other evening, sitting quietly at home watching Sir Tony Robinson presenting a New Zealand segment of his Tour of Duty show set in Dunedin. He visited the home of official war artist Peter McIntyre to interview the two nieces who now live in the house and there on the wall was the postcard, “It’s wonderful what leaks out, keep your mouth shut”. Robin had spotted this humorous drawing in the men’s loos of the National Army Museum at Waiouru in April and couldn’t resist taking a photo. We didn’t realise at the time that it was the work of Peter McIntyre. The photographic postcard reproduces a drawing by Peter McIntyre warning against speaking indiscreetly. It shows the backs of two soldiers in military uniform with lemon-squeezer hats, standing at a urinal. Well worth a second look, we feel, especially as we are now aware of the artist behind this amusing little piece of art.
In January 1941 Peter McIntyre was appointed New Zealand’s official war artist and promoted to the rank of captain by Major General Bernard Freyberg. Between 1941 and 1945 he recorded the activities of 2NZEF in Crete and North Africa, and at Cassino in Italy, where he became a major. His work was exhibited in Europe and New Zealand, and reproduced in magazines including the New Zealand Listener, making him a household name in New Zealand. His war art defined the New Zealand soldier’s experience of the Second World War. Images such as ‘German parachutists landing on Galatos, Crete’, ‘28th Maori Battalion moves up’, and ‘The wounded at Cassino’ were subsequently reproduced in numerous publications. McIntyre’s work from this period belongs to the collection of war art at National Archives in Wellington.
Immediately following the war he worked as an artist in Dunedin, producing portraits and landscapes. In the decades following McIntyre won a number of art awards, and published eight books. He was awarded an OBE in 1970, and died in Wellington on 11 September 1995. He was certainly a very talented man.