29th September 1959. ‘Old Bill’.


Above depicts ‘Old Bill’ and mate in a shell-hole, ‘if you know of a better hole’. drawn by Bruce Bairnsfather whilst posted to 34th Division on Salisbury Plain as machine gun instructor, after hospitalisation, resulting from 2nd Battle of Ypres. 

David Low was the best-known cartoonist of World War II (as noted in a previous Post): In World War I it was Bruce Bairnsfather, who died Today in 1959.

Cartoonist of walrus-moustached, pipe-smoking, Tommy, ‘Old Bill’, frequently seen wearing a balaclava helmet, Bruce depicted life in the trenches and Bill, along with Bert and Alf, were featured weekly in ‘Fragments from France’, in The Bystander.

Whilst initially incurring the wrath of the ‘powers that be’ by his scruffy soldiers, it was later realised Bruce was good for morale and was employed as full time cartoonist throughout the war.


As The Times reported in its obituary: ‘He was fortunate in possessing a talent, almost to the point of genius and suited to a particular moment and circumstances. Unfortunately he was never able to adapt to new times and circumstances’.

(1) April 1915.


The Times Obituary: 30.9.1959.


independent.co.uk/news/The Captain who gave Britain Humour. Kate Youde. 2.11.2014/Pic of farm.

dailytelegraph. 30.5.2014. IWM Pic.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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