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Thursday 11th December 2003

Cartoons of Bruce Bairnsfather

A plaque is to be unveiled on a cottage in a Belgian village, commemorating the cartoonist, Bruce Bairnsfather a soldier in World War I.

Bruce Bairnsfather served as a soldier during the First World War. The shocking events he witnessed on the front lines drove him to draw cartoons to cheer him up. It wasn't too long before he was drawing cartoons for other officers. These were spotted by his commanding officer, who suggested he submit them to magazines.

Although Bairnsfather is not well known as the poet Wilfred Owen, his depictions of the horrors of war touched the hearts of thousands of soldiers. As well as images of grim reality, he reflected the unbelievable humour and strong morale that existed between the men. In fact, war general, Sir Ian Hamilton, described Bairnsfather as "the man who won the war" for his unique ability to lift the troops spirits.

The Cartoons

"If yer knows a better 'ole, go to it" is probably one of the most famous wartime cartoons ever published. It shows two soliders arguing while surrounded by exploding bombs. Bairnsfather went on to create the archetypal British solider Old Bill and his work has been much copied during many conflicts - the most recent being the Iraq war.

The Plaque

Bruce Bairnsfather spent much of his time in the trenches of Belgium. It is here on the side of a small cottage in St Yvon, that a plaque will be unveiled at 11am on Saturday 13th December. Some of his supporters hope that despite the fact he was not recognised at the time, he may still receive a posthumous award.


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