The Captain Bruce Bairnsfather Recognition Campaign

Tonie and Valmai Holt
Tonie and Valmai Holt 315 Comments
495 Signatures Goal: 1,000

Bruce Bairnsfather's cartoons during the First World War were a major plank in the morale of the troops on the Front Line and of those at Home. His drawings, based upon personal experience in the trenches, showed life as it really was, yet at the same time allowed everyone to laugh - at themselves, at authority and at the enemy. His cartoons were avidly anticipated in the trenches and in most homes in Great Britain (who would also have owned examples of the many pottery items that carried his drawings).

The French, Italian and American Forces, recognising the effect of Bairnsfather’s cartoons upon morale, asked for Bairnsfather to work his special magic on their troops too. Soon plays and films featuring his archetypal characters, Old Bill, Bert and Alf were making people laugh literally all over the world and he was uniquely created 'Officer Cartoonist'.

The Secret Service (MI7) planned the inclusion of propaganda messages in the replies to his fan mail.

However, The Establishment, and armchair Generals were upset by the realistic depiction of life in the trenches and The Times decried the drawings as showing a 'degraded type of face'. Later the Imperial War Museum dismissed the 'artistic' value of the drawings - as if that mattered or was even true.

In our opinion these ignorant attitudes have prevented Bruce Bairnsfather's contribution to the war effort from being properly and officially recognised. In 1934 the British Legion Journal said, 'England owes Bruce Bairnsfather a good deal more than its leaders have yet recognised'.

It is time for that recognition.

We are proposing that a leading member of the Government should make a statement in the House that Bairnsfather's contribution should be retrospectively recognised and that that statement should be made just before the 100th Anniverary of the publication of Bairnsfather's most famous cartoon - 'The Better 'Ole' - in October 2015.

The power of just that one cartoon alone is such that it is continually used even today with characters as diverse as Archbishops, Prime Ministers, Russian leaders, Bosnian personalities and Sinn-Fein IRA finding themselves in that ‘Ole.

No donations of any sort are asked for.

Your support will help us to redress a wrong for the man who Sir Ian Hamilton said was, 'a real asset …who made the Empire laugh in its darkest hour’.

Please sign. Thank you.

1

Highlight

August 15
We are now live!
  • john pimm belcher
    john pimm belcher United Kingdom, Liverpool
    Oct 16, 2016
    Oct 16, 2016
    as old bill was my great uncle ,T H Rafferty the original Old Bill I feel my signature promotes the lives of both men
  • Phil Pearn
    Phil Pearn United Kingdom, Chester
    Feb 29, 2016
    Feb 29, 2016
    I've been inspired reading about this man - embarrassed that I'd not heard of him before. His army of fans have now passed on but as we look back on WW1 - seen through today's eyes - surely 'today's establishment' should recognise what he did for war-time morale both at the Front and with the home fires. I recommend reading Bullets & Billets.
  • Brian Ash
    Brian Ash United Kingdom, Chester
    May 19, 2015
    May 19, 2015
    Long overdue
  • JRE Brown
    JRE Brown Australia, Brisbane
    Mar 30, 2015
    Mar 30, 2015
    This wrong should be righted!
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495

Signatures

  • 11 months ago
    john pimm belcher United Kingdom
    11 months ago
  • 2 years ago
    Brian Ash United Kingdom
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    JRE Brown
    2 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Michaela Cooper
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Vasudev Singh Pathania
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Wendy Heaney
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Mairi Macdonald
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Nick Belcher
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    william Hill United Kingdom
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Max Martin
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Antony Black
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    David Woodgate
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Iain Macbriar
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    Doug Knutson
    3 years ago
  • 3 years ago
    beckie
    3 years ago
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