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Remembered Today:

Bruce Bairnsfather Creator of "Old Bill"


DaveC
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Hi Everybody

    Would anybody know if Bruce Bairnsfather was with the 1/4th Bn Duke of Wellington's Regiment at any time,   I've come across it in a book by Gerald Gliddon called "The Battle of the Somme A Topographical History" and on page 153 it says:-

Foncquevillers

 

Before the battle began Bruce Bairnsfather the creator of "Old Bill" when he was with the 1/4 DWR was in shelters and dugouts on the road between Foncquevillers and Hebuterne. it was known as Thorpe Street and was a strait line  between the two villages.

I've looked through everything I have on the 1/4th Bn and can't find any mention of Bruce Bainsforth being with the 1/4th Bn,   If he was it would be real interest.    Kindest Regards DaveC

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The McMaster map index recognises a Bairnsfather Dugout south east of Foncquevillers at 57 D NE 1&2 in E 27 c - K 3a (same ref as Thorpe Street)

 

Max

Edited by MaxD
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His Who's Who entry says "Royal Warwickshire Regt"; could DWR be a typo for RWR?

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TNA has a collection of his postcards and that gives R Warwickshire Regt

 

Administrative / biographical background:

These postcards illustrate the work of Bruce Bairnsfather (1888-1959), a humorous cartoonist who drew for the Bystander. In 1914, Bairnsfather went to France with the Royal Warwickshire Regt, enduring two years of trench warfare. His cartoons threw sometimes light, sometimes dark humour on an appalling situation. Bairnsfather's principal military character was "Ole Bill". With his companions, "Ole Bill" came to the London stage in August 1917, when Bairnsfather co-operated in writing a play entitled "The Better 'Ole". The name came from one of his best-known cartoons, where "Ole Bill", hiding in a shell crater, says "Well if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it." The cartoons were later collated and published as fragments from France, and the Bystander also issued many as postcards. A copy of the "Better 'Ole" postcard is at D-AYRT 2

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Available online

 

Bullets & Billets by Bruce Bairnsfather 2nd edition 1917 Archive.org. Gutenberg.org edition, with cartoons collected at the front of the file. Bruce Bairnsfather Wikipedia. He was an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who became very well known for his cartoons.

Fragments from France by Captain Bruce Bairnsfather 1917 Archive.org. A collection of cartoons. Published in 1916 (2nd edition) as The Bystander's Fragments from France. Vol. I, More Fragments from France 
Vol. II, Still more Fragments from France 
Vol. III, Fragments from France 
Vol. IV University of Wisconsin Digital Collections; More Fragments from France Parts V-VIII c 1918 Archive.org.

From Mud to Mufti by Bruce Bairnsfather 1919 Archive.org American edition, with American Preface, London edition.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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Many thanks to MaxD, seaJane, Corisande and Maureen

 I THINK seaJane might be right it could be a typo.  if anybody knows which Bn he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment it might clear it up.   Kindest Regards to all DaveC

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Gained his 1914/1915 Star entering France on 29 Nov 1914, only 1st and 2nd Battalions in France at that time.  Haven't spotted him in the diaries though.  His Wiki entry says he "served with a MG unit until 1915 until hospitalized after 2nd Ypres"

 

LG 1 Oct 1915 - seconded as Brigade MG Officer 3 Oct 1915)

 

LG 6 May 1916 (now a capt) records him remaining seconded to a HQ unit (Comdrs Reserve Centres)

 

Max

Edited by MaxD
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I have a copy of "In Search of the Better 'Ole" being a Biography of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather by Tonie and Valmai Holt first published in 1985 as well as an updated version published in 2001.

 

In Chapter three it states that he enlisted at his old Regimental Headquarters in Warwick. With in days he was in uniform and on the 12th September 1914 commissioned into the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In November following a month on the Isle of Wight he was ordered to join the 1st Battalion which were in trenches near Armentières. He arrived via Plymouth and Le Havre with 100 men. By April 1915 he was near Ypres with the Battalion and on the 24th April near Wieltje he suffered a shell explosion which damaged his hearing and gave him shell-shock." The book also contains various photographs of him in uniform. Following hospitalisation in London  and sick leave at home he was pronounced fit for light duties and posted to the Royal Warwickshire Depot on the Isle of Wight. Two months later he was posted to Salisbury Plain at the 34th Division HQ at Sutton Veney as the divisional machine gun officer responsible for training officers and sections of the division. It was at Sutton Veney in October 1915 when he drew his most famous cartoon. When the division left for France in early 1916 he returned to the Isle of Wight as a celebrity. Within weeks he was then posted to France as staff captain (special reserve) Fourth Army Railheads at Montrelet in the Albert/Doullens sector. In July he was in hospital at Rouen suffering from exhaustion from which he was sent to hospital in London again where he was formally classified as not fit for active service in France.

 

regards

 

Indefatigable

 

 

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Cheers MaxD and indefatigable

    It seems Indefatigable as cleared it up it must be a typo.    Many thank to all who have helped.    Kindest and Warmest Regards Davec

      

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