Bert Thomas was born in Newport, Wales to Job Thomas, a sculptor. When he left school he was apprenticed as a commercial metal engraver, specialising in the design of brass door plates. In the early 1900s Thomas moved to London and his work began to make his war in to magazines and newspapers, and he ‘quickly made his way to the front rank of humorous cartoonists’. His work was published in Punch Magazine, Evening News, London Opinion, The Graphic, and The Bystander. Married and living in Hatch End, Middlesex, prior to the First World War Thomas also designed advertisements and theatrical and commercial posters, which demonstrated a strong awareness of German design.
In the First World War Thomas designed the ‘Arf a Mo, Kaiser’ campaign for the Weekly Despatch tobacco fund campaign, through which he became known nationally, and raised £250,000 to provide troops with tobacco and cigarettes. Thomas designed posters during both world wars, mostly for the National Service and the railways in the Second. His two designs for ‘Is Your Journey Really Necessary?’ were used as posters by the Railway Executive Committee from 1942 to 1944, and occasionally as a newspaper advertisement. Thomas was a notable member of the London Sketch Club in the 1940s. He was one of many Punch Magazine artists influenced by Phil May. Thomas produced several cartoon books including Red and Black: A Book of Drawings (1928), Cartoons and Character Drawings (1936), Fun at the Seaside (1944), Fun on the Farm (1944), A Mixed Bag (1945), Fun in the Country (1946) and A Trip on a Barge (1947).
Information collated from: Darracott, J., and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1972 (1981 edition), p.56; Spartacus Schoolnet, ‘Bert Thomas’, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARTthomas.htm, accessed September 21 2003; Farman, J., ‘galleryonthegreen.co.uk’, http://www.galleryonthegreen.co.uk/mainfiles/sketch/history.htm, accessed October 3 2003
Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.