Born in India, Bruce Bairnsfather was educated at the United Services College. He served in the Warwickshire Militia from 1911 to 1914, went to work for an electrical engineering firm, then joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at the outbreak of war. Severely wounded as Ypres, he was attached to the Intelligence Department as an officer-cartoonist.
Old Bill was Bairnsfather’s most famous cartoon character, with his walrus moustache and cockney origins, he captured the public imagination. It wasn’t until the 1939-45 war that Old Bill was used in government posters, a belated use of his folk hero appeal. During the 1939-45 war Bairnsfather served as an official war cartoonist attached to the US army in the European theatre of war from 1942 to 1944.
Information taken from: Darracott, J. and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1981, p.18
Related Texts: Bairnsfather, B., Wide Canvas, 1939; “The Collected Drawings of Bruce Bairnsfather”, USA 1931
- Bruce Bairnsfather: Official Site
- Bruce Bairnsfather, Cartoonist
- Bruce Bairnsfather and Ole Bill
- Wikipedia Entry
- Fragments from France
Featured Image Source (2015): Warfare Magazine