EDENBRIDGE’S Eden Valley Museum is hosting – until December 21- a display of pottery, books and postcards bearing humourous cartoons by Bruce Bairnsfather about life in the trenches during the First World War.
Captain (Charles) Bruce Bairnsfather (July 1887 – September 1959) was a prominent British humorist and cartoonist. His best-known cartoon character is Old Bill. Bill and his pals Bert and Alf featured in Bairnsfather’s weekly “Fragments from France” cartoons published weekly in “The Bystander” magazine during the First World War.
In 1914 he joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a second lieutenant and served with a machine gun unit in France until 1915, when he was hospitalised with shellshock and hearing damage sustained during the Second Battle of Ypres.
Posted to the 34th Division headquarters on Salisbury Plain, Bairnsfather developed his humorous series for the Bystander about life in the trenches, featuring “Old Bill”, a curmudgeonly soldier with trademark walrus moustache and balaclava.