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All about Bruce Bairnsfather

The talk, called 'The Man Who Won the War?' by renowned experts Tonie and Valmai Holt is about the life and cartoons of Bruce Bairnsfather. It starts at 11am and will be held at the Meeting House, Warwick Quaker Centre, 39 High Street, Warwick, CV34 4AX. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the museum for 3 per person.

The display is a rare opportunity to see items from the outstanding collection held by Tonie and Valmai Holt, including one of the original Fragments from France cartoons, 'That Hat', as well as other collectables featuring his well known ‘Old Bill’ cartoons. His comic characters can be seen on a variety of objects from vases, plates and cups to car mascots, postcards and ashtrays.

Bruce Bairnsfather for a time lived locally in Bishopton, near Stratford upon Avon. He was a man of extraordinary talent being an artist, an actor, a playwright, film producer and author. During World War I he served in the 1st Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was later made the official Cartoonist in the Intelligence Department. Then in the Second World War he was an official cartoonist to the American Forces in Europe (cartoons in ‘Stars and Stripes’).

Major and Mrs Holt are seeking a wider recognition for his achievements, at the end of the War he was nicknamed 'The Man Who Won the War'. Yet Bruce Bairnsfather never received official recognition for the part he played during the War, especially in contributing to raising morale. Their passion and interest in Bruce Bairnsfather developed out of their research into the First World War. He was mentioned in the books they read, and also by soldiers and civilians they interviewed who remembered the War. More than anything else his cartoons were loved by the ordinary soldier as they captured the humour and reality of trench life. In this respect he was fairly unique, especially for an officer to portray what it was really like day to day at the Front. His characterisation of Old Bill resonated with the British people and greatly contributed to the war effort. His artwork also continues to inspire artists to the present day.

They launched a petition 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.


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