Welcome to the first original and official website owned by Old Bill collectors and updated by Joe Bristow and is dedicated to the works of Bruce Bairnsfather a prolific cartoonist during the first and second world wars.This wesite in constantly updated with all the latest news and events related to the work of Bairnsfather with its very own hot news page.
Some say Bruce Bairnsfather was the guy that won the first world war by keeping the morale of the troops up. Even nearly a century on there are still dedicated followers of his work.
Several meetings of Bairnsfather fans have happened over the last couple of years with followers coming from as far afield as New Zealand to retrace the steps of Bairnsfather.
The cartoon shown on the title page is probably his most famous and indeed one of the most famous cartoons ever produced, leading to a title phrase "If you know a better hole - go to it".
His first world war cartoons, were published in the Bystander and issued in collections titled "Fragments from France". He went on to write numerous books notably "Bullets & Billets" and "From Mud to Mufti".
Over the years, due to the popularity of his cartoons quite an array of collectibles from the first world war, second world war and post war have been produced including pottery, car and motorcycle mascots, prints, posters etc.(examples of which can be seen in the photo section).Please email with any question or comments on this email
WW1 were bairnsfather fought please click on video link
|CAPTAIN BRUCE BAIRNSFATHER|
|Royal Warwickshire Regiment|
|09.07.1887 ~ 29.09.1959|
Born on 9th July 1887 at Muree on India's North West Frontier, Charles Bruce Bairnsfather was destined to become the best known and best loved of Britain's Great War artists.
ST. YVON BELGIUM 13TH DECEMBER 2003
Captain Bruce Bairnsfather, arguably the greatest cartoonist of the Great War, went to his grave largely unmourned by a nation which had forgotten the huge debt it owed this talented and singular man. But across the land many an old soldier, the veterans of that terrible carnage on the Western Front, remembered and shed a tear for their favourite, their 'officer cartoonist', the creator of Old Bill and 'Fragments from France', the man who got them through it with a heart full of mirth, a chuckle and a laugh, 'the man who won the war'. For Bairnsfather had been through what they had been through, seen what they had seen, experienced what they had experienced. He had shared it all with the stout-hearted British Tommies, who, smothered in mud, flies and lice, in trenches built with the decomposing bodies of the dead, desperate to come to terms with the appalling conditions, the illness, the squalor, the disease, and the constant fear of death, needed something to pull their minds away from the brutal reality of that grim slaughter. It was Bairnsfather who gave it to them. Drawing on their shared experiences, he worked his magic with pencil and pen, brush and ink, and brought smiles to the faces of that doomed generation; once flushed with the bloom of youth, made sterile, grey and pallid by the horrors of the war of attrition being waged by their superiors.
BULLETS AND BILLETS
Published in December 1916 by the publisher Grant Richards , was Bainsfathers first attempt at writting a book and a very good one to.The book covered Bairnsfathers first 6 months in france up untill his being wounded and exit in the second battle of Ypers .
The first edition of 50000 copies were sold out in the first week such was his popularity at the time.The book was reprinted at least seven times over the next two years,even today you can still buy a modern reprint of Bullets & Billets.A limited edition of 100 copies of the book was made each with a personalised sketch was printed in 1917.Please read Bullets and Billets and from Mud to Mufti in full on the Bullets to Billets page.
FROM MUD TO MUFTIWhen the war ended in 1918 Bairnsfather was back in England working on a new book again for Grant Richards.It followed on were Bullets & Billets left off and covered his wide range of travels to many place and adventures during the war finishing with his arrival back in England from America in October 1918.The book again as with Bullets and Billets was a great success.
THE BETTER OLE
(the 1926 version)
The lead role of Old Bill was played by Sydney Chaplin.
Directed by Charles "Chuck" Reisener.
Made by Warner Brothers .
Syd Chaplin was a successful silent-film comedian whose importance has been upstaged by his much more famous half-brother. But in fact it was Syd Chaplin who helped kid brother Charlie get his first jobs as a performer in Victorian music-halls. After Charlie Chaplin became a film star, it was big brother Syd who negotiated the contracts that made Charlie a multi-millionaire. Richard Attenborough's film biography "Chaplin" sadly neglected the major contributions which Syd Chaplin made to Charlie's career, in addition to entirely ignoring Syd's own career as a comedian.
THE BETTER 'OLE
Brother Charlie used to make pictures like this before he got all tangled up in Art. However, we come, not to bury Charlie, but to praise Syd. In this film, Syd picks up the characters of the popular Bairnsfather cartoons, weaves new adventures around Bill and Alf and makes a picture which is to comedy what "The Big Parade" is to drama.
THE BETTER 'OLE
If you think Sydney Chaplin was at his best as a female impersonator in "Charley's Aunt" and it s successors, by all means see him in "The Better 'Ole" and get the shock of your life. Also, I may add, the laugh of your life. For he comes across with such glorious humor in this picturization of the war comedy that one is inclined to dare all other comedians to equal him. Certainly Syd surpasses his own record, and one trembles for fear his later pictures may not live up to his present one. Incidentally, this is one of the rare instances when a film is better than the play from which it was taken.
Ask me for the plot of "The Better 'Ole" and you find me dumb. The story is slight indeed, yet it is there; and so packed with incident that it reflects great credit upon the skill of everyone concerned in it. Syd is Private William Busby who has served thirty years in the British army, and is known as Old Bill, from which you will gather that he does not take the war too seriously. Accidentally, he frustrates a spy within his own regiment and ultimately checks the advance of the Germans. Offered by his general anything in the world, Old Bill modestly requests a sergeantry, and remarks to his buddy, Alf, "Bli' me, this ain't a bad war after all."
There is neither love nor heroines in "The Better 'Ole." Instead we have humanness and wholesome laughter. Don't pass this up; it's great.
OLD BILL & SON
A film that once did its bit in cheering up a Britain at war, it is unlikely to have them rolling in the aisles at the multiplex. This is not to say that it couldn't still raise a few laughs, if it was ever shown again.
I am a 40 year old builder and Bairnsfather collector living in the southwest city of Bristol. I collect all aspects of Bairnsfather's collectables, but my real passion, albeit an expensive one, are his original drawings and sketches .I am also a keen photographer and motorcyclist.
Up until a 6 years ago the main hobby of my life was Enduro Motorcycle Racing. This came to an end following a knee injury, and the bike began gathering dust in the garage.Whilst searching the internet for various things, I came across Old Bill, and Bruce Bairnsfather. My collecting began, and before long I had a fairly respectable collection building up and I began to lean toward sketches and autographed items, my Birthday present was a very nice signed copy of "The Bairnsfather Case" complete with small sketch of Old Bill which came all the way from New Zealand.
If only I could get my hands on an original Fragment drawing.
2004 arrived and I continued my search for all things Bairnsfather, searching the internet for items to add to the cabinets, travelling about the Country to fairs and auctions looking for the right piece to fill that spot and an elusive Fragments from France No.8.
Then, there it was "Adaptable Enemies" - on Ebay. Blinkin heck as Old Bill might have said. I sat tight, OK how much could I afford to put on this one? Then David Cohen came up with "Alhambra" and "Coiffure in the trenches" - the dilemma set in, which one did I like the best, which one could I afford? I went for "Adaptable Enemies" - The Enduro motorbike went on E-bay. The final minutes dragged by, the final seconds, the email "You have been outbid".... NO!
I was gutted. I contacted David Cohen, but already "Coiffure in the trenches" had been sold. Beaten to it again!
Then up popped Bill Asprey of Cartoon World. Who had an original Bairnsfather entitled "Best noose of the War", it looked the business, but I hadn't seen it in any of the Fragments or books I had. Bill sent me a condition report although the only provenance was a verbal report that it had been rescued from a tip. Was it a genuine original? Should I go for "Alhambra", whilst I deliberated on this "Alhambra" was snapped up and the decision was made for me.
I contacted Bill Asprey, payment was made, a delivery date set with the promise of a full refund should I not be happy with the drawing. Whilst waiting, I found a copy of Fragments from France No. 8 and on arrival flicked through, and there on page 13 was "Best Noose of the War", I tried to compare the magazine print with the web-site image, but had to wait until Bill arrived with the drawing.
Delivery day arrived, and the picture was unveiled. One look said - this is original, Bill pointed out the writing on the back. It was framed and hung up probably before he reached the M32 on his journey home!
THE BEST NOOSE OF THE WAR originaly appeared in the Bystander magazine dated 12th December 1917,also that the flying no" notation and page reference on the back of the drawing referred to the theme of that issue of the magazine and page on which it appeared,as with nearly all his drawing from this period it was signed on the back.
I also confirmed that it was probably drawn about 2 weeks before the publication date around the end of November 1917 .Bairnsfather was living with his parents at Bishopston near statford upon avon,so it may have been drawn there ,or in London.The drawing was originaly sold at a exhibition of Bairnsfather drawings from theBystander which was held at the Greatorex Gallery in London in February/March 1919.
Now if only i could get my hands on a copy of the Bystander for 12th December 1917!!!!!!!!!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank a number of people for their enthusiastic and valued support and supplying invaluable material without which the, this website would be a poorer place, namely Clarence Simonsen (WW2 Bomber research), Mark Stephens, Steve Smith, Graham Micklejohn, Brian & Claire Hill, Charlie Hayter, Rick & Maureen Sperinck and Tonie & Valmai Holt for their much appreciated support. Apologies to anyone I have missed out.