The Daily Postcard No. 20

We couldn’t really look at postcards of the Great War without including Old Bill, now could we?

Old Bill was Bruce Bairnsfather’s best known character, and unsurprisingly he soon found himself on postcards, as did many other of Bairnsfather’s cartoons.  This card, and that below, the only two original Bairnsfather cards that I own, were sent by one Alf Langstaff to his wife in Ontario – note the stamp of the Orderly Room of 160th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

Bairnsfather’s first cartoon had been published in the Bystander magazine in March 1915, and before long he had become so popular that not only did Bystander put him on an exclusive contract, they published forty three of his cartoons in a single publication entitled ‘Fragments from France’ (it sold 250,000 copies at a shilling each, and was the first of an eventual seven volumes), and inevitably postcards soon followed.  Again using the ‘Fragments from France’ title, nine sets of six cards were produced, printed in sepia on a special type of soft card.

Note that there’s nearly a month between the two postmarks, so presumably it took a month to get post from France to Canada.  Incidentally, many years ago now, we visited the site of the dugout where Bairnsfather first created Old Bill, and you can take a look here should you wish.

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14 Responses to The Daily Postcard No. 20

  1. Lou Lloyd says:

    I didn’t realise he was part of the Warwickshire Regiment, we have a museum here in Warwick for them that I keep meaning to visit, you know how it is, when you live somewhere you never go to the local places.
    So this now has made me determined to make it my first visit when the lockdown has been removed.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Oh yes, joined the Warwickshires in 1914. And I know exactly what you mean! Let us know when you do visit the museum, Lou.

  2. Sid from Down Under says:

    I also found your hyperlinked 2012 “A Tour of Ploegsteert Wood Part Twelve” most interesting including Captain Bruce Bairnsfather’s plaque – of equal interest is the array of comments spanning eight years. Just goes to further prove “You must write a book”.

    I wonder if he had a cartoon of Old Bill opening a “Gift of love” food parcel and saying “Wot, no dog biscuits” – my father used to say their trench food consisted of bully beef, hard tack stale dog biscuits and tainted tea brewed in the same vat as vegetable stew.

    • Magicfingers says:

      I have to do the book, you are right, and finally I think I have the template – I’ll have to do some pitching after we are freed. You will find a list of every Bairnsfather postcard produced if you Google it.

  3. Sid from Down Under says:

    Now here’s a thing – I included one hyperlink but it wouldn’t post then discovered any form of hyperlink stops posting – all I can suggest is Google comicbookplus72250 and select Eric Jolliffe – Comic Book Plus Forum and enjoy 48 cartoons depicted in the old Pix weekly magazine

    I had a quick look at yours but could not see “my quote” – for a bit of Australiana by famous cartoonist Eric Jolliffe who was born in Portsmouth and arrived in Perth age 4 … some might today say they are not PC but Eric could not have been too bad because he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 1998 Australia Day Honours for “service to art as a cartoonist and illustrator”

    • Magicfingers says:

      You’ve posted hyperlimks before, though. I don’t understand the last paragraph I’m afraid. Clarity required.

      • Sid from Down Under says:

        Lucky if you understand this explanation but here goes. The second paragraph was originally the first. When it wouldn’t post I got carried away explaining my frustrating predicament and that became a new first paragraph. I must admit none reads well.

        Overall I digressed from Bairnsfather but as he was a cartoonist I introduced Jolliffe born in Portsmouth (Pompey) and came to Australia in 1911 age 4 making him in later life considered an Australian. He was a popular cartoonist of Witchetty’s Tribe and Salt Bush Bill which might give your readers a smile (depending upon PC Brigade attitudes).

        Mate, you have to get up early to keep up with my diverse thinking! I looked at your suggested list of every Bairnsfather postcard but (as I expected) could not find any caption showing my “Wot, no dog biscuits”(BTW, from in a WW1 German “Gift of love” food parcel). My attempt at humour has gone over like the proverbial lead balloon.

        • Magicfingers says:

          Ha ha!! But at least I’ve got it now!! And you’ve introduced Jolliffe to a wider audience…….

          • Sid from Down Under says:

            As a play on words I was tempted to say “went over like a Led Zeppelin” which I’m confident you will understand

  4. John says:

    The Postcard to Spencerville Ontario Canada:

    Spencerville is a small town in rural eastern Ontario near the St. Lawrence River. It is on the 416 Highway, which is named the “Veterans Memorial Highway” that runs from the nations capital Ottawa to the 401 Highway. The 401 is Ontario’s main artery.

    The lone message looks like “Alf”, short for Alfred. There is no entry for an Alfred Langstaff at CWGC, so I assume that the “lad”… (trust me here for a moment) … made it home. After an hour online at the Archives looking through Census rolls, I may have gotten lucky. There was a Langstaff family listed in the 1901 Census in Grenville County Ontario with a son Alfred R. born in June 15, 1899. Spencerville is in Grenville County. There is no other Alfred Langstaff in the Census record in the area or era. His father’s given name was Stanage, which matches the S. Langstaff of the addressee. If he’s “the Alf” he would have been 18 years of age (hence “lad”) in the Spring of 1918 when the card was mailed and delivered. Yes, it’s a stretch.

    • Magicfingers says:

      It’s a pretty decent stretch, though, based on what you say. Were there 18-year old Canadians on the Western Front in January 1918? What was the age of conscription in Canada? I thought possibly twenty, but as we know, that hardly disqualifies him.

      • John says:

        The conscription age in Canada was officially 20. The volunteer age was 18, or 17 with parental consent. But, we know there were many teenagers who looked close enough to pass, and wanted to.

        Fifteen yards from the memorial pillar to my two great uncles in our main city cemetery there is a family gravestone. It has an inscription for a Private killed in action just 100 yards nor east of the Regina Trench Cemetery the first week of October 1916. He was 19. What I have not been able to come to know is how long had he served before he fell.
        .

  5. Magicfingers says:

    Wey hey! Led Zeppelin. I see what you did there!!

  6. Margaret Draycott says:

    Love Bairnsfather and his cartoons. Great observation lovely moon for one killer for the other it’s all relative

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