[lit-ideas] Re: The Better 'Ole

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2013 13:36:58 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 3/26/2013 2:51:24 P.M. UTC-02,  profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx 
refers to 
>The cartoon--an early copy is on my  reading room wall--is by Bairns  
thinking Donal needs a treat from the store, possibly Moostruck  Chocolates,
The reference being to:
"Well if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it!" (1915)
by Bruce  Bairnsfather, one of the most famous cartoons
of the Great War
For the record, more below.
Note the implicature of 'knows' in:
If you knows of a better 'ole, go for it!
---- In symbols: 
⊢p  ⊃ !q
rather than
!( ⊢p  ⊃ q)
-- which would be senseless. Cfr. the disimplicature:
'if you THINKS you knows of a better 'ole, go for it'.
>thinking Donal needs a treat.


* With reference to "What was your father reading during the war", in  
connection to Omar's question, "The soldiers weren't reading Hegel, were 
 and C. Bruce's attempt at an answer, "No, they were reading Kant", with a  
reference to an inscription, "Sie  findet . . . steigende Verwendung  in  
Arbeitsgemeinschaften und . . .  zu Einzelstudium,  *insbesondere an der  
Front.*" ['It has found growing  use in study  groups and for individual 
study, *especially on the  front lines*'].
Note that the implicature seems to be that INDIVIDUAL study is preferred on 
 the front lines?
Captain (Charles) Bruce Bairnsfather (9 July 1887 – 29 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.
Born to a military family in Murree, British India (now Pakistan), he spent 
 his early life in India, but was brought to England in 1895 to be educated 
at  the United Services College, Westward Ho!, then at Stratford-upon-Avon. 
 Initially intending a military career, he failed entrance exams to 
Sandhurst and  Woolwich Academies but joined the Cheshire Regiment.

He resigned in 1907 to become an artist, studying at the John Hassall  
School of Art. Unsuccessful at first, he worked as an electrical engineer.  
Working this capacity for the Old Memorial Theatre, Stratford, brought him into 
acquaintance with Marie Corelli, who introduced him to Thomas Lipton, a  
connection that led to commissions to draw advertising sketches for Lipton 
tea,  Player's cigarettes, Keen's Mustard, and Beecham's Pills.

In 1914 he joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and served with a machine 
 gun unit in France until 1915, when he was hospitalised with shell shock 
and  hearing damage sustained during the Second Battle of Ypres. 
Posted to the 34th Division headquarters on Salisbury Plain, he developed  
his humorous series for the Bystander about life in the trenches, featuring 
"Old  Bill", a curmudgeonly soldier with trademark walrus moustache and 
balaclava. The  best remembered of these shows Bill with another trooper in a 
muddy shell hole  with shells whizzing all around. The other trooper is 
grumbling and Bill  advises:
“Well, If you knows of a better 'ole, go to it.”
Many of his cartoons from this period were collected in Fragments From  
France (1914) and the autobiographical Bullets & Billets (1916).

Despite the immense popularity with the troops and massive sales  increase 
for the Bystander, initially there were objections to the "vulgar  
Nevertheless, their success in raising morale led to Bairnsfather's  
promotion and receipt of a War Office appointment to draw similar cartoons for  
other Allies forces.

In 1921 Bairnsfather married Cecilia Agnes Scott.

"Old Bill" and Bairnsfather himself continued in popularity between the  
World Wars. 
Many police officers of the time had similar facial hair, and that may have 
 led to British police being referred to as "The Bill". 
Bairnsfather was the subject of one of the first British sound film in  
1927, wrote and directed the 1928 Canadian film Carry On Sergeant[citation  
needed], and took part in the early Alexandra Palace television transmissions 
in  1936. Old Bill appeared in numerous books, plays, musicals and films. In 
1939 he  published an autobiography, "Wide Canvas".[2]
In World War II, he continued  Old Bill work, but was not asked to help 
with the British war effort. Instead,  he became official cartoonist to the 
American forces in Europe, contributing to  Stars and Stripes and Yank, whilst 
residing at Cresswell House in Clun,  Shropshire. He also drew cartoons at 
American bases and nose art on aircraft.  His works are considered to have 
influenced artists such as Bill Mauldin.
In  later life, he had found himself typecast as the creator of Old Bill, 
and his  Times obituary concluded of his career that he was "fortunate in 
possessing a  talent ... which suited almost to the point of genius one 
particular moment and  one particular set of circumstances; and he was 
in that he was never  able to adapt, at all happily, his talent to new times 
and new  circumstances".[3] He died in 1959 of complications of bladder 
cancer, in  Worcester.

"The Growth of Democracy" by Bruce Bairnsfather (1917). "Colonel Sir  
Valtravers Plantagenet gladly accepts a light, during a slight lull in a  
barrage, from a private in the Benin Rifles".

A commemorative blue plaque appears outside one of his old studios, 1  
Stirling Street, Kensington.
The blue plaque was initiated by Tonie and Valmai Holt who later wrote  
Bairnsfather's biography (In Search of the Better Ole - the Life, the Works and 
 the Collectables of Bruce Bairnsfather) and also sponsored a memorial 
plaque to  Bairnsfather on the cottage at St Yvon in Belgium at the edge of 
Plugstreet Wood  where Bairnsfather drew his first 'trench' cartoons.

A plaque commemorating Bruce Bairnsfather was unveiled at his former  home, 
Victoria Spa Lodge, Bishopton, Stratford upon Avon on 10 September 2005 by  
cartoonist Bill Tidy.
The plaque was instigated by Mark Warby, Editor of The Old Bill Newsletter, 
 the official journal for Bairnsfather enthusiasts and collectors.

On 24 September 2011 a plaque commemorating Bruce Bairnsfather was  
unveiled on the wall of Colwall Royal British Legion Club in Crescent Road,  
Colwall, near Malvern in Worcestershire. The plaque was instigated by the  
Village Society and was unveiled by Mark Warby. Bairnsfather lived in  
Colwall from 1951 to 1954 and was well-known at the British Legion Club in the  

Bill & Alphie's, the Royal Military College of Canada's on-campus  cadet 
pub in Kingston, Ontario is named after Bruce Bairnsfather's Great War  
cartoon characters. Yeo Hall at the College of Canada features sculptures of  
and Alphie. There is a large mural drawn on the wall of the main staircase  
in the Royal British Legion Victory House Club in Ludlow Shropshire.


Mark Bryant, "Bairnsfather, (Charles) Bruce (1887–1959)", Oxford  
Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online  
May 2006 accessed 2 July 2007
^ Bullets & Billets at Project  Gutenberg
^ Bairnsfather, Bruce (1939). Wide Canvas: An Autobiography.  London: John 
Long. p. 252. 
^ Capt. Bruce Bairnsfather: Creator Of "Old  Bill", The Times, 30 Sep 1959
^ "Bruce Bairnsfather plaque in London".  OpenPlaques. 
_http://openplaques.org/plaques/584_ (http://openplaques.org/plaques/584) .  
Retrieved 9 
September 2011.
^ "Bishopton 2005 Reunion".  brucebairnsfather.org. 
(http://www.brucebairnsfather.org.uk/index_files/page0109.htm) .  Retrieved 9 
September 2011.
Tonie and Valmai Holt, In Search of the Better  'Ole, A Biography of 
Captain Bruce Bairnsfather, including a listing of his  Works and Collectables, 
Pen and Sword Books, 2001, ISBN 0 85052 764-3


The Better 'Ole Welsh-Pearson Films (1918)
Old Bill Through the Ages  Ideal Films (1924) - personal appearance
The Better 'Ole Warner Bros  (1926)
Old Bill's Christmas RKO (1930)
Old Bill & Son Legeran Films  (1941)
External links
_http://www.brucebairnsfather.org.uk_ (http://www.brucebairnsfather.org.uk) 
  - Official Website
Bruce Bairnsfather and Old Bill Dugout - The first tribute  website
Fragments from France - scans from World War I work
Works by Bruce  Bairnsfather at Project Gutenberg
_www.brucebairnsfather.com_ (http://www.brucebairnsfather.com)  official  
(http://guide-books.co.uk/bairnsfather.html)   - Bairnsfather biography
_http://www.bb4h4h.co.uk/_ (http://www.bb4h4h.co.uk/) - Bairnsfather 50th  
Anniversary Commemorations
British Pathe film of Bruce Bairnsfather,  1923
British Pathe film showing Bairnsfather sketching Prime Minister David  
Lloyd George, 1910
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Bruce  Bairnsfather
Authority controlVIAF: 45440540
"Old Bill", from Bullets & Billets: "First Discovered in the Alluvial  
Deposits of Southern Flanders. Feeds Almost Exclusively on Jam and Water  
Biscuits. Hobby: Filling Sandbags, on Dark and Rainy Nights".

NameBairnsfather, Bruce
Alternative  names
Short description
Date of birth1887
Place of birth
Date of  death1959
Place of death
British cartoonists
Cheshire  Regiment officers
Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers officers
British Army  personnel of World War I
1887 births
1959 deaths
People educated at  United Services College
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