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Bruce Bairnsfather (1887-1959)

Charles Bruce Bairnsfather (1887-1959)

Bruce Bairnsfather is best remembered for ‘Old Bill’, the pipe-smoking Tommy that he created during the First World War. Old Bill proved so significant to the morale of British troops that Bairnsfather was promoted to Officer Cartoonist. The character remained popular in peacetime, on both sides of the Atlantic, through a range of media and merchandise, and gained new currency during the Second World War, when Bairnsfather became Official War Artist to the US Army in Europe.

Bruce Bairnsfather was born at Strawberry Bank Cottage, Murree, Punjab, India, on 9 July 1887. He was the eldest son of Thomas Henry Bairnsfather, a Scottish officer in the Bengal Infantry, and his wife, Amelia Jane Eliza Every. Arriving in England at the age of eight, he stayed with his maternal uncle, the rector of Thornbury, near Bromyard, Herefordshire, before attending Rudyard Kipling’s old school, the United Services College, at Westward Ho!, Devon, between 1898 and 1904.

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