Pip, Squeak and Wilfred

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Pip, Squeak and Wilfred
Author(s) Bertram Lamb
Austin Bowen Payne
Current status / schedule Concluded
Launch date 1919
End date 1956
Publisher(s) Sunday Pictorial, Daily Mirror
Genre(s) Humor, Children's

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred was a long-running British newspaper strip cartoon published in the Daily Mirror from 1919 to 1956, as well as the Sunday Pictorial in the early years. It was conceived by Bertram Lamb, who took the role of Uncle Dick, signing himself (B.J.L.) in an early book, and was drawn until c. 1939 by Austin Bowen Payne, who always signed as A. B. Payne. It concerned the adventures of an orphaned family of animals. Pip, who assumed the "father" role, was a dog, while the "mother", Squeak, was a penguin. Wilfred was the "young child" and was a rabbit with very long ears.[1]

Character beginnings[edit]

The origins of the characters are mentioned in the cartoon strips. Squeak was found in the London Zoological Gardens after hatching on the South African coast years before. Pip was discovered begging by a policeman on the Thames Embankment, and was sent to a dogs' home, where he was bought for half-a-crown. Wilfred was found in a field near to his burrow and was adopted by Pip and Squeak, who were in turn looked after by Uncle Dick and Angeline, the housemaid of their family house on the edge of London.

The WLOG fanclub[edit]

In 1927, the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred club began. It was named the Wilfredian League of Gugnuncs (WLOG) and organised many competitions and events for thousands of members, especially at the British South Coast Seaside resorts. "Gugnuncs" is a combination of two baby-talk words used by Wilfred, who as a toddler-aged child cannot speak yet. Nunc being his version of Uncle. There was a WLOG member's badge in blue enamelled metal, featuring the long ears of Wilfred. Among the WLOG rules was one to never eat rabbit.

Cartoon films[edit]

A series of silent animated cartoons were produced in 1921 by Lancelot Speed, titled "The Wonderful Adventures of Pip, Squeak & Wilfred". Twenty–five were made, and were first–shown between 17 February 1921 and 11 August 1921. Titles included 'Pip And Wilfred Detectives', 'Over The Edge Of The World', 'The Six-Armed Image', 'The Castaways', 'Ups And Downs', 'Popski's Early Life', 'Wilfred's Nightmare', 'Wilfred's Wonderful Adventures' and 'Trouble In The Nursery. None appear to be currently available in any format.

Annuals[edit]

An early book was Pip, Squeak & Wilfred, Their "Luvly" Adventures, issued in 1921 by Stanley Paul & Co, London. This book recapped on the earliest Daily Mirror strips, showing how they were introduced. Luvly being one of Squeak's favourite words.

Pip and Squeak Annuals appeared each year from 1922, dated as the 1923 to 1939 annuals. A separate Wilfred's Annual also appeared, dated 1924 to 1938. This featuring stories aimed at under-10 year olds. The 1934 Pip & Squeak Annual featured a 'magic red frame' which allowed the reader to see hidden pictures on several pages. The 1934 Wilfred's Annual similarly featured a Pantomime cut-out insert. The final Pip & Squeak annual of 1939 incorporated Wilfred's Annual, which had ended the previous year, and is the rarest of the series due to low sales and poor quality paper being used. No annual was issued in 1940.

The annuals continued the 1920s type of fairyland surrealism in their pages until the last annual, by which time other more popular annuals such as Bobby Bear and Teddy Tail were more contemporary, leaving this series appearing rather dated in comparison, meaning later years of Pip and Squeak annual and especially Wilfred's annual sold in smaller quantities.

There were three Uncle Dick's Annuals issued from 1929 to 1931, dated as the 1930 to 1932 annuals, the first one being fully named 'Uncle Dick's Competition Annual'. These annuals were aimed more at boys, with action stories and very little Pip & Squeak content. As their title suggests, the books were in an elaborate competition format where you had to solve quizzes, paint in pictures and similar to win prizes.

A short-lived revived Pip, Squeak & Wilfred annual was issued from in the mid-1950s, as the characters had been revived in the Daily Mirror a few years before. This featured the characters updated and now drawn by a new, uncredited artist. A newly bow-tied Wilfred and a younger Auntie, both previously only saying the odd nonsensical word, were now speak fully, losing the innocence and surreal charm of the pre-war years, to fit the 1950s better. Stanley, a young penguin, became a regular character, having been introduced in the later 1930s annuals. The annual featured stories with the characters as well as cartoon strips and other non-related stories.

The characters Pip, Squeak and Alfred were created by Bertram Lamb, who was a journalist on the "Daily Mirror" who was born in Islington London on 14 May 1887and died in Switzerland in 1938. He never drew the cartoons but thought up the idea of the characters.

A small paperback comic book from the early 1920s, Adventures of Pip Squeak & Wilfred was published in the 'Merry Miniatures' series by Home Publicity of London and was just 1.5 by 3 inches (3.8 by 7.6 cm) in size.

Newspaper supplements[edit]

The Daily Mirror featured a Saturday 4-page pull-out comic supplement, starting on Saturday, October 15, 1921, which was titled The Adventures of Pip, Squeak and Wilfred : No 1 - Thrills in the Printing Works. Later editions reduced to 3 pages on 25 March 1922, then to 2 pages on 8 July 1922 until the supplement ended c1924.

The popularity of Pip, Squeak & Wilfred was immense. The 16 December 1922 edition of the Daily Mirror reported 100,000 copies of the 1923 Pip and Squeak Annual had been sold.

In military terminology[edit]

War medals[edit]

After the First World War 1914-18, three medals were awarded to most of the British servicemen that had served from 1914 or 1915. They were the British War Medal, the British Victory Medal and either the 1914 Star or the 1914-15 Star. They were irreverently referred to as Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred and are still so today.

Royal Air Force[edit]

After World War 1 the Royal Air Force named its three Blackburn Kangaroo training aircraft Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred. During World War 2, Pip-squeak was the code name of a radio–navigation system fitted to some RAF fighters.[2]

During World War II, a simple radio device known as Pip-squeak was used to periodically send out a 15 second long tone from a fighter aircraft's radio. This was found at ground-based radio direction finder stations to determine the location of friendly forces.

Operation Wilfred[edit]

Operation Wilfred was a 1940 operation, during the Phoney War, to mine the waters off the Norwegian coast in an attempt to restrict the supply of iron ore from Sweden to Germany. The name was coined by Winston Churchill and inspired by the comic series. In The Gathering Storm, Churchill explains that the operation was called this because it was so small.[3]

Gun sites[edit]

Stationed in France to guard the airfields of the RAF's Advanced Air Striking Force during the Phoney War, 53rd (City of London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery code-named its gun-sites PIP I & II, SQUEAK I & II and WILFRED I & II (Regimental HQ was codenamed PIXO).[4]

Wilfred and Trotsky[edit]

According to 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Doris Lessing's autobiography, Wilfred or "Wilfski" as she calls him was based on Trotsky.[5]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ "Charity auction marks Rupert Bear's 90th birthday". BBC. 8 Nov 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  2. ^ M. Westley K. Richard (22 January 2012). "The RAF Pip-Squeak Fighter Location System as used in the Battle of Britain 1940". Duxford Radio Society. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Churchill, Winston (1986). The Second World War:The Gathering Storm. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 724, p. 539. ISBN 978-0-395-41055-4. 
  4. ^ 53 HAA Regt War Diary 1939–40, The National Archives, Kew (TNA) file WO 167/617.
  5. ^ Lessing, Doris (1994). Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography. To 1949. London: Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 419, p. 45. ISBN 0-06-017150-2. 
Bibliography
  • Daily Mirror Newspaper Saturday Editions 15 October 1921 - 8 September 1923
  • Pip, Squeak & Wilfred, Their "Luvly" Adventures (1921) Stanley Paul & Co, London
  • Pip and Squeak Annuals 1923-1939
  • Wilfred's Annual 1924-1938
  • Uncle Dick's (Competition) Annual 1930-1932
  • Cartoons Details
  • Under My Skin: Part One of My Autobiography. To 1949. London: Harper Collins Publishers. (1994.)