Bert Thomas

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Bert Thomas
Herbert Samuel ('Bert') Thomas from NPG.jpg
Portrait (undated, artist unknown)
Born Herbert Samuel Thomas
(1883-10-13)13 October 1883[1]
Rodney Wharf, Newport, Monmouthshire
Died 6 September 1966(1966-09-06) (aged 82)
Bayswater, London, England[2]
Cause of death Stroke
Resting place Kensal Green Cemetery, London, England
Nationality British
Other names Bert
Occupation Political cartoonist
Known for
Awards MBE
Thomas' cartoon for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War

Herbert Samuel "Bert" Thomas MBE (13 October 1883 – 6 September 1966) was a political cartoonist contributing to Punch magazine and the creator of well-known British propaganda posters during the First and Second World Wars.[3]


Thomas joined Punch in 1905 and contributed until 1935. During the First World War he was in the Artists Rifles.

Thomas' political cartoons started to be included in gallery exhibitions as artistic caricatures as early as 1913, in an exhibition on the Strand by the Society of Humorous Art and in 1916 his cartoon against the Clyde strikers[4] with the Kaiser saying "pass friend" to a striker was a featured exhibit in an exhibition of war cartoons in the Graves Galleries on Pall Mall.[5]

In 1918 he became nationally known for his cartoon "Arf a mo, Kaiser", drawn in ten minutes for the Smokes for Tommy Weekly Dispatch campaign.[3][6][7] The cartoon raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds towards "comforts" (tobacco and cigarettes) for front line troops and the image was re-drawn and used during the Second World War with the caption "Arf a mo, 'itler".[8] The Germans banned the "Arf a mo, 'itler" cartoon and to ensure British prisoners did not have their comfort parcels confiscated, he created a variation with the caption "Are we downhearted?"[2]

He was made MBE in the 1918 Birthday Honours.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Thomas died at his home at 33 Inverness Terrace, Bayswater, London, on 6 September 1966, from a stroke.[1] He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.[1]

The sculptor Ivor Thomas (1873–1913) was his brother.[1]

His son Peter also drew cartoons for Punch.[1]


  • Thomas, Bert (1936). Cartoons and Character Drawing. OCLC 503806609. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mark Bryant, ‘Thomas, Herbert Samuel (1883–1966)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 18 June 2012
  2. ^ a b "Mr. Bert Thomas". The Times]. 7 September 1966. p. 14. 
  3. ^ a b Wilson, Andrew R. (2008), War, Virtual War and Society: The Challenge to Communities, 44, Rodopi, p. 28, ISBN 9789042023475 
  4. ^ "Better Labour Outlook. The Clyde Strikers Returning, Causes Of Discontent.". The Times]. 4 March 1915. p. 10. 
  5. ^ "Humour In Art. The Value Of The Grotesque". The Times]. 4 December 1913. p. 11. 
  6. ^ Gosling, Luci (2008), Brushes and Bayonets: Cartoons, Sketches and Paintings of World War I General Military, Osprey Publishing, p. 117, ISBN 9781846030956 
  7. ^ Aulich, James; Hewitt, John (2007), Seduction Or Instruction?: First World War Posters in Britain and Europe, Manchester University Press, p. 115, ISBN 9780719075902 
  8. ^ J. Bourne (2001), Who's Who in World War One, Taylor & Francis, p. 283, ISBN 9780415141802