Amazing First World War cartoons revealed by museum

An extract from one of the cartoons. The caption says, 'Going into action, 1914'
18 Jun 2014 @ 4.12 pm
| History
An extract from one of the cartoons. The caption says, 'Going into action, 1914'
An extract from one of the cartoons. The caption says, ‘Going into action, 1914’

Soldiers had many different ways of trying to get through the terror and tedium of life in the First World War trenches. For one man, this meant recording his experiences in the form of darkly humorous cartoons.

These sketches are by Albert E V Richards, who is thought to have served with the Royal 10th Hussars as a Lance Corporal.

Most likely drawn at the Western Front in 1916, they will form part of the York Castle Museum’s major exhibition on the Great War which opens later this month.

The cartoons are contained in a sketchbook and cover various subjects: the optimism of going into battle in 1914 compared to the gloom of 1916; the disappearing rum supplies; the difficulties of putting out barbed wire and the oddly comic way a soldier looked when wearing a gas mask.

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Click on the images for a closer look

“These cartoons offer us a real insight into one man’s experience of being on the front line,” says the museum’s curator of history Alison Bodley.

“They show that ‘stiff upper lip’ humour that many soldiers used to help them get through the horrors of war, the awful conditions and the boredom that affected so many of them.”

The drawings will feature in the Castle Museum exhibition, 1914: When The World Changed Forever, which opens on June 28.

It is part of a £1.7 million project made possible thanks to a £1.16 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Who was the artist?

Lance Corporal Richards’ sketchbook was donated to the museum in 1977, but there is little on record about the donor.

Curators are appealing for more information about him.

From their research they believe he was based at Verdun, France, for some of the war.

Papers show a man of his name was discharged on February 13, 1919 and given the silver badge which was worn by men to show they had a legitimate reason for not being in the armed forces.

“We know little about Richards but he was clearly a gifted artist and also a great observer of what was going on around him,” said Alison.

If you can help the museum piece together more of this talented artist’s life, please email [email protected].