I hope you have all had a restful and enjoyable Christmas, with that out of the way we turn to our third and final Christmas related object. Whilst we looked at a military Christmas card on Christmas Eve, tonight we have a rather different example from 1947. This card bears all the hallmarks of having been produced on a small scale locally for the senders who appear to be in some far flung corner of Empire:The front of the card has a drawing of a middle eastern street, with a caption that reveals the senders names to be ‘Marjorie and Arthur’ and dates the card to Christmas 1946. The theme from the front of the card is mirrored in the tiny drawing of an Arabic gate on the back of the card:The inside of the card has a quote from John Channing:Sadly I have not been able to identify the author or the origin of this little quote. The other side of the card inner has a rather wonderful cartoon of the ‘Two Types’:These cartoon characters were developed by William John Philpin Jones, a British Army officer who developed them whilst in the North Africa and Italy. The two battle hardened British Officers wear a curious mixture of non-regulation clothing, as their real life counterparts did in the theatre and make sardonic comments about life in the army. In 1938, John Jones began working as political cartoonist for the Cardiff Western Mail. During the war, he served in the Welsh Regiment in North Africa. In September 1943 he was Assistant Military Landing Officer at Salerno in Italy, and in January 1944 had the same job at Anzio. Evacuated to North Africa with shell-shock, Jones started drawing cartoons of a pair of British officers who had ‘civilianised’ their army uniforms. Jones recalled that “a lot of 8th Army officers dressed like that.” Under the signature ‘JON’, the officers made their first appearance as ‘The Two Types’ in the Eighth Army News in July 1944.The British Cartoon Archive offers some background:
The “Two Types” proved popular in the ranks, and were syndicated to other publications, including the Daily Express from 1944. However, they brought criticism from higher up. General Montgomery banned a cartoon showing one of them jumping into a slit trench at El Alamein as the German tanks approached, and saying to the other “When this lot’s over, I bet some ruddy General proposes a reunion!” Even more disastrously, Jones recalled, “General Alexander tried to ban me altogether, but Hugh Cudlipp convinced him that if he did, it would prove what the troops had always suspected – that some officers were pompous and humourless too. Alexander accepted that.” Jones was instead awarded the MBE.
Jones drew only some three hundred “Two Types” cartoons between 1943 and 1946, but over a million copies of the wartime collections were printed.
Clearly by 1946 they were well recognised archetypes and their inclusion in this Christmas card suggests the senders were still serving in the military. I am quite certain this card was not drawn by the original artist, but whoever did design it was clearly a fairly good amateur artist who has captured the characters well.