Sketches show dark humour of front line

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THEY ARE cartoons drawn on the front line which highlight the dark humour of serving in the First World War.

The sketches are by Albert E V Richards who is thought to have served with the Royal 10th Hussars as a Lance Corporal and were drawn “somewhere at the front” in 1916 and are based on Richards’ own personal thoughts and experiences of being at war.

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 comic look of wearing a gas mask are all subjects depicted in the cartoons.

Richards’ sketchbook will feature in the major new First World War exhibition at York Castle Museum entitled: 1914: When the World Changed Forever, which opens on June 28. The exhibition is part of a £1.7m project at the museum, made possible thanks to a £1,167,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Alison Bodley, curator of history, said: “These cartoons offer us a real insight into one man’s experience of being on the front line. 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 book was donated to York Castle Museum in 1977 but little is recorded about who the donor was. It says little about he artist apart from his name and his regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars.

Curators believe the artist is the same Albert E V Richards who was in the 10th Hussars as a Lance Corporal. Anyone who mas more information about the cartoonist should email: robert.wake@ymt.org.uk.