• In Search of Old Bill: The Life of Thomas Rafferty

In Search of Old Bill: The Life of Thomas Rafferty

John Belcher, Thomas Small & Carl Chinn

  • Price: £9.95
  • Publisher: Brewin Books
  • ISBN: 9781858587479
  • Availability: In Stock

‘Old Bill’ began as the cartoon creation of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather: born amidst the carnage of WWI ‘Old Bill’ lampooned life within the trenches and went on to become a beloved character within the play The Better ’Ole which filled the music halls of the United Kingdom.

But who was ‘Old Bill’? Certainly, there was no agreement amongst professional historians. So, when John Belcher was handed a collection of documents and photographs by an elderly relative, he was both surprised and intrigued to discover that ‘Old Bill’ was apparently his great uncle, Thomas Rafferty.

This discovery set the author off on a journey to find out more. Who exactly was this remarkable man, a Lance Corporal in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment who had died at the Second battle of Ypres? What was his connection with Bruce Bairnsfather? Why had Bairnsfather denied to his widow Kate that he had known Rafferty as ‘Old Bill’? Kate would, all the same, eventually be acknowledged and accepted by the public as the wife of ‘Old Bill’ and be presented with a Commemorative Peace Medal. Over time, however, Rafferty – the man behind the myth – was quietly forgotten.

This book is the culmination of several years’ research by John Belcher, his great nephew, that collates a range of evidence to establish Rafferty’s claim to be the real ‘Old Bill’ of the western trenches.

All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to charity.

Format Paperback
Pages 98
Dimensions 240mm x 170mm
Illustrations 34 black & white

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