Herbert Samuel “Bert” Thomas (1883-1966) was the British artist who created the famous First World War cartoon entitled ‘Arf a mo’ Kaiser.
Thomas, who was born in Newport, Gwent in 1883, served an apprentice as a commercial metal engraver, specialising in the design of brass door plates.
As a sideline Thomas drew cartoons, many of which were accepted for publication by The Bystander, The Graphic and the prestigious Punch magazine in the pre-war years.
With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 Thomas enlisted with the Artists’ Rifles alongside other notable illustrators including Paul Nash. It was during this time that Thomas drew his most famous cartoon of a British private lighting his pipe with the caption ‘Arf a mo’ Kaiser, the purpose of which was to raise funds to supply tobacco and cigarettes to front-line soldiers.
It succeeded admirably, raising almost £250,000. Such was the cartoon’s popularity that it was re-used during the Second World War, re-titled ‘Arf a mo’ ‘itler.
Thomas’s published cartoon books include Red and Black: A Book of Drawings (1928), Fun at the Seaside (1944) and A Trip on a Barge (1947). He also sketched portraits in the 1930s and 1940s, which included Sir Oswald Mosley and Nancy Astor.
He died in 1966.