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Satirical Drawings By WWI Soldiers Show Unexpected Side Of War

The family of a soldier who fought in the First World War has found his sketches showing the reality of the battlefield - 100 years on.

The family of a soldier who fought in the First World War has found his sketches showing the reality of the battlefield - 100 years on.

The intricate drawings and caricatures depicting trench life are by Douglas Arthur Chambers, who was just 20 years old when he went to fight in the Great War.

He documented his time in the Army with satirical and dramatic drawings, from training in the UK to his time in the Battle of the Somme.

Mr Chambers never spoke of his time in the war or his drawings, but his sketchbooks were recently discovered by his granddaughter Sue Doyle, 62.

Mr Chambers died in 1975 at the age of 80 and his estate was left to his daughter, who in turn left it to her daughter Sue.

Mrs Doyle, a nurse who lives in Taunton, Somerset, with husband Christopher, 63, said: "I knew nothing at all about his service before finding these sketchbooks, he didn't talk about it.

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The highly professional, funny and satirical sketches cover a range of army scenes, from shouting drill instructors to malfunctioning showers (Picture: SWNS).

"He was a very quiet gentleman and kept himself to himself.

“He was lovely company but didn't talk about his war experiences at all.

"I'm not surprised he didn't talk about them because he was obviously compartmentalising his experiences.

"He was in the Royal Army Medical Core. It must have been a traumatic experience. One of the captions was 'I want to go home'."

One of the drawings features a soldier marching through the snow with "happy and still smiling (I don't think)" written besides.

Another shows a soldier scrubbing a wooden floor above the question "what did you do in the great war, daddie?"

One of the sketches includes a medic digging a hole with the caption "Join the R.A.M.A, to 'tend the wounded'" (Picture: SWSN).

Mrs Doyle continued: "The drawings depict the tasks they were required to do and the places they were staying, how they felt about things and how their superiors treated them.

"Some also show a bit about how they felt about what was going to happen to them.

"The second book starts as he is sent to war, I don't know the exact date but some drawings are dated.

"I know he was on the Somme and there are two villages pictured in the sketchbooks, one is of a village called Voyennes, and the other village is called Bethonsart.

"They were done in April and May 1918.

"When he goes to France the drawings change completely and they are all about the experiences where he is stationed.

Douglas Arthur Chambers never spoke of his time in the war or his drawings (Picture: SWNS).

"They depict the conditions they were living in, the experiences they have, what it was like when the bombs went off and there is one called 'the first feeling of shell shock'.

"Sometimes there are several scenes on one page, sometimes they are sequences over several pages.

"One of my favourites is called the three posts, the first post is the loading post and it depicts a chap drinking.

"The second post is called the Aid post, which depicts someone leaning on a post, obviously extremely drunk so it is holding him up.

"The third in the sequence shows the same chap collapsed in a crater with a bomb coming towards his head, it was captioned 'the last post.'"

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"One of my favourites is called the three posts, the first post is the loading post and it depicts a chap drinking (Picture: SWNS).
ww1 trench sketches 200818
"The second post is called the Aid post, which depicts someone leaning on a post, obviously extremely drunk so it is holding him up (Picture: SWNS).
ww1 trench sketches 200818
"The third in the sequence shows the same chap collapsed in a crater with a bomb coming towards his head, it was captioned 'the last post'" (Picture: SWNS).

Mrs Doyle said finding the sketches was a moving experience, and she is proud of what her grandfather accomplished in the war.

Now, she intends to publish the sketches in a book so more people can enjoy Douglas' artwork.

She added: "They are extremely poignant, the pictures, and some are shocking, but I'm extremely pleased to have found them.

"I'm proud of his artistic skill, he had a black humour which must have kept him going.

"I'm thrilled that people are having the opportunity now to see them because they are a different historical record.

"They were drawn contemporaneously, not afterwards - they were done while he was actually there."

The pictures below are courtesy of SWNS.

ww1 trench sketches 200818
ww1 trench sketches 200818
ww1 trench sketches 200818