Tales from the Treasure House column with Sam Bartle

Lieutenant Edward Moore Robson.
Lieutenant Edward Moore Robson.

It is a well-known fact that soldiers in the First World War endured miserable conditions in the trenches, faced extreme dangers, and witnessed unimaginable horrors.

Nevertheless they were still able to retain a sense of humour about their situation, as illustrated by a set of cartoons and caricatures from the period which are carefully preserved at the East Riding Archives in Beverley.

One of Lt Edward Moore Robson's cartoons.

One of Lt Edward Moore Robson's cartoons.

The cartoons were drawn by Lieutenant Edward Moore Robson of Pocklington during the time he spent serving with the 5th Battalion Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ Own (Yorkshire Regiment), also known as the Green Howards, between 1915 and 1918.

The illustrations contain humorous drawings of officers that he knew, and also ‘made-up’ sketches that poke light-hearted fun at the typical British soldier.

These cartoons are of extremely good quality and would not look out of place in a comic book.

Although no-one really knows why he did them, it’s possible that Lieutenant Robson drew these pictures as a way of finding some ‘light relief’ from the horrors of war, and it shows that soldiers were still able to keep their spirits up, despite the awful situation they were in.

Edward Moore Robson received the Military Cross for his bravery during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, but sadly he was killed in April 1918.

His father, Thomas Robson, a distinguished solicitor of Pocklington, had already lost his wife Eva in 1914, and two sons Richard and Frederick within two days of each other in March 1918.

The news of Edward’s death proved too much for him and he decided to retire and leave Pocklington after being a pillar of the community there for over 25 years.

Anyone interested in the cartoons and caricatures by Edward Moore Robson can request to view them in our research room (quoting catalogue ref DDX1206/6/10) at the Treasure House, Champney Road, Beverley.

For more details please contact 01482 392790.

Additional details about these and other records can be found in the Archives online catalogue at http://www.eastriding.gov.uk/CalmView/