More Old Bill
I was very interested in the article by Karen Pagett on ”Old Bill” in the eighth issue of Bygone Birmingham. As I have always understood that the character was sketched from Pat Rafferty.
My father served with the 1st Bn. Royal Royal Warwickshire Rgt. from the outbreak of the first World War until the 1st Battle of Ypres in 1915. He told me on more than one occasion that Bruce Bairnsfather based his sketches of Bill on Pat Rafferty, and that it was understood by the soldiers serving with him that this was the case.
Several years ago there was some discussion in the press as to the identity of ”Old Bill” during which several names were put forward. But my father was surprised at this as there was no doubt whatsoever in his mind that it was Pat Rafferty.
( In 1994 I visited Mt Cyril Rollins the Son of Mr S Rollins a soldier that served alongside Rafferty in the Great War. He gave me the photograph of his dad and Rafferty in the regimental band. Many in the band were dressed as minstrels and his father is marked with a cross. He told me that Rafferty was known as Old Bill. The band conductor was nicknamed the Blue Flash.)