Uneeda Film Service Signed by Kate Rafferty  & I Smith - 64 Victoria St Manchester 25/11/1918

Uneeda Film Service

I have several letters from Uneeda Film Services to Kate.



Articles were published in the newspapers in 1917 naming Thomas Henry Rafferty as Old Bill, Bairnsfather’s Great War character who was once a tramway worker, Mr I Smith of Uneeda Film Service  in the closing months of 1917 was to contact Kate Rafferty about making a film about her husband’s life and experiences in the army. She met with the writer and sent Mr Smith four books/diaries of her husbands, Thomas Rafferty. Unfortunately for Kate Mr I Smith was to disappear along with the books/diaries and was gone without trace.  On 18th January 1918 Kate received a letter from I Smith saying he was leaving for America for a short time. Then a film in 1926 was released in America called The Better Ole. Sydney Chaplin portrayed Old Bill the character. The character was portrayed prostrate in a Bass drum and had wound strips on his blouson cuff. ( Rafferty played the Bass drum and had been wounded ).Plays were presented on stage and a film  (1918) called the Better Ole and they were a commercial success.

If one could read the four diaries/ books belonging to Thomas what might they tell of his life in the WW1 trenches  and  the fact that he was called Old Bill as the character  in the  cartoons sketched by Captain Bruce Bairnsfather, which became so popular at home. Then there is  the photograph Bruce Bairnsfather took  acknowledged in his secretary’s letter to Kate.

(No record found on the liner passenger lists of I Smith going to America at  around 18th Jan 1918 onwards, searched the National Archives)