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Illingworth's first cartoon was published in the Daily Mail in November 1939, a few weeks after the declaration of war between Britain and Germany. His cartoons until 1945 primarily deal with the war, the battles and the political conflicts behind them. The 'Battle of Britain', the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the fall of France, the battles in north Africa, Stalingrad and the liberation of Italy and France are events which feature prominently in the cartoons.

The purpose of many of the cartoons was to raise the morale of the British public by showing Hitler cowering in fear, and emphasising the battle victories of the Allies. But Illingworth was not afraid to criticise where he thought necessary, especially after losses in the Far East due to inadequate air defences.

The characters of the war are essentially important in the cartoons. Illingworth portrays Hitler, Mussolini and Franco as cowards, France as a prisoner and Churchill as a man of bravery, leading the army into battle. Montgomery, Stalin and Goebbels also feature predominantly in the collection.


Cartoons referring to the liberation of Rome and the Allies landing at Anzio.


Cartoons referring to the fall of France in 1940, the Allies' progress across Europe in 1944, and the relationship between Britain and France during the war.


Cartoons showing the German propaganda machine as well as the effect that bombing had on German industry and morale.

Pearl Harbor

Cartoon discussing attacks on the United States, and predicting revenge on the Japanese and the Germans.

The air war

Cartoons showing the successes of the RAF in the war in the air.

The war at sea

Cartoon showing the Allies' use of convoys to protect Atlantic shipping.

The Far East

These cartoons were published following the fall of Singapore.

War allies

Cartoons about the Allies, showing co-operation between Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States, the new optimism after the deposing of Mussolini, and Soviet victories in Finland.


Cartoons referring to the German victories early in the war, the Allied victories in Berlin and in the far east.


Cartoons referring to the RAF's successful bombing raids against Germany, Goebbels attempts to report positive news during the fighting against the Soviets, and the discovery of the grave of Polish soldiers who had been killed by the Red Army.

The holocaust

This cartoon was published towards the end of the war in Europe when the scale of the holocaust was becoming apparent.

Summit Meetings

Two cartoons referring to the challenges that lay ahead for the Allies, after the war had ended.

Characters from the war


Bernard Montgomery served with distinction during the First World War, and after being evacuated from Dunkirk he became commander of the Eighth Army in 1942, stopping the German advance in north Africa, and pushed Rommel back during the battle of El Alamein in November of that year. He led the invasion of Italy in September 1943. In December he was appointed head of the 2nd Army and commander of all ground forces for the invasion of Europe. At the end of the war he was appointed Commander in Chief of the British Army of Occupation.


Elected to the Reichstag in 1929, Goebbels became the Nazi party's propaganda officer. During the war he helped build up hatred for the allies, but had little respect for other Nazi ministers. He committed suicide in 1945.


Born in Austria, Hitler volunteered to join the German army during the First World War, during which he was highly decorated. After Germany's defeat, his right wing ideas became more appealing, and in 1921 he became leader of the NASDP, later nicknamed the Nazi party. Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, and led Germany to a policy of lebenstraum, or expansion. His invasion of Poland in 1939 led to the outbreak of the Second World War, and during the next two years his army was succesful in occupying many European countries. Hitler committed suicide just before the end of the war in 1945, when the allies were advancing towards Berlin.

Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo became Prime Minister of Japan in October 1941, having previously served as Minister of War. When he realised that Japan could not win the war, he resigned in July 1944. He was hanged as a war criminal in 1948.


Benito Mussolini was appointed Prime Minister of Italy by King Victor Emmanuel III after a series of riots which he had helped to organise. In 1929 Italy became a one-party state, and in 1936 Mussolini signed a pact with Hitler. Italy entered the Second World War in June 1940, but in July 1943 the Allies invaded Sicily and the following month the King dismissed Mussolini from office. He was arrested but later rescued by Hitler, and he set up a facist state in German-occupied northern Italy. As the Allies advanced through Italy, Mussolini attempted to flee to Switzerland, but was captured and shot by Italian partisans.