When at school I was rather fond of drawing and got good marks for this subject. I had an old book in which I used to draw: as the Great War was on many of my sketches were humorous ones of British and German soldiers. Years later I looked through what I had done and they all seemed pretty awful.
I did not take the subject seriously. I was more excited by scribbling caricatures than in producing artistic drawings. All I have now to remind me of those days is a rough sketch I did on the back of a photograph. My book has long since been destroyed.
It was my great-uncle, Worthington George Smith (WGS) who first gave me some practical tips on humorous and cartoon drawing when I was about 13 years old. WGS was a very talented artist, drawing many fine technical illustrations for his books. I did not think much of his attempt at a cartoon. A letter of encouragement in made me persevere; at this time, 1915, the Great War was in progress. Both my elder brothers, Fred and Gilbert, were in the Beds & Herts Yeomanry. Fred was to be awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
On leaving school c.1918 I went to work in a straw hat factory in Luton. I used to like watching football and remember the Luton had a Chinese man, Frank Soo, playing for them a most unusual team member for those days.
One day to amuse myself I did a cartoon of a football match and submitted it to the local newspaper, the Luton Reporter. It was accepted and I had the thrill of seeing myself in print for the first time. Thereafter I contributed both caricatures and sports cartoons to the paper and its successor, the Luton News, for a time.
To improve my skill I used to travel to nearby Harpenden once a week to have a lesson on pen drawing from Ernest Haseldine. For his help I owe him a lot. Fred May, the artist of Park Street, Luton was another who assisted and guided me in portrait painting in water colours. I kept this up for sometime and became fairly good but gave it up when my career took me to London. P.V. Bradshaw was another who gave me lessons on humorous drawing.