King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The Cartoon in Wartime Propaganda


John Bull shaking hands with a Japanese soldierJohn Bull shaking hands with a Japanese soldierPropaganda exploited Britain's relationship with her allies - often for party-political gain.

The Conservative government, for example, used the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 as the subject of posters in the run up to the General Election of 1906; the message: Britain's overseas interests are safe in Conservative hands.

David Low cartoon on Nazi-Soviet alliance 1939David Low cartoon on Nazi-Soviet alliance 1939The complexity of Britain's relationship with its major allies in World War Two, especially following Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1931 and the Japanese attack on the US at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, were reflected in wartime cartoon propaganda.

graphic depiction of a soldier striding forward in the shape of the island of Great Britain; wearing a tin helmet, carrying a gun and smoking a pipe with a union flag waistcoat, all in bright colours; the figure likely intended to suggest Winston Churchill welcoming ships coming toward Great Britain from the west with the word 'Welcome!' beneath the figureCover of guide welcoming US soldiers to UK [1942] Cartoonists were compelled, for example, to adapt to the change of status of the Soviet Union, which went from being an untrustworthy, if unlikely, ally of Nazi Germany to becoming the latest victim of Nazi aggression.

The relationship between Britain and the US was now also central to the outcome of the war and which the Ministry of Information sought to strengthen through posters, postcards and pamphlets.

The opportunities - and tensions - inherent in this working relationship grew more pronounced with the arrival of large numbers of US airmen, and of US, Canadian, Australian and other forces in the build up to D-Day in June 1944. The Ministry encouraged the public to extend a welcoming hand to them.

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