University of Oxford
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Albert Edward John Beer's tragic gift and Brian Henry Northcote Walker's comic illustrations

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:22 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Albert Edward John Beer was working in a local village store at the outbreak of the Second World War. He quickly enlisted and served with the REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) in India. It was from here that he dispatched a box of handkerchiefs to his daughter for her third birthday. Included is a letter to Rosemary (his daughter) which reads: "To Rosemary, with all the best wishes and lots of love. I hope you will have a happy birthday. I hope I shall be with you next year." Albert passed away shortly before the present was received. Rosemary has little memory of her father, due to her age. However, she can recall growing up in the wartime period on the outskirts of Bristol. She recalls sitting under the stairs and being taken to a gigantic gooseberry bush beyond which the sky of the city was lit up.

Rosemary would later go on to marry Exmoor resident Brian Henry Northcote Walker. From a very young age, Brian enjoyed illustrating scenes - a creative pursuit that was encouraged by his school teacher mother. Tragically, his mother died in 1943. It was around this time that Brian drew two striking comic book adventures, the first titled "Lord Fortyscrew's Reform Campaigners" and the second depicting mischief on a boys camping trip. The previous Christmas (1942), he drew a large collection of caricatures of family members (including himself and his mother) enjoying the festive season. Towards the close of the war, Brian would undertake a Pitman's Correspondence Course. After a brief spell in the RAF, he returned to the Western College of Arts in Bristol to finish his studies. His later work would appear in The Dandy and The Beano.


Item list and details

1. Handkerchiefs sent by Albert to his daughter Rosemary for her third birthday, as well as a handwritten note. Tragically, the present arrived shortly after his death. 2. Comic illustration by Brian Henry Northcote Walker titled "Lord Fortyscrew's Reform Campaigners." Drawn in 1943, the rear features a written note added in 1954. 3. Comic illustration by Brian Henry Northcote Walker detailing the mischief of boy evacuees when camping. Drawn in 1943, the rear features a written note added in 1954. 4. Large comic illustration of family caricatures, including the author (Brian Henry Northcote Walker) and his mother, titled "A Fortnight's Holiday." It was drawn around Christmas 1942.

Person the story/items relate to

Albert Edward John Beer (and daughter Rosemary) & Brian Henry Northcote Walker

Person who shared the story/items


Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Grandfather and Father

Type of submission

Shared at Royal Signals Museum, Dorset on 19 August 2023.

Record ID

102717 | RSM007