Gas detecting and other cartoons by Major Ian Fenwick KRRC

This cartoon is one of over fifty in the Museum collection drawn by Major Ian Fenwick of The King’s Royal Rifle Corps who was killed in action behind enemy lines near Orléans, France, on 7 August 1944 while commanding D Squadron, 1st Special Air Service Regiment.

Gas detector cartoons

Early in the Second World War gas detectors were issued. They were painted with a green paint which turned red on contact with gas.


Ian FenwickMajor Ian Fenwick was the younger son of Captain F.H. Fenwick, of Market Overton, Oakham in Rutland. He was educated at Winchester College. After a year at Cambridge University he went to Berlin to study art and later became an artist by profession.

When the Second World War began, he was in America, but promptly returned to England. At the time he already held a commission in the Leicestershire Yeomanry but transferred to The King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC). He was posted to the 1st Motor Battalion (MTB) KRRC at Chiseldon Camp, near Swindon. In autumn 1942 1 MTB moved to Strensall, near York, and in 1943 was re-designated the 10th Battalion KRRC.

The collection of cartoons owned by the Museum were drawn between 1940 and early 1944 during Ian Fenwick’s time at Chiseldon and Strensall. In February 1944 he joined the 1st Special Air Service Regiment and was appointed commander of D Squadron.

At the time of his death he and his squadron had been operating behind the enemy lines near Orléans for nearly three months, harassing the Germans’ communications, cutting vital railway links, helping to organize and arm the French Resistance, and sending back daily reports on enemy troop movements. After a particularly successful night attack on a train carrying troops and ammunition he reported that: “We are happy in our work.”

On 7 August 1944, shortly before the Squadron was due to be relieved, their base was surrounded and attacked by a large number of Germans. Fenwick was on patrol at the time but, hearing of the attack, immediately returned to help extricate his men. After successfully engaging a German column, he was ambushed in his jeep and killed instantaneously. He was aged 34.

In 1945 a volume of his drawings entitled Enter Trubshaw was published by Collins.

Bren gun carrier cartoon

The driver of the Bren gun carrier is an officer and the frightened and furious corporal in the back is the instructor. He is alarmed because if a carrier rolled over sideways, whereas the driver could escape by lowering his seat, the ‘passengers’ at the back were usually crushed.

Tactical Exercises without Troops

TEWTs (Tactical Exercises without Troops) were, and still are, used to train officers and NCOs in studying and finding solutions to tactical problems on the ground. The 1940 carriage of respirators everywhere, the small Army map case and the side-hats with KRRC red cherry bosses were typical of the first year of the war.