Art in the Records: the illustrations of Bernie Bragg
The Memorial’s Research Centre holds original First World War AIF War Diaries [AWM4] that are now available to view on our website. Hidden among the volumes of these records are some wonderful artworks created by the artist Bernie Bragg.
Bernard [Bernie] William Patrick Bragg [Service number 2870] enlisted at 21 years of age on the 16 November 1916 at the Royal Agricultural Show Ground in Sydney. His service record [held at: National Archives Australia] lists his occupation as “Draughtsman”. He embarked from Sydney on A19 Africa on 8 November 1916 and arrived at Plymouth in January the following year. From there he was sent to France to join the 59th Battalion and later to the 15th Brigade Headquarters. Bragg was given the job of regimental draftsman – meaning he was responsible for drawing the maps and diagrams used by the regiment. At the end of the War he was honoured with a Mention in Despatches.
During Bernie’s time in France with the 15 Infantry Brigade he produced some beautiful War Diary Covers.
This is his illustrated cover of the Australian Imperial Force War Diary, 15th Infantry Brigade for May 1918. It depicts two soldiers, one swimming in a river and the other standing on the river bank, with the title lettering contained within a rectangular shape. For this image Bernie has used Indian ink and watercolours.
Another illustrated War Diary Cover by Bernie for the 15th Infantry Brigade for June 1918 features an elliptical design depicting soldiers under a night sky and full moon, with Art Nouveau style title lettering and scrolls. For this one Bernie used gouache and inks.
And this illustrated cover by Bernie was also for the 15th Infantry Brigade for March 1919, and depicts Australian soldiers marching past a memorial in France, with Brigadier General Harold Edward 'Pompey' Elliott taking the salute. For this one Bernie has used Indian ink and gouache.
These are but a few examples in the Memorial’s Collections of illustrated War Diary covers and they are a great testament to the skill and talent of their maker. Before the war Bernie studied classical Art in Sydney and after the war he went on to become one of Melbourne’s most respected movie advertisement and newspaper illustrators.
To view more items of Bernie Bragg’s art search our Collections Database.
If you are a relative of Bernie Bragg we would love to hear from you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.