Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases, a cautionary wartime tale from cartoonist Giles

Here’s a short health advisory film, “One Pair Of Nostrils, Use Your Handkerchief”, released in 1944 – and you may recognise the early work of the very cartoonist, Carl Giles OBE.

The Ministry of Information is the work of Carl Giles, best known for his long-running cartoons, particularly “The Giles Family”, who worked in animation before his one panel cartoons for the Daily Express and Sunday Express became his best known work.

Ronald “Carl” Giles is best known for his work in newspapers, which began in 1937, but his creative career began in the animation industry, aged just thirteen in 1930, when he found work washing brushes and making tea at the London advertising agency, Superads, which had offices in Charing Cross.

His credits include work on Fox Hunt, released in 1936, directed by Alexander Korda, followed by working as animator on the short films based on Come On Steve!, made in collaboration with fellow Ipswich-based cartoonist Roland Davies, who had been drawing the comic strip centring on a canny cart horse for the Sunday Express since 1932, who served as the films producer and director.

(Check out this item, “Comic Creator Spotlight: Roland Davies and ‘Come On, Steve!’ Here on downthetubes for more information about the strip).

Six films for the cinema were made during 1936 and 1937, plus an advertising film for Ford Tractors (a copy of this in the East Anglian Film Archive). A further film, “Steve Goes To London”, which was to have been made in colour, sadly never appeared.

Giles made his directorial debut in 1944, with three propaganda and information films, the first two made in collaboration with producer Lister Laurence: The Grenade, which was released as part of the longer Worker and War-Front Magazine No.11 (which you can watch here on the Imperial War Museum website, at the 10:04:45 mark). Worker and War-Front was a wartime magazine made to motivate and inform war workers, commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1942 and exclusively screened in factories.

Released, it appears, in a different order to production, Giles also directed One Pair of Nostrils, which was by A Cautionary Tale, made for producer Paul Rotha and featuring a monologue provided by Stanley Holloway, warning about the dangers of factory accidents.

Giles directed the Ministry of Information short, "A Cautionary Tale", warning of the danger of sepsis in the workplace, in 1944. That worker looks very familiar!
Giles directed the Ministry of Information short, “A Cautionary Tale”, warning of the danger of sepsis in the workplace, in 1944. That worker looks very familiar!

This was released as Worker and War-Front Magazine No. 8, available to watch on the British Film Institute web site. The film opens with one of Britain’s best-known Second World War aircraft, the De Havilland Mosquito. Carrying two Rolls Royce Merlin engines, its manufacturing is profiled to boost worker morale. The mood then changes with a sobering message about blood poisoning, before ending on a story about a blitzed cinema that was renovated to become a wartime factory.

After his regular “Giles” cartoon began in 1945, the fondly-remembered and much admired cartoonist moved away from the world of animation, although he was, much later, heavily involved in the creation of the ad campaign for Tetley Quick Brew, which featured the Giles “family”, which ran on British commercial TV between 1983 and 1987.

A History of British Animation – Carl Giles – includes full filmography

The Lost Continent: Carl Giles, Animator

Grahame Newman’s Web Pages: Roland Davies 9.5mm Cartoon Releases – “Steve the Horse” (“Come On Steve !”)

British Cartoon Archive – The Giles Family at 75: Media and Advertising

Come On, Steve Shorts

Roland Davies produced six “Come On, Steve” films during the latter part of 1936 and the first half of 1937. Despite the increased expenditure promised by his distributor, Butcher’s, the production was low budget. According to comic archivist Denis Gifford, Davies initially set up a small studio in his kitchen in 1935, after teaching himself animation from existing books. he subsequently explained that “except for twelve artists, (the) staff consisted of local boys and girls, practically all products of the Ipswich School of Art.”

• Watch a 9.5mm sound print of T.9486 “Steve Steps Out” (1936)

• Watch a 9.5mm sound print of Steve’s Treasure Hunt (1936)

• Watch a 9.5mm sound print of T.9487 “Steve’s Cannon Crackers” (1937)

• “Steve Of The River” T.7482 (1937)

Steve of the River is a direct parody of the 1935 Alexander Korda feature, Sanders of the River, and follows a tradition of animation films, which had used colonial narratives for humour. A copy is held by the BFI. A description here on Colonial Film outlines why it is not widely available…

Roland Davies and Carl Giles Steve of the River (1937 Ipswich, Suffolk)

• Steve in Bohemia (1937)

• Watch a 9.5mm sound print of “Cinderella Steve” (1937)

• Watch a 9.5mm French Pathé-Baby mute print of “Bal Costumé”

Centre spread of Special ‘T-Day Edition’ of the Daily Express, celebrating the appearance of the Giles family in the Tetley Quick Brew adverts ©️ Carl Giles, Daily Express
Centre spread of Special ‘T-Day Edition’ of the Daily Express, celebrating the appearance of the Giles family in the Tetley Quick Brew adverts ©️ Carl Giles, Daily Express | View an ad here

Categories: Animation, British Comics, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds

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