Pip, Squeak and Wilfred were cartoon characters in a wildly successful comic strip of the same name that ran in the British tabloid The Daily Mirror from 1919 to 1940 and again from 1947 to 1955. Originally the work of story writer Bertram J. Lamb (1887-1938) and illustrator Austin B. Payne (1876-1959), this imaginative work featured the dog Pip, the South African penguin Squeak and the juvenile long-eared rabbit Wilfred.
The strip was innovative in several ways. First, these three were among the first anthropomorphic animal characters in comics. Second, in 1923 there were made several five minute animated cartoon films, predating Walt Disney by several years. Third, also starting in 1923, there was produced an annual book which featured all of the daily strips from the previous year, a practice which has been continued to the present with daily comics. Lastly, the use of the term ‘lovely’ (or ‘luvly’) to indicate approval or agreement was started by Squeak and has long since passed into regular U.K. English usage.
So what does this have to do with World War One? The service medal group pictured above, consisting of the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, was irreverently dubbed by the veterans as “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred” because the set was dirt common, awarded to everyone who served, no matter where or in what capacity, and many veterans wanted to forget their war service experience. The full trio was awarded to about 2.35 million men and the War Medal and the Victory Medal duo was bestowed upon an additional 4.5 million men whose service was after 1915. Today the authentic three medal group sells for anywhere from £80 to £195 at dealer’s websites. Read more about the comic strip by clicking here.