“Anyone Seen a German ‘Band’?” (March 1945)
by Samuel (Sammy) Garnet Smith Wells (1885-1972)
17 x 21 in., ink on board
Samuel Garnet Smith Wells was born in North Sydney, New South Wales.
The earliest evidence of Wells’ capacity for artistic drawing was in 1911 when he was a Bombardier member of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery at the Queenscliff Fort. He joined the staff of Melbourne Punch (1922) after the First World War and later he worked for the Melbourne Herald drawing sporting cartoons. In about 1923 he put out a book of cartoons based on his work at the Herald called Wells Cartoons. Wells left the Herald in 1933 to work in England on the Manchester Daily Dispatch. In 1939, fearing Britain would lose the war against Nazi Germany, he returned to Australia to take on the job of principal political cartoonist at the Melbourne Herald, a position he held until 1950 (compulsory retirement age). Wells then took a job drawing sporting cartoons for The Age until 1967. Richard Berry purchased the majority of Wells’ original works at a Melbourne estate auction in the mid 1980s.
The US Army crossed the Rhine on March 22, and the British (Operation Plunder) carried out their invasion the next day.
Diary entries from the German leadership, seen years later, would affirm the handwriting-on-the-wall fear that the end was near. Within 5 days, the Operation was over, and as the historical accounting puts at least 30,000 German POWs taken by the Allies.
Here we have a take on an old German folk song, part of which goes like this:
“Come and hear the German band, German band, German band!
Oh, the weather is so grand for the big parade!”
In the first panel, Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels are trumpeting their victories throughout 1940. By the second panel, Germany is worse for wear and there is nothing coming out of the leadership after the British invasion.
The song is famously parodied by Mel Brooks in “The Producers” in the number “Haben Sie Gehört Das Deutsches Band?”