Herbert (Bert) Thomas, the son of Job Thomas, a sculptor, was born in Newport on 13th October 1883. After leaving school he was apprenticed as a commercial metal engraver in Swansea where he specialized in the design of brass door plates.
Thomas sent some of his cartoons to George Newnes, his local MP and the publisher of The Strand Magazine. Newnes was impressed with his work and published them in his magazine. Over the next few years his work was published in Punch Magazine, London Opinion, The Humorist, The Sketch, The Bystander and The Daily Graphic.
In the First World War he served in the Artists' Rifles and became known nationally for the cartoon drawn to promote a fund to provide the troops with tobacco and cigarettes. It was later claimed that the campaign helped to raise over £250,000. He was also the official artist for the War Bonds campaign. This and other contributions to the war effort earned him an MBE in 1918.
After the war he worked for the The Sketch and The Evening News. He also drew advertisements for Oxo, Player's Navy Cut Cigarettes, Eno's, Hector Powe, Comfort Soap and Gale & Polden. Mark Bryant has argued that "he usually drew in pen and ink (for cartoons) but elsewhere used mostly a brush."
During the Second World War he produced a large number of patriotic cartoons that attempted to expose the propaganda techniques of Joseph Goebbels. He also produced several government posters that included the famous "Is Your Journey Really Necessary".
R.G.G. Price, the author of A History of Punch (1957) has argued that Bert Thomas was influenced by the work of Bruce Bairnsfather and Leonard Raven-Hill: "His very individual line, broken as if he had dashed the idea down while it was a white-hot in his mind, was rather like Bairnsfather's, though he was a far more varied artist and his jokes were generally better. He had some of the attack and speed of Raven-Hill." Thomas claimed that his work was inspired by the cartoons of Phil May.
Bert Thomas also produced several cartoon books including Red and Black: A Book of Drawings (1928), Candid Caddies (1935), Cartoons and Character Drawings (1936), Fun at the Seaside (1944), Fun on the Farm (1944), A Mixed Bag (1945), Fun in the Country (1946), A Trip on a Barge (1947) and The Best 500 Cockney War Stories (1948) .
Bert Thomas died on 6th September 1966.