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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

"The Times" at War - September 1916

"The Times" newspaper of 16th September 1916 is the second title I was asked to review by Thomas at Historic Newspapers  in return for giving  a link to his website which sells original newspapers as gifts.

This date was significant to me as my great uncle George Danson, a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps. was killed on the Somme and my husband's great uncle Frederick Donaldson died on the  same day - remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.  I was interested to see how a serious newspaper reflected the war and life on the home front.

First impressions -  tightly packed pages with small print, no photographs, lots of classified adverts  and only a few pictorial ads - so visually not very appealing to today's general reader.

Content wise, there was no question that the war dominated the coverage from the front page announcements of men  "Killed in Action".  Two pages listed naval honours and recommendations for  promotion awarded after the Battle of Jutland.  Also featured were a Roll of Honour, reports of war on all fronts, including an excellent map showing "The Great Advance in the Albert Plateau" , plus lists of war charities.  and sad Personal Adverts requesting  any information on soldiers reported missing.

Headlines such as "Great British Advance", "Successes on a Wide Front". "Our Troops have Advanced", "Considerable Success Already Obtained - some 2000-3000 yards at various places"  present a positive picture, along, too,  with news of a new type of fighting machine  - the tank, which "proved of considerable utility".    The official casualty numbers for the day were tucked away at the end of an article - 212 officers killed and 3543 men,

One story which had personal links  told of  the Victoria Cross awarded to 15 year old John Travers Cornwell  - "Brave Boy's Honour After Death", Seaman's Gallant Deeds". In his memory the Cornwell Badge became the highest honour awarded to Boy Scouts and one my husband received. 


 What else caught my eye?
  • The classified  adverts with households  seeking  lady housekeepers, housekeepers (what was the difference?), cooks, parlourmaids, scullery maids, between maids, laundry maids.  
  • Life was changing, though, with an advert for a "Lady Motor Driver" and a "Lady Clerk - not under 30, must be a first class typist and shorthand writer and experienced in filing and indexing".    
  • Seeking work was a "Gentlewoman, excellent cleaner of plate....speaks French and Italian, with own portable Corona typewriter".
  • Auction Sales notices with  lengthy details of estate and their contents on the market.
  • A long listing of Shipping Adverts for travel to India, Egypt, Hong Kong,  Shanghai, Singapore, Australia, South Africa,  USA and Canada.
  • Article on "The Home Treatment of Alcoholic Excess and the Drug Habit"- with no interference with social, business or other duties".  
For family historians, newspapers offer an invaluable source of background information on events (local, national and international). They also enable us to experience the actual events described in the language and emotions of the time.  

To mark a milestone anniversary, a gift of such a newspaper is special and personal. I was impressed with the presentation box, entitled a "A Day to Remember" and the original newspaper was carefully wrapped in tissue paper.

If you would like to find out more, click on the link Historic Newspapers. There are newspapers from all over the world, but the bulk of their archives are from the US and the UK, including many regional titles. Take advantage of a special 15% discount on your shopping basket. Just key in the code 15TODAY.

Please Note - this article was not written on the basis of  any financial transaction.

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