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sv233

Censorship in WW1

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sv233

I have been trawling through our local newspaper here looking for soldiers' letters home. These were letters sent to members of the family, who could then forward them to the newspaper who in turn would publish extracts from them. I am only up to December 1915 but the letters seem to have suddenly dried up. From the start of the war, soldiers' letters were being published virtually every day, but I now find (Nov/Dec 1915) only a handful are being published once a week.

There could be any number of reasons for this I suppose (fewer letters coming home; lack of anything of any real interest to publish, etc), but could censorship be one of them? Some of the earlier letters are quite informative about casualties and general living conditions, although few place names are mentioned. I am wondering if there was a clampdown on censorship at about this time in 1915?

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centurion

Assuming that the letters were already passed by the censor before being sent one would imagine there would be little in them that the powers that be could object to. Perhaps as the war stagnated the was a sameness to them. [ 'Monday trench was very damp, Tuesday trench is still damp, Wednesday trench muddy and damp, Thursday water risen slightly, Friday trench just a little drier but still mainly damp, Saturday Mr Sassoon remarked that the trench was still very wet etc etc etc'] Doubtless of keen concern to the poor guys in the trenches but hardly gripping as a newspaper report.

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Moonraker

In late 1914 the Wiltshire papers carried a lot of news from and about local men serving overseas and at home, with weekly bulletins from some units, and details of named Kitchener battalions training locally. Around January 1915 they became far more circumspect, with even local camps seldom being named, and then only in the context of sports and welfare activities and cases brought in the civilian courts.

Moonraker

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centurion
In late 1914 the Wiltshire papers carried a lot of news from and about local men serving overseas and at home, with weekly bulletins from some units, and details of named Kitchener battalions training locally.

The local Harrogate rag was doing this right up until early 1918 (and until the armistice as far as I know). There was a column specifically dedicated to it.

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Pete1052

It could have been a change in editorial policy made by the newspaper and not necessarily the result of government censorship. War news and letters from the front would have lost much of their novelty by late 1915.

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sv233

Thanks everyone for your comments on this one. I will bear them in mind when I push on with the rest of my search

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ddycher

All

Would like to bring this one back up. Whilst going through the Devonshire local newspapers I found almost exactly the same timeframe ie Nov / Dec 1915 that is cited in the first post. Surely this can not be a coincidence ?

Thoughts ?

Dave

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purley

As well as soldiers letters home there are usually lots of stories from men who were injured and in hospital. Reporters used to haunt the wards looking for stories and most of these got nowhere near the censor. It seems that later in the war the government did crack down on what was published - you only have to look at casualty lists and see battalion numbers disappear very rapidly

John

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John_Hartley

I suspect that there was also unofficial censorship. The sort of thing where an editor might say that they can't keep publishing the "same old, same old" stuff in letters each week about how awful everything was.

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johnboy

The reality of 'It'll all be over by Christmas'?

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