First World War coverage
Wartime reportage is invaluable for fleshing out a serviceman’s history and unearthing photographs. Provincial newspapers published short biographies of fallen men from their locality, whilst stories about acts of heroism lifted readers’ spirits.
The Great War’s moving account of ‘How Captain McCuaig Died’ details his final moments lying seriously wounded in a hastily dug trench, refusing to let his men carry him out. Rather than slow down their retreat he asked for two loaded revolvers so that he might keep the first line of Germans at bay, buying them some time. This and other newspapers including War Illustrated, The Illustrated War News and Wipers Times can be searched at thegenealogist.co.uk, and it’s not just men serving overseas that are represented. The Illustrated War News in August 1916 featured women workers, with a photo of farmer’s
The Illustrated London News are freely available online at illustratedfirstworldwar. com. Even if your ancestor isn’t found by name, searching for a battle or their regiment may yield images and enhance your understanding of their experiences. Read in conjunction with war diaries, newspaper reports can paint a vivid picture, though many journalists exercised artistic licence since reliable news from the front was slow to reach civilian ears. The few journalists authorised to report direct from the warzone were heavily censored in the national press, but some of their writings will be found in the UKPressOnline archive comprising the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Church Times and other titles at ukpressonline.co.uk/ukpressonline.
Newspapers report a Zeppelin raid in 1916