PA among the first to print Ar­mistice news

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Clark

Peo­ple up and down the UK cel­e­brated the Ar­mistice 100 years ago Dur­ing World War I, the PA - then known as the Perthshire Ad­ver­tiser and Strath­more Jour­nal - came out on a Wed­nes­day and a Satur­day, and each edi­tion would in­clude a col­umn en­ti­tled“Our own men”. This col­umn would up­date res­i­dents who had re­mained at home on the lo­cal men who had died, been in­jured or cap­tured in the line of duty. Right up un­til Satur­day, Novem­ber 9, the last edi­tion of the PA pub­lished be­fore the end of World War I, no­tices were posted on lo­cal men who had lost their lives. The last edi­tion read:“Pte. Ge­orge Keith, Scot­tish Horse, el­dest son of Mr and Mrs Geo. Keith, 46 St Kather­ine’s Court, Perth, has been killed in ac­tion. His wife re­sides in Eng­land. Two broth­ers have made the supreme sac­ri­fice. “Pte. David Ge­orge, Gor­don High­landers, son of Mr and Mrs David Ge­orge, In­gle­side, Hay Street, Perth, has died of wounds re­ceived in Italy. Ge­orge was 21 years of age. Be­fore en­list­ing three years ago he was em­ployed with his fa­ther as a boot and shoe­maker in the well-known High Street es­tab­lish­ment. “Cpl. A K Hig­gins, Lo­vat Scouts, third son of Mr and Mrs Hig­gins, 15 Kirk­gate, Perth, has died of wounds. He en­listed in 1914, and was wounded at Loos when only 16 years of age. Other two broth­ers are serv­ing.”

Sim­i­larly, the PA’s dis­trict news at the time was filled with loved ones writ­ing in to re­port the death of their rel­a­tives on the front line.

Each edi­tion also in­cluded na­tional cover­age of the war.

For ex­am­ple, on Novem­ber 6, 1918, the PA spoke of the Bri­tish troops ad­vanc­ing in Bavai and a num­ber of enemy sol­diers be­ing cap­tured by the Bri­tish.

It also noted Field-Mar­shal Haig’s an­nounce­ment of the fall of La Ques­noy.

Once the Ar­mistice was signed on the morn­ing of Mon­day, Novem­ber 11, 1918, the PA re­leased a spe­cial“peace edi­tion”, re­count­ing the past four years of war.

The spe­cial edi­tion was pub­lished only 10 min­utes af­ter the wire from Lon­don an­nounc­ing the Ar­mistice came through, mak­ing it one of the first pa­pers in the coun­try to print the news.

Break­ing with the tra­di­tion of the time, the front page was not re­served for ad­verts, in­stead fo­cus­ing on the peace.

Queues were seen across the Fair City as peo­ple went out to read about the end of the war, with a sec­ond and third edi­tion need­ing to be printed to meet the de­mand.

The provost at the time Mr Scott wrote in the peace edi­tion and said:“The strain of ex­pectancy has at last been re­moved by the an­nounce­ment that Ger­many has signed the Ar­mistice.

“Laid all that feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion that all our ef­forts steady and de­ter­minedly made have been crowned with com­plete suc­cess.

“On the news be­ing con­veyed to Lord Forte­viot by the Perthshire Ad­ver­tiser his lord­ship said that the news was so mo­men­tous that it was dif­fi­cult to say any­thing.

“It was a mat­ter of grat­i­fi­ca­tion that the end had been so sat­is­fac­tory and the hour re­lieved from Prus­sian tyranny.”

The peace edi­tion also in­cluded two pages of car­toons, in­clud­ing draw­ings of the King and other ma­jor politi­cians of the time, a score of‘God Save the King’, and de­pic­tions of some of the ma­jor bat­tles.

The pa­per also de­clared“The dawn of a new era - our fu­ture de­pends on good cit­i­zen­ship”and dubbed the Ar­mistice“the great­est judge­ment in the his­tory of the world”.

A year on from the end of World War I in 1919, the PA also re­layed a mes­sage from the king ask­ing for the city to ob­serve a two min­utes’ si­lence, which was to be bro­ken by the bells of St John’s Kirk.

Busi­ness was also stopped for two min­utes and the trams turned off as a mark of re­spect, and the sol­diers at the Queen’s Bar­racks stood to at­ten­tion mid-pa­rade“in mem­ory of those who had given their lives, that they and we might live”.

His­toric copies of the PA are housed in the lo­cal and fam­ily his­tory depart­ment at AK Bell Li­brary.

Cel­e­bra­tions

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