The Sunday Post was born for war. It debuted on October 4, 1914, a journalistic attempt to feed the news-ravenous Scottish public information about the “race to the sea” in France.
It was all so exciting. The conflict seemed a romantic cavalry clash. The public, when not queuing to enlist, was eager for tales of how their boys were doing. This was, of course, before the Maxim machine guns cut down the flowers.
Newspapers have a great responsibility in wartime, and also a great problem. They must keep up morale at home, but at the same time carry exciting tales of danger and derring-do from the front.
The Sunday Post was no different. For instance, its headline on Sunday July 16, 1917 blared “British Pierce German Third Line” and told of “Important Fresh Successes For British Troops”.
In reality, these were the early exchanges of the Battle Of The Somme. The Army had just endured the single worst day in its history. It suffered 57,450 casualties, 19,240 of whom were killed.
But the public didn’t want to read dread tales of industrial-scale death in the fields of northern France. It was deemed better for all concerned to report victories and exultations over land gained, no matter the human cost that was unfolding.
It is also interesting to note the evolution of page design as the war goes on. The fashion (and the restrictions of hot metal page make-up) dictated densely-worded columns, broken only by the fashion for triple and quadruple-layered headings. But at times The Sunday Post broke the mould.
The back page of the souvenir edition, inside today, is given entirely to a map showing the latest advances of the Allies.
The paper’s “End Of Empire” declaration of November 10, 1918 is, as you can see from our reproduction, triumphalist, but not overly so. By this point, the public were aware of the terrible cost of victory.
The label we attach a century later is “remembrance”. The dominant emotion of the paper, and the people, on the day was of relief.