News from the Front reached England through newspaper reports and through soldiers’ letters to friends and family. Newspapers were prevented from publishing sensitive military information that might have reached the enemy. Letters from soldiers were checked and censored by their commanding officers for similar reasons.
Newspapers did print casualty lists and details of men killed at the Front, but stories that may have damaged morale were avoided. Instead, local papers like the Doncaster Gazette and Chronicle tried to find angles which highlighted local bravery and stories of everyday life in the trenches.
Did you get my last letter? Write to us as soon as you get the chance. We don’t mind if we could only get to know whether you are safe and well. We have not seen anything in the papers yet concerning you.
Letter sent by Clara Patchett in September 1914 to her brother Private Colin Patchett, 2nd K.O.Y.L.I.
Colin had been killed one month earlier.
FIGHTING INSTEAD OF FOOTBALL
Arthur Wood was a footballer who played for Bentley Colliery and Doncaster Rovers who ‘discarded the jersey for the tunic’ and served with the K.O.Y.L.I. The Doncaster Gazette told the dramatic story of how he escaped injury three times before getting shot in the arm and how on another occasion, a bullet passed through a tin of “bully” beef and into his knapsack.
A PoW WRITES HOME
A product of authority censorship, this open postcard was sent by Edward Pardon, a K.O.Y.L.I. soldier captured in August 1914 and imprisoned in a German Prisoner of War camp. The Doncaster Chronicle reproduced the postcard stating it was ‘perhaps the first postcard sent to Doncaster’ by a PoW. The Chronicle appealed for readers to send Edward ‘a reminder of his native town’ as it ‘would cheer him up in his exile.’
During his time here he developed tuberculosis due to exposure and a deprivation of food and a year later was exchanged out of the camp due to his condition. After being discharged from the army as medically unfit in 1916, Edward moved to York. He died of TB in October of 1919.
WAR STORIES IN VERSE
Two K.O.Y.L.I. gunners from Hexthorpe and Wheatley sent these poems to the Doncaster Gazette, May 1915.