National newspapers across the UK were interested in only two political issues in the latter stages of June 1914: the Home Rule Bill that would devolve powers in Ireland and the prospect of a summer General Election.
The Market Harborough Advertiser, however, appears to scoop Fleet Street by carrying a prophetically significant report headlined ‘The German Menace – a warning note’.
The story states: ‘When Germany increases her armaments we must do likewise. When Germany reduces her armaments, we can think of doing likewise, but not till then (author’s emphasis).
‘Never must we by any show of friendliness or by any soft words, whoever may be the spokesman, be lulled into a feeling of security.
‘The methods of the ruling class in Germany change, but behind it all, with their over-increasing naval and military forces, they always pursue their unaltered aim.’
The story was gleaned from the quarterly magazine The National Review, a Conservative-backed publication renowned for its anti-Germany stance.
It quotes Capt Bertrand Stewart, who was imprisoned in Germany for two years – for what crime, however, the reader never learns, perhaps because ‘his trial and conviction, which raised a storm at the time, will be remembered by many’.
The one-sided and prejudiced report provides no balancing point of view but one quote from Capt Stewart perhaps gives a hint as to why Britain took up arms so willingly just six weeks after this single anti-Germanic story.
‘Besides land and money there are things of at least equal value to our people which we would sacrifice were we to give Germany her longed-for opportunity. Those are freedom and the right to justice.’
Remember though, this was a single story in the usual eclectic mix of news and features that made the eight-page Advertiser ‘supreme in circulation, influence and advertisements’ in Market Harborough. Other headlines that catch the eye of the reader on June 23, 1914, are real talkers:
- How the blind will read with their ears reveals the ‘latest wonder of science’
- Pascoe Bioletti is jailed for five months for attempting to bribe the captains of West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City football clubs
There is also plenty of local news to keep Harborough readers up to date with what is happening on their own doorsteps. A third of a page is devoted to the tercentenary celebrations of the Market Harborough County Grammar School built in 1614. ‘The link with the past can, and never should be severed, and consequently this year is one of exceptional interest’, says the report, which proves to be yet another prophetic story from the Advertiser: exactly 100 years later the Harborough Mail is reporting more refurbishment work at the Old Grammar School.
Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.