It seems the bitter fighting in France is even more distant to the people of Market Harborough than the heroics played out at the County Electric Palace cinema every night (6d in the balcony, 2d extra to pre-book a seat).
The front page of the Market Harborough Advertiser is once again covered in ‘display’ advertisements and not one even alludes to the war, let alone mentions it.
Page 2 is full of lucrative ‘classified’ advertising – houses and flats for sale or to let, plus jobs and birth, marriage and death notices.
There is one advertisement on page 3 that reminds customers there is a war on but it’s not a very patriotic mention. Shindler & Douglas proclaims quite boastfully of ‘The profit of early buying, especially in war time’.
The advert continues: “Immediately war was declared, we saw to it that in every branch of our business stocks were filled knowing well the difficulties that would arise later in obtaining goods.
“As we stated during the first weeks of the war and have done frequently since, we have made no advances in price, nor is it necessary now, nor will it be.”
The advert concludes: “We look forward to increasing business, for we are sure our many customers will fully appreciate the ample preparations we have made in their behalf.”
There’s a real irony in the proclamation by Shindler & Douglas as on the same page under the heading Local War Items, there is news that the British Army was not quite as prepared because many local soldiers have joined up – but still have no uniforms.
The Advertiser reports about Mr E R Mobbs “Team” who have constituted “D” Company of the Northants Regiment, consisting solely of nearly 300 local volunteers.
“They have not yet received their uniforms, but this is a minor matter, if the uniforms are missing the keenness is there.”
The report continues with news of an inspection by a general. “He was afraid the men had to undergo considerable hardship upon arrival but hoped uniforms, supplies of clothing etc would be available to make them comfortable.”
The news of the uniform supply problem comes from letters sent to parents but the Advertiser editor decides that he does not want to pursue other human interest stories from letters sent home to parents.
For instance, there is only passing news that the sons of Mr Tomlinson of Great Bowden and Mr Lawrence of Market Harborough had sons fighting several weeks ago in the huge Battle of Mons. But all the Advertiser can tell us is they are ‘still sound and in good health’. There appears to be no attempt to use the soldiers’ letters as a story or to interview the parents.
Page 4 of the Advertiser though does provide readers with the human interest sensationalism they were used to before hostilities broke out.
There is a graphic report supplied by the national Press Bureau of the fighting along the Aisne. “In spite of the fact that the [infantry] have been drenched to the skin for some days and their trenches have been deep in mud and water, and in spite of incessant night alarms and of the almost continuous bombardment to which they have been subjected , they have on every occasion been ready for the enemy’s infantry when the latter have attempted to assault and they have beaten them back with great loss.”
- Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.
- My fellow researcher and De Montfort University colleague David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.