The last week of October is all quiet on the Great War Front for the Market Harborough Advertiser. The closest it gets to any real action to report is a two-sentence story about a German being arrested in the town.
The story states: “Under the new and stringent orders issued by the Home Office, the local police took a German upholsterer named Carl Namegah, who has been living at Ivy Dene, Wartnaby Street, into custody as an alien.”
This may seem slightly more dramatic at first sight than it really is. The story continues: “Namegah, who has been working at Market Harborough for the past three years, was of a quiet disposition.”
The conciseness of the story clearly indicates that this is not a particularly exciting issue locally. In fact, this kind of action was being undertaken all over the country in a bid to curb the threat of German spies. By the end of the war, in fact only a handful of men were every convicted of such action.
This did not stop the town cinema, the County Electric Palace on The Square, showing a film called The Secret Code Word which is a ‘gripping story of an attempt of international spies to secure valuable plans’.
The Palace also has other movies to show about the war. There are factual films like The Making of a Soldier which shows ‘the drilling of Kitchener’s new army’ and The Bioscope Chronicle with ‘latest war pictures direct from the Front’. And there’s even ‘a dramatic enactment of the Charge of Light Brigade’.
All these moving pictures, of course, are designed in various ways to bolster patriotic pride in Britain and its war effort and to encourage even more young men to enlist.
The cinema is not only place where there is a push promote the war effort. There are a number of stories in this edition recounting how the clergy are doing their bit by giving talks from the pulpit and the parish church hall.
For instance, at Lubenham the Vicar (who is unnamed) ‘held a full and attentive audience’ with a statement ‘regarding the reason of the war, the causes that led to it, and why we as a Christian nation are morally bound to take part in it’.
In North Kilworth there was a well attended public recruiting meeting in the Belgrave Memorial Hall which was presided over by the Rev C W Cox.
And at Market Harborough Town and District Literary and Debating Society the Rev J Phillips of Desborough will be lecturing on ‘Recent teaching in Germany and its bearing on the war’.
The Advertiser itself is also doing its bit. The newspaper publishes a letter from Lieut Edgar Mobbs of the 7th Service Battalion Northants Regiment who is leading many town and country men and is so well known that his group is called ‘Mobbs Own’.
He writes: “The only things we want for the men are old books and papers for them to read in the evenings. The “Harborough” boys are all doing well and everyone is getting into shape.”
And the Advertiser appeals directly to its readers by saying: “If any of our readers can comply with the request of Lieut Mobbs we shall be pleased to despatch the books and papers to the camp at Shoreham on their behalf if they will send them to our office.”
This kind of action shows just what an integral part in the community is played by the Market Harborough Advertiser.
This is also demonstrated on the back page of the paper where more than half of the space is taken over with a list of names of men who have enlisted from the villages.
There are more than 500 men on the list which has been compiled by town businessmen Messrs Shindler and Douglas who have their own town centre store. The Advertiser gives them due credit stating that they ‘are to be congratulated on the preparation of [the list], entailing as it must have done a vast amount of time and research’.
Readers are also urged to contact the organisers – whose list of 500 Market Harborough men was published last week – if there are any additions or corrections to the list.
And finally it’s worth noting that Christmas is only eight weeks away, a reminder that is given to the 1914 readers of the Advertiser in the shape of a front page advertisement from Symington & Thwaites. The ‘consumers’ store’ at number 1 St Mary’s Road is urging its customers to book their Christmas Plum Puddings to send to their loved ones at the Front.
It seems commerce and conflict is never easily parted.
- 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.