By Dr Adrian Gregson


News for local newspapers at the start of the War came from the Press Bureau and the War Office, and sometimes from a 'correspondent at the Daily Mail'. Unofficial news also got into local papers as soldiers sent letters home to their families, and on some occasions wrote directly to the paper.


Many of these letters were written after the soldier had been wounded and was now recuperating in a hospital somewhere in England. Ordinary letters from the Front were checked by Officers so that details of where the Unit was, what action he was engaged in, what life in France and Flanders was like were censored. However, letters written this side of the Channel were less rigorously policed.


A few key things stand out from this small selection – firstly, they give away details of where and when actions took place; secondly they quite specifically name comrades and units; and thirdly they include graphic detail of the fighting and the injuries and death caused as a result.


By 1915 this collection of letters dries up as the Authorities clamped down on the practice but for the first few months of the war, in every county in the country, the local papers were full of these very direct reports of the War. People at home can have been under no illusions about conditions and the dire situation their menfolk were in as they faced the brutal onslaught of machine guns and heavy artillery.


You can read the pages of local newspapers on microfilm in Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service at The Hive and in local libraries around Worcestershire.