Logistical nightmare 15th July 1916 issue

Logistical nightmare 15th July 1916 issue

Postby plbramham » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:06 am

The Westmorland Gazette 15th July 1916 “Local Soldiers put out of Action” (clever terminology!) - Note how many Border cap badges
As a press photographer I’ve often thought of the logistical nightmare of obtaining these photos for the next edition. Just imagine, it’s July 1916 and you’re sat at your desk (probably getting on a bit in years if you're not in the forces) producing that week’s paper -despite world events, you still had to cover all the usual stories too. The editor plonks a list of about 30 names and (probably partial) addresses in front of you and says “Get pictures!” So you:
1) Go to the stables to get your horse, or bicycle- The Gazette only had one motorbike and a car pre 1920s. (Even Kendal police didn’t get a car until the 1930s) Until the 1990s we still used to park cars and vans in the former company stables. During the WW1 period there were few rural buses, and come to think of it the army would have taken a lot of the horses too.
2) Find the house – maybe half a day’s return journey on poor roads, no sat navs, post codes , and in a rural area the address given might just be something like “The Old Cottage, Windermere”
3) Hope someone would be in, you couldn’t phone in advance to make an appointment (or get directions) because few people had telephones. You could have sent a telegram, but the delay in getting a reply would be too long.
4) Persuade the grieving relatives to lend you what may be the only picture they had (photos were expensive) of their loved one.
5) Get the photo back for the block maker to engrave the image in time to be put onto the page
6) Find the next 29 photos!
Nowadays when a picture of a casualty is wanted it's just a case of contacting the regiment and getting an image back via e-mail in seconds.
It might sound harsh, (but let’s face it as readers when you learn someone has died the first thing you expect to see is a picture of them) but when possible we always tried to obtain what we call “pick-up pictures” in person because it’s too easy for someone to say “No” and hang up if you do it by phone. (Actually it does sound harsh, when I’ve read that back, but you have to do it in a sensitive way and not be intrusive. In fact, more often than not relatives want to have a picture of their loved one in the paper, especially in cases where later they start a campaign for say, a safer road junction where someone had died. )
“Death knocks” as journalists call them, are not pleasant tasks, and when you become hardened to them, it’s time to change jobs!, I always feel story for the telegram boys delivering the WW1 messages, they didn’t get “counselling “ back then. Paul.
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Westmorland Gazette 15th July 1916 issue - The Big Push first casualty photos
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Re: Logistical nightmare 15th July 1916 issue

Postby spike » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:54 am

Thanks for sharing with us the journalitsts perpective Paul.
It is not always easy to see such things from that point of view, but a
job has to be done.


As an aside, was there a list of names with that picture, identifying the pictures.
There may be some on there I haven't got for my projects......?
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LINK - Border Regiment in the Great War Websites
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In memory of -19455 Private John Farrer,
A Company 11th Border Regiment k.i.a. 1st July 1916
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Re: Logistical nightmare 15th July 1916 issue

Postby plbramham » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:23 pm

Hi Spike. I'm afraid I do not have a list of the names, but looking closely there appear to be numbers in the corner of some photos, so there must have been a "key" on an adjoining page. I believe Kendal library have all copies of the Gazette on microfilm, so they should be able to help. (Also probably CCC archives at County Hall, Kendal). I bet that this is probably the most requested page they have from that period, (from family, social, and military historians etc). It was an early picture page in the WG as very few photos were used in the paper pre 1920s . The Gazette do have original copies in their archives but only allow very restricted access owing to damage over the years. They usually forward enquires to the library, Paul.
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Re: Logistical nightmare 15th July 1916 issue

Postby kerchi » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:42 pm

Reading this certainly put things into perspective. We take so much for granted these days that we don't really stop to think what it must have like in the days before technology as we know it existed....and we sometime feel hard done by. Now, we have to deal with spam and computer viruses instead.

It was an interesting read and eye opener.
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

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