Don’t believe what you see in the movies. Soldiers during World War I were not constantly at the front. Between battles, they experienced periods of painful boredom. To keep themselves entertained, they put on plays and published trench newspapers, among other things. (This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy, Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year, available wherever eBooks are sold.)
These activities kept soldiers occupied and no doubt kept them from sinking into depression by dwelling too much on their situation. Over time, the trenches produced their own culture.
What Were Trench Newspapers?
As the name implies, trench newspapers were published by soldiers in the trenches. They became extremely popular with more than 30 published by Canadian troops alone. The British published 100 while the French published more than 400.
Although some were handwritten and duplicated with the aid of carbon paper, many were printed on printing presses. Some editions had circulations in the hundreds.
They were generally published by one unit for its use and often had funny titles.
Why Were they Published?
Traditional, civilian newspapers were censored during the war. This means they often contained propaganda, misinformation and political rhetoric.
In comparison, trench newspapers only censored information that shouldn’t fall into enemy hands. Soldiers, for the most part, were free to write their feelings and observations of the war, trench life, commanding officers and death.
Examples of Trench Newspapers
Trench newspapers were published by both sides and in several languages.
They contained humorous or satirical articles and advice.
They also contained jokes and political cartoons.
Updated: 20 October 2020