When the Great War was declared in August 1914, one of the first acts to be implemented by the politicians and military was a strict censorship of the newspapers. The military sought to have one of their officers, dubbed “Eyewitness”, as official spokesman to enable them to control what the Press could print. In the early stages of the war, there were many reporters on the Continent who were evading military control and sending back reports about the reality of the situation. Several volunteered with the ambulance services to disguise their real purpose, but all were eventually
Having finally cleared all unauthorised reporters from the fighting area, the military was persuaded to allow a small number of accredited war correspondents to be chaperoned around the battle fronts. They were closely watched and their reports thoroughly scrutinised, until they eventually became almost a part of the Headquarters hierarchy. Later, diaries and letters revealed how many of them really felt and they had to bear the post-war shame of not writing the truth.
Reporters found censorship less rigidly applied on the Eastern Front, Palestine and Italy. One correspondent, whose reports famously brought about the sacking of the campaign commander and the ending of the fruitless and bloody Gallipoli expedition, was finished as a war reporter for his pains.
War reporting was not confined to print. The emergence of photographers and cinematographers on the battlefield has left us with an extraordinary record. Unlike their writing brothers, cameramen like Geoffrey Malins on the Somme, could get close to the action and shoot what they liked. The resultant film was, of course, censored but thankfully nothing was discarded and museum archives are full of their stunning work.
REPORTING FROM THE FRONT War Reporters During the Great War
Constrained by strict military censorship, war correspondents on the western front of the Great War could rarely report the truth. But the war gave birth to movie cameramen like Geoffrey Malins on the Somme, who brought back enduring film footage of the conflict for the first time in the history of warfare. This book is a embracive, history of how the war was reported and recorded on all its fronts.
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