Newspaper articles

Obituary of L/Cpl. John Bardgett

How much was written about the the Lonsdale Battalion during the war is speculative at best, suffice to say the press would have been eager to keep the local population informed of the action overseas.

A great deal can be learned from reading newspaper articles at a time of war. Throughout the First World War local and national newspapers were buzzing with stories from the front line, reporting on the happenings overseas, good or bad. On many occasions the news brought a shocking blow to the morale but there were also times of celebration, if only for short periods of time. One such minor occasion, a celebration amongst the Lonsdales, was the delivery of a football to the men on the front line, something the Chaplain had asked for to help with morale. In response he wrote:

Please accept my grateful thanks for sending a football for D Company, 11th Borders. I hope we shall soon be having some inter-Company matches in the Lonsdale Battalion, when D Company, which is noted for its forcefulness and dash, will, no doubt, do as well in the football field as it is doing in the trenches. If you want to see some real ‘muddied oafs’ come here when D Company comes out of the trenches – but they are merry still. Believe me, very heartily yours.
—Rev. J. W. Crosse, 3 January, 1916.

Conversely, propaganda and censorship was commonplace under such circumstances. What actually happened on the battlefields wasn't always reported accurately, or even at all. Yet advertisements, films and the daily reports that portrayed the Tommies as 'brave' and 'heroic' whilst the enemy as evil and cold-blooded, was something everyone in Blighty was digesting on a daily basis. But the news wasn't just about what was happening overseas it was also about how the effects of the war had hit a struggling nation on the home front, mourning the loss of so many men where, in small towns and villages, the loss of a generation was more apparent as time went on.

Many of the articles here are short, just one or two lines, some are quite lengthy. They provide a glimpse into what was happening in the trenches, the battlefields, the hospitals and also at home. Some stories are almost comical in nature, whilst some are descriptive and some heartfelt.

Border country newspapers

There are several Cumberland and Westmorland newspapers that tell the stories of the Lonsdales from its formation in 1914 through to their disbandment in 1918. The articles: reports on the war, notes of the week, the terrible conditions at the front, casualties and obituaries (see right), provide the reader with a glimpse into a world where hardships where a fact of life, and the horrors of war and losing your friends were a daily routine. Living day to day surrounded by death and the fear of never seeing loved ones again made the propaganda drive all the more effective as those at home learned about their sons and fathers fighting for the freedoms that many of us today take for granted. The press in recent times, however, enlighten us with stark reminders of bygone times and more often than not, heartwarming tributes of those who served over 100 years ago.

The following newspapers contain Lonsdale Battalion articles spanning a combined five year period. The current number of articles/snippets are shown in brackets.

For a comprehensive listing see the Cumberland and Westmorland Newspaper Index, which lists every newspaper from both counties.

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