In 1917, as the First World War raged on, there were daily reminders to the civilian population of its impact. Adverts implored people to ‘eat a fifth less food’ and called on business owners to use less fuel - in short, the Government called on everyone to do their bit for the greater good.
Another peculiar demand was for people to buy newspapers - it was almost seen as their duty to do so, as outlined in the Yorkshire Evening Post of December 4, 1917, which said it would “check the enemy’s attempts to disseminate lying and unscrupulous statements abroad”. Indeed, it went on: “Every subscription would thus become an active factor in national propaganda work, tending to give clearer insight into the efforts now being made at home and by our gallant fighting forces, while reflecting the national spirit in regard to the war.”
It went on: “Business houses especially could assist in checking the enemy’s designs by ordering copies to be sent to their overseas agents of business connections abroad.”
All of this was set against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Europe, with the nation on tenterhooks over the progress of British troops abroad.
On this day, news came that Germany had essentially lost all of its colonial possessions, having been routed from East Africa. However, that did not prevent the Germans redoubling their efforts in mainland Europe, with fresh pushes at Cambrai, where they were said to have attacked the British “with great strength”. Despite this, there was a sense the war was being won, as British troops captured 26,869 prisoners and 221 guns during November alone.
It was also noted: “It will be generally admitted the Germans have fought a hopeless contest with determination and skill.”