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News from the Trenches #369: Harold A. Titcomb Papers

Front page of The Listening Post newspaper, published by the Canadian branch of the British Expeditionary Force, France, July 1918. Box 31, Harold A. Titcomb papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The trench warfare of World War I brings to mind grim scenes of muddied soldiers hunkered down below ground. Surprisingly, some of those soldiers might have been reading a newspaper. The Canadian Expeditionary Force began publishing its own newspaper in France in 1915.

Titled The Listening Post, it was filled with stories, cartoons and poems that portrayed both the grim and ironic sides of an enlisted man’s life. One article speculated on alternative meanings for “SRD” – Special Red Demerara – the 86 proof rum rations distributed daily in little brown jars. Another lampooned canteen food. Cartoons featured old timers educating conscripts on life in the trenches.

Shortages of paper and limited access to local printers made regular distribution of the newspaper a challenge. But the mere existence of the twenty-four-page publication was a testament to the resilience of the soldiers who contributed to it.

You can see a copy of The Listening Post in the Harold A. Titcomb papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.

For more information, visit the American Heritage Center site.