On the 23rd of September 1914 the Aberdeen Evening Express published a letter that had been sent by Private Charles Neave to his mother, informing her of his brother’s death.
I am sorry to tell you that Willie got killed in his first engagement. He came out here and joined the regiment on the 6th, and got killed on the 9th, so I think he had very hard lines. We were messing together for the very short time he was with us. He got a good burial. He was hurried up to a graveyard near hand to the place where he was killed. He was shot through both legs and through the brain and I can say that he died like a soldier. He was joking to the last minute.
This research assignment explores the question, ‘Does the publication of soldier’s correspondence by the Scottish regional press, during the years of the Great War, depict battlefield conditions in an accurate manner?’
Underlying the research is a consideration of the impact of wartime censorship and propaganda. There is a popular assumption that central government control of the news media was rigorous and all embracing, leading to a reporting of events that was neither neutral nor objective. Aspects of this will be explored in order to reach a better understanding of where published soldiers correspondence sits within a Scottish context. A number of secondary or subsidiary questions also emerged as the primary source data was being collected. Are there noticeable differences between private and published letters? Is there a preference in relation to the rank or profession of soldiers whose letters are published? Does the use of letters by the press change as the war progresses? Is there a focus on particular theatres of war?
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