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The Wipers Times: The Complete Series of the Famous Wartime Trench Newspaper [Hardcover]

Malcolm Brown
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Jan 2006
NOW RE-RELEASED TO TIE IN WITH THE BBC DRAMA, WRITTEN BY IAN HISLOP AND NICK NEWMAN. This edition features a foreword by Ian Hislop and a 5000 word introduction by military historian Malcolm Brown. In February 1916, Captain F. J. Roberts of the 12th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters produced the first edition of the trench newspaper The Wipers Times. Often produced in hazardous conditions, at one point only 700 yards from the front line, it acted as the voice of the average British soldier, relaying his experiences, grief and anger during the entire conflict. At times irreverent, at times hysterical, its humour and satire provide an excellent insight into life in the trenches in the First World War. Taking its name from the army slang for Ypres, where it was first produced, The Wipers Times was similar to Punch, but contained a more specific type of comedy relating exclusively to the soldiers on the Western Front. The satire and humour of the paper helped reinvent the situation in the trenches diffusing the conditions of war by ridiculing and exaggerating them. The paper's style was influenced by the difficulties of production. Articles had to be written in the limited free time the soldiers had; in dugouts, reserve lines or on rest. Apart from poetry and humorous articles, The Wipers Times also featured several comical advertisements and music hall parodies including a mock theatre or cinema programme from the Ypres Cloth Hall, long since destroyed by shellfire. The paper ran until December 1918, adopting such titles as The New Church Times, The Somme Times, The BEF (British Expeditionary Force) Times, and finally Better Times, produced when the war had ended.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little Books Ltd; 1st Thus edition (16 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904435602
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904435600
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Wipers Times' extraordinary mix of jokes, sarcasm, black humour and sentimental poetry make it a unique record of the period.... It is Blackadder for real and an obvious forerunner of magazines like Private Eye. --Ian Hislop --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
In early 1916, Captain F.J. Roberts and Lieutenant J.H. Pearson salvaged an abandoned printing press from the ruins of Ypres in Northern France and started their own trench newspaper, written by and for the British Infantry. The initial title, 'The Wipers Times', says a lot about the audience they were pitching for - Wipers being the classic tommy's mispronunciation of the French town of Ypres.

That informality is continued throughout the paper, which set out to cast a satirical eye at the war and those who were (mis)running it. No target was sacred as the number of the paper's contributors grew. Every issue was chock full of limericks, humourous poems, fake advertisments and short stories that cocked a thumb at the Generals, at the public back home, at the Kaiser and the Germans.

There is a tendency to assume that the experiences of the British during the First World War were unrelentingly grim, but as the introduction in this collection says, we have become so convinced of the hell that we tend to forget there was laughter, and it was that laughter that made the hell bearable. This collection reminds us that the average soldier's response was far from being one of misery and self-pity but one of casual, cheery contempt for the authority that they served and a bull-headed defiance to be beaten down.

What we have here is essentially every edition of the said paper, with a short foreword by Ian Hislop and a rather nice introduction which puts the paper in context. It's fantastic to have the whole series of the paper reprinted at last under one cover. For those with any sort of interest in the British Army in France between 1914 - 1918 this is indispensable reading, words direct from the soldier's own mouths, as it were.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wipers Times 13 Aug 2010
By Tom S
Wonderful compilation of the Wipers Times in its various formats (renamed when the authors moved on, e.g to become New Church Times when at Neuve Eglise). Reading it provokes a mix of laughter and compassion, but overall it gives a great insight into the attitudes of the day and the humour and "sticking it" views of the Tommies in circumstances that we can hardly imagine today.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical treasure 14 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Didn't realise, beforehand, that the entire run of Wipers Times was available between two covers. Primary sources rarely as accessible as this example
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BOUGHT AFTER WATCHING TV ADAPTATION 28 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What I want to know is, if they have ALL the ones that were produced (in facsimile form obviously), how on earch did they all survive? Brilliant book.
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