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Book Review: The Wipers Times

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The Wipers Times was a satirical trench newspaper printed from February 1916 until December 1918 by British Captain F.J. Roberts and a crew of assistants. Such papers were not particularly uncommon, but the Wipers Times was particularly successful, well written, and long-lived, and it has survived in reprints today to a greater extent than any other similar work. A total of 23 issues were printed, and they consist of poetry, commentary, mock advertisements, advice columns, and short stories. While much of the humor is still quite accessible to us today, much of it also includes references, abbreviations, and inside jokes that are inscrutable to those who are not quite knowledgeable about life in the trenches.

Roberts and his cohorts were legitimate front-line soldiers, not writing as visiting journalists or from the safety of the rear echelons. Beyond its basic entertainment value, their writings also provide a rare and interesting view into the minds of men who were truly living the Great War.

Not that a book about the newspaper has also been printed, titled “The Wipers Times”, and with a very similar cover. If you want to buy a copy of the reprinted original issues, make sure you are not buying that book.

The BBC made a 90 minute program based on the Times, which is available in its entirely on YouTube here:

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