This month I want to talk about the way news was spread during the war time period. Having read several newspapers of the time I found that they were matter of fact with lots of space given over to the positive stories that happened in that printing period.
However, there was a second type of paper that was published during the war. These were the papers published by the separate services themselves, such papers as the “Stars and Stripes”.
In the gallery we have an original copy of a paper published by the RCAF called “Wings Abroad”‘, the official newspaper of the Canadian Air Force. The copy we have is dated Aug 24th 1944, some 7 weeks after the D-Day landings; the main story on the front page is about F/O Moore, DSO. He flew a Sunderland flying boat, a huge and maybe one of the biggest aircraft of WWII. He was part of Coastal Command, RAF. We actually have a display in the gallery about F/O Moore and his crew of 10, 7 of which were Canadians. Both the newspaper and the display recount the same story, that is how Moore and his crew sank 2 U-Boats on a single sortie while protected the Supply routes in the English channel. This is an incredible feat if teamwork as almost every other crew were lucky to even spot a U-Boat never mind sink it!!
Looking at how this story in the newspaper and in the museum differs is what I’m trying to show. The museum tells the story matter of factly. The newspaper on the other hand describes the story with stats and numbers keeping score. The tone of the newspaper is very “rah rah”. This is understandable when you consider what they were trying to convey. They wanted to give as much information as possible without breaking operational security, keep the reporting and morale positive, all with future recruiting in mind. The whole front page has stories that all had a positive lean. They covered strikes and sorties by giving a description of the action and at the end of almost every one they include the pilot’s “tally” or score. The top 3 stories were the following: “Liberator Sinks Two Subs”, “Canadian Spit Boys Aid South of France Invasion”, and “Beau’s Strike Ship,Shore”.
They not only gave news about the strike or the dogfight, but they included as much information about the home towns, family and loved ones. This must have given a great feeling of pride to all those mentioned. it also let the public know that they were part of the team as people at home could have been building planes, supporting the war effort or supporting the families as good and bad news arrived from the front. I am sure many, many copies of these were mailed home for the family to enjoy. It gave a very different perspective to those of the national newspapers.
Have a closer look at some of the front pages of “Wings Abroad” ~