A bit of history
In early 1916, Captain Frederick J. Roberts and a party of men from the 12th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were hunting among the rubble of Ypres for material to shore up the trenches. They found a printing press, and were about to break it up when a sergeant – a printer in civilian life- stepped forward and said it could still be made to work.
So the idea was hatched to create a trench newspaper for the regiment. It would turn out to be a moment of inspiration which had immeasurable value for morale on the front line.
The Wipers Times ran for 23 issues, produced at irregular intervals from February 1916 to December 1918. Some of the first copies were produced at the Kazematten under the Ramparts in Ypres, where today the Wipers Times beer is brewed. The trench paper changed its name as the Sherwood Foresters relocated, first to The New Church Times, then The Kemmel Times, and lastly at the end of the war, The Better Times. But it always bore reference to the original name, The Wipers Times.
The design remained roughly the same throughout: a small format magazine of some 16 pages, with a heavier-weight cover, all made visually use of numerous typefaces and the occasional engraving. The quality of production is remarkably sophisticated, given the dangerous and makeshift circumstances in which the paper was produced. Only about 100 or 200 copies were printed of each edition, but they were passed around the trenches and so had a far wider distribution. The paper became well enough known and loved to warrant the publication of bound collected editions after the war.