The Salve Of Humour

Against a backdrop of the well-documented horrors of the trenches, The Wipers Times carried the refreshing scent of humanity, delivered through persistently charming humour, spiced with a sparkling eye for the absurd. While some of the satirical digs and mockery have a cutting edge, The Wipers Times somehow managed to tread a fine line that stayed the censor’s pen – but it must have been a close-run thing. The paper clearly had supporters among senior officers who appreciated the power of humour to underpin morale when circumstances are grim. 

The very first editorial in No. 1, Vol 1 shows their subtle tongue-in-cheek delivery.

Having managed to pick up a printing outfit (slightly soiled) at a reasonable price, we have decided to produce a paper. There is much that we would like to say in it, but the shadow of censorship enveloping us causes us to refer to the war, which we hear is taking place in Europe, in a cautious manner.

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The first issue laid down the framework for all subsequent editions, with their mix of spoof advertisements, limericks and doggerel poetry, jokes, parodies of newspaper reports by correspondents in national newspapers, and absurd but pertinent statements under columns called “Things We Want To Know”, “Answers To Correspondents” and “People We Take Our Hats Off To”. If there is gallows humour here, it is produced paradoxically by a relentless flippant, upbeat tone of optimism and wonderment.
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