by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent
News of the day on Thanksgiving, 1914 from The Daily Capital Journal:
On page 2 of the paper, an article headlined “United Press Correspondent Tells of Trip to Przemysl,” William G. Shepherd of the United Press describes the correspondent’s visit to the Austrian front lines. The restrictions on the correspondent’s ability to accurately report circumstances is apparent from the style of writing and the clearly indicated redactions (though in 1914 they used a more straightforward wording: “Paragraph cut out by the censor”):
When I began my long, eventful journey to the town, Przemysl was the very point of the line between the Russian and Austrian armies, but last night laboring in our automobile through the mud, we found a grim Austrian Uhlan waiting for us in the rain on a hill-top with the news that the Austrian army had pushed the Russians back 30 miles.
“It was a slaughter,” said the Uhlan. “The Russians had eaten nothing for six days. Their officers ordered them to go into battle, but the hungry men said: ‘Give us food and we will fight.’ The officers said: ‘We will give you lead food.’ And they turned the machine guns on their own soldiers to drive them into battle. That was very bad for the Russian soldiers, Nicht wahr? Behind them their own guns would kill them. Before them the Austrian guns would kill them. And besides, they were dying of hunger.”
(Paragraph cut out by the censor.)
The Uhlan smiled triumphantly and started his horse off down hill through the mud. Thus the Austrians point has slipped out of my present each by 30 miles, but I am promised that tomorrow I shall be taken to the very point where the enemy’s lines are so near that a constant rifle fire is going on.
Uhlans were light cavalry units.
On the editorial page, the editor has caustic comments about Americans offering their services to the Canadian army:
Canadian officials claim that more than 100,000 Americans have offered their services to Canada as soldiers. If this is true, it is to be hoped Canada may accept and send them where the fighting is hardest. A sensible American who wants to take part in the European war cannot be found, and if there are that many blooming idiots in this country that Canada can help us get rid of, she will be neglecting a neighborly duty not to give them and us a chance.
Commenting on the page one article about the amenities in French trenches, this is what the editor had to say:
Latest reports, if true, show the French soldier at the font is enjoying a life of ease and some luxury. If is the first war recorded where the soldiers in the trenches had hot and cold water shower baths, and this on the firing line. All that is needed to make the service perfect from a French standpoint is a few billiard tables and some cut glass and music.