Historian Arthur Nicholls, Kendal, looks at how the Gazette reported the aftermath of the declaration of war.

August 8: R.L. Jepson, cycle dealer in Kendal, was quick off the mark with his advertisement:
‘Now that excursions are stopped owing to the war and in view of a considerable reduction in the ordinary train service as well, the cheapest and most convenient way of getting about is by Cycle.’

Public notices and comments on wartime restrictions and events featured strongly in The Westmorland Gazette.

From information obtained in official quarters in London, there appears to be less danger of a shortage of food supplies than of a panic artificially created by the unreasonableness of the public. In the north of England householders have been laying in stocks of flour for bread baking and this has resulted in an increase in the price.

Steps have been taken to ease the national financial position by issuing paper notes of £1 and 10s convertible into gold at the Bank of England. (These were essentially promissory notes.) Postal Orders are being made legal tender under the same terms. Banks are being given the power to disallow the withdrawal of exceptional sums of gold for hoarding. Cash will be available for wages, salaries and the normal cash requirements of daily life.

One duty suddenly laid upon all of us is economy. No war of the magnitude of that which is now opening has ever been known. The energies of whole populations will be withdrawn from productive labour and devoted to the ruthless devastation of war. Luxuries will disappear, comforts procured with difficulty, and prices of the simplest necessaries of life will increase. Many inconsiderate persons have ‘laid in stores’, as they call it, far beyond their actual needs and this causes panic which increases prices and these fall hardest on the poor. We should all economise, renouncing luxuries and prevent waste, to exercise plain living.

On the line of march through Kendal, the nights have been as busy as the days. Heavy motor vehicles commandeered by the Government have ceaselessly moved towards depots further south. Open lorries, wagons, wagonettes, parcel vans, furniture vans, even ice transporters and motor oil tanks, have been included in the nocturnal procession.

Advertisements were still being published for recreational journeys: ‘Motor Coach may be hired for excursions to many parts of the district at reasonable prices', while Rutter’s advertised ‘Coaches for excursions’.

August 15: The War Office issued instructions to the Territorial Forces to raise additional men. If the number who applied to enlist exceeded the establishment, the excess were to be enlisted into the regular army.

Church services were being held throughout Great Britain where preachers upheld the duty of men to enlist and fight.

  • Canon Carnegie (St Margaret’s Westminster) – We are fighting not because we want war but because we want peace. It is the plain duty of every able-bodied Englishman of suitable age to respond to the appeal for men. It is equally the duty of every true-hearted Englishwoman to incite her men friends and relatives to respond.
  • Cardinal Bourne (Westminster Cathedral) – In days gone by many soldiers have been harassed by doubt as to whether war was a just one. No questions arise like that on this occasion.
  • Archdeacon Wilberforce (Westminster Abbey) – There is no such thing as a righteous war and if ever there was a righteous war it is the present struggle with German.
  • The Rev Father Rose (Aldershot) – We pray that victory will be with that cause which is alike righteous and just.
  • The Archbishop of York – In my opinion every Christian man should join his whole-heartfelt support to his King and Country.
  • The Religious Society of Friends published a lengthy piece countering the jingoistic utterances and promoting the spirit of love to all.

An advertisement by a Kendal woolshop offered ‘Khaki Wool for knitting helmets, scarves, bed socks and other useful articles for our brave soldiers. Directions for knitting Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Comforts’.

‘The Glorious Twelfth’ grouse shooting began despite the war.

The Women’s Social and Political Union (the Suffragettes) suspended all hostilities and activities.

August 22: Joseph Wiper of Kendal was in court charged with the illegal possession of goods. Rather than be sent to prison, he said that he wished to enlist that night and wanted to be at the Front in the morning. It was of no avail. he was sent to gaol for one month’s hard labour.

August 29: It was reported that Kendal had been sluggish in the matter of recruitment but in the last ten or twelve days all that had changed. The walls of the town were placarded with posters containing the names of nearly 500 men who had been recruited.

September 5: Lance Corproal Thomas Ward from Grange was encountered by a sentry on the railway near Slough who cahllenged him three times and fired when he got no reply. After the shooting, he screamed, “Oh Tommy. Oh dear. Have I shot you?” The sesntry was exonerated. This stressed the dangers of wandering about in war time.

September 26: The Gazette showed a photograph of missing private Percy Bland, of the R.A.M.C who was on duty on board HMS Cressy when she was torpedoed. ‘Up to the present, no word has been received by his relatives as to his safety or otherwise,’ the paper reported.

Messrs S Redmayne & sons were commissioned to make tunics and trousers for Lord Lonsdale’s new battalion. They were of a dark grey serge, manufactured in Cumberland Mill. The firm also made other forms of military uniform.

October 17: During a recruiting meeting in Kendal’s market place an urgent appeal was made to workers on the land. A voice cried out from the crowd, “Who will till our fields if the young men enlist?” The editorial comment in the Gazette stated: “The first call upon men of all grades is to keep the nation free. Men do not live by bread alone. The tilling of the fields will not come to a standstill if the farm workers join the ranks..”

Jingoism and patriotism was rife. It was reported that the Kaiser had said to some troops that they would all be back in the dear Fatherland before the leaves fell from the trees. The editorial comment was that, either the leaves should be stopping on the trees or the Germans should be running away from General Joffre.
John Erhardel suffered from anti-German hysteria when he was arrested for returning to a restricted area. He had left Barrow for Kendal but was unable to get lodgings there. He had returned to Barrow to see the Chief Constable for help. He was a German who had lived and worked in Barrow for nearly forty years and during all that time there had been no complaint about him. One of his sons was serving with the Territorials.

October 24: One advertisement by Tyson’s was for ‘A Special Show of Furs – Part Lot of a Traveller’s Samples’. Another was ‘Practice Patriotism and buy Welco Cocoa – British Grown and Manufactured. Save the Coupons’.

Concern was being felt for the needs of servicemen and many appeals were made for help in letters to The Westmorland Gazette:

  • ‘Will you kindly allow me through your large circulation to appeal for boots and underclothing for No.1 Company (National Reserve) 4th Battalion Border Regiment.’
  • ‘I hesitate to make one more appeal on account of the war. Solely in consequence of the general loss and decay of teeth, many otherwise fit men are rejected. If a small fund could be collected to assist men to get teeth, their services would be secured instead of lost. (Dr Samuel Noble, Kendal).' An advertisement on the same page by Park & Co offered ‘Artificial Teeth and Painless Extraction’.
  • ‘In view of Lord Kitchener’s request that recruits and soldiers should not be treated, could a very special appeal be made to men of all classes between the ages of 18 and 38 to abstain from beer, wine and spirits, except medicinally, during the war? Such action would be of great help and moral support.’