Great War researchers on the Halifax paper trail

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The first major project of the Halifax Great War Trail Association is now well underway.

Members are attempting to catalogue the contents of every local newspaper published between 1914 and 1918.

The eventual aim is to produce a history trail to explain the role the area played in this world shaping event nearly a century ago.

“It is an ambitious undertaking which has required months of development just to get a system in place which can handle the chaotic way in which information was printed in the local newspapers,” said David Millichope.

Initially the association is running a pilot and concentrating its efforts on the Halifax Weekly Courier - members want to catalogue the first three months of the war by Armistice Day of this year.

“We expect that the detailed picture which will emerge from this study will provide us with the stories and background information to create our trails. It is already apparent how informative this valuable historical resource is going to be. The real everyday lives of ordinary people leap out of the pages in a way that is not possible from just reading history books.”

The association has found that in the early part of the 20th century people in Halifax were not much different from the people of today.

“As well as the hard working, the movers and the shakers there were also the villains, dodgers, scammers and profiteers.

“Not everybody became instantly altruistic just because a war was on but the predominant mood of the communities was solidarity with the single minded purpose of stopping Germany.”

Mr Millichope said most people did not believe that the so called war to end all wars was a pointless exercise cooked up by jingoistic politicians. “People felt really threatened by the aggressive militarism of Germany and did not want it to spread to their doorstep.”