The War Illustrated No 15 Vol 1 December 18th 1939

The farT Illustrated December 18/A, 1039 ^aitingd. pvo-m Wly, U/.aAtim e DiaAy, WAS it for the symbolical meaning that so much was made of the bit of news about the Nazi declaration of war on sparrows? I very much doubt if the theory that sparrows cause great damage to crops can be sub­stantiated. Perhaps the real object was to stop Germans throwing food to these friendliest if commonest of birds. They are so numerous in London that, in spite of the great amount of food that Londoners give them or that they can find for them­selves, in the spring when they multiply, it has been computed that some ten million young sparrows die, mostly from starva­ tion—and partly owing to cats. &Anyhow, we should miss the little brown fellow whose twittering is the nearest that the Londoner gets to hearing the dawn-singing of the birds in the country. And many a journalist has made copy out of him, including the late Sir James Barrie. Reminiscing about his free-lancing days, and the effort of writing his earliest articles, Barrie confessed—as near as I can remember his words:“ I sat and glared at sparrows till I got two guineas out of them.”% A copy of the latest issue of News”“Weekly (undistinguished title), a large, six-page sheet, the size of the “Daily Telegraph,” but printed on heavy glazed paper calculated to make the mouth of an English newspaper publisher water in these days of paper rationing, has come to my desk—from Rome! It is the first I have seen, although the paper claims to be in its eleventh year. I nope it is a sign of the times that a journal' no beautifully printed and so well written should be appearing there, but I find it difficult quite to “place.” Its lack of advertisements and its wealth of pictures mainly illustrating the inexhaustible glories of Italy might suggest “propaganda,” but happily not the propaganda we have seen aforetime in“ Popolo d’Italia ”and II Tevere.” Significant, I think. BY THE EDITOR CHANGE IN PUBLISHING DATES n Readers will observe that this number of THE WAR ILLUSTRATED is dated for Monday, December 18th, on which day it is on sale throughout the country. Our next issue, No. 16, will be published on Saturday, 23rd December, which date it will bear, but all succeeding numbers will be PUB­LISH DONE FRIDAY S,and wiil bear the actual date of publication. This for the information of a rather sniffy scholar who gave me a pitying smile tonight in a discussion on “Kilts and the Troosers,” apropos of some “Podgy McSumph ”remarks in “Punch.” The Scot, with a legendary acquisitiveness, has appropriated not only the kilt but the bagpipe as articles of national uniqueness —which they aren’t. The kilt has been worn in some sort for at least five thousand years— I’ve published photos showing bas reliefs of soldiers of ancient Babylon wearing kilts of hide not unlike the “garb of old Gaul.” And, of course, the ballet skirt type, still worn by Greek soldiers and Albanians, backdates in varying styles to the great Macedonian days and then some!”“ You’re on safer ground there,” says Mr. Sniff, “but the bagpipe in Roman times !....”and then the sad smile on my asserting that it existed even before the Roman era and had originated most probably in Asia long before there was a Rome. The Italians, who claim so many things nowadays with both good and doubtful reasons, might even claim the bagpipe, as its use in Italy eighteen centuries ago is proved by its figuring on a famous coin of the days of Nero, and even my sceptical friend will admit that Nero shuffled off this mortal coil in 68 A.D. Reverting to “Kilts and Troosers” which started all this, here is Podgy McSumph’s good Scots reason why, the I tag her from some o f the letters reaching my desk that what I hare frequently warned readers about has come to pass :here and there throughout the country they are unable to get copies o f THE WAR ILLUSTRATED. And this despite a weekly distribution several times greater than that o fall other war publications put together. Following the agreement in the publishing trade to avoid undue waste o f paper, the price o f which has greatly increased and the supply o f which must be rationed, newsagents have to limit their weekly orders strictly to the quantity they expect to sell, the publishers, after six issues o f any periodical, having to restrict their peacetime allowance for‘‘ returns. ’’Hence many readers who have failed to give a firm order to reserve a copy every week occasionally find even their regular newsagent unable to supply. This is particu­larly unfortunate in the case o f a publication that is not merely an ephemeral weekly to be looked through and thrown away, but one that is intended to be permanently preserved and bound up to form a set o f handsome volumes for the home library. So, once again, I would urge all my readers who have not already done soto run no risk o f disappointment in securing THE WAR ILLUSTRATED week by week, and the only way to do that is to place a definite order with a newsagent for its regular supply. A further reason for this is that in a serial publication like THE WAR ILLUSTRATED the completed volumes have a value far beyond the cost o f collecting the weekly parts and binding them, but if one has gaps in his collec­tion there is the trouble o f securing back numbers, and even these, with such a demand as has been inexperienced the case o f THE WAR ILLUSTRATED, will after a time be unobtainable. decision to put the kilted regiments into trousers for the duration should be reconsidered. “The Black Watch an’ the Seaforths is great big sodgers wi’ great big hairy legs for wearin’ ki!t%wi’.” And Podgy goes on sagely: “These dashed generals’ll iust go an’ spoil the war, because the Germins’l! no’ ken it’s the Scotch, an’ maybe they’ll no’ run awa .”%“Ah Podgy. ...but perhaps the generals don’t want the enemy to know it’s the Scotch soldiers. ...Perhaps the generals want to surprise the enemy.” “An’ will the Germins get a terrible fright when it turns oot to bethe Scotch wi’ troosers o n ?”“Perhaps that’s the idea.” I noticed that in the “Berliner IIIus- trierte Zeitung ”they have repro­duced, obviously from a print of the same original I used in the illustration which appeared on page 299 of The War I llu st rated, headed “One More U-Boat Has Dived to Its Doom.” But the real point of that striking photograph was not the camouflage of the destroyer so much as the oily circle in its wake, which indi­cated the fate of the U-Boat that had succumbed to a depth charge. The photograph was so reproduced in the “B.I.Z." that the tell-tale circle was hardly noticeable, and the lying caption to the picture stated that the camouflaged destroyer was hastening away from a U-Boat! Photographs, of course, can be “touched up ”to look very different from their originals. The most glaring example of this that I have seen was the reproduction the other day in an English journal of a tragic war episode from Poland. It shows the body of a Polish woman machine- gunned while at work in a potato field, her young sister bending over the disfigured corpse in an agony of grief. Five weeks ago this was published in The War I llu stra ted from an original untouched photograph taken by an American journa­list, but it upturns this week in another war publication with the wounded face and hands of the dead woman beautifully painted over so that she looks alike re­cumbent wax figure from a West End dressmaker’s window! ‘"’¦This is something that ought to please my one reader who wrote tome protesting against the publishing of such a horrific photo. He wanted a nice, clean, dainty picture-record of the filthiest campaign in history. On the other hand, I’ve just received a letter from Mr. W. Fletcher, Shakespeare Street, Leeds, enclosing the print of the painted-up figure and asking “which photo is the original ?”“This war has been checked by prayer ”is the authoritative statement of a religious contemporary. I was wondering what had “checked ”it.
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