This week at The Archive we are celebrating reaching a milestone of 70 million pages all now available to search, having added a remarkable 783,245 brand new pages over the last seven days alone. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve added the wonderful Farnworth Chronicle, a lively Lancashire newspaper, to our collection this week, with updates to our holdings from across the United Kingdom.
So read on to discover more about our new and updated titles of the week, and also to learn more about the man who allegedly fired the first British gun at the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914.
As well as celebrating reaching 70 million pages this week, we’re also delighted to welcome the Farnworth Chronicle to The Archive. Farnworth lies in the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, which is historically a part of Lancashire, and its lively, packed, newspaper burst onto the publishing scene on 8 September 1906, at the cost of one penny.
Part of the Bolton Chronicle series of newspapers, the Farnworth Chronicle was Conservative in its politics, and filled an impressive twelve pages. Its inaugural edition made its opening ‘bow to the readers of the huge district comprising Farnworth, Kersley, Little Lever, Little Hulton, Walkden, Worsley &c.’ The newspaper was ‘produced in response to a demand for a paper which shall give the news and promote the welfare of the different townships, and at the same time stand for the principles of Unionism.’
The Farnworth Chronicle certainly honoured its promise to report on the news from the area. As well as printing ‘Whispers from the District,’ you could find within its pages the latest from the Bolton Teachers’ Association, the Farnworth District Council, the County Police Court, the Board of Guardians and the Town Council. The newspaper also reported on local competitions and events, such as the Worsley Angling Championship, the Turton Fair, and the Dahlia Show at Worsley.
Alongside such reporting, you could find news from further afield, the Farnworth Chronicle publishing a ‘London Letter,’ alongside national and international news. Such articles were often accompanied by illustrations, the paper’s ‘Sketch-Book’ and ‘Portrait Gallery’ also teaming with artists’ impressions of the day’s celebrities, local personalities and notable events.
Away from the news, the Farnworth Chronicle also published a smorgasbord of special interest columns, from an in-depth look at the cotton trade, authored by William Tattersall, to a ‘Home and Fashion’ column dedicated to ‘mothers and daughters,’ penned by Madame Rose. Meanwhile, you could find within the pages of this fabulous local newspaper ‘Gossip from the Football Field,’ a look at ‘Rural Life,’ penned by ‘A Son of the Soil,’ alongside serialised fiction, which was printed under the heading ‘Week End Reading for Everybody.’
That’s it from our new title of the week, but we have so much more for you to enjoy, especially as now we have reached a landmark 70 million pages now available on The Archive. Alongside the brand new Farnworth Chronicle, we’ve also added brand new pages to our historic Northern Irish title the Belfast News-Letter, whilst new pages join one of our wonderful Scottish titles, the Campbeltown Courier.
This week also sees significant updates to the Suffolk and Essex Free Press, to which we have added over 16,000 brand new pages, whilst over 10,000 brand new pages join the Sheerness Times Guardian. Rounding off our updates this week is the Hoylake & West Kirby News, to which we have added the year 1988.
The Farnworth Man Who Fired The First British Gun at the Battle of Mons
Among our 70 million pages you can find a plethora of fascinating stories, much like this one that we discovered in our new title this week, the Farnworth Chronicle. Now, Drummer E. Edward Thomas of the Irish Dragoons is famed as firing the first British shot of the war on 22 August 1914, near Casteau, Belgium. But on 26 September 1914 the Farnworth Chronicle printed an article which claimed that an ‘ex-Farnworth soldier fired the first British gun at Mons.’
The Battle of Mons began a day after Drummer Thomas fired the first British shot, and whether the Farnworth Chronicle’s claim is true or not, it certainly provides some fascinating insight into the experience of participating in the first major action of the First World War.
The Farnworth Chronicle claimed that the first British shot at the Battle of Mons was fired by Gunner W. Anthony, of the Royal Field Artillery. Anthony would have fired his shot from the artillery piece, rather than a handheld weapon. The newspaper reported how Anthony had ‘been through nine engagements,’ and that he had since been injured, and was recovering at a hospital in Manchester.
At the Battle of Mons, where he fired the first shot, Anthony was ‘hit above the right eye with a piece of shrapnel,’ which he later dug out with a penknife, and then again on the left leg, this piece of shrapnel being extracted later by doctors. Of the battle, he said that it was ‘awful,’ with ‘fierce fighting.’ Indeed, ‘out of 36 gunners in his regiment, only 12 escaped,’ Anthony being one of them.
The Farnworth Chronicle piece explained how:
As he was attached the ‘A Gun,’ he had the novel experience of firing the first gun at the battle of Mons. It was a terrible place, for the soldiers could not find pure water, as all the brooks had been poisoned by the Germans, and some of the horses died, whilst some poor soldiers were driven mad by thirst. For three days Anthony lived on nothing but buckwheat and raw beetroot gathered from fields about.
Despite being outnumbered three to one, the British forces managed to inflict greater casualties on the German side, although they were eventually forced to retire. However, the Farnworth Chronicle writes how ‘after the battle the Germans retreated,’ going on to detail a myriad of alleged German atrocities inflicted on Belgian, French and British soldiers. Indeed, Gunner Anthony describes how the scenes he had witnessed were comparable to a ‘slaughter house,’ such descriptions fuelling the well-oiled anti-German propaganda machine.
As for Anthony, the Farnworth Chronicle describes how he was wounded once more by a piece of shell, ‘which hit his water-bottle, knocking him on to his back and rendering him unconscious.’ He was taken to a field hospital, and thence to another facility in Manchester, ‘suffering from sickness and wounds.’ The gunner, however, was keen to be ‘back in the firing line,’ stating how he wanted ‘to get [his] own back.’
Discover more soldiers’ tales from the First World War and other remarkable stories from our 70 million newspaper pages today.
This week we have updated five of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.
|Campbeltown Courier||1987-1988, 1990-1994|
|Hoylake & West Kirby News||1988|
|Sheerness Times Guardian||1975-1978, 1980|
|Suffolk and Essex Free Press||1949-1958, 1965, 1974-1975, 1979, 1981|