Monday 12 July 2021

Air Raid Damage and Censorship - November 1940

 Over the years of posting material to the site I have on occasion been bedevilled by the effects of wartime censorship that occurred in both world wars. I have understood the need, that, at times certain pieces of information must be withheld on the grounds of national security and preserving the well-being of the population. But at the same time, it must be recognised that the public do need to know what is occurring both locally and nationally, and not kept in the dark. It is a difficult balancing act.

I believe that this joint communique was the result of the fact that London was always being mentioned in the reports whilst other towns and cities that were subject to intense air raids by the Luftwaffe were referred to by a generic title. Sheffield for instance was often referred to as a "north midlands town." It was this lack of recognition of blitzed communities that was effecting public morale.

This cutting is from the West London Observer dated Friday 8th November 1940 and it explains the government's position on censorship and the vital need for secrecy. 

The Smallpox Epidemic - Sheffield 1887 - an update

Last week a reader of the site whose interests lie in C19th medicine and disease contacted me with regard to an article I posted quite a few years ago. The article "The Smallpox Epidemic of 1887 in Sheffield" was based on a report that appeared in The Times dated 7th January 1888.

The reader added this information

" The disease remained prevalent in Sheffield until the early years of the 20th century. Forty seven cases occurred in the city in 1892, and was prevalent during the first half of 1891, before it gradually died out in September. The largest number of cases occurred during March and April 1892,  31 in March and 19 in April, during the whole year 102 cases occurred, of which 4 were fatal. Out of the 102 cases there was no evidence of vaccination in 17. 79 cases were male and 23 female. 35 of the cases had no fixed abode in the city, and were either struck down with the disease while travelling through Yorkshire, or had caught the disease in one of the common lodging houses in town, or as inmates of the workhouse.

In 1901 there were thirty cases of smallpox reported, compared with only two in 1902.  Four cases of the disease were reported during 1905, but none were fatal. There was only one case in 1906, which did not prove fatal.

The diseases which causes excessive death rates in Sheffield between 1895 and 1905, were diphtheria and enteric fever. The chief Medical Officers of Health during most of the period we are writing about were: Harvey Littlejohn, John Robertson, and Charles Scarfield.  Robertson resigned on 1st October 1903, and Charles Scarfield took over his duties on 1st January, 1904."