The Riddles of Wipers, John Ivelaw-Chapman

The Riddles of Wipers, John Ivelaw-Chapman

An Appreciation of the Trench Journal The Wipers Times

The Wipers Times was a trench journal originally published by British troops based in the Ypres salient, and that then changes its name as the parent unit moved around the Western Front. During that time it was filled with poems, satires, invented adverts and false news reports, each of which would shed a light on life in the trenches, if only they could be decoded and their in-jokes and contemporary references recognised.

Ivelaw-Chapman came across a complete set of the Wipers Times and its successors while working as an auctioneer in 1993, and promptly purchased it. He then began to decode the sometimes obscure references contained within its page (most of them less obscure then than now), to reveal a unusual picture of life on the Western Front and the British soldier's attitude to it.

One complete edition of the paper is included, from April 1917 by which time it has been renamed the B.E.F. Times, after a series of moves that had forced three earlier name changes. This is a very valuable feature, giving an idea of the size, contents and overall tone of the paper, and helps to put the rest of the book in its proper context.

Ivelaw-Chapman's work is a moving tribute to the men of the B.E.F., and demonstrates the humour with which they faced the horrors of the Western Front and in particular the Ypres salient, where they were surrounded on three sides by German guns and under near constant bombardment.


Part 1 - What Was it Like?
1 - Trench Warfare
2 - Daily Life in the Salient
3 - The Guns
4 - Shellshock
5 - Communications

Part 2 - The Readers
6 - Below the Waist
7 - Below the Waist - Some Conclusions
8 - Food and Drink
9 - Hearts and Minds
10 - 'Britishism' and other morale raisers

Part 3 - The Correspondents
11 - The Riddle of 'Teach Bomas'
12 - 'Cockles Tumley' and other correspondents

Part 4 - Then and Now
13 - The City Revisited
14 - The Salient Revisited

Part 5 - A Complete Edition
15 - Number 5 Volume 1

Part 6 - Conclusion
16 - A Diversion via Westwell

Author: John Ivelaw-Chapman
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 204
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1997 original

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