Decades ahead of the amusing but distorting buffoonery of ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’, this complete edition of the Wipers Times, the famed trench newspaper of the First World War, is an extraordinary mix of black humour, fake entertainment programmes and pastiche articles and constitutes a unique record of life in the wartime front line. From its long-running cartoon pun (‘Are We Being Offensive Enough?’) to its brilliantly subversive column ‘Things We Want to Know’ (‘The name of the officer who originated the idea’), its hilarious spoof ads to its pastiche fake contributors (Belary Helloc), this complete facsimile edition of the Wipers Times, produced to accompany the BBC dramatisation, is a historical masterpiece that enables us to sample the real spirit of the trenches ... from the safety of our armchairs.
If you can drink the beer the Belgians sell you,
And and pay the price they ask with ne’er a grouse,
If you believe the tales that some will tell you,
And live in mud with ground sheet for a house,
If you can live on bully and a biscuit,
And thank your stars that you’ve a tot of rum,
Dodge whizzbangs with a grin, and as you risk it
Talk glibly of the pretty way they hum...