February 1917 saw several radical changes in the Bideford Gazette newspaper. The Great War headlines were still most depressing. There was a least one page in each issue devoted to news from the action across the world – one of the February pages proclaims “British Raiders take 1228 prisoners”, “big Turkish losses”, “German Sink-at-sight claims” and “U.S. action – Liner seized and torpedoed”. There was a day-by-day diary of events and further reading explains that the Anchor liner “California” was sunk with considerable casualties. It is feared that this action was designed to provoke President Wilson into joining the War.
Completely new are three photographs showing Devon soldiers setting up sawmills to cut timber for use at the Front. This is the first time photographs have been printed in the Gazette, albeit for apparent propaganda purposes. The tribunal hearings continue across North Devon and the shortage of male labour is becoming acute.
February was a very cold month. The lake at Stevenstone has been frozen for some time, and in Hartland the frost has split pipes and radiators at the new United Methodist church and at the council school. It has also cracked several cylinder blocks of internal combustion engines and cars. Clamps of mangolds have been seriously damaged. In Appledore Mrs Vaggars and Mr Tom Barkwell have both fallen on ice and injured limbs. On the 20th February the frost lifted allowing work on the land to recommence, but fears are expressed regarding the autumn wheat that is looking very poor because of the cold weather.
Property for sale this month includes 39 and 40 Geneva Place, Bideford, currently let to tenants Messrs J Found and A J Mills on a weekly tenancy. The sale will be later in the month.
The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway closed during the late Spring 100 years ago. To celebrate this centenary the Archive is planning an exhibition of our references , pictures and maps to be held later this year. If you have any material relating to the railway, perhaps you could contact us so that we can include it in our display.
These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford & District Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can also follow us on our Facebook page, Bideford & District Community Archive.