January 6th, 2015

The First World War took young men from all parts of the British Isles and the Empire, many of whom probably hadn’t ventured further than the immediate area around their own homes and places of work, to all different parts of the world. Apart from the obvious, frightening situation of being sent into battle and facing an enemy in foreign lands, there would have been strange place names and multiple languages within the allied forces.

This seems to have found its way home too. In reporting the War, where locations were not censored, the place names were, quite literally, foreign to readers and newspapers seem to have tried to help out with pronunciation guides.

This came to light for us in a short spoof article for ‘…war inclined readers’ in the High Peak News archive held in the Record Office:

High Peak News 6th February 1915


For the information of war-inclined readers, we print the following table of pronunciation hoping it will prove as helpful and illuminating as the average table of its kind in the daily press:-

Xyrousspuobiurj, pronounced Yuhs-hkdhsg-hsg-hgx-i.

Hbedhkhfgen, pronounced Lawyuf-ghfs-ing-yyz.

Zygfr, pronounced Gsfx-fy.

Vitchkafdhzzpri, pronounced Dsanmeo-go bombski.

Boobmf, pronounced Boobmf.

The pronunciation of Ypres gave a battalion of the Sherwood Foresters their title for the famous satirical publication ‘The Wipers Times’, copies of which can also be found at the Record Office.