Daily Mail in the First World War

Daily Mail in the First World War

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In 1887 the journalist Alfred Harmsworth formed a new publishing business. Early publications included Answers (1888) and Comic Cuts (1890) and in 1894 went into newspapers when he acquired the London Evening News.

Alfred Harmsworth now decided to start a new paper based on the style of newspapers published in the USA. By the time the first issue of the Daily Mail appeared for the first time on 4th May, 1896, over 65 dummy runs had taken place. For each of these the complete papers were produced at a cost of £40,000. The eight page newspaper cost only halfpenny. Slogans used to sell the newspaper included 'A Penny Newspaper for One Halfpenny' and 'The Busy Man's Daily Newspaper'.

The Daily Mail was the first newspaper in Britain that catered for a new reading public that needed something simpler, shorter and more readable than those that had previously been available. One new innovation was the banner headline that went right across the page. Considerable space was given to sport and human interest stories. It was also the first newspaper to include a woman's section that dealt with issues such as fashions and cookery.

Another innovation introduced by the Daily Mail was the publication of serials. Personally supervised by Harmsworth, the average length was 100,000 words. The opening episode was 5,000 words and had to have a dramatic impact on the readers. This was followed by episodes of 1,500 to 2,000 words every day.

The newspaper was an immediate success and circulation quickly achieved 500,000. With the strong interest in the Boer War in 1899 sales went to over a million. Harmsworth encouraged people to buy the Daily Mail for nationalistic reasons making it clear to his readers that his newspaper stood "for the power, the supremacy and the greatness of the British Empire".

Harmsworth also used his newspapers to promote inventions such as the telephone, electric light, photography, motorcycles and motor cars. He was so passionate about cars that Harmsworth prohibited the editor of the Daily Mail from reporting automobile accidents.

The popularity of the newspaper increased with the use of promotional activities. This included the offer of prizes for the first-ever flights across the Channel and Atlantic.

Although aimed at a mass audience, Alfred Harmsworth employed the best journalists available. This included people such as Henry Hamilton Fyfe and Philip Gibbs.

Alfred Harmsworth was a great supporter of flying and in 1906 offered a prize of £1,000 for the first airman to cross the English Channel from Calais to Dover and £10,000 prize for the first completed flight from London to Manchester. The idea seemed so preposterous that Punch Magazine decided to poke fun at Harmsworth by offering a prize of £10,000 for the first flight to Mars. However, by June 1910, both of Harmsworth's prizes had been won by French pilots.

Harmsworth was worried about the possible consequences of aircraft for the defence of Britain. He realised that it would soon be possible for foreign pilots to drop bombs on Britain. He wrote a letter warning Richard Haldane, Secretary of War, about his concerns, but failed to persuade the government that this danger existed.

Before the outbreak of the First World War Harmsworth was accused of being a war-monger. As early as 1897 he had sent the writer G. W. Steevens to Germany to produce a sixteen-part series entitled Under the Iron Heel . The articles praised the German Army and warned that Britain was in danger of being defeated in a war against Germany. Three years later Northcliffe wrote an editorial in the Daily Mail predicting a war with Germany

In October 1909 Harmsworth (now Lord Northcliffe) employed Robert Blatchford, the Socialist editor of the Clarion, to visit Germany to write a series of articles for the newspaper on the dangers that the Germans posed to Britain. Blatchford agreed with Northcliffe on the problem and in one article wrote: "I believe that Germany is deliberately preparing to destroy the British Empire" and warned that Britain needed to spend more money in defending itself against attack.

Soon after the outbreak of the First World War the editor of The Star newspaper claimed that: "Next to the Kaiser, Lord Northcliffe has done more than any living man to bring about the war."

Lord Northcliffe was determined to make the Daily Mail the official newspaper of the British Army. Every day 10,000 copies of the paper were delivered to the Western Front by military motor cars. He also had the revolutionary idea of using front-line soldiers as news sources. In August 1914 he announced a scheme where he would pay soldiers for articles written about their experiences.

During the early stages of the conflict Northcliffe created a great deal of controversy by advocating conscription and criticizing Lord Kitchener. In an article he wrote in the Daily Mail on 21st May, 1915, Northcliffe wrote a blistering attack on the Secretary of State for War: "Lord Kitchener has starved the army in France of high-explosive shells. The admitted fact is that Lord Kitchener ordered the wrong kind of shell - the same kind of shell which he used largely against the Boers in 1900. He persisted in sending shrapnel - a useless weapon in trench warfare. He was warned repeatedly that the kind of shell required was a violently explosive bomb which would dynamite its way through the German trenches and entanglements and enable our brave men to advance in safety. This kind of shell our poor soldiers have had has caused the death of thousands of them."

Lord Kitchener was a national hero and Harmsworth's attack on him upset a great number of readers. Overnight, the circulation of the Daily Mail dropped from 1,386,000 to 238,000. A placard was hung across the newspaper nameplate with the words "The Allies of the Huns". Over 1,500 members of the Stock Exchange had a meeting where they passed a motion against the "venomous attacks of the Hamsworth Press" and afterwards ceremoniously burnt copies of the offending newspaper.

Although the leader of the government, Herbert Asquith, accused Northcliffe and his newspapers of disloyalty, he privately accepted that shell production was a real problem and he appointed David Lloyd George as the new Munitions Minister.

Lord Northcliffe also used the newspaper to attack the government for the failed operation at Gallipoli. He wrote about the "forty thousand killed, missing or drowned; three hundred millions of treasury thrown away" and argued that even if the campaign had been successful "to win this war, the German line itself must be broken" on the Western Front.

Lord Northcliffe continued his attacks on Lord Kitchener and when he heard he had been killed he remarked: "The British Empire has just had the greatest stroke of luck in its history." After the death of Kitchener he concentrated on having Herbert Asquith removed. Not only did he criticise Asquith as a man of inaction but claimed that Germany was afraid that David Lloyd George would become prime minister.

When Asquith resigned in December, 1916, the new prime minister, David Lloyd George decided that it was be safer to have Northcliffe in his government. However, Northcliffe refused an offer of a place in Lloyd George's cabinet as he knew it would undermine his ability to criticise the government.

Although David Lloyd George offered Lord Northcliffe a cabinet position he disliked the man intensely. In a confidential letter to his Parliamentary Private Secretary he wrote at the time he claimed that: "Northcliffe is one of the biggest intriguers and most unscrupulous people in the country."

Even to live in the war zone without papers and credentials was hard enough, but to move about and see things, and pick up news and then to get one's written dispatches conveyed home - against all regulations - was a labour greater and more complex than anything I have ever undertaken in journalistic work. I longed sometimes to be arrested and sent home and done with it all.

I evaded the authorities in France and Flanders in 1914-1915 for five months - going to the Front on average two or three times a week. I had apartments or hotel rooms in three districts, and when things became hot in one place I moved to another of my bases.

The Germans have this advantage over us, that their public is kept interested in the war. By brilliant war correspondents and constantly changing kinematograph films and photographs, every man, women and child knows what the war means and how the nation is fighting. In this country anyone who goes about among the populace finds that few of the masses understand what the war is about. They are told very little of the horrors of war as waged by Germany. They do not understand what defeat would mean to us.

Lord Kitchener has starved the army in France of high-explosive shells. This kind of shell our poor soldiers have had has caused the death of thousands of them.

The daily losses in the war, on ordinary days, where there is no attempt to advance, are about 2,000, according to official casualty lists. We are growing callous about the size of the daily lists of killed, wounded and missing. Very few people read even the headings of them, comparatively few grasp the fact that after vast losses we are just where we were six months ago on our little line in the Franco-Belgian Frontier. Thousands of homes are mourning today for men who have been needlessly sacrificed.

Don't damn the Daily Mail for its fascist flirtation 80 years ago

One of the things that always makes me furious is the knee-jerk stupidity of saying that the Daily Mail used to support fascism, thereby implying that it is somehow tainted goods in its modern form.

I certainly have my differences with the politics of the modern Mail, but it is blind prejudice to link what it published, for a brief period, in the 1930s to what it does today.

So I was delighted to see on Anna Raccoon's blog last week a piece by Matt Wardman in which he presented a media history lesson.

He omitted a crucial fact and I'll come to that in a moment. But he made two very important points - firstly, the Mail was not the only paper to carry articles supporting Oswald Mosley's blackshirts. The Daily Mirror did too.

Secondly, trying to criticise the 2011 Mail by pointing to an 80-year-old aberration lacks any value whatsoever. It not only had no lasting effect on the Mail. It had almost no effect even at the time.

What Wardman did not do, however, was make the ownership nexus between the Mail and Mirror of the 1930s clear enough. That isn't so surprising because it was anything but clear and remains a matter of dispute.

Let's get the undisputed facts out of the way first. At the beginning of the 1930s, the then Viscount Rothermere (Harold Harmsworth) owned the Mail and the Mirror.

In January 1934, he wrote - under his own byline - articles that appeared in both the Mail and the Mirror. The former was headlined "Hurrah for the Blackshirts". The latter was headlined "Give the Blackshirts a helping hand."

Within a year, he had removed his support for Mosley's party, though he remained an admirer of both Hitler and Mussolini. Indeed, he met and corresponded with Hitler, even congratulating him on his annexation of Czechoslovakia.

Rothermere I (Harold Harmsworth) with Hitler

So we can be under no illusion that Rothermere the First was a supporter of the Nazis. And he had the power to say so through his Mail ownership - at least until the declaration of war. I'll pick that up in a moment also.

What then of the Mirror? It is generally thought that Harold secretly sold off his interests in the Mirror in the early 1930s. However, the paper's ownership following his supposed sale remained uncertain in 1934.

It is therefore likely that the Mirror's then editor, Harry Guy Bartholomew, felt himself obliged to publish an article by a man he considered to be, if not the proprietor, then almost certainly still its largest shareholder.

That said, it would appear that Bart was none too troubled by Rothermere's sentiments. Wardman points to Chris Horrie's Tabloid nation: From the birth of the Mirror to the death of the tabloid newspaper, in which he reveals that Mirror readers were urged to join Mosley's party.

The Mirror's sister paper, then known as the Sunday Pictorial, even ran pictures of uniformed blackshirts playing table tennis and enjoying a sing-song around a piano. Both titles also planned a beauty contest aimed at finding Britain's prettiest woman fascist.

Not many people know that. Certainly, nothing like as many as know that the Mail ran Rothermere's "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" (which is Wardman's point).

He isn't doing down the Mirror. He is merely saying that it is unfair that one title should suffer from the association with fascism while the other doesn't.

But there is more context that is important. Harold's son, Esmond (Rothermere the Second) assumed control of the Mail before Harold died in 1940. Its coverage from the outbreak of war the year before reveals not a scintilla of support for Hitler.

It is also important to view Harold's misguided views through the prism of widespread support for appeasement, not least from The Times under the editorship of Geoffrey Dawson and, of course, many leading politicians.

Lastly, it is also the case that the Mail of the 1930s was not nearly as influential as the Daily Express and its owner, Lord Beaverbrook.

And it was the Express, in March 1933, that ran a splash headlined "Judea declares war on Germany: Jews of all the world unite in action".

It was an overblown report about an (alleged) boycott against German goods that was declared in response to anti-Semitic activities by the Nazis. The "boycott" was quickly repudiated by the Jewish board of deputies in Britain.

Beaverbrook, who is generally regarded as not having been anti-Semitic and was a close friend of Churchill, is also remembered for his famous prediction: "There will be no war in Europe." His Express splashed that on 1 September 1939, the day Hitler invaded Poland, and the war began.

The point is: damn the Mail if you will for what it publishes now. But Rothermere the Second, Rothermere the Third (Vere) and now Rothermere the Fourth (Jonathan) cannot be held responsible for the views of the first of their line.

Eye Witness

Some newspapers were critical of Kitchener's call for volunteers © British generals had also learned before World War One to treat the press and its owners with respect, although always with a certain disdain for war reporters. In particular, the involvement of the military correspondent of The Times, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Charles à Court Repington, in army politics both before and during the war became notorious. The experience of earlier wars had convinced most governments and military authorities that unrestricted newspaper reporting was an unacceptable security risk. In the strict interpretation of military regulations, virtually any contact with the press by a member of the armed forces was an offence. Lord Kitchener, the newly appointed Secretary of State for War in 1914, was also personally hostile to the press.

Newspaper publicity was also critical to Kitchener's call for volunteers for the army.

On the outbreak of World War One the government invoked the new Official Secrets Act and Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) to impose press censorship, and sought to ban all war reporting. Instead the Army delegated a serving officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Swinton, as its official reporter, under the byline 'Eye Witness'. Other reporters were left to cover the opening months of the war as best they could without official support, although in practice senior officers often dealt with the press, and letters or comments from soldiers to newspapers were tolerated. Newspaper publicity was also critical of Kitchener's call for volunteers for the army.

The power of the national press (London-based except for the Manchester Guardian) was so great that as long as it avoided outright confrontation with the government, it was left to be largely self-regulating. The policy of most national newspapers was that of the governing class itself: to support the war effort, but to reserve the right to criticise government policies. The government paid much less attention to the regional or local press, which was largely free to write what it wanted. In particular the habit continued, established in earlier wars, of soldiers' letters being passed on to local newspapers for publication.


By the end of the war the fund had raised £200,000 and had sent out 2.5 million boxes.

Mystery surrounds the box for sale, which was bought by a collector of First World War memorabilia several years ago after he spotted it at auction.

The collector, who was told the box had been found in Ireland, suspected the box had Christmas tins inside so had it X-rayed as he didn't want to open it.

Inside: The collector, who bought the box at auction on a hunch it would contain the tins, didn't want to open the box - so he had it X-rayed (pictured) to see what was inside

Hidden treats: The scan showed the box was stuffed to the brim with the Christmas gift tins, pictured, which contained a Christmas card, sweets and chocolate

It will be opened for the first time by Lady Emma Kitchener, great-grandniece of military great Lord Kitchener, at the Chalke Valley History Festival near Salisbury, Wiltshire, later this month.

A select amount of tins will be sold at the festival for £300 to £350 with the rest being auctioned in Onslows’ Great War sale in Dorset on July 9.

A proportion of the proceeds will be donated to a services charity.

Patrick Bogue, from Onslows auction house in Blandford, said: 'With Christmas 1914 approaching, George V’s daughter Princess Mary came up with the idea for a fund which would pay for presents for soldiers and sailors fighting on the front lines.

100 years: The box will finally be opened later this month by Lady Emma Kitchener at the Chalke Vallye History Festival in Salisbury. A number of the tins will be auctioned off for £300 - £350 during the event - with the proceeds going to charity


At the start of the conflict, British soldiers were allowed 10oz of meat and 8oz of vegetables per day. However, this was soon reduced as supply lines were disrupted due to naval and land blockades across Europe.

Two years later in 1916, the meat ration was down to 6oz a day. Towards the end of the conflict, soldiers were lucky to get meat once every nine days.

Some sources suggest the troops ate horse meat from animals killed on the front line.

Some soldiers reportedly grew their own vegetables in the trenches - but few were successful. Instead, nettles and weeds were used in stews.

Other goods provided included tea, bacon, cheese, jam and meat stews - all of which were tinned. Flour was scarce also, so ground-up vegetables were used as a substitute.

In terms of equipment, every soldier was issued with a 1908 Pattern Webbing for carrying personal items. It included: A wide belt, left and right ammunition pouches each stocked with 75 rounds and an en t renching tool head. A water bottle carrier, a small haversack - including a knife and unused rations - and large pack were also supplied.

A mess tin was contained inside a cloth buff-coloured khaki cover.

'She had wanted to do her bit and the campaign was very successful.

'It was common belief that the war was going to be very quick and so hundreds of thousands of these little tins with gifts inside were put together.

'It was meant to be a one off but as we know now the war lasted a lot longer than anticipated.

'The fund continued to grow and so the boxes were sent to others helping the war effort such as young soldiers and nurses.

'There were a few types of box - the initial ones contained a packet of cigarettes and a pencil made from a shell casing while others got sweets and chocolate.

'The box was found in Ireland but we don’t know any more about its history.

'It is a complete mystery as to whether this box was simply surplus to requirements or if there is another reason why it never made it to the front line.

'Its seal is still intact which would suggest it has never been opened which is incredible in itself because the tins potentially have packets of cigarettes in them.

'The box has been X-rayed and it confirms these are the tins with the shell cartridge pencils inside.

'It is amazing to think they have spent the last 100 years undisturbed.'

Chalke Valley History Festival runs from June 23 to 29. The box will be opened on June 28.

The Daily Mail and the First World War

Ahead of the centenary of the First World War, Private Eye has reported how in the Daily Mail did not understand the significance of the events of June and July of 1914 and at the time was more focused on events in Ireland.

There is certainly some truth in this, as the Daily Mail’s Tom Clarke set out in My Northcliffe Diary:

It has always seemed curious to me that the prophets of war who have since described this event [the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand] as the planned and obvious signal failed to recognise it at the time.

Northcliffe [the owner of the Mail] certainly did not recognise it. He, like many others, was wrapped up in the Irish deadlock, and as late as Monday, July 20, only five days before Austria and Serbia started the conflict which was to set Europe aflame, he was preening himself at having secured a personal ‘scoop’ about the King’s decision to summon a conference of the leaders of all parties on the subject of Ulster.

But criticising the Mail for lack of foresight over the War seems a little unfair.

Lord Northcliffe can at least claim to have been ahead of the crowd in identifying Germany as a threat. The Mail had been warning about Germany since its “Germany as She Is” series in 1896 and as early as 1908 he had written to Evelyn Wrench: “I know them [the Germans], they will bide their time, but Der Tag will come. You mark what I say.”

At the end of 1913 he even considered starting a Berlin edition of the Mail, which he apparently reckoned would cost him £200,000 but would be “worth many times that much if we can knock the war mania out of German heads”.

Northcliffe always saw the War as vindication of his years of warnings, but the reality is not quite so clear-cut. The Star newspaper’s claim that “next to the Kaiser, Lord Northcliffe has done more than any other living man to bring about the war” may have been overdoing it, but there is certainly a legitimate debate to be had over the extent to which the Mail’s hostility towards Germany was prescience or xenophobia.

While the answer is probably a bit of both, the fact that Northcliffe spent the last couple of years of his life – he died in 1922 – warning about Japan suggests he had something of a talent for identifing threats to world peace.

What is clear is that Northcliffe and the Daily Mail understood better than most that the impending war would be long and bloody. The Mail was devoid of all glibness about it being over by Christmas on July 29, for example, it warned its readers that “Europe is face to face with the greatest catastrophe in human history”.

But while Northcliffe’s understanding of the situation was undoubtedly superior to many public figures, his judgement undoubtedly failed him at the outbreak of war and he was only saved by Thomas Marlowe, the Mail’s editor, from launching a ludicrous campaign for no British troops to set foot in Europe.

“Not a single soldier shall leave this country,” he announced to an astonished Mail newsroom. “We have a superb fleet, which shall give all the assistance in its power, but I will not support the sending out of this country of a single British soldier.

“What about invasion? What about our own country? Put that in the leader. Do you hear? Not a single soldier will go with my consent. Say so in the paper tomorrow.”

Northcliffe’s control over the Mail was such that he almost always got his way on matters of editorial policy. But this time, Marlowe disagreed with him and refused to back down.

This led to a tense night, with the printers preparing two very different leader columns for publication – one written by Northcliffe and the other by Marlowe – and Marlowe telling the printers that neither page should go through without his express order.

That day’s edition was three-quarters of an hour late going to press, as the office waited for a final decision. In the end, Northcliffe was persuaded to change his mind and it was Marlowe’s leader that the public read the following morning.


A mailman collects letters from a train mailbox, circa 1921. 

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Though the post office first transported mail via the “iron horse” in 1832, its use of the railroad entered a new era of efficiency after the Civil War, with the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. From the 1860s to the 1970s, clerks would sort and distribute mail on trains criss-crossing the country at its height in the mid-20th century, the Railway Mail Service (RMS) would handle 93 percent of all non-local mail in the United States.


It was then detached, the tube opened and the flat skin stitched over the area that needed cover.

One of the first patients to be treated was Walter Yeo, gunnery warrant officer on HMS Warspite.

Yeo sustained facial injuries during the Battle of Jutland in 1916, including the loss of his upper and lower eyelids.

The tube pedicle produced a 'mask' of skin grafted across his face and eyes, producing new eyelids.

The results, although far from perfect, meant that he had a face once again. Gillies went on to repeat the same sort of procedure on thousands of others.

Four photographs documenting the facial reconstruction of a soldier whose cheek was extensively wounded during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916

Craftsmen would paint the mask while it was on the soldier so that it would closely match the soldier's actual skin tone. Pictured above left is a severely disfigured soldier and right he is pictured wearing the mask created

There was need for larger facilities for surgical and postoperative treatment and also rehabilitation of the patients, together with the different specialities involved in their care.

Gillies played a large part in the design of a specialist unit at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, southeast London.

It opened with 320 beds – and by the end of the war, there were more 600 beds and 11,752 operations had been carried out.

But reconstructive surgery continued long after hostilities ceased and, by the time the unit finally closed in 1929, some 8,000 military personnel had been treated between 1920 and 1925.

The details of the injuries, the operations to correct them and the final outcome were all recorded in detail, both by early clinical photography and also by detailed drawings and paintings created by Henry Tonks, who although trained as a doctor, had given up medicine for painting.

Tonks became a war artist on the Western Front but then joined Gillies to help not only in the recording of the new plastic procedures, but also with their planning.

The complex facial and head surgery necessitated new ways of delivering anaesthetics.

Two wounded soldiers playing cards after having full face prosthetics fitted in April 1919

Anaesthesia generally had advanced as a speciality during the war years – both in the way it was administered, and also how doctors were trained (previously, anaesthetics had often been given by a junior member of the surgical team).

The survival from operations requiring anaesthesia was improving, although techniques were still based on chloroform and ether.

The Queen Mary's anaesthetic team developed a method of passing a rubber tube from the nose to the trachea (windpipe), as well as working on the endotracheal tube (mouth to trachea) whch was made from commercial rubber tubing.

Many of their techniques remain in use today. As an Austrian doctor wrote in 1935: 'Nobody won the last war but the medical services. The increase in knowledge was the sole determinable gain for mankind in a devastating catastrophe.'

  • This article was originally published by The Conversation
  • The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of Norman G Kirby, Major General (Retired), Director of Army Surgery 1978-82

American socialite and sculptor who followed her doctor husband to Europe at the beginning of World War One changed the lives of nearly 200 soldiers disfigured in battle by creating ‘portrait masks’ they could wear to hide their facial injuries

by Regina F Graham, features reporter for DailyMail.com

  • Anna Coleman Ladd helped nearly 200 soldiers with facial disfigurements from World War I by creating 'portrait masks'
  • Born to a prominent family just outside of Philadelphia in 1878, she studied sculpting in Europe before marrying her husband in 1905 and moving to Boston
  • The couple moved to France in 1917 where she founded the American Red Cross Studio of Portrait Masks and employed four assistants to help her
  • Ladd's noble services earned her the Légion d'Honneur Croix de Chevalier and the Serbian Order of Saint Sava

More than 16 million soldiers and civilians died in the First World War, making it the deadliest war in history. Many of those who survived the battlefields did so with severe facial injuries, and it proved difficult to return home with a drastic change in appearance.

They worried about how both family and friends would react and also how they would be treated because they were missing a nose, an eye or pieces of their jawline after sustaining disfigurements wrought by shrapnel, bullets and flamethrowers.

In an effort to bring some normalcy back to their lives, American sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd, who had moved to Paris with her husband at the beginning of the war, created portrait masks modeled from photographs taken of the men before their injury.

'One man who came to us had been wounded two and a half years before and had never been home,' according to a 1919 report from Ladd's studio that was published by the Smithsonian Museum as part of her archives.

'He did not want his mother to see how badly he looked. 'Of all his face there was only one eye left, and after 50 operations . . . he came to us.

'People get used to seeing men with arms and legs missing, but they never get used to an abnormal face.'

Anna Coleman Ladd, an American socialite and sculptor who followed her doctor husband to Europe at the beginning of World War One, found her craft in prosthetics. She transformed the lives of more than 200 soldiers. Here she works on a prosthetic mask worn by a French soldier to conceal his disfigurement in July 1918


Holes in the road

On 17 January 1967, the Mail published a story, "The holes in our roads", about potholes, giving the examples of Blackburn where it said there were 4,000 holes. This detail was then immortalised by John Lennon in The Beatles song "A Day in the Life", along with an account of the death of 21-year-old socialite Tara Browne in a car crash on 18 December 1966, which also appeared in the same issue. ⏝]

Unification Church

In 1981, the Daily Mail ran an investigation into the Unification Church, nicknamed the Moonies, accusing them of ending marriages and brainwashing converts. ⏁] The Unification Church, which always denied these claims, sued for libel but lost heavily. A jury awarded the Mail a then record-breaking £750,000 libel payout. In 1983 the paper won a special British Press Award for a "relentless campaign against the malignant practices of the Unification Church." ⏞]

Gay gene controversy

On 16 July 1993 the Mail ran the headline "Abortion hope after 'gay genes' finding". ⏟] ⏠] Of the tabloid headlines which commented on the Xq28 gene, the Mail's was criticised as "perhaps the most infamous and disturbing headline of all". ⏡]

Stephen Lawrence

The Mail campaigned vigorously for justice over the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. On 14 February 1997, the Mail front page pictured the five men accused of Lawrence's murder with the headline "MURDERERS", stating "if we are wrong, let them sue us". ⏢] This attracted praise from Paul Foot and Peter Preston. ⏣] Some journalists contended the Mail had belatedly changed its stance on the Lawrence murder, with the newspaper's earlier focus being the alleged opportunistic behaviour of anti-racist groups ("How Race Militants Hijacked a Tragedy", 10 May 1993) and alleged insufficient coverage of the case (20 articles in three years). ⏤] ⏥]

Two men who the Mail had featured in their "Murderers" headline were found guilty in 2012 of murdering Lawrence. After the verdict, Lawrence's parents and numerous political figures thanked the newspaper for taking the potential financial risk involved with the 1997 headline. ⏦]

Stephen Gately

A 16 October 2009, a Jan Moir article criticised aspects of the life and death of Stephen Gately. It was published six days after his death and before his funeral. The Press Complaints Commission received over 25,000 complaints, a record number, regarding the timing and content of the article. It was criticised as insensitive, inaccurate and homophobic. ⏧] ⏨] The Press Complaints Commission did not uphold complaints about the article. ⏩] ⏪] Major advertisers, such as Marks & Spencer, had their adverts removed from the Mail Online webpage containing Moir's article. ⏫]

Cannabis use

On 13 June 2011, a study by Dr Matt Jones and Michal Kucewicz ⏬] on the effects of cannabinoid receptor activation in the brain was published in The Journal of Neuroscience ⏬] ⏭] ⏮] and the British medical journal The Lancet. ⏯] The study was used in articles by CBS News, 𖏜] Le Figaro, 𖏝] and Bild 𖏞] among others.

In October 2011, the Daily Mail printed an article citing the research, titled "Just ONE cannabis joint can bring on schizophrenia as well as damaging memory." The group Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), which campaigns for ending drug prohibition, criticised the Daily Mail report. 𖏟] Dr Matt Jones, co-author of the study, said he was "disappointed but not surprised" by the article, and stated: "This study does NOT say that one spliff will bring on schizophrenia". 𖏟] Dorothy Bishop, professor of neuroscience at Oxford University, in her blog awarded the Daily Mail the "Orwellian Prize for Journalistic Misrepresentation", ⎜] 𖏠] 𖏡] The Mail later changed the article's headline to: "Just ONE cannabis joint 'can cause psychiatric episodes similar to schizophrenia' as well as damaging memory." 𖏢]

Ralph Miliband article

In September 2013, the Mail was criticised for an article on Ralph Miliband (father of then Labour-leader Ed Miliband and prominent Marxist sociologist), titled "The Man Who Hated Britain". 𖏣] Ed Miliband said that the article was "ludicrously untrue", that he was "appalled" and "not willing to see my father's good name be undermined in this way". Ralph Miliband had arrived in the UK from Belgium as a Jewish refugee from the Holocaust. The Jewish Chronicle described the article as "a revival of the 'Jews can't be trusted because of their divided loyalties' genre of antisemitism." 𖏤] Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith linked the article to the Nazi sympathies of the 1st Viscount Rothermere, whose family remain the paper's owners. 𖏥] 𖏦] 𖏧]

The paper defended the article's general content in an editorial, but described its use of a picture of Ralph Miliband's grave as an "error of judgement". 𖏨] In the editorial, the paper further remarked that "We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons. But when a son with prime ministerial ambitions swallows his father's teachings, as the younger Miliband appears to have done, the case is different." 𖏩] A spokesman for the paper also described claims that the article continued its history of anti-Semitism as "absolutely spurious." 𖏪] However, the reference to "the jealous God of Deuteronomy" was criticised by Jonathan Freedland, who said that "In the context of a piece about a foreign-born Jew, [the remark] felt like a subtle, if not subterranean hint to the reader, a reminder of the ineradicable alienness of this biblically vengeful people" 𖏫] and that "those ready to acquit the Mail because there was no bald, outright statement of antisemitism were probably using the wrong measure." 𖏬]

Gawker Media lawsuit

In March 2015, James King, a former contract worker at the Mail's New York office, wrote an article for Gawker titled 'My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online ' . In the article, King alleged that the Mail ' s approach was to rewrite stories from other news outlets with minimal credit in order to gain advertising clicks, and that staffers had published material they knew to be false. He also suggested that the paper preferred to delete stories from its website rather than publish corrections or admit mistakes. 𖏭] In September 2015, the Mail's US company Mail Media filed a $1 million lawsuit against King and Gawker Media for libel. 𖏮] Eric Wemple at the Washington Post questioned the value of the lawsuit, noting that "Whatever the merits of King's story, it didn't exactly upend conventional wisdom" about the website's strategy. 𖏯] In November 2016, Lawyers for Gawker filed a motion to resolve the lawsuit. Under the terms of the motion, Gawker was not required to pay any financial compensation, but agreed to add an Editor's Note at the beginning of the King article, remove an illustration in the post which incorporated the Daily Mail's logo, and publish a statement by DailyMail.com in the same story. 𖏰] 𖏱]

Anti-refugee cartoon

Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, 𖏳] a cartoon in the Daily Mail by Stanley McMurtry ("Mac") linked the European migrant crisis (with a focus on Syria in particular 𖏴] ) to the terrorist attacks, and criticised the European Union immigration laws for allowing Islamist radicals to gain easy access into the United Kingdom. 𖏵] Despite being compared to Nazi propaganda by The New York Times, 𖏶] and criticised as "reckless xenophobia," and racist, the cartoon received praise on the Mail Online website. 𖏷] A Daily Mail spokesperson told The Independent: "We are not going to dignify these absurd comments which wilfully misrepresent this cartoon apart from to say that we have not received a single complaint from any reader". 𖏳]

Anthony Weiner scandal

In September 2016, the Mail Online published a lengthy interview and screenshots from a 15-year-old girl who claimed that the American politician Anthony Weiner had sent her sexually explicit images and messages. The revelation led to Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin—an aide of Hillary Clinton—separating. In late October, less than two weeks before the presidential election, FBI director James Comey stated that files found on Weiner's devices may be relevant to Clinton's email controversy. 𖏸] Weiner pleaded guilty in May 2017 to sending obscene material to a minor, and in September he was jailed for 21 months. 𖏹]

Campaigns against plastic pollution

The paper has campaigned against plastic pollution in various forms since 2008. The paper called for a levy on single use plastic bags. ⎚] The Daily Mail's work in highlighting the issue of plastic pollution was praised by the head of the United Nations Environment Program, Erik Solheim at a conference in Kenya in 2017. 𖏺] Emily Maitlis, the newscaster, asked Green Party leader Caroline Lucas on Newsnight, 'Is the biggest friend to the Environment at the moment the Daily Mail?' in reference to the paper's call for a ban on plastic microbeads and other plastic pollution, and suggested it had done more for the environment than the Green Party. Environment group ClientEarth has also highlighted the paper's role in drawing attention to the plastic pollution problem along with the Blue Planet II documentary. 𖏻] 𖏼]

Gary McKinnon deportation

Attempts by the United States government to extradite Gary McKinnon, a British computer hacker, were campaigned against by the paper. In 2002, McKinnon was accused of perpetrating the "biggest military computer hack of all time" 𖏽] although McKinnon himself states that he was merely looking for evidence of free energy suppression and a cover-up of UFO activity and other technologies potentially useful to the public. The Daily Mail began to support McKinnon's campaign in 2009 – with a series of front-page stories protesting against his deportation. 𖏾]

On 16 October 2012, after a series of legal proceedings in Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May withdrew her extradition order to the United States. Gary McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp praised the paper's contribution to saving her son from deportation in her book in which she said: 'Thanks to Theresa May, David Cameron and the support of David Burrowes and so many others – notably the Daily Mail – my son was safe, he was going to live.' 𖏿] 𖐀]

Abd Ali Hameed al-Waheed

In December 2017 the Daily Mail published a front-page story entitled "Another human rights fiasco!", with the subheading "Iraqi 'caught red-handed with bomb' wins £33,000 – because our soldiers kept him in custody for too long". The story related to a judge's decision to award money to Abd Ali Hameed al-Waheed after he had been unlawfully imprisoned. The headline was printed despite the fact that during the trial itself the judge concluded that claims that al-Waheed had been caught with a bomb were "pure fiction".

In July 2018 the Independent Press Standards Organisation ordered the paper to publish a front-page correction after finding the newspaper had breached rules on accuracy in its reporting of the case. The Daily Mail reported that a major internal investigation was conducted following the decision to publish the story, and as a result, "strongly worded disciplinary notes were sent to seven senior members of staff", which made it clear "that if errors of the same nature were to happen again, their careers would be at risk". 𖐁]

Powder Keg Paris

In August 2018, the Mail Online deleted a lengthy news article by journalist Andrew Malone which focused on "illegal migrants" living in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis, after a string of apparent inaccuracies were highlighted on social media by French activist Marwan Muhammad, including mistaking Saint-Denis, the city, for Seine-Saint-Denis, the department northeast of Paris. Local councillor Majid Messaoudene said that the article had set out to "stigmatise" and "harm" the area and its people. The journalist, Andrew Malone, subsequently deleted his Twitter account. 𖐂] 𖐃]

Libel lawsuits [ edit | edit source ]

The Daily Mail has been involved in a number of notable libel suits.

Successful lawsuits [ edit | edit source ]

  • 2001, February: Businessman Alan Sugar was awarded £100,000 in damages following a story commenting on his stewardship of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
  • 2003, October: Actress Diana Rigg awarded £30,000 in damages over a story commenting on aspects of her personality.
  • 2006, May: £100,000 damages for Elton John, following false accusations concerning his manners and behaviour.
  • 2009, January: £30,000 award to Dr Austen Ivereigh, who had worked for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, following false accusations made by the newspaper concerning abortion.
  • 2010, July: £47,500 award to Parameswaran Subramanyam for falsely claiming that he secretly sustained himself with hamburgers during a 23-day hunger strike in Parliament Square to draw attention to the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
  • 2011, November: the former lifestyle adviser to Cherie Blair and Tony Blair, Carole Caplin received "substantial" libel damages over claims in the Mail that she was about to reveal intimate details about her former clients.

Unsuccessful lawsuits [ edit | edit source ]

  • 2012, February: Nathaniel Philip Rothschild, lost his libel case against the Daily Mail, after the High Court agreed that he was indeed the "Puppet Master" for Peter Mandelson, that his conduct had been "inappropriate in a number of respects" and that the words used by the Daily Mail were "substantially true".
  • 2012, May: Carina Trimingham, the partner of former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne, was ordered to pay more the £400,000 after she lost her High Court claims for damages for alleged breach of privacy and harassment against the Daily Mail. Huhne, whilst married, had an affair with Trimingham, who herself was in a lesbian civil partnership and then later left his wife Vicky Pryce for Trimingham. This and a series of other events involving Pryce and Huhne, led to his resignation from the Cabinet, both of them being arrested for perverting the course of justice and the criminal prosecution R v Huhne and Pryce.

Flying into history – Ireland & the story of the first Transatlantic Flight

On 17 December 1903 Orville Wright piloted the world&rsquos first powered airplane in a successful flight. Above a windswept North Carolina beach, Wright flew the plane at a height of 20 feet and for a mere 12 seconds. In all the plane covered a distance of 120 feet in the air.

From such rudimentary beginnings it was remarkable that 16 years later John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first successful transatlantic crossing by air. Compared to Wright&rsquos brief flight, Alcock and Brown flew non-stop for over 14 hours and travelled 1,890 miles from Newfoundland to Clifden in County Galway.

One of the major reasons for the rapid development of air transport was the outbreak of the First World War. In 1913, shortly before the outbreak of the war, the Daily Mail had offered a prize of £10,000 for a successful air crossing of the Atlantic in under 72 hours. While the prize was substantial, aviation technology was not yet developed enough that anyone but the foolhardiest would even try and tackle the crossing. Both the British and the Germans saw the military advantage of planes during the First World War. First for reconnaissance purposes, and later as fighting machines. Given the military demands for efficient and effective aircraft, plus the deep pockets of both countries, aircraft technology developed quickly and became far more dependable (although still highly dangerous) between 1914 and 1918.

A commemorative cover from Flight International magazine to mark the 25th anniversary of Alcock and Brown's flight. It draws parallels between their journey and the one taken by Christoper Columbus in 1492 (Image: Flight International, 15 June 1944)

Both Alcock and Brown (the former a pilot, the latter an engineer and navigator) had flown in the Royal Flying Corp during the First World War. During the war a plane Alcock was flying in crashed over Turkey, while Brown was shot down over Germany.

Both men were German prisoners-of-war until their release in 1918. Alcock would often tell the story that the dream of flying the Atlantic came to him while he was a prisoner. After he had returned to Britain he made contact with the Vickers firm and was appointed their pilot for the transatlantic challenge. He would later meet Brown who, although unemployed at the time, was hired as navigator for the challenge due to his skills and the extensive number of flying hours he had under his belt.

The Daily Mail contest to fly the Atlantic had been suspended during the war, but was opened up again in November 1918. The summer of 1919 duly brought a number of teams to Newfoundland to attempt the crossing, and Alcock and Brown departed, flying their Vickers Vimy, in the early afternoon of 14 June. On board alongside the two men was a package of mail for delivery, 3,900 litres of fuel, an electric generator to power the radio and provide heat, and two toy cats as lucky mascots. Shortly after take off the generator failed which meant that the two men had no heat in their open cockpit and, critical in such an endeavour, no functioning radio or intercom.

In effect they would have to fly the whole way without heat, and no way of talking to the ground or, perhaps more importantly, to each other.

Across the Atlantic they were hampered by thick fog, and in the early morning of 15 June they flew through a heavy snowstorm. So rudimentary was the technology for this flight that the weather was critical. In fog and snow Alcock&rsquos vision was impaired. Given that they were relying on readings from a sextant to offer them direction, such poor visibility left the men effectively lost above the Atlantic through the night.

On the morning of 15 June, Brown finally spotted the western coast of Ireland. While there had been plans to fly onto London, the men decided that it would be safer, because of poor weather, to attempt a landing on the seemingly flat green land of Derrygimlagh bog which lay just outside of Clifden. The bog was an important target for Alcock and Brown. Not only did it look like a basic landing strip, given its grassy appearance, but the bog was also the home of the Marconi Wireless and Telegraph Station that sent and received messages crossing between Europe and the United States. If their landing, and hence their crossing of the Atlantic was successful, then the news could be spread across the world by the Marconi staff almost instantly.

Brown (left) and Alcock (right) in the Automobile Club on Dawson Street, Dublin, after arrived from Clifden. Note the cat mascots: one on Alcock's lap and the other on the cushion between the pair (Image: Irish Life, 20 June 1919. Full collection available in the National Library of Ireland)

At 8.40 in the morning Brown brought the plane into land. He mistook what he thought was flat grass for his landing area, and instead brought the plane to a halt on the bog and the historic first crossing of the Atlantic ended with the Vickers upright, its nose buried in the soft bog of Derrygimlagh. As planned, the word of their success was telegraphed around the world, and journalists from across Ireland and beyond sped to Clifden to interview the two men. In the event Tom Kenny of the Connacht Tribune arrived first, and got the biggest interview of his career. Celebratory telegrams were received from Downing Street and Buckingham Palace and, from Rolls Royce (the makers of the engine that had got them across the Atlantic) cases of champagne arrived which were drunk at an impromptu party that night in Clifden.

On the morning of 16 June, Alcock and Brown, the news of their historic crossing and a previously unknown bog in the west of Ireland were front page news across the world. The landing point that signalled their successful crossing is now marked by a memorial in the bog, and the feat of Alcock and Brown placed Ireland in a central role for the future of transatlantic aviation. The first east-west crossing of the Atlantic took place from Dublin in 1928, and featured Irishman Colonel James Fitzmaurice as one of the three-man crew. From the late 1930s Foynes functioned as the Irish base of the transatlantic flying plane fleet and, from the late 1940s Shannon airport was the stopping off point for all passenger planes, irrespective of their departure point in Europe, from the journey to North America.

Alcock and Brown were rightly hailed as heroes in 1919. Their successful flight was a testament to their skill, but also a product of how rapidly aviation had been developed during the years of World War One.

From the time of their landing in the west of Ireland onwards, the country would play a key role in the history of 20th century aviation. The Alcock and Brown flight was a remarkable feat and one, given that news from Ireland at the time was dominated by reports of the fighting in the War of Independence, gave the world an alternative and perhaps more uplifting view of the country.

Professor Mike Cronin is Academic Director at Boston College-Ireland and a Director of Century Ireland