Parachutes for miles

10 Dec

It’s admire-the-front-page time again:

This time, it’s the old broadsheet Daily Express from 16 August 1944, breathlessly reporting news of Operation Dragoon, the Allies’ invasion of southern France that was supposed to take place on D-Day but happened five weeks later.

Look at that two-deck strap, another New York Times-style omnibus headline, then the two subheads and long standfirsts to herald each of the main reports, from north and south, that split around the picture as though it were a breakwater.* Reporting from “the gap” in Normandy, the renowned foreign correspondent Alan Moorehead is already famous enough to be mentioned in the big type (“Moorehead drives round it”). Around the two main stories there are 15(!) other articles and a map, including the shortest NIB I have ever seen (“News of the Allied landing in South France has elated the people of Moscow”, stop, ends) and a somewhat uninformative paragraph of anti-news (“NOT GEN. DEVERS: The immediate commander of the Allied Forces in the South of France has not been identified, but reports naming General Jacob Devers are described in Rome as incorrect.—A.P.”).

This is wartime, so the blackout times – rather than the lighting-up times – are listed in the masthead, and there are a couple of obvious flag-wavers downpage (“Hate? –’British do not know how'”; “Trapped Germans were all drunk”). But other than that it’s all hard news and clean copy, crashed together overnight as a new front opened on the Riviera. And in the spirit of making do, even Brylcreem seems keen to encourage economies: “Grasp the bottle as shown (note the finger firmly on the cap), then flick the wrist smartly to and fro in semi-rotary fashion for a few seconds; on removing cap, the cream will then flow without difficulty.”

 

*The second headline looks like it might be a flying verb – [Troops] storm over gap? – but in fact, it’s a weather report: “storm”  is a noun, not a verb.

One Response to “Parachutes for miles”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Christiansen Method | Ten minutes past deadline - July 21, 2020

    […] was editor of the Daily Express from 1933 to 1957, hailed as one of the great press innovators and a genius of presentation, but I wonder how many people in Britain today remember who he is. I had only barely heard of him […]

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