Local Press

The Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post were Leeds main newspapers at the time of the Blitz. They are where many people in the city would have gained their news and claimed that their ‘deeply rooted local associations’ made them trusted guides to current affairs (O’Malley, 2017, p. 516).

Like other newspapers, the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post were covered by censorship laws – and Leeds had its own censorship office to ensure that the rules were followed. This meant that the papers were unable to report on details that might provide the enemy with important information. Like their national counterparts, the papers called Leeds a ‘North eastern town’ – and described a bomb on their own offices as an attack on ‘a Northern newspaper’ (Yorkshire Post, ‘Night Attack on NE Town’, 15 March 1941, p. 1). However, the papers pushed the rules by publishing their accounts of the raid alongside German claims that Leeds had been hit (Yorkshire Evening Post, ‘What the Nazis Claim’, 15 March 1941, p. 6). These claims could be published without fear of breaking the rules and encouraged readers to link the stories for themselves!

News item from the Yorkshire Post

News report from the Yorkshire Post

A shared experience

There are clear contrasts between the Yorkshire Post’s coverage of the raid and that in the national press. While attempting to keep spirits high, local reports made more effort to highlight the destruction the raid had caused and give a clearer sense of community.

It is important that the newspaper’s own office was hit by an incendiary bomb on the night of the raid. There is no record of a serious fire at this location, so we can deduce that this was put out by fire watchers. However, the raid did force the journalists to retreat to the basement of the building, writing their articles for the morning edition from their air raid shelter. This shared experience seems to have influenced the reports they produced over the next week.

Their articles focused on examples of local heroes, describing how firewatchers had stood on the rooftops, refusing to take refuge even when high explosives began to scream down (Yorkshire Post, ‘Night Attack on NE Town’, 15 March 1941, p. 1).

These stories followed a similar pattern to those in the national press – highlighting heroism and resistance in a time of despair – but included far more quotes from ordinary people. This can be understood as a way of boosting morale by showing that they were not alone, no matter what personal issues they were dealing with due to bombing.

A more personal approach

This approach to the news can also be seen in the photographs used to illustrate the Yorkshire Post’s stories. Images of bomb-damaged schools and houses were used to showcase the damage done to the city (Yorkshire Post, ‘Houses Bombed in Raid’, 17 March 1941, p. 4). This attention was not replicated by the national newspapers, where images tended to focus on the more heavily affected areas such as London.

In summary, local newspapers gave a different view to the national newspapers as they took a far more personal approach, with more attention paid to the damage done to the community. Despite being covered by censorship laws, the reports share a much more rounded version of the events and aftermath of that night.

Examples of the destruction the raids caused to the local community - a house (Source: Yorkshire Post)
Examples of the destruction the raids caused to the local community - a school (Source: Yorkshire Post)
News Item - Houses bombed in a raid
News item: Bomb on a school