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World War I, 1914-1918
seen through the pages of the Magellan Times

Propaganda which made its way to Patagonia
The flags of allies and friends who fight in freedom's cause official photograph after battle of St. Eloi (Belgium, 1916: Daily Mail war pictures)
The Newspaper goes to War

The Magellan Times was founded just a few months before the outbreak of the Great War, which began in August 1914. Progressively, the war reporting was supplemented by commentary, extolling Allied virtues and "successes" while denigrating the enemy. As the war became more costly and intractable, the criticism turned to vilification. This was little surprise, given the ultra-British attitudes of its editor, and its target readership in the predominantly British-owned and/or -managed sheep ranches. Throughout the war years, the German version of events was reported in "Chile Austral", a Spanish-language paper also published in Punta Arenas. As might be expected, the two differ starkly in their reports. No doubt, the pro-British newspaper (published in English) was seen as an essential information and propaganda counterpoise in the struggle for Patagonian minds.

Links to sample News Items
The Spark that set an Inferno
Where is their sense of Fair Play?
Good vs. Evil -- the Propaganda of Revulsion
The Black List
Recruiting Advertisment 
Subscription Lists

As part of the British "patriotic" effort, public subscriptions were started and publicized through the pages of the Magellan Times. Funds were raised directly in Punta Arenas, while ranch operators in the outlying regions were exhorted to raise contributions among their employees. The following funds were targetted directly at the British expatriate community.

Aeroplane Fund
to purchase an aeroplane for the war; however, the first 700 pounds or so was diverted urgently to rescue the Shackleton Antarctic expedition
British Sailor's Tobacco Fund
to provide smoking materials for enlisted sailors
Children's Fund
"to succour the destitute orphans and children of Serbia"
Patriotic Fund
to assist men wishing to enlist in the armed forces [the second fund]
Patriotic League of Britons Overseas
to purchase a warship
War Relief Fund
successor to Widows & Orphans Fund?
Widows & Orphans Fund
to provide humanitarian assistance to war victims [the first fund]

Fortunately for the family historian, the newspaper printed complete lists of subscribers to each of these funds, often specifying the place where they donated (in Chile and in Argentina) -- a sort of census, in fact. It is clear, both from the number of people contributing and from the amounts donated, that they came from all economic levels. We may also suspect that the participation rate was high. Whereas only the "boss class" normally got mentioned in the news columns, this was a rare instance when the "workers" received equal treatment. Not all donors were British -- there are some hispanic names (presumably host-nation nationals), while others are continental European. Additional lists were published of those men who volunteered for war service: the majority of these had their passages to Britain paid by the Patriotic Fund.

Consolidated Lists
Volunteers who left to join H.M. forces
Donations to the special wartime Funds

For an example of the use of emotionally-charge rhetoric, intended to shame British expatriates into enlisting for military service, see William Dickie's newspaper piece "To the Shirkers in Patagonia".

War Poetry:
In 1940, G P Brown, a British national living in Punta Arenas, published several poems evoking the horror of World War I, and the pain of its aftermath: see "Brown Studies".

In a 1917 recruiting speech in Sydney, Australia, Ernest Shackleton quotes Punta Arenas approvingly, as an expatriate community that has done its share for its country.

Illustrations: courtesy of Kathleen Rowland; thanks to Carlos González
Last updated: 14-XII-2013