Bar-de-Luc, France: 1919. Image shows 5 women, and one unit soldier, arrayed around a large press, in a rather cavenous press room. There is white lcaptioning in the photograph left corner, believe to read: "Doc Cook Camp Dodger". In the far right, "23D" [a photograph identifying number of some sort?]. 3-1/4" x 5-1/2". Some discoloration and rust at right, with a 1/2" closed edge tear, and some other modest extremity wear, still a VG example of this rare image. Item #43804
Inked annotation on the photograph verso: “French women running the press at Bar-le-Duc with the first edition of the Overseas Camp Dodger. Price $5.00.”
The Camp Dodger, an official publication of the 88th Infantry Division, begain weekly publication, 21 September 1917, at Camp Dodge, Iowa, and later in France, during, and shortly after, the First World War. The Library of Congress, in their entry for their holdings of this rare WWI unit newspaper, note, “An Overseas edition of the Camp dodger [sic] was issued in the Gondrecourt area, France, beginning with the Feb. 3, 1919 (v. 2, no. 1). No more published?”.
Newman, in his University of Iowa article on this overseas press, stated, "Shortly after the termination of the United States edition, an over seas edition of the Camp Dodger was begun. The 88th Division had been training and fighting from its arrival in France in September, 1918, until after the armistice in November, 1918. With the end of the fighting, the Division command developed a concern for troop morale and decided to revive the Camp Dodger as a source of information and amusement. Lt. Fairall was established in a subsection of Division Intelligence and assigned full time to reorganizing the paper. Riding around the Division area near Gondrecourt on a horse, he recruited former and new staff members and searched for equipment and facilities. A print shop was found at Bar-le-Duc, while editorial offices remained at Division Headquarters in Gondrecourt for the life of the European edition.
The print shop was rather a mixed blessing. The Germans had blown a hole in the roof, there was no electrical power, and the old flat-bed press was operated in a curious but ingenious manner.
Two ropes were tied to an iron spoke of the wheel. On one of these ropes an old doddering man and a little girl attached themselves. The other rope was grasped by a strong young woman. The old man and the child pulled and the wheel turned half way. The young woman, stationed on the opposite side, pulled and it turned the other half. Then the old man and the child pulled again while the young woman let her rope go slack. So the press was turned over.
A shortage of newsprint caused the first issues of the overseas Camp Dodger to be printed on book paper acquired from the stock of the French printer. All type was hand set, but fortunately for the soldier- typesetters the French type trays were arranged in the same manner as their American counterparts. There was, however, a shortage of the letter “w,” which occurs less frequently in French than in English. For this reason, the issues of the paper printed at Bar-le-Duc are distin guished not only for their excellent paper, but also by frequent use of upside-down “m’s,” for “w’s”.
The first overseas issue of the Camp Dodger, numbered volume II, number 1, appeared on February 3, 1919. This numbering duplicated that of the United States edition, which had begun a volume II on September 20, 1918, and may account for the incomplete entry in the Library of Congress Catalog of Printed Cards. Printing continued weekly at Bar-le-Duc until volume II, number 3, on February 17, 1919." [Newman. The CAMP DODGER].
Rare image showing the production of this evanescent WWI unit newspaper.