According to Robert Nelson (book review to follow), army newspapers go back at least as far as 1796, when Napoleon trundled a field press on a campaign to Italy. In 1914, German trench newspapers began popping up on both fronts by early September, and one is said to have begun as handwritten leaflets nailed to trees. Most papers had little or no budget supplied from above (usually just donations-in-kind, like paper and captured printing presses), but print-starved soldiers gladly bought copies, and subscriptions were taken for the folks at home. Some articles were staff written, but writing by men at the front was welcome and solicited, as evidence of the papers’ independence from influence higher up in the chain of command. Those writers may have been the first recognized Indie Authors.
The University of Heidelberg has generously made available for download a collection of German trench newspapers from its digital library. They make fascinating reading, even though it’s been more than 35 years since I lived in Germany, so I have to keep going back to my German grammars and dictionary. Here are a few pages from the December, 1914 Lille War Newspaper and its illustrated supplement, Flying Leaves of War. (Click images to enlarge.)