August 21, 1914

The main news item of the week was that Field Marshall Kitchener had called for a further 100,000 men and had received a ‘good response’ from around the country.

In Ashbourne the Duke of Devonshire – whose seat is a Chatsworth – had called on the chairman of Ashbourne Parish Council, Harry Coates, JP, to hold a public meeting in order to seek volunteers for Kitchener’s New Regular Army. The Telegraph reported a rousing speech from Canon Morris supporting the call to arms.

Volunteers the meeting was told would receive six month’s training before seeing active service and three years would be the maximum length of service – if the war were to last that long.

And such meetings were being staged across the county; at Parwich School Room the Rev. MH Pitts-Tucker told the assembled gathering that although he was a man of peace “circumstances made it impossible not to take some part in the defence of King and country”.

Five young men signed up for the Territorials then and there. Their names were listed: Thomas Hadfield, brothers Owen and Edward Twigge, Herbert Steeples and Richard Blackwell.

In a bid to bolster allied cooperation the Telegraph published the (translated) words to the Russian national anthem and France’s Marseillaise.

National news included a report that The Crystal Palace – the glass and steel structure which had been the home of the 1850 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and subsequently rebuilt in South London – had been offered as for use as a hospital. This patriotic gesture was declined by Eastern Command with the message that it was not needed, but that the offer would be borne in mind should circumstances change.

Telegrams reported a “Great German advance” stating that the Prussian army had gained ground on both banks of the River Meuse in Belgium, while French forces, with the assistance of Montenegrin troops were bombarding Austrian fortifications.

More prosaically the Telegraph stated that a bumper crop of English plums meant that people should be urged to eat more plum jam as opposed to margarine. It was noted that the preserve cost 312d/lb as opposed to 8d/lb for margarine.

But it is clear that information about the progress of hostilities was slow to reach the public eye. According to the Daily Telegraph details of the King’s speech to the departing British Expeditionary Force on January 9 were not reported until ten days later. Such a delay seems all the more extraordinary in light of technological developments which allow us today to communicate around the world in an instant.

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