September 11, 1914

The war effort was being helped in all manner of ways – the Ashbourne Telegraph edition of September 11 carried news that the residents of St Monica’s Home for Girls were knitting stockings for soldiers.

There was a colourful and detailed description of the return to Ashbourne of the wounded soldier reported in an earlier edition of the paper.

“A true, genuine characteristic Ashbourne welcome was accorded Bombadier William Thomas Simpson of the Royal Field Artillery who returned to Ashbourne from the war on Tuesday evening.

“A large crowd assembled at the Station on Tuesday evening and the Ashbourne Old Volunteer Band patriotically turned out to welcome the hero of the hour. Rounds of cheers were raised as he emerged from the platform and he was soon hoisted on the shoulders of two of his stalwart fellow townsmen. Preceded by the band he was carried in triumph to his parents’ house in the Market Place. And enthusiastic cheers were given as he was escorted into the house.”

Not content with this eye-witness account the reporter managed to get an interview with the returning soldier. He told the Telegraph that he did not think there was a man amongst them who thought they would get out of the battle alive.

“English guns, he said, were hopelessly outnumbered, but it was evident the Germans were surprised and angry at the stubbornness and pluck with which the English fought.”

There were details of new recruits to the armed forces, including 90 members of the Midland Railway Company clerical staff from its offices in Derby, while the telegrams from London reported the Russians had taken 20,000 prisoners and the Austrians were “retreating in disorder.”

One of the industry buzz-phrases in 2014 is User Generated Content. Under the heading Letters from the Front The Ashbourne Telegraph from a century earlier has an early example of encouraging readers to supply material for publication.

“We shall be glad if those of our readers who receive letters from the front will let us have them for publication. Only such portions as may be of public interest will be published and they may rely on us to make only a discretionary use of the letters, which, whether used or not, will be returned.”

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