Telegrams published in the columns of the Ashbourne Telegraph this week include details of a “Great Russian Victory” in which German forces were said to have been “routed near Warsaw”.
In what might be taken as a coup for propaganda the Kaiser was also reported to be seriously ill, while German army was said to be preparing for retreat from Northern France.
Perhaps this explains the mood, which led the Telegraph to publish the following:
“It’s a long way to Tipperary, but not so far to JH Henstock’s, Market Place, where you can purchase patriotic postcards, pins, brooches, novelties etc at reasonable prices.”
Five Ashbourne men were mentioned in dispatches: Major Rudolph Jelf, Captain Wilfred Jelf, Captain J. Barry Walker, Lieutenant Malcolm Henderson and Corporal Harold Salt.
In what was becoming a regular feature there was a letter from the Territorial contingent from Ashbourne, billeted in Harpenden.
“After long waiting the order has at last come and we are to be prepared to move on next week, as at present arranged we sail on Friday, October 30th, but beyond this nothing definite is officially known. That our destination is France is, however, generally believed by officers and men.”
The correspondent went on to report that the men were to be given weekend leave and many were expected to return to Ashbourne before embarkation for the continent.
Another Ashbourne soldier was reported fatally wounded. Private Charles Chell, seriously wounded by a shell at the Battle of the Aisne died on October 13 in the British Expeditionary Force hospital. Chell had been due to get married during the course of the month. Instead a memorial service was held in the parish church.
The newspaper’s appeal to its readers to send in a letters from the Front resulted in the following report:
Mr and Mrs Kernahan , of The Leys, Ashbourne have received a welcome and interesting letter from their son Frank who is serving in the Ist Battalion Grenadier Guards of which the following are extracts: Saturday 10th October, Dear Father and Mother, We have just got a few hours rest so I am writing you a line … We are moving about the country a lot. The people are very good to us but it is most sad to se them on the road with their few belongings on a cart pulled by two or three dogs, for they have had to leave most of their furniture behind them … I must not tell you where we are. I can hear the big guns now I am writing. We have been sleeping in schools, cafes and anywhere we could, but slept out last night and it was very cold. I have had a shave this morning, the first for several days … I am thankful mine is an English home when I see what these poor people have to put up with …Let me know where Paul is. Fondest love to all. Your ever loving son Frank.
Frank’s brother Paul who was serving with the Royal Field Artillery had left England some two months earlier and had recently reported in a letter to his parents: “All well up to the present”.
Under the headline Duke’s Spirited Appeal the Telegraph reported: “The Duke of Devonshire addressed mass meetings in Matlock and Wirksworth Town Halls on Saturday night for the purpose of recruiting for the new Territorial units. The meetings were under the auspices if the combined Unionist and Liberal organisations of West Derbyshire. Over 50 men joined the colours.”