A tireless charity collector was lost, the Ashbourne Telegraph reported. But this was no ordinary fundraiser, this was Victor the Ashbourne Hall Hotel bulldog. The paper recorded that Victor had been destroyed owing to loss of sight under the headline A Sagacious Animal: “No doubt there are few people in Ashbourne who were not familiar with this faithful animal, particularly the children with whom he used to play as he wandered the streets. Victor has been the means of collecting in a box carried on his back a considerable amount of money in aid of the fund of the Red Cross Society and also for charitable purposes.”
Unlike newspapers today, it would appear the Telegraph was put together in chronological order and there was little consideration given to “news values” in deciding position or prominence. Editorial items were apparently typeset and placed on the pages as they became available. This would explain why Victor appeared earlier in the paper than news of the dramatic wounding of an Ashbourne guardsman.
“A letter has been received by his parents Mr and Mrs J Kernanhan, of North Leys, from their eldest son Frank, who is a Private in the Ist Grenadier Guards, intimating that he has been wounded. He was engaged in holding a trench with seven comrades in the neighbourhood of Ypres, on or about November 5th, when a German shell fell in close proximity to them, with the result that seven soldiers were almost instantly buried in debris. Private Kernahan recovered consciousness when under treatment at the back of the firing line, but does not know what became of his comrades. He was removed subsequently to the hospital ship to Southampton and informs his parents that he will let them know the name of the hospital to which he will be taken. He adds that he is hurt in his ankles, but asks his parents not to worry as he hopes to be soon at home for a rest.”
On page 5 of the Telegraph was a report of another Ashbournian wounded in action with the headline: Blown Clean Out of Trench
“Mr and Mrs T Hudson of Smith’s Yard, Union Street have received a letter from their son William, who is a lance-Corporal in the Yorkshire Light Infantry announcing that he is wounded and now receiving treatment in hospital at Patricroft, Eccles, Manchester.
“In the course of the letter he says: ‘I am wounded in the hand, and am hurt internally and have two ribs broken. While fighting in the trenches my pal next to me was badly hurt, but I managed to get him out of the trench, but just as I was jumping down into the trench again a shell burst right over my head. I threw myself down in the trench and I knew I was hit, but could not tell in how many places. When I felt round a bit I found my hand bleeding and blood oozing out of my boot. I got down under cover as best I could to await assistance when a Black Maria came in and blew my section clean out of the trench. There were nine of them killed and six wounded. I was in the middle and was blown against an old tree stump which broke my ribs. I don’t know how many are broken yet as they are so badly swollen but there are two at least. I was the luckiest of the lot as some of the others who were wounded have died since.”
He continues in a positive note: “I think the worst is over for we Tommies; the Russian, French and Japs will finish the Germans off you will see. They are giving them some stick I can tell you. The Indians are like devils let loose from Hell. The noise they make and the rattle of their knives and bayonets when they charge is terrible.”
He says the doctor at the hospital has told him if he lies still and keeps quiet he will let him returning home in time for Christmas dinner.
Anyone reading the columns of the Ashbourne Telegraph and other UK newspapers might have been excused for believing that the fighting in France, Belgium and on the eastern front was going the Allies’ way. Yet increasingly there was anecdotal evidence of the horrors of the trenches coming from returning, wounded soldiers and letters home from those still overseas. An indication that the full picture was not being given by the telegrams sent from London came under the headline: Pressmen and Censorship
“At the annual meeting of the Institute of Journalists on Saturday, Mr J Sykes (Yorkshire Post) the retiring president said many journalists thought the censorship on war news had been exercised capriciously and inconsistently. To a great extent it was necessary that this war be fought behind a veil, but would it not be possible to give greater prominence to doings of individual regiments? A little more latitude of giving honour where honour was due would be a stimulus and inspiration to the forces in the field and encourage recruiting.”
Slipping on banana skins, to become the stock in trade of silent movie stars of the early 20th century such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton was no laughing matter for Ashbourne Urban Council. A report of a meeting was headlined: A Dangerous Practice
“Mr Arthur Birch said the Urban Council ought to call the attention of the public to the dangerous practice of throwing banana skins on the pavement, adding that he had been informed of three accidents quite recently through this cause.
Mr Bagshaw said that several towns provided wire receptacles for the purpose of accommodating street refuse.
On the Motion of Mr Bamford it was decided the Surveyor should obtain prices for wire baskets.”
There would appear to have been a great thirst for reports and pictures of the war. The front page of the Telegraph carries advertisements for two publications. Pearson’s Magazine’s November edition includes an article entitled The Super Soldier which tells the tale of the Royal Flying Corps and their ‘brave deeds’. The Royal magazine proclaims: “If you want a really vivid glimpse into the life and training of the recruits who form Kitchener’s Army, read the article by Edgar Wallace which appears in the November Royal. A splendid story of aerial warfare by Claude Graham White also appears in this number while a series of magnificent battle pictures help make the November Royal the best possible value for 41/2d.”
And anyone suffering from an autumn cold was urged by ‘Medallist in Chemistry, Pharmacy and Materia Medica’ Thomas Plant of the Rexall Pharmacy in Church street to: “Stop That Cough by taking Plant’s Extract of Liquorice – The Derbyshire Cure for coughs, colds, asthma and bronchitis.