Derbyshire became the first county outside London to form a Home Guard 100 years ago this week – with Ashbourne in the vanguard.
A meeting prominently advertised in the Telegraph a week previously was well attended and addressing the audience Mr THB Bamford was bullish about the passage of the war. The Telegraph reported: “He believed that the Germans had as much chance of getting to the moon as landing a force here.”
Mr JR Mellor was appointed Chairman of the town’s Home Guard committee and the audience enthusiastically applauded the opinion that, had the town searched the whole of England, they could not have found a more suitable man for the position.
Mr Mellor responded with modesty, but said, to applause, that he would he would do his best to make Ashbourne’s Home Guard the most efficient unit in the county.
Elsewhere, the demand for more men to join the forces fighting on the continent prompted speculation about the future of voluntary recruitment in the area.
The paper noted that the Lord Lieutenant’s chief staff officer had issued a statement saying the nation ‘must have’ the assistance of every able bodied man to bring the war to a swift conclusion. It was observed that the phrase ‘must have’ could only mean one thing: conscription.
This would be “abhorrent to many of us” the Telegraph continued, and such a policy would be impossible to enforce without disrupting trade throughout the country
As if to enforce the point that volunteers were needed the paper reproduced a poem written by a woman who lost a son in the Boer War:
Arise, young men of England, come forth and take your stand,
To repel the bold invader, and save our Motherland.
It is for hearth and home and all, your King and Country give the call –
To keep the braggart from our door and gain the victory ever more.
Then don’t be shirkers men, I say – It’s only fear keeps you away.
Never, never be it said English hearts are cold and dead!
Who dare not fight their country’s cause, deserve to suffer by its laws.
Shame! Oh shame! On such, I say, who dare not fight but run away!
Think of the good, brave Indians from far across the seas,
Canadians, Colonials and plucky Japanese;
Then men, be brave and rally up, your country to defend,
And never be it said you were cowards to the end!
Then rouse up men of Britain, your country’s call obey;
Don’t waver for a moment – put cowardice away!
Never in our history has it been said before
That men of England stood aside when need was at our door.
Suggestions that fit men who had not yet volunteered to serve were cowards must have been calculated to draw a response.
It was a quiet week for news from the front line, but one fatality was recorded; that of a former Snelston man, Rifleman Jack Allsop, described, modestly, by one of his army colleagues as ‘a good sort’. He died of his wounds on New Year’s Day when a shell hit a barn where he and his platoon was waiting to relieve troops in the trenches. The paper reported that Allsop had volunteered in September, just four months before meeting his untimely death.
Once more editorial space was given over to help promote an advertiser, this time a Belgian refugee Mons. A Dedyn who under the rather grand title The Ashbourne French Popular School was promoting French language classes at the YMCA Rooms in King Street, Ashbourne.
The editor stated: “To be able to speak French should not be regarded as a luxury or an extra, it has really a commercial value and our readers will do well to grasp this exceptional opportunity at once.”
The column concludes, with just a suggestion of a lack of confidence in the efficacy of the programme: “He speaks English well, and we are sure that if his pupils do not get on, it will not be his fault.”
In November 1914 an appeal had been launched to raise money to buy a motorised soup kitchen for the British Red Cross. This week it was reported that the original £650 target had been greatly exceeded and the fund £1,628 8s 2d had been raised. The Red Cross Committee meeting at Chatsworth agreed that in addition to the £650 cost of the vehicle they should send a further £500 for its maintenance.
Justice continued to be dispensed by local magistrates. At Sudbury, William Salt of Spath, Longford, was fined 1s with costs of 7s 6d for having no name on his dog’s collar on Christmas Eve at Hatton.
Thrift was a necessity for some and the Ashbourne Telegraph continued its now regular Hints for the Household column. This week among the money saving tips was this recipe for Vegetable Sausages: “Three carrots, three onions, one turnip, half a pint of split peas, a little chopped parsley, two eggs, half a pound of breadcrumbs, one ounce of butter and a little stock.
“Soak the peas and boil until tender. Boil all the vegetables and when done, pulp with the peas to a smooth paste. Add the stock, also the eggs (well beaten) and the breadcrumbs. Stir all together with seasoning. When thoroughly mixed, roll into sausages, dip each into beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs, frying a nice brown in the butter.
“These are very nice,” the writer assures the reader.