Fear of invasion by German forces had prompted the urgent formation of a Home Guard and bolstered calls for more urgent recruitment of men to the armed services.
Page 3 of the Ashbourne Telegraph was unusually dominated by an illustration – a map of the England, Scotland and Northern Ireland captioned: “The British Isles: At the Mercy of German Airships, reproduced from The Review of Reviews. It showed distances from Germany to many English and Scottish towns and cities.
This is an example of an interesting use of other publishers’ material. The Telegraph regularly published extracts and advertisements for Punch and other titles. It is not clear how this arrangement worked, but it would have had benefits for both partners; quality material for the host title, in this case the Ashbourne Telegraph, and advertising for the originator. Such practice can still be seen in modern day newspapers, many of which have syndication deals with other publishers, or share content across titles within the same company.
A Derbyshire soldier serving with the Sherwood Rangers was reported to have been awarded a medal for gallantry by the French Government. Private HSH Burton braved ‘withering fire’ at the Battle of Aisne on September 21 to rescue three wounded Frenchmen and carried them to safety.
“He had rescued two and was going back for the third time when he received bullet wounds to the hand and leg. Undeterred he succeeded in bringing from the fire-swept zone his third wounded comrade and ally.” Private Burton’s address was given as 41, Stockholme Lane, Shirebrook.
It has been many years since it has been the practice of newspapers to publish even scant details of a serviceman’s home address following the fears of Irish republican terrorist attacks during the 1970s and 80s.
Ashbourne Territorials, still stationed in Braintree, Essex marked the ancient tradition of their home town by playing Shrovetide Football in the streets of their adoptive town.
“The game excited much comment form the local residents who were amazed at the method of play, and, like the old game at Ashbourne proved to be extremely fascinating.”
It was said the khaki-clad players enjoyed playing the game on a ‘new ground’.
Continuing on a sporting theme it was reported that Sir Hubert H Raphael, MP for South Derbyshire, who had enlisted as a private soldier in the 2nd Sportsmen’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers was to pay for boxing gloves for the entire battalion. His platoon sergeant was Burton-on-Trent’s Philip Sadd, ex-middle-weight boxing champion of the Midlands. And Sir Hubert’s nephew, JN Raphael, a former international rugby player was selecting a team to play a 15 picked by Sgt Sadd.
Naturally, the Shrovetide football in Ashbourne was covered in detail, and the paper carried a photographic supplement to mark the occasion. The main paper had a large section headlined: “Furious football Fun. A Game Even the Kaiser can’t stop.”
A detailed report described how the players gathered at the Green Man Hotel in bright sunshine. It was clear and frosty and the ground underfoot was frozen hard. The paper reported how, shortly before 2pm Mr THB Bamford and Mr W Coxon – ‘two of the best and keenest supporters of the game the town has ever known’ – went to the little knoll in Shaw Croft.
“Mr Bamford was hoisted shoulder high and holding the ball in full view of the players, addressed a few words to them. The motto of England, he said, was ‘Business as Usual’ and the motto of Ashbourne was ‘Shrovetide as Usual’.
He told the players that the 300 or more men who had left Ashbourne to serve the country would be thinking that the ball was just being thrown up.
“Whether the men were in the trenches, out route marching or on parade they would be thinking of this moment of Ashbourne.”
He said, to cheers, that he hoped that before long they would ‘goal’ at Berlin ‘between the Kaiser’s moustaches’.
The call to arms was having a real impact on farming. A meeting of Derbyshire’s Farmers’ Union in Chesterfield was told that the shortage of labour was having an impact on agriculture and urged that boys should be allowed to leave school at an earlier age in order to work on the land.
A suggestion from the headmaster of Chesterfield Central Council School that “the feeble-minded and consumptives from institutions and sanatoria would adequately meet the requirements of the farmer” was greeted with derision.
The union president Mr WJ Cutts said: “Sentiment must take a secondary place for a time, for the fields must be ploughed, seeds sown and harvest reaped.”
The paper’s columnist agreed with this conclusion, saying that wages were too low to attract men from the towns to work in agriculture and that the dairy industry was being particularly badly affected. He quoted a milk dealer as saying:” If the men go to war, the women and children must do the work at home or the country will suffer.”
There was scorn for the Derbyshire Education Committee which had pointed out that it would require an Act of Parliament to cut the school leaving age to 13 as suggested. It was said the councillors were ‘worth an army corps apiece – to the Germans’.
The competition to find Derbyshire’s Bravest Village, which was promised a commemorative cross by Frederic Arkwright in a letter to the Telegraph last week brought comment from H Brooke Taylor. He said that while the suggestion had stirred up a ‘healthy spirit of rivalry’ the county was some way short of providing its fair share of men to the 3,000,000 men the government said it needed. He calculated that the county needed to have sent 42,000 men – 1-15th of its population – but the figure so far was well short of that.
“I fear also that to call the record of some villages “The local Roll of Honour” is rather a misnomer but there is still time for them to alter that.”