June 25, 1915
The Ashbourne District was in the grip of a drought as June 1915, drew to a close. Flaming June had seen ‘no appreciable rain’ for at least a month. The Ashbourne Telegraph reported that it recalled the ‘piping hot spell’ of Jubilee Year 1887.
The ‘scorching sun’ was threatening the hay harvest, and farmers were said to be forced to cart water up to their cattle in the hills.
Captain Frederic GA Arkwright of the Royal Flying Corps, son of Mr F.C. Arkwright of Willersley Castle, Cromford had a dramatic escape from German clutches.
“He was engaged in carrying out dangerous reconnaissance when two enemy aeroplanes made their appearance and gave chase. Presently shooting commenced and bullets whizzed past Captain Arkwright and his pilot. The English fliers with their revolvers were placed at a disadvantage when the Germans opened fire with rifles, and the pilot was hit in the arm, and losing control of the machine, it crashed into the tops of some trees, within the German lines. With remarkable presence of mind and skill the British airmen managed to restart their engines and make good their escape with valuable information for the Allies.”
Ashbourne parish church was packed for a memorial service for Lance Corporal Alec Ford, whose death had been reported in the previous edition of the paper, and Trooper Thomas Tunnicliffe. The church was filled ‘from end to end’ as the town turned out to pay their respects.
“In spite of additional seating large numbers were unable to obtain admission and of those who succeeded many had to stand in the aisles.”
The report gave a detailed account of the Biblical readings and the comments made by preacher Canon Morris.
On a happier note, two Belgian refugees were married at All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Ashbourne. Gabrielle Camille Camusat married Joanna Julia Wuytz, who had come to Ashbourne five weeks previously to be reunited with her fiancé.
Comforts for the troops took many forms, but one young boy’s efforts were rewarded with a letter from the 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters’ commanding officer Captain Edgar Heathcote.
Willie Preston of Broadlow Ash had been collecting milk to send out to the soldiers in the trenches.
“You can hardly know what a little milk means to soldiers and what a gift from our home means to our company in particular. Perhaps you will be a soldier yourself one day before very long, and I know that you would wish you were one now that you might fight the horrible German enemies of yours.”
It is not clear how Willie got the milk from Derbyshire to the trenches, but it was clearly appreciated.
Mr and Mrs Tully of Osmaston Manor had received news that their son Private W Tully had been wounded near La Basse in France. He had suffered a head wound from shrapnel.
Playing down his injuries he wrote: “Now don’t run away with the idea that I am seriously hurt. It is a bit painful and makes me a bit dense, but I must be grateful it is not a dint in a serious place.”
Tully, who was serving with the 2nd Gordon Highlanders notes ruefully that it was in fact part of an English shell which had caused the injury, having exploded in a German trench. He said he was writing from a clean hospital bed.
“I very much needed a wash. My knees were filthy. No wonder Highlanders are sometimes called ‘The Dirty Knees”.
Not all Derbyshire servicemen were seeing action in France. Letters had been received from members of the Derbyshire yeomanry in Egypt. Trooper E Carter of Mappleton who said they had had an interesting voyage to north Africa.
“The climate he says is very hot and the perspiration actually rolls of them as they lie in bed at night. An other source of unpleasantness is the abundance of insects.”
Reproduced from the Angler’s News and Sea Fisher’s Journal was an account of a world record rod-caught fish. The 710lb tuna was caught after an eight-and-a-quarter-hour fight by Laurie D Mitchell, an Englishman, off Nova Scotia.
JH Henstock, publisher of the Ashbourne Telegraph took an advertisement in the paper to announce that he had bought the ‘Stationery and Fancy Goods’ business of Jos Osbourne and Son and was transferring it to Market Place.
Hints for the Household had a handy tip for those looking to save money: “Soap has gone up in price. So I catch as much rain water as I can before washing day comes around, as with this one uses far less soap than if the water is drawn from the tap.”
It was noted that several regular events had been cancelled ‘owing to the war’. Among them were the Calwich Abbey Revels, the Ashbourne Shire Horse Show and the Tissington Well Dressings.
- My fellow researcher and De Montfort University colleague John Dilley is conducting a similar real-time project with the Market Harborough Advertiser. Check out his Newspapers and the Great Warblog