War news was restricted to single column on page 5 of the Ashbourne Telegraph this week in 1915 – occupying fewer column inches than the wedding report of a Kniveton couple and list of gifts for the newlyweds.
Simply headed ‘Local Military Items’ the paper detailed news of Ashbourne men including Private William Roe, of The Channel, who had suffered head injuries, not thought to be serious; Sergeant Tom Harrison, reported to be recovering from a bullet wound to his left arm and side; and Lieutenant Derwent Turnbull, who had been killed earlier in the year being mentioned in Sir John French’s dispatches.
Sergeant JH Gallimore was home in Ashbourne from France on four days’ leave, while Lance Corporal C Barker, twice wounded, had returned to his depot after a few days’ sick leave in Ashbourne.
There was news too of Gunner Paul Kernahan who had been treated n London for injuries sustained when a shell blew him out of his trench, before being granted ten days’ leave. He had reported for duty in Newcastle so weak that he collapsed and was back in hospital.
Another Ashbourne man back in town on sick leave was Private James Bull of Union Street. He was a victim of German gas, and one of three brothers to be serving in the army; Fred Bull was injured in the early days of the war but had returned to the front, while another brother Private T Bull was with the Territorials in Dunstable.
Returning soldiers in the summer of 1915 did not get the quite the sort of massed hero’s welcome afforded to those coming home in the early months of the war. The Telegraph reports: “A cordial welcome was given by his friends to Private Charlie Slater, of the 1st Cambridge Regt., son of Mr Edward Slater, Market-place, on his arrival home on sick leave this week.
“Private Slater has been out at the front seven months and took part in the great turning movement which send the Germans flying back from Paris to Belgium. He also took part in the engagements at the Aisne, St Eloi, Neuve Chappelle, Ypres and Hill 60. It was at the latter place where he received serious injuries, and at the hospital at Boulogne he subsequently had seven bullets extracted from his legs and feet. “
Pressure continued to mount to get more men to enlist. A military census in West Derbyshire revealed that in 122 parishes there were 4,207 men between the ages of 17 and 39 who were not serving with the armed forces.
- 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