Sandwiched between the regular Poultry Notes column, and advertisements for Zam-Buk ointment and McDonald’s false teeth (‘It’s such a relief to be rid of aching, ugly teeth’) is an appeal from Herbert Raphael, the chief recruiting officer of The King’s Royal Rifle Corps seeking recruits for a new battalion.
The full title of the new unit was the 18th (service) Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps (Arts and Crafts), the 60th Rifles.
The Arts and Crafts was intended to be descriptive of the ‘class of men’ to be recruited.
“All clean intelligent men who can bring brain as well as muscle to the service of their country, as for example, men engaged in or connected with commerce or trade, particularly our oldest and largest industry – Agriculture – are welcomed. Those enlisting will therefore be assured of congenial companionship.”
Raphael says that comrades would lodge, feed, train and if necessary fight together.
“The battalion thus offers to chums a fine opportunity of seeing this big business of the war through side by side.”
As if to stress the leisure opportunities afforded by signing up, the letter goes on to say cricket, football and athletics were encouraged and formed part of the training regime.
The vast bulk of news about the continuing conflict in France and Belgium again came from letters sent to loved-ones, or in some cases directly to the Telegraph itself.
Private George Waring, from Calwich wrote from a hospital in Cheshire where he was recovering from back injuries: “Just a line to ask you if you can spare a small space in your valuable newspaper. I should like to thank the employees of the Calwich estate for their kindness in sending me a parcel of cigarettes and tobacco which I received this week quite safe, and which I am very thankful for.”
In a lengthy letter from Corporal JT Hall of Kniveton to a friend in the village, he reveals personal views on the ‘dirty tricks’ being employed by the German forces.
“We are fighting an enemy who we thought would never lower himself to the dirty methods thrust on us. It makes us grind our teeth to think of the way some of our chaps have been put out by their gas.”
He complains too that the Germans had been poisoning their water supply and that in places they had had to rely on water lying in shell holes.
“But in these and other despicable tricks we never retaliated, because it is repugnant to the taste of our leaders.”
He reports that the men are well fed and get “plenty of tobacco and fags”.
The final sentence – surely the sensational angle for a narrow-escape news story in a modern-day newspaper – reads:
“I am pleased to say I am very well, though I have had a bullet plough through my coat on the shoulder and another caught me in the head putting me in hospital for a week and only last week a piece of shell was prevented from penetrating my leg by my purse which contained some coppers, being in my pocket.”
And there can be few more dramatic tales told in three sentences than that of Sergeant William Hudson of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry writing home to his parents in Union Street, Ashbourne, from a hospital in Scotland.
“Sergt Hudson has been twice wounded, once being blown out of a trench in Aisne, and on returning to the fighting line he took part in the repulse of a terrific German onslaught. In this he fell wounded, and was run over by the enemy, but just as he had given himself up for lost, his comrades made a counter charge and repulsed the enemy. His injuries were very serious, and it is gratifying to learn that he is progressing satisfactorily.”
Not for the first time the tribulations of war threw people into circumstances which might never have occurred but for their conflict.
A wounded soldier from Tasmania, wounded during the Anzac campaign in Gallipoli, was transported via Malta to England and found himself being treated at the VAD [Voluntary Aid Detachment] Hospital at Ellastone. He was surprised to hear he was in North Staffordshire, for this was the county from where his father, Alfred Ede had emigrated to Sydney, Australia, later moving to Tasmania. He was appealing for any relatives to get in touch.
An auction sale at the George and Dragon Hotel on July 29th would see The Ostrich Inn go under the hammer.
“The house comprises Tap Room, Bar Parlour, Sitting Room, Kitchen, Eight Bedrooms , Good Cellar, Wash House, Usual Offices and there is a good yard at the back, with and entrance from Union Street. The property has a valuable frontage of about 55 feet to Union Street, and extends in depth therefrom about 47 feet.”
Elsewhere it was noted that The Ostrich was one of the oldest licensed houses in Ashbourne and had been one of the most important hostelries in town. Its licence had expired and it was no longer a ‘public house’ due to changes in demand.
The sub-postmaster at Longford, was sentenced to six months’ hard labour by Derby Assizes after admitting taking £34 11s 6d for his own use. Frederick, Joseph Horne, 34, who had a wife and seven children had been employed by the post office for 13 years. The court heard that he was owed a lot of money and had used the money to support his business as a baker but had intended to repay the money.
At the foot of the back page was a paragraph which reported that the prime Minister was to be asked to consider commandeering all private motor vehicles in order to release ‘thousand of young chauffeurs, mechanics and others’ for the war effort.
- 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 War blog