It had been many weeks since the Ashbourne Telegraph last reported a local serviceman killed in action, but the edition of September 17, 1915, brought news of two fatalities.
George Henry Hudson would have been well known in the area, having been a postman in Ashbourne, and later Tissington. He also worked in the gardens at Tissington Hall. Previously he served as an apprentice at the Station Street clock maker and brass foundry Haycock’s.
He had volunteered at the outbreak of war and was drafted to the Dardanelles with the 9th Sherwoods, taking part in the Gallipoli assault. Hudson, 27, was said to have died almost instantly from wounds on August 21. His parents, who lived in Union Street, had lost another son, Pte T Hudson of the Middlesex Regiment in France on July 24.
Sapper Harry Kitchen of the Royal Engineers died in hospital in Malta having been evacuated there from Gallipoli, where he received a serious leg wound on August 10.
A former Ashbourne Grammar School pupil, Kitchen was 22 years old. His parents learned of his death in a letter from the matron at the hospital where he had had a leg amputated.
She wrote: “I am very grieved to tell you that your boy got suddenly worse this afternoon, and died very quietly and peacefully.
“It is hard to see the number of lads just like him who lose their limbs and lives all through this terrible war.”
The war news on page 5 of the paper featured a new typographical font this week, also breaking the paper’s normal convention of using capital letters for headlines. This week the headlines were in upper and lower case, although the key words carried initial capitals, a style not favoured by modern day editors.
The headline Wounded and Missing introduced the news that Mrs J Hill of Old Derby Road had been notified that her son George of the 6th Lincolns was believed to be a casualty in Turkey.
In a letter home to his parents in Mayfield Sergeant JJ Marsh told how his battalion had only two officers and 400 men surviving. At full strength a battalion would consist of 1,000 men and 30 officers.
He described how the bullets ‘came like rain’ and how all he worried about was getting hit in the head.
“I had the narrowest squeak of my life the other night; I was sitting in a dug out talking to another chap when a bullet came past my head and just touched the hair. Of course I ducked suddenly, but another two inches of a turn of my head and I shouldn’t have been writing this.”
Marsh told his parents that he had been with George Hudson when he had been killed and he was planning to write to his parents.
He also said that the Derbyshire Yeomanry had been with the Sherwood Foresters when they came under heavy fire.
“They joined with us in the morning and we attacked in the afternoon, and the poor fellows knew they were with us I can tell you. I have some grim relics of three of them and I am sending them on to their parents. One is a man from Hulland Ward. It was the Yeomanry’s first time under fire and a hot breaking in they got too.”
Howell and Marsden of Ashbourne were advertising Pure China Tea, boasting a saving for their customers of a shilling a pound on London West End prices.
- 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