November 12, 1915

Grenadier Guardsman A Roome, of Kniveton, serving in Egypt, wrote to a friend from the same village to say his trench was only a few yards from that of the Germans. He observed that the enemy appeared to have developed a strategy; when the Guards were relieved by another regiment they generally made an attack on the new defenders of the British line.

“But the other day they attacked shortly after we had left, but found to their surprise another Guards’ regiment (The Coldstreams) and they got more than they bargained for. They have been more careful since.”

A regular feature of the Ashbourne Telegraph was Pickings from Punch, in which extracts were published from the humorous magazine Punch which sold around £150,000 copies a week during the war.

One such item read: “One of the most popular toys this year is a submarine which torpedoes  a German warship. The great charm of it is that the ship, though temporarily shattered can be put together again in a minute. The Kaiser is greatly taken with the notion, and is trying hard to get a specimen for Admiral Tirpitz’s Christmas tree.”

Reproduced from Royal magazine was a cartoon lampooning the wartime effort to economise. It showed a domestic scene with the master of the house telling a servant; “You can just get rid of those gold fish. At a time like this I can’t have those creatures eating their heads off.”

The proprietor of the Telegraph offered a quick print service – possibly in greater demand since August 1914: “ In memoriam cards printed at an hour’s notice,” reads the advertisement at the foot of page 3.

The circus was coming to town, according to an advertisement on page 4 this week. Bostock and Wombwell’s Gigantic Combined Shows boasted: “For the first time in any travelling menagerie, The Great African Hippopotamus. The show which was to be on the Market Place in November 15 also boasted ‘The educated Chimpanzee and ‘The Almost Human Apes’. The show claimed to have the only travelling Bengal Tigers, Performing Polar Bears, Sacred Baboons, Mountain Zebra, Horned Horse, Snow leopard and Laughing Hyena.

The editor thought nothing of promoting the show on a later page, within the editorial columns. Readers were exhorted to ‘avail themselves of the opportunity of witnessing these wonderful animals’. The piece was illustrated with a photograph of a ‘human chimpanzee’ dressed in clothes.

The Farmers’ Red Cross Sale at Ashbourne in November was setting itself a target of raising more than the £400 achieved by the NFU in Shropshire who sold a donated lamb no fewer than 84 times.

The Ashbourne Telegraph’s ‘Lest We Forget’ roll of honour now carried 32 names – of 29 men killed in combat and three more, fatally wounded in training.

Nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed by the Germans on October 12, 1915, was the subject of much national attention and was recalled under the headline Heroines of War.

It was reported that Gunner W Tarlton, serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery, of Town Hall Yard, Ashbourne, had received ‘light refreshment at the hands of Queen Alexandra at a London railway station’.

  • 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
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