December 3, 1915

A Sherwood Forester was awarded the French Medaille Militaire – for his service with French forces at Hooge.
Harry Wright, of the 6th Cyclist Corps had been commended by his commanding officer for distinguished conduct and General Foch of the French army pinned the coveted medal to his chest.
Sgt Wright son of Mr and Mrs Wright of Fenny Bentley was reported to have three brothers serving with the forces, Trumpeter Wright of the 11th Hussars, Private Norman Wright and Private S Wright of the 2/6th Sherwoods .

For the second week page 3 of the Ashbourne Telegraph was given over to the graphical display of six more men who had ‘answered the call’. This week it was Private Archie Bennett, of Mayfield, and formerly a player with the Hanging Bridge football team; Private T Robinson, a printer at the Telegraph office in Market Place before joining the 7th Warwickshire regiment; Sergent J Marsh, who had survived the battle at Gallipoli, but was now in hospital in Malta suffering from jaundice; Sergeant George Dakin, who was in charge of a section of trench in which four members of his company were killed by a shell, Signaller G Foxon of the 10th Hussars, and formerly an employee bof the River Plate Meat Company shop in Ashbourne; and his brother Private Frank Foxon, a baker in the market place shop of John Spencer, who trained with the Royal Army Medical Corps but was now working as a cook at a military hospital in Malta.

Each of the pictures carried a number (7-12) which it was noted elsewhere would allow collectors of this weekly feature to index their scrapbook collection.
The page was completed with numerous pieces of international news about the war. Buried at the bottom of one column is the brief telling of a terrible tragedy in the county.
The nine lines of type under the headline Six Drowned in Ice Fatality scarcely do the story justice. Young people sliding on a frozen canal at Killamarsh, near Chesterfield, died when the ice suddenly collapsed. Two of the young women were visiting friends at the time. One was on the eve of her wedding.

The Farmers’ Red Cross Sale in aid of the Agricultural Relief of Allies held in the grounds of Ashbourne’s Hall Hotel on November 25 had been a success the paper reported. The anticipated final total to be raised was £1,750 from a ‘heterogeneous collection of stock, implements, produce and poultry, furniture and numerous other articles’.
Among the lots going under the hammer were: ”3 fat beasts, a cow, 30 fat and store pigs, 100 fat sheep, 30 calves, a pony, a donkey, 850 fowls, ducks, geese an turkeys.”

Recruiting Officer, Bugle-Major W Bramwell had established headquarters at the Brown Lion Hotel in Ashbourne. He had returned from service in France and was proposing to visit parishes around Ashbourne to give advice to ‘eligible’ men.

One young man, not eligible to enlist, caught the eye of the Ashbourne Telegraph’s correspondent during the visit by Derby Home Guard.
“As the battalion was passing the entrance gates of Yeldersley Hall, the residence of Mr H Fitz-Herbert-Wright MP (who is on active service with his regiment in France) his young son, dressed in khaki, stood at the salute until it had passed. Although only a child of about 8 years he stood erect and rigid until the last of the procession had gone by, heedless of the sympathetic smiles of the Guards and other observers.”
He then marched with the officers to Shirley Bridge and then across Osmaston Park marching between the adjutant and Commandant who were both over six feet tall.

The satirical magazine Punch had poked fun at the Defence of the Realm Act and its impact on the press in publishing its 1916 Almanac. The Ashbourne Telegraph reported that it included 20 blank pages purporting to be a complete issue if ‘the Germans could supervise its contents’. Punch said the pages had been passed by the Imperial Censor and were now fit ‘for German and neutral consumption’.

In 2015 any ‘sportsman’ celebrating the hunting of large mammals in the wild is likely to have opprobrium heaped on their heads, but 100 years ago it was ‘fair game’. Under the headline Ashbournian’s Big Game Bag on page 5 was a report of the exploits of Frank Barnes who was one of three hunters who ‘bagged’ six black bears in three days while hunting in Canada.

The official reports from the front continued to be rather sanitized. Page four carried a short report which stated: “The following communiqué was issued in Paris on Sunday night: with the exception of the usual cannoncade, there is nothing to report along the front as a whole, except west of Berry-au-Bac, where a strong enemy reconnaissance was dispersed by our fire.”
One can imagine the soldiers’ letters home would give a rather more vivid description of what in all probability had been a bloody encounter.

  • 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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