A long wait was over for widow Mrs Charlesworth of Calwich, whose son Private Arthur John Valentine Charlesworth had been reported wounded and missing during the landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915. She received notice that he his death was now official.
Charlesworth had been in New Zealand at the outbreak of war and immediately signed up, travelling at first to Egypt before his regiment was sent to take part in the Gallipoli landings.
As we now know, many thousands of mothers never received the confirmation of their son’s death; the men remained missing in action for years.
The impact of menfolk serving with the Army or Navy often meant financial hardship for those left behind. But there were numerous charitable collections to lend a hand.
The paper announced: “Since the outbreak of war the employees at the Mansfield, Creswell, Bolsover and Rufford Collieries by paying a penny a shift have contributed £11,941 to the support of the families and dependents of their 1,700 comrades who have joined the colours and the owners of these collieries, the Bolsover Company have contributed a like sum, making £23, 822 in all”.
A further six names were added to the ‘scrapbook’ pages published by the Ashbourne Telegraph.
Among them was Private James Lee of, whose entry highlights the personal tragedies borne by many families. The paper reported that he was serving with the 4th Notts and Derbyshire Regiment, and was one of three sons of Mrs Lee and the late Mr T Lee of Station Street, Ashbourne.
The eldest son, Tom was with the Royal Marine Light Infantry in the Dardanelles; Joe Lee had been so badly injured in France with the Grenadier Guards that he had been excused further service, while James, listed this week in the ‘roll of honour’ had suffered damage to his eyes in France and was under treatment in England.
The family had lost a further son in the Boer War.
Petty Officer Charles Stevenson, a gunnery instructor with HMS Hampshire, had been luckier, with no fewer than four of his former ships having sunk; the Pathfinder, King Edward VII the Cressy and Aboukir.
“He ascribes the luck of his present ship to ‘Dick’ an extraordinarily big black cat, which is the crew’s pet,” the paper reported.
The son of Mrs Naylor, of Market Place, Ashbourne, Stevenson was said to have served 14 years in the Navy and sailed all around the world.
“He was in the combined fleets for review by the Late King Edward VII and King George V and at King Edward’s funeral he was a member of the party escorting the gun carriage at Windsor.
“When Queen Alexandra made her visit to India he was a member of the crew of the Juno which escorted the Royal Yacht.”
The lengthy entry also details Stevenson’s witness of the fall of Tsing-Tau, the German port in China, escorting Australian troops to the Dardanelles, capturing the ‘notorious German pirate’ The Emden and conveying prisoners from the ship.
Private Sam Wright, of Fenny Bentley, was one of four brothers in ‘the colours’ and was serving with the 2nd/6th Sherwoods, having signed up in August of 1914.
His eldest and younger brother were also with the Sherwoods, his second brother with the 11th Hussars. Henry, the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Wright had been awarded the French Medaille Militaire for gallantry.
Other men to get a mention and have their portraits published were Corporal W Smith of Meadowside, Mayfield, a worker at Simpson Bros Cotton Mill and a member of the Hanging Bridge Football Club who had enlisted in October 1914 and in training at Watford; Corporal CW Wood who had been a territorial before the outbreak of war who, despite having witnessed the German mine explosion which killed his Ashbournian comrades, had so far ‘escaped injury and illness’; Private George Thomas Flint of Brassington who enlisted in September 1914 and was serving ‘somewhere in France’.
The creeping legislative tentacles of the Defence of the Realm Act were highlighted by the Ashbourne Telegraph which told its readers: “One of the [new] regulations provides that if any person without lawful authority or excuse, by the raising of blinds, removal of shades or in any other way uncovers wholly or in part any light which has been obscured or shaded in compliance with any such order or compliance with any direction given in pursuance of such an order, he shall be guilty of a summary offence against those regulations’’
- 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