Two officers who had been mentioned in despatches featured alongside ordinary ranks in the Ashbourne Telegraph’s For King and Country column this week in 1916.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Harry Lyon had been awarded the DSO for his role in the battle of the Aisne. He was later promote to Major, and temporary Lieut. Col, and was serving as Assistant Quarter Master General at General headquarters.
The son of Mr and Mrs CW Lyon of Clifton Cross, he had served with the Prince of Wales’ North Staffordshire Regiment in South Africa from 1900 to 1902.
The second senior ranking soldier was Brigadier Major Malcolm Henderson, of the Royal Scots, He was the son of Mr and Mrs Henderson of Clifton House. A professional soldier, schooled at Repton and Sandhurst, he had served in India before the outbreak of war in 1914. He had twice been wounded, on the latter occasion severely. In addition to being mentioned in Sir John French’s despatches he had the Legion of Honour conferred on him by the French President for valour.
The other men were Private W Spencer of Market Place, Ashbourne, a member of the Ashbourne Territorials in August 1914 who had immediately volunteered for active service and was with the 6th Sherwoods.
Also with the Sherwoods was Private Ralph Kettle of Mayfield. He had been severely wounded in May 1915 when a shell dropped on the trench machine gun he was firing, killing five and wounding three of his section. He was rendered deaf as well as suffering injuries to his back, stomach and face and had been treated at hospitals in France and England. He had 10 days at home before being recalled to a provisional battalion in Suffolk. A third member of the regiment was Private W Hand who had enlisted in August 1914 and had been on active service for eight months.
Gunner F A Dakin of Osmaston and formerly a gardener in the Manor gardens had enlisted in March and was now on active service with the Royal Field Artillery.
Rifleman F Allen of the 2nd King’s Royal Rifles had twice been wounded, He had been invalided home, but after convalescence returned to the fighting line.
The youngest of the 88 entries so far in the paper’s scrapbook collection was Band Boy Hector Jennings, who had been just 14 when he enlisted on October 3 1915 with the 3rd Prince Albert’s Light Infantry, stationed at Plymouth, the same regiment as his 16-year-old brother Redvers, also a Band Boy.
Writing home to his mother in Compton, Private JE Quigley of the Army Service Corps described an encounter with a submarine during his journey from Lemnos to Alexandria.
“They were travelling on an armed troopship named the Ionic with 1,600 soldiers on board and they had just passed a group of islands in the Aegean Seas when suddenly the periscope of an enemy submarine was sighted.
“Every man was ordered to stand by his boat wearing his life belt, but thanks to good gunnery the suspense was soon over for the submarine was hit on the third shot and disappeared.”
Quigley said that after eight months service only about half his company remained and he thought they deserved a rest
The Ashbourne Board of Guardians agreed to support an appeal against the conscription call-up of Mr Bryan, the master of the workhouse, as he was the only male official at the house which had 59 residents, 30 men, 25 women and four children.
The board also heard a suggestion that only servicemen of ‘good character’ should be paid pensions. It was observed that many of the vagrants of military service age were men who had served in the army but had squandered their pensions almost as soon as they were paid. Although the Rev J Wilson said he knew of such cases, they decided to take no action.
- 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