Four officers from the Sherwood Foresters were reported killed, and many more injured, according to a brief statement from the War Office, published in the Ashbourne Telegraph on May 5, 1916.
But these were not men laying down their lives in the trenches of France, or Belgium. They were victims of the Easter Rising in Ireland.
Under the headline Rebellion Collapsing, the paper reported that the rebel leaders had surrendered and 700 prisoners had been taken in the wake of the insurgency on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916.
Among the dead soldiers was named Captain Fredrick Christian Dietrichsen Although it was not reported here, battalion adjutant Dietrichsen, a barrister from Nottingham had been delighted to find his wife and children among the crowd welcoming the troops.
She had left England to return to her native Dublin following the recent German Zeppelin raids in the Midlands. They embraced and shared a brief family reunion, but shortly afterwards Dietrichsen was amongst the first of the Sherwoods to die. At the next corner he was among ten Foresters to fall alongside his colleague Lieutenant Hawken.
The Telegraph report continued:
“Connolly and Pearse, the two Labour leaders, surrendered unconditionally; the Secretary of Liberty Hall was also a prisoner, while their supporters were surrendering in batches. Guerilla warfare between military and snipers was still going on at various points. Sackville Street was a smoking ruin as was Jacobs’s biscuit factory. Only the charred walls of the Post Office are standing.”
The rest of the column is filled with a series of one-paragraph brief news reports, typeset and inserted into the page as the story developed.
“Welcome for Troops: When the troops arrived people rushed to welcome them cigars, cigarettes, chocolate, sandwiches, cheese and all kinds of drinks.
Broke through walls into hotel: Rebels in possession of the post office burrowed through the walls into the Metropole Hotel and commandeered all the food they required.
Newspaper offices captured: Amongst the building earliest commandeered were the offices of the Daily Express and Evening Mail. They were utilised for firing at every man in uniform.
Friends from within: Surprise was occasioned by the way the Sinn Feiners entered better class homes and sniped from upper windows. In some cases they drove out the occupants, but in others they seemed to have friends to clear the way for them.”
There was no Great War news, but Military Tribunals continued to hear applications for exemption from service. The Ashbourne Rural Tribunal heard many cases, including one from H Doxey, a 33-year-old quarry labourer who told the tribunal he was the sole supporter of his aged father. His application was declined, as were the majority in connection with agricultural workers. But one man was given an absolute exemption, EP Hamilton, the bailiff at Yeldersley Hall Farm. The application had been made on his behalf by Captain Henry Fitzherbert-White, MP. Peveril Turnbull JP said the military advisory committee considered Hamilton would better serve his country by remaining in charge of the MP’s herd of pedigree shorthorn cattle than by going on garrison duty.
There was a report of a meeting of the ‘League of Honour’ in the Magistrates’ Room in St John Street. Miss Betty Atkinson addressed members about women’s work.
“Miss Atkinson spoke of women’s work being first of all in the home. So many of the men left clean, bright, comfortable homes, and they think of them while they are in the trenches and expect to find them the same when they return.”
She went on to say that the women of England should feel proud of the ‘many and great’ responsibilities left to them while their men were away on active service.
A large show bill advertised Broncho Bill Shows on page 2. Boasting ‘three huge shows in one’ the Roman Arena and Mammoth 2 Ring Circus was due to visit The Paddock at Ashbourne on May 18.
“The directors of this vast establishment wish to inform the public that this is NO ORDINARY TRAVELLING CIRCUS but the GREATEST VARIETY AGGREGATION that has ever TOURED GREAT BRITAIN and ALL TO BE SEEN FOR ONE CHARGE.”
Among the acts promised for those prepared to part with 1s 6d for the cheapest seats in ‘one of the largest tents ever erected’ was a Wild West Exhibition including Real Cowboys, Prairie Girls, Mexicans, Broncho Busters and an encampment of ‘Real Indians’. The climax of the show was the spectacular attack on a mail coach. Also on the bill were ‘feats of dexterity bordering on the impossible’, ‘incomparable feats of strength’, ‘breath-taking chariot racing’ and ‘nerve-shaking sword combats’.
Since their formation in 1915, the Home Guards had repeatedly faced cynicism from some sections of the community; this was tackled by the Earl of Harrington, whose family home, Elvaston Castle, stands in the south of the county.
He said the men were a safeguard for the country, as the large number of soldiers still in England would be depleted as they sailed to play their role in the war.
It was possible that the Germans might mount a raid on England, he said.
“As a rule a raiding force which managed to get into the country, generally managed to get out again, but not before doing a lot of damage and many people, including women and children killed. In such a case it would be the role of the Home Guards to prevent the enemy getting away again.”
- 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