May 19, 1916

News reached the Ashbourne Telegraph of the death of another soldier killed in action in France.

Company Sergeant Major John Bradshaw, 41, and the father of two young children, including a four-month-old he had never seen, died from wounds received while trying to help an injured comrade.

Bradshaw’s bravery had been noted for distinction before he succumbed to his wounds.

He was the son of Mr John Bradshaw of Stanton, and had been serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He had been awarded two medals for his service in the South African War and had enlisted again in 1914. The commanding officer of the 15th battalion Ist London Welsh wrote a letter of condolence to the widow, describing Bradshaw as: “a thoroughly good soldier, a brave man and a warrant officer of the very best type.”

News of the District contained two short paragraphs from Mayfield, revealing that two men had been wounded in action: “Information has been received from Mr and Mrs Plant of Mayfield that their son, Corporal Harry Plant has been severely wounded through the premature bursting of one of their own bombs, but is progressing favourably towards recovery,

News has also been received by Mrs F Smith of Mayfield Terrace that her adopted son, Private Fred Crocker of the Canadian Contingent has been admitted to hospital suffering from serious wounds in the chest and legs.”

No explanation was given for the absence of the weekly portrait gallery of servicemen, but page 4 this week in 1916 was given over to ‘War Time Happenings’ and other sensational stories from around the world.

  • Twenty officers and 230 men of the Worcestershire Yeomanry were reported to have been captured and being held prisoner in Damascus.
  • A French airship was said to have crashed into the sea off the coast of Sardinia with the loss of six crew, while the bravery of Naid Lala of the Indian army had seen him awarded the Victoria Cross.

“A reward of £500 is offered for the discovery of thieves who took from the cloakroom at Birmingham News Street Station a leather case containing gems and jewellery valued between £6,000 and £8,000 which had been deposited by a representative of a large firm of jewellers. The remarkable theory is propounded that a trunk containing a man was placed in the cloakroom and that when the room was closed the man got the jewellery case and then returned to the trunk until his accomplice reclaimed it.”

  • A grandmother in the Devonshire village of Gittisham had been remanded on a charge of murdering her 19-year-old grandson, William Franks, by shooting him when he was asleep.

“It was stated that when arrested she said that something told her that the lad would be turned out of doors and sent for a soldier. She thought at the time she was doing a noble deed.”

  • A young woman was being hunted by Essex and London police. She was said to be 24 and ‘showily dressed’ and using the name of a music hall artist to obtain goods and credit before disappearing.

The Ashbourne Telegraph’s Notes and Comments column announced that Blighty – ‘a novelty in war newspapers’ was to be launched and sent free of charge each week to fighting men on land and sea.

Subtitled Life and Laughter at Home, Blighty, it was said, would contain the ‘cream of the home Press’.

“It will have no bad news, no dull news, no news of the war, or of politics, or crime or the city or anything stupid. It will aim to have all the best pictures and to tell all the best stories, with the aid of authors, journalists, artists, actors; everybody who has a funny story to tell or a merry message to send to the North Sea or the trenches.”

There was an appeal for donations of a £1 to meet the fund of £2,000 considered necessary to cover costs until advertising revenue was secured.

Among the Situations Vacant column on page 2 was: “Wanted for munitions, two strong girls, about 17 years, for light drilling machines. Apply Haycock, South Cliff Clock Works, Ashbourne.

  • 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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