June 2, 1916

No explanation had been offered for the disappearance of the weekly column in the Ashbourne Telegraph featuring six local servicemen – nor was there any given for its reappearance in the first week in June 1916.

The ‘portrait gallery’ this week featured a man who had survived his ship being twice torpedoed as it sailed to India.

Private Charles Allen, of Mayfield, was said to have been well known in the Ashbourne area, having worked as an ‘assurance agent’ for several years. A member of the National Reserve he was called up in September 1914 to the 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. He was injured during training and subsequently transferred to the 13th battalion and then the East Yorkshire Regiment. He reported that the weather in India was ‘very hot and trying’.

Another well-known face was Trooper James Gell, a hamper and basket maker, of Wirksworth, with many friends in Mayfield. He was serving with the Derbyshire Yeomanry in Egypt.

Private Mark Faulkner, a rural postman based at Ashbourne Post Office before enlisting with the 6th Sherwoods and subsequently being attached to the Lincolnshire Fusiliers was the nephew of Sgt Major Mark Faulkner of the Royal Dragoons who had served in the Zulu War.

Also a former rural postman, at Alstonefield, was Corporal S Harrison of the Royal Field Artillery. He joined up at the outbreak of war and was drafted out to France in July 1915. He had seen ‘much strenuous fighting’ and was engaged at Loos and other battles.

Private James Leason, of Green Lane, Clifton, had been sent to Ireland to deal with the Easter Rising. Previously employed at the Nestle and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company he had signed up with the 2/6th Sherwood Foresters in February.

The last name on the list was Lance-Corporal Walter Wallis of Snelston, serving with the 2/6th Sherwoods. He had been drafted out to France in August 1915, where he was said to be ‘fit and well’.

A seventh Ashbourne soldier was also featured on the page, but not as part of the scrapbook collection. The wife of Sergeant PH Gallimore had received a letter stating that her husband had been wounded. He had gone to France with the territorials in March 1915 and had previously been slightly wounded. He was being treated at the No.19 Clearing Station and ‘going on alright’.

Hidden away at the foot of page 4 of the Ashbourne Telegraph was the sort of snippet on which local newspapers still thrive.

The story told of 102-year-old Joseph Froggatt, who recalled seeing Queen Victoria as a young girl as she passed through Ashbourne on her way to visit the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. He also remembered French officers captured by Wellington at Waterloo who had been sent to Ashbourne on parole.

Froggatt, who was born in Ashbourne and learned his trade as a clock maker and brass worker in the town had moved to Cheshire in his 20s. The paper noted he had nine grandsons in the forces.

The tradition of well dressing at Tissington was abandoned for the second year due to the war. The annual service was held at the parish church, and a procession visited each well, but there were no decorations.

May 29 had been Royal Oak Day, commemorating the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, and the traditions were deemed worthy of inclusion in the notes and Comments column.

“The custom of displaying a twig of oak was observed for many years with much keenness. Latterly, however, the habit has grown into disuse, and there are very few reminders, unless it is the schoolchildren who still go about armed with a bunch of nettles which are intended for the unfortunate individuals who do not display a piece of oak.”

The Ashbourne Telegraph continued to report the Military Tribunals ruling on exemptions from military service. A news item on page 4 revealed the extent of their work:

“Ashbourne Rural Tribunal – up to March 22, 325 applications, 48 of which were 2nd 3rd or 4th applications; 45 entirely refused. From March 22 to May 13, 257 applications, of which 124 were 2nd, 3rd, or 4th applications; 57 entirely refused.

Ashbourne Urban Tribunal – up to March 22, 56 applications, 6 of which were 2nd, 3rd or 4th applications; 9 entirely refused. From March 22nd to May 13th 20 applications, 8 or which were 2nd, 3rd or 4th applications; 8 entirely refused.”


Such was the shortage of labour that grocers Howell and Marsden were compelled to announce they would only be making deliveries once a day, in the evening.

Another grocer, Bagnall’s Cash Stores found a topical note for its latest advertisement.

“The Daylight Saving Bill,” it read, “is a good idea, but what concerns the Housewife most is the Food Bill.”

It urged readers to compare their prices, which included ‘breakfast bacon’ at 1s 1/2d a pound, Marrowfat peas at 4d and Best Tapioca at 3d lb.

Private George Hopkins, who had received many shrapnel wounds to his head arms and body while in action in Gallipoli arrived home in Rocester. It was reported he had a brother in France who was also in hospital having been injured.

A large trout, weighing 7lbs 14oz and measuring 28 inches long which had been caught in Dovedale had been stuffed by a taxidermist and installed at Rocester Vicarage.

  • 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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