An Act of Parliament dating back more than 50 years – The Volunteer Act of 1863 – was used to bring the Home Guards of Ashbourne into the regular army in the summer of 1916.
A meeting of the Home Guards was held in the lower room of the Town Hall and the men were told that up to that point the Home Guard had not been recognised as soldiers by the Government, but that now, after an ‘apparently needless delay’ they would be incorporated in the regular army.
It meant that the Home Guard was disbanded and a new force under the direction of the War Office would take its place. In the county it would be known as the Derbyshire Volunteer Regiment and West Derbyshire men would form the 5th battalion.
The adjutant, Mr R Holland, told them the terms of service: “The Volunteer Regiment would not be called upon to serve except in case of invasion, or an imminent fear of invasion. At any time (except when on active service) members could leave the company on giving 14 days notice.”
The men were told that, if the country were to be invaded, the population would be placed under martial law and all men not members of the Volunteers would be liable to all and any kind of work the military might demand. The Volunteers would also be entitled to the same rate of pay as other soldiers. More than 60 men enrolled on the night, with others taking forms to complete later.
Once again the columns of the Ashbourne Telegraph carried news of a serviceman killed in action, Private TJ Swindell, son of Mrs Hudson of Mayfield.
Swindell, had been in Canada for about six years but responded to the call to arms and joined the Canadian Regiment, 8th battalion, in November 1914. After training in Kent he and his battalion were sent to France in May of 1915.
“He took part in several severe actions, notably at Festubert, where he was partially buried from the effects of a shell and also received wounds in the head and hand. From these he recovered, however, but the sad news of his death has been received by his parent in Mayfield.”
Two more soldiers who had made the ‘supreme sacrifice’ were recorded in the Portrait Gallery of servicemen on Page 3. First was Private CT Braddock, whose death had been recorded in the Telegraph three weeks previously. His family had been told on June 5 that a court of inquiry had decided he had been killed in action in the Dardanelles on August 8, 1915, just four days after sending a letter to his brother in Ashbourne.
The second serviceman, Private Fred Crocker, had been a member of the Mayfield and Clifton Scouts. He emigrated to Canada at the age of 17 but enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
“He had been out in France for nearly 12 months when on May 12 last, he was wounded by shell splinters, sustaining injuries which proved so serious that he died the following day.”
Also featured were Gunner JW Hunt, the son of Mr and Mrs W Hunt of The Channel, Ashbourne, who enlisted soon after the declaration of war and had been serving in France with the Royal Field Artillery; His younger brother AE Hunt, who had been in ‘gentleman’s service’ when war was declared, had enlisted in 1916 and had been at the front line facing the German guns; Lance Corporal W Wilson of the Royal Fusiliers, from Stanton; and his brother-in-law Private Reginald Davenport, son of Mr and Mrs T Davenport of South Street, Ashbourne, serving with the 3/6th Sherwoods in France.
It was not only the menfolk of Ashbourne who were volunteering to do their duty for the war effort. Ruth Morris, daughter of Canon Morris, vicar of Ashbourne, left the town to serve in a military hospital in France. Miss Morris, who had previously spent seven months at a military hospital in Malta, had offered her services again after a short period of rest at home. She had four brothers serving in the army.
Two men were before the court this week facing charges under the Military Service Act. Henry Smith, a 38-year-old labourer, of no fixed address, but a native of Lancashire had been at the Ashbourne Workhouse when he was asked for his registration documents. He said he had never been registered, but was willing to join up. He was fined 7/6d and handed over to the military authorities.
Frederick Arthur Gerrard, of Hulland Ward admitted that he had not registered or tried to attest until it was too late to join the group system. His employer Mr FP Birch told the court that Gerrard had been working for him for 12 months and he had asked him several times whether he was attested and the defendant told him he was. As soon as he found out the truth he reported him to the military.
Gerrard, who had married in November 1915, was fined 10s and handed over to Sergeant Hunstone of Bakewell.
The Notes and Comments column on page 4 railed against the felling of trees in Dovedale.
“Thousands from all over the world have spent many happy hours within its charming confines; eminent poets and travellers have sung its praises, artists have attempted to depict its beauties, and its enchantment has afforded delight to visitors of all climes. Resentment is only natural when the foliage which is one of the chief contributors to this unique combination is being removed, and it is hoped that the reason for felling is fully justified and there may be no further need to fell any more trees
- 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