July 14, 1916

News of more casualties of war reached the columns to the Ashbourne Telegraph this week in 1916.

Mrs Callow of Green Road, received notification that her son Lieutenant Donald Callow of the Sherwood Foresters was missing. Callow, who joined the London Scottish Regiment as a Private had fought in several engagements in France and was wounded. Once recovered, he was gazetted into the Sherwoods as a 2nd lieutenant.

“Mr and Mrs JP Woodyatt of Compton Bridge had received word that their youngest son, Harold, was in a base hospital receiving treatment for injuries sustained while serving for the quick-firing gun section of the Sherwoods. They had previously lost their second son, killed fighting in France.”

And Mr and Mrs T Smith of The Leys, Ashbourne, had been told their son, Sidney, a Lance Corporal in the Sherwood Foresters had also been wounded

Private A Repton, son of Mrs Whittaker of Brassington was reported to have been wounded in the face by shrapnel. Her second son to be wounded, he was now in hospital in Birmingham.

Also being treated in Birmingham was Corporal W Shepherd of the 5th Yorks and Lancaster Regiment. He had written to his parents in Mayfield Road to tell them he had been hit ‘in the pit of the stomach’, but was recovering and hoped to get a few days leave back in Ashbourne.

Six men from two families were featured in the, now fortnightly, Portrait Gallery feature of ‘men who have answered the call’.

Mr and Mrs T Taylor of Dig Street had four sons all serving King and Country. Private Wilfred Taylor of the Royal Army Medical Corps had previously worked in the office of solicitors Holland Rigby and Williams. A keen member of the Red Cross he enlisted with the RAMC and was serving in Ireland; Private J Clifford Taylor of the 9th Sherwoods enlisted in September 1915 and after training was drafted Gallipoli where he saw action before being sent to Egypt and then France; Corporal Victor Taylor of the 3rd Grenadier Guards had seen action at Loos, Hill 70 and was wounded in the attack on the Hohenzollen Redoubt, but had recovered sufficiently to rejoin his battalion; and Private Reginald Taylor of the 2/6th Sherwoods who had been among those who put down the ‘Irish Rebellion’.

Mr and Mrs R Ward of St John Street had two sons featured, Driver W Ward of the Royal Field Artillery who had been a postman in Waterhouses and Cauldron, and later at Sharplow, but enlisted in October 1915. He had trained at Nottingham and Aldershot and was currently posted at Portsmouth. His younger brother Private Charles Ward enlisted in November 1915 and had trained in North Yorkshire before going to Dunfermline where he was training in flag signalling.

Not all men were serving honourably in the services. The courts still dealt with cases of drunkenness and violence.

“James Shipley, labourer, Wetton, was summoned for violent conduct at Hartington on July 1st.
Constable Walthall stated that he saw Shipley on the Leek Road, Hartington, having and argument with is brother. He used very objectionable language and challenged his brother to fight him.
A fine of £2 was imposed, the chairman remarking that this was the defendant’s 27th appearance.”

The Telegraph continued to run national and international snippets in most editions of the paper, ranging from news that bowler hats were to be more expensive due to increased prices for felt, silk and ribbons, to propaganda about ‘The dastardly hun’.

“The effective range of the enemy’s poison gas is as great as five kilometres (over three miles) and that at the distance of one kilometer the effect is fatal. At first the effects of the gas were overwhelming, either killing our men outright or rendering them insensible. It is known that the enemy formed special squadrons of men with nail-studded bludgeons to finish off our soldiers rendered unconscious by the gas.”

Rural communities such as Ashbourne remained heavily reliant on horses for transport in 1916, yet there was a shortage of animals due to the demands of the war. The town’s fire engine was horse drawn and there had been concerns raised about getting the appliance to incidents outside the urban area. One solution was to replace the horse with a motorised vehicle.

“Joseph Harrison placed one of his motor waggons at the disposal of Capt. Walter Sellers and his brigade with the object of testing the same. A thorough trial was given with 30 men mounting the waggon and fire engine attached.”

An experimental run was made, managing to achieve 8mph up even the steepest climb out of Ashbourne.

“The trial was in every way satisfactory, and proved conclusively that the difficulty of haulage can be overcome in case of necessity.”

The test was welcomed by the Notes and Comments column which suggested that the Urban District or Rural District Council should come to an arrangement with the owner of the lorry.

“It would … do away with the ridiculous possibility of a fire outside of the urban area burning with disastrous results while an effective engine is standing idle for want of horse or motor power.”

  • 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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