August 11, 1916

Watch an Imperial War Museum video about the Battle of the Somme

Watch an Imperial War Museum video about the Battle of the Somme here











Soldiers involved in the ‘great advance’ in France, the Battle of the Somme, were reported as killed or missing this week in 1916.

Private Fred Moon, Private A Dyche, and Private Herbert Slater were pictured, alongside Private W Astle whose death from dysentery aboard a ship bound for India was reported the previous week.

Moon, of the 10th Cheshires, and whose parents lived in Old Derby Road, Ashbourne, had previously been wounded and received treatment at Brailsford and Belper before returning to the front line. He was killed on July 26.

Dyche of the 9th Scottish Rifles, who hailed from Burton, was well known in Ashbourne, having played football for Ashbourne Town for several seasons.

Mr and Mrs W Slater of Mayfield Road, Ashbourne, who had already lost their son Owen, of the Grenadier Guards, in October 1914 received notification that another son, 23-year-old Herbert, of C Company 10th Sherwood Foresters was officially missing.

Elsewhere on the same page were details of a memorial service to two other members of the Ashbourne Volunteers, Lance Corporal W H Kirkland and F Wibberley, and news of Trooper Bert Samuel, who had written to his mother in Sandybrook.

“He was, he states, buried twice and the second time he was rendered unconscious for about seven hours and believes that a piece of shell struck his steel helmet. He adds that he saw his name in The Times as ‘wounded and missing’. He received his wounds in Delville Wood, where it has been estimated more than 100,000 shells fell.”

The death of 36-year-old Captain John Wheen of Mappleton was reported this week. The paper stated that he had been killed on May 15-16 1915 at the Battle of Festubert. Listed as missing for a year, his death had now been confirmed.

August 4 brought the second anniversary of the war and it was marked by church services across the county. The Notes and Comments column looked for some positives amid the gloom.

“After two years of terrible strife we stand in a far more hopeful position than we have done previously, and there are not wanting signs that the enemy are realising out superiority. Few thought when the first bomb-shell fell in this struggle that either of the contesting sides could maintain the struggle on such stupendous lines for so long, but we find ourselves pursuing the grim work for the third year, more determined than ever that the sacrifice of so many gallant lives shall not be in vain and that the powers of Europe shall be ruled under fair and honourable principles.”

He said that the size of the army was greater than ever, the supply of arms was growing to meet demand and the bravery of our allies meant victory could not be far off.

“How soon this be is a matter of conjecture, but there is certainly more hope of it than there was at this time last year.”

People back home were urged to forego their holidays to help the war effort Image: Imperial War Museum

People back home were urged to forego their holidays to help the war effort
Image: Imperial War Museum

Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig had called on munition workers and others to forego their holidays and issued a poster through the Ministry of Munitions of War.

Six more men were featured in the ‘scrapbook’ portrait gallery this week.

The first was Gunner Augustus Beeby, the elder surviving son of Mr and Mrs Beeby of Osmaston. Beeby, who it was recorded, had been a goalkeeper who had played for both Liverpool and Manchester City.

Private J Tully of the Grenadier Guards enlisted in March 1915 and after serving with the King’s Guard at Buckingham Palace was drafted out to France in March of 1916, seeing action in the trenches until being wounded on July 6. He was being treated at Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

One of the first Ashbourne men to be sent to the Western front was Private Edwin Forman who joined the Sherwood Foresters about 18 months before the outbreak of war. He had been in action since September 1914 and had only been home to Snelston once, for a few days, in two years.

The others featured were: Private James Henney of Mayfield, serving at the Veterinary Hospital in Rouen, using his experience from working with horses at the Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton brewery in Burton; Petty Officer George Hurd, of Osmaston, serving aboard HMS Pincher, who had seen action in the Dardanelles; and Private George Bellfield of Union Street, who had gone to Ireland at the time of the Easter Rising with the 2/6th Sherwoods.

Baron Emile Beaumont D’Erlanger, a naturalised British subject and chairman of the Channel Tunnel Company was reported to have said that the company’s engineers estimated the cost of building the tunnel would be £16million, ‘one half of which would have to be found by France and the other half by England’. He observed that each country was spending £8m a day on the war.

The first decade of the new century had seen a huge growth in the number of cinemas in Britain and the popularity was such that people were visiting the cinemea two or three times a week. The Ashbourne Empire, ‘the most modern and up to date fire-proof electric cinema in Great Britain’, showed official war news along side the popular movies of the time. Since May 1916 customers had been compelled to pay tax on their entertainment with seats at the Empire being 1s (plus 2d war tax) 6d (plus 1d war tax) 3d (plus 1d) and 2d tickets taxed a half a penny.

  • 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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