September 8, 1916

Sandwiched between an advertorial promoting Doan’s Backache Kidney Pills and a lineage advert for ‘dark green paper blinds’ being sold by the Ashbourne Telegraph’s stationery department was a single paragraph, with no headline, announced that Trooper E H Carter of Mappleton had been wounded in action on August 25.

Carter, of the 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry had been on active service since the August 1914, his regiment having been mobilised immediately war was declared. The last sentence of the report told of a deeper family tragedy: “It will be recalled that two of his brothers were killed in action on the French front.”

A father and son and two brothers were featured in the paper’s regular Portrait Gallery of men serving with the armed forces.

Bandsman E Banyard, and ‘old and respected Ashbournian’ had run a shoemaker’s business in Compton and had been a member of the old Volunteer Band for 17 years before emigrating to Canada. He and his son volunteered for service at the outbreak of war and came to England with the Canadian contingent. Banyard was solo trombone in the band, which was said to be doing much to cheer the men.

His son had been drafted out to France and saw action at Ypres, where his battalion was severely depleted in the heavy fighting. He was one of only 12 men from his original battalion who survived without serious wounds and he was then transferred to the Canadian Regimental Band in which he played tenor horn.

Rifleman J Harrison and his brother Private Tom Harrison, sons of Mr and Mrs Thomas Harrison of Wall Ash, Mayfield, had both worked at the Simpson Brothers’ mill in the village. Tom joined the 2/6th Sherwood Foresters and was drafted to Dublin to put down the ‘Irish Rebellion’. His elder brother joined the King’s Royal Rifles in November 1915 and was said to be ‘safe and well’ in France.

A former print apprentice of the Ashbourne Telegraph, Driver JW Udale of the Royal Field Artillery was reported to be in France and had ‘so far escaped injury’. The son of Mr and Mrs Udale of Ellaston, he had an older and younger brother also in the forces.

The final man to be featured was Private Fred Brown, who had been called up with his group to the 3rd Sherwoods two months earlier. Formerly employed by Nestle at Sturton and Clifton mills he was stationed in Sunderland.

Captain Thomas Wardle, the celebrated officer in charge of HMS Alcantara, which sank a German raider in a fierce battle, resulting in the loss of his ship, was reported to have been awarded a bounty.

The paper reported that Wardle and his crew had been handed £1,605 by the Prize Court for sinking The Grief on February 29. The Germans were said to have disguised the ship under the Norwegian flag ‘against all the rules of warfare’.

Efforts continued to ensure that men did not avoid conscription. A notice, published in the Telegraph reminded farmers that employers were responsible for posting a notice of the names of all male employees ‘of military age’ in a conspicuous place, of face a fine under Defence of the Realm regulations.

Hope for an end to the war – albeit without any basis in fact – was contained in two short paragraphs on the back page.

“Mme. A de Thebes, the famous French ‘seeress’ who predicted in 1913 that 1914 would be would be the year of blood, tears and heroism which would place France in the front rank of nations, states emphatically that the war will end before the New Year.

“‘Peace will come unexpectedly’, she says. ‘The roar of the guns will cease overnight and the soldiers on both fronts will be called home to peaceful pursuits. Fate has so decreed.’”

An advertisement and editorial announced the arrival at Buxton Opera House of the Harrison Frewin Grand Opera, ‘claimed to be the finest and best equipped opera company in the world’.

The editorial went a step further in its coverage, announcing that the opera house had acquired ‘the grand scenery and effects’ of the Quinlan Opera which meant the performances would be presented in ‘ in a state of perfection never before attempted by any other opera company’. The performances boasted a chorus of 50 and a 21-strong travelling orchestra.

  • 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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