December 22, 1916

Professional soldier Sergeant George Bentley was the latest casualty of war to be reported in the columns of the Ashbourne Telegraph as the town prepared for the third Christmas of the conflict.

Bentley, of Cubley, had been killed on November 29 in action in France. The paper recorded that he had enlisted with the Royal Marine Artillery in September 1899 and therefore completed 17 years’ service.

“He had seen a good deal of foreign service, and was one of the guard of honour to the Duke of Connaught when he went to open the South African parliament in 1910. Sergt Bentley was all through the campaign in German West Africa with General Botha and subsequently returned to England. After a short training at Bexhill-on-sea, he was sent out to the front attached to the South African heavy Artillery. He was 33 years of age.”

Ashbourne’s Red Cross Hospital had received a fresh draft of wounded soldiers from Derby and all the beds would be full for Christmas.

It was reported that Mr GM Bond had given £5 to provide dinner on Christmas Day.

“As most of the men were in the trenches last Christmas it is hoped to make them thoroughly enjoy their Christmas here this year.”

The paper printed a lengthy list of donations, which this week included: 472 pints of milk for November from Nestle, Cigarettes from Mr Doxey and Miss Probert, two rabbits from Mr and Mrs Tomlinson of Swinscoe, four eggs from Ida Wibberley, tripe from Mr Hollingworth and pickled cabbage from Mrs Harvey Bond.

JH Henstock, the publisher of the Ashbourne Telegraph exhorted readers to shop for Christmas gifts at his Market Place shop.

“To avoid disappointing the children their presents must be bought at the shop they know. The children crowd round our window; and really our selection of Toys this year is magnificent. Here we have every modern toy that a child could wish for; and the Stocking can be filled with British made Toys economically and well.”

  • My fellow researcher and former 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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