March 30, 1917

The call to arms in 1917 resulted in another Ashbourne business announcing that it would be closing its doors. An advertisement on page three of the Telegraph from J Gallimore, family butcher, announced that the premises would be closed from the end of the month.

The notice added a formal, yet personal message:

“To my customers and friends – Dear Sir (or Madam), I beg to inform you that the business of family butcher conducted by me at the address given below (Victoria Square) will after Saturday evening, March 31st next, will be closed for the duration of the war. This action has been necessitated through receiving my call to the army.

The severance of business ties with my numerous customers and friends is keenly felt by me; but I am sorry to say that under the circumstances, this is the only course I can adopt.”

The full text of a statement issued to the Press by Neville Chamberlain, Director General of National Service was published, urging readers to ‘enrol today’ during National Service Week.

“To every patriotic citizen from 18 to 61 years of age,” the statement began.

“The object of the general appeal for volunteers is to form a register of willing workers. The request is for men to sign a voluntary offer of service, so that they may be asked to undertake work of national importance, if they are wanted and when they are wanted.”

The statement makes clear that volunteers who sign the form will continue in their present work until required.

Everyone should sign up in the same way as men who had signed up for military service came from all trades and industries.

“The signing of the enrolment form imposes on the volunteer a moral obligation to keep his promise. It does not involve him in any legal consequences.”

If the volunteer is asked to work for less pay than in his normal job he may appeal and will face no penalty if he rejects a tribunal finding, says the statement, although there is a sting in the tail:

But he will have to settle with his conscience whether he is performing his duty which he owes his country.”

The Government, Chamberlain said, would pay a minimum of 25s a week, and would pass legislation to ensure agricultural workers were paid no less than 25s to ensure parity. Volunteers required to move away from home would also receive a subsistence payment of 17s 6d a week.

In case there was any doubt the statement continued:

“The Government have introduced this system of voluntary National Service in the hope of avoiding any necessity for a compulsory scheme.

The Telegraph continued its food saving tips from EL Spriggs, MD FRC on behalf of the Food Controller. Included among the advice this week:

“There is no excuse at the present time for any food whatsoever being left on the plate.”

But further economies were required and readers were exhorted to boil bones at least twice for stock. Bacon rind and all fat from dishes should be collected and melted in a jar in the oven, passed through muslin before being returned to the oven with a little water to produce clarified fat for ‘pastry, puddings and frying’.

“Bread and cake should not, in these days, be cut up beforehand, but should be cut at the table according to the needs of each person. No pieces of bread ought to be left.”

Such sensible measures were just the start:

“Breadcrumbs must not be thrown away, but dried in the oven and passed through the mining machine or crushed with the roller. They may then be used for frying, for puddings or served in minced meat or mixed with a little milk and parsley to make a stuffing for boned joints.”

A member of the Women's Land Army milking a cow. © IWM. (Q 30680)

A member of the Women’s Land Army milking a cow. © IWM. (Q 30680)

In an effort to maintain food production “hundreds of town girls” were reported to have started training for agricultural work.

“They will be provided with uniforms – high boots, breeches, overalls, a hat and serviceable dress made to measure.”

The female workforce was to earn no less than 18s a week, plus bonuses for special work and harvesting.

“A girl’s earnings above 18s a week will depend on her energy, intelligence and skill,” the Telegraph reported.

Lights were the subject of a number of cases at Ashbourne Petty Sessions. Henry Lygo, a munitions worker from Snelston and William Prime, a joiner from Cubley were each fined 7s 6d for riding their bicycles with unscreened acetylene lamps; while Harry Blackwood a Carter was fined the same sum for driving a trap without lights.

  • 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 War blog
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