April 6, 1917

It is not clear what prompted such optimism at the drapers CH Coates, in The Square, but the shop’s advert on Page 2 of the Ashbourne Telegraph this week in 1917 screamed:

“Prepare to celebrate the coming victory!”

Apparently they were looking forward to the Spring, which would herald victory and peace.

“When Spring comes every face will wear a smile because we shall know that the lads will soon be home”

It becomes clear that in Coates’ opinion the victory will herald a pressing need to go shopping.

“And how will we greet them? In dowdy clothes? No! It is your duty to look your best – to make all seem bright and happy – Therefore we invite you to come and inspect our new Spring stock. We have the brightest and finest Spring hats in the town and also the daintiest voiles for dresses.

Come and buy then you will at least be prepared.”

Less positive news arrived at the home of Mr and Mrs JR Mellor in Mayfield Road, Ashbourne – that their son Sergeant G Mellor had been wounded in action. A field post card from their son, announcing that he was in hospital, arrived on the day of publication. No further details were carried.

Two soldiers whose deaths had previously been reported were again featured in the columns of the newspaper, as further details were ‘to hand’.

The wife of Private Timothy Blood of the Sherwood Foresters had received, at her home in Calver, a letter from her husband’s Captain, WS West.

“The Company went into action on the morning of the 4th March, and after doing some splendid work your husband was killed outright by a piece of shell.”

He went on to describe Blood as a first rate soldier who had been very popular with everyone.

Further testimony to Blood’s qualities were contained in a second letter, this time from Private G Fogg, of Ashbourne who described Blood as his closest friend there. He tried to offer what little comfort he could to the widow.

“When he was hit, another pal, who was stretcher bearer went out to his aid, and did all he could for him, but in vain. His death was almost painless and instantaneous.”

Blood, who answered Kitchener’s call to arms with the Sherwood Foresters, was the son of Mr and Mrs Blood of Mayfield. They had two other sons serving, one of whom was in hospital with frostbite to his feet.

Another Sherwood Forester, Lance Corporal S Barker, was featured in the For King and Country column, which detailed how he had been mobilised with the Ashbourne Territorials at the outbreak of war, aged just 19.

“He was dispatched to France in February 1915, and although so young was soon recommended for promotion, and his admirable qualities would doubtless have brought him further promotion had not he met his death while gallantly defending his post against German attack,” stated the paper.

Prior to the war Barker, the only son of the late Mr Isaac Barker and Mrs Folwell of Dig Street, had been employed at James Osborne’s Chemist in St John Street.

Alongside Barker was Gunner AC Chadwick, the second son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Chadwick of Stanton. He had joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15 and had served on a number of ships. One of his brothers, William had been killed in France in September 1916 while serving with the Durham Light Infantry. Another brother was reported to be in France with the Cavalry Brigade.

  • 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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2 Responses to April 6, 1917

  1. Perhaps the optimism was related to the coming US declaration of war?


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