The deaths of two village men was the most prominent news item in the Ashbourne Telegraph as June drew to a close in the summer of 1917.
Private George Mellor of the Scottish Rifles had been killed in action in France, and news of his death had been conveyed to his family at Bulls Gap Farm, Swinscoe by his officers.
Mellor had enlisted on March 1916, leaving employment at Mayfield. A memorial service was held at the Swinscoe Memorial Chapel, where Mellor was a member of the congregation.
Able Seaman Albert Edward Maskery, son of Mr and Mrs Samuel Maskery of Mappleton, had joined the Royal Naval Division in June of 1916. He was just 20 when he died of shrapnel wounds to his chest.
His parent had only days previously received a letter from their son in which he revealed that he had been injured, but the wounds were not serious and he was expecting to return to England, soon.
Elsewhere the editor was clearly struggling to fill the space, despite the paper having long since been reduced from eight pages to four by the shortage of newsprint and, latterly, staff.
There were, of course, the usual array of advertisements for agricultural equipment, livestock sales, prams, and foodstuffs. But genuine, local editorial content was definitely on the thin side.
Alongside the dubious ‘advertorials’ claiming miracle recoveries from being crippled as a result of taking Baker’s Backache Pellets, and the wonders of Doan’s backache kidney pills and Alkia Saltrates, there was the regular Profitable Poultry Keeping column, a review of the week’s programmes at the town cinema, The Ashbourne Empire, and details of the latest meeting of the Board of Guardians.
Perhaps most out of place was a lengthy reproduction of notes from a sermon delivered at a church in Folkestone, Kent, by the Rev Charles Lister Bradley, chaplain of Magdalen College Oxford. There was no explanation as to why this would be of interest to the readers of the Ashbourne Telegraph.
- 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