July 20, 1917

News reached the town of a military promotion for a young Ashbournian. Private FS Coates, son of Mr and Mrs CH Coates of The Square, had been granted a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.

Previously apprenticed to chemist James Osbourne he was, for two years, chief dispenser at Red Cross Hospitals in France. He then joined the Artists’ Rifles and then gazetted to the RFC.

In the same column, the typesetters were able to update the page as new information became available:

“News has been received that Pte FW Wood, of the Sherwood Foresters has been dangerously wounded. He is the youngest son the late Mr John Wood of the Ashbourne Dairy, and brother to Miss Wood of Church Street. Later messages state that he is progressing favourably.”

The regular King and Country column featured two more servicemen whose talents and bravery had been recognised.

Sergeant H Wibberley, 23, serving with the Sherwood Foresters, had gone out to France as a Lance-Corporal in February 1915, but soon rose to the rank of Sergeant and then Platoon Sergeant. Earlier in the year Wibberley, whose mother lived in Old Derby Road, had attended 3rd Army School and he had since been offered a commission.

Second-Lieutenant FA Samuel, of the East Surrey Regiment, had been recommended for a medal for his bravery on July 8.

“He was recommended for the Military Cross for gallantly leading the remnant of his company to the attack on some German trenches, which they captured and held for several hours till reinforcements arrived.”

There is further evidence that the production of the Ashbourne Telegraph was becoming increasingly difficult. In previous weeks publisher’s statements announced that the staff had been severely depleted by losing men to the forces, and, increasingly, the columns were being filled with national snippets rather than locally-produced copy. This week at the top of the News in Brief column on page 2 was a paragraph admitting that the previous week’s feature on the sale of shorthorn cattle at Yeldersley Home Farm had been reprinted from the Derbyshire Advertiser –“to the editor of which our acknowledgements and thanks are due”.

Also making a comeback this week was fiction, in the form of a short story, Miram – A Sussex Sketch, filling a large section of the back page.

  • 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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