One of the first men in his village to volunteer for military service, on August 14, 1914, was Tom Hadfield.
From a home and job in Parwich, Hadfield signed up with the 1st Lincolns and found himself involved in some of the bloodiest encounters in the Dardanelles.
“On one occasion his battalion went into action 621 strong, and at the end only 16 were unwounded.”
The paper reported that he had received a bad shoulder injury and was treated for six months at a hospital in Cairo before being sent to France, where he met his death on July 16, 1917.
News of his fate came in a letter to his sister from Lieutenant TW Oldershaw, published in the Ashbourne Telegraph. He told of how Hadfield’s body had been buried in the village churchyard, within sound of the guns.
A second letter was also reproduced:
“I am sorry to send you such bad news. Poor Tom Hadfield was killed last night, or rather early this morning. I must say I am deeply grieved more than I can say, for Tom and I were very good chums, and I do not know what we shall do without him. He was the next man to me on the Lewis machine gun, and a finer, steadier fellow I never saw. We were just coming back from the line to the reserve line, but Fritz seemed to know all about it for he shelled us very bad. I can assure you Tom did not suffer, as he only said ‘Oh’ and all was over. I cannot say any more except I know Tom died trusting in God.”
This touching message letter was signed Private P Pearce.
Private Wilfred Frost of the Sherwood Foresters who had been wounded by shrapnel in the knee was home in Ashbourne on leave. Prior to signing up in August 1915 he had been employed by Mr JC Prince of the Green Man Hotel.
Such was the power of gossip surrounding the call to arms that one man felt it necessary to take out a Public Notice in the Ashbourne Telegraph to set the record straight.
“Owing to the persistent rumours which have reached him that he is about to be called to the Colours, Mr LV Sadler, Dental Surgeon, Ashbourne, desires to state that he is over age and therefore not liable for military service.”
The role of the Military Tribunals and medical examinations was lampooned in a ditty on the back page:
Called up on Monday
Took ill on Tuesday
Worse on Wednesday
Exempted on Thursday
Called up on Friday
Passed ‘A’ on Sunday
That was the Scandal
Of Solomon Grundy!
- 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