The end of the war was just days away – but the Ashbourne Telegraph reported the deaths of no fewer than four servicemen from the district in its second edition in November, 1918.
Private WA Brassington of Gravelly Bank Farm, Yeaveley, had initially joined the Sherwood Foresters in January 1917, but was later transferred to the Royal Fusiliers, serving in Italy from November. There he contracted trench fever and was invalided home.
“On his recovery he was sent out to France, and the notification states that he was killed in action on October 11. He was home for leave only six weeks ago.”
Trooper Frank Bradbury of the Derbyshire Yeomanry was reported to have died in hospital in France on October 29. Like Private Brassington, Bradbury had previously been invalided home from the front line.
He joined up in March 1915 and was drafted out to Salonica where he served for three years before contracting malaria.
“On recovery he went out to France and the sad news was received by his young wife that he passed away at a hospital in Dieppe after a few days’ illness.”
Before the war Bradbury had been employed by grocers T Mellor and Son and later by Howell and Marsden.
Another soldier to die in hospital overseas was Lieutenant JB Hay, formerly assistant master at Ashbourne School. It was thought influenza was the cause of death in Genoa on October 29.
“A clever violinist he was always ready to give his services at local concerts and was a member of the Ashbourne Orchestra, with whom he played first violin.”
A telegram received by Mrs Jones of Waterloo House, Compton, informed her that her son in law Corporal Charles Mellor had been dangerously wounded. This was followed a few days later by news that he had died of his wounds.
The 28-year-old soldier previously worked for butcher L Allen in The Square and had signed up in August 1916, initially with the Royal Field Artillery, later transferring to the Lancashire Fusiliers, with whom he served for many months in France.
Sergeant WK Hughes of the Northumberland Fusiliers had written from hospital to inform his mother that he had been wounded.
“He says he was first hit in the face with a piece of shrapnel, and whilst assisting a comrade to the dressing station, he was again hit in the leg by another piece of shrapnel, or a bullet, lodging in the left knee cap. He writes cheerfully and says he is progressing alright.”
Major Alan W Turnbull Of the Seaforth Highlanders was said to be dangerously wounded. He was the nephew of Mr Peveril Turnbull of Sandybrook Hall, and had been staying with his uncle only the previous month after a course of instruction for senior officers at Aldershot, before returning to the front where he worked with Regimental Staff.
“This is the second time Major Turnbull has been wounded, the first occasion being at Loos. Mr Peveril Turnbull has had five nephews in the war, of whom two have been killed.”
Hundreds of people attended an exhibition of war films on a mobile screen in Ashbourne Market Place as the Government continued its efforts to shore up public support for prosecuting the war to a satisfactory conclusion.
The National War Aims Committee had sent out into the regions ten cinemotor vehicles to bolster support.
“The outfit includes a large five ton van, which travels at ten miles an hour, and carries everything required, including the lecturer, operator, engineer and their personal luggage; a very large screen; a 25hp engine, driving a dynamo which generates a current for a light equal to 6,000 candle power; the very latest projector and a variety of war films.”
The paper reported that the whole enterprise was the “last word in efficiency” and the pictures were clear and steady and as well-lit as those in “the best picture houses”.
Dorothy Fritz, the wife of an interned German was reported to have died of double pneumonia. The paper reported that she had been found to be suffering from carbolic poisoning, and admitted taking the poison when she had an attack of influenza. She recovered from the effects of the poison but succumbed to pneumonia. An inquest was to be held.
- 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