Bands and joy as our war pris­on­ers come march­ing home...

David Pen­man looks at the head­line stories in the Ash­bourne Tele­graph 100 years ago

Ashbourne News Telegraph - - MEMORY LANE -

DE­CEM­BER 6, 1918 ONE by one, Ash­bourne’s Pris­on­ers of War be­gan to re­turn home – and each was greeted with en­thu­si­asm as they stepped off the train.

“On Fri­day evening, Pte Pegge, of Clifton, was met at the sta­tion by the bu­gle band and a large as­sem­bly of parish­ioners and friends.”

There were short speeches and rous­ing cheers. “On Satur­day Sergt R Tay­lor of the ‘Pals’ Manch­ester Reg­i­ment ar­rived and was met at the sta­tion by the bu­gle band and the [POW] com­mit­tee rep­re­sen­ta­tives. He was es­corted in pro­ces­sion to the Mar­ket Place where ,on the bal­cony of the Town Hall, Mr JP Wooy­att and Mr AA Will­mott ex­pressed the plea­sure it af­forded the res­i­dents to have pris­on­ers back at their own homes.”

On Mon­day it had been Pri­vate Ber­tram Plant of the North Staffs Reg­i­ment, whose home was in Union Street. He re­ceived a wel­come party and was cheered by wounded sol­diers at the Red Cross Hospi­tal.

On Tues­day, Pri­vate F Edge, of Green Road, and Pri­vate James Ren­shaw, of Map­ple­ton, ar­rived. Ren­shaw had been in the re­serves when war broke out and was re­called to his reg­i­ment. He took part in some of the early en­gage­ments but had been a Ger­man pris­oner since Oc­to­ber 1914.

The sign­ing of the Ar­mistice did not bring peace to all. Mr Ge­orge Moon had re­ceived of­fi­cial no­ti­fi­ca­tion that his son, Pri­vate John Moon, of the Sher­wood Foresters, had been killed in ac­tion on Oc­to­ber 3. Moon, who had been em­ployed with Pot­ter’s Corn Mer­chants, en­listed soon af­ter the out­break of war and took part in the Su­vla Bay land­ings on the Gal­lipoli penin­sula, later trans­fer­ring to France.

“Pte Moon, who was 24, has two other broth­ers in the army, while his fa­ther has also served in the forces for over three years.”

The More­ton fam­ily of May­field had of­fi­cial no­tice that their younger son Al­bert had been killed in ac­tion. “No news had been heard of him since March, de­spite ex­haus­tive en­quiries by his par­ents. A re­turn­ing pris­oner of war said he had been killed, but they kept hop­ing this would prove un­true.”

The fam­ily was told Al­bert had been killed on March 21, the first day of the Ger­man Of­fen­sive which saw them push back the al­lied forces. He had been serv­ing with the 2/5th North Stafford­shire Reg­i­ment. He was just 20 years old. “His death is sad, cut­ting short a life so full of prom­ise, and is deeply de­plored by his large cir­cle of friends. The only con­so­la­tion is found in the gal­lantry of this young life, and the hero­ism and sense of duty with which he faced the en­emy, and the glo­ri­ous cause for which he died.”

He en­listed in Jan­uary 1916, was sent first to Ire­land and then drafted to France in Fe­bru­ary 1917. He had worked in the gar­dens of May­field House.

A large con­gre­ga­tion gath­ered in Shirley Par­ish Church for a me­mo­rial ser­vice to three men who had been killed in France: Pri­vate Ge­orge Gil­man, Ri­fle­man Regi­nald Maskery and Pri­vate Charles Green.

Bayliss Broth­ers of St John Street an­nounced The Vic­tory Christ­mas in a large dis­play ad­ver­tise­ment on the front page of the Ash­bourne Tele­graph to pro­mote its stock of ‘Toys, Games, Fancy Goods’ of ‘qual­ity un­sur­passed’ and at ‘prices rea­son­able.’ They promised a show­room dis­play­ing the largest and best ranges seen in Der­byshire. And there was pa­tri­o­tism too:

“Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! An ex­quis­ite stock of dressed and un­dressed dolls. Another suc­cess for the Al­lies. Bri­tish and French pro­duc­tion. Life­like and pleas­ing in ev­ery de­tail.”

For the boys there were me­chan­i­cal and wooden toys, claimed to be ‘both ed­uca­tive and amus­ing.’ Con­tin­u­ing their theme the store pro­claimed: “The Pipe of Peace. The Ar­mistice has been signed, and with it comes the Dawn of Peace; with­out Bayliss Broth­ers’ to­bac­cos, cigars and cig­a­rettes your con­tent­ment and peace can­not be com­plete.”

Span­ish Flu was sweep­ing the county. There had been four more deaths in Mid­dle­ton-by-wirksworth, all young peo­ple. Al­most ev­ery house­hold was said to have a pa­tient.

Ash­bourne Ru­ral Coun­cil heard from med­i­cal of­fi­cer for health, Dr HH Hol­lick that 16 deaths in the district had been at­tibuted to the flu.

Ac­cord­ing to Colonel John Gret­ton, the Par­lia­men­tary Elec­tion coali­tion can­di­date in Burton-on-trent Bri­tish pub­lic houses should be re­formed along the lines of the con­ti­nen­tal café.

“Men on their re­turn from the front would look for some­thing bet­ter than mere drink­ing dens.”

●David Pen­man is a se­nior lec­turer in jour­nal­ism at De Mont­fort Uni­ver­sity, Le­ices­ter. You can read more of his weekby-week anal­y­sis of the Ash­bourne Tele­graph in his search­able weekly blog at great­war­

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