MEMORY LANE: Crowds gathered as their loved ones leave for battle

Buxton Advertiser archive, First World War, local Territorials before their departure for the front

Buxton Advertiser archive, First World War, local Territorials before their departure for the front

“There was little work done in the town on Wednesday.”

The cheering crowds that had gathered in Buxton to mark the declaration of war only a few hours earlier began to form again at breakfast time – this time with a more serious atmosphere as they said goodbye to loved ones and friends.

The first to leave from about 9am on the 5th were reservists being recalled to their regiments and ships.

They were described as “not youths but men in the prime of their lives, drawn from almost every village in Peakland.

Including half a dozen policemen, a number of postmen, coachmen and many other employments.”

Leaving for destinations all over Britain many said their farewells to family on the station platform.

Across the district the men who formed the Sherwood Foresters Territorial detachments at Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge began to collect at their drill halls for a medical inspection and issue of equipment.

The Chapel and Whaley companies included the New Mills, Hayfield and Chinley sections.

In Buxton several hundred people gathered in little knots and as khaki-clad figures appeared some of the crowd cheered and others, too filled with emotion to speak, clapped the troops on the shoulder.

Next to leave were the Yeomanry cavalry whose Buxton section included 14 men from Tideswell.

One member arriving from his work in Manchester was reported to have had only 20 minutes to collect his kit and bid farewell to his mother.

Their departure for Bakewell by train was accompanied by a crowd of several hundred “Derbyshire Patriots” giving a hearty rendition of Rule Britannia.

Early in the afternoon the Buxton Territorials began their march to Chesterfield where the Sherwood Foresters 6th Battalion was concentrating.

Each man was presented with a pipe and tobacco and they paraded around the town through huge cheering crowds before heading for Ashford where they would camp for the night.

They were escorted as far as the Devonshire Arms by a massed band.

The next morning the Chapel detachment of 104 and 110 from Whaley Bridge began their marches to Hope and Castleton, also en-route to Chesterfield.

This immediate exodus of trained men was of course only the beginning.

Within a few weeks Lord Kitchener made his famous appeal for volunteers and army recruiting centres were overwhelmed with men.

By Christmas 1914 the roll of honour published in the local press listed nearly 850 Peak men serving in 52 different formations and ships.

They included such exotic units as the Canadian Highlanders, Dublin Fusiliers and Birkenhead Bantams.




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