MEMORY LANE WWI: News of gallant Peak soldiers

Young Buxtonians ready for active service.
Young Buxtonians ready for active service.

The High Peak’s residents anxiously awaited news of their gallant Territorials and Yeomanry following their swift departure to join the war effort.

In the Buxton Herald of August 26, 1914, a letter reflected the thoughts of one Buxton yeoman, at the time based in Brome, Suffolk.

“I think we shall be here all winter,” he wrote. “I don’t think we shall get much nearer the war. England will be on its last legs when we have to go.

“We are only 30 miles off the coast and we can sometimes hear firing in the direction of the North Sea.

“Myself and another chap from Buxton are going halves in grub, which is not of the best, and keeping ourselves.

“We are sleeping in an old barn on straw and only wash once a day. I have not had my trousers off since we left Derby!

“I wonder where I shall have my Christmas dinner?”

The Herald continued to focus on the impact of the conflict on the Peak’s trade; the calico printing, bleaching and dyeing industry hardest hit due to the large quantities of drugs, dyes and colours which were imported from Germany.

Although it added: “The Calico Printers’ Association is dealing very generously with those who have joined the colours.

“Half wages will be paid to Reservists and Territorials, and their positions will be awaiting them on their return. The example is worthy of emulation by other employers.”

Villages in the district continued to organise events in aid of the local war fund, with Buxton hostelries making use of old mineral water bottles to gather cash. Still, many scheduled events and sporting fixtures faced postponement.

In Chapel-en-le-Frith, it was reported Bank Hall would be used as a hospital for wounded soldiers, if required, and Frith Knoll was offered to the Red Cross Society as a convalescent home for soldiers and sailors.

Branches of the National Reserve faced requests to provide numbers of those willing to be called up for general service, promising “army rates of pay will be paid, and there will be a billeting allowance, and the usual bounty of £10.”

Also reported was the first case before the Buxton court of a worker, of German nationality, who was alleged to be in breach of the wartime Aliens Registration Act, which required all ‘aliens’ over the age of 16 to register at local police stations.