One hundred years ago – October 1916.

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This month the newspaper is overwhelmed with news from the war. Several pages are given over to “reports from the Front”. All the villages without exception are announcing casualties, injuries and, sadly, deaths to their men who had been called up to fight. Occasionally the news is gladdened with an account of heroism and a medal award.

An advert appears in the mid October edition covering 5 columns wide and half a page deep by the British American Tobacco Company offering to send cigarettes by post to soldiers in France. Orders may be taken in to any tobacconist and the smallest order was for 280 Wild Woodbines for 3/3d, 1000 will cost 9/-. More expensive Gold Flake are 280 for 5/- and 1000 for 15/- and the most expensive cigarette Navy Cut will cost 8/6d for 500 and 16/- for 1000. Orders can also be posted to troops in India. The advert concludes with this ditty:      There aint no shops to shop in and there aint no grand hotels, When you spend your days in dugouts doin’ ‘olesale trade in shells”

At home men aged 41 and over will now be called up and Notice papers A F W 3195 will be sent to all men shown on the military registers as belonging to one or other of those groups, attested or not unless they have been marked on the register as having some form of excusable work. It has been reported before of exemption courts hearing pleas from traders, farmers and businesses to keep what male labour they have, usually without much success.

Harvest has been completed and festival services are taking place across the area. However a great gale springs up towards the end of the month, and a Norwegian steamer, “Rollon”, laden with coal for the war and France which had recently loaded and left Wales suffered a catastrophic shifting of her cargo which capsized the ship totally. Fortunately all the crew were saved but the same gale in South Devon sent coastal trading schooners running for shelter. One was lost with 13 crew drowned.

In Clovelly there is a “Capital Opportunity for a person accustomed to the catering trade”. To be Let by Tender from next Lady Day is The Red Lion Hotel, currently in the occupation of Mr John Moss who is retiring. Enquiries should be made to the Estate Office at Clovelly.

We do not normally report on Court cases but the following illustrates the current situation on men’s reluctance to volunteer for the war. At a local Police Court Ronald Hupert Waldorf Jeffery aged 24 of a local address and described as an agent or tipster was charged on remand with obtaining from a local shop a gold watch and chain valued at £26.10.0d by false pretences and further that being a British national he did on an earlier date this year represent himself to be an American subject contrary to the Aliens Registration Order, further, with being an absentee from the Military Reserve. He was found guilty on all counts, fined 40/- and sent to prison for 6 months to be followed by military service.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford & District Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can also follow us on our Facebook page, Bideford & District Community Archive.

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