Ashwell Merchant Taylors Boys subscribed £1 to the Belgian Relief Fund, and £1 to the Prince of Wales Fund. The next day they received thanks and a receipt from the Belgian Legation and Buckingham Palace.
On the 11th December a handsomely framed engraved Roll of Honour of Old Boys of the Merchant Taylors School serving their King and Country in the war was unveiled.
‘This excited among the Scholars much interest and a patriotic spirit and many were the glances at the list of names some of whom were the Fathers and Brothers of the Boys. They numbered 64 boys in all who had volunteered for active service.
Two on the list – Horace Bryant and Percy Reeve – had died the death of heroes in trying to save England from the ravages of the “Cultural Hun” being killed in action in the retreat from Mons.’
Only a week later there were more additions to the list. The new volunteers were Frederick Pack, Clem Pack, Horace Reeve, Jack Harman, John Winter and Albert Amtman. However there was also news of another old boy, George Waldock, that had been killed in action but there was no further information. There are two members of the Waldock family on the War memorial, Harry W.G. Waldock and Herbert George Waldock either could have been familiarly called ‘George’.
George Longland, one of the Old Boys, who had been wounded, called in at the school and gave a graphic account of his experiences in the trenches. He was wounded in the terrible retreat from Mons. He showed the exploded bullet from a machine gun that had penetrated through his right shoulder permanently incapacitating him from serving again at the front.
I am sorry but I have no photographs in the museum collection of the men mentioned.
Mrs Phyllis Fordham and her sister Mrs Hill were organising a fund raising concert to be held in the ‘County School’. The boys of the Merchant Taylors School were rehearsing a programme of Patriotic and Scout songs. Members of the scout group were advised that they could wear their uniforms to the concert. Monsieur Petit would accompany them and play a selection of solos on the pianoforte. Monsieur Petit, who was one of the refugees living in Ashwell, was the organist to the King of the Belgians and Ostend Cathedral.
Other News was quite scarce this month perhaps the pending Christmas season was causing a distraction.
The Literary Society kept their programme going with a lecture on Robert Burns. The Hitchin Coursing Society met in the parish and 7 hares were killed.
A local man, Alfred George Webb, eldest son of Mr and Mrs E Webb of Cheyneys Lodge, Ashwell went off to Chingford to marry Ada Betts of Oakham.
The 72 year old Mr C Walkden retired after 40 years of employment with E K & H Fordham. He said that the brewery had changed much while he worked there. At his early employment only about 3 villagers brought casks to fill but now several thousand came from a big area.
A strange report to modern ears from the District Council said that the ‘scavenging for refuse etc’ was still bad in Ashwell and cottagers in default would be visited by the Inspector of Nuisances. One can only infer from this that there was a high level of poverty in the village.