The Market Harborough Advertiser of September 08, 1914, is dominated by a report of a meeting held on Thursday in the town’s Assembly Rooms addressed by various dignitaries including Colonel Earl of Denbigh.
Virtually a whole page is devoted to the speeches which were designed to drum up more support for the war, and in particular, get even more men to enlist. Remember, at this stage of the First World War, there is no conscription so those who join up do so voluntarily.
However, there is an enormous amount of peer pressure being brought to bear on the young men of the Market Harborough area.
The report quotes a dire warning from Lord Denbigh: “Any young man who stayed at home and did not go out to help when his country was imploring him, would have a very bad moment when the war was all over.”
The Earl is in Market Harborough for a particular reason, because tangible support for enlisting is not as solid as is needed.
The report continues: “A week ago he [the Earl] was disappointed with the way recruits were coming in, but the last two or three days, he must acknowledge a great change has come over the spirit, not only of the country generally but that particular part of it.”
He implored the women in the audience to do their bit too. The report continues: “The women had often been told love was a selfish thing, and the love would try and persuade any young man to stay at home instead of going out to serve his country when she really wanted him was not worth anything.
“The real love, the unselfish love, was that which told the young man to go and do his duty, prayed for him while he was away, and if he came back, welcomed him with all the love possible.”
For 21st century readers of this archive these are sombre words knowing that many of those urged to leave their homes in the Market Harborough area were never coming back, having been slaughtered in the carnage of trench warfare.
However, there is one opposing view printed anonymously in the Letters Column from a married man worried about his family’s financial situation. He asks: “If I join up what is to become of my wife and children?”
He calls into question some of ‘the likely men, both married and unmarried, who were on the platform’ and asks why they have not joined up even though ‘they are able to leave their dependants fairly comfortably off for some time’.
This, however, is a solitary voice. Much of other two pages of news are given over to war reports, including the first deaths of men with connections to Market Harborough.
One story tells of Little Bowden man Shipwright A Carnegie of Bath Street who has ‘a wife and a little daughter’. He is officially reported as ‘missing’ after his ship the HMS Pathfinder was sunk by a mine.
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