Unexamined Lives

The story of the 20th century as lived by residents in the Derbyshire village of Borrowash

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Death Penny Announcement Published in Local Newspapers

The announcement of the acquisition by Erewash Museum of the Margaret and Edwin Hassé Memorial Plaques (Death Pennies) has received widespread coverage in local media outlets.

It was made in a Press Release issued by Erewash Borough Council in January and quickly appeared in the Nottingham Post, Ilkeston Advertiser, Long Eaton Chronicle and Long Eaton Website Extra. An interview with Unexamined Lives’ genealogist Keith Oseman was also played on Ian Skye’s Breakfast Programme on Radio Derby.

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Think Only This – Edwin Ridgley Hassé

‘If I should die, think only this of me

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England.’

(from ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke, 1914)

These lines from Rupert Brooke’s most famous poem present a very different perception of the First World War from the one that is commonly held today. To 21st century eyes it is impossible to blink at the industrial scale of the carnage of World War One; the incompetence of the generals and the appalling conditions in which those at the Front were forced to suffer. All this is very far removed from the sentimental- even glutinous – patriotism of Brooke’s poem which lauds the nobility of death and the glory of sacrifice. ‘Unexamined Lives’ has not flinched from confronting the grim reality of a war anomalously referred to as ‘Great’,  and in so doing we have used contemporary records, diaries and newspapers from that era – yet the Brooke sentiments also have their place in the years between 1914-1918. At the outset, with Kitchener’s words of ‘Your Country Needs You’ ringing in their ears, young men raced to enlist, lied about their age and marched to war basking in the admiration of their loved ones. This was a not- to -be- missed chance to serve their country and the war would be over in a short time anyway. Better to live the rest of their lives as heroes, rather than skulking in corners as white- feathered cowards who had shamed their families by refusing the national call.

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One Man’s War – Francis Hasse

World War One occasioned the highest number of fatalities in military history, culling an entire generation; sometimes within weeks of arrival at the front.

Back home, photographs of sons, husbands and fathers; never to be wearied by age (or tested by life) shadowed successive generations … until time took its toll:

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Walter Sidney Day (1887-1917)

Walter Sidney Day was born in the summer of 1887 in Grendon, Warwickshire

His parents were Thomas William & Lizzie Day. His father was a farm Labourer and Waggoner from Gloucestershire whilst his mother Lizzie was from Derby. They married in 1884, possibly in Derby.

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Maurice D. G. Scott (1896-1918)

Unexamined Lives would like to hear from any descendants of World War One hero, Maurice D.G. Scott, whose name appears on the Ockbrook War Memorial.

Captain Scott’s WW1 service was extremely distinguished and following an initial spell in the infantry, he transferred to aviation in February 1916. He subsequently served with three different squadrons, both as an aerial observer and a pilot and was credited with 12 official victories during his tenure in the Royal Flying Corps.

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Virtual War Memorial

The dead of World War One are commemorated on three War Memorials in the village:.

  • The Ockbrook and Borrowash War Memorial, situated on Victoria Avenue between the two villages, has four faces which list 82 local people (81 men and one woman) who died in World War One.
  • The Memorial inside the Borrowash Methodist Church on Derby Road commemorates 24 people. One of these is not listed on the main Memorial.
  • The Memorial from the now-closed Primitive Methodist chapel in Victoria Avenue is now located in the Derby Road church and commemorates 12 people. Three of these are not listed on the main Memorial.

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