Stanton during the War
Stanton would have been no different to the rest of the country in terms of being affected by the war in many ways, not all shown or on the surface. Worries in families about loved ones on military service, lack of contact with those overseas, grief for those killed, pressures on men to enlist, and anxiety about financial, emotional and psychological survival, would all have had their impact.
By 1917, everyone in the country knew someone who had been killed. In Stanton this happened from the fifth day of the battle of the Somme in 1916. Clara Barker, who later married Daniel Holmes, wrote to her sister :
‘Nell has had a letter from Edgar this morning. They have been in the thick of it. Auntie has heard nothing from Stanley she is in a terrible way. Edgar said he knew Stan’s regiment had been in a severe gas attack, but he knew nothing more. I do hope she will get good news I really think it would finish her if anything happened to him. I wish the blooming war was over it seems too terrible for words to think what the poor beggars have to suffer’.
Meanwhile the village would appear to continue on its own way. Food shortages, prevalent elsewhere in the country would probably not have affected it, and women would not have been filling mens’ jobs as occurred in cities and towns. However, there was a problem with sufficient farm labour. In January 1916 the Parish Council minutes record: ‘Mrs M.McCreagh-Thornhill explained Lord Selbourne’s scheme at length by encouraging women to help in agriculture and relieve the shortage of labour caused by the withdrawal of men from the land, to increase the food ? by bringing into cultivation waste land and to encourage the keeping of poultry, pigs etc and generally to take a helpful intelligent and patriotic interest in these and other matters of a like nature and thus help their country in a time of stress which is likely to increase as the war is prolonged.’
Whilst in March of that year, it was resolved to undertake a house to house canvas and to ‘try and establish a womens’ committee to undertake the suggested house to house canvas with the object of forming a local register showing what women and girls are willing to help and the work they can do.’ Accordingly, names of 11 women were proposed and accepted for this committee, representing Stanton in Peak, Stanton Leys, and Birchover.
However, the scheme clearly hit the buffers. At a later Parish Council meeting in 1916 ‘it was resolved to put up notices appealing to the women and girls of the parish who are able and willing to do farm work to send in their names so that a register of such offers,if any, can be made for the information of farmers and others who may require such labour. The formation of a womens’ committee to arrange for a house to house canvas of the parish failed as no one seemed willing to undertake such a canvas and the above resolution was passed as a further effort to achieve the same end.’ There is no record as to whether this scheme succeeded.
An attempt to increase volunteers also failed, the parish council minuting in March 1917,
‘A circular was read from Bakewell Rural District Council re. the establishment of a Sub-Committee for the purpose of a house to house canvas for Volunteers for National Service. A motion by Mr C.E.Wright and seconded by Mr A.Webster that no action be taken in the matter, as the scheme was not practicable for this parish.’
These entries for farm labour and volunteers are the only official ones for the currency of the war.
Keeping contact with those serving would however prove difficult and worrying. Nevertheless, one gets the impression of a village carrying on, at least outwardly, in as normal a way as possible.