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Harry Douglas & Fellow Officers, Empire Hotel Buxton, Dec 1914
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Pictures in the Vernon Lamb Archives of the battalion's dog

9753, Buxton

9793, Buxton

Buxton, The Empire Hotel

On 2nd November 1914 the 2/6th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters established their headquarters at the Empire Hotel Buxton with the arrival of 182 men[1]. At this time they were referred to as being the Reserve Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

This photographic postcard of the Army officers was taken outside the hotel, probably in early to mid December, and they may have been recorded by Vernon Lamb of Matlock as he took many photos of the regiment. It was sent by Harry Douglas[2] to his wife on 17th December as a picture for her collection. Harry had been the Book Keeper at Smedley's Hydro before the War. The Regiment's war diary[1] doesn't say anything specific happened on that day, though Harry described it as "busy" but added that there was no news of them moving.

The picture has been enlarged below and reproduced in two sections. Unfortunately, only a few of those photographed can be named at present. One of those named below is Francis Dawbarn Stones who had lived in Matlock Bath as a boy[3].

1. Officers on the left of the photo

No names known at present.

2. Officers on the right of the photo

Back row (standing), from the left: Cecil Arthur Brown[4] | Eric Maitland Jellicoe[4] |
Second row (standing), from the left: Not Known | Not Known | Harry Douglas[2] | Not Known | Not Known |
Front row (seated): Not Known | Not Known | Not Known | Francis Dawbarn Stones[3] | Not Known |
On the ground: Not Known

Harry Douglas when he was a Second Lieutenant

Harry Douglas was one of several men from the Matlocks who joined the Foresters. At the outbreak of war he had just been discharged from the Territorial Force Reserve, but rejoined his old corps and was initially drafted to Harpenden before being promoted and joining the Reserve Battalion Sherwood Foresters at Buxton. He had also acted as a recruiting officer in Matlock and District[5]. Two years before he held the position of the world's record shot and nobody had beaten him in the interim[6].

He had been "Gazetted" in November and raised from the rank of Private to that of Second Lieutenant to be effective from 19th November 1914[7]. He became the Battalion Musketry Officer and then, later when in France, the Corps Musketry Officer. Early in the war he wrote a number of booklets on musketry, Lewis guns, etc. which were said to have been both popular and instructive[8]. Having first been promoted from the ranks in late 1914, he was made a temporary lieutenant the following summer (from 3rd July)[9].

The 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th and 2/8th Sherwood Foresters were all part of the 175th Brigade (59th Division). Charles Beresford noted that most of the 2/6th were on leave at Easter 1916, returning to find their Battalion packed up for departure - Roger Casement had been arrested so they would have realised that their destination was Ireland[10]. The Battalion was sent to France in 1917. By then Harry had been promoted to the rank of Captain[11].

Images supplied by and Copyright © Jane Leslie collection.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] The Regimental diary, WO 95/3025/3, 2/6 Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment), Nov 1914 - Feb 1916, is now held by the National Archive.

[2] There is more information about Harry Douglas. Begin with:
i. Church Organ Recitals given by Harry Douglas, 1906-36
ii. Smedley's Hydro, 1906-7
iii. Smedley's Hydro during the First World War
iv. Smedley's Hydro, The Inter-War Years
v. Also use Find a Name to continue.

[3] This is thought to be him, and a picture of a man with similar features is published in British Army, De Ruvigny's Roll Of Honour 1914-1918 (available on FindMyPast). There is more information about F. D. Stones on Matlock's WW1 Casualties Not Listed on the Memorial

[4] There is another picture of both C. A. Brown and E. M. Jellicoe standing outside the Empire Hotel - see VLA9750 - plus more information.

[5] "Derbyshire Courier", 14 November 1914.

[6] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 12 November 1914. "Private H. Douglas, of Matlock, has received a position Second-Lieutenant the newly-formed Reserve Territorial Battalion of the 6th Notts and Derby ..."

[7] "The London Gazette" (supplement), 18 Nov 1914.

[8] Obituary for Harry Douglas printed in the "Derbyshire Times", 7 Jan 1955. With thanks to his grand daughter, Jane Leslie.

[9] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 10 July 1915.

[10] Beresford, Charles (2007) "The Bath at War, A Derbyshire Community and the Great War". Country Books/Ashridge Press. ISBN 978 1 901214 91 8.

[11] "Belper News", 20 April 1917. Captain Douglas sent a telegram to Mrs. Crowder, who also lived on Cavendish Road, about her wounded son. Private James Crowder, then aged about 24, had been assistant chef at Smedleys and had also served in Ireland.