Fake News

There are several examples of errors and inaccuracies in articles and letters published in the Ashton Reporter during the war years. The point here is not to imply that there was anything intentionally published with errors but simply to serve as a reminder that just because an article or a soldier’s letter appeared in the Reporter does not mean that it was always 100% accurate.

Shot Armed Arab

The following letter was published in the October 31, 1914 edition of the Ashton Reporter:

A smart bit of work by a Dukinfield lad who was on guard at the Ashton Territorial Barracks in Cairo, is recorded by Private Herbert Fish, of the 9th Battalion. Writing to his father and mother, Mr. & Mrs. J.W. Fish, of 72, Astley Street, from Cairo, he says: –

“I am very glad to say I am still keeping in good health and good spirits. We have been able to see a bit more of Cairo since I last wrote. It is a fine place. You can spend days looking at the shops and big hotels. Last night (Sunday) I was on guard at the main barrack gates. I did my first post all right. The next time on was from 12pm to 2am. About 1.30am I heard footsteps so I challenged. He did not answer me after I had challenged him three times, so I fired at him and shot him through the neck. We brought him into the guard room to see who he was. He had a revolver in his hand, so it was lucky I fired when I did or else you might not have seen Bert again. Anyway, I am keeping the empty cartridge as a reminder of when I did guard at Kasr-el-Nil. He was an Arab. Today I had to go in front of the Colonel to give my evidence. The Colonel said that I did the right thing. Had I not done so, he said, I should probably have lost my own life and endangered others. The Brigadier-General said I was a very smart guard, and knew my duty. Not so bad, is it? I have been to see the Pyramids and Sphinx. They are fine things. Some of the stones are as big as our houses at home. Inside the base of the Pyramids are dozens of bazaars and shops. We do our marching at night instead of in the day time. We set out at eight o’clock and get back at eleven o’clock. It is simply fine. Talk about seeing life, it is not in it. If I had missed my chance of coming out here I should never have forgiven myself.”

However, in the December 26, 1914 edition the following was published:

Letter From Colonel Wade

To the Editor of the “Reporter”

Sir, I enclose a copy of a letter which speaks for itself. It was the result of a boyish prank. Private Fish did not anticipate the publication of the untrue and misleading statements which he now contradicts.

Whist I am writing may I also state that many of the accounts of the life of the Territorials and others in Cairo which I have read in your columns are merely the result of first and imperfect impressions. Again, many of the men of the 9th are experts at leg pulling.

Although we have had plenty of hard work, the change has done us a lot of good, not only from a military point of view but also physically. Generally, the health of the men has been good although I am very sorry to say we have lost two through sickness. With very few exceptions all have done their best to become soldiers in the true sense of the word.

Although our training has been greatly interrupted by having to provide guards at various places, escorts for prisoners, transports, etc., still the Battalion is a far different unit from what it was when we left Bury, and we are anxious to be given even a more substantive share in the task our country has undertaken.

If not taking too much space, I should like to say that I regret that I have not been able to reply personally to all those who have written me concerning members of the 9th Manchesters. I can assure them however that I have done what I could even to the neglect of my private correspondence.

Yours Faithfully

DH WADE, Lieut. Col.
9th Battalion, The Manchester Regt.
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks, Cairo
2nd December, 1914

From Private H Fish

To the Editor of the “Reporter”

Sir, I write the below lines to let you know that the letter you put into your paper about an Arab being shot in the neck at Cairo was absolutely untrue. There has been no Arab shot here. There was not a word of truth in it. I write this letter in contradiction to that letter. It is only right I should tell you this as it has made people believe something that was not true. Will you put it in your paper – I remain yours truly.

H. Fish
9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment
December 1914

Capt. J. A. Dearden

The following appeared in the October 16, 1915 edition of the Ashton Reporter under the “Personal” column:


Captain J. A. Dearden, the adjutant of the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, is going out to the Dardanelles to rejoin the Ashton Territorials. Captain Dearden was invalided home from Egypt.

In fact, when Captain Dearden first arrived in the UK after being invalided from Egypt due to illness, he was granted 3 months leave to recuperate. This leave would have ended on October 12, 1915 and there must have been an assumption that he was fit for duty.  However, when he was medically assessed in October, instead of being passed fit he was ruled to be still unfit and awarded another 2 months leave. Captain Dearden was seriously ill and did not rejoin the 9th Battalion until after the war and he certainly did not return to Gallipoli. All of this information is provided in detail in Captain Dearden’s service record.