Denaby Sergeant’s Sad Homecoming

April 1917

Sad Homecoming
Denaby Sergeant’s miserable experiences

At the Doncaster West Riding Police Court on Saturday, Herbert Walker, a young Denaby pit hand was summoned by Sgt George Henry Ashford (Who in addition to wearing the Egyptian and South African ribbons had three gold stripes on his sleeve) for assault the previous night. The prisoner had been arrested while the court was sitting.

Complainant said he was in the Royal Engineer’s (tunnelling company) having been in the Army since he was 14, and being called up on the outbreak of war. He had a wife and three children.

Four weeks ago, when he visited his home at Denaby, he was not satisfied with the state of things existing, and obtained special leave on Friday, and came home. On entering the house he found the three children and another little girl in charge of a girl of 18. His wife was out, and he proceeded to Mexborough to look for her. He stopped at the Toll Bar from 11 to 11:30 p.m. and returned. On the way he saw his wife and the prisoner arm in arm. He went home took off his coat and jacket, and went to the bottom of the street. When he returned his wife was sitting on the doorstep. He told her it was a nice time for a married woman to come home. She went into the house and as he was entering, the prisoner who was behind the door struck him violently over the eye. He was knocked to the floor. When he got up he went for the police. Prisoner was slightly under the influence of drink.

Replying to the chairman the sergeant said he had ascertained that the prisoner was lodging at the house, along with his brother. It was not with his permission. He had been in France and it was a shock to him when he got home to find two men in the house.

Replying to the prisoner he denied that he was drunk or that he was chasing his wife with a jackknife. He did not threaten his wife.

Prisoner said he heard the sergeant wife shout and run into the kitchen. The sergeant was after her with a jackknife, and as soon as he saw the knife he let go at him. I have only one arm, and I should do the same again.

Replying to questions, he said it was untrue to say he was arm in arm with her along the road. They had been at a house in Mexborough together. They had been together in the pictures.

Mr M Noakes (a magistrate); that is enough for me. You had no right to be with Sgt Ashford´s wife at that time of the night.

Prisoner I defended the woman. I had been to the pictures and she had been with me.

William Henry Walker, prisoner’s brother, who also lodges at the house, said he had been working Friday afternoon and evening. At 11.55 the sergeant came in and asked where his wife was. He was angry and said he would kill her when she came in. He laid the jack-knife on the table, and afterwards put it in his pocket. His wife came in at 12.25 and the sergeant wanted to know where she had been. He ran after her with the knife and his brother hit him. Witness had not seen anything wrong in the house while they had been there. He had only lodged there 5 weeks having been discharged from the Army on April 13th.

The sergeant reply to the clerk said there was no necessity for his wife to take in lodgers. When he came out of hospital he sent her £21 and a fortnight ago he sent another £10. She live rent free, had free coal and received an allowance from the colliery relief fund. He had had trouble with her before.

The chairman (General Bewicke Copley) said he did not think one could well imagine a worse state of things. Prisoner would have to go to prison for two months without the option of a fine.

During the summing up the sergeant broke down and sobbed bitterly. He goes to France shortly for the fourth time.