In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1914, as reported by the Morpeth Herald. All material is published with kind permission of the Mackay family. We thank them for their support and generosity in allowing us access to their archive.
THE CARE OF THE WIVES AND CHILDREN
At the invitation of the Mayoress (Mrs W.S. Sanderson) a large number of ladies assembled last night in the Town Hall, Morpeth, for the purpose of forming a committee to regularly visit the homes of the men who have gone to the war and give any assistance to mothers and children.
Councillor R.N. Swinney said that there were 115 families in the borough whose husbands were on active service. There was one large family of eight and the woman only got £1 a week, which was far too little. Everything possible should be done for those people whose husbands were at the war.
Mrs A. Brumell, who represents the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association, said the object of the Association was to help the wives and children. Whilst the husband was away the separation allowance from the War Office to the wife was 7/7 a week and 1/2 a week for each child. The Association gave a grant of 4/11 a week, making up the wife’s allowance to 12/6, and 10d for each child, making the total amount for a child 2/- a week. Families had not to receive more than £1 a week.
In Northumberland rents were high and wives, she had been told, could not live on that amount. She heard that certain landlords were pressing for rent, and when the recipients got 5/- or 6/- from the Association the landlords demanded their rent and the people had nothing to live upon. The Army only paid once a month. She understood the Army authorities were going to pay weekly instead of monthly.
The Rector stated that there was a certain amount of unemployment in the town, and Dr Pringle had mentioned to him the desirability of collecting clothes and boots for the children of those men out of work owing to the war. Many children were unable to attend school for they had no boots or sufficient clothing.
Mrs Brumell mentioned that the Association was giving to mothers dependent upon their sons who had joined the colours from 7/- to 10/- a week.
ARREST OF GERMANS IN THE DISTRICT
During the past few days four German subjects under the age of 45, who had previously been living in the district, have been detained in the Morpeth Police Station. They were detained there until Tuesday evening, when they were moved South.
A PATRIOTIC LOCAL FAMILY
A patriotic record of the family of Mr Richard Pugh, whose home is at Chevington Drift Aged Miners’ Homes, but who is at present staying at Ashington, is unique as far as the district is concerned. Mr Pugh, who is 73 years of age, and his wife have three sons on service in Pte. S.E. Pugh (North Staffs Regt.), and Sergts’ John and Thomas Pugh, both ambulance workers in the Ashington district, who are members of the Naval Sick Berth Reserves, on duty at Haslar Hospital, Gosport. There are also Thomas Marsh, a grandson, in the North Staffords, and two sons-in-law, Pte. Chas. Waine, a Reservist, who is with the King’s Liverpools, and Pte. Walter Underhill, a member of the Ashington Ambulance Brigade, who is awaiting orders from headquarters.
An interesting letter containing a melodramatic story has been received from the front by Mr Richard Pugh, of the Chevington Drift Aged Miners’ Homes. The message states that in one of the forts from which the letter was dispatched a man, dressed as a British Scoutmaster, was trying to press upon the soldiers a quantity of “health” pills. He was detained pending the examination of the articles, which were found to be poisoned. The man was a German spy.
CIVILIAN RIFLE CLUB FOR STOBSWOOD
A well-attended meeting was held in the Ulgham Schoolroom with the object of securing shooting facilities. Mr Heslop of Ulgham (district), secretary to the N.N. District of Northern Counties Rifle League, explained necessary matters. The proposed outdoor range was approved of by the district secretary, and the meeting also desired an indoor range. A strong desire was evident for the inclusion of necessary military drill.
PRINCE OF WALES’
In connection with the above fund, the Mayor (Councillor W.S. Sanderson) has received the following letter from Mr Walter Peacock, treasurer to the Prince of Wales:
Buckingham Palace, 14th Sept., 1914.
Dear Mr Mayor,— I am desired by the Prince of Wales to say how much obliged his Royal Highness is for your kind assistance on behalf of the National Relief Fund. His Royal Highness is most gratified by the great success which is attending your efforts, and asks you to convey to all the subscribers at Morpeth, who are so generously responding to the appeal, his best thanks for their kindness.
The Prince of Wales has had to leave all questions connected with the fund to the Executive Committee. His Royal Highness, however, is following as closely as possible the degrees of trade depression existing in the different parts of the country. If it is not giving you too much trouble, perhaps you would let me know if there is any distress at Morpeth, and whether distribution of the fund is affording relief.
BLYTH AIRMAN’S WAR STORY
The first wounded soldier who has arrived at Blyth from the front is a member of the British Royal Flying Corps, who has sustained injuries to his shoulder and leg, which are not of such a serious character as likely to prevent him from returning to service at the seat of war, where the airman is very anxious to get to. He is anxious that his name should not be mentioned, but was not unwilling for the following story of his adventures to be disclosed:—
Whilst fighting was in progress in the Mons district, he was told to accompany an officer on an Army biplane for a reconnaissance over the German lines. Starting from Lecateau, they flew 15 miles, and went over the German lines at an altitude of 1,200 feet. The Germans endeavoured to bring them down by gun-fire, and several shots struck the machine, ultimately causing damage to the engine.
They were obliged to descend, but by clever planning they succeeded in reaching a point within two miles of the Allies’ lines. The machine, owing to the forced descent on rough ground, was damaged beyond repair, and their situation was rendered the more unenviable from the fact that a party of Germans were hurrying towards them. They released the petrol, set fire to the biplane, and then hurriedly decamped to escape capture.
In the fall the North-country aviator sustained a broken collar-bone and injuries to his legs. The officer was cut about the head. In spite of this serious handicap, the intrepid pair made good their escape, but their troubles were not yet over. They found great difficulty in eluding the Germans, and at one house where they sheltered they came very near capture.
Divesting themselves of their heavy oilskins, they again attempted to reach the Allies’ lines, but the injuries received by the North-country airman became so troublesome that the officer, though suffering severely himself, had to take him in his arms, and in that fashion they at length reached a place of safety.
In describing a brilliant cavalry charge which he witnessed in the neighbourhood of Lecateau, the young aviator said a British squadron cut right through a squadron of German cavalry, and then cut their way back again, doing great damage. He supported the statements made in the English Press that the German losses were very heavy, and out of all proportion to the losses sustained by the Allies.
The French people, he added, were very kind to the British soldiers, and were never tired of showering gifts of all kinds upon them, especially cigarettes.
TRAMPS AS SOLDIERS
MORPETH BOARD OF GUARDIANS
The Clerk read a letter from the South Shields Guardians drawing the attention of the Morpeth authority to the number of able-bodied male vagrants between the ages of 18 and 30 years who appeared to do no work and seemed determined to live on charity. The communication stated that the South Shields Board had decided to circularise the Local Government Board and the War Office with a view to utilising the services of those men to the benefit of the country.
The chairman was doubtful if tramps would join the Army.
Mr Craigs: If they did so they might want someone else to carry their rifle and kit.
Mr Dormand: If South Shields could tell us how to make them work it might be of more use.
It was agreed to coincide with the Shields Guardians on this point.
BRITISH RED CROSS
Morpeth Women’s Voluntary Aid Detachment
A course of lectures in First Aid will be given by Lieut. J. Anderson, R.A.M.C. (T.F.) to prepare candidates to join the detachment. For further information apply to Mrs F. Brumell, Hon. Secretary, Fulbeck, Morpeth.
ARREST OF GERMANS AT BLYTH
Thirteen German sailors on Friday were taken from their ship, the s.s. Ostpreussen, and moved to a concentration camp. There were three German steamers in Blyth when war broke out, and they were seized by the authorities, and are still in the Import Dock, where the German sailors have been since war was declared. Some of the Germans were on parole; others were removed a few weeks ago from Blyth.
COUNTY MINERS’ SCHEME TO LIGHTEN
The aggregate stoppage pay of the Northumberland miners for the current fortnight will be appreciably less than the first. The explanation is in the arrangements that have been made for sharing the work.
This is effected at a great many pits by the men working alternate shifts. By this means the whole of the men have five or six days in for a fortnight, instead of one half having full pay and the other half nothing to draw.
The records of the pits vary considerably, Seaton Burn worked seven consecutive days three weeks ago, and has only worked one day during the past fortnight.
It was reported last week at the Burt Hall, Newcastle, that Pegswood is working badly and Choppington is laid in.
The Executive of the Northumberland Miners’ Association have decided that any member called up or volunteering for military or naval service shall be freed from paying his trade union subscription during his service; and in the event of death, the death legacy will be paid on the official notification from the War Office.
Mrs R. Scott, of Newton House, Christon Bank, S.O., wife of Lieut.-Col. Scott, the esteemed officer commanding the 7th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers (Territorials), who have volunteered for active service, makes the following appeal on behalf of our gallant “Locals,”:—
“May I appeal through your columns for shirts and socks for the 7th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (our local Territorials)? The men are still wearing cotton shirts, and very few of them have a change. I will most gratefully receive and forward any garments sent to me. May I suggest that the shirts be made of flannel, grey, if possible – but other colours not objected to – and that the socks be knitted of natural coloured wool. These latter should be washed before sending.”
LOCAL YEOMANRY FOR THE FRONT
It is expected that in the course of a few weeks a large number of Ashington men and others from the neighbouring localities will be on active service, the detachment of Yeomanry, which had been stationed at Bedlington since the war commenced, having been called upon for action.
The men consider their selection a great compliment. The detachment left Bedlington on Sunday morning, and proceeded to Gosforth. On Sunday afternoon they entrained for the South of England, after which they will cross over to the seat of war. The best wishes of all will follow them.
FIELD GLASSES FOR SOLDIERS
Sir,— The result of my appeal to sportsmen to give the use of their race glasses, field glasses, or stalking glasses to our non-commissioned officers under orders for the front has been most gratifying.
In the first three days after the issue of the appeal over 2,000 glasses were received. These glasses are being distributed as rapidly as possible among the non-commissioned officers destined for active service. I should like to take the opportunity of conveying their sincere gratitude.
Most of the glasses received have been of the best modern patterns, and it is easy to realise how valuable they will prove in the field. Those who do not possess field glasses, and who desire to assist, should send cheques to the secretary, National Service League, 72, Victoria Street, London, S.W. All glasses should also be sent to this address.
It will be my pleasure to send a personal letter of thanks to those who in this way contribute to the safety and welfare of our splendid soldiers. Every effort will be made to restore the glasses at the conclusion of the war. In all cases an index number is stamped upon the glasses, and a record of their disposal registered at the offices of the National Service League.
WIDDIRNGTON CRICKET CLUB
In connection with the Widdrington Cricket Club, an interesting lecture dealing with Germany and the war was given in the Old School-room on Monday night, by Mr F.E. Dann, of Durham University, and formerly of Widdrington. There was a large audience, and the lecturer received a very appreciative and attentive hearing. Dr H.B. Hunter occupied the chair.
The chairman, holding up a tiny Union Jack, said: “This is a little bit of emblem which is uniting all men who breathe the breath of freedom. (Applause.) It unites us all in a common cause against an enemy who would take that spirit of freedom from us, and all fellowmen with whom they had to deal. We are going to have the privilege of listening to a lecture by one of our own Widdringtonians – and it is interesting to learn that he has enlisted as an interpreter in French to our soldiers. (Applause.)
Mr Dann said that his first object was to prove that German culture was not the greatest on earth. He showed that by comparison of German literature with that of England, France, Italy, and modern Russian authors, while paying all due respect to Goethe and Scheller, they must admit that German literature was not superior. He treated in the same way German philosophy, painting, and science.
With respect to science, of which Germany boasted so much, he drew attention to that fact that the greatest and most widespread of modern inventions belonged to the French, the English, and the Americans. The Germans has a great capacity for slavishly improving the thing already patented, but the genius of invention was not German.
Who had led the world in the advance towards political liberty? Surely England and France. “We English,” remarked the lecturer, “are too content to believe what is told us about the Germans. Let us respect ourselves a little more. Let us see that we are the superior race of the world, as the Germans are so fond of saying they are. Is it possible that men imbued with the superior culture could commit ravages and destruction which the Germans have committed upon the inestimable treasures of art in Louvain?”
Mr Dann then warned his audience not to be deceived by the protestations of German Socialism. What had German socialism done to prevent the war?
He then passed on to trace the history and development of German hostility towards England.
The lecturer went on to show how the Kaiser at the outset of his reign set forth his idea of dominating the seas. That could only mean to smash England.
In conclusion, Mr Dann proved conclusively that Germany was the cause of this war, and that she deliberately seized upon the murder of the Archduke as an excuse to bring about the war. Her real mission was, as Bern Hardy had said, “World power for Germany or downfall.” Let’s then all hope that it would be downfall. (Loud applause.)
BLYTH TRAINING LEAGUE
The members of the Blyth Training League met as usual on Saturday night for the purpose of practising simple tactical exercises and route marching, under the command of Col.-Sergt. Larvin.
The rifle range is open daily, and Col.-Sergt. Larvin, the instructor, will be glad to take in hand any beginners who present themselves for instruction.
NORTHUMBERLAND FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
Mr G.T. Milne presided at the meeting of the Northumberland Football Association held at Newcastle.
The receipts from the August practice matches held in Northumberland amounted to £222 3s 3d. The whole of this amount will be devoted to the War Relief Funds.
The Morpeth Y.M.C.A., Newcastle Bohemians and Post Office Engineers clubs announced their disbandment during the war.
BLYTH TRIMMERS AND WORKING HOURS
The coal trimmers and teemers at Blyth held a meeting on Sunday to consider the question of extending their working hours until midnight on Saturday.
At the beginning of the war the North of England Steamship Owners’ Association requested the men at all North-East Coast ports to work until midnight if necessary on Saturdays; but at that time the proposal was rejected.
On Sunday morning the nature of the negotiations were explained, and it was decided to extend the finishing time on Saturdays to eight o’clock during the continuance of the war for the purpose of dealing with the export of coal to Russian ports.
The arrangement with regard to Admiralty work still holds good, the men being willing to work at any time for Government purposes.
MORE FOOT AND MOUTH
An outbreak of this disease on the east coast calls attention to the fact that one of the ways that the Germans may try to get at us is to introduce the virus of various cattle diseases, and thus try to destroy the food of the nation and the highly-bred animals of pedigree ancestry.
In view of the fiendish atrocities already perpetrated in Belgium they certainly would not stick at a matter like this if they had an opportunity of accomplishing it.
It would be a comparatively easy job in ordinary times for an evil disposed person to get a phial of virus from infected animals on the continent, bring it over here and infect some of our fields.
It is indeed an arguable point that such a thing has been already done, for some of the recent outbreaks have been so mysterious in origin as to baffle the authorities and all concerned in tracing them, and only an intentional outrage could account for them.
The Continent is full of cattle disease; we have for almost a generation now forbidden the importation of live stock into our own land.
The outbreak of war is likely to upset many of our safeguards, however.
There are refugees, prisoners, and our own wounded coming over in streams here now, and many of them have been in contact with barns, outhouses, straw, live stock, and so on in the ruin left by war; and it absolutely certain that the germs of infection will be carried on the clothes or belongings of some, sooner or later, and will get out to our flocks and herds here.
It is too soon to think of a happy issue from this war as yet, but when that does come and our troops return they will most undoubtedly bring troubles of this sort with them.
The Morpeth Foxhounds commenced cub-hunting at Garretlea last Saturday, and killed three cubs. The master (Mr F.B. Atkinson) has accepted a captaincy in the Durham Light Infantry, and will be unable to hunt this season.
“Attempts have been made from time to time to Germanise our system of education, but I am bound to say if such educational systems have no better results than to cause men in high places near the Throne to designate well-executed treaties as ‘scraps of paper’, and if such a system teaches thousands of leaders of men to have no respect for the beautiful, unique, the rare, for priceless manuscripts and art; and if such a system of education does not restrain ordinary people from committing wanton, wicked barbarous deeds, then such a system is not worth studying; certainly, it is not worth imitating. The methods which produce such results are unworthy of notice.”
Thus spoke Mr J. Treble in the course of a striking speech when he presented the prizes to the successful students in connection with the technical education classes at the Reay Memorial Hall, Bedlington Station, on Wednesday evening.
The proceedings were prefaced by the school children singing the English and French National Anthems, the audience standing.
RELIEF WORK AT
The Ashington division of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association have had a busy time since the commencement of the war.
Allowances have been granted to 400 families in the district, comprising about 1,000 dependants.
The local representative is Mrs E.O. Southern, North Seaton Hall, and the work is being carried out at Ashington Colliery Offices, where the money is disbursed on Thursday of each week.
A patriotic concert will be held in the Masonic Hall, Morpeth, on Friday, October 9th, 1914.