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.
SCOTTISH HORSE ARRIVAL
The arrival in Morpeth of Lord Tullibardine’s Second Scottish Horse has been the local sensation of the week.
It is a matter of history that his Lordship raised his first battalion of Scottish Horse for the Boer War and that he and they alike distinguished themselves in that arduous campaign, under Lord Roberts and divisional commanders. He has again risen to the occasion and needs of the Kingdom and Empire in this, the latest and greatest war Britons and their overseas brethren were ever confronted with.
The response to the Marquis’s second call for men from Scotland has been no less hearty than was his first. He is already within sight of having his battalion completed. The physique of the officers and men, who arrived in Morpeth have been the cynosure of all eyes. Their stalwart build, their free and emphatic step betoken their fitness for whatever they may be called on to face.
A NOVEL INCIDENT
Mr John Garvie, of this town, an ex-corporal of the local Volunteers and Territorials, and a crack shot of many years standing both at Wimbledone and Bisley, some time ago was asked to go up to Bisley and do his part in training Lord Kitchener’s Army. Having received the sanction and approval of the Visiting Committee of the County Asylum, in which he is an attendant, he went.
Along with Mr Grenwell, ex-hon. secretary of the City of Newcastle Rifle Club, and Mr Gardiner, of Cheltenham, Mr Garvie had the experience of a novel incident the other day. Together they were out walking and to their surprise they were arrested as German spies. Officers were sent for, and they, on their arrival addressed them in German. To the three Englishmen it was nothing but “jabber.”
They were detained an hour and were only released when officials arrived and told their captors that the three were good men and true, members of the Bisley School of Musketry, whose names and addresses they had.
MORPETH MAN’S INTERESTING LETTER
The following contains some very interesting extracts from a letter written to his brother, by Charles McCarthy, of the Royal Field Artillery, serving at the Front. McCarthy is a son of the late William McCarthy, a well-known Morpethian.
November 6, 1914.
Dear Brother,— Just a line to let you know that I got the letter and writing book, and thank Mr Elliott and Mr T. Payne very much for me. You want to know how we are getting on. Well, we are doing fine, but we have had a rough time of it this week, and we have been shelled night and day with the enemy’s “coal boxes,” as we call them, and they have been doing a lot of damage.
This is the fourth battle I have been in, and I think it is the worst. I was at Mons, Marne, Aisne and the battle of the coast, and I sincerely hope never to be in one as bad again. You have not the least idea of how bad the games the enemy play on our men.
Kaiser Bill thought he had nothing else to do but walk straight on and take Paris, and then London, but with God’s help Kitchener’s “contemptible little army” has dashed his hopes to the ground, and drove him right back to where he started from.
In this battle, we have had it rough. For four nights running they have shelled us out of our bivouac, but we have just quietly moved into another and you would be surprised to see how cool our officers go about, as if nothing was happening. I think that is what gives our men good hearts. They have tried hard to get us out of this position, but they have failed every time. They nearly got us out once, had it not been for the London Scottish Territorials, who came up and drove them back, and captured guns and a village. There was some splendid work done that day.
Tell mother she can send me a pair of socks, as we get a decent supply of shirts, and they look after us a lot better here than they do in England, so you see we are quite comfortable under such circumstances. Our captain sent us a football, and we have a game when there are no shells or aeroplanes floating about.
Who do you think I saw the other day? Why, the Morpeth Yeomanry, the whole clique of them — Brady, Caine, Arthur White, Cliff Hall, Joe Hall, Patrick, Steve Watson, Mark Scott, and a lot more. They all looked in the pink of health.
In the battle of the Marne I saw some Germans go west. There were 45 French guns in a line firing on the German trenches, and you talk about being cut down. You would just think there was someone going over with a reaper and cutting them down. I never saw anything like it before. I did not wait long before I saw an aeroplane duel just over our heads. It was with a Belgian and a German. The Belgian had a Maxim gun on it, and every now and then you could hear him pop, pop, pop at the German. The Belgian chased him and he came back no more that day. I think he had had enough.
That same day we had three officers killed — the finest men anyone wished to be under.
LOCAL TROOPERS WOUNDED
Trooper Saddle (542) and Trooper W. Straughan (677) both in the Northumberland Hussars Imperial Yeomanry, have been seriously wounded, and were admitted to 4th Northern General Hospital, Lincoln, on October 28.
RECRUITING AT ELLINGTON
Last Saturday evening, in the Village Hotel, a hearty send-off was given to a batch of recruits from Ellington Colliery.
The chair was occupied by Mr James Woddell, who spoke a few words of appreciation of the spirit which had prompted the men to come forward and offer their services in the critical time through which their country was passing. Before presenting each man personally, or in absentia, with a small present in the shape of a pocket-book or cigarette-case, the chairman called on Dr Hunter to say a few words. Mr Gardener’s band gave a few selections.
The following is a list of the names of those who have gone from Ellington, all of them being members of the Cresswell Rifle Club:— J.W. Sunter, J. Henderson, W. Manson, Geo. Manson, M. Laws, R. Laws, A. Douglas, D. Pattie, J. Brown, J. Foster, Geo. Proctor, W. Oliver, J. Taylor, Hy. Taylor, J. Tucker, Ed. Tucker, H. Docherty, Geo. Briggs, J. Holl, R. Stewart.
MORPETH AND RECRUITING
Since September 14th, 1914, to November 12th, 1914, 115 recruits have been passed through Morpeth Recruiting Office, 31 of these were enlisted in the week ended Nov. 7th, and 23 since then to date. Recruiting has been brisker this last fortnight than since the fortnight ended Sept. 5th.
These recruits are for Kitchener’s Army, and no account is taken of Morpeth men who have enlisted in Newcastle or elsewhere, or of those in the Territorials or Yeomanry.
A “PRINCE” COLLECTOR
“Prince” (Miss Eveline H.D. Wood’s dog, of Morpeth) collected near the Central Station, Newcastle, the sum of £1 6s 3d. to help to buy wool for wither pods, also cigarettes for the Northumberland Yeomanry.
AMBULANCE MEN IN FRANCE
Great praise has been given to the men of the St John Ambulance Brigade who were taken out to France a week ago by Deputy Commissioner C.B. Palmer, of Newcastle, and who are engaged at the base hospital at Boulogne.
The detachment numbered 100, and was composed of members belonging to Northumberland and Durham.
We have had quite a thrilling week at Blyth. We have been threatened! Reports say that Von “what’s-his-name” is coming out of Kiel with his German fleet to invade us, and that Blyth is the spot where a sudden and unexpected blow is to be struck as a favourable place for the landing of the Kaiser’s troops.
On several occasions this week I have been seriously asked if it is true that the bombardment had begun, and rumour saith that in one place not far from us the goodly worshippers in a church had been exhorted in their orisons to pray for the poor people of Blyth. Well, no one will grumble about that, for we need all the prayers whether Von Tirpitz comes along or not.
However, it will be somewhat reassuring to readers to learn that in spite of it all the blood of Blyth people is flowing — but free and uncongealed — through the natural arteries, and folk are even complacently conducting “business as usual” at Blyth, despite the movements and disposition of military, which, as patriotic people, we write nothing about.
CONGRATULATIONS BY GENERAL FRENCH
Lord Ridley learns that the following passage appeared in the Regimental Orders of the Northumberland Hussars at the Front on November 12th, 1914:—
The Regiment was visited in the course of the afternoon by Sir John French, who addressed the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, and congratulated them on being the first Territorials to have been in action during the war.
He reminded them of his old association with the Regiment, and told them that the General Officer commanding the 7th Division had spoken highly of its work, and said that he had heard nothing but praise of its conduct since its landing on the Continent.
LETTER FROM COLONEL COOKSON
Col. Cookson, of the Northumberland Imperial Hussars Yeomanry, in a letter received by Miss M.C. Ridley, of Wark, Newcastle Information Bureau secretary, states that the men are all cheerful and in good health.
This letter, dated November 13, contains his thanks for the winter pads forwarded by Miss Ridley. They had arrived safely, and he had given them to the squadrons. The men were pleased with them, and he felt certain they would be useful.
Col. Cookson adds that if anybody wished to send out clothing, vests and other underclothing, also woollen gloves, they would be welcome, as the weather was beginning to get bad.
SIX MEN KILLED AND SEVERAL WOUNDED
Details of the loss in action of several members of the Northumberland Hussars are contained in a letter from Trooper C. Liddle, son of Major Liddle, of the Second Commercial Battalion, to his parents.
Trooper Liddle, who is a member of the Yeomanry, says: We are now resting for a few days, and now we can only faintly hear the sound of the guns. I do not now have to keep moving for the nearest bullet-proof cover. I have had the luxury of a bath and a complete change today. I have not had my clothes off, except to change, for the last month. We now manage to get bread instead of the hard biscuits which used to be our staple diet. We have received several parcels of gifts — cigarettes and tobacco, for which we are thankful. We are billeted in a Catholic Institute, and although we have to sleep on the bare floor, it is far better than sleeping in damp holes, which are technically known as splinter-proof shelters.
I am sorry to say we lost three of our comrades on November 5. They were killed by a shell bursting in a stable whilst they were asleep. The bodies of Trooper Thwaites and Trooper G. Stevenson were identified, and it appears that Trooper Metcalfe, of Hexham, was buried in the debris. There were six killed altogether and several wounded, and we also had a few horses shot.
Although we have been under shell fire for three weeks, they were the first casualties we have had from them.
My horse is still sound, but feeling the strain a little. I have heard we have been very successful during the last few days, and have captured several machine guns and trenches, and also a large number of motor ‘buses. Rumour also says we have put two or three big guns out of action.
I wish to thank everybody for their kind gifts.
KILLED IN ACTION
Lieut. C. Leather, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, a member of a well-known Northumberland soldier family, has been killed in action.
Whilst the people are in no way unduly alarmed, still, like prudent people, we realise that necessity is mortal’s cheapest enemy, and provision is being made for the removal of the civilian population to a certain inland centre in the event of certain eventualities.
Registration has been made of vehicles, bicycles, etc, and all that forethought can desire in the interests and welfare of the community, but it is well to eschew any expression or act likely to cause alarm to nervous or delicate people, and it may be here desirable to mention that it is not unlikely that there may be some big artillery practice at any time, so that people must not be alarmed unnecessarily or conclude that there has been an invasion.
SALE BY AUCTION AT MORPETH
On Saturday last, Mr T.B. Waters, auctioneer, conducted a sale by auction in the Corn Market in aid of the Belgian Relief Fund. In response to an appeal to the people of Morpeth a large and varied assortment of goods was collected, in fact, anything from two young pigeons to a mouse-trap could be purchased.
The hall was packed with prospective buyers, and good prices were obtained, resulting in the auctioneer being able to hand over £20 to that most deserving fund.
Special mention should be made regarding the children of Morpeth. To have seen the youngsters coming into the hall with their various offerings, such as dollies’ prams, pictures, mats, ornaments, flowers, etc., would have touched the hardest heart. Their offering was generally handed in with the remark: “This is for the poor Belgians.”
The Netherwitton sewing party, organised by Mrs Trevelyan, has been in existence for over two months and during that time has forwarded to the Morpeth Cottage Hospital 200 garments for distribution to deserving cases suffering on account of the war.
The garments have been much appreciated by the recipients. The Sewing Party have now decided to work in aid of the Belgian refugees.
WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE
The Northumberland Women’s Employment Committee, of which Viscountess Allendale is president and Viscountess Howick is vice-president, have sent us the following communication:—
“A committee has been formed, working in conjunction with the Lord Lieutenant’s committee, for the prevention and the relief of distress, to deal with the question of unemployment among women.
“We should be glad if anyone in the county cognisant of distress or part-time employment among women would notify Miss C. M. Gordon, 3 Osborne Terrace, Newcastle, to whom also donations for relief in this area should be sent. We should be glad to receive orders for knitting or sewing, particularly body belts, shirts, socks, jerseys, clothes for refugees, etc.”
CONCERT AT MORPETH
Under the auspices of the Mayor (Councillor Thos. W. Charlton) and Corporation and members of the local relief committee, a vocal and instrumental concert was given in aid of the Prince of Wales’ Fund in the Masonic Hall, Morpeth, on Sunday afternoon last.
The concert was from every point of view a great success, and all praise is due to the promoters for their well-directed efforts on behalf of such a worthy object.