To commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1915, as reported each week 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 Soldiers’ Institute continues to be greatly used by the soldiers resident in the town.
On Friday evening of last week a grand concert was given by the members of A Company, N.F. The programme was in charge of Lance-Corpl. Luke, who also acted as accompanist, and he got through his duties in a creditable manner. Amongst the artistes was Mr Geo. Renwick, Springhill, who sang the old favourite, “Cappy,” for which he received a rousing encore.
The whole of the artistes acquitted themselves well, and a most enjoyable evening was spent by the men. The institute was filled to overflowing. Major Crawford presided, and was accorded a vote of thanks, proposed by Lieut. Renwick. Through the kindness of Lieut. Renwick, cigarettes were supplied to the men.
On Sunday evening, a sacred concert was given, at which Councillor R.N. Swinney presided. Suitable hymns were sung, and solos were sung by Mrs Mitchell and Mr G.L. Jackson. Mr N.I. Wright gave the famous recitation, “What of the Day?” All the artistes and Mr Wright received encores. The solos were much appreciated by the men.
Every night in the week at the institute is filled in with impromptu concerts, with Lance-Corpl. Luke as pianist and Private Abrahams violinist.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
It was reported that an application had been received from Mrs Philip, on behalf of the V.A.D. and the Red Cross Society, for use of the four rooms over the Borough Hall for a matron’s residence and store-rooms in connection with their hospital, and the Town Clerk reported a similar application by Mr F.E. Schofield, chairman of the detachment.
It was also reported that members and officials of the detachment had already informed the Council’s tenants that their rooms would be required, and in one case had apparently arranged for the tenant to leave.
It was recommended that whilst the Council would be prepared to offer any of the rooms which fell vacant to the detachment on the same terms as existing tenants, the Council was not prepared to disturb the present tenants, and that the detachment, its officials, and members be asked to refrain in future from interfering with the Council’s tenants.
It was also agreed to recommend that notice be given to the detachment that as from 12th February a rent of £1 11s. 6d. a week would be charged for the hall, and that the Mayor and surveyor be authorised to settle any question the detachment might raise as to fairness of the terms.
Ald. Hood said that he rose to repeat his plea on behalf of the V.A.D. Detachment. Some five or six months ago the Council kindly granted to allow the detachment the use of the Borough Hall gratuitously. At the meeting last Friday, it was decided practically unanimously, he being the only one to vote against it, to recommend that the Council charge rent for the use of the hall. He had endeavoured unsuccessfully to convince the council that such a course would act detrimental to the interests of the detachment, which was doing an excellent work for the soldiers.
Since then he had informed himself more definitely upon the subject. He found that the detachment was somewhat connected with the Government, but only to this extent, that the Government allowed the sum of 2s. per day for the food and medicine of each patient, but nothing whatever for rent. He felt sure that the Council was under a misapprehension when they made the proposal, in as much as the rent would have to come out of the somewhat small funds of this voluntary institution. Two shillings a day was not much and he was led to believe that the amount received from the Government was just sufficient to make ends meet.
It would be a disgrace to throw a wet blanket on this good work, said Ald Hood. The ladies connected with the V.A.D. had qualified themselves as efficient nurses, and had devoted much time to the work and denied themselves many personal pleasures. They all knew that a Morpeth nurse — Miss Schofield — was at the front, and was doing yeoman service there in alleviating the sufferings of our soldiers. There were others connected with the detachment who were willing to go to the front if their services were required. He pointed out that it would discourage them very much, and it might have the effect of crippling this good work if rent was charged for the use of the Borough Hall.
With regard to the payment of rent for the other school — the larger school — he admitted that rent might be paid in that case. He then moved that the portion of the recommendation with regard to the charging of rent for the use of the Borough Hall be deleted.
Mr Jackson: Does the Government pay any rent?
Ald. Hood: No; none whatever. I tried to show that the other evening, and I could not convince you.
Mr Fearby, in seconding the amendment, said that the other night they were under an entire misapprehension in respect to this matter. They were under the impression that the Government paid for all accommodation. He had made inquiries since the last meeting, and he found that this was entirely and purely a voluntary institution. That being the case, it entirely dissipated the view which they held the other night. They were not less generous than other centres, and they should do all they possibly could to encourage every good work in the town.
Ald. Carr said that he could say without fear of contradiction, and on the best authority, that the War Office was paying through the national funds, and there was no reason whatever why they should not be paid. They did not want to take it from the 2s. allowed for each patient, but if they make application in the proper form they would be paid for it. It would not cripple the detachment’s work in the slightest degree. In other places where they had established those hospitals they were being paid for them. He saw no hardship whatever. If it was a question of coming out of the pockets of the ladies or crippling their work in any way, then he was sure none of the councillors would hinder the very estimable efforts which they had put forth. Why should the total cost fall upon the community when it was a national charge?
Lieut. Sanderson agreed with Ald. Hood that it would be a great pity to throw a wet blanket on the work of the ladies’ detachment. They had made the sufferings of the soldiers much lighter, and who knew, before the end of this month, they might have 200 wounded soldiers brought into the town, and without a place like that, where were they going to put them. The nurses were not only attending to the sick, but were making themselves efficient in order to equip themselves for the field.
He moved an amendment that the matter be adjourned until the next meeting, and, in the meantime the Town Clerk make enquiries, and find if the War Office paid rent in such cases. If they did, then let the Council be paid by all means.
Mr Swinney seconded the amendment.
Ald. Carr: That is all I am asking. If the War Office do not pay, then we will not charge rent.
Mr Grey: I would say that Ald. Carr is wrong in what he said about the War Office paying. I understand on the best authority that the V.A.D. is entirely a voluntary institution, and that the V.A.D. is running trains in France independent of the Government. I think you will find, if you make inquiries, that the War Office allow nothing for rent. When the ladies are giving their services for nothing, it is as little as we can do to let them have the place for nothing.
Ald. Carr: I say that it is paid by the War Office.
Mr Grey: I’ll bet you a sovereign.
Mayor: No betting at all is required. It is said we can get paid through the War Office. I say we are mugs if we sit here and allow others to be paid and we receive nothing.
Mr Armstrong said that if it was found that the War Office allowed rent for such buildings, then they were perfectly within their rights to ask for it.
Mr Duncan: I was at the committee meeting when this was discussed, but the mover and seconder were not there, and yet they go dashing into the thing after we have discussed it in committee. There is no man lacking in patriotism in this Council. It is no lack of patriotism on our part when we endeavour to get from the War Office what is considered a just and fair payment, and which they are making to other institutions of a similar character.
Lieut. Sanderson: I hope nobody will think that I am the only one to be patriotic because I am here dressed in khaki. I have a perfect right to come here and express my opinions.
Mr Duncan: I made no personal remark. What I wanted to say is that everybody is animated with the proper spirit.
Mr Webb: If it be found out that this money is available from the War Office, why should we not have it. I am sure that nobody wants to throw a wet blanket over the work of the ladies. I will support Lieut. Sanderson’s amendment.
Ald. Hood, in reply to the discussion, said that the hospital at Morpeth was to relieve other centres, such as Armstrong College Hospital, which was very congested at the present time. He sympathised with what Lieut. Sanderson had said; notwithstanding, one’s word should be taken as a matter of honour, and he would say unhesitatingly that they would not get one penny from the Government. Then why take the grace from a very gracious act, and that was in the Council allowing the use of the Borough Hall for such a good cause.
Lieut. Sanderson’s amendment was then put to the meeting, and carried.
The Executive Committee of the Wansbeck Musical Competitions have found it necessary, with great regret, to abandon the senior day competitions for this year, partly owing to the difficulty of obtaining a suitable hall, but still more owing to many choirs being in abeyance on account of many of their male members having joined the army.
It is hoped that the junior competitions may be held as usual, but this will depend on the entries. All entries should be sent to Mrs Orde, Nunnykirk, the hon. secretary, by the end of this week, or Monday, 15th inst. at the very latest.
BOY SCOUTS’ ROLL OF HONOUR
Last week we published the interesting statement that the “Roll of Honour” of the Morpeth Company of the Boys’ Brigade now contains the names of 126 past or present members of the company who are serving their King and Country.
Just the other day we received a communication from District Scoutmaster Herrod, who informs us that no fewer than 58 of the 1st Hirst Troop of Boy Scouts have joined the colours. That is a splendid record for a troop consisting of 78 scouts, and testifies to the fact that the boys have been acting up to their motto: “Be Prepared.”
STOBSWOOD MINERS’ SACRIFICE
The Rev. A. Rothwell Gregory, vicar of Ulgham, in the church magazine, mentions that the miners of Stobswood and Ferneybeds have made weekly contributions to the war funds, amounting to a very considerable sum.
The vicar adds: “It is most praise-worthy to the young men, married men, and their wives. It is a generous sacrifice for their country.”
The vicar points out that their small parish has already contributed over £200, besides articles of clothing sent to the front.
MORPETH CITIZENS’ TRAINING LEAGUE
The members of the Morpeth Training League, who have been in training for some time, and all express themselves as being thoroughly satisfied, and have derived considerable benefit from it, have arranged a public meeting for Tuesday, at which Major Temperley and Mr G. Renwick will speak, to decide whether this league will become affiliated, and thus be recognised by the Government.
It is hoped that the citizens who are over military age, and who are not able to enlist for other reasons, will make a special effort, and let us have this league formed, and let the people see that although we are not qualified to serve the country in active service, we are still prepared to do all we can to defend our hearths and homes.
Morpeth has responded well to the call for men for Kitchener’s Army, and there is no reason why we should not have an equally good response for the Citizens’ Training League.
AN INTERESTING BOOK
An interesting little book, entitled “With Courage,” which contains within its pages some sonnets of William Wordsworth, written during and after the Napoleonic crisis, and sonnets and other verses, mostly written during the present war by the Rev. Henry John Bulkeley, formerly rector of Morpeth, has been published by the firm of Messrs George Routledge & Sons, London.
In one of his short poems, bearing the title “To The Kaiser,” the author says:
“Contemptible,” was this your choicest word
For our poor army, mighty Battle Lord,
In headlong flight before your flashing sword?
To shatter it were just an hour’s play
For your huge hosts. Now you have had your say,
We must, of course, and quickly, clear the way.
In spite of your megalomaniac threat,
We Britishers your choicest troops have met,
And, simple Kaiser, are not shattered yet.
It is pleasing to note that the profits from the sale of this little volume, which is nicely bound, will be given by the author to the National Service League.
A PATRIOTIC FAMILY
Mr Septimus Renwick, whose wedding took place at St James’ Church, Morpeth, on Sunday morning, is a second-lieutenant in the Northern Cyclist Battalion, now billeted at Bamburgh, and the youngest of the five sons of Mr George Renwick of Springhill, Morpeth.
Three other sons are also serving in the army, one being a captain in the 18th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. Another is a lieutenant in the 19th Battalion N.F., and the third is a lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery, now at Shorncliffe.
Mr George Renwick’s eldest son, the well-known horse trainer of Whitewall, Malton, served in the South African War.
THE BELGIAN FUND
Since the outbreak of the war the people of Morpeth have contributed handsomely to the fund in aid of the Belgians. A week or two ago the Morpeth Patriotic Chorus gave a fine performance of “The Messiah,” on behalf of the destitute people in Belgium with, we are glad to learn, gratifying results.
The amount realised, after defraying all expenses, was £17, and that sum has been forwarded by the treasurer, Mr James Jobling, to the proper quarters.
OUR OWN COLUMN
We trust our readers will not only agree with us, but approve of the step we are taking.
In domestic and social circles, everyone feels relieved when some member has the courage to bring into the conversation some other subject than The War. It is said that even the commanders and generals and other officers get bored with endless military conversation, and soldiers’ letters from the front prove that our Tommies are thankful for any incident that gives them a change of topic for talk.
After more than six months of siege fighting and of ground hard and periodically won by kilometres only, the daily, weekly, and monthly organs of news, etc., are now feeling that their readers are longing for a return to the old diversified contents of columns and pages.
While it may not be possible to discard the war wholly, we propose gradually to re-introduce into this column some of its more general and local matters of interest. A better or more timely beginning could not be hit upon than this month of February, though it may not be possible to deal even with it without getting into a train of thought that may rush us to The Front.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH.
The Commandant of the 6th Northumberland V.A.D. Hospital has received, with thanks, gifts from the under-mentioned for the use of the patients in the Hospital:— Pheasants and rabbits, Miss Middleton; pheasants and hares, Mrs Joicey; eggs, Mrs Barnett; puddings and soup, Mrs Chas. Grey; vegetables, his Worship the Mayor; knife boxes, Mrs Hoey; packs of cards, Mrs Stoker and Mrs Scott; plant and fruit, Mrs and Miss Dickie; papers, Mrs Harding and Mrs Riddell.
7th BATT., NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS
It is generally known that this Territorial Battalion, which is recruited from Alnwick, Berwick, Belford, Amble, Rothbury, Ashington and Morpeth, has volunteered for service abroad and is only waiting marching orders.
A second battalion to take its place is now practically complete in numbers. Permission has been granted to increase the strength of the second battalion by one third. The men will be billeted and trained in Alnwick in the first instance.
Men are eligible between the ages of 19 and 35. Men retired from the 1st Volunteer Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers and the 7th N.F. are particularly invited to apply. Ex-territorial non-commissioned officers may be enlisted up to 45 years of age.
During the next few days recruiting officers will be in the districts named and can give any further information. Men willing to enlist for the war can do so by writing direct to the 7th N.F. Depot, Alnwick.
The Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons on Monday that the casualties in the Expeditionary Force of all ranks up to February 4 were 104,000.