In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1915, 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.
FOR OUR SAILORS
Many worthy organisations have come into existence since the war commenced, which have for their object the providing of extra comforts for our soldiers and sailors.
In Morpeth there is going to be opened a receiving depot on behalf of our sailors.
The particulars as furnished to us are as follows: The Vegetable Products Committee, the object of which is to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the sailors guarding our shores, is opening a branch depot in Morpeth for providing the men of the North Sea Fleet with fresh garden produce. The depot will be open in the Butter Market every Wednesday morning from 9 till noon, when all contributions, however small, will be gratefully received, and all information given to those interested.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Official notification has been made to his wife that Seaman William, Tait, 88 Hawthorn Road, Ashington, has been missing since June 20th, when he was in action near the Dardanelles with the Royal Naval Division. He had been wounded in the hand, but after attention returned to the firing line, and has not since been heard of. For many years he assisted Hirst St John’s F.C. as a forward, and later in the half-back line, and early showed fine promise as a player. Knee troubles, however, prevented him attaining a place in the first flight to which his play entitled him. With McFadden, now of Clapton Orient, he made one of the cleverest wings in junior football in the colliery district.
Pte. Jackson, Northumberland Fusiliers, of Seghill, has been wounded.
Private Thomas Humble, of Alnwick, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, is in hospital wounded.
Private Thomas Cotterill of Alnwick, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, has been wounded and gassed.
Private George Greenup, a son of Mr and Mrs Greenup, of Alnwick, was killed in action on May 22nd. He was 28 years of age and married.
Mr and Mrs Fairbairn, of Cramlington, have been informed that their son, John Fairbairn, Machine Gun Section, Collingwood Battalion, R.N.D. has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Private John Coulson Snowdon, 7th N.F., Chevington Drift, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
News has been received at Alnwick that Private Thomas Carmoodie, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on May 28th. His father is on service at the Dardanelles.
Mr H. Patterson, 51 Fifth Row, Ashington, has been officially informed that his son, Seaman David Patterson, Collingwood Battalion, R.N.D. has been missing since May 26th at the Dardanelles.
News has been received by Mrs McLawrence, North Seaton Road, Ashington, that her husband, Trooper J McLawrence ‘C’ Squad, Northumberand Hussars, has been wounded.
Mr George Kennedy, 2 Maple Street, Hirst, has been notified that his son, Seaman Thomas Kennedy, R.N.D., died at Alexandria, on June 20th, as the result of wounds received in action near the Dardanelles. Another son, Seaman Robert R. Kennedy, R.N.D., has been wounded and is now in hospital at Alexandria.
Private W. Jones, Royal Field Artillery, Burradon Colliery, has been killed in action.
Mrs Ramsay, of Simmons Buildings, Dudley Colliery, received a letter last week from the chaplain with the British Expeditionary Forces in France conveying the sad news that her husband, Gunner Robert Ramsay, of the 3rd Northumbrian Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action on July 6th. Gunner Ramsay, who is a native of Shankhouse, married a daughter of Mr and Mrs Williams Milburn, grocers, of Hartford Colliery. He was 26 years of age.
Mr and Mrs Tunnah, of Garden Row, Dudley Colliery, has received official information from the Admiralty that their son, Able Seaman George Tunnah, of the Tyneside R.N.V.B., who was serving with the Hawke Battalion in the Dardanelles, is reported missing.
Sergt. J. H. White is reported missing since May 24th. His wife, Mrs White, 10 Crossley Terrace, Forest Hall, will be glad of any news concerning him.
Mr and Mrs Brotherton, 70 Fourth Row, Ashington, have been notified that their son, Private Jas. Brotherton, 7th N.F., has died from wounds. Private Brotherton was a Territorial with three years’ service previous to the war.
The following casualties, among Amble men are reported: Private E. Tate, 7th N.F., killed in action; A.B. James Dawson, Collingwood Battalion, R.N.V.R., killed at the Dardanelles; Pte. Joseph Whitfield, 1st N.F., killed in action, June 16th; Pte. J. Williamson, 7th N.F., wounded; Pte. Alec McKay, 7th N.F., missing since April 29th. (His parents, now living at Radcliffe, will be glad to have any news of him). Corporal J. D. Dalby, 7th N.F., missing since April 26th. (His parents, who live at Chevington Drift, will be glad to have news of him).
Mr J Jordan, 7, Percy Street, Backworth, has been officially notified that his son, Seaman, R. P. Jordan, Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division, is missing.
Seaman T. Dorgan, Hirst, has been wounded.
Private T Henderson (8937), Morpeth, is reported missing since June 16th.
Mr J. Dalton, of Morpeth, has received the following notification of his son’s death at the front, from Captain Smail, of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers:– “I have very bad news for you, being none other than the fact that your son (No. 2223), Pte. G. Dalton, was killed in action on the 11th June. While my Company was keeping up rapid fire on the German trenches, in order to assist an attack in the vicinity, Pte. Dalton was struck by a piece of shrapnel on the head and very soon after expired. We buried him in the same grave as another Roman Catholic member of the Company — a Berwick lad — and his friends have marked the spot with a cross. Two of his friends took risks in attending the service. A lad with a quiet temperament, I always found him a good soldier and one who was very popular with the members of his platoon. Please accept my deepest sympathy in your loss – W. R. Smaill, Capt., O.C. No. 1 Coy 7th N.F.”
ROLL OF HONOUR
WHITFIELD.— Hawthorn Terrace, Ashington, Joseph, beloved husband of E. Whitfield, also son of Joseph and the late Martha Whitfield, aged 31 years. Killed in action in France, June 16th, 1915.
RAMSEY.— Died from wounds received in action in Flanders, on the 6th of July, 1915, Gunner Robert Ramsey, of the Royal Field Artillery, dearly beloved husband of Ellen Ramsey (nee Milburn), of 3 Simmond’s Buildings, Dudley Colliery, Northumberland.
His cheerful smile and loving face,
Is pleasant to recall,
He had a kindly word for each,
And died beloved by all.
Deeply mourned by his brother and sister-in-law, J. and A. Walton, 12 Co-operative Terrace, Newsham.
BROTHERTON.— Died of wounds received in action on June 19th, 1915, aged 24½ years, Private James Brotherton, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, the dearly beloved son of William and Ellen Brotherton, 70 Fourth Row, Ashington.
He answered his country’s call. R.I.P.
He marched away so bravely,
His young head proudly held,
His footsteps never faltered,
His courage never failed,
Then on the field of battle,
He calmly took his place,
He fought and died for Britain
And the honours of his race;
Sleep on, dear son, in a far-off grave,
A grave we shall never see;
But as long as life and memory lasts,
We will remember thee.
Ever remembered and sadly missed by his father, mother, brothers, sisters; also beloved by all who knew him.
RAMSAY.— Died of wounds received in Flanders on the 6th July, aged 28 years, Gunner Robert Ramsay, dearly beloved son-in-law of W. and J. Milburn, of Hartford. From father and mother, and sisters and brothers-in-law. Deeply mourned.
LOCAL OFFICER’S DEATH
The death has occurred, at his London residence, of Mr Robert Dixon, son of an old north country resident and a native of Belsay. The late Mr Dixon was in his early days a member of the Queen’s Westminsters and later was attached to the old Middlesex Yeomanry, receiving the efficiency medal on his retirement.
For twenty years he was master tailor to the Royal Horse Guards, and on the outbreak of war volunteered his services to the regiment, and was made Corporal of Horse, with the hon. rank of Corporal Major.
After six weeks’ absence at the front he was seized with illness, and had to return home.
Mr Dixon took a prominent part in Freemasonry, and had held offices in several Lodges, including the Comrades’ Lodge, 2,740 (of which he was a founder and past Master; St Luke’s Chapter, 144, of which he was P.M.); etc., and had received several Masonic jewels.
A military funeral, with full honours, was accorded to the deceased officer.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH
The Commandant, No. 6, V.A. Hospital, acknowledges with grateful thanks the following gifts for the use of the patients in the hospital:– Fruit, vegetables and flowers, Miss Joicey the Mayoress, Mrs Brown, Mrs Coble, Mrs Brumell, Miss Arkless, Mrs Dickie, Mrs Weallans, Miss Fenwick, Mrs Clayton, Mrs Rogue; cakes, Mrs Harding; bread Mrs Jobson; fish, Mr Chas. Grey; eggs, Mrs Oliver, Miss Reed, Mrs Robson, Mrs Browell. Whalton Village: salad, Mrs Temple; rabbits, Captain Mitford; honey, Miss Lamb; jam, Mrs Rayne; honey, old linen and socks, Mrs Rayne; cigarettes, the Mayoress, Mrs Dickie; sponge bags, Miss Harbottle; papers, Mrs Clayton, Mrs Carr; socks, Miss Lamb; curtains, Mrs Simpson.
Grateful thanks are due to Miss Moore, The Limes, for the sum of £4 11s 6d, the proceeds of an exhibition of pen painting, etc., given by her students. We are also much indebted to Mr Greason for repairing chairs and other furniture. Gifts of eggs, butter and fruit would be very much appreciated at the present time.
DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL
Signaller William Ellingham, of the 1st Batt., Northumberland Fusiliers, has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery.
Ellingham was in the employ of the N.E.R. company in Yorkshire previous to the war.
LOCAL MINERS’ PARLIAMENTARY LEVY
Interesting figures are forthcoming with regard to the position of the Northumberland Miners’ Association in connection with the payment of the Parliamentary levy.
It is stated that in the borough of Morpeth Parliamentary Division there are 4,707 members paying the levy, and there have been 1,450 enlistments with the forces, which, of course, are non-paying. There have been 129 applications for exemption from payment under the Act.
In the Wansbeck Parliamentary Division there are 13,750 members paying the levy, whilst there have been 4,201 enlistments and only six applications for exemption.
The figures for the whole association are:— Full members contributing, 25,943; half-members contributing, 4,319; full members enlisted, 9,577; half-members enlisted, 339. The total exemptions for the county are 341.
MORPETH LIEUTENANT’S MUSE IN THE TRENCHES
Friday, July 9th,
Yesterday being wet, I spend my time in composing two small poems which my friends insist on my sending to be published. Naturally, my thoughts turn to the paper I have most interest in. If you think my feeble effort worth it, you can use them in our esteemed paper.
The “Battalion Transport” one suggested itself to me through the following incident:— A friend of mine, a Morpeth gentleman, once asked me how I, an infantry lieutenant, came to be wearing spurs. I replied that I had command of the transport and he then said “Oh! one of the safe jobs.” It may interest the general public to know that in my section alone I have lost in casualties 33 per cent of my men, and 70 per cent of horses, but we have been exceptionally unlucky in that respect.
GORDON M. JOBLING.
Tommy’s been a bad ’un, and Tommy’s been a saint,
But Tommy’s now a soldier, and there’s nothing that he ’aint;
And Tommy’s now a-fightin’, and fightin’ bloomin’ ’ard,
’Cause old Kaiser wants a thumping, and ’is bayonets are on guard.
Far from dear old Blightey, ’e ’olds a piece of ground,
And he prays to God Almighty, when it’s done he’ll go home sound;
Meanwhile, swettin’ in ’is dug-out, or peering through loop-hole,
He keeps the old flag flying while livin’ like a mole.
He’s a happy sort o’ blighter, and he always ’as ’is joke,
Even while the shells are bursting’ or he’s gaspin’ in the “smoke”;
But when there’s somethin’ doin’ and he’s got the Bosches out,
’Is eye is all for business, making Huns do right about.
But when he gets ’is papers, and reads of strikes at home,
He thinks of what he’s stickin’, and it chills ’im to the bone;
And fills his soul with loathing that at a time like this
His work-mates strike for money and hours that’s sorely missed.
His money’s nought to speak of, and he gets no overtime,
His work hours’ the guns’ curfew, and it’s always on the chime;
He gets his sleep in snatches, and when he wants it most
The Bosches start a shootin’, and he’s up and at his post.
So raise your hats to Tommy, and give him all you can,
His reward is p’raps in Heaven, but he’s a mighty, living man’
And when he comes home wounded, or with badly shattered nerves
You treat him like a hero – it’s just what he deserves.
Now the sun is busy setting, and the ration wagon’s packed,
The horses harnessed, fretting, the time has come to act,
So on the road we rumble and move at walkin’ pace,
And we all in silence wonder what this journey’s got to face.
But there’s men up yonder, waiting of their letters and their grub,
Water, ammunition, sandbags, all to grease the war-worn hub;
So we leave our quiet bivouacs and into danger walk,
And we do not feel so jumpy till the guns begin to talk.
Through yon quiet Flemish village, ruin’d, gone beyond repair.
The wagons slowly rumble, desolation in the air—
When wiz-bang, wiz-bang, wiz-bang, they’re at it with their shell,
So it’s spurs into our horses, boys, and gallop through like hell.
He’s a wily bird “Jack Johnson,” but we know his cunning ways,
And we know just where ’e puts them, but not the time of day;
And we know that he may reach us with his “Evening Hymn of Hate,”
But the boys will need their rations, so we go to meet our fate.
Now we’re past the part for shelling, and the bees begin to hum,
But they don’t kick up much damage as they’re strays that past us come;
They may be fete above you, they may be past your nose,
And they never give your warning till your got your leaden dose.
On we rumble, rumble, rumble, and I curse the noise we make,
’Cause there’s Germans just beyond us, and they’ve field guns in their wake;
The sky is full of flare-lights, darkest night is as the day,
And our shadows show like monuments, but we’ve got to go our way.
We’ve landed, safely landed, and the ration party’s round,
How’s Bill, and Jack, and Geordie, how we love the welcome sound;
And the boys have got their rations, and their water bottles bunged,
So we got back to our bivvies, glad our night’s work’s safety done.
It’s not all beer and skittles, the transport section’s work,
We’ve no place here for slackers — we can’t afford to shrink;
And when we’ve returned to bivouacs and our heads are laid to rest,
The boys have got their rations, and we know we’ve done our best.
WOUNDED AT ESPLEY HALL
A further contingent of wounded and sick soldiers from the Northumberland War Hospital, Gosforth, were entertained by Alderman George B. Bainbridge at Espley Hall, on Friday last, some 48 men enjoying to the full the beauties of the house, the games and refreshments provided.
They were conveyed in cars secured by the Military Committee of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, which has organised the numerous outings in the district under the energetic secretaryship of Mr. T. McBryde.
For further outings arranged the need is for more motor-cars, the offers of accommodation having exceeded the facilities for transit at the command of the committee.
RECRUITING MEETING AT PEGSWOOD
A special effort was made in Pegswood last Friday evening to obtain recruits for the Tyneside Scottish.
The Pipe Band and buglers of the 4th battalion paraded the colliery rows, and subsequently a large and enthusiastic meeting was held at the entrance to the village. The principal speakers were Mr W. Dyson, of London, Mr J. Farnsworth of Leicester, and Capt. C. Nicholl of the Tyneside Scottish. Mr Wm. Hogg presided over the large gathering.
The Chairman said that the object of the meeting was to find recruits to help fight the great battle which was now raging on the Continent of Europe.
Mr Dyson, in the course of his speech, gave some interesting facts regarding the war since the commencement of hostilities. He said that Germany had not accomplished one single object which she had set out to attain. This war was going to be won by those countries who could put the greatest number of troops in the field.
“If we do our duty,” added the speaker, “and provide recruits to our army to anything like the same extent as France and Russia have done, then you can reckon upon us having greater superiority of numbers over our enemies.”
He made a special appeal to the single man not to hang back, but to answer Lord Kitchener’s call without further delay.
Mr Farsnworth, at the outset, alluded to a speech made by Lord Kitchener that afternoon in London in which his Lordship said that the position today was as serious as it was ten months ago. He was still asking for men and more men for the army. That being the case, it brought home to them the tremendous importance of filling the ranks in the new army. They must remember that the heads of the Government would not hesitate to bring in compulsion tomorrow if they thought it was necessary to bring the war to an end.
“We are here to ask you men,” remarked the speaker, “to hinder the introduction of what would be distasteful to a large number of people of these islands, and which would be false to our democratic principles. It is for the men to volunteer and show that they are not waiting for the crack of the conscription whip to drive them into the army in order to defend their homes.”
At this stage it was announced that four young men had been recruited and that a boy scout, 17 years of age, had joined the drummers.
Captain Nicholl, who also addressed the meeting, made a special appeal to the young men to respond to their country’s call. He resided in Pegswood during the strike in ‘86 and ‘87. He was one of them, and went to school here, and was under Mr Hutchinson. He was known then as Charlie Nicholl; now he was Captain Nicholl of the Tyneside Scottish. (Applause.)
It was in the schools of Pegswood and Ashington and the training he had received in times of peace which had fitted him to occupy the position which he had the honour to hold in His Majesty’s army. When the Huns entered Belgium, his wife said to him: “It is time you, a trained soldier, was away to prevent them from coming to Bedlington, where we now live, and I went.” (Applause.)
“Now, men, don’t you think you ought to go. Don’t you think at this most critical hour of Britain’s history you should come forward and fight as only Britons can fight. (Hear, hear.) It is men we want to bring this war to a victorious issue.” (Applause.)
Seven recruits were obtained, The meeting was organised by Messrs. H. Halliwell and W. Simpson.