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.
GALLANT SOLDIER’S HOME-COMING
The home-coming of Private Charles Martin, of the 7th N.F., who won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry displayed in action in April last, was made the occasion of a civic welcome at Morpeth on Monday evening.
The exploit which gained for Private Martin and his comrade Private Burrell, also of Morpeth, the D.C.M., is worth recalling here. The facts as furnished to the Mayor by Captain H.R. Smail, of the 7th N.F., were as follows:—
“It will no doubt give you and the inhabitants of Morpeth great pleasure to know that two of your fellow townsmen — No.1180 Pte. G. Burrell, and No.2188 Pte. C. Martin, of No. 1 Company, 7th N.F., have been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal — a decoration very much coveted and difficult to obtain in this campaign.
“During an attack on St Julien on the 26th April, these two men, with conspicuous gallantry, brought up a box of ammunition to the trenches we were occupying. For over a mile they had to traverse ground plastered with shell and machine-gun fire, yet on their own, they came on undaunted, reaching the sand trench amid cheers from the various members of all regiments occupying it. I witnessed this gallant action myself, and am exceedingly glad the recommendation was favourably received by the Commander-in-Chief.”
Some weeks ago Private Martin was wounded and was removed to a hospital in the south. He is now in the convalescent stage. His comrade is still at the front.
It was far on in the afternoon before it became generally known that the gallant soldier was coming home, but splendid preparations were made by the Mayor to give him a reception worthy of the occasion.
Private Martin, who travelled in the express train timed to arrive at Morpeth shortly after 6pm, was met on the platform by the Mayor and Mayoress (Councillor and Mrs Thomas W. Charlton), Alderman S.W. Brown, Councillors R.N. Swinney, J.H. Simpson, Wm. Duncan, Ed. Norman, Chas. Grey, J.R. Temple, J. Elliott, and George Jackson; also Mr Jas. Jardin (Town Clerk), and Mr F.D. Wood, carrying the mace. Mrs Martin and other relations were also present on the platform.
After hearty greetings all round, Private Martin, escorted by the Mayor, who was wearing his chain of office, and members of the Corporation, proceeded to the carriage entrance where four motor-cars (kindly lent by Brigadier-General Lord Tullibardine of the Scottish Horse, Major Boss of the Northern Cyclists Battalion, and Mr Sept. Jennings) were waiting. The first car was occupied by the soldier-hero and his wife, and the Mayor and Mayoress. The other cars which brought up the rear contained the members and officials of the council.
A procession was then formed, headed by the Band of the 6th Durham Light Infantry. Before leaving the station, loud and hearty cheers were given by the soldiers and civilians gathered there. Among others who witnessed the processions at the station was Colonel Sowerby, D.S.O.
All the way to the Market Place large crowds of townspeople, also members of the Scottish Horse, the Durham Light Infantry, Northumberland Fusiliers, and Cyclists’ Battalions lined the streets and accorded the gallant soldier a magnificent reception. From the windows of most of the houses people cheered and waved handkerchiefs.
A dense crowd gathered in the Market Place, where the Mayor addressed words of welcome to Private Martin.
He said: “On behalf of the people of Morpeth, I must congratulate you on the gallant conduct which has gained for you the Distinguished Conduct Medal. It has not only been an honour to yourself but to the ancient borough of Morpeth. I only wish that your gallant comrade, Private Burrell, could have been with you on this occasion. I hope during your short stay amongst us that the eligible young men in this district will come forward to help their comrades-in-arms.”
The Mayor then shook hands with Private Martin and expressed the hope that when he returned to the trenches he would be able to gain the V.C. Enthusiastic cheers then followed.
Councillor R.N. Swinney also spoke. He said he was privileged to stand there as one of the few ex-Mayors they had got in the town. They all knew that one of their ex-Mayors, Lieutenant Sanderson, had volunteered for active service. He was now home wounded. Another ex-Mayor, Ald. R.J. Carr, was engaged in munition work at Armstrong’s. He was very pleased to associate himself with the Mayor in giving a civic welcome to Private Martin. He was quite certain from the men they had around them that night that there were many more D.C.M.s to come to Morpeth. It was the duty of every man, who was able to go and join their comrades in that terrible war in which they were engaged. Private Martin would tell them that men were needed more than ever in France.
When Private Martin was called upon for a speech, Councillor Swinney remarked: Mr Martin says he would sooner go back to the trenches than face the audience.
Rousing cheers were again given for Pte. Martin, and the memorable proceedings ended.
PROPOSED DEMONSTRATION AT MORPETH
A meeting was held in the Council Chamber, Morpeth, on Wednesday evening to consider the question of holding a demonstration in the town to commemorate the anniversary of the war. Mr R.C. Oliver presided.
The notice convening the meeting, which was sent out by Messrs Eadington and Simpson, on behalf of the Borough of Morpeth Recruiting Committee, was as follows:—
Colonel Dashwood, commanding the four Northern counties, is very anxious to have a large demonstration in all principal towns to commemorate the anniversary of the war. It is most desirable that we, in Morpeth, should fall into line and do our little bit to further stimulate recruiting and meet the requirements demanded.
Among those present were the Mayor (Councillor T.W. Charlton), Alderman S.W. Brown, Councillors R.N, Swinney and E. Norman, Mr Jas. Jardin (town clerk), Messrs W. Simpson, J.J. James, and Arrowsmith.
The proposal to hold a demonstration on August 4th was unanimously agreed to. It was also agreed that a procession should be organised in which the military should be asked to take part.
Messrs Simpson and Eadington were appointed the hon, secretaries to make the necessary arrangements for the attendance of the 6th Durham Light Infantry and band, the Scottish Horse, Northern Cyclists, V.A.D. Nurses, Grammar School Cadets, Church Lads’ Brigade, and the Boy Scouts.
An effort is to be made to secure two members of Parliament to address a meeting to be held in the Market Place after the procession. Among the speakers will be three wounded men from the front — Sergt. Crawford, Lance-Corporal Montgomery, and Pte. Carr.
MEMORIAL SERVICE AT ST MARY’S CHURCH
A memorial service for those fallen in the war was held in St Mary’s Church, Morpeth, on Sunday afternoon, in the presence of a large congregation. By kind permission of Colonel Sowerby, D.S.O., and officers of the 6th Durham Light Infantry, the band was in attendance. The service, which was conducted by the Rector (Canon Davies) assisted by the Rev. F.C. Hardy, was of a most impressive character.
In the prayers said by the Rev. Mr Hardy, the names of the following local soldiers who have fallen in battle were mentioned:–
Ralph Atkinson Daglish, George Dalton, George Ternent Gibson, William Glass, John Edward Harrison, Robert Challoner Hedley, Frederick Lyons, Geoffrey Franklin Murphy, Robert Robson, Joseph Shaftoe, Richard Sharp, Maurice Edward Swain, Bertram Waterston, Arthur White.
The service was opened by the band playing the Dead March in “Saul.” Appropriate hymns were sung by the choir and congregation.
The Rector took his text from the words: “Jesus said unto me, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
He said he believed there was in every heart in the congregation deep sorrow at the seeming loss; scores of thousands of young lives throughout the Empire given up, our own among them, humanly speaking before their time. Why should it be? He could not tell. It was beyond the power of the human soul to see plainly.
Although that was so, he believed he had a message — a message that he knew was true — and he was glad of the privilege of giving it. Whence had it come; not from man, but from God. Let them turn to the New Testament, to Jesus Christ, to His teaching, and more especially to His life and to His death. They found there inexhaustible riches, unsearchable riches, full of consolation, comfort and guidance in life, and more than anything else they found in Jesus Christ the true need of human life.
Christ upon the Cross was life at its highest, life at its sublimest, life at its grandest, and life at its best. The spirit of our Lord’s life was the spirit in which their lads had died. They had died doing their duty, offering their young lives upon the altar of sacrifice. There could be no doubt in any human heart that the lives given up had been accepted by the Father.
“Then again, what do we find in the life and death of Christ? ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ Christ is not dead. We all know that Christ lives. Because He lives, our loved ones live.
“We mourn, but mourn proudly. We would rather their death with honour than the shame of a cowardly shirker. We know that the Empire is fighting for her existence; but we know also that the men of the Empire have offered themselves willingly on its behalf — fighting for the highest and best things in life, fighting for justice, fighting for the liberty of nations, fighting for the honour of England and the freedom of the world, and fighting for the real advancement of God’s cause.
“The brave men who have fallen in the country’s cause have not given their lives in vain. They have done work for God — work which He gave them to do. Let us then end the day with a note of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for these brave young lives, who offered themselves willingly, who failed not to respond to the call of God.”
The service concluded with the National Anthem.
WITH GENERAL BOTHA’S FORCE
We have had supplied to us this week a copy of the “Durban Pictorial,” which gives a descriptive account of General Botha’s campaign in German West Africa.
The magazine contains quite a host of pictures including the Natal roll of honour in connection with the Gibeon fight, and also views showing the damage done in connection with the anti-German campaign in Natal.
The “Pictorial” was sent to Miss Arkless, of this town, by Sapper James Hunter, of the Armour Train Engineers, a son of the late Mr Hunter, of Manchester Street.
His brother, Staff-Sergeant William Hunter, of the Natal Mounted Rifles, took part in the Gibeon fight, and commenting on this engagement the “Pictorial” in an article, states: “The performance of this flying column of our mounted troops moving over most difficult and arid country, with little or no transport, and fighting a severe and successful engagement at the end of it, undoubtedly constitutes a most brilliant feat of arms and endurance.”
Sapper Hunter requests that the “Pictorial” be placed in the library of the Morpeth Mechanics’ Institute, so that others may have an opportunity of perusing its pages.
SAILORS’ DAY AT MORPETH
A correspondent writes:— May we again through your valuable paper make an appeal to the public of Morpeth on behalf of our Sailors’ Day effort which takes place tomorrow (Saturday).
Workers who have consented to take part in the movement will be stationed at the busy centres in the town. They will wear an official badge, and the boxes will be labelled “Sailors’ Day.” We sincerely hope that this appeal will meet with a wide-spread response.
At a time like this we cannot do too much for the seamen of England who are doing everything for us. To the men of the navy we owe our safety and defence; had it not been for our navy we might have suffered a worse fate than Belgium. Let us think what we owe to these men, also the men of the mine sweepers and patrol boats.
Let us also think of the men of the merchant service; if our shipping was stopped England would be in a state of starvation in less than a month. Think of these men threading their way through floating mines, scattered broadcast by a ruthless enemy, dodging the submarine and the deadly torpedoes, finding their way along a lightless coast and facing death in the most dreadful form. What for? That we may live.
Tomorrow the people of Morpeth have a unique opportunity of helping our great sailors. They will never have a better opportunity of helping the men of the sea.
FLOWER DAY AT MORPETH
Splendid arrangements have been made by the Mayoress for the successful carrying out of “Flower Day” at Morpeth, tomorrow (Saturday).
A great quantity of artificial flowers are all ready to put into the hands of the ladies who have volunteered their services as sellers.
The object the Mayoress has in view is one which should appeal to all classes of the community. With the proceeds from the sale of the flowers it is intended to provide comforts for the sailors who are guarding our shores on the patrol boats, mine sweepers, and merchant service. We hope that the efforts of the Mayoress and her willing helpers will be crowned with success.
We are asked to state that the Council Chamber will be open all day from 9 o’clock, and all willing to sell the artificial flowers should report themselves there.
MUSIC IN THE TRENCHES
Signaller A. Bosworth (1912)
H.Q. Compy., 1st 7th N.F. G.P.O.
Sir,– We are taking the liberty of once again asking you to use a small portion of your paper to procure for us another melodeon. The last one we received supplied us with any amount of fun, often to the detriment of our Orderly Room Sergeant’s peace of mind, who was often too busy to appreciate our music.
While shifting from one part of the line to another it rained in torrents, and our beloved melodeon (owing to the sudden rush of packing) was exposed to a whole of the rain, and on our journey’s end fell to pieces. It now lies (mourned by all except the previously mentioned Sergeant) in a French cottage as a souvenir.
If you are successful in getting one, will you kindly send it to the above address for the Headquarters’ Coy., and thereby make lively our idle moments. Thanking you in anticipation. — Yours, etc.,
(SOME OF THE “BOYS IN KHAKI”)
Bandsman W, Anderson, Pte. Jos. Anderson, Pte. R Stuart, Signallers J.W. Weatherston, G. Trotter, and H Learmouth.
Si nous avons une melodeon nous pouvons passer bien le temps.
L’ent reprete pour la campagnie.
The following letter was addressed to Mr J.S. Mackay, the proprietor of the “Morpeth Herald”:—
Just a line to add my word, along with the other boys of our Coy., for a repetition of your previous kindness, when you supplied our Company with an instrument which proved a great asset to us all.
Many very enjoyable evenings have been spent to the sounds of that insignificant but nevertheless greatly treasured instrument. If you knew how much we really appreciate your last gift you would consider yourself well repaid.
I’m fit and well. Hoping to find another instrument in our mail soon.—
HELP FOR FARMERS
23rd July, 1915.
Sir,– I shall be obliged if you will be good enough to insert the enclosed letter which I have received from the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries in an early issue of your paper, and to give it as wide a publicity as possible. I need hardly say how cordially I commend its contents to the consideration of landowners, as in March last I urged the adoption of some at least of the suggestions it contains.— Yours faithfully,
4, Whitehall Place, London, S.W.
30th June, 1915.
My Dear Duke,— I desire to direct your attention to the importance of maintaining in this country during the present crisis as large a head of sheep and cattle as possible.
The decrease in the amount of imported meat owing to the demands made upon the world’s supply both by our own Expeditionary Forces and by the French Army, makes the civil population of this country much more dependent upon home-grown meat than would be the case in normal times.
The high price of feeding stuffs, combined with the high price at which all classes of stock is selling, is inducing many farmers to market their animals before they have reached their full economic value, while, on the other hand, the increasing shortage of feed due to the drought and the prospect of small root and hay crops, tend to encourage farmers to reduce their flocks and herds to a greater extent than is desirable in the interest of the community.
It has occurred to me that the situation might be relieved in some measure if owners of private parks, which are frequently not heavily grazed, would arrange to place them at the disposal of farmers in their neighbourhood for the grazing of stock.
The private parks of the country, representing in the aggregate many thousands of acres, would carry a much larger head of stock than is the case at present, and I write to express the hope that you will use your influence with the landowners of your county to induce them to offer the grazing of their parks to farmers, and to assist in that way to maintain the flocks and herds of the country.
Another matter to which I take this opportunity of drawing your attention is the assistance which landowners could afford to farmers by releasing as many of their employees for work on the land.
I am aware that this is being done already in many instances, but the value to the farmer of the assistance of gamekeepers, woodmen, garden labourers, and men of that class, most of whom possess some practical knowledge of farm work, cannot be over-estimated at a time when the shortage of skilled farm hands is so acute.
I venture, therefore, to ask you to use your influence to promote the offer by landowners of this form of assistance, and thus to minimise the labour difficulties which many farmers are experiencing.—Yours sincerely,
His Grace, The Duke of Northumberland, K.G.