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.
Recruiting in Morpeth, so far as those who have promised their willingness to join under the Lord Derby group system, has been very satisfactory, but some misapprehension seems to exist amongst various classes. We have had such replies from married men that they are not prepared to join until all the single men have first been called up.
We do not for a moment dispute such statements, nor are we prepared to argue the pros and cons of their decision, but allow us to draw their attention to the statements issued by Lord Derby.
With regard to the position of married men under the Lord Derby scheme, the Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Commons on November 2nd, 1915, said:—
I am told by Lord Derby and others that there is some doubt among married men who are being asked to enlist, whether having enlisted, or promised to enlist, they may not be called upon to serve while younger and unmarried men are holding back and not doing their duty. Let them at one disabuse themselves of that notion.
I should certainly say the obligation of the married man to serve ought not to be enforced or held to be binding upon him unless and until — I hope by voluntary effort, but if it be needed in the last resort by other means — the unmarried men are dealt with.
The Prime Minister on that occasion, pledged not only himself but his Government when he stated that, if young men did not, under the stress of national duty, come forward voluntarily, other and compulsory means would be taken before the married men were called upon to fulfil their engagement to serve.
The above statement clearly defines the position of married men under the Lord Derby scheme, and we would appeal to all such men to come forward and join in their group.
Do not put off until you see whether the young men have voluntarily enlisted or not, but do your duty by coming forward and be attested and medically examined on or before 11th December, 1915. The Recruiting Office is open daily from 9am to 8pm.
Attested men only have the right to appeal to the local tribunal.
A BRAVE MORPETH BOY IN THE DARDANELLES
Mr John Hann, Acton, London, late of Morpeth, writing to an intimate friend, makes the following mention of one of his sons, who is in the Dardanelles:— ”We have heard from Stuart a few days ago, and I am thankful to say, notwithstanding various hardships of trench life, he is well. You will be glad to hear that his name was mentioned along with others, in Sir Ian Hamilton’s despatch, dated 22nd September for conspicuous bravery.”
Stuart Hann is an old Grammar School boy, and has been at the Dardanelles for eight months. He is a petty officer in the Hawke Battalion, and lately has been instructor of a company in bomb throwing.
LOCAL POSTAL FACILITIES
Owing to the number of men on the post office staff joining the Army, a further curtailment of the postal facilities for the duration of the war has been found necessary at Morpeth.
The number of collections from the town letter boxes has been reduced to three, the times of which are shown on the front of each box. It has also to be noted that on and from Monday first the number of town deliveries will be reduced to two, the hours of which will be 7am and 1.45pm.
CHRISTMAS PUDDING FUND CLOSED
It is a matter of gratification to us to record our appreciation and satisfaction to all our readers who have so readily responded to our appeal for donations in order to assist the “Daily News” in the gigantic task of providing every soldier in the different theatres of war with a Christmas pudding.
The response has been of a most gratifying kind, and to all who have so kindly subscribed to the fund we are most grateful. The fund is now closed, and we have pleasure in publishing further subscriptions which have been received.
At the “Herald” office only one additional subscription has been received — Annie Smith, 2/-.
The ex-Mayoress (Mrs T.W. Charlton) has received the following additional donations:— Mr Scott, 2/-; Mr Arrowsmith, 2/-; Mr Mat Emerson, 2/6; Mrs Martin Tighe, 10/-; Mrs W. Robson, 2/-; Mrs G.W. Purdy, 2/6; Mrs Burn, 2/-; Mr S. Wood, 1/- — £1 5s. The following subscriptions have been received at the London Joint Stock Bank:— J. Eltringham, 2/6; W. A. Grey, 2/6; A. Carne, 2/6; J.H.W., 2/6–10/-. The following subscriptions have been received at Barclay and Company’s Bank:— J.S. Mackay, 1/-; R. Jackson, 2/6; Canon Davies, 5/-; Mr R. Wood, 2/6; Mr Thos. Clark, 5/-; Mrs F. Bremmen, 1/-; Mr F.W. Harper, 2/6; Mr W. Appleby, 1/-; Mrs Clayton, 2/6; Mrs Jas. Robson, Whalton, 2/6–£1 5s. 6d.
The total amount received and sent to the editor of the “Daily News” is £21 11s. 9d, sufficient to provide an infantry battalion with Christmas pudding.
TRAINING OF GIRLS
The great dearth of males in civil occupations, owing to the warlike times in which we are living, has given excellent opportunities for the young women of the country.
At the last meeting of the County Education Committee reference was made to the Home Office circular advocating the training of girls for clerical employment.
The proposal discussed by the committee was the establishing of classes at certain centres in order to advance or assist any girl of good education, over 17 years of age, who was unable without help to attend a class in order to qualify for employment.
Undoubtedly the chairman was right when he emphasised the fact that the quickest way for the education woman, referred to in the circular, to get trained would be to go into the office where they were required.
JUVENILE CONCERT AT MORPETH
A juvenile concert was given at the house of M. Hills, 14 Stanley Street, Morpeth, the proceeds being for the benefit of the Morpeth lads at the Front.
The amount realised was £1 5s. 6d., which was sent to George Douglas, 7th N.F., France.
WINTER WOOLLEN COMFORTS FOR THE COMMERCIAL BATTALIONS
Sir,— As I have reason to believe that the men of the 16th, 18th and 19th Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers (generally known as the Commercial Battalions) have many friends and relatives in this neighbourhood who will be pleased to so something to add to their comfort, I have arranged with the ladies of the Newcastle Comforts Committee to distribute wool for mufflers and mittens in this district to any willing to knit them.
Anyone good enough to communicate with me at this address, or who will meet me at the Soldiers’ Institute, Morpeth, any Monday afternoon between the hours of 2.30 and 4 o’clock I shall most gladly welcome and give any information necessary.
Owing to one of the battalions being now at the Front and the near approach of the departure of the others, together with the unusual severity of the weather, renders the provision of these articles of warm apparel most urgent. —Yours, etc.,
President of the Ladies’ Comforts Committee of the Commercial Battalions,
December 2nd, 1915
RECRUITING IN THE WANSBECK DIVISION
In ordinary times it may be taken for granted that a General Election would either have taken place or it might have been in preparation or actually in progress.
We can picture in our minds the scenes, the heated controversies, the excited public meetings, and the hurry-scurry of the partisans of Radical Tory and Labour candidates.
Perhaps, under a three-cornered fight there might be some little doubt as to the outcome of such a contest, and it may be the breasts of the Labour and Tory candidates would swell with pride and hope in considering their respective chances. There might be just a remote possibility that the present holder of the seat would feel a little uneasy in such a contest.
So in ordinary times the position might have been on the lines as described above, and what a commotion there would have ensued! But what a change of circumstances has been effected by the war!
Men hold, tenaciously, the party opinions as held before the strife commenced. In their hearts they mean to uphold the banners of their respective political parties, and we may be sure each party will do its utmost to secure a victory for their champion.
But isn’t it a wonderful thing to find the new idea, the idea of oneness and co-operation amongst all parties?
From the House of Commons down to the smallest political club or village circle there it is — a welding of every idea for the successful prosecution of the war — a repression of the personal political note, and the advancing of the idea of strengthening of the forces of the nation so that an engagement with the enemy (who stands for the forces of brute strength and callous resolution) shall be triumphantly successful.
So in the Wansbeck Division with its immensity of territory and its widespread ramifications of organised and systemised arrangement, the two important parties, Liberal and Tory, have compacted together to work hand in hand, foot-to-foot, shoulder-to-shoulder, and see this thing of immense importance through.
They have already carried through, with great success, a great recruiting scheme.
During the summer months huge efforts were made by the aid of local and other invited speakers in every town, village and hamlet. The result of that effort showed itself in the enrolling of some 500 recruits to the British Army. Many of the men are already serving in positions of danger at the Front.
And do our minds not travel back to the pages of history wherein we find accounts of the pilgrimages and campaigns of the sainted leaders of religion in the far-away days of the introduction of our most Holy Religion in Northumberland.
Such scenes as were visited by our first known preachers (St Oswald, St Aiden, St Cuthbert and others) have in their latter days seen the campaigner come along with a message of exhortation to the young men of England to step forth in defence of our precious liberty on the very ground once trodden by the illustrious founders of our churches in this dear Northumberland, on the very hillocks and open places, in the villages where once these gifted and self-sacrificing stood forth offering the precious message of the Gospel of Love to the rough, uncultured and ignorant peasants.
There also have stood the missionaries of Justice and Truth on the tremendously upright cause, as exemplified in our prosecution of the war, on behalf of the rights of the smaller nations and the repression of the monster of militarism and cruelty.
And so the time of exhortation having passed, there now comes the time when the future soldier has to be appealed to as man to man. Under the great scheme of Lord Derby, a possible final appeal is made to the eligible and recruitable civilian.
It is done in the interests and for the purpose of saving the great principle of voluntaryism for the nation, and there is but one desire in the breasts of all — and this may be expressed in words of solemn hope — God grant it may be possible to save the great principle from annihilation, and save us from being a conscript nation.
With this in view, the leaders of the two parties in the Wansbeck Division determined upon a great scheme of recruiting, and no one will be more pleased than Lord Derby himself to know that the latest effort is meeting with success.
MIDDLETON MEN IN ACTION
The services at Middleton Presbyterian Church were conducted by the Rev. James Westwater, of Blyth, on October 24th, whose visit to Middleton, the first for many years, was much appreciated.
On the following day, Councillor J. Cook, Cockermouth, gave a lantern lecture on “Belgium as it was, and as it is,” illustrated by a fine set of slides.
The lecture made a deep impression, and will long be remembered. Mr Cook had kindly made slides of the Middleton soldiers, which were shown on the screen.
The proceeds of the lecture, amounting to £1 7s. 6d., have been sent to the Belgian Relief Fund.
The very handsome and original Roll of Honour which hangs in the church porch, containing the names of the soldiers from Middleton Village in one column, and the soldiers from the rest of the parish in another column, is the work of Mr W.R. Benson.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Private Athol E. Nicol, 7th N.F., the husband of Mrs Isabella Nichol of 13 Bridge Street, Morpeth, has been killed in action.
Official intimation has been received by his relatives that Private J.G. Elliott, of the 8th Somerset Light Infantry, of Shankhouse, grandson of Alice Elliott, has died of wounds.
Mr and Mrs Taylor, Ulgham Grange Crossing, have been officially informed that their son Lance-Sergeant R.R. Taylor (10856) was killed in France on September 26th.
Mr J. Lowthian, of 6 Whitfield Buildings, Longbenton, has received intimation of the death of his son, Private John H. Lowthian, 13th N.F., who was killed in action on Sept. 26th. He was previously reported missing.
Private Balmer, of Bebside Furnace, who, with three others, had left the trenches in France to march to the station en route for home, was struck by shell fire and all were instantly killed.
Mrs Malone of Blyth has been informed by the military authorities that her husband, Corporal Thomas Malone, 14th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, who was killed on Sept. 14th, has been interred at the British Cemetery at Vermilles.
Information was received by the Rev. T.T. Michael, Chaplain of Trinity House, Newcastle, and curate-in-charge of the St. Paul’s Mission Church, Dudley, that his brother, Lieut. T.D. Michael, 5th Royal Berkshires, who had only been at the Front about five weeks, had been dangerously wounded in France.
FORSTER.–Killed in action in France, Oct. 30th, 1915, Sapper John Forster, aged 35 years, 102646, 176 Coy. Royal Engineers, dearly-loved son on Arthur and Isabella Forster, of 47 Newbiggin Road, Ashington, and late of 21 Howick Street, Alnwick.
THE SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE, MORPETH
A large and influential company assembled in the Soldiers’ Institute, Morpeth, yesterday afternoon, when a high-class concert was given in aid of the institute funds. It was from every point of view a great success, and all credit is due to the Entertainment Committee, under the direction of Mr T.B. Waters, for the splendid arrangements made.
The programme was provided by several well-known artistes, including Miss Belle Fyfe, Newcastle (soprano); Miss Evelyn Foster, Blyth (contralto); Mr Ernest J. Potts, Newcastle (bass); Mr A.E. Sainsbury, Alnwick (elocutionist); Mr James Mark, A.R.G.M., L.R.A.M., Newcastle (violinist); Trooper G. Edmund of the Denbighshire Hussars, late musical director British Art Expedition, India, China, Russia, and Japan, solo pianist; Mr John Wyatt, A.R.G.O., Morpeth (accompanist). The platform was artistically decorated with flowers etc., kindly lent by Mr T. Matheson.
ADDRESS BY MR RENWICK
At the interval Mr George Renwick said he had one or two things to say on behalf of the committee which managed this institute. He said how gratified they were to see such a large attendance that afternoon. Many of them had come at great inconvenience, but they had never come for a better cause. (Applause.)
The Soldiers’ Institute came into existence a little over a year ago. The bright idea struck Mr Murphy, the architect of the building, that if he had money he could erect a suitable building on this site, They approached Mr F. Brumell, the owner of the land, who very generously said he would lend the land for the duration of the war. Little did he know how long the war would last. Nobody could tell him when he would get the land back again. He would feel that he was doing a good work, and the land could not be put to a better purpose.
They found the money for the erection of this institute very readily — (applause) — there being so many generous friends in the neighbourhood. They knew what the good cause they (the promoters) had at heart, and he was sure that they did not regret that they had given the money because they had done good work here.
For over a year every night this place was crowded with soldiers, who were going to the Front, and many of them had been to the Front fighting their battles. All that the soldiers asked was that they should provide the money to entertain them and supply them with innocent amusements. They knew that the soldiers appreciated what was being done for them in this town.
Some of them might not be aware that every night different ladies took charge of the refreshment department, assisted by their friends, and from 5.30 to 9.30 p.m. they stood behind the counter and sold refreshments without any profit. All services were given gratuitously, no caterer being employed. All the ladies consider it a great pleasure and honour to perform those duties. They might call upon them for considerably longer periods than they had anticipated, but he knew, if called upon, they would do in the future what they had done in the past.
He wanted to appeal for funds. They had carried on this place for nearly fifteen months without getting into debt to any very great extent.
Proceeding, he said that he had received a statement from the secretary, and among other things he mentioned that they had overdrawn at the bank to the extent of £30. They all felt that they wanted to wipe that out. Although the provisions had gone up in price they were determined not to raise the price of anything supplied in the refreshment department to the soldiers.
In the statement he also noticed that the estimated value of the renewals required, such as china, glass, games, etc., would take £30, and the estimated working loss for the winter would be £2 per week. The committee would like this effort, together with special donations, to raise £100 or more. (Applause.)
The following donations had been promised:–Mr Allan Burn, £10; Mr N. I. Wright, £5; Mr R. Crawford, £2 2s., Mr Jas, Jobling, £2 2s., Mrs Tweedy, Tritlington Hall, £1; Sir Arthur Middleton, Belsay Castle, £1; Canon Davies, £1 1s.; Mrs Geo. Renwick, £5 5s.; Mr Geo. Renwick, £10 10s.
Continuing, he said that the committee estimated that if they got £100 it would carry them well into next spring. He hoped that within a day or two they would have the sum aimed at by the committee in order to continue the excellent work.
All the soldiers who had come here regretted leaving, because the people seemed to welcome them and did their best to make the men feel at home. Morpeth was an attractive place in many respects, and he was surprised that the Mayor and Corporation did not advertise it as a health resort.
They got a large number of soldiers to come to the institute, but recently he had noticed that the officers did not put in an appearance. When they had the 19th Battalion N.F. in the town the officers were often present, and took part in the entertainments and also an interest in the institute. He hoped that the officers of the regiments in the town and neighbourhood would occasionally look in, because the committee would be glad to see them. The officers would acknowledge that this was a good place for the men to come to. He asked them to make it their duty to encourage this institute.
In concluding, he said that a most excellent concert had been arranged for the soldiers to be held tomorrow (Friday) night. The concert party would be provided by Mrs Anderson of Newcastle and admission to the concert would be free to the soldiers.
The programme was of a varied and interesting character, and was greatly appreciated by the large audience. All the artistes kindly gave their services gratuitously. So demonstrative were those present that several encores had to be given.
Mr J. Wyatt, organist of St James’s Church, played the accompaniments with great skill and ability.
Canon Davies, in moving a vote of thanks to the chairman and artistes for their services, referred to Mr Renwick’s generosity not only at the commencement of the institute, but also to his continued interest in the institute, and the welfare of the soldiers in the town.
The vote was enthusiastically given, and the proceedings concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.
A SOLDIER’S APPEAL FOR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Sir,— Will you kindly insert this appeal in the hope that some kindly disposed person or persons of Morpeth and district will oblige the lads of our company, which includes many of your readers, with some mouth organs or any other musical instruments to pass the long dreary nights away while in the trenches.
If sent to Private R.W. Wilkinson, No. 10,759, B Company, 11th N.F., B.E.F., France, they will be very thankfully received, and a letter of acknowledgement will be sent. The best of success to the “Herald,” a most interesting paper. —Yours, etc.,
NORTHUMBERLAND TERRITORIAL FORCE PRISONERS OF WAR FUND
The Hon. Treasurer of the Northumberland Territorial Prisoners of War Fund, 6, Eldon Square, Newcastle, has received with thanks the following subscription:— Miss Cowan, Newcastle, 10/-; Miss Cail, Newcastle, £1; Major and Mrs J. Denham-Christie, Tynemouth, £2; Colonel W. Gibson, V.D., Hexham, £1 1s; Mrs Parkin, Newcastle, £2 2s; Mrs Robinson, Laniley Park, 2s; the staff and workmen of Messrs Wailes, Dove, Bitumistic, £ 12s. 6d.; amount previously acknowledged, £70 19s. 6d. —Total to date, £80 11s.
PROVIDING COMFORTS FOR NORTH COUNTRY FIGHTERS
Practically everybody one met in Newcastle on Saturday sported a neat little medallion with ribbon attached on their coat lapel. On the medallion was the figure of a British soldier, with bayonet fixed, and the inscription was: “Strike hard, Northumbrians.”
It was the badge of gratitude — gratitude to the Northumbrians who have flocked to the colours in their tens of thousands. The object of the sale of the tokens was to provide comforts for Northumbrians either in hospital, in the fighting line or in the training camp.
The promoters of “Northumbrians’ Own Day,” of which Mr Leonard Dalrymple, of the Westgate Picture House, organiser; Mr Fred Sutcliffe, of the Tyne Theatre, hon. treasurer; and Mr George Harcourt, hon. secretary, worked uncommonly hard, had 100,000 of the medallions on sale, and the demand was keen. The devices adopted to bring the effort before the notice of the citizens were novel and effective, and doubtless when the reckoning is made there will be a substantial “Comforts” fund.
There were Boy Scouts and Women volunteers included in the working parties, who disposed of the tokens and during the day the bands of the Northumberland Fusiliers (by kind permission of Colonel Dashwood) and the 2/7th West Rising Regiment, paraded, while the skirl of the pipes of the Tyneside Scottish was also heard.
CONSTABLES AS SOLDIERS
Whilst the miners and other industrial classes of Northumberland have shown a superb spirit in this war crises by the number of enlistments, a similar spirit has been displayed by members of the County Constabulary, who without any palpable inducement from headquarters — but rather the reverse — have flocked to the Colours in such numbers as to provide a record, I believe, in the whole of England.
This is fine. At Blyth, no less than twelve officers have joined, which is more than one-half of those stationed here. Yesterday the latest recruit, P.C. G. W. Swinburn, and Amble youth, left to join His Majesty’s Navy.
The county happily enjoys an immunity from serious crime which is at once wonderful and gratifying. The charge-sheets at our courts for many months past have contained mere collections of paltry cases, and it does seem an anomaly to have an army of fine young men of splendid fibre and sinew, who are equipped with proper notions of discipline and judgement and who make most superb soldiers wasting their energies chasing a poodle without a collar, whereas they might be catching a mad dog of Europe, the Kaiser.
I learn that ex-constable Fuller, who left Blyth to join the Coldstreams, has been distinguishing himself in a boxing tournament, where he was successful in defeating a big lifeguardsman.
In connection with this subject of police recruiting, I observe that the Gateshead Watch Committee, in order that such remaining members be paid in respect of each day’s leave a day’s pay with an additional sixpence. These are more generous conditions than was vouchsafed the constables in this county, who had their leave stopped without extra pay.
ST ROBERT’S EFFORTS FOR THE SOLDIERS
The Rev. Father Kershaw, O.S.B., announced last Sunday that £7 had been collected in church for the relief of the Poles. For three previous Sundays the Rev. gentleman has been soliciting goods to send parcels to the soldiers of the parish who are at present in action and suffering many hardships.
Altogether about 90 have left St Robert’s parish to join the Colours, and of these 50 are at the Front. To all these old scholars parcels have been sent during the last three weeks, the response having been most creditable.
The school children and teachers collected 36/- and parents made cakes for the parcels. Mrs Hopper of Middle Greens made 12 large fruit and rice loaves, while Mrs Hall (Oldgate), Miss Lawson, and Mrs Friedrichs also sent substantial cakes. Miss Doran made plum puddings, and others, too numerous to mention, sent fruit and rice loaves and many other things. Mrs Wright and Mrs Waters, both of Middle Greens, sent large parcels of cigarettes, Oxo and other things.