In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1916, 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.
The Home Office has issued the following public notice with regard to the operation of the Summer Time Act:—
In the night of Saturday-Sunday, May 20th-21st, at 2am, the time in all railways, at all post offices, and other Government establishments will be put forward one hour to 3am. The altered time will be used for ordinary purposes during the summer. For instance, licensed houses, factories, workshops, and other establishments where hours are regulated by law will be required to observe the altered time.
The Government requests the public to put forward all clocks and watches by one hour during the night of Saturday, May 20th. Normal time will be restored at 2am on the night of Saturday-Sunday, September 30th-October 1st.
The chief object of this measure at the present time is to reduce the number of hours during which artificial light is used in the evening, and to save to the nation part of the fuel and oil for lighting and release large quantities of coal, which are urgently needed for other purposes arising from the war.— By order of the Home Secretary.
The Mayor (Ald. E. Norman) informs us that the Town Clock will be put forward an hour earlier on Sunday morning in accordance with instructions from the Home Office.
A LOCAL LADY’S WAR SERVICES
The following interesting account is from the Church Magazine in regard to Bothal:—
”Mr Humphrey and Miss Christobel Ellis joined the Red Cross Society at the beginning of the war. They took their own motor cars to France and were employed in bringing the wounded from the front to the hospitals and in other work, sometimes under fire, often over pitfalls caused by bombs.
“In the beginning of last year they joined the party organised by Miss Chaplin and which was taken out in Sir Thomas Lipton’s Yacht to Serbia. At first their work was to fight against typhus and other fevers which threatened to renew the horrors of the plague of the Middle Ages. Scarcely had they succeeded in staying it when the Bulgarians swept into Serbia and reproduced the German crimes in Belgium.
“Miss Chaplain, Miss Ellis, and a large number of members of the Society were fortunate to escape at the last moment, but many of the nurses and Mr Humphrey were taken prisoners in November.
“Throughout the winter they suffered hardships from bad weather, bad food, and the habits of barbarism. The Austrians were gentlemen and did their best to lessen their sufferings. Mr Humphrey and the rest were let free in February and arrived in London exhausted. After regaining his health he has joined the Royal Field Artillery. Miss Christobel will rejoin the Red Cross Society in France.”
The following extract is from an address by the Marchioness of Londonderry:— “There was now no longer any question of the capacity and capability of women mechanics. The Commandant of the Women’s Legion, Miss Christobel Ellis, who occupied a seat beside the Marchioness, had herself given ample demonstration of what a woman can do in charge of a motor.
“She has been in France from September to December, 1914, during which time she had driven a motor-car of 38 horsepower some 4,500 miles single-handed. With no attendant or mechanic of any sort, she had looked after all the running repairs, including the washing and cleaning of the car. The daily run would be anything up to 240 miles — a strenuous day’s journey for a strong, healthy man — while the average number of passengers was ten men.
“In the matter of plucky endurance Miss Ellis had shown an example, which the well-paid drivers of the M.T.D. will hardly be likely to emulate.”
MORPETH LAD’S LETTER FROM THE TRENCHES
A local farmer who has for some time been taking a kindly interest in soldiers who have gone from this district, has forwarded two letters for publication which he had received from a Morpeth lad named J. Faloon, who is serving “Somewhere in Flanders.”
In one communication the young soldier writes: “Let me thank you for the nice mittens you have sent me. It was very kind of you, and I can assure you they came in very useful in the trenches. I am keeping in the best of health. With a bit of luck I hope to be able to come and give you a call. I think the Germans are on their last legs. This is all at present as I am rather pushed for time. I am busy sending trench mortars over to the German blighters.”
Apologising for using a pencil, he says: “I had my ink in a dug-out, but while I was with a raiding party over to the German limes, the dug-out was blown in, and I lost my ink.”
In another communication, the soldier writes: “I am very pleased to receive your kind letter. It does my heart good to correspond with old friends. It bucks me up a treat to know that I have a friend or two to write to me out here, as it is a hard life, and letters from dear old England are like a breath of the happy times I used to have before I accepted the King’s shilling.
“It is a healthy life amid healthy surroundings, and makes you think healthy thoughts. I was surprised that you had shown my letter to my schoolmaster. I was proud to learn that he said it was well put together, as I had always a high regard for him and his opinion.
“We are out of the trenches for a short spell. As we have been in the thick of it for months, I will turn your hair white with tales of the firing line when I get again to the Homeland. I have stored your mittens in my haversack till the cold weather comes again. Who knows but by that time the world will be at peace.”
LOCAL JOURNALIST AS A SOLDIER
A local journalist, writing home, makes a request for a book and proceeds with the following interesting comments:—
I had quite a decent number of “silent friends” (books) with me when I left England, but these have nearly all had to be jettisoned in favour of pack stuff more essential to my physical welfare. Are you surprised when I use the word “economy?” The fact is, however, that trench warfare is a deadly dull business, except when one is actually having a set-to.
If I had any assurance that in the future we were going to have time like a few of our lot have experienced, then the book I ask for would not be required, for we have had periods when we would have been better employed learning our prayers than in learning a foreign language. Still, the greater portion of my time here has lacked both excitement and interest and I am certain that the oft-heard phrase — ”Oh, what a –– life this is!” — is prompted more by this feeling of boredom than any sense of danger.
You see, apart from a daily routine of gun-cleaning, billet-cleaning, etc.— except in the trenches, where one has long periods of standing waiting for a happening that more than not occurs the day after one’s company has been relieved — there is so little out here to claim one’s interest. What we want is to get the swine beaten, and get back to “blighty.” Of course there is the daily gossip about the “big move” coming off soon, and then we’ll probably get more excitement than we desire.
All I have seen through a periscope — all anyone except our gallant airmen can see — is no end of trenches and barbed wire. I think we are good enough any minute to take them. Not an officer or a long-service Tommy out here but will tell you that the enemy have every move of the game at their finger ends, but that they lack the wonderful pluck of the average Britisher. This, to my mind, finds best confirmation in the stories one learns of the charges. All the tales you hear about the Huns’ whining ways when it comes to hand-to-hand combat I have had confirmed a hundred times.
And yet in massed formation they walk unflinchingly into a perfect hail of bullets. Their method of military training and discipline, one may presume, is responsible for this. Our machine guns simply mowed them down, and still they walked calmly on. You would wonder where they all came from!
It is in no braggart way that Tommy tells this tale in his billet, and he talks in a company with a knowledge to confirm or contradict. I love to hear the boys who have gone through it tell their simple but graphic stories — in their own way and their own language. They would scarcely be printable.
Of course, we machine gunners have little to do with the charges, as we generally lie further back, and get most of the shell fire. It’s a hellish business when they are at it; but I am surprised at my sensations — or rather lack of sensation. I admit I thought I should be a bit funky, but I’ll be jiggered if I didn’t catch myself thinking what a fine descriptive “special” it would make! Being so near death did not give me an extra heart-beat.
I commenced scribbling in darkness and I’ll close at the break of dawn. How soon the larks are astir.
THE LATE LIEUTENANT LINDSAY BAINBRIDGE
There was a large attendance at the Prudhoe Street Mission, Newcastle, on Tuesday night when Mrs Bainbridge of Eshott Hall unveiled a memorial portrait of the late Lieutenant T. Lindsay Bainbridge, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who was killed in action in April, 1915. Dr. G.B. Hunter presided.
The Chairman referred to the late Lieutenant Lindsay Bainbridge as a warm-hearted and generous supporter of the Prudhoe Street Mission. He had encouraged those who were connected with the Mission, and had himself been encouraged by his connection with it. To Mrs Bainbridge and the family he tendered the expression of the deep sympathy which the Mission felt towards her. Two noble sons had given their lives for King and country. Lieut. Wilfrid Bainbridge, who had given up his life for the nation this year, was one of the finest young fellows he had ever met.
In unveiling the portrait, Mrs Bainbridge said she hoped it would remind them of one who put duty first. The Mission held a warm place in his heart, and she asked them to accept the picture as an expression of gratitude. Mrs Bainbridge concluded by wishing the Mission every success.— The portrait was accepted on behalf of the Mission by Mr J. Gibson, Mr T. Bowran and Sister Jennie.
Tributes to the memory of the late Lieut. Lindsay Bainbridge were paid by Lieut. Gerald A. France, R.N.V.R., M.P., and Mr George Bowran, the leader of the Prudhoe Street Mission.
THE CHOICE AT THE PLAYHOUSE
Playhouse-goers would naturally be disappointed last Saturday evening when the advertised film of “Mignon” unfortunately did not turn up; but, taking the fact into consideration that the line of transit is in the country’s hands and the motto of every Britisher is “Our country first,” surely the management of this theatre may be pardoned for a delay no fault of theirs.
BELGIAN RELIEF FUND
The Northumberland County Fund, opened by the Duke of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant of the County, in co-operation with the National Committee for Relief in Belgium, has now reached a total of over £9,530.
Among the amounts sent from the county to the National Committee are the following:— Bedlington, £60; Gosforth, £104; Hexham, £60; Jesmond, £32; Milbourne, £75; Morpeth, £152; Newcastle, £3,222; Riding Mill, £57; Tynemouth, £209; Wark, £25; Wallsend, £93.
An idea as to the respective activities of the various county funds can be gathered from the fact that Yorkshire (West Riding) has contributed £59,936, Lancashire £26,149, and the smallest county fund, is that of Radnor, which has contributed only £214.
Donations are urgently needed to avert starvation in Belgium, and may be sent either to local committees throughout the county, or direct to the National Committee for Relief in Belgium, Trafalgar Buildings, London, W.C., in which case the amounts will be credited to the county funds.
MINERS AND COMPULSION
The Miners’ Federation, at its conference in London, on Friday, passed the following resolution, on a card vote, by 583,000 against 135,000:—
“The conference expressed its opposition to the spirit of conscription, and determines to continue to exercise vigilant scrutiny of any proposed extension of the Military Service Act.”
A resolution protesting against boys of 18 being automatically drafted into the Army, as proposed in the Military Service Bill, was carried unanimously.
The bad attendance at the churches in Morpeth and district has been the cause of much concern to both ministers and office-bearers for some time. Last week the matter was very earnestly and seriously discussed by the office-bearers of St George’s Presbyterian Church, and the minister — Dr Drysdale — was asked to issue a pastoral letter to the members and adherents of his church, calling attention to the subject, which he very promptly did.
As other churches in the town are suffering from the same cause, and in the hope that it may benefit them, we take the liberty of printing Dr Drysdale’s letter, which reads as follows:—
To the Members and Adherents of St George’s Church, Morpeth.
Dear Brethren,— Permit me to address you briefly but earnestly on a matter of high moment and concern. Steady and regular attendance at public worship is the imperative and privileged duty of all professing Christians. Yet many congregations, our own among them, are manifesting a laxity in this respect much to be deplored.
Strange that such remissness should be seen when we are struggling in the throes of this most awful War! We should rather have expected a deeper solemnizing of men’s spirits and a yearning desire to bring them under the hallowing influence just now of reverence and Godly fear.
Is there not a special summons for all to brace themselves afresh with the ancient resolution:— ”We will go into His tabernacles and worship at His footstool.”
2/1 CHESHIRE YEOMANRY, “B” SQUADRON
By the kind permission of Lieut. Col. R.N.H. Verdin, a Squadron Ball will be held in the Masonic Hall, Morpeth, on Thursday, 25th May, 1916.
Dancing: 8pm to 2am. Music by W. Barker’s Band, Choppington.
Tickets: Gent’s, 3/6; Ladies, 2/6, (Refreshments Inclusive.)
Caterer: Messrs. R. Oliver & Sons.
Application for tickets to be made by letter only to the Hon. Sec., F. Bennett, S.Q.M.S., Orde House, Morpeth, not later than Wednesday night, 24th inst.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Mrs O’Hare, Front Street, Bedlington, has received information that her husband, Corporal John O’Hare, West Yorks, was killed in France on the 5th May. Corporal O’Hare was a native of Morpeth.
Mr and Mrs Chris Laben, of 4 Flat Top Row, Seghill Colliery, received official intimation from the Infantry Record Office, Perth, last Friday morning, that their son, Private Thomas Laben, of the Black Watch, who received a gunshot wound on May 4th, has died from his wounds.
ROLL OF HONOUR
CRAGGS.— Killed in action on the 9th of April, with the Indian Expeditionary Force, John Henry, the only and dearly-beloved son of Henry L. and Margaret Craggs of the Scottish Laundry, Spital Tongues, and grandson of the late Mr John Craggs of this town, also of the late Charles Edward Scott, of Longframlington.
BRAVE AMBLE LAD
Many of the younger people in Amble would know Henry Hewitson, for he always took a keen interest in the sports of the town. It is with regret that I have to add his name to the ever-growing list of those brave young Englishmen who have given their all for their country.
“Killed in action” is an all too familiar phrase to us now, but each one brings its meed of sorrow and grief to their immediate relatives. Yet the whole of the people of this district will keep green the names of those lads who have done their part to uphold the flag of freedom and liberty.
NOT PLOUGHED FOR 50 YEARS
The high price of potatoes and vegetables should be the means of every bit of available land being put into cultivation. Seed potatoes are costing from £6 a ton and upwards. I know one farmer who has paid £10 a ton for early potatoes.
On Barrow’s farm near Newsham, Mr Allen has made arable some fields which the plough has not touched for 50 years, and the wheat crop thereon is springing splendidly.
People who do not cultivate their gardens in these times should be made to give them up to those who are willing to work them, in view of the national necessity for a plentiful supply of such foodstuffs. The great hardship which many farmers have to ensure is the lack of labour.
One local farmer who has been in the habit of putting about 50 acres of land away to potatoes, so far this season has not planted a single “spud.” The delayed work from this and other causes will mean that during the next few weeks many agriculturists will have their hands full to get their seeds in.
AMBLE PETTY SESSIONS
The monthly petty sessional court was held at Amble on Friday last.
Two boys were charged with wilfully damaging certain telegraph insulators.
P.C. Gibson said that he was on duty on the highway between Gloster Hill Road and the Mains Farm, when he saw the two boys approaching from the direction of Broomhill. They were about four yards from him when they began to throw stones at the insulators. When he asked them why they had done it they replied that they were really throwing stones at the telegraph poles. They broke one cup (produced).
Mr Hindmarsh (inspector of the postal telegraphs) said that each broken insulator interfered with the proper working of the telegraph.
The Chairman, addressing the boys, said they had heard what the inspector had said about the damage to those insulators. The wires were required every hour of the day and night, and he wished to impress upon them the danger that arose at the present time through the damage. They were putting the locality into serious danger.
They had some boys at the last court for the very same thing, and he warned them that if ever they came back again for breaking insulators they would inflict the full penalty. The Bench were not prepared to go so far as to send them to prison. They could do it if they chose, and he was afraid they would have to do it to protect themselves if this mischief was persisted in.
The Chairman impressed upon the two small defendants the seriousness of the matter and importance of having the telegraphs in working order. If they did not get timely information of raids they would just have to sit still and get killed.
Each boy was fined 9/-, to be paid in weekly instalments. The father of one of the boys offered to pay the fine there and then, but the clerk informed him that he could not do so, but that it would have to be paid by the boy himself at the police station every Saturday morning until the full amount was paid.
YOUNG MEN ON LEAVE
It is a very pleasing thing to meet our young men who are home on leave. They generally meet with a hearty welcome from their friends.
When they do come either from the front or the training ground one cannot help being struck with the difference in their appearance. I have known thin, pale lads go away, and when they came back they were taller, stouter, and with bronzed faces, and each and every one will tell you that they are “fit.”
DISCHARGED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS
A registry of men discharged from His Majesty’s Naval and Military Forces, as unfit for further service on account of wounds or sickness contracted on service during the war, is being prepared for the use of the committees to be established under the Pensions Act.
Any such men living in Northumberland are requested to send in their names and addresses to Mrs A, Lennox Napier, 6 Eldon Square, Newcastle-on-Tyne, who will forward cards to be filled in with particulars.