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.
Last Saturday a large number of people from Tyneside visited Morpeth. Amongst those who arrived were the munition workers of 43 shop at Messrs Armstrong, Whitworth, and Company, Newcastle, and they spent a most enjoyable day. The Corporation placed at the disposal of the party the Town Hall. In the Corn Exchange lunch and tea were provided.
The organisers of the outing had arranged a capital programme of sports, and on the Castle Banks the various events programmed were keenly contested under the direction of Sergt. T.S. Blackwood, assisted by Messrs Ashworth, Heanley, and Mubry, and Councillor R.N. Swinney of Morpeth.
For each event valuable prizes were offered. In addition special prizes were provided by Mrs Allison, Mrs Baxter, and Mr Ashworth, Newcastle, and Miss Craighill (lady superintendent).
After tea a successful concert was held in the Town Hall. Mr Thos. Green, who presided, was supported by the Mayor (Ald. Ed.Norman) and Councillor R.N. Swinney.
At an interval of the programme the Mayor, who had a cordial reception, presented the prizes to the successful competitors at the sports.
At the outset the Mayor said he was delighted to welcome them to Morpeth. While they were proud of their soldiers who were fighting their battles, they were equally proud of the young women who had joined the forces of industry to help them to fight. They owed a debt of gratitude to the young women who had come to the rescue and helped to provide the munitions which were so much needed to overcome our great enemy. He hoped that they would visit the town again. (Loud applause.)
Songs were excellently rendered by Miss Foster, Miss Edith Wildeman, and Mr Davies. Mr Heanley of Gateshead, in character songs and impersonations, was delightfully entertaining. Mr T. Watson made an efficient accompanist.
On the call of the chairman three cheers were given for the Mayor, and on the motion of Councillor R.N. Swinney votes of thanks were accorded to the chairman and Sergeant Blackworth, who had successfully carried out the arrangements in connection with the picnic.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Ald. Ed. Norman) presided.
The Mayor said he had been asked by the committee to move the following resolution:— “That in view of the second anniversary of the declaration of a righteous war this meeting of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the Borough of Morpeth records once more its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle to maintain the ideal of liberty and justice which is the common and sacred cause of the Allies.” — This was unanimously carried.
The question of revising the Council’s rent allowances to soldiers’ dependents has again been under consideration, and the committee recommended that the whole subject be fully considered at a special meeting of the Council in committee.— This was agreed to.
An application was received from the Council’s workmen for a further advance of 5/- per week each in addition to the two weekly war bonuses of 2/- already granted. The committee recommended that the whole question be considered at a special meeting of the Council in committee.— The recommendation was carried.
In connection with the Naval and Military War Pensions Act, the Town Clerk stated that, as instructed, he had attended, on behalf of the Council, the meeting held at Newcastle on Saturday afternoon last. The meeting was for the purpose of considering organisation under the above Act.
The proposal, he said, was explained by the Duke of Northumberland and other members of the County Council. It appeared that there was an intention on the part of the Government to increase the allowances in future to the widows and children of soldiers who had died in the war. A widow with one child would receive 15/-, a widow with two children 18/6, and a widow with three children 20/6.
It did not appear from the statements made whether it was intended that in future when committees were appointed they would have anything to do with the Government allowances.
Hitherto the Prince of Wales’ Fund and the Lord Lieutenant’s Fund for Northumberland had been used for the purpose of augmenting Government allowances, and in special cases, where the management of those funds had considered that the Government allowances were not sufficient, the fund had been applied in order to enlarge them. In every case where Government allowances did not apply to a case which was considered deserving of some payment, these funds were applied in making allowances not allowed by the Government.
These funds had all hitherto been administered by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Dependents’ Association. Instead of that continuing to be the case, the proposal under the new Act was that funds for augmenting allowances should be administered by a series of committees.
The first was the committee appointed by the County Council which was already in existence. Under that committee there would be working local committees. In the case of the County Council they had divided their work between four sub-committees — one in charge of finance organisation, another for looking after those entitled to pensions, another for looking up deserving cases which did not come under Government allowance, and the fourth for looking out and recommending cases of wounded soldiers suitable for training in some trade. The suggestion of the County Council was that local committees should divide themselves in the same way.
Each local committee as for an urban district had to consist of no more than twenty persons, and it was intended that those persons should be nominated by the Urban Council, by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Association, and such of the Labour organisations in the district as the County Council might decide were entitled to having representatives appointed.
This Council had to nominate five persons for the approval of the County Council committee, and it was desirable that that should be done at once.
He added that one of the functions of the local committee would be to collect funds to augment the funds already available for the purpose of relief. The local committees would be asked to ascertain all cases for which they considered an allowance should be made. They would have to appoint a secretary or clerk, and that official would be asked monthly to submit any applications to the County Council committee for whatever money that was required for the month. All local committees would be asked to distribute the allowances granted by the County committee.
After hearing the statement from the Town Clerk, the following were appointed the Council’s representatives on the proposed local committee:— Mayor, Councillors Swinney, Armstrong, Grey, and the Town Clerk.
ROLL OF HONOUR
BELL.— Died in France, in 2 Stationary Hospital, Abberville, from wounds received in action, on July 6th, 1916, Private Matthew Forster Bell, Tyneside Scottish, beloved husband of Sarah Bell, Riverside Cottage, Morpeth (late of Druridge.)
BAULKS.— Killed in action, 30th June, 1916, aged 24 years, Private T. Baulks, N.F. Only a private soldier, Just one of Britain’s sons; Buried on the field of battle, We know your duty you’ve done. You served your King and Country, God knows you did your best. Now you’re asleep in Jesus, A British soldier laid to rest.— Ever remembered by his loving friend, S. Mather.
LOWES.— Killed in action in France, on June 24th, 1916, aged 24 years, Bombardier-Corporal Robert T. Lowes, 2199, 1st 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, eldest and dearly beloved son of Mr and Mrs Lowes, 2, Wallace Place, Morpeth. The face we loved is now laid low, The fond, true heart is still; The hand we clasped when saying good-bye, Now lies in death’s cold chill. — Ever remembered by his sorrowing father and mother, sisters and brother.
PATTERSON.— Killed in action, June 2nd, Robert, beloved husband of Emma Patterson, 139 Hambledon Street, Blyth, aged 36 years, youngest son of Robert Rankin Patterson, Ferney Beds, Widdrington.— Deeply mourned by his wife and child, father, brother, and sisters.
HANNAY.— Thomas Hannay, Bedlington, reported missing; now officially reported killed, June 4th, 1915. Collingwood Battalion.
McPHERSON.— Killed in action in France, on June 22nd, 1916, aged 27 years, Lance-Corporal Angus McPherson, (Tyneside Scottish), the only son of Mr and Mrs William McPherson, of 14 Low Double Row, North Seaton Colliery. In a land of strangers, Our dear brother doth lie, Not one of us to say good-bye; But angels of Heaven will guard his soul, Until we meet him at the call of the roll.— Ever remembered by his sister and brother-in-law, Sarah and Hugh O’Neil, and two little nephews, Angus and Willie.
MASON.— Killed in action on June 5th, 1916, Private Edward Mason, beloved husband of Sarah Mason, 22 Ravensworth Street, Bedlington Station, late of No. 5 Park End Road, Workington. Sleep on dear husband, in a far-off grave, A grave we shall never see; As long as life and memory lasts, We will remember thee. Sweet be your rest, your memory dear ‘Tis sweet to breathe your name; In life we loved you very dear, In death we do the same.
McPHERSON.— Killed in action in France, on June 22nd, 1916, aged 27 years, Lance-Corporal Angus McPherson (Tyneside Scottish), only son of Mr and Mrs William McPherson, of 14, Low Double Row, North Seaton Colliery. Sleep on, dear brother, in a far-off grave, A grave we may never see; You gave up home, love, life and all, That England should be free.— Ever remembered by his sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Duncan Richardson.
WEATHERLEY.— Killed in action in France, July 2nd, 1916, Lance-Corporal W.J. Weatherley, elder and dearly beloved son of J.T. and A.A. Wearherley, Bothal Cottages, Morpeth.
MORPETH SOLDIER WOUNDED
News has been received by Mrs Donnelly, Howard Terrace, Morpeth, that her son, Sergt. K. Parnell Donnelly, of the Tyneside Irish, has been wounded in action.
BROOMHILL CAVELL MEMORIAL FUND
A successful concert in aid of the above fund was given in the Central Hall, Broomhill, under the auspices of the local Cavell Memorial Committee.
The hall was crowded and Mr C. Alderson, East Chevington, who presided, expressed his satisfaction at the way in which the Broomhill people showed their readiness to support a good cause.
He pointed out that the object of the local committee was to endow a bed in the Cavell Home which is to be opened in Newcastle, and expressed the indebtedness of the committee to the Cheshire Yeomanry for readily undertaking to give the concert.
An excellent programme was given by the “Cheesy Chesyoes,” and from start to finish the appreciation of their efforts by the audience was shown by enthusiastic applause and numerous demand for encores.
As a result of the concert nearly £25 has been secured for the fund.
The annual business meeting of the Morpeth Unionist Association was held at the Constitutional Club, Morpeth, on Saturday. Mr T. Simpson, a vice-chairman, occupied the chair pro tem.
The annual report, which dealt with the satisfactory work of the agent, Mr Simpson, and the part he had taken in assisting the military in recruiting throughout, was read and adopted.
Mr Renwick took the chair, and said he accepted the position with some reluctance, seeing that his engagements were many. But, for patriotic reasons, and also because the chairman elect (Mr F. Wise) was fitted in every way for the position to which they were about to elect him, his (Mr Renwick’s) duties as president would not be of an exacting nature.
Speaking of the war, Mr Renwick said they hoped it would have a speedy and successful conclusion for the Allies. They all extended their heartfelt sympathies to the relatives of those gallant men who had laid down their lives for King and country.
SOCKS FOR SOLDIERS
Mrs Geo. Renwick has been from home much lately, and is likely to be so in the near future. Mrs T.B. Waters has kindly undertaken to receive socks and give out wool at her house in St James’ Terrace, Morpeth, every Monday between 3 and 5pm, commencing on the 24th inst. Mrs Renwick hopes this arrangement will meet the convenience of all.
She will be at the Soldiers’ Institute on Monday, 17th, from 2.30 until 4 o’clock, and it will be a great convenience to her if those ladies who have wool will bring her as many socks as possible, so that she may take them to the Newcastle Ladies’ Committee, who meet on Wednesday, 19th, for the last time for some weeks.
The work will still go on, socks will be sent to the depot, and wool will be distributed as required.
GOLD BRAID FOR WOUNDED
An Army Order says:— The following distinctions in dress will be worn on the service dress jacket by all officers and soldiers who have been wounded in any of the campaigns since 4th August, 1914:—
Strips of gold Russia braid No. 1, two inches in length, sewn perpendicularly on the left sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion on which wounded. In the case of officers the lower end of the first strip of gold braid will be immediately above the upper point of the flap on cuff.
Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men will wear the gold braid on the left sleeve, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the bottom of the sleeve. The additional strips of gold braid, marking each subsequent occasion on which wounded, will be placed on either side of the original one at half-inch interval.
BRITISH FARMERS’ RED CROSS SOCIETY
We have been asked by the above to hold another free gift auction sale at Morpeth. This we are pleased to do. When we remember the great success of our effort last year, we feel sure our appeal will meet with a ready response.
We will make all arrangements. A meeting will be held in the Mart Office, Market Place, Morpeth, on Wednesday, July 19th, at 1.30pm, when we hope there will be a large attendance, so as to form a good strong working committee.
THOMAS WATERS & SON,
MORPETH WAR SEWING MEETING
The above meetings were resumed on Thursday in the Soldiers’ Institute under the auspices of his Worship the Mayor. In spite of the unfavourable weather there was a large attendance. Tea was kindly given by Miss Chirney, and realised £1 7s 3d.
The hon. treasurer has to acknowledge with many thanks £1 from Miss Wright, Howard Street; and many gifts of socks from various donors.
Mr T.B. Waters has kindly promised to sell by auction at 4pm on July 20th, immediately before tea, a handsome bedroom rug, the gift of Mrs Birkett, Hood Street.
HONOUR FOR A NURSE
Sister A.B. Beaton, who is a sister of Dr. Beaton, Ashington, has been awarded the Royal Red Cross for services in Serbia, Egypt, on hospital ships, and elsewhere.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH
The Commandant wishes to acknowledge the following gifts with many thanks:— Mrs G. Middlemass, roller towels; Mrs Harding, towels; Mrs F. Clayton, books; Mrs T. Simpson, plant and rhubarb; Miss Brown, Mitford, flowers; Co-operative Society, flowers; Miss MacDowall, gooseberries; Mrs J. Simpson, cake; Miss Harding, coffee pot; Mrs T. Simpson, cakes; Mrs Charles Wilkinson, buns and cakes; and Miss Woodhouse, Bedlington, for so kindly taking patients out in car.
MILITARY MEDAL FOR ASHINGTON SOLDIER
Lance-Corporal Sid Rivett of the Tyneside Scottish has received the Military Medal and has also been promoted for gallant conduct on the field.
He was formerly employed by Ashington Coal Company, and previous to enlisting was on the staff of the Buffalo Picture Palace.
DEATH OF A CHOPPINGTON SOLDIER
We have received the following communication from Lance-Corporal W.J. Temple, A.S.C., of 2 West View, Bedlington Station:
Sergt. Jos. Graham, 19860 (late of Choppington), of the famous Canadian Contingent, died of wounds received at Ypres, in the Ontario Military Hospital, Kent, on June 23rd, 1916.
After doing 17 months overseas round the Ypres salient ad being wounded twice, he was again seriously wounded in the legs and brought to England. After lying in hospital a few days, blood poisoning set in and other complications, which caused him to die a most cruel death. He would much rather have been killed outright on the battlefield and died as almost 3,000 of his own brigade had done.
While lying in the hospital, he praised the men of his platoon for the speedy manner in which they removed him from the scene of operations, after being buried, to a place of safety. This only shows how he was admired by the men under this charge.
I have it on the authority of a wounded comrade that the excellent work done by Sergeant Graham in the trenches at the first battle of Ypres would have been recognised had not the officer in charge been mortally wounded. His knowledge of first aid came in exceedingly useful, especially in checking arterial bleeding. He tended his comrades until ordered to retire by his superior officer, and then he was loathe to do so.
Before going into action for the last time, he had his transport papers to take up a commission in his old regiment, the D.L.I., and need never have gone into action, but the fighting spirit which was always strong in him prevailed, and he did his duty with the platoon.
Sergt. Graham was well known in local athletic circles, having been a keen rugby and soccer player. He played for several good teams at different times, but was at his best when playing three-quarter along with the late Jack Patterson for Southwick Rangers.
In the various schools in which he taught he took a great interest in the physical welfare of the children. While teaching at Sunderland he spent a great deal of his spare time in teaching the art of swimming. He was well known among teachers, especially Bede men, being one of them himself. At the beginning of the war he left a good position in Canada to do his duty with the men of the Mother Country.
It seems a great pity that such a promising life should be cut short after spending such a long period in the hottest part of our line and getting safely back to England.
I quote from an unfinished letter which he began to write a few days before his death.
Ontario Military Hospital
Orpington, Kent, 9-v.016
“Dear Billy,— I am lying in above hospital suffering from wounds received on Hill 60, Ypres, on the 2nd June. Without a doubt I consider that I am very fortunate and somewhat unfortunate. The day I went into action my transfer to take a commission in the British Army came through. Now, of course, I am hors de combat, and likely to remain so for a while.
Probably by the time you receive this you will have read all about the battle, but I consider that my identical case was so peculiar that I am going to tell you of it. Early in the morning we moved up to prepare before making a move. Old Fritz saw us dig ourselves in, but he let us go ahead. About 4am he opened with the heavies and h.t. shrapnel and everything went well until about 8, when he made up his mind to concentrate on the little piece of ground where seven of us were dug in.”
His death was premature and not as he wished it, nevertheless he died knowing he had done his duty. He was buried with full military honours in Choppington Church yard on June 28th, and the funeral was well attended by his many friends, who deeply deplored his early death.
ALNWICK CAMP CONCERT
A concert party, “The Frills and Frolics,” have commenced a week’s entertainment in the pavilion at the Convalescent Camps, Alnwick, under the auspices of Colonel P. Broome Giles, C.B., and officers.
The singing of Mr Kenneth Kerr, baritone; Miss Barbara Merle, mezzo-soprano; and he toe dancing of Miss May Willis were well received. A trio of “Lady Workers,” tram conductor, postman, and window cleaner pleased the large audience as well as the finale, a sketch entitled “A Dramatic Agency.”
On Tuesday evening the party gave a public performance in the Drill Hall, Alnwick, there being a large and delighted audience.