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.
An interesting ceremony will take place in the Market Place, Morpeth, on Sunday first, at a quarter past twelve, noon, when the Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) will publicly present the Military Medal, which has been won by Private Richard George Williamson, Northumberland Fusiliers.
During the attack made by his battalion on the enemy’s line he displayed exceptional courage and devotion to duty in attending to wounded men under intense machine gun and rifle fire.
The gallant soldier, who resides at 4 Hamilton Terrace, Morpeth, returned home from hospital on Monday last.
It is interesting to note that the various units quartered in the town and also the local company of the Boy’s Brigade have been invited to take part in the ceremony.
SECOND-LIEUTENANT ED. GREY LAWSON
Mr and Mrs William Lawson, of Brighton Villa, Morpeth, received word from the War Office on Sunday evening that their youngest son, Second Lieut. Edward Grey Lawson, has been posted as missing from the 14th inst.
Lieut. Lawson joined the Commercials shortly after the outbreak of war, and within a week of enlistment he was made corporal. He received his commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers in August, 1915, and was shortly afterwards appointed bombing officer for his battalion.
Later he took up the position of assistant bombing inspector for the Northern Third Line Division. He relinquished his position on the staff when his turn came to go out with his battalion, and he proceeded to France in March last.
He spent his 21st birthday in the trenches in July. At the time he was posted missing he was acting captain of a company.
Lieut. Lawson was educated at the Morpeth Grammar School, and was sergeant in the School Cadets. Some years ago he joined the Morpeth detachment of the Boy Scouts, and was their first scoutmaster. On the occasion of General Baden-Powell’s first visit to Newcastle, a number of years ago, inspecting the Boy Scouts of the North, Lieut. Lawson was in command of two patrols of Scouts.
Prior to joining the Colours he was a draughtsman with Messrs Henry Watson and Son, engineers, Walkergate.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Private F. McGregor, Pegswood, previously reported missing, is now reported killed.
Lance-Corpl. R. Walton, 125 Audley Road, Gosforth, killed in action.
Private Robert Bell, 18 Morven Terrace, Ashington, has died of wounds received in action.
Private W. Wood, 11 Institute Row, West Sleekburn, killed in action.
Private Ralph Snowden, 20 Morven Terrace, Ashington, killed in action.
Private J.T. Dixon, 17 Clifton Row, Netherton Colliery, killed in action. He had been reported missing since July 1st.
Mrs Milburn, 7 Field Street, Gosforth, has been informed that her husband has been killed in action.
Private J.H. Clark, Guide Post, Choppington, who was reported missing, is now reported killed in action.
Private Jos. McHugh, Hollymount, Bedlington, killed in action. He had been missing since July 1st.
Private Robert Wm. Pender, Royal Scots Fusiliers, Alnwick, has died of wounds received in action.
Private Jos. L. Benns, 8 Westfield Crescent, Newbiggin, late of Seaton Hirst, killed in action. He had been missing since July 1st.
Private B. Foley, Bebside Furnace, who had been reported missing, is now reported killed in action.
Lance-Corpl. Nathan Barnes, 10 Scott Street, Hartford Colliery, killed in action. He was reported missing on July 1st.
Mrs Tait, of Hawkhill, Alnwick, has received news that her youngest son, Private John James Tait, Northumberland Fusiliers, has been killed in action.
Mr and Mrs Thompson, Blue Top Row, Cramlington, have received news that their son, Pte. Jos. Thompson, who has been officially reported missing since July 15th, is now being reported as having been killed in action on July 1st.
Mrs J Peacock, Ann Street, Shiremoor, has received official information that her husband, Sergt. J. Peacock, was killed in action on Nov. 2nd.
Mrs Laverick, of Cross Row, West Cramlington, whose husband, Private Mark Laverick, N.F., has been reported as missing since July 1st has been informed that he was killed in action in July.
Mrs Tait, 7 Bog Houses, Hartford, has received official information that her son, Sergt. Robert Tait, who was reported missing on July 1st, is now reported killed in action.
Sergt. T.E. Davidson, 13 Roseworth Avenue, Gosforth, killed in action.
Mr and Mrs A.J. Curtice, of 22 Hedley St., Gosforth have received news that their eldest son, Lieut. Frederick Russell Curtice, R.F.A., has succumbed to wounds received in action.
Private James Kilgour, N.F., of Hartford Colliery is now officially reported killed in action on July 1st, after being missing since that date.
Private Arthur Sample, N.F., Widdrington (late of Alnwick) who was reported wounded is now reported wounded and missing since Sept. 15th. Mrs Thompson, of Plessey Farm, Cramlington (his mother), will be thankful for any news about him.
Mrs Riseborough, of 5a Station Road, Cramlington, has received official news that her youngest son, Gunner Norman Riseborough, R.F.A., was killed in action on October 31st. Mrs Riseborough, who is a widow, has her other two sons on active service in France, one of which has previously been wounded.
Private R. Dungait (No.23768), Duke of Wellington’s, reported as wounded on Oct. 12th, but no news of him has been received since. Any information respecting him will be most thankfully received by his parents, Mr and Mrs Dungait, High Weetslade, Dudley.
Lieut. Ernest Nixon, son of the late Councillor John Nixon, J.P., of Blyth, has been slightly wounded, and is in hospital in France. His brother, Capt. William Nixon, of the Tyneside Scottish, reported wounded and missing on July 1st, is believed to have been killed, as no further news has been heard of him.
Mr John Calvert, of 11 Chapel Place, Seaton Burn, has received news that his brother, Private Harry Calvert, R.A.M.C., of Choppington, was killed on Nov. 3rd. Only a few weeks ago Private Calvert was awarded the D.C.M. for bravery on the field.
The relatives of Second-Lieut. A.E. Moorhouse, N.F., 23 Moor Place, Gosforth, have received word of his death in action on the 14th.
Mr John Nichol, of 7 Hedgehope Terrace, East Chevington, Acklington, writes to the effect that whilst his son, Private James Nichol, has been reported missing since the Battle of Loos in Sept. of last year, his parents have received information from several sources that in a prisoners’ camp there is a British soldier suffering from shell-shock whose memory is a blank and who can only say “Nichol, Broomhill.” If this should catch the eye of the soldiers who have made this statement, Private Nichol’s parents would be pleased to know the name of the camp, as that is the only means of tracing they soldier who they think is their missing son.
Private Arthur Henry Wight, of the Australian Imperial Force, who was previously reported missing, is now officially recorded killed in action at the Dardanelles on May 2nd, 1915, in his 19th year. Private Wight came with the first contingent from Australia to the Dardanalles, and his brigade was one of the three selected for the first great landing in Gallipoli on the memorable morning of Sunday, April 25th, 1915. He was among those who succeeded in climbing the almost vertical cliffs, under heavy Turkish fire, and went through the battles which followed on the Peninsula until May 2nd, when he was killed during an attack upon the heights of Gaba Tepe. He was a son of the late Charles Wight, engineer, and grandson of the late Henry Wight, coachbuilder of Morpeth.
Mr and Mrs Seabrook, of Riverside Nurseries, Morpeth, have received a letter from their son, Sergt. Frank Seabrook, of which the following is an extract:— “I am lying wounded, waiting for a boat. I consider myself one of the most fortunate men alive, as I was able to get out with no permanent injury. It happened like this: We had been lying round the line for three weeks in the wet and mud, and we got orders to go over the top on the morning of the 14th November. We had the Australians with us, and were up against the Prussian Guards, and got it pretty warm as you may guess. However, we got our objective all right, but a sniper got me in the dum-dum through the left shoulder and out at the back — a clean wound, thank God, but pretty bad. I have received every attention up to the present.” A letter received stated that he is now lying in a hospital at Glasgow.
ROLL OF HONOUR
CLARK.— Killed in action on July 1st, 1916, Private Henry G. Clark (1612, N.F.), dearly beloved husband of Margaret Clark, Freehold Terrace, Guide Post, Choppington. (Deeply mourned by his loving wife and three children, sisters and brothers.)
DOWIE.— Reported missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed on that date, Private Andrew Dowie, N.F., Tyneside Scottish, the dearly loved son of Thomas and Isabella Dowie, of Netherton Colliery.— (Deeply mourned by his father and mother, brother and sisters.)
FAWDON.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed, on July 1st, 1916, Private Geo. Robert Fawdon (No. 1671, N.F.), aged 37 years, eldest son of John and Sarah Fawdon, 5 Stafford’s Yard, Morpeth. Somewhere in France our hero sleeps, To walk on earth no more. A British hero to the heart, His precious life he gave; He died upon the battlefield, The British flag to save. Could we have raised his dying head, Or heard his last farewell, The grief would not have been so hard, For those who loved him well. Sleep on, dear son, in a soldier’s grave, A grave we may never see; But as long as life and memory lasts, We will remember thee.— (Deeply mourned by his father, mother, sister, and brother.)
MILLER.— Died of wounds in France, Oct. 23rd, 1916. Private Robert Miller (594, N.F.), aged 41 years.— (Deeply mourned by his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Susannah and William Start.)
SUMMERS.— Killed in action on Nov. 3rd, 1916, aged 21 years, George B. Summers (Cheshire Regiment), only and dearly beloved son of Eliza and the late Edward Summers, of West Sleekburn Farm, Bedlington.— (Deeply mourned by his mother and sister, and by all who knew him.)
THOMPSON.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action, Private Joseph Thompson, N.F., dearly beloved son of George and Isabella Thompson, No. 8, Blue Top Row, High Pit, Cramlington.— (Deeply mourned by his loving father, mother, sisters, brothers, and all who knew him.)
TURNER.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action, July 1st, 1916, Private James Turner (1163, N.F.), the beloved husband of Elizabeth Turner, Freehold Terrace, Stakeford Lane, Choppington.— (Deeply mourned by his loving wife and three children; also mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law; also three brothers-in-law (one now in France.)
JACKSON.— In loving memory of Sergt. George Jackson, who was killed in action on July 1st, 1916, the beloved son of James and the late Isabella Jackson, of Barrington.— (Ever remembered by his loving brother and sister, Richard and Mary Jackson of Bomarsund.)
MORPETH SOLDIERS’ CIGARETTE FUND
The committee of the above fund, duly registered as a war fund, have been sending for the past fifteen weeks, through Mr Robert Sinclair of Newcastle, a supply of cigarettes to the Sergeants of the Morpeth Co. of the 7th N.F., for distribution among the Morpeth men in that battalion.
As there are now many Morpethians serving in other units, the committee are anxious to give each soldier from the town, as far as possible, a box of cigarettes for Christmas.
The weekly subscriptions only cover the cost of cigarettes for the Morpeth Coy., and the committee will be very grateful for donations, however small, to enable them to make all our own men alike for Christmas. The weekly subscriptions are only from 1d to 6d.
Any of the following ladies will gladly receive donations:— Mrs George Jackson, hon. treasurer, Bridge Street; Mrs Stevinson, hon. sec., Newgate St.; and committee (Mrs Henderson, Market Place; Mrs Jos. Browell, Olympia Hill; and Mrs A. Hall, Beeswing, Newgate Street.) The fund has the registration fee of 5/-, every penny going to the soldiers.
The letters sent from our lads expressing their gratitude on receipt of the fags are evidence indeed of how the kindness of Morpeth is appreciated.
Trooper J.T. Dryden, B.E.F., acknowledging receipt of the parcel sent a short while ago, says the smokes could not have arrived at a more opportune time, as, although at that particular period they were behind the line, they were not able to buy any. Writing could not possibly explain what they felt, for when the box went round with a cheery “Have a blighty fag,” the boys think of the good folks in the old land who are ever ready to help.
Sergt. J. Cairns, of the Transport Service, in thanking the donors for their gifts of cigarettes, mentions that when sharing them out the boys expressed their gladness in no uncertain way. They were unable to buy any smokes, and the supplies from the homeland were doubly welcome. Although the weather was very trying the boys were “in the pink.”
Such words of thanks and praise from our lads are indeed indicative of their appreciation.
MINERS IN COUNCIL
The half-yearly Council meeting of the Northumberland Miners’ Association was held at the Burt Hall, Newcastle, on Saturday, Mr W. Weir presiding.
The Council was unable to end its deliberations, and an adjournment until tomorrow (Saturday) was ordered. The Council usually meets on the Monday following when an adjournment is necessary, but in order to lessen the number of delegates absent from work, the Saturday following was decided upon.
The large number of former members in the death-roll at the Front was a matter of sympathetic reference.
Mr Weir also commented upon the exceedingly large number of fatal accidents that were occurring in the pits at the present time, and said he had been wondering whether the abnormal state of things now existing had anything to do with it; whether brooding over and thinking over the war and its consequences tended to hinder men from being fully alert to things going on around them.
It was possible, he thought, that when men were thinking about the war they were not so quickly conscious in recognising danger. This was merely an idea of his own, but he thought it might have something to do with the increase in the number of fatal accidents.
The reply of the Northumberland Coalowners’ Association to various requests from the association was read, and, after an expression of dissatisfaction at the refusal of the requests, the Council agreed to allow the requests to remain in abeyance during the war.
CHRISTMAS LETTERS FOR THE TROOPS
Letters and parcels intended for delivery to the troops by Christmas Day should be posted as long as possible in advance of the dates given below:—
British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium, December 16th for letters, Dec. 11th for parcels.
Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Dec. 2nd for letters, Nov. 25th for parcels.
Salonika Force, Dec. 2nd for letters, Nov. 25th for parcels.
Special attention is drawn to the following regulations.—
1. Letters and parcels must be fully and completely addressed.
2. Parcels must be very strongly packed.
3. Fruit, perishable articles, bottles, pudding basins, and the like are prohibited.
4. The name and address of the sender must be written on the outside of the parcels; parcels which do not comply with this rule will be refused.
HUMOUR AT THE FRONT
It is evident from the three good and original jokes which have been forwarded to us by a Morpeth officer that there is no lack of unconscious humour in the fighting line. He says:—
(1) One of my men was clearing up the horse lines in the rain with a “fed up” look on his face, when I remarked: “Now, my lad, let me see you fill that cart with a little more alacrity. You know what I mean?” “Yes, sir. Clarts!” was his reply.
(2) My man served me up with a poached egg on toast. It contained more than the usual amount of grit, and he observed in serving: “Is that egg all right, sir?” I said: “Yes, a good bit of grit about it — otherwise dirt.” To my astonishment he replied: “Oh, sir, I reckon these French folks feed their hens on grit.”
(3) “Waking up time, sir. Good news this morning. I hear we have taken Perfume (meaning Bapaume).” He wasn’t far wrong, because there was plenty of smell about.
NORTHUMBERLAND PRISONERS OF WAR ORGANISATION
Sir,— For various reasons the authorities have decided that a more uniform and controlled system must in future be adopted as regards the despatch of parcels of food to British prisoners of war in Germany and elsewhere. Instructions have therefore been issued that after the 30th November, 1916, such parcels can be despatched only by an authorised organisation and that no other parcel will be accepted for transmission by The Post Office.
The result is that the existing organisation, under the presidency of Viscountess Allendale, must entirely change the system hitherto in force, which, as is generally known, was that of “adopters” undertaking to despatch parcels to one or more men.
To meet the new regulations the two following courses are open to Viscountess Allendale’s organisation, viz., to hand over the responsibility for the care of the Northumberland Fusiliers’ prisoners to the Central Prisoners of War Committee in London, or to inaugurate a packing and despatching of parcels department in Newcastle under the existing organisation. In either case the cost of parcels would have to be defrayed by funds specially raised for the Northumberland units concerned.
After due consideration it has been decided to adopt the latter course and to establish a packing department in Newcastle for the despatch of parcels to the prisoners of war of all county units (Regular and Territorial) with the exception of the Tyneside Irish Brigade (24th to 27th Northumberland Fusiliers), who are making other arrangements.
The new organisation will come into force on December 1st next. It will be styled “The Northumberland Prisoners of War Organisation,” and will remain under the presidency of Viscountess Allendale.
A parcel of food, value 6/-, will be sent weekly to each prisoner, and in addition bread to the value of 1/3 per week. The cost of each prisoner will thus be about 30/- a month. It is hoped that the present “adopters” may see their way in future to subscribe to the fund. By so doing they could still feel that they continue to supply their original prisoner and could, if they so desire, inform him accordingly.
It would facilitate matters if subscriptions could be sent monthly in advance and addressed to Mr J. H. Armstong, 31 Mosley Street, Newcastle-on-Tyne, the envelope being marked “Northumberland Prisoners of War Organisation.” Mr Armstrong has kindly consented to act as hon. secretary and treasurer for the present.
It is also desired to remind “adopters” that owing to curtailment of postal arrangements by the German Government no parcel for a prisoner will be dealt with in Germany between December 15th and 24th. It is hoped, therefore, that an extra supply of goods may be despatched by the 30th November in order that the men may have something to carry them over the period during which no parcels can be received by them. The despatch of a postcard advising the men of this is recommended.
The organisation would also take this opportunity of appealing to the public for funds to carry on the scheme, the expenses in connection with which will be heavy.— Yours, etc.,
E. W. DASHWOOD, Colonel.
Commanding Depot Northd. Fusiliers.
The Barracks. Newcastle-on-Tyne,
20th November, 1916.