In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1917, 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.
A most enjoyable evening was spent at the V.A.D. Hospital, Morpeth, on Thursday evening, when the staff and wounded soldiers were handsomely entertained to tea through the generosity of Dr Graham Rochester, Minnesota, USA. The wards were tastefully and artistically decorated, presenting quite a Christmas appearance.
Among those present were Mr and Mrs F.E. Schofield, Miss S. Schofield, Mrs R. Crawford, Mrs Jobling, Miss M. Mack, Miss Jackson, Captain Higginson, Captain Lacey, Mrs F. Brumell (quartermaster), and the Hon. Mrs Joicey (commandant).
At the outset Mr F.E. Schofield said he had to welcome those present and also wish them a happy and prosperous New Year, on behalf of their host, Dr Graham, of whose generosity they were partaking.
Dr Graham was a friend who had a large heart and a liberal hand, and had five or six times entrusted him (Mr Schofield) with substantial amounts in order to entertain sick and wounded British soldiers. Last Christmas a very enjoyable time was spent through the generosity of Dr Graham. This year Dr Graham had already entertained between five and six hundred soldiers at a hospital in France, where his (Mr Schofield’s) daughter presided; and in the near future another local hospital was going to participate in Dr Graham’s generosity.
On moving a vote of thanks Mrs Joicey said she wished to thank Mr Schofield, along with the donor, for the delightful entertainment they had had. She was also thankful of the opportunity of thanking the nurses who had done splendid work since August 4th, 1914, when they were first called on.
Mrs Brumell, in seconding the motion, said she wished, on behalf of the staff, to tender her thanks to Mr Schofield and Dr Graham for the excellent tea and entertainment, which everybody had greatly enjoyed.
The motion was carried with enthusiasm.
The concert opened with selections on the violin by Mr E.C. Jackson, which was followed by recitations by Miss Mack and songs by Corporal Raines, Sergt. Edge, Private Moorhouse, and Private Chantler. Miss S. Schofield and Miss M. Jackson ably presided at the piano during the evening.
It was wonderful to see the splendid spirit which was manifested by all classes during the New Year holidays.
There was an entire absence of that liveliness usually associated with the celebration of the New Year. The time-honoured custom of first-footing was freely indulged in, but it was carried out in a way which was free from noise and objectionable conduct, and from information received, as the police say, there was very little drunkenness in the district.
A noticeable feature of the festive season was the practical interest that has been shown in the brave lads both at home and abroad. It goes without saying that our soldiers and sailors, who are sacrificing home and comforts, and suffering great hardships in order to protect the homeland and uphold the honour of this country in the different theatres of war, deserve all the good things that can be bestowed upon them.
In connection with the Ashington Patriotic Fund considerably over 2,000 parcels have been forwarded to soldiers and sailors hailing from that district. In the different V.A.D. hospitals the patients have been well catered for, and they have been the recipients of useful gifts from hosts of friends.
The troops stationed in Morpeth and neighbourhood have some talented artistes in their ranks, and recently their services have been in good demand, and they can be relied upon to furnish a very excellent concert. We have had the pleasure of listening to their enjoyable entertainments on more than one occasion.
LOCAL MILITARY MEDALLIST
Sergeant N. Carmichael, King’s Royal Rifles, has been awarded the Military Medal for carrying a wounded man into a place of safety.
Sergeant Carmichael is the son of Mrs Dunn, South Linton, and was severely wounded on September 15th, 1916.
Previous to enlisting he was a pupil at Morpeth Grammar School, where he proved himself a scholar and athlete of no mean ability. In 1914-15 he captained the First XI football team through a very successful season, and at the annual sports on June 3rd, 1915, succeeded in winning the Creighton Challenge Cup with 45 points. He also took a prominent part in the School Cadet Corps, being a sergeant before he left the school.
MORPETH WAR SAVINGS ASSOCIATION
Mr William Simpson, press correspondent for the above association, has sent us the following:— The above association suspended their meetings during the festive season owing to our principal workers being on holiday.
The association will resume on Tuesday, 9th Jan., 1917, at 6pm, within the Town Hall, Market Place, for which we are indebted to the Town Council, who have so kindly granted us the use of their premises to hold our meetings in future, and we trust that the public, now that the festive season is over, will come forward in greater numbers and assist in this noble work.
Someone has coined, as a sort of motto for War Savings Associations, the phrase, “Save to Save.” The meaning, of course, is that when people save money for the country’s sake, and lend it for the country’s use, they are really saving human lives.
This is profoundly true; and, great as the results of the War Savings Movement have been, they would spring up to greater heights by leaps and bounds if it were fully realised. The reasoning is quite simple. Our victory depends upon our men. But our men depend for their lives, not to say for the effective doing of their work, upon an adequate supply of arms, ammunition, and all the other things they need, but an adequate supply of arms, and all the rest depends upon money.
Therefore anyone who saves his money and lets the country use it is really saving life. Every sixpence paid into a War Savings Association may mean that somewhere in the widely-stretched battle-areas, a soldier or a sailor may have been kept from wounds or death. That is no exaggeration, but sober and literal fact. It is no less true because the precise effect of any particular sixpence cannot be traced. Somewhere it tells.
In fact, one needs to din it into the ears of all and sundry that a War Savings Certificate actually means 124 cartridges. That is the concrete illustration which brings the thing home. If we kept back 15/6 which we might have lent, some fighting man somewhere or other has 124 cartridges less than he might have had. What they may involve it is easy to guess.
War Savings Associations are really one of the most potent man-saving agencies of the day. Indeed, those who withhold anything they might have offered through these channels may well ask themselves whether they are not going near to incurring the guilt of blood. That is the converse truth to the other — that they who do their best in this matter really “save to save.”
Let us therefore begin the New Year well and save every penny possible. This can be done in many ways which I need not enumerate. Great Britain needs fully five million pounds every day to carry on the war. Most of this huge sum has to be found by those who are not fighting, and it can only be found if all are willing to do two things:—
(1) to reduce the consumption of everything that is not absolutely required for good health and fitness for work; and (2) to increase as far as possible the power of the nation to make munitions of war and to produce goods for export to other countries.
The war will be won, well won, and quickly won, if behind the firing line the people at home stand and offer their money to their country. Money cannot be used more patriotically.
I therefore, in the name of the War Savings Association, appeal very strongly to one and all to come forward and join our Association. I would also appeal to the various churches in the town, and ask them to form associations respectively. Particulars as to the forming of associations may be had from the Committee every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7pm, in the Town Hall, Morpeth.
MORPETH BOARD OF GUARDIANS
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.
The Clerk read a circular letter from the Finance Committee of the Volunteer Force of the County of Northumberland, which went on to say “that this regiment is taking a valuable and necessary part in the defence of the country. The Government are giving a capitation grant of £2 to the men who are willing to serve for the duration of the war. The grant will not be received for some time yet. We appeal to all corporations, urban and rural councils, and Board of Guardians to assist the finances of the Volunteer Regiment which is intended to consist of seven battalions, three of which are already formed. Will you support us in the movement for home defence by bringing this appeal before your Board?”
The letter added that the Tynemouth Guardians had made a grant of £105.
Chairman: We are asked to do our best to further this movement. I think we had better wait and see what other Boards have done in the matter. It can come up again at the next meeting.
The chairman’s suggestion was adopted.
In accordance with notice given Mr Reavley moved that outdoor relief be increased by sixpence per week to each person. He said that it was two years come March since they gave the last increase of sixpence, equal to 20 per cent. From the last Board of Trade returns it was shown that prices had gone up 84 per cent. The amounts 3/6 and 2/6 to adults and children respectively did not meet the requirements at all. In his motion he included the orphans as well.
They wanted especially to see that the children were properly fed. In that union there were 387 children, including 18 orphans, and 358 adults, making a total of 745, receiving outdoor relief. The giving of an additional sixpence would mean an expenditure of about £912 a year. One penny in the pound raised £300. Without using any arguments it was the right thing at the right moment to give this sixpence.
Chairman: I don’t think it is necessary to discuss the question at all. I am sure we are all entirely in favour of it. The cost of foodstuffs has been increased considerably, and we should take care of the children.
The motion was carried unanimously.
A resolution was received from the Hammersmith Union stating that that Board viewed with concern the action of the recruiting authorities calling up married men with families, who had heavy domestic responsibilities, while single men escaped service.— It was agreed that no action be taken.
Mr Redhead, rate collector for Bedlington, applied for a war bonus, and it was agreed that he be given a war bonus of 10 per cent on his salary.
The Morpeth Detachment of the Northumberland Volunteer Regiment commences the new year under the most favourable conditions. The men are now feeling the benefit of the training they have received under the command of Acting-Commander Wm. Duncan.
All the men have now had instruction in the use of the rifle and company drill. Instruction in bombing and grenades has also been given.
Considering that it was the holiday season Tuesday night last witnessed a good muster. The men were put through physical drill under the direction of Mr S. Hoey, and the various exercises were thoroughly appreciated. It will be seen that the drills are becoming more and more interesting.
Before dismissing the men Acting Commander Duncan expressed his pleasure at the enthusiastic way in which they had taken up the physical drill. He asked them to inform their friends outside the volunteer movement how interesting the drills were, and the benefit to be derived from them. He appealed to each one to endeavour to get men between the ages of 41 and 50 to come along and join.
Arrangements have been made for the men to have shooting practice shortly with the Morris tube on the Terrace.
There will be the usual parade on Sunday morning first at 10.10am at the Council Schools. As the holidays are now over it is expected that there will be a big beat-up on Sunday.
The enrolments stand at the satisfactory total of 175, but those in command are very anxious to have the local detachment up to full company strength.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Mrs Dunn, 137 Pont Street, Seaton Hirst, Ashington, has received official news that her husband, Sergeant G. Dunn, has been missing since November 14th. Sergt. Dunn is the eldest son of Mr and Mrs John Dunn, 9, Manchester Street, Morpeth.
Mrs Robson, of Delaval Terrace, Blyth, one of whose sons, Private Will Robson, was killed on New Year’s Day in 1916, has just received intimation that her only remaining son, Private Joseph Robson, has been posted as missing.
Information has been received by Mr and Mrs Bonnier, of Alnwick, that their eldest son, Staff Driver Charles Bonnier, Royal Army Service Corps, has died in hospital from injuries.
Leading Seaman, E.J. Tucker, R.N.D., of Ellington, was killed in action in November last. Prior to the war he was an employee at Ellington Colliery. He was also a student at Bothal evening school and attended St John Ambulance Classes. He was a member of the Ellington Orchestral Band. At the outbreak of hostilities he immediately joined the Royal Naval Division, and was promoted to leading seaman at the age of 22 while serving in Gallipoli. After passing through that campaign without injury, he was transferred to France.
Serg. James A. Richardson, N.F., of Great Tosson, Rothbury, son of Mr A. Richardson (gamekeeper with Lord Armstrong), is reported to have been killed in November. He was 21 years of age, and joined the Territorials in 1914.
ROLL OF HONOUR
HENNESSEY.— Killed in action ion July 1st, 1916, E. Hennessey, the beloved son of Isabella and the late Edward Hennessey, of High Market, Ashington.
At this season when there have been so many kindly recognitions and seasonable gifts presented to the wives and families of soldiers, it is rather displeasing to receive a reminder from Pegswood in regard to the hardship of soldiers’ dependents, who feel the burden of having even to purchase fire-coal out of their meagre allowances, which, in these days of high prices for foodstuffs, makes the lot of these people very hard indeed.
It would be a boon to them if some practical scheme could be organised to procure for them the means of “keeping the home fires burning,” which has been an oft-repeated promise to those who have risked so much and endured so much in securing the safety and comfort of the home of others during this conflict.
STILL IN DARKNESS
Mr William Straker, secretary of the Northumberland Miners’ Association, in his monthly circular issued on Saturday, wishes members “A Glad New Year,” and declares that the gladdest news to a grief-stricken war-weary, waiting world would be that peace had been declared.
“It was night on the Judean Hills when the glorious light appeared to the shepherds. So, while we are in thick darkness, yet there has appeared at least a ray of light — nay, three rays of light; one has come over the Swiss mountains, another over the North Sea, and the third across the Atlantic Ocean. Faint they are, and only rays, but we can at least hope that they will prove to be precursors of the fuller days of peace.”
In reference to the change of Government, Mr Straker expresses the opinion that the defeat of the Asquith Cabinet was brought about by the unscrupulous newspaper campaign which will go down to history as the blackest episode in British politics, especially as it was relentlessly carried on when every true patriot was endeavouring to show a united front to the enemy.
AN ORGAN RECITAL
We have pleasure in announcing that an organ recital and violoncello recital will be given by Mr John Wyatt, ARCO, LRAM, and Miss Valentine Orde, LRAM, in St James’ Church, Morpeth, on Sunday afternoon first. Mrs Fullarton James is announced as the soloist. We can safely predict that the programme will be of the highest order, and should please all lovers of good music.
Mr Wyatt, who is the organist of St James’, has a worthy object in view. It is in aid of the Star and Garter Fund. We might explain that the Star and Garter was a large hotel in Richmond which was bought by the nation for disabled soldiers, and in connection with it industries are being organised which the men can cope with — in fact, it is intended as a permanent home for those men broken in the wars.
It is hardly necessary to add that a considerable sum of money will be required from time to time for the successful carrying on of this useful institution. The recital is timed to commence at three o’clock.
A silver collection will be taken, and the entire proceeds will be devoted to the above mentioned fund.