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.
A PATRIOTIC MORPETH FAMILY
A splendid record for both the Army and Navy has been created at Morpeth.
It is interesting to note that Jacob Dalton, of Mill House, Wansbeck Mills, has three sons in the Navy and two in the Army, four brothers-in-law in Kitchener’s Army, three nephews in the Navy and one in the Army, and 16 cousins in the Army.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Mrs Thomas Bowman, of 6 West Greens, Morpeth, has received an official notification that her husband, Private Thomas Bowman (8,938) 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, is posted as missing on May 8.
Mrs R Mossman, of 44 North Seaton Road, Ashington, would be grateful to anyone home from France who could give her any information concerning her husband, Sgt R Mossman (885), 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, reported by the War Office as missing since April 29.
Mr and Mrs John Robson, of Seaton Burn, have received intimation that their son, Private R Robson, 5th NF, has been wounded, and is in hospital at Warrington.
Private Sam Sawkill, of the 7th NF, has died from wounds received in France. He was the son of Private George Sawkill, of 65 Ariel Street, Hirst.
Private Matthew Taylor, of Rosalind Street, Hirst, whose parents have been inquiring as to his whereabouts, has at length been heard of. He is a prisoner in Germany and wounded.
Lance-Corporal A Wilson, 3rd NF, of Blyth, has been wounded in the right leg. The bullet went right through his leg and lodged in the leg of his comrade, Private D Harvey, of Ashington.
Private Patrick Brown, 5th NF, of Pinchen’s Cottages, Killingworth, has died from the effects of gas poisoning.
Mrs LC Elsworth, of 8 Letchwell Cottages, St Oswin Road, Forest Hall, North Tyneside, has received word that her son, Private DRH. Ellsworth (2,202), 5th NF, is lying very ill at No. 1 General Hospital, France, suffering from the effects of gas poisoning.
Mrs Fred Irving, of 25 Kingswood Avenue, Newcastle, has received information that her husband, Private Fred Irving, 7th NF, was killed in action at Ypres, on April 26. Private Irving was a miner, and used to work at Ashington. He had only been married a few months.
Private R Gillespie, 2nd NF, of Dudley Colliery, is reported to be a prisoner of war in Germany.
Corporal Thorne, husband of Mrs Thorne, of 27 Coquet Street, Dudley, who was serving with the East Lancashire Regiment, has been wounded in the face at Ypres. This soldier has been twice reported wounded.
Private Thomas W Ridley, 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Shiremoor, has been wounded.
GW Elliott, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, of Newbiggin, has been wounded.
Private J Hogg, 7th NF, of Ashington, has been gassed.
Private J Cotes, 5th NF, of Forest Hall, has been reported gassed.
Lance-Corporal JH Potts, 5th NF, of Forest Hall, has died of gas poisoning.
Private M Hindson, 5th NF, has been reported to have died of gas poisoning.
Private JH Varley, 5th NF, of Forest Hall, has been gassed and wounded.
Mrs Sample, of Front Street, Annitsford, has received official intimation that her adopted son, Private JW Martin, of the 5th NF, has been badly bruised and gassed, while in action on Whit Tuesday and is now in hospital in Liverpool. Prior to joining the colours, Private Martin worked as a miner at Seghill Colliery.
Mrs Allan, of 27 Middle Row, Burradon, has received official intimation that her son, Private Thomas Allan, of the 5th NF, has been gassed, also wounded in the left shoulder, and is now lying in No. 1 General Hospital, France.
Mr and Mrs A Dick, of 3 East Loan, East Cottingwood, Morpeth, have been officially notified by the War Office that their son, Private J Dick, of the 7th NF, has been wounded in action.
Mrs G Mackay, of Dinnington Colliery, has received an intimation that her husband, Lance-Corporal G Mackay, 5th NF, has been wounded and is in hospital in Boulogne.
Sam Siddle, of 28 Dene Road, Bates Cottages, Seaton Delaval, has been officially informed that her son, Seaman Arthur Siddle, of the Hood Battalion, Royal Naval Division, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Seaman Siddle was struck in the leg by shell splinters, and is now in hospital at Malta.
Private JY Allen, 7th NF, of 26 Seventh Avenue, Seaton Hirst, previously reported slightly wounded in the action of the battalion on April 26, has again been wounded on returning to duty.
The relatives of Private George R Lunn, of 92 Beatrice Street, Hirst, have had official notification that he is wounded.
Official notification has been received by the relatives of Able Seaman JW Robinson, of the Royal Naval Division, who resided at 6 Cross Row, Ashington, that he was wounded in action at the Dardanelles on May 29.
Mrs Carr, of 6 Letchwell Cottage, Forest Hall, has received intimation that her husband, Corporal Alex Carr, 5th NF, has died from the effects of gas poisoning.
Seaman W Douglas, of 4 Middle Row, Seaton Delaval, is reported missing.
Mrs Rennets, of Jackson Street, Annitsford, has received intimation that Private Vernon Aston, of the 6th NF, has been severely gassed, and is now lying in hospital in Manchester. Prior to joining the colours, Pte. Aston worked at Burradon Colliery.
Mrs McShane, of Railway Row, Annitsford, has received intimation that her husband, Private F McShane, has been severely wounded while in action, and is now lying in hospital at Birmingham. Prior to joining the colours, Private McShane worked at Seghill Colliery.
Mr and Mrs Blacklock, of 27 Charles Street, Hazelrigg, have received intimation that their son, Private Alfred Blacklock, 4th NF, has died from wounds received in action, on April 27.
Mrs George Bewick, of 5 Clayton Street, Dudley Colliery, has received a letter from her nephew, Private Robert Gillespie, of the 2nd NF, stating that he is a prisoner of war in Giessen in Germany. He also states that he is keeping well.
ROLL OF HONOUR
SCROWTHER.— Died from his wounds received at the Dardanelles, A.B. J. George Scrowther, of the Naval Division, beloved son of George and Elizabeth Scrowther, of Ashington, aged 21 years. Deeply mourned.
LATE MISS EMILY DAVISON
The second anniversary of the death of Miss Emily Wilding Davison, who, it will be remembered, dashed forward and stopped the King’s horse on Derby Day 1913 was commemorated at Morpeth last Sunday.
In the afternoon, a successful open-air meeting was held in the Market Place “in remembrance of Miss Davison and all those who have died in the cause of freedom and humanity”.
Prior to the meeting, several of the deceased’s comrades visited her grave at Morpeth Churchyard and placed a wreath upon the tombstone.
During the past week, others, including the mother of the deceased, have also placed floral tributes upon her grave.
The meeting was attended by a large audience, the speakers being Mary Leigh, Sylvia Pankhurst and Mrs Blanch, of Newcastle.
All the speakers spoke of the great sacrifice that their comrade had made in what they termed the women’s war.
Her memory would be cherished, they believed, for generations to come as one who had given her life in the great struggle for human emancipation and human developments.
Reference was also made to the noble sacrifices on the part of our soldiers, sailors and women in this great war.
“Last year at this time,” said Mrs Blanch, “we were fighting for our rights, but when war was declared, we closed our ranks. We made your cause ours and when the war is over we appeal to you to make our cause yours.”
Mrs Leigh, in a vigorous speech, remarked that every man who was not in uniform ought to be. The quicker they got into uniform or engaged in the manufacture of munitions the sooner their country would be victorious.
MORPETH ALDERMAN TO MAKE SHELLS
There is likely to be a widespread movement among teachers in elementary and secondary schools to exhibit their patriotism by assisting in the making of munitions of war at factories during the summer holidays.
The first in the teaching profession at Morpeth to volunteer to do this work is Alderman RJ Carr, headmaster of the council school. When the holidays commence on July 16, the alderman will proceed to Elswick and engage in shell-making.
1st MORPETH COMPANY, THE BOYS BRIGADE.
On Sunday morning last, the members of the 1st Morpeth Company, BB, held their annual church parade. The service was held in the Parish Church, and the Rev FC Hardy officiated. There was a large muster of boys. After the service, the certificates and badges won during the session were presented by the officers.
Captain Johnson, in opening the proceedings, stated that the session had ended with 12 officers and 122 NCOs and boys on the roll. Of these, 14 were on active service. There had been 30 drill and 34 Bible class meetings held, and the average attendance at these had been 111 and 108 respectively. Eighteen members of the company had been confirmed during the year. The company had contributed the sum of £17 16s 9d to religious and charitable societies during the session.
The number of present and past members of the company who had joined the armed forces was 146. One of these had been awarded the DCM.
The casualty list is very heavy, six members having lost their lives, two being prisoners, and some 24 being wounded.
COMFORTS FOR SOLDIERS
The Mayor (Councillor TW Charlton) has received the following letters of thanks from the front:
“I am requested by the NCOs and men of the Morpeth platoon to write and thank you and the inhabitants of the town for the splendid case of chocolates you so kindly send them. Needless to say it was thoroughly enjoyed and much appreciated.— Captain H. R. Smail, No 1 Company, 7th NF.”
The second letter, from Sgt Charles Armstrong, No 1 Company, 7th NF, read as follows: “On behalf of the Morpeth “boys” of the 7th NF, I wish to express our very sincere thanks to yourself and to the ladies and gentlemen of Morpeth and district who contributed to the very valuable gifts of towels, socks, etc and the delicious chocolate.
“In many cases, the senders will have been thanked individually by the recipients, as in most cases the names and addresses were attached to the various articles, but not in some, and this is to thank our friends at home, in a body, for their kindly thoughts and labours for us.
“The new socks were especially welcomed, for long marches, hot roads, and very little chance of having a “washing day” makes a change of socks delightful. You will readily imagine our boys’ appreciation. The parcels arrived at a most opportune moment, as we had just been relieved from the firing line after a spell of 10 days.”
Wanted, boys, 15 3/4 to 18; seamen, stokers, Royal Marines, carpenters, armourers, etc, and engine-room artificers (long or short service.— Apply Naval Recruiting Office, 45 Bridge Street, Morpeth. Recruiter attends (afternoons) Drill Hall, Ashington, Mondays; Co-operative Cafe, Newbiggin, Thursdays; and Customs House, Blyth, Saturdays.
SHOPKEEPERS AND THEIR LIGHTS
Several local tradesmen were prosecuted at the Morpeth petty sessions on Wednesday for not having their shop lights properly shaded at nights.
From what transpired during the hearing of the cases, it appeared that the defaulters had some doubt in their minds as to what was really required of them in connection with the new lighting order, under the defence of the realm regulations.
The clerk emphasised the fact that the order was perfectly clear, that all lights must be effectively shaded so that no reflection is thrown on to the street. The delinquents all testified to having reduced their lights considerably, but that is not sufficient, for all lights must be obscured entirely.
So serious is the offence looked upon by the powers that be that all persons offending are liable to a fine of £100 or six months’ imprisonment.
The persons summoned were not dealt with harshly by the bench, for they were let off with fines of £2 and £1.
In these days of air raids, we can safely say that the lighting order, as now in force, cannot be too strictly adhered to by all who have to keep their shops open until a late hour.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH.
The Commandant, No 6 VA, acknowledges with grateful thanks the following gifts for the use of the patients in the hospital; Cakes, cigarettes and chocolates, Miss Dickie; flowers, Mrs Cookson, Miss Middleton, Mrs Irwin, Mrs Brumell, Miss Hudson, Miss Simpson, Corporal Adams; cakes, Mrs Murphy; milk, Mrs Berkley, Mrs Irwin, Mitford; eggs, Whalton Parish; rhubarb and eggs, Mrs W. Appleby, Smallburn, Longhorsley; books, Mrs Miller, Belsay.
ASHINGTON TRAINING CORPS
Great efforts are being made in the Ashington district to organise the training corps in a thorough and efficient manner.
At present, the membership is about 120, and although that number may be considered small for such a large mining community, it has got to be remembered that one-third of the total number of men employed at the Ashington collieries have joined the different units of his majesty’s forces.
It is interesting to note that the corps is receiving every encouragement from the coal company, who have very generously furnished the members with a shooting range and a number of service rifles.
The range, which is thoroughly up to date and splendidly equipped in every way, is fitted up in the recreation hall, a building which is admirably suited for the purpose.
In the presence of a large and interested gathering, the range was opened on Wednesday evening, and now splendid opportunities will be afforded the members of becoming efficient in the art of shooting, a very desirable thing to learn in these times.
The corps is not lacking in enthusiasm among its members, and those who have the management of affairs have every reason to look forward confidently to seeing soon a well-trained body of men in their midst.
On Sunday, the Morpeth Presbyterians will reopen their church for public worship and hold their anniversary services, which will be conducted by the Rev Livingstone Ward, the newly-appointed minister at Newbiggin.
For five months, the Presbyterian church has been used by the military authorities as a billet for the soldiers, and during the occupancy, services have been held in the Schoolroom, Cottingwood lane, which was at one time the old Presbyterian chapel.
12th NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS IN CAMP
Sir, Many people of the North would like to learn the details of the 12th Service Battalion, NF, which is now stationed at Halton Park Camp. It is about a mile and a half from the beautiful little town of Tring, near Aylesbury, the county seat of the late Lord Rothschild.
It is now past nine months since we left the Newcastle barracks to train as soldiers.
We left here in the month of September and arrived at Aylesbury.
We had a good reception from the people there, but we only stayed a week, as we received orders to move into billets at Tring. Then we again received orders that we were to move under canvas at the famous Halton Park Camp, where slush and mud had no end.
But we soon began to master the situation and got used to the mud and slush.
Then later on, we got some old rifles and soon began to learn how to slope arms, and in a very few days we found that we could slope arms like real soldiers.
Time was gradually crawling past without even noticing it. Life as a soldier was beginning to be jolly and interesting, for we had no end of lectures. In fact, it was just like the old school days.
So much for theory, but the weather still being fine, it was a grand opportunity for practical experience. And we got it too.
Once they saw us making good progress, they kept us at it.
Night operations were becoming quite common by now, as the nights were getting dark sooner, therefore making it more exciting to act in the darkness, as well as by day.
The woods around Halton are of a very thick foliage, and when the sun is shining, it is rather an interesting scene.
We stayed here some six weeks, and during the latter part, we had some very bad weather indeed, making the ground soft, and in some parts of the camp, it was up to the knees in mud.
We were forced to retire back into the old billets again, and I may say the boys were not sorry.
Although we enjoyed camp life on the whole, it was very healthy, and a real change it was to many of the men who are serving with the battalion.
After enjoying life in the billets a few days, operations began to develop somewhat.
Field days were nothing, as the training area was well nigh frozen hard, making the work brisk and cheerful.
Christmas steadily advancing, and we were looking forward to having leave, which was given in due time. Some of the boys celebrated Christmas at Tring in the old Northumberland style. This was something new for the people there, and I must say they thoroughly enjoyed it.
Shortly after the New Year, when all had been on furlough, it was rumoured we were going to France, but I am sorry to say we are not there yet.
Although we are looking forward with great eagerness to when we shall be trained sufficiently to act as regimental barbers to the warlords, we intend to give them a hot time of it when we do catch them.
After staying in the billets for 14 weeks, we marched back to take up our quarters in the splendid hutments that are built at Halton.
Now we have plenty of divisional marches and manoeuvres to keep us fit for when we shall be called upon. The routine for each week is pretty well regulated, and it doesn’t leave us very much time to give our thoughts to the happy past which we have spent here.
Private G Hunter.
C Company, 12th (S) Battalion. NF,
Halton Camp, North.
THE HEALTH OF BEDLINGTONSHIRE
The following excerpts are from the annual medical report of Dr Hudson, deputy medical officer:—
The population to mid-year is estimated at 26,500.
The question of population is a matter which needs consideration, and this number estimated is a very fair basis on which one might calculate.
Not only was this the population previous to the outbreak of war, but when we consider the number of recruits and reservists from Bedlingtonshire who have joined the colours and the number of troops billeted in the district ,the present population will be little affected.
We must not neglect the fact that owing to the present crisis, the local authority has not only been expected to administer sanitation to the civil population, but their energies have also been devoted to the interests of the military in order that troops in the district might be billeted under the most favourable sanitary conditions.
Under such circumstances, a considerable amount of work has been done at Cambois, Sleekburn and Bedlington, and in the majority of cases, our assistance in matters relating to the health of the troops has been greatly appreciated by the military authorities.
Unfortunately in certain cases, due to the action of military officials, the co-operation between local and military authorities has not been productive of results in such a harmonious manner as they might have been. However, the results have been most gratifying, in as much as not a single notifiable disease occurred amongst the troops billeted in Bedlingtonshire.
ASHINGTON URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL
The chairman said he would take the opportunity of suggesting that the council place on record its appreciation of the noble and heroic sacrifices that had been made by the men who had left this district to fight their country’s battles.
They had sent practically 5,000 men from the district to serve their King and country.
The Northumberlands had been highly praised by the generals. He asked the press to record the council’s deepest sympathy with the relatives of those who had fallen.
Mr Hall stated that he endorsed everything that the chairman had said. This present generation and those following would never have occasion to be otherwise than proud of the noble response made by the people of Ashington.
When the history of the war came to be written, one thing would stand out prominently, and that was that all classes in this country had given of their services voluntarily in order to make their stand in the defence of the country.
Mr Craigs supported the motion. He said that he had had a letter from his son about a fortnight ago in which he stated that the miners of Northumberland had distinguished themselves, and this had been borne out by the compliments paid to them by Sir John French.
His son had seen the men in action, and he felt quite sure that the people of Ashington would always be proud of the brilliant performance of the men from Ashington.
He regretted that some of them had fallen in action. Those who had unfortunately done so met their deaths in a brave and plucky manner.
The motion was unanimously carried.
FOR OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS
Sir, The ladies’ committee of the Northumberland War Hospital will be very grateful if you will give prominence to the following appeal for comforts for the wounded soldiers in the hospital at Gosforth.
As this is a new hospital, there are necessarily a great many initial requirements, viz, deckchairs, wheelchairs, gramophones and records, indoor and outdoor games, croquet etc, books and magazines.
The committee also makes a special appeal for notepaper and stamped envelopes. There is a great demand for these as most of the men are a long way from their homes and are naturally desirous of communicating with their friends. The secretaries would be glad if these articles could be sent to them as early as possible.
The following articles are also urgently required for the hospital: theatre stockings (white preferable), pneumonia jackets, covers for hot-water bottles, flannel bed socks (white or light-coloured), hair pillows, feather pillows, pyjama suits, dressing gowns, water beds, tobacco and cigarettes, fruit and flowers.
Gifts will be thankfully received by the committee of the town hall, Newcastle-on-Tyne, or at the hospital at Gosforth.
Donations should be sent to the Hon. Treasurer, Mrs J.J. Forster, Oakfield, Ryton-on-Tyne.
MRS AM OLIVER
MRS NAPIER BURNETT.
Northumberland War Hospital (Ladies’ Committee),
Town Hall, Newcastle,
June 16, 1915.
A PATRIOTIC MEETING
The event of the week at Blyth was the public meeting for the purpose of organising recruiting, and for considering means of providing munitions of war.
The meeting was enthusiastic and well attended. It was the half holiday, and the weather was temptingly fine to those who are confined to the shop all the week, and, under the circumstances, the good attendance was highly creditable to all concerned.
The speech of Mr TC Heatley, who spoke for the Borough of Morpeth Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, was a lucid, well-expressed exposition, for Mr Heatley has a ready tongue and a capacity for setting forth his views.
He explained the intention of the meeting was to broaden the scope of the recruiting committee so as to include employers and workmen, and others whose active co-operation was desirable.
The outstanding feature of Mr Heatley’s speech was his contention that no more good miners from local pits should enlist, such is the necessity that our coal supplies should be maintained.
That is an expression that many will disagree with, but it is the opinion of the speaker and the opinion of an intelligent man is often knowledge in the making. But when one hears Mr Heatley declare that the man who now works at the face is serving his country as faithfully as the man in the trenches, well, one cannot regard this form of speech as an aphorism and a dangerous one at that.
I have in mind a family of three strong young men who have been among the cheering crowd during the past 10 months whilst their brave comrades have gone forth and endured hunger and cold and privation, and the sleeplessness and nerve-racking experiences which no pen can ever paint. They have manifested in action that self-devotion which we call heroism, which the necessity of the times has called forth.
It may be, and doubtless is, necessary that coal must be won, but the man who is paid well, fed well, rested well, cleaned well, and whose heart is not hourly filled by scenes of war and the abomination of desolation is not doing his duty either as faithfully or as bravely as the man in the trenches, and it is not right that he should be allowed to lay such flattering unction to his soul.
The Duke of Northumberland’s speech was a serious one. His grace told a plain unvarnished tale of what he knew in regard to the present crisis, and reminded his hearers how small had been the change in the position of the gigantic armies facing each other in the western battlefield for nearly a year. His grace spoke of the hardships of the soldier, and pointed out there were no eight-hour days for him, and urged that those who were living in comparative tranquillity here to realise their duty, and do everything possible to aid those at the front.
Perhaps the best speech at the meeting was that of Samuel Round, a well-known miners’ representative. It was not the atmosphere created by the presence of the Duke of Northumberland and Lord Ridley that inspired Mr Round to declare his conclusions, for he has already expressed them elsewhere amongst his fellow workers — that is trades union rules, eight hours’ regulations, and all the artificial barriers erected should be swept away, and men allowed to attempt in reason whatever they could do to get coal in order to supply the demand so as to confound the common enemy, and after the war, they could revert to their former regulations and restrictions.
The speech evoked hearty appreciation alike by every section of the meeting.
Mr Baldwin and Mr McGlasham gave some useful information to the meeting, and Councillor RN Swinney, as a practical man, told the meeting what he had already done in the making of shells.