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.
Sergeant John Smith, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who has been awarded the Military Medal for distinguished service on the field of battle, was presented with his medal, together with a wallet containing ten £1 Treasury notes, subscribed by the inhabitants, as a mark of their appreciation of his services to his country, at a gathering held in the Pegswood Institute Hall, on Tuesday evening.
The presentation ceremony was organised by the Parish Council, and through the kindly efforts of Mr J. Wyatt, organist of St James’ Church, Morpeth, an excellent concert party was provided.
The guest on the evening, who is still suffering from the effects of his wounds received in July last, was wheeled to the hall in a propellor chair, and as he entered the building he was received with great enthusiasm.
The deed which won the gallant sergeant his decoration was given in the official report as follows: – “During a big attack Sergeant Smith with his men cleared a wood, and then brought his men back to make strongholds in front of German lines. The men were all kept in the trenches, but it was necessary for Sergt. Smith to stand on top of a parapet to get true position of strongholds. Nearly all the strongholds necessary to meet counter-attacks of Germans were completed when Sergt. Smith was shot down by the Germans.”
The concert was presided over by Councillor J. Spence. He was supported by County Councillor G.R. Nichol, who made the presentation. The chairman said they had assembled to honour one of their local heroes – one who had done his bit in this great conflict. (Applause.)
After a few musical items County Councillor Nichol made the presentation. He said he appreciated the honour the Parish Council had done him in asking him to take part in the ceremony. In past wars they had erected memorials in memory of the brave who had fallen. He had no objection to that, but it was better, after all, to see those who were living and broken in battle well cared for (Applause.)
Sergeant Smith was a hero. (Applause.) He was one of the many brave men who responded to the call of King and country. He had done his duty nobly and well. (Applause.)
The part that the gallant sergeant had played in this great campaign for freedom and liberty was worth recalling. At the battle of Loos there was heavy shelling by the Germans, and Sergt. Smith was blown up into the air. He afterwards carried his fellow sergeant, who was wounded, a distance of forty yards under heavy shell fire, and at that particular time he was recommended for distinction, but his officer was unfortunately killed.
On another occasion Sergt. Smith was in charge of a company trench making one night, and although heavily shelled the sergeant got all his men away without any casualties. For that successful piece of work he received great praise from the General himself. (Applause.)
He then recalled the incident that had gained for Sergt. Smith the Military Medal, and said that they were there to do honour to one to whom honour was due. (Applause.)
He was given to understand that the miners had raised a voluntary subscription to their comrade, and, apart from that, there was a concert in that hall a week or two ago, with the result that the propeller chair in which Sergt. Smith sat was purchased with the proceeds. (Applause.)
They trusted that soon Sergt. Smith would be restored to health and able to walk about again. (Applause.) The sergeant had a good heart, and believed he would be walking soon.
He then said that on behalf of his country it gave him the greatest possible pleasure to pin the medal on the breast of the recipient. He did so amidst tremendous cheering and the singing of “For he’s a jolly good fellow.”
County Councillor Nichol, on behalf of the inhabitants, asked the sergeant to accept the wallet, containing £10, as a mark of appreciation and goodwill. (Applause.) “Everyone of us hope,” added the speaker, “that you will be restored to your usual health and vigour.” (App.)
Sergt. Smith, with soldierly modesty, thanked one and all for their continued kindness to him. The Parish Council had taken a great interest in him, and he would never forget what had been done for him. He hoped it would not be too long before victory would crown the efforts of the Allies, and that the lads would be marching home. (Applause.)
The concert was a great musical success. The contributions by the Morpeth Gleemen (Messrs. Wm. Bell, R. Wilkinson, Jas. Jobling, J. Wyatt, Alf. Marshall, Chas. E. Wilkinson, and Edward Swinney) were much appreciated. Mrs J.R. Mitchell (contralto), Mr Wm. Bell (tenor), and Mrs Baylis (in monologues and recitations) had each a splendid reception, and encores were the order of the evening.
Private Shipton kept his audience in happy-humour with his delightful entertaining songs. Mr John Wyatt acted as accompanist and conductor.
ASHINGTON MAN’S APPOINTMENT
Mr Lincoln Westerman, who a number of years ago was an active worker in the Morpeth Wesleyan Circuit, and who, since then, has successively been town missioner at Normanton and Ossett in Yorkshire, is now engaged in work in connection with the Soldiers’ Christian Association at a camp in the South of England.
His wife, whose family belong to the Ashington district, is assisting him. This is a case where all the family are doing their bit, for their elder son, Private Burnett Westerman, of the West Yokshires, has been twice wounded, but is now back on active service, and the other son, William, recently 18 years of age, is in a training camp.
The training of the Morpeth Volunteers continues to be varied and interesting, and everything possible is being done to perfect that organisation.
The attendance at parades during the week have been fairly satisfactory, and last Sunday the men thoroughly enjoyed the dummy bombing demonstration given on Cottingwood by Captain Deakins and sergeant instructor from the Cheshires.
In connection with A Company a series of lectures by officers and N.C.O.s attached to the Cheshires has been started. The lectures are most interesting and will undoubtedly prove very beneficial. A goodly number of men attended from Ashington.
On Sunday morning first, at the invitation of the Mayor of Morpeth, the local detachment will attend Divine service in St George’s Presbyterian Church in celebration of St George’s Day.
As it is hoped by the authorities that the attendance at church parade shall be as representative as possible, the O.C. desires that as large a muster of the Volunteers as possible will be present.
ROLL OF HONOUR
CROZIER. – Killed in action in France, on the 14th March, 1917, aged 23 years, Cyclist F.G. Crozier, youngest beloved son of William and Hannah Crozier, of 47 Front Street, Hobson, late of Clifton and Morpeth
LOTHIAN. – Missing since July 1st, now reported killed, Private James Lothian, of Morpeth, Tyneside Scottish, beloved husband of Isabella Lothian, of 34 Oldgate Street, Morpeth. – R.I.P
DAVISION. – Missing since July 1st, now reported killed, Corporal John William Davison, 737, N.F., aged 23 years, Dinnington Colliery: – Ever remembered by his loving father, sisters, and brothers. – R.I.P.
WHITFIELD. – Died of wounds, April 12th, in Leith War Hospital, aged 27 years, Driver Henry Whitfield, R.F.A. beloved son of George and late Eleanor Whitfield, of Chevington, Acklington, and was interred at Broomhill Cemetery (with military honours), on April 18th.
JORDON. – Missing since July 1st, 1916, now presumed dead, Private John Buddles, No. 575, N.F., eldest and dearly beloved son of William and Elizabeth Jordon, 25 Doctor Terrace, Bedlington, and grandson of the late John and Jane Buddles of Longframlington. – Deeply mourned by his father, mother, brothers and sisters.
STEWART. – Missing since July 1st, 1916, now presumed dead, Lance-Corporal Langley Stewart, No. 921, aged 21 years, dearly beloved son of Joseph and Mary Stewart, 20 New South Row, Bedlington. – Deeply mourned and sadly missed by his father and mother, brothers and sisters.
COTTRELL. – Missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed, Private Henry Cottrell, aged 22, No. 1247, T.S., Northumberland Fusiliers, dearly beloved son of Henry and Isabel Cottrell, of West Sleekburn, late of Ashington. – Deeply mourned and sadly missed by his father and mother, sisters and brothers, and all who knew him.
KINGHORN. – Missing since July 1st, 1916, now presumed dead, Private George Kinghorn, 819, 1st T.S., aged 39 years, dearly beloved husband of Jane Kinghorn, 6½ Pioneer Terrace, Bedlington Station, eldest son of John and Elizabeth Kinghorn, Bank Top. – Deeply mourned by his loving wife and family, father, mother and brothers, father-in-law, brothers and sisters-in-law.
JOHNSON. – Previously reported missing, now reported killed, July 1st, 1916, Private Frank Johnson, N.F., dearly beloved husband of Isabella Johnson, of Routledge’s Buildings, Barrington, and eldest son of Catherine and the late Richardson Johnson, Mill Lane, Newcastle, and grandson of the late John and Jane Johnson, Routledge’s Buildings, Barrington. – Deeply mourned by his sorrowing wife, son William (now in France), and his daughter Jean.
FORTUNE. – Missing since September 26th, now reported died on that date or since, aged 29 years, Private Frederick Fortune, 3082, D.L.I., the beloved son of the late Frederick Fortune of Hartlepool and Dorothy Ann Dawson, and step-son of John Dawson of 7 South Parade, Whinney Hill, Choppington. – Sadly missed by his sorrowing mother, step-father, brothers and sisters, and all who knew him.
ST GEORGE’S DAY
We understand that there is likely to be a very considerable muster of the Military and members of local public bodies in the Market Place, Morpeth, at 10.15 on Sunday morning first to accompany the Mayor and Corporation in their procession, headed by the Pipers’ Band, to the morning service at St George’s Presbyterian Church.
A large proportion of the members of most local public institutions are on military service, but a special effort is being made by those who are left to join in the celebration.
TYNE GARRISON TRAVELLING LIBRARY
Sir, – Once again I ask your kind permission to allow me to appeal through your columns for gifts of new or old books for the troops of the Tyne Garrison stationed throughout the counties of Northumberland and Durham.
The Tyne Garrison Travelling Library, which I have been able to organise through the kind response to my various appeals, now comprises over 2,500 volumes of excellent books and editions.
The books are chiefly circulated amongst the smaller detached and isolated units and are packed in properly prepared boxes containing 40 to 50 books. These boxes are interchanged once a month.
There are now about 60 boxes travelling up and down the coast and between inland stations.
I am sure the donors of the books will be pleased to hear their gifts have given untold pleasure to numerous readers and enabled them to vary the deadly monotony of many isolated positions.
My experience is that the men take great care of the books with a view to their being further used by their comrades on other stations.
This library has the cordial approval of Major General R.A.K. Montgomery, C.B., D.S.O., commanding Tyne Garrison.
I have applications for still more boxes of books. As a matter of fact I have the boxes ready and painted. Who will help to fill them?
I will welcome any new or old books and especially the popular sevenpenny editions. Will each reader send me at least one book, please? – Yours, etc.
Senior Chaplain, Tyne Garrison.
The Priory and Army Institute, Tynemouth.
A PEGSWOOD TREAT
Last week the wives and children belonging soldiers who have joined the Colours from Pegswood were entertained to tea in the Institute Hall.
Over 120 sat down to tea, which was well provided by Mrs Littlehales and Mrs T. Miller, assisted by Mrs Davis, Mrs Ball, Mrs Willis, and Mr A. Moody.
Each child was given 2d. instead of an Easter egg. All enjoyed the treat. The funds were raised by dances conducted by Mr Littlehales and Mr T. Miller.
COUNTY APPEALS TRIBUNAL
A meeting of the Northumberland Appeal Tribunal (Berwick Area) was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, last Friday, when seventeen cases were down for hearing. Mr D.H.W. Askew, Berwick, presided.
An application was made for leave to appeal to the Central Tribunal by George Hall of Earsdon East Forest, Longhorsley, in respect of J.G. Hall (23), single. Mr Wm. Charlton (from the office of T. and R. Nicholson, Morpeth) made the application and leave was granted.
Mr Charlton also appealed on behalf of Robt. English (24), Cockle Park, who was employed at Longhirst as a sawyer and engineman by Mr J. McLean of Choppington. The application was on personal grounds. The man had previously been exempted by badge and certificate by the Minister of Munitions. He had recently been debadged. The appeal was dismissed.
The case of Thos. Fred Rutherford, magistrates’ clerk, Morpeth, came up for review. Mr Chas. Alderson appeared on his behalf. – Col. Scott: You had two courts in Morpeth. Can you not hold one court? – Mr Alderson: We sometimes sit from 8 to 10 hours. – Chairman: We won’t disturb you, Mr Alderson.
The case of William Jardin (22), horseshoer, Hebron, was reviewed. Mr T.D. Shaw, Morpeth, appeared for Jardin. He said that conditional exemption was granted in May last and the circumstances had not altered. The man was employed by Mr Geo. Brown and was a skilled workman.— Mr. Brown remarked that it would be a serious loss to the nation if the man was taken away. – Major Cross: Are you here for the nation or are you here for yourself?— Mr Brown: I am speaking the truth for myself. I am 69 now, and I can’t do much for the nation. – The exemption was continued until an efficient substitute was provided.
In the following case the military representative appealed against the decision of the local tribunal: –
Thomas E. Tweedy (30), married, slaughter-man, 7 Togston Crescent, who had conditional exemption. He was in Class C2 . – Appeal dismissed.
Thomas Buglass (18), single, farm hand, New Deanham, who had temporary exemption until May 12th. – Appeal dismissed.
Thomas Edward Jackson (26), single, blacksmith, Ulgham, who was passed for general service. – Conditional exemption continued until an efficient substitute was provided.