HERALD WAR REPORT: Material from the Morpeth Herald, October 9, 1914.
HERALD WAR REPORT: Material from the Morpeth Herald, October 9, 1914.

In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1914, 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.


Captain Fullarton James, Chief Constable of Northumberland, has issued to the municipal authorities a letter drawing attention to the necessity for reducing the lighting of towns in accordance with the notice of the Admiralty issued on September 10.

The chief constable points out the reduction of the lights principally in esplanade of lights and similar illuminations has been rendered quite ineffectual by the general glare of town lights which have not been reduced. He urges that all rows or groups of lights conspicuously visible from seawards should be extinguished, or if necessary for the lighting of the streets to be lowered as much as possible. Where a shop front consists of a considerable area of glass illuminated from inside the lighting intensity should be reduced to a minimum. If bright lights have to be kept burning they should be shaded or the lamp globe painted over on the skyward and seaward sides.


Only a scrap of paper, for which we are at war,

Only a scrap of paper: but it’s worth fighting for;

For it attests the spirit that has made Great Britain great —

Her ever-burning ardour to uphold a weaker State.

Only a scrap of paper! Ye, despite much scorn that we

Are not the cultured nation that the Teutons boast to be;

It proves, at least, a conscience that brute force fails to affright,

A soul which they are lacking, a belief in Right, not Might.

Our culture does not teach us to evil passions yield,

Nor leads to lust and rapine even on the battlefield;

Our troops with women thrust in front do not their foes attack,

And ne’er with ruthless savagery or young or aged “hack”.

Only a scrap of paper, “made of rags” but then it’s worth —

A name for honest dealing in all parts of the earth;

Only a scrap of paper! But, as well, the pledge and token.

That when Britannia gives her word, that word is never broken.

And with us in the struggle are our kith and kin o’erseas,

One people in the bonds of love — of truth, integrity;

Ready to risk existence in a just and righteous cause —

To save mankind for ever more from the Prussian vulture’s claws.

Oh! youth, who love your country with a love that cannot lag,

Be up and doing for her sake, and haste to join the Flag;

Prove worthy sons of her, and for her honour share the strife —

Die rather than it shall be soiled, and dying so win life!

Thomas Hutchinson.



The sum of £48 0s. 2d., part of the money collected in Ponteland and district, has been expended for making useful garments for our soldiers and sailors. The work is still going on, and up to the present the following articles have been completed:—

Ponteland Parish Working Party: Shirts made, 104; socks, 47 pairs; bed-jackets, 21; pyjamas, 12; night-shirts, 6; helmets, 7; muffler, 1.

Milbourne Working Party: Shirts, 28; bed-jackets, 12; socks, 3 pairs.

These articles have been distributed as follows:—

To the Northern Hospital: Bed-jackets, 21; pyjamas, 10; night-shirts, 6; day-shirts, 6. To Lieut-Co. Chaplain Wadroper, 5th Northumberland Fusiliers: Day-shirts, 46; socks, 18 pairs. To Mrs Spain, 6th Northumberland Fusiliers: Shirts, 74; bed-jackets, 12; socks, 15 pairs. Mrs Bell, for hospital at the front: Shirts, 2; pyjamas, 2; socks, 2 pairs; slippers, 2 pairs; soap, 2; hair brushes, 2; nail brushes, 2; tooth brushes, 2; sponges, 2; writing paper. To Northumberland Yeomanry, 2 helmets.



The Northumberland Branch of the Club and Institute Union, at a meeting held at Gosforth on Saturday, decided to send to the Secretary of State a protest against the decision of the local licensing magistrates, prohibiting the sale of intoxicating drink in clubs after 9pm.


Sergt. Coulson, of the Northern Cyclists’ Battalion, met with an accident at Bedlington Bank.

A company of the cyclists stationed at Morpeth were riding down Bedlington Bank, when the forks of Sergt. Coulson’s machine broke and he was thrown heavily to the roadway. He sustained severe injuries to his head, face and hands.

He was taken to Bridge Cottage, where he was attended by Dr Kidd, and afterwards conveyed by motor to Morpeth Cottage Hospital. In addition to his injuries, Sergt. Coulson also suffered severely from shock.



The plan adopted by the rector of Morpeth to help the homeless and destitute people in Belgium was a commendable one. In connection with the harvest thanksgiving services last week an appeal was made for suitable provisions to be sent over to Belgium for distribution amongst the needy there.

His appeal met with a liberal response from the townspeople generally. A great quantity of provisions was received, and a huge load was despatched the other day to the proper quarter.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the Belgians, in this time of distress, are deserving of our help. As the rector so well said, “Our debt to Belgium is greater than we can repay.”



Some idea of the spirit that animates our soldiers at the front is obtained from a letter written “in the trenches,” under date September 25th, by Mr G. Cook, of the 2nd Coldstream Guards, to his wife at Church Avenue, Scotland Gate, Choppington. This letter was written under fire from the German artillery, at the bottom of which he drew two cottages and a cat for the amusement of his two children, Janet and May. In his letter he says:—

“We are still holding the position we have had for a fortnight now, although the Germans have attacked us both by night and by day, and the artillery duelling goes on continuously. I am still in good health, and we are receiving a good supply of rations, so that is one thing to be thankful for. The weather is fine, but it is turning cold at night. I expect it will be the same at home. I often wonder how you pass the time away, and how things are going on at Choppington and round the district.

“Paper is difficult to get, and we have to write under difficult circumstances. (Here the writing changes from black lead to copying ink pencil.) Even as I write the shells from the German lines are flying over our trenches, so we have to lie pretty tight. I am going on all right so far, and doing whatever is allotted to me as a soldier should, and yet I am always thinking of you and the dear little children.”


Mr Robert Baxter, of Shilbottle, has five sons serving their King and country. The eldest, Thomas, is in the National Guards; the second, fourth, and fifth, James, Robert, and David, are in the Territorials; and the third son John, is in the Regular Army. This is a unique record for a small mining village.


Official news has been received at Alnwick by their friends of the following soldiers having been wounded in action:—

Private Cyril Earnes, of the Royal Engineers, struck from a shell, is slightly wounded, and in hospital at Stobhill, Glasgow. Private Matthew Tweddle, Private William Thompson, Private John Willcox, Northumberland Fusiliers, are reported wounded.


No fewer than 7,000 cigarettes were collected at the picture halls of Ashington and Newbiggin in five nights, and they have been sent to the Northumberland Fusiliers on service in France.


The ball held on Friday last in the Schoolroom, Longhirst, in aid of the Red Cross Society and local distress, proved a great success, the total amount raised being over £14. One gentleman tendered 10/- for admittance, refusing any change.

About seventy-five couples were present, who all seemed to enjoy both dance and supper. A wish was expressed that another ball for the same worthy cause would be held in a short time.

The committee wish to thank one and all, who gave either money or goods, or in anyway helped, especially to the Hon. Mrs Joicey for her liberal support and help to make the event a success.

The dance was brought to a close at 2 o’clock a.m. by heartily singing the National Anthem.


Sir,— Some people in the Ashington district think we ought not to attend football matches during this great trouble which we have been drawn into by a madman. Why? We attend a football match which is only of one-and-a-half hours duration, and I hold that people who are interested will be relieved of gloom and come away better to bear any news of reverses which may happen to our troops at the front. We have had our recruiting meetings on nearly all football grounds urging men to join Lord Kitchener’s army.

Now, what’s to be said of our dancing classes just commencing, often lasting 3 hours, and so-called socials which is the new name for balls? Will we have recruiting meetings at these gatherings? I think it would be advisable because should they not get recruits among the young men they may among the ladies to form sewing meetings instead of dancing classes, and make winter clothing for our troops at the front. I see from some of the invitation cards some of our leading ladies of the district have their names attached.

How these people can say: “Why do you attend a football match just now?” and they go to one of these dancings or balls for 3 or 6 hours at a stretch, which is neither improving their intellect or bodies, is beyond me. I think the ladies could be doing something more useful for our brave boys at the front. It os their desire to bring young men and women together socially, and the young men can’t be done without, may I suggest they might invite the young men to the sewing meetings to thread the needles, hold the candles, or hand refreshments around.—

I am yours, etc.,



We have received a cutting from a Pittsburg newspaper, which gives details regarding the conditions which are supposed to be existing here owing to the war. That our American cousins have been wrongly informed as to the true conditions that really prevail is absolutely certain. What is all the more surprising, the woeful picture drawn in the following letter was written and sent by a Newcastle 19-year-old girl to her cousin in America. Here is a sample of the letter:—

“We are just living in horrors. We really do not know but what we will be blown to pieces any minute. I suppose you have seen that several boats have been blown up on the river Tyne, about six miles from us. It is terrible here about food. We can buy only one pound of sugar at a time and one half-pound of butter, and just a little bit of flour. They are so afraid they will run short that they want to supply every person with a little. The prices have gone up something awful. It is all just like living in a nightmare. Every time the papers come in the situation seems to be worse.

“A great number of men and horses left today for the front, and everyone is weeping and wailing for sons and husbands and fathers. A good many of the women do not know where their breakfast is coming from. I am 19 today, and it is a sad birthday, with the war and all.”


The effect of the war raging on the Continent is being keenly felt in this district, particularly at Seaton Burn, where one of the seams there has not worked for several weeks, and as a result, many families are feeling the pinch. In several cases relief has been granted from the County Fund, but there are many people who would suffer much inconvenience rather than go through the ordeal of making a personal application of this kind.

The management of the Burradon, Dudley, Weetslade and Seaton Burn Social Clubs have taken a course which is most commendable, viz., to issue tickets for foodstuffs to their members and by that means have naturally assisted in procuring something for the household at a time like this when money is scarce.


We are obliged to Mr W.G. Temple, of 2 West View, Bedlington Station, for the following story which he obtained from Private J. Parkinson, B. Coy., Gordon Highlanders, who was invalided home wounded in the thigh. During his convalescence he visited Ashington, and is now returned to the war.

“We formed part of the 3rd division of the Expeditionary Force and landed at Boulogne on 13th August. We marched up country to St Quentin and took the train from there. We spent a week billeting at farms in the mining districts of Hyons Cypoli. The miners brought us wine and various other luxuries. At 6 o’clock on the 21st August we marched into Mons, and our company was billeted at a large house supposed to have been vacated by a German.

“While there we saw a German aeroplane pass over and we heard our troops on the left flank open fire upon it. As soon as the firing ceased we went to bed, but were called to arms at 2.30am. We went out for one mile along the main road to the right of Mons and started to entrench there, leaving the Middlesex and the Royal Irish in reserve.

“There was a wood situated about 1,400 yards in front of our position, and the Germans opened fire out of the wood with their machine guns and artillery. A Lance-corporal, two privates and myself were sent out as a picket or scouting party. We were out about 15 minutes and had got about half-a-mile in front and were talking to some civilians when the Germans opened fire upon us. We turned round and doubled back to the trenches after seeing the Germans moving in column out of the wood. As soon as our report was given we opened rapid fire.

“At 6pm Major Simpson and a private went down to the village to seek more ammunition, but a shell burst very near and struck both of them. They were taken to hospital, and a short while after we heard the hospital blown up. About this time, Lieutenant Richmond of B Company was shot.

“The enemy, who completed outnumbered us, were pressing us hard, but we hung on until about 12.30. We had almost given up and thought we were cut off when the word came to retire. We lay in a field for two hours, but the German artillery got upon us. Behind Hyons Cypoli we made more trenches, and our artillery (18 pounders) took up a position behind us. The German artillery took up a position behind a pit heap, but were silenced in half-an-hour.

“We entrenched for one hour in a railway cutting, but were forced to retire along it, owing to the shells bursting around us. We kept on retiring all the day and the next day (Tuesday). Our company was billeted in a village. Dinner was almost ready for serving when a shell burst in the midst and did a great deal of damage. We held on until 4.30, when the Major, who was wounded, ordered us to retire. The rest of the battalion were trapped. We fought all the way back to Senlis. Captain Marshall, bayoneted in the back, was captured and imprisoned in a house. The house was either shelled or fired, but Capt. Marshall escaped and managed to get back to the British lines. This gallant officer is now in command of the 175 survivors out of 1,100.

“The R.A.M.C. attempted bravely to do their work, but were seldom able to get near the wounded. They were instantly fired upon by the Germans; in fact, I don’t think a single medical officer attached to the brigade survived.

“At Senlis, we, the wounded and unfit, entrained, as we thought for Paris, but were sent to Havre. We were sent in the St Andrew to Southampton and from there by hospital train to Waterloo Station. We were then taken by motors to St Thomas’ Hospital, where we received the best of treatment.”

On Friday evening last, there was a large gathering in the Linton and Woodhorn Club, where a social was held for the purpose of making a presentation to Private Parkinson, who had been in the battles of Mons, Charleroi, and le Chateau, and who helped to spike the enemy’s guns.

The presentation took the form of a silver cigarette case, suitably inscribed.

Private Parkinson, or in more familiar terms, Jimmie, thanked all for their kindness and hoped that in a few days he would be able to show their present to his mates in the firing line — (applause) — and perhaps to give some of the “tabs” to those who had not been so fortunate as himself. He wanted to be back, so that he could get some of his own back off the Germans. (Applause).


Seven Germans and a Swiss sailor are at present lodged in Alnwick Workhouse. They are part of the crews of three vessels lying in Amble harbour and seized when war was declared. They are contented and well cared for.



The secretary of the Ashington Nursing Association (Mr J. Craigs, J.P.) has received a letter from Mr G.P. Richardson, a member of the Ashington Nursing Committee, who is now acting as a reserve ward-master at a naval hospital at Portsmouth. One portion of the letter states that the writer saw a hundred Belgian refugees, and one girl of 14, he noticed, had both her hands cut off. This was said to be the work of the Germans.


The following interesting paragraph appears in the current issue of St Mary’s Parish Church Magazine:—

“We hope that readers of the daily papers will not regard as true in all particulars the horrible accounts of atrocities perpetrated by the German Army. At least one lurid detail has proved to be a cruel hoax, and as there is a Commission appointed to investigate this matter, we ought surely to accept nothing as authoritative beyond their report.”



Mr J.F. Day, a postman at Dudley, who was one of the rescued from HMS Aboukir, which was sunk in the North Sea on September 22nd, and is spending a few days amongst his friends at Dudley, is an A.B. and a seaman torpedoman of the R.N.R. He was called up for active service at the outbreak of the war, and joined the Aboukir. In an interview with a Herald correspondent, he gave a few interesting details of the sinking.

“For about a fortnight,” said Mr Day, “we were engaged on commerce duty, and later as a decoy, when they were torpedoed at about 6.5 on the morning by a submarine flotilla. At first we thought it was an explosion, and that she might be able to survive, but later events proved otherwise.

Realising our position, I hastily dressed, and returned to await further orders.

“We then realised our position, after which the Aboukir reeled on her side and afterwards turned turtle within 40 minutes. I made a dive into the sea, and, being a swimmer, I kept afloat for upwards of an hour, until I picked up a raft, where I remained for about three hours. The Hogue, in the meantime, had come to our rescue, but, unfortunately, came to the same fate. The Cressy also came to us, and was also sunk, but not before she had retaliated and fired a number of shots at the submarines.

“During the four hours I was in the water the sights I witnessed were almost beyond description, comrades making desperate efforts to save themselves from a watery grave, many clung to parts of wreckage, and seemed almost exhausted. Two of the 30 who were on the raft died shortly after.

“At last we were picked up by the Flora about 11 am. My watch stopped at 6.55am. We were landed at Yumiden, in Holland, at 4pm on the same day, and on our arrival no reception could have been more enthusiastic. Crowds gave us a great ovation, and the kindness extended to us there will long remain with me a pleasing recollection.

“After being hospitably entertained and provided with dry clothes, we were afterwards interned in a camp about 13 miles from Balk. At first we feared we might have to stay there until the termination of the war, but we were later informed that we would be sent back to England, and reached Sheerness on Sunday. After reaching Chatham Barracks we were given ten days’ leave.

“My experience on that unhappy day of September 22nd will not be readily forgotten. I feel little the worse for my adventure, and am returning on October 7th, when I hope to get another boat and do my little in avenging our misfortune.”


A correspondent points out that the village of Longframlington and district has contributed 11 men to the colours, this being one-third of the eligible young men. As the district is strictly agricultural, the services of the men remaining are absolutely necessary in connection with the harvest operations.



With the object of obtaining recruits for the army, a meeting was held in the Miners’ Hall, Seaton Delaval, on Wednesday evening. The hall was packed to overflowing and many were unable to gain admission.

Major Talbot sketched the policy of Germany throughout the past fifty or sixty years. Their policy was, he said, that only the strong had a right to live.

The little nation must get out or go under, and, coupled with that they had driven into the whole of Germany a supreme contempt and hatred for England. They had been taught that we, as a nation, were weak and worn out, and that it was the duty of Germany to take over the British Empire for the sake of humanity. (Laughter.)

This war had been arranged by the Germans just as deliberately as the wars of 1866 and 1870 and we had got to see it through to the bitter end. What everybody wanted now was more men. “We want them now to train,” added Major Talbot. “It takes two years to make a German soldier, but Lord Kitchener says he will make you fit to fight the German soldiers in six months’ time.” (Applause.)

The chairman announced that they had with them that night Private Yellowley of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who was wounded at the battle of Mons. Addressing the audience, Private Yellowley said: “As you all know, at the battle of Mons it was a slaughter. I could not describe it in any other way; but, fortunate for us, the slaughter was on the German side. (Applause.) The Northumberland Fusiliers was divided up into so many companies and each one under the command of a captain or a lieutenant, and I can say we were commanded by gentlemen. You could not find better men to lead us than we have got at present.

“I should like to mention that more men are necessary, and, believe me, that it is as much to your benefit as mine that you should go. We will get more men, We want to fill the ranks of those who fall by German shells. Our losses are very serious. At the present time we have lost more men in these two months than in the war in South Africa.

“When I came home to Seaton Delaval, the people said he is wounded in the leg and arm. It is only this leg and arm, and I can go back, and they can have a try at the other leg and arm. (Loud applause.) When I get better I will go back again, and I believe everybody that comes home wants to go back. There’s more fun in the trenches than here. (Laughter and applause.) Come up, men, and join, for the sooner the war is over the better it is for everybody concerned.”


On Monday afternoon, a recruiting march was held in Ashington with the object of getting 54 recruits to form a company of the new cyclist battalion which is being formed. The response was above expectation and by Tuesday 108 recruits were received and two companies instead of one formed.

The conditions were for service either at home or abroad and the Government supply cycles. The men are to stay at their own homes until called up and are to receive 3/- per day.


A meeting was held at the Council offices in Blyth on Wednesday, which had for its object a scheme of carrying out a “war-day” for the raising of funds for the relief of those suffering through the war.

The attendance, however, was not large, and the proposal for the time being adjourned.

The project, however, may be carried out at some future date with all the success its promoters deserve. Such a scheme was suggested by the clubs of the town, and you know, when the club-men set about anything they invariably do it well.


The report of Mr Charles Baldwin, clerk of the Blyth Commissioners, in his report for September, states that the exports of coal and coke amount to 265,700 tons, as against 400,416 tons for the corresponding month of last year.

The exports of pickled herrings are nil, whereas in September, 1912, 7,773 barrels were exported. There has been no imports of timber, whereas in the corresponding month of last year 8,886 loads of mining timber were imported and 974 tons of other timber.


It has been definitely established by inquiries at Tynemouth that the shell which fell at Cleadon Village on Wednesday, and damaged a house, was fired from one of the guns at Tynemouth Castle.

Shortly after half-past one a Hartlepool trawler was entering Shields’ harbour without having been first examined by the examination vessel in accordance with the military regulations. Two shots were fired at her from Tynemouth Castle as a warning, the second being discharged when the trawler was well up the harbour. The shell ricocheted off the water and flew over South Shields, alighting at Cleadon. It was fired from a 6-inch gun, and was non-explosive.




The patriotic and self-sacrifice displayed for our soldiers and sailors, and for its care of the wounded, was strikingly illustrated last Saturday afternoon in the Miners’ Hall, Seaton Delaval, on the occasion of an “At Home,” promoted by the voluntary aid detachment of the Cramlington District of the St John Ambulance Nursing Division, with the object of raising funds to buy more material to make up garments, woollen comforts, etc., for our soldiers and sailors, also medical comforts for the sick and wounded.

At the outbreak of the war, the Nursing Division formed a sewing party, which has met each Tuesday night in the Masonic Hall, Seaton Delaval. The goods already made up by them are valued at £25.


The mining village of Annitsford has contributed a very large percentage of its young men to the ranks of the army. The chairman of the Annitsford United A.F.C. (Mr H. Mair) has gone to the firing line; also several of the management of the club has joined the colours.

One widow, Mrs McShean, of Railway Row, Annitsford, has had three of her sons join the colours, two of whom are training at Gosforth Park and one in the south of England.