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.
COMMON OFFERED FOR MILITARY CAMP
The Common Committee recommended that the use of the Common for a military camp and training ground be offered to the authorities.
Ald. Brown, in moving the recommendation, said that when the committee decided to place the Common at the disposal of the military authorities, they thought it would make a good training ground. The rifle range would also prove very useful, provided the authorities got the restrictions removed, which were made to suit a certain local gentleman.
Mr Swinney remarked that Mr Renwick was seeking ground now for the Commercial men in Newcastle. Might it not be as well to get into communication with them.
The Mayor pointed out that the military authorities at the present time were looking for a place to billet the soldiers in, rather than camping ground. His battalion was encamped in Lambton Park, and only for a few days longer owing to the cold nights. The cold nights now were bad for the horses as well as for the men. He was afraid that this offer of the Morpeth Common had come too late in the day, but it would let the military authorities know that they had such a place available. If they should require a training ground next spring for the soldiers, then there it was for them to use. The authorities were building huts, and he understood that they were erecting sufficient huts for the men. The Common, the Mayor added, would be a good place for them if it had not been for the restrictions on the rifle range, as mentioned by Ald. Brown.
Mr Grey: This Council would let the military authorities erect huts on the Common if they wished to do so.
The Town Clerk stated that he had written to the military authorities as directed, with regard to the Common. He had received a letter from York, thanking the Council for their offer, and stating that the matter had been referred to the General Officer Commanding at Newcastle. From the Officer Commanding at Newcastle he had received a letter stating that his letter concerning accommodation for troops available at Morpeth had been forwarded to headquarters, York.
“Both places,” added the Clerk, “have the matter under consideration.”
MORPETH AND DISTRICT NOTES
The meeting of the Morpeth Town Council on Tuesday night was not a quarterly meeting, hence there were neither gowns or wigs, and not even the historic mace. The members, however, had something to look at, which in the present war-like times was, perhaps, more in keeping with what is uppermost in everyone’s mind than even these more familiar signs and tokens of authority.
The meeting was presided over, as no former meeting of the Morpeth Council had ever been, by the chief magistrate (Councillor W.S. Sanderson) arrayed, not in a robe, but in the khaki uniform of a lieutenant in one of the Durham Light Infantry battalions. He was very heartily congratulated by each of the members as they stood on the floor of the chamber before his worship took the chair.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
In the Lighting Committee’s report it was stated that the Town Clerk had submitted a letter from the Chief Constable, suggesting a reduction in lighting, so as not to hamper naval and aerial military operations. He was instructed to ask the Chief Constable to prescribe the means by which the Council could assist the military authorities in the matter.
APPEAL FOR GIFTS
Mrs Moore, wife of Brigadier-General J. Moore, a native of Longhirst, is appealing for gifts of money or presents in kind for men of the Army Veterinary Corps on service at the front in the British Expeditionary Force, for whose comfort and welfare her husband is in a manner responsible.
In the circular, she says warm garments, underclothing, woollen knitted articles are specially appreciated, also tobacco, pipes, soap, sweets, matches, and notepaper.
All contributions (with name of sender enclosed, and carriage pre-paid) please kindly address to Mrs Moore, Cartington, Farnborough, Hants, who will despatch as early as possible to France.
She also appeals for gifts of clothing or money to purchase extra comforts for the wives and children left in straightened circumstances at home.
Mrs Moore hopes that all members of the veterinary profession and its branches will be so good as to respond generously to her appeal, also all those interested in the treatment and care of horses.
This week has truly been a week of rumours. “No news,” an old adage reminds us, “is good news.”
In these stirring times, however, if the alarmist does not find his news-sheet telling of some victory or vantage gained by the Allies, he shakes his head and tells all and sundry that “things are looking black,” and thus the lie is given to the proverb.
In the early part of last week the local Yeomanry left England for the Continent, and scarcely a week had elapsed ere the news had spread abroad in the district that they had been captured.
Another rumour which prevailed was that our townsman, Mr A. Amlett, had been killed, but happily neither of these statements have been confirmed.
It is significant of the interest being taken in the war that matters of local interest seem to have been completed shelved. November, the month of municipal elections, is looming ahead, and not a murmuranent things municipal has been heard.
The tongues of critics, which might have been busy finding fault with our municipal fathers are stilled. The one source of topic is the war, and even in Morpeth those who fight with their tongues are combined against the common foe, and if the Kaiser’s ears are not burning, they ought to be.
OUR OWN COLUMN
A NURSE’S THRILLING NARRATIVE
For more reasons than one, we direct our readers’ attention to lengthened extracts, in another column, from Nurse Eva Schofield, which her father, Mr F. E. Schofield, of this town, has kindly forwarded to us for publication.
In it, she gives a graphic description of her work and experiences at the front of the battlefield with the British Expeditionary Force, in north-western France.
The letter needs no words of commendation; it speaks for itself alike in the clear and crisp style of its diction and in the cheery tone that inspires it throughout.
It is of rare interest and value because it furnishes what is, perhaps, the earliest first-hand account of the condition and sufferings in which “our brave Tommies,” as she fondly calls them, are found by the courageous, devoted nurses when they reach the stricken fields and the trenches after each terrible battle; and also of how they are cared for and conveyed in a three days railway journey to the nearest safe harbour for transport home.
Before leaving the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, fully three years ago, Nurse Schofield signed on as one of Queen Alexandra’s reservist nurses.
She had just joined the rest of the family at Newbiggin for a long well-earned holiday when on the first Sunday afternoon in August, the Presbyterian minister, Mr Toms, walked in with the news that England was at war. At once she said “I’m off”; and off she was to Edinburgh next morning.
On the following Monday morning, all within one short week, she had her outfit ready and arrangements completed, and was on board ship from a southern seaport on her way to the front.
It has often been said that no matter how far you are from home, you will be sure to run against someone you know. So it has turned out in Nurse Schofield’s case.
She has met Brigadier General J. Moore, Director Veterinary Service with the Expeditionary Force, and attached to General French’s headquarters. He is the son of the late John Moore, farmer, Longhirst, the well-known and long-remembered secretary of the famous Bothal Coursing Club.
LETTER FROM A NURSE
Sir,— As I have daily from town and country many kind enquiries after my daughter Eva, I feel that I ought to send you for publication the enclosed letter recently received from her.
May I take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Mayoress of Morpeth and her sewing party, who, together with other friends, have already substantial parcels for the comfort of the beloved “Tommies,” and may I ask any others who are disposed to do likewise to please put the names and addresses of the senders inside. Who knows but that some of our own brave boys may have to wear them? It requires no stretch of the imagination to picture the brightened eyes and heightened hopes of the sufferer when he learns that the cause of his comfort is the product of the hefty fingers of his ain folk near home.
I am, sir, yours, etc.,
FRED. E. SCHOFIELD.
“At last I have the chance of getting a letter posted to you.
“It is nearly dark, and, of course, we have no lights on the train. I am endeavouring to write this by the light from one of the ships. I am going to get this posted in England, as they are going over there with the poor wounded we have brought down from the front.
“I sometimes feel as if I shall suddenly waken and find this is all a dream, but that is too good to be true.
“But we shall all appreciate dear old England a thousand times more when we return to our good “comfy” homes. I must say I am awfully glad I came out here. Oh! there is so much to do, and the Tommies are so grateful. Poor boys, they seem to love to have us, and one feels one cannot do enough for them. They are so fine and brave and never complain at all about anything; always smiling and seeing the bright side of life — even when wounded. One feels proud to be a Briton, and the French people just adore them.
“We just live on the trains. It takes days from the boat to the front; we load the patients on and then bring them here and go back empty.
It is VERY hard work, as the majority are stretcher cases, but we sleep going back after we get things straightened. We go right up, and I shall never forget the first time I heard the guns open; it was the most awful; one simply couldn’t realise it. It was about midnight, just when we arrived.
Now, strange though it seems, we feel funny down here away from the noise of it, but love the peacefulness.
“Oh, the stories one hears from the poor Tommies, and the officers too, who are just as fine! One told me today before he left us that he was just going to live for the day when he came back here again, poor soul, he had lost his left arm, but he said he was proud of it, and thought it was the finest act a man could do — to die for his country.
“It really does one good to meet so many fine, brave, heroic men. One forgets the sadness in the midst of so much greatness, and our only thought is how much can we do to try and make them more “comfy” in the long train journey.
My word! they do appreciate us, poor boys! It is always the same when we say “good-bye!” — “Oh, sister, do come to England with us!” I am sorry to confess one sometimes does wish just to go with them and have a peep at you all, but come straight back here again to do what one can until this awful war is ended.
“We are going up a great deal further this time. Last journey we were within three miles of the fighting line, but as they drive them back, the further we follow up.
We are all frightfully proud at being chosen for train duty at the front. — is in charge, and there are doctors, nurses, orderlies, and the usual domestic staff. Of course we are on rations — tinned meat and biscuits — like the soldiers, with butter as a treat, but we love to be treated like them. We have a great feed when we get down here once a week, not to forget a bath, which we have to pay a franc for.
“I have not heard from you for a fortnight, but we called at the English military post office today, and gave the number of our train, so we shall get them all right after this without having to wait so long. You just send letters and parcels addressed as usual — No 6, General Hospital, British Expeditionary Force.
“I got some papers from you at one of the stations on the way down. The soldiers simply devour them, poor souls — not to mention us.
Anybody you know knitting socks or making shirts, ask them to send them here. Really, they are more wanted on the trains than anywhere else. We get the men straight off the trenches, sometimes with hardly any clothes, and socks and boots which have not been off for some time.
If they just address them to me, I will get them all right. Really the hospitals are nearly all equipped well. If they only saw the poor men’s faces when we get their boots off and their clean, warm things on, they would feel more than repaid.
Many people are making them, but don’t know where they are most needed. In the hospitals they have warm beds, but in the trains it is very different.
“I must stop or the boat will be off. The bell has gone, so I must get the boatman to run with this for me.”
The Northumberland and Durham Imperial Hussars Yeomanry left their camp in the New Forest fully a fortnight ago. They went on board ship at one of the seaports on the south coast, but none of them knew what their destination was. They generally expected to be landed in France and sent through Paris on their way to the front.
Instead they were landed at the small seaport of Zeebrugge in Belgium, about as far north from Ostend as Morpeth is from Newcastle. As that part is only about 45 or 50 miles from Antwerp their friends at home felt sure that their destination was either that already doomed city or its vicinity.
A few days ago, Mr William Lawson, of Morpeth, received word that his second son, Corporal P. Lawson, of the Morpeth detachment of the Yeomanry had been injured.
It appears that he received a severe kick on the leg from his horse. He was invalided home, and is now in hospital at Chatham.
MORPETH BOARD OF GUARDIANS
A meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday.
A circular was received from the Pontefract Union, asking this Board to adopt the following resolution:— “That in the opinion of this meeting, the Government of this country ought to make adequate provision for all persons injured while doing service in this war, and in cases of death for their dependants; and further, that the monies required for this purpose should be raised by a special income tax, to be raised on all incomes above 30s. a week.”
Chairman: It is a large order.
Mr Dormand: There is some common sense in that resolution.
Mr Lee: It is not an unreasonable resolution. I hold the time has come when we, as a nation, should make provision for the wives and children of those killed or wounded in battle. We should all support a resolution like that. If a man is receiving 30s a week, surely he can do something for others who are sacrificing their lives. I move that we support the resolution.
Mr Dormand, in seconding, said that they had their brave men fighting at the front, and they could not do too much for their wives and dependants. (Hear, hear.)
The motion was carried and the clerk was instructed to forward the resolution to the Prime Minister and local members of Parliament.
TERRITORIALS’ CAMP AT PONTELAND
Hundreds of Territorials are encamped at Ponteland, where the rifle range affords ample facility for musketry training, and it is gratifying to learn that the villagers are making arrangements for entertaining the men during the winter months.
At a meeting held in the Church Schoolroom, it was agreed that the building should be opened for the accommodation of the Territorials every evening during the week from 6 to 9, and on Sundays from 4.30 to 6.30. There will be provision for letter writing, and newspapers and magazines are to be provided.
Lantern lectures for Monday nights are being arranged at the Wesleyan Chapel, and an effort is to be made to secure the use of the County Council School hall for recreation. The institute is already free to the men, and has been greatly appreciated.
Two committees, one of ladies and the other of gentlemen, were appointed to carry out the arrangements.
MILITARY CYCLISTS WITHOUT LIGHTS
The Chief Constable of Northumberland thinks it well to advise the public that he is informed by the officer commanding the Northern Cyclists’ Battalion that it is necessary, for military reasons, that the cyclists of his battalion should work at night without lights.
The public will be well advised therefore to keep this fact in mind when they use the highways after dark.
The above only applies to members of this battalion in uniform, and not to any motor-cycles or motor-cars which may be used by them.
IN THE TRENCHES AT AISNE
Private Snowball, whose home is at 9 North View, Felling, has recently returned from the front, having received two severe wounds in the engagements at Aisne. He enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry eleven years ago, and was on the reserve when called up at the beginning of the war. He was at the time employed as a porter at Acklington railway station on the North Eastern Railway, and resided with Mrs T. Steel in the village, where he is on a visit, after being discharged from the military hospital at Stobhill, Glasgow.
He told a newspaper representative that he went out with his regiment at the beginning of August to France. They had two marches of 30 miles and one of 28 miles, and went direct into the trenches at Aisne.
They had not been in the trenches more than half an hour before firing from the enemy opened, and was kept up incessantly, with the result that his battalion suffered severe loss.
The trenches were filled with water up to their waists, and they had a most distressing time, for they got little or nothing to eat.
There were hundreds of dead soldiers. They could not get out to bury them, for every attempt that was made they were fired upon by the enemy and had to retire again under cover.
He (Private Snowball) received a bullet from a Maxim gun which penetrated right through his left wrist, injuring the bone in its passage. He was subsequently shot in the leg by a bullet from a shrapnel shell, from the effects of which he was rendered unconscious for 24 hours. For three days and nights he rode in a railway train to the base, and his wounds were not dressed till he arrived there.
Private Snowball states that the English soldiers were well treated in France by the French people.
FOR THE RELIEF FUND
Mr R.H. Forster, who has long been conducting the Roman excavations at Corbridge, has issued a volume of war poems for the benefit of the Duke of Northumberland’s County Relief Fund, through Mr Edward J. Noble, Nelson Lodge, Cullercoats.
DEATH OF CAPTAIN AYMER MAXWELL
It was announced at Alnwick, on Monday morning, that Captain Aymer Maxwell had died from a wound received in his head from a shell in the war.
The late Captain Maxwell was heir to the Moncrieff estates in Wigtonshire, Scotland, and was married in October, 1909, to Lady Mary Percy, fifth daughter of the Duke of Northumberland.
SOLDIER A PRISONER
A Newsham soldier, Private Thomas Bryson, who is in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, having rejoined as a reservist, was reported missing by the War Office. On Saturday, Miss Simpson, of Store Row, Newsham, received a letter from Bryson, who writes stating that he has been a prisoner of war in the hands of the Germans since September 16th. He is in a concentration camp at Gafangenen, Boberity, Germany. Bryson states that he is being treated fairly well by his captors.
LOCAL CONSTABLE MISSING
Constable Moody, who for some time was stationed at Blyth, and who was abroad with the Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders, has been reported missing.
ASHINGTON MAN WOUNDED
News has reached Ashington from Private K.U. Hermiston (9993) Northumberland Fusiliers, who has been wounded in the left foot, and is now at Aberdeen Hospital.
LOCAL SOLDIERS’ GOOD TIME
Amongst our correspondence this week is a cheery letter signed by three local chums — Messrs. R. Kemp, Morpeth, and J. Ternent and J. Kellet, from Broomhill, who are in training with the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Sir,— Allow us a small space in your paper concerning the training and meat here. We are having splendid weather and good exercise.
In the morning, after rising at 5.30, we get a pint of cocoa and go on parade at 7. Swiss drill until 8, then breakfast, consisting of tea, bread, butter, bacon, tinned meat, and tomatoes. On parade from 9.30 to 12.30. Then dinner at 1pm, consisting of soup, plenty of beef, potatoes, and vegetables. Parade again at 2.30 until 4.30, then tea at 5, the meal consisting of bread, jam, marmalade, and cheese. Soup is served at 7.30pm.
There is plenty of sport, and if anybody wants more than this, they don’t want to be in the Northumberland Fusiliers.
PRESENTATION TO LIEUT. JOBLING
Lieut. Jobling, of Morpeth, who has for some time been in command of the “Cable Guard” at Newbiggin, has volunteered for foreign service, and, on the occasion of his relinquishing the command of the guard, the men made him a presentation, which took the form of a wristlet watch.
Lieut. Jobling thanked the men for their gift, and said in the years to be it would remind him of the time he had spent with the cable guard at Newbiggin during the European War.
It is gratifying to observe acts of generosity and benevolence, particularly when such acts are spontaneous and unasked.
The miners of Ferney Beds branch of the Northumberland Miners’ Association — a small colliery — on Tuesday morning forwarded to Choppington the sum of £1 16s, subscribed for the benefit of the distressed people who have now been out of work for over ten weeks. The money will probably be used to aid the progress of the good work being done in the way of feeding the children, 250 of whom receive two meals a day from the school managers.
There may be other bodies of workmen who would be glad to imitate this generosity of the Ferney Beds workmen. The latter are also subscribing to the relief fund.
WORK AT THE PITS
The coal mines of Northumberland are reported to be working a little better. In one or two instances collieries which had been idle for some weeks, have resumed work, and there has been a full week’s employment for the men.
ARMY CYCLIST COLLIDES WITH BRIDGE
On Monday afternoon, whilst cycling from Morpeth to Alnmouth, via Felton, with a party of the Northern Cyclists’ Battalion, Corpl. Claude Smith failed to take the turn at Felton Bridge. After coming down the steep hill, called The Peth, Smith did not slacken his speed sufficiently to ensure a safe turn, and came in contact with the kerbstone on the south side of the bridge, sustaining a dislocated wrist, bruised knee, and slightly bruised forehead.
He was picked up and taken into the post office, where the motor ambulance from Morpeth was telegraphed for, and the injured man conveyed to Morpeth.
We understand he is recovering satisfactorily, and will be able to resume duty in a few days.
It is worthy of note that Mr and Mrs McIntyre, of Choppington Colliery, have four sons in the army. Three sons, James, Luke and Jack, are in the East Yorkshire regiment, and William in the Northumberland Fusiliers, and a brother of Mrs McIntyre, Joseph Moody, is in the Durham Reserve.
RECRUITING AT BLYTH
Recruiting for the cyclists’ battalion has been very satisfactory, two companies of which have been raised. Intending recruits should apply at the Drill Hall, Quayside, Blyth.
A cyclist approaching Ashington from the Pegswood direction got a bit of a fright the other day. He had neared Whitefield, and was pedalling along, paying attention to nothing in particular, when suddenly some heads appeared, which action was followed by shouts of “Bang, bang.”
The heads belonged to budding soldiers, who had entrenched themselves in a dried-up ditch at the roadside in mimic warfare, and the cyclist was, to them, a German.
SEWING GUILD AT
A sewing guild was formed in Felton just after war was declared. Since then the work has been steadily going on, and a large quantity of garments of various descriptions have been made and distributed. One hundred pairs of socks have been knitted, and the greater part of these are being sent to Devonshire House, in reply to Queen Mary’s request for 300,000 pairs.
PATRIOTIC CONCERT COMMITTEE
Leaders in musical circles in Morpeth have formed themselves into what is now known as the Patriotic Concert Committee. The idea of the committee is to organise concerts and entertainments on behalf of those deserving funds, which have come into being through this extraordinary war.
The committee made a splendid start last Friday evening, when a most successful concert was held. The Masonic Hall was crowded, and a more appreciative audience has seldom gathered in that building. Local artistes furnished the programme, which was drawn up on patriotic lines.
As a result of the concert, the local branch of the Queen Mary’s Fund benefited to the extent of £28, and to Mrs Wright’s knitting party has been given £6.