HERALD WAR REPORT: News and notices from the Morpeth Herald, December 25, 1914.
HERALD WAR REPORT: News and notices from the Morpeth Herald, December 25, 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.


There is tribute to North-country recruiting in the fact that the Northumberland Fusiliers (the “Fighting Fifth”) have now more battalions than any other British regiment. It comprises 26 battalions, including four composed of Territorials.

The Royal Fusiliers and the Manchester Regiment come second with 24 battalions each, the former including the four new Public School Boys’ Battalions and the two raised by the Sportsmen. The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) hold third place with 20 battalions, and the Durham Light Infantry fourth with 18, and the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Highland Light Infantry each have 17. Several regiments have 16.


Private George Hedley, of the 2nd Batt. Coldstream Guards, serving at the front, writing to his parents at Morpeth, mentions that he is getting along pretty well. Thanking his father and mother for the many appetising things sent out to him, he says apples are plentiful. Of souvenirs of his sojourn on the Continent, the writer is the possessor of several fine photographs of towns where his battalion have passed through, and other mementoes, which he is sending through to Morpeth.

In another part of his epistle, Private Hedley, writing of the bravery and prowess of the British airmen, says they are the pluckiest men he has ever seen. Their help in finding the range for the British artillery is nothing short of marvellous, and daring feats are quite the order of the day. At times he has seen as many as 50 shells fired into the air at these intrepid flyers, and the skill and dexterity in their manoeuvres to avoid these engines of destruction is the delight of our lads at the front.

Luxuries, says the soldier, are rather scarce, and a few sweets, toffee, etc., would be welcome. The situation from which he writes had been utterly rid of everything by the Germans before our forces arrived on the scene and drove them back.

In a postscript, the private remarks that he will probably be watching and waiting for the Germans during the time those at home are having their Christmas dinner, but thinks he will be all right.

A subsequent letter from Private Hedley to his parents, in which after referring to family matters, he states that he had noticed in the “Herald” a letter from Private C. McCarthy, of the Artillery.

Hedley refers to the condition of artillerymen and their enemies in the aeroplanes and what the infantry have to endure; but he adds, they can manage to look after themselves.

He states that it gets colder weather out there, but as there are lots of new regiments arriving they had a prospect of a good rest.


The above league have already had three drills and a route march on Sunday morning 

More men are wanted at once, so that the progress of the men who have already joined may not be delayed. There is general satisfaction at the benefit derived from the march and drills, and also the knowledge that they are doing their utmost to make themselves useful citizens in case of an invasion of our coast.


Owing to the vagaries of the weather, it is well nigh impossible to state what the atmospheric conditions will be over Christmas. There is one thing certain, and that is in thousands of homes in this land, and other lands, the crowning festival of the year will not be a time of rejoicing.

The great European conflict, which has, thanks to German “Kultur,” brought sorrow into the homes of both rich and poor alike, overshadows everything.

Taking everything into consideration, it is all the more necessary now that there should be no diminution of the spirit of goodwill nor a tightening of purse-strings. Although the outlook is anything but congenial, it is for the people to make the best of circumstances without any exuberance or unseemly jollity, and the wish which we pass along to our readers is “A HAPPY CHRISTMAS.”


A glance at the windows in Morpeth will convince the most casual observer that the tradespeople are desirous of carrying on “business as usual” at this festive season.

The windows are “dressed” in most attractive fashion, and articles of all descriptions — to suit all purses — are displayed in such a way as to catch the eye. Perhaps it may be as well to call attention to the “special lines” advertised by the shopkeepers in our columns. There readers may find the very thing they want advertised, and they know where to go and get it.

From all accounts, we understand that the Christmas trade, so far, locally, has been exceptionally brisk, and bids fair to equal that of last year. Of course, in the colliery districts the “buzzer,” owing to the interruption in the export coal trade, has been blowing too frequently to allow of much money being circulated from these quarters.


Christmas appeals especially to the young folk, and for no other reason than that Santa Claus — we won’t give the show away — a white-bearded old man, comes along from the far North in his reindeer sledge, laden with children’s toys on Christmas Eve.

To many of the children Santa Claus this time will be at the war, but, locally, provision has been made to fill up the gap.

Several ladies, with the Mayoress (Mrs T.W. Charlton) at their head, have made arrangements to receive contributions of toys, money, sweets, and fruit, in order that all soldiers’ children living in Morpeth may each receive a present at Christmas.


The Morpeth Church Institute, like many more institutions in the county, has had its membership depleted within the last few months. Twenty of the members have gone forth to serve their King and country in this great crisis, and no fewer than eight of them were members of the committee.

Another year’s progress has just been recorded, and the annual report shows that every branch of the institute’s work continues to receive the loyal and enthusiastic support of the members.


Within a fortnight’s time to be exact, January 5, 1915 — the 2nd Battalion of the Newcastle Commercials will be quartered in Morpeth.

It was the wish of the organisers of the Commercial battalions that one at least should come, as the district is eminently suited for training. For instance, there is the excellent rifle range on the Common.

Arrangements have now been made for the accommodation of the battalion — 1,300 strong — in the schools, halls, and two of the churches in the town. The coming of so many men into the place will be welcomed by many of the shopkeepers, for during their stay it will undoubtedly mean increased trade in more ways than one.

It is expected that the battalion will march from Newcastle to Morpeth. Their entry into the town will be watched with a considerable amount of pleasure and interest.


The Mayor of Morpeth has received notice that he has been allotted 200 bags of the free gifts of flour sent to the motherland by the Canadian Government.

These bags are suitably stamped, and in other parts of the country the inhabitants of the towns are buying them as mementoes.

The Mayor has decided to offer these bags for sale to the people of Morpeth and district at the price of 5s. each empty bag.

Those desirous of having one can do so by sending their name and address to the Mayor, Carlisle House, Morpeth.


We would draw the attention 
of old boys of Henderson’s School, Morpeth, and friends to a testimonial which it is ­proposed to give to Lieut.-Col. Andrew Henderson, of the 
9th Battalion Durham Light ­Infantry.

He is a son of Mr James Henderson, late schoolmaster in the borough. Old scholars will be pleased to learn that after something over 30 years’ service in the old 5th Durham Volunteers, and the present Territorial Battalion, the 9th Durham Light Infantry, an old school mate of theirs has become the “colonel of the regiment,” and is now engaged in getting his men fit for the call that is expected at any moment to go to France to fight for King and country.

No Territorial officer is better equipped than Col. Henderson, who possesses almost every certificate open to those officers, and it is thought that the present is a fitting time to acknowledge the many abilities he has shown as an officer, and to the honour and credit he is bringing upon his old school and to his friends in the Borough of Morpeth.


The circling year has once more brought round the appointed anniversary for re-calling the angels’ song, which ushered in a new date in the world’s history:—

All glory be to God on high,

And to the earth be peace;

Good-will is shown by Heaven to man,

And never more shall cease.

Sixty-four generations of Christians have chanted or sung or simply read these words in one form or another, and in scores of countries and different languages. That song has been the source and model of all Christmas carols and hymns, with some of which church services, as of old, will again be melodious.

Throughout Christendom, and especially in European Christendom, all the worshippers will not this year be able to join with heart and voice in the accustomed praises of the sanctuary, which have so long been associated with the season. To vast numbers its usual joyousness has been turned to sadness, and for them and all who know and sympathise with them, words and music must be in chastened tone and a minor key.

The Christmas of 1914 will be recalled and spoken of by the next two or three generations. The material havoc and destruction, the fearful sacrifice of human life on the stricken battle-fields of Europe; and above all, the sheer devilry with which the Kaiser and his military bandits have murdered peaceable people and helpless women and little children, even in our own country and on our own east coast, will make such an indelible impression on minds and memories that for long years to come it will not be erased.

As with everything else, the subject has another side. Christmas is essentially the children’s feast and festival; and in order that they should not be deprived of their joys and pleasures, preparations have been going on much as usual to ensure their happiness. They are encouraged and even warranted to expect the ever-welcome visits of Santa Claus.

The circumstances in which so many are placed by the horrors of the war suggest that there might be some incongruity in our wishing for all our readers A Merry Christmas, as we have been wonted to do annually. We therefore fall back on the good conventional phrase and present them with The Compliments of the ­Season.


The words of the following 
song were recently written by Alderman J.R. Hogg, at the request of Mr W.H. Jude, the celebrated composer of “The Skipper,” “The Mighty Deep,” “Deep in a Mine,” and other well-known songs, and have been set to music by this eminent musician:—

“Your King and Country need you,”

Is heard through the land today,

“Your King and Country need you,”

Speed herald on thy way;

Let the cry go forth to the frozen north

And to India’s sunny plains,

Till each distant strand of the Motherland

Has heard its eager strains.

Refrain —

“Your King and Country need you,”

Ring out on the fife and drum,

Till Britons all have heard the call

And echo back “WE COME.”

“Your King and Country need you,”

To fight for liberty,

“Your King and Country need you,”

For the home of the brave and free;

Now, who will strike for home and right

And his deeds shall history tell,

And crown his name with deathless fame

In the land we love so well.