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.
MORPETH SOLDIER KILLED IN ACTION
The sad news that Private Arthur White, of the Northumberland Yeomanry, had been killed in action in France reached Morpeth on Saturday.
This young soldier is the son of Mr White, of the Post Office, Hepscott. He was employed in the Morpeth branch of the Ashington Industrial Co-operative Society.
He had joined the Hussars a considerable time before the outbreak of the war. He was a young man of promising character, and his sad death will be widely deplored.
l WHITE.— Killed in action, in France, on Feb. 19th, aged 22 years, Trooper Arthur Henry White, of the Morpeth Yeomanry, “C” Squadron, 7th Division, third son of John and the late Elizabeth White, Post Office, Hepscott. Deeply mourned.
THE WAR AND AFTER
Sir,— It is with some little surprise — not unmixed with amusement — that I have perused the somewhat remarkable effusion of Mr Henry Halliwell contained in your issue of last week.
One would have imagined that such an academic question as the condition of things after the war might well be left over until the end of the present conflict draws nigh. Your correspondent has, however, rushed into print and some of his statements cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged.
It is quite evident that your correspondent’s breast is stirred with honest indignation as he surveys the efforts of those (to him) misguided individuals who have ventured to warn their countrymen against the futility of talk about “annihilating” Germany; and the thunderbolts of Jove are to be immediately fashioned against the devoted heads of those who even dare to mention such a thing as the conciliation of Germany at the end of the war.
Amongst these unfortunate individuals Mr Halliwell has been pleased to single out Mr Norman Angell, who has pointed out that to crush Germany by force of arms alone is practically impossible. One may or may not agree with this statement, but your correspondent then immediately falls into the extraordinary delusion that because he (Mr Angell) makes this statement he also wishes for an immediate peace. This conclusion is, I need hardly say, quite unwarranted, and I should like to ask Mr Halliwell what authority he has for drawing such inference. On the contrary, I believe that Mr Angell has expressly stated that it is essential to the best interests of Europe and mankind that the Allies should win and that Prussian militarism should realise its helplessness against its united neighbours.
No sane man can desire that now when we are engaged in this war we should be hampered by premature peace. We must follow out the old dictum, and having put our hands to the plough we must not turn back. But there is a vital difference between aiming at the destruction of Prussian militarism and the absolute humiliation of Germany. All kinds of fantastic and absurd proposals are put forward by the advocates of the latter course. These schemes one and all proceed on the basis of handing over certain territories to the victors in entire disregard to the wishes of the inhabitants. A more mistaken policy can scarcely be imagined.
It is quite impossible to suppress the spirit of nationalism in either Germany or in any other country; and in carrying out this policy without reference to the wishes of the inhabitants concerned we are surely making trouble for future years. The compulsory cession of Alsace Lorraine by France to Germany in 1870 should be a sufficient object lesson for us. We all know how for 40 years the loss of these two provinces has embittered France and how powerfully the cry of “La revonche” has helped in the present renaissance of that country. If the humiliation of Germany is to consist in the dismemberment of the German States, it is quite safe to say that however crippled Germany may be immediately after the war, yet she (with her growing population, her strong national life and great powers of recuperation) will be a constant centre of commotion, intrigue, and international complication in future years, and that sooner or later time will bring the opportunity of retaking that which she has lost.
Again the policy of constant and permanent hostility to Germany after the war must be condemned as extremely short-sighted. Alliances do not last for ever, and the whirl-gig of time effects strange changes in international relationships. No one can foresee the future, and history teaches us that foes of today are very often the friends of tomorrow. Many of us hope that when the war is ended and the spirit of Prussian militarism for ever broken that a new and nobler Germany may arise Phoenix-like from the ashes of the old.
We hope, Sir, that the new Germany will be famous not for the manufacture of Krupp’s guns or the invention of death-dealing machinery, but for the revival of that spirit which placed her foremost in the ranks of philosophy, music and thought for 300 years; that spirit, which has now been overclouded though, we hope, not utterly destroyed by the vain and criminal delusions of military autocracy and world power fostered in the present generation of Germany by the jingoism of Bernhardi and others. — Yours, etc.
ROBERT C. HAWORTH.
9, Fenwick Grove, Morpeth.
MORPETH LICENSING CASE: A £5 PENALTY.
Joseph Clark, Black Bull Hotel, Morpeth, was charged with failing to comply with an order made by the military authorities in Defence of the Realm Regulations Act, 1914, by not closing the licensed premises of the Black Bull Hotel, at 9pm, on Feb. 5, — Mr William Webb appeared for the defendant.
Sergt. Cunningham proved serving a copy of the Order on the defendant two days before it came into operation.
Sergt. Eckford said that from information received he visited the Black Bull Hotel at 9.10pm. He found between 30 and 40 men, civilians and soldiers. Some were holding glasses in their hands, and soldiers were drinking at a table near the window. He observed Private Fred Hudson, N.F., drinking a glass of beer. The sober men in the bar were in a degree intoxicated. The landlady was in the act of filling whisky, and there was no attempt to clear the house.
When he spoke to the barman, who was rather insolent, he said that he had called closing time five minutes previously. He told the barman to come from behind the bar and get the people out, which he did. The landlady said she hoped there would not be anything made of it, and she would see that it did not occur again.
He asked for the landlord and was told he was in bed, and had been there since 8pm. He was got out of bed. The landlord asked if that was quite true what witness had said, and she said it was quite true. One of the men of the Scottish Horse was locked up that night.
Cross-examined by Mr Webb, witness said he relied upon his own watch and upon the time of the clocks at the Police Station and the Presbyterian Church. He denied that the men were on the move out when he entered the public house. He had not tried to get any of the public as witnesses. He did not think it was necessary to get some “good, honest soldiers” to give corroborative evidence. The witness he had was a constable who was with him. Witness had not pointed out to Mrs Clark that there was a man drunk in the house. That was unnecessary. The Clerk pointed out that, so far, the case had been undefended if it was admitted that the barman had admitted he had called closing five minutes before.
P.C. Callaghan gave evidence corroborative of that of the Sergt. At 9.10 on the night in question they saw two soldiers enter at that time. Mrs Clark was filling whisky, and when the Sergeant spoke to the barman, who was Mrs Clark’s son, he said in an independent manner that he had called closing five minutes previously. They could not get the people out. Mrs Clark said: “I admit it was 9.10, but I could not get them out. She asked that it be looked over and it would not be allowed again.
Mr Webb admitted that men were on the premises at seven minutes after 9 o’clock. They were served with drink at five minutes to nine. When the Sergeant entered it was ten past nine, but it was always kept at least three minutes fast.
Mrs Clark said she had been landlady of the hotel for twenty years. Some soldiers and men were in the bar when the Sergt. entered. They had been asked to leave at nine o’clock. When the police came it was seven minutes past nine. The Sergt. said: “It is time these men were cleared out.” She told the police that time had been called. Everything was very orderly, and no complaints had been made about the condition of any of the men. Her husband, not being well, went upstairs at 8pm. By Supt. Marshall: There was not a drop sold after five minutes to 9. She told the men to go out twice.
Supt. Marshall: Who were assisting you in the bar? — Witness: My son and daughter.
Did they assist to get the people out? — The customers were told twice to go.
Mr Webb: What did you say to the Sergeant? — Witness: I said: “Sergeant, you are not going to make a case of this.” Continuing, she said: I have been most particular in keeping good order in my house. The most I could do was to ask them to leave.
Mr Webb: I have two witnesses who will corroborate this witness.
Chairman: I think the facts are clearly admitted. We are bound to convict. The place was open after hours.
Mr Webb: But there are extenuating circumstances.
Chairman: I don’t think there are. I am going to express my opinion on the matter.
Mr Webb: I think there are extenuating circumstances. For instance, there is the good conduct of the house for twenty years.
Chairman: Under this Act the defendant is liable to a penalty of £100, and that shows what the military authorities think of it. I am going to express my views on the matter. I think it is a very serious matter. This is a time of war, and it is most important that everything should be done to encourage sobriety amongst our soldiers in order that they can be sent to the Front as fit as ever possible. There is a serious responsibility upon licence-holders, and it is for them to help this country in every way possible. They have a chance of serving their country in a very important way. This is the first case under the Act, and I hope what I have said will prevent such a thing occurring again.
A fine of £5 and costs was imposed.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE BELGIANS
We have received the following interesting communication from Mr Herbert Hoover, chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium:—
He states: “We have received from Mr James Jobling, of your town, a cheque for £17, being proceeds of a performance of “The Messiah” given in St James’ Church, Morpeth, recently — in aid of our fund for relief of the Belgians in Belgium. It gives us much pleasure to acknowledge the generous assistance of your townspeople in a work which we have so much at heart, and the need for which is daily increasing. The number of persons in Belgium now requiring assistance is well over 1,500,000.”
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH.
The Commandant, Sixth Northumberland V.A. Hospital has received, with thanks, gifts from the under-mentioned for the use of the patients in the hospital:—
Magazines: Miss Harding, Mrs Jobson, Miss Carr, Soldiers’ Institute, Miss Young; fruit and flowers: Miss Harding, Mrs Elliott, Mrs Maxwell, “E” Coy., 19th N.F.; vegetables: The Mayor; bread: Mrs Jobson; eggs: Mrs Barnett; puddings, tarts, soup: Mrs C. Grey; chairs: Mrs Straker; bandages and slippers: Mrs Burdon; covers for hot-water bottles, pyjamas: Miss Middleton; table-spoons, forks, dessert spoons, table-knives: Mrs A. Brumell; towels, sheets, pillow-cases, bedspreads, dressing-gown, cushions, bedjackets: Mrs Tweedy. Sent by Mrs Tweedy:— 2 bedsteads, 2 hair mattresses, 4 pillows, 8 blankets.
MORPETH WESLEYAN CHURCH, MANCHESTER STREET.
Rev. J.T. Wardle Stafford, D.D. (Chairman of Newcastle District), will lecture on ‘The Church and the War,’ on Tuesday, March 16th, 1915.
The chair will be taken by Cuthbert Bainbridge, Esq., of Espley Hall, at half-past 7pm. Collection in aid of Circuit Funds. All soldiers specially invited.
SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE, MORPETH.
On Thursday, 15th inst., Mr A. Platts had in hand the arranging of the usual weekly concert. Mr Platts brought with him a good array of talent, and gave a first class entertainment. The following were the artistes: — Miss Beattie, Amble; Mr Hoskin, Mr Lockey, Mr Jos. Hall, ‘cello; Mr T. Payne (violin), and Mr Sid. Greenwood (comic), Newcastle. Mr F.E. Schofield presided, and Mr Platts was accompanist. The usual sacred concert was held on Sunday night, when Mrs Bayliss and Mr W. Bell (Bebside) were the soloists. Both were in good voice, and had a hearty reception. Mr A. Platts acted as accompanist, and Mr J.T. Harrison presided.
The French class commenced last Tuesday night, when a good number were present.
Through Mr G. Renwick’s kindness the Institute is the richer of a costly gramophone and records.
THE HIRST SCHOOLS
A meeting of the managers of the Hirst schools was held in the North School on Thursday of last week. Mr W. Miller presided. An application having been received from the secretary of the Ashington Civic Guard for the use of the central hall of the East School and playground for drilling, the Clerk stated that he had written to the county authorities asking their permission to do so.
The reply from the County Education Committee was to the effect that the application be granted, provided that no other premises were available, that there was no interference with the use of the school purposes, and on condition that a responsible person undertook the care of the building when occupied, the cost of lighting was refunded, and payment made to the caretaker for any extra work imposed upon him. Smoking was also to be strictly prohibited. The Clerk stated that a copy of the letter had been sent to the secretary.
Mr Craigs: Is there no other building available?
Clerk: They applied for the Skating Rink, but they were not able to get it.
On the motion of Mr Warne, seconded by Mr Craigs, it was agreed that the charge per night for the use of the premises be 3s. 6d.— 1s. 6d. for lighting and 2s. for the caretaker.
CHOPPINGTON PIT RE-STARTED
Choppington Colliery, which has been idle since the commencement of the war will re-start on a pretty full scale on Monday first, a contract with a local railway company having, it is stated, been secured. There are at present only a few sets of men engaged. There are some eight rows of houses at this colliery village. Those are occupied by families whose bread-winners have had to seek work elsewhere — some at Elswick, some at adjoining collieries and not a few who have enlisted to serve their country on the battlefield or on the sea. A large number of workmen who resided in “rented houses” have removed. The re-starting of the colliery, however, will be a positive benefit to the district.
BLYTH SAILOR IN THE S.S.“DULWICH”
Mr Charles Patterson, of Carlton Street, Blyth, who was an apprentice on the torpedoed steamer Dulwich (owned by Messrs Watts, Watts & Co.) told an interesting story of the sinking of that vessel.
“We were on a voyage from Hull to Rouen,” he said, “and at 6.30 on Monday evening we were within 30 miles of Havre. I was standing on the forecastle head at the time when the torpedo struck.
“We had no warning whatever. The ship trembled violently and I was thrown half-way across the forecastle head, and the mate, who was in his bunk at the time, was thrown out and injured his head.
“The Dulwich was struck just abaft the engine-room, and she at once listed to starboard. The officers were kept busy giving out life-belts all round and then Captain Hunter gave orders to stand by and man the boats. The mate ran around the ship shouting “All hands on deck,” but as he received no answer we thought all were ready. We left the ship in two boats, twenty-two in our boat and the remainder in the other. When we had pulled away from the ship some distance we heard shouts, and looking back, saw two men, a fireman and an ordinary sailor, standing on the ship. We tried to pull back but found it impossible owing to the high sea which was running. The men were supplied with life-belts, however, so it is possible that they jumped into the sea when the ship sank, about five minutes later and were picked up. Up to this time we had seen nothing of the submarine but when we missed the other boat and commenced sending up light signals it appeared, and manoeuvred round a bit but soon made off. “After having been in the lifeboat for something like twenty minutes we were picked up by a French destroyer and taken to Havre. It was just in time as our boat was almost full of water. At Havre we were taken to the Sailors’ Rest and provided with clothing and well looked after until the Consul found us a ship — the Tinoretto, which brought us back to Southampton, and I arrived home on Sunday morning safe and sound after a rather exciting time.”
A letter has been received from Sergt. White, son of Mr Thos. White, of 25 New Row, Isabella Pit, Blyth. Sergt. White, who was in the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, is a prisoner in a German village with the extraordinary name of Kriegsgepagendung. This soldier states he is well, but conveys no further information. The holding of trenches by cavalry has been one of the curious features of the recent phases of the war, and the experiences of Trooper George Gibbinson, formerly of Alnwick, as related in a letter to his brother-in-law, Mr H. Kirk, of Darlington, make interesting reading. Trooper Gibbinson, who is in the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, says:—
“We took up our position on the canal, and our troop went to relieve the 16th Lancers, a little further down. We got orders to retire almost immediately, for the Germans were in great force... Three of us were sent on outpost duty, on the canal.
“It teemed with rain, and after daylight we went into two houses on the lock to get a better view. We soon opened fire, but the enemy retired. However, all of a sudden a shell went through both walls of the house. Two others followed, and though there were eight of us upstairs, we all escaped without a scratch.
“Later I had another near squeaks. The Germans, evidently spotting some of the Indians walking on the road, started to shell us. A shell went through the windows of the headquarters, and, when I went to the back, another shell burst, blowing nearly all the slates off the roof. They were old red slates, weighing about a stone, and you can guess I got a nasty bump or two. An Indian corporal, who was near the window, I found had been blown to atoms by this shell.
“On another occasion a couple of the enemy’s shells found a trench, and killed about a dozen of the French who were holding it. These poor chaps were very close to us.”
A WARM TIME
Mr W. Thompson, of Rubishaw, Blyth, has received an interesting letter from a member of the Expeditionary Force, now serving at the front. After thanking Mrs Thompson for a pair of socks he received, the writer goes on:—
“They are the things that we most need, because going in and out of the trenches, through the communication trenches, we have to go up to our knees in water, and, of course we get our feet wet. Moreover, it has a favourite trick of freezing at night, and if we have wet feet you can realise we don’t have a very comfortable night. So a change of socks is very highly appreciated, I can assure you.
“No doubt your would like to know who we are and what we are. We are a part of the Indian contingent. We arrived in England from India on September 24th, had 4 hours’ leave to see our parents, and left for France on November 5th — 12 days in England after six years — and we arrived just in time to catch the terrible weather.We have about 300 left out of 1,100 that came home from India with us. The rest have either been killed, wounded, or sent home ill — the majority with frost-bitten feet. Oh! it was terrible for us coming from the tropics and coming straight here before we were acclimatised, straight amongst the snow. I am glad the worst is over. It proved our worst enemy — the weather.
“The war has been rather boring of late — both sides stuck in mud and trying to kill time by killing each other. But now and again the artillery break the monotony by seeing how much of a trench or a house or church they can knock down. We have been having rather a warm time of late, though, but in these days of strict censorship I cannot tell you much. We have had a big battle raging in our vicinity. You may have seen something of it in the papers. I think the women of England are acting splendidly by your example. You give us something to fight for. It’s easier for us in the thick of the fray than it is for the women at home, waiting in solitude for goodness knows what. But I am sure all will repay you two-fold, if that is possible, when we bring things to a successful termination — victory. We are not returning until we are victorious.”
THE ROAR OF THE CANNON
“I might tell you we can now even have a bath,” writes Trooper C. Stephenson, of Blyth, of the Northumberland Hussars. It has been a nasty day, raining heavily every now and again. The mud never seems to dry at all. The chaps here seem to think the war will soon be over. They say the summer will see it through, and I hope they are right.
“I was in the trenches last night, about 80 yards from the Germans. We could hear them singing, and from parts of our line they were encored. Sometimes they encore us. Reading this, perhaps you would think no war was on. Only perhaps though, for at times the band does play! Today, for instance, our artillery has been roaring the whole time. We take little notice of it now; we merely say to ourselves as a shell flies away with a shriek, ‘Some poor devils have gone the journey.’”
TWO ALNWICK BROTHERS WOUNDED
Two brothers, Privates John and Alfred O’Brien, Northumberland Fusiliers, sons of Mr and Mrs W. Hall O’Brien, Alnwick, have been wounded in action.
The former, who is a prisoner in Germany, was shot in both hands. The latter received wounds in the chest and arm, which were mentioned as serious.
The ward officer of the 3rd Sheffield Hospital, where Private Alfred O’Brien is lying at present, informs his parents that he is very comfortable, and that it is only a case of time before he will be “trotting round the ward.”
A DISTINGUISHED LOCAL OFFICER
Captain Henry Sidney, of Cowpen Hall, who has been mentioned in despatches by Sir John French for distinguished conduct at the Front, is the eldest son of the late Mr Henry Sidney, of Cowpen Hall. Mr Sidney has a brother, Philip, who is an officer in the Northumberlands, and is also fighting at the Front, having come from India recently.
Captain Henry Sidney is expected home for a brief visit during the next fortnight.
ASHINGTON SERGEANT’S DISTINCTION
Sergt. Robert L. Booth, of the Border Regiment, who is included in the list of recipients of the D.C.M., is a son of the late Mr R.L. Booth, for many years manager of the pits of the Ashington Coal Company, and brother of the present manager at Ashington, Mr Fred L. Booth.
He was for a number of years a clerk in the employ of the Coal Company at their offices at the Colliery, and joined the East Lancashires, with whom he went through the Boer War, being in action at Modder River and other places. He holds both the King’s and Queen’s Medals for that campaign. He has recently been promoted regimental quartermaster-sergeant.
ASHINGTON MINER’S THEATRE
On Sunday, March 7th, 1915, a lecture will be given by M. Emile Vandervelde, Esq. (Belgian Minister of State.) Doors open at 2pm. Commence at 2.30pm. The Harmonic Prize Choir will render choice pieces. Conductor, John Vine, Esq. Prices —: 6d., 4d., 2d. Proceeds in aid of the Belgian Relief Fund.
STAKEFORD, WEST SLEEKBURN & DISTRICT WORKING PARTY
The above party have this week sent a further quantity of goods to Lady Jellicoe as follows:— 44 pairs of stockings; 1 pair mittens. The committee again wish to thank all who have helped to make these goods. The committee is arranging for a concert at West Sleekburn, on March 15th, when they hope to raise a good sum of money for our soldiers’ and sailors’ garment fund.
DEATH OF GENERAL GOUGH
The “Morning Post” announces the death from wounds received on Saturday of Brigadier-General John Edmond Gough, V.C.
This distinguished officer, who was on the staff at Aldershot, went out for Staff work with the 1st Army Corps. In the retreat from Mons he did admirable work, and was mentioned in despatches by the Commander-in-Chief.