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.
THE TYNESIDE SCOTTISH
“D” Company of the 2nd Tyneside Scottish Battalion completed a march from Newcastle to Morpeth on Sunday afternoon in excellent time, and the form displayed was an excellent augury for the future. On Monday morning the men continued their march to the encampment at Alnwick.
AN OFFICER’S CONDOLENCE
Amongst the communications which have arrived from the Front this week is a kindly and sympathetic letter from Major Sidney, of Cowpen Hall, who, like most of our own brave officers, has the most kindly feelings towards the men who are fighting with him.
He writes to Mr White, of the Post Office at Hepscott, and tells how bravely his son fell whilst performing a dangerous duty, for which he had volunteered.
The letter from the gallant major, which is published in another column, bespeaks the thoughtfulness and sympathy of a brave officer for the relatives of a stricken comrade.
A MORPETH TROOPER’S DEATH
The following communication has been received from Major Henry Sidney, officer commanding “C” Squadron, Northumberland Hussars, by Mr White, Post Office, Hepscott, concerning the death of his son, Trooper Arthur White, of the Northumberland Yeomanry, who was killed in action in France:—
February 22, 1915
Dear Sir,— I am extremely sorry to have to inform you that your son, No. 599, Trooper A. White, was killed in action on 20th February, 1915, while he was in the trenches.
It may be some consolation to you to know that death was instantaneous and he suffered no pain.
He was a very good soldier, and was a great loss to his Squadron. To give you an instance of his keenness, although not detailed for duty in the trenches on this particular occasion, he, at his own request, was sent there with his troop in the place of another man.
His friend Corporal Patrick, is sending home to you his letters, pocket-book, money, etc.
Again expressing my deepest sympathy with you in your great loss,
HENRY SIDNEY, Major, O.C. “C” Squadron, Northumberland Hussars.
P.S.— Your son was buried the same night in the presence of several members of his troop, in an orchard about 400 yards behind the trenches. A suitable cross will be put up.
THE HINDS’ HIRING
The hinds’ hiring at Morpeth on Wednesday was well attended, and the demand for men was considerable. This was only to be expected under the circumstances, so many men having joined the service.
The natural corollary was enhanced wages to the extent of from two shillings to four shillings a week and in view of the enhanced price of foodstuffs the increase in wages was well justified.
Several recruiting officers were very much in evidence, and, as a result, a number of eligible men decided, in their country’s crisis, to forsake the ploughshare for the sword.
THE KAISER UNMASKED
The peace of the world has been completely wrecked
By one whose career will have to be checked;
Maddened by the thoughts which are surely insane,
That he was born o’er the whole world to reign.
For years his ambition has been to gain
The supremacy of the sea, but alas ‘twas in vain:
His great engines of war were brought into play
To hasten forth that eventful day.
Now to reach Paris he commenced a mad rush
To overthrow France and thoroughly crush;
But this plan, we’re glad, was carried astray,
For poor Little Belgium had a word to say.
That word, though costly, made the wide world ring
At the patriotism shown towards country and king;
Though they lost in fighting, they made a great name
Which will live in history — to Germany’s shame.
‘Twas here the Kaiser his true character did unfold,
By slaughtering the innocent, the infirm, and old;
He massacred children and left women a-crying,
But these wrongs will be avenged by the Great British Lion.
That rush was stayed by the brave Allied Forces,
Who need never stoop to any cruel resources,
For it’s not the man you’re fighting that’s marked down as bad,
But the one in command that is certainly mad.
For wanton destruction you cannot compare
Even the tiger when roused in his lair
When he used those words, “My heart bleeds for Louvaine,”
Were the words of the wicked, the cruel, the insane.
When his race he has run and the eagle is slain,
And in a murderer’s grave the coward is lain
We’ll look back on the past with tears in our eyes,
On those horrible deeds of that Satan in disguise.
The Rising Sun Lodge Branch of Northumberland Miners’ Mutual Confident Association have passed a resolution against “the unpatriotic action of the coalowners in reducing the miners’ wages.”
A GALLANT CONSTABLE
Amongst the men who have returned from France wounded is Robert Kerr Ferguson, late of the County Constabulary, who left Wallsend to join the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders.
He will be well remembered as an athlete, who, on more than one occasion won the 100 yards race at the annual sports of the constabulary.
The gallant fellow, who after engaging in many severe battles was wounded at Armentieres, having had his arm badly shattered and was otherwise injured so that his discharge from the army will be imperative.
He is at Chevington, and despite what he has endured, on Wednesday was full of cheerfulness, when he met numbers of his old colleagues at Morpeth.
2/7th NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS
Recruiting for this Regiment, whose Depot is at Fenkle Street, Alnwick, has been very quiet during the last week.
Recruits are urgently required, for Imperial Service, to fill vacancies in the 2/7th Northumberland Fusiliers.
In Berwick, Belford, Amble, Morpeth, Ashington, Wooler, and Rothbury, arrangements have been made locally whereby men can get particulars as to enlistment, in fact in any village in the north of Northumberland there is someone who can give particulars.
If any man living in the country cannot get particulars locally he can do so on writing to the Depot, Alnwick. The main qualifications are: Good health, and not under 19 years of age. Full Army rates of pay and separation allowances are payable.
MINERS’ COAL SUPPLY
Representatives of the Northumberland Miners’ Association met the coalowners at the Coal Trade Offices, Newcastle, on Wednesday in regard to the question of the free supply of coal to workers.
Shortly after the beginning of the war, when the pits were working very short time, the allowance was restricted, and to this the men raised little objection.
At Wednesday’s meeting it was pointed out that conditions had practically returned to the normal, and the delegation asked that the usual supply of house coal to the workers should be resumed. To this the owners agreed.
MORPETH BOARD OF GUARDIANS
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday, the Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presiding.
In accordance with notice of motion given Mr Floyd moved that outdoor relief to all persons be increased to sixpence a week.
Chairman: Allow me, Mr Floyd, to make a suggestion. I don’t think we can legally bound each Guardian on this matter. I was going to suggest that you alter your motion to this: “That in the opinion of the Board, in face of the increased cost of living, the standard of relief to the outdoor poor be raised for the time being.” That would be an instruction to the relief committee, and do away with trying to bind the Board.
Mr Floyd: You don’t mention any particular sum.
Chairman: No, we must consider each case on its merits, and we must depend on the report of the relieving officers.
Mr Floyd: Would that resolution if passed be applied immediately?
Mr Floyd: Well, I think I can accept your motion and I thank you for your advice.
Mr Craigs: I take it that each case will be taken on its merits.
The Board unanimously adopted the chairman’s motion.
Mr Floyd: It is now left entirely to the relieving officers to whom they shall give extra relief?
Chairman: The relieving officers will recommend cases to us, as we will take each case on its merits. They will come before the Relief Committee in a fortnight’s time.
Mr Floyd: I am sorry I so readily agreed to your motion. I thought it would apply at once.
Chairman: We have already adopted the relief for the coming fortnight.
Mr Floyd: Then next fortnight we will have practically a revision.
Clerk: If you are going to make a complete revision you will have to sit two days.
Mr Floyd: It will be worth the trouble.
Mr Reavley: Every person in receipt of outdoor relief is suffering from the increased prices.
Chairman: I understood that we were to increase the relief of all persons.
Mr Dodds: Commodities are going up.
Clerk: We were told this morning that some are going down.
Mr Craigs: I take the resolution to mean that when the relieving officers bring their cases before this Board that each case will be decided on its merits. It is quite evident that the people have a struggle for an existence that they had not before, and that some are not getting sufficient relief.
Mr Floyd: I think it should mean all cases.
Mrs Jeffrey: Will the increase be permanent or during the high prices of food stuffs?
Chairman: For the time being.
It was finally agreed that the revision of the outdoor relief cases be made at the next meeting of the Relief Committee.
Mr Norman withdrew his notice of motion to the effect that the salary of the matron be increased.
The Clerk stated that the Relief Committee had a resolution to make that the master and matron be continued to be paid their full salary. He added that the Relief Committee had had before them the question of the Master, who was on military service. They had the figures given by the military authorities showing what amount the master and matron were receiving from the War Office. The committee decided that it be a recommendation from them to the Board that the master and matron receive their full salary.
Mr Hudson, in moving the adoption of the recommendation, said that the matter was fully discussed by the committee that morning, and that as a result of their deliberations they thought their recommendation was a just one.
Mr Norman seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH
The Commandant VI. Northumberland V.A. Hospital has received, with thanks, gifts from the undermentioned, for the use of the patients in the Hospital:— Flowers, Mrs McCaw, Mrs Maxwell, Miss Simpson; fruit, Mrs Murphy, Mrs Maxwell, Mrs Dickie; papers and magazines, Mrs Hudson (Soldiers’ Institute), Miss Harding; eggs and butter, Mrs McCaw, Miss Kirsopp, Mrs Barnett; muffler, Mrs Maxwell; teacakes and tablecloth, Miss Hudson; rabbits, hot water bottle covers, belts, Miss Middleton; milk, Miss Arkless; puddings and soup, Mrs Chas. Grey; slippers, night shirt, Mrs Irwin; pillows, Miss Kirsopp; cushions and cakes, Miss Ella Mouat; bread, Mrs Jobson; cigarettes and chocolate, Miss Harding; pea-flour, Miss Stoker; towels, night shirts, pillow cases and old linen, Mrs Rayne; flowers, Mrs R. Hudson.
NETHERTON MAN A PRISONER WITH THE GERMANS
There is at present at Netherton a soldier named Private W. Scott, who belongs the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers who has had an interesting experience as a prisoner in the hands of the Germans.
He was taken a prisoner on October 28th at La Bassee, when th e advanced trench, occupied by about 400 men, was rushed by the German Death’s Head Hussars. Scott and five companions were taken prisoners.
They were then marched off to a large house, where other prisoners were under guard. The shells were flying over the house and past both sides all the time they were there, and it was remarkable how it was never hit.
Scott and his companions were lined up at one side of the house, and they felt certain they were going to be shot. They were treated by German doctors, who tore or cut off their clothing to get at the wounds. They were then given a blanket each, and were marched ten miles to a station.
They were then entrained for Douai, where they were billeted in a Cathedral. They then travelled in a railway truck three days and nights. Three meals a day were allotted. At 6 o’clock some black coffee was given them, without milk or sugar; at 7 two thick slices of black rye bread was served out; at 11 o’clock three-quarters of a pint of soup, sometimes pea-soup, with a small piece of sausage or meat, but no more bread.
Bulletins were posted in the camp from time to time, giving “the progress of the war,” in which the prisoners were told of the continued success of the Germany Army; that Paris was in their hands, and that the Germans were in London. The only reliable piece of information posted was the sinking of the Emden, which the prisoners cheered to the echo.
BEDLINGTON SOLDIER A PRISONER
Mrs Foggan, Bedlington, has received a postcard from her son, Private Newton Foggan, of the 1st Coldstream Guards, who has been reported missing since Jan, 25th, when the Coldstreams were engaged in a battle with the enemy at night.
Mrs Foggan was glad to receive a postcard from her son though he is a prisoner in the hands of the Germans, by whom, he states, they were surrounded and had to surrender. He states that up to now he has been fairly well treated. They are only allowed to write two postcards a month. He asks his mother to send him some cigarettes and sweets.
ALNWICK PATRIOTIC FAMILY
Mrs Egdell, a widow of Pottergate New Row, Alnwick, has five sons serving their country. They are:— Thomas Egdell, Royal Marines; Edward Egdell, Scottish Rifles (at the front since the outbreak of the war); John Egdell, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers; David James Egdell, Scottish Rifles; and George William Egdell, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers.
Mrs Egdell has also a son-in-law serving in the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, two nephews in the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, and another nephew in the 42nd Highlanders.
ANNITSFORD MINER KILLED IN ACTION
News has been received by Mrs Rendall of Jackson Street, Annitsford, that her brother, Lance-Corporal Edward Lawson Hindmarsh, has been killed by shrapnel in the Ypres Battle on the 18th of February while serving with the 2nd Battalion 5th Northumberland Fusiliers.
Lance-Corporal Hindmarsh was only 21 years of age, and had only been at the front about five weeks. He had just returned home from India, and was drafted away to the front.
He was well known and respected in the Annitsford and Burradon districts, and worked as a miner at Burradon Colliery. He was a native of Byker, Newcastle.
NEWS FROM THE FRONT
The British Government’s Press Bureau has issued the following concerning the bombardment of the Dardanelles:—
The entrance to the Dardanelles was guarded by four principal forts, namely, Cape Helles Battery, Fort Sedd-el-Bahr, Fort Orkhanieh Tabia, and Fort Kum Kale Tabia, which will be described for convenience as A, B, C, and D. These forts are armed as follows: A - Two 9.2 inch guns; B - Six 10.2 inch guns; C - Two 9.2 inch guns; D - four 10.2 inch and two 5.9 inch guns.
The weather having improved, although the wind was still from the south west, the attack on the above forts was resumed on Thursday morning, at 10am.
Queen Elizabeth, Agamemnon, Irresistible, and Gaulois began by deliberately bombarding forts A, B, C and D respectively, at long range. Fort A replied, and one shell at 11,000 yards hit the Agamemnon, killing three men and seriously wounding five.
Irrestible and Gaulois made excellent practice on Forts C and D; whilst Queen Elizabeth concentrated with great accuracy on Fort A, putting both of its guns out of action by about 11.30am.
Vengeance and Cornwallis then ran in under cover of long range fire, and engaged Fort A at close range. The reduction of Fort A was completed; whilst Forts C and D opened a very inaccurate fire. Suffren and Charlemagne next delivered an attack on Forts C and D, advancing to within 2,000 yards of them. It was then seen that they were under no condition to offer effective resistance. Vengeance, Triumph and Albion were then ordered to complete the reduction of the forts. All four were reduced by 5.15pm.
Sweeping operations, covered by a division of battleships and destroyers, were immediately begun. The enemy set fire to the village at the entrance as darkness fell.
A telegram from Athens says the Allies’ great battleships renewed the bombardment of the great forts within the Dardanelles on Sunday.
They blew up the important powder magazine of Neloiri and silenced the batteries at Hengini. They have advanced as far as the lighthouse Kavophonoid (Kephez Burnu).
Mines have been methodically removed by sweepers. At the same time warships have bombarded Xyros, sweeping the Turkish camps.
The flags of the Allies have been hoisted on the forts, as these have been silenced.
DESTRUCTION OF 19 GUNS
The British Admiralty announce that the operations in the Dardanelles were resumed on Monday morning, when HMS Triumph, Ocean, and Albion entered the Straits and attacked Fort 8 and the batteries at White Cliff.
The operations at the entrance of the Straits, already reported, have resulted in the destruction of 19 guns.
The magazines of Forts 6 and 3 were also demolished. Fort 9 was damaged and ceased firing on Tuesday afternoon.
The attack progresses.
The casualties sustained during the day were slight, and amounted to only six wounded.
THREE WARSHIPS HIT
A further report received on Wednesday night says:—
On Tuesday the Canopus, Swiftsure and Cornwallis engaged Fort No. 8. A heavy fire was opened on them by Fort 9, together with field batteries and howitzers. Fort 9 was damaged and ceased firing at 4.50pm.
The battleships withdrew at 5.30pm, and although all three ships were hit, the only casualty was one man slightly wounded.
Seaplane reconnaissance was impossible on account of the weather. Mine sweeping operations continued throughout the night.
The attack progresses.
The Russian cruiser Askold has joined the Allied fleet off the Dardanelles.
The Press Bureau issued the following message on Tuesday from the Field-Marshal commanding the British Forces in France:—
March 1, 1915.
1. The enemy’s activities in the neighbourhood of Ypres, reported in my last communiques, have been checked. During the last three nights patrols have been active in front of our trenches, and have found that the enemy have not ventured to leave his trenches.
Early this morning an attack, preceded by a heavy bombardment, was made on a portion of our line and was successfully repulsed.
2. On our left a party of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry captured a German trench with great dash, and after killing 11 of the occupants and drawing off the remainder, they succeeded in blowing up the trench. Our losses were trifling.
3. On our right, near La Bassee, we have gained ground steadily by skilful trench work, and in this zone we have obtained a complete mastery over the enemy’s snipers and in consequence our casualties are greatly reduced.
4. On several points on our front our artillery has forced the enemy’s batteries to change position, and has increased the ascendency over the opposing guns, which has been observable for some time past.
FRENCH SUCCESS FROM PERTHES TO BEAUSEJOUR
Paris, March 2.
The following official communique was issued on Tuesday afternoon:—
Between the sea and the Aisne the day was fairly quiet. The enemy only made an attack to the south east of St Eloi, south of Ypres. He was repulsed by the British forces.
In Champagne there was a fresh bombardment of Rheims (about 50 shells).
Despite the storm, our progress continued between Perthes and Beausejour throughout the whole of yesterday, especially to the north west of Perthes, to the north east of Mesnil, and to the north of Beausejour. We hold the culminating points of the undulating ground parallel with out attacking front.
It is confirmed that the elements of the Guard, which counter-attacked us during the night of Sunday to Monday sustained extremely heavy losses.
In the Argonne, in the sector of Bagatelle and Marie Therese, there were infantry engagements and mining operations in an advanced trench, which we reoccupied after having for an instant abandoned it.
In the region of Vanquois we made progress, and retain ground taken, despite two counter-attacks, and have also taken a number of prisoners.
In the Vosges, at Chapelotte, near Celles, we carried some trenches by storm, and gained 300 metres.
VIOLENT ATTACKS REPULSED
The following official communique was issued tonight:—
From the sea to the Aisne there has been a cannonade of varying intensity.
The Germans recommenced to bombard Rheims at midday, using incendiary bombs.
In Champagne, on the front to the north of Souain, Mesnil, and Beausejour, our progress has continued. We hold on the whole front, that is to say, over a distance of more than six kilometres, a whole line of German trenches, representing a depth of one kilometre.
Our progress today has been particularly noticeable to the west of Perthes, where we have carried some trenches and extended our positions in the woods. We have gained ground to the north of Mesnil.
In this region also we have repulsed several violent counter-attacks. A regiment of the Guard suffered enormous losses.
Since the last communique was issued we have made 100 prisoners and taken a mitrailleuse.
Several German attacks have been easily repulsed at the Bois le Pretre, north west of Pont-a-Mousson.
“THE THORDIS” AND A GERMAN SUBMARINE
The editor of the “Syren and Shipping” has received the following telegram from Captain Bell of the steamer Thordis, the vessel which is reported to have sunk a German submarine:—
Thordis dry-docked. One blade propeller gone. Keel plate badly damaged. Admiralty satisfied submarine sunk.
Captain Bell was yesterday congratulated on his feat by Admiral Egerton.
(The entry in Captain Bell’s log-book shows that on Sunday when he was eight miles of Beachy Head he sighted a moving submarine periscope to starboard. It crossed his bow 40 yards off, and a moment later the captain saw the wake of a torpedo on his starboard bow. He starboarded his helm and made straight for the periscope, which he is confident was torn away. The Thordis is a Norwegian built ship. Captain Bell is a Middlesborough man.)
THE KING AND THE NAVY
The Press Bureau announces that the King has sent the following message to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe on return from his visit to his Majesty’s Fleet:—
“I much appreciate the kind message you sent me. It has given me great pleasure and satisfaction to have been able to visit a portion of the Grand Fleet under your command.
“I have been on board representative ships of all classes and am much impressed by the state of their efficiency and the splendid spirit which animates both officers and men.
“I have not the slightest doubt that my Navy will uphold its great traditions.”
ANOTHER ZEPPELIN DAMAGED
Reports from Germany state that one of the two Zeppelins which were flying over Cologne to protect the military bridges across the Rhine was blown down by the storm two days ago.
The crew were saved, but the airship was damaged beyond repair.
AUSTRIAN UNITS ANNIHILATED
An official communique from the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief says:
On the front, between the Niemen and the Vistula, our troops yesterday (Monday) continued the offensive.
North west of Grodno our troops are making successful progress. The enemy, offering a stubborn resistance, has fallen back beyond the line formed by the villages of Mankovoe, Rotiezi, and Rakowice.
The enemy is continuing the bombardment of Ossowiece with shells of very large calibre.
Between the Pissa and Rozoga rivers our troops are developing their offensive, and approaching the Myszinee-Kolno road.
In the Przanysz district the enemy, pressed by us, is retiring precipitately on Janow and Mlawa.
Our troops are also conducting a successful offensive on the sector nearest the Vistula and the district south of Rodzanowo. On the left bank of the Vistula there is no change.
In the Carpathians the Austrians, bringing up large quantities of artillery on Sunday, delivered a vigorous attack, but without any result, on a district of 60 versts between the rivers Ondawa and San. Already on the day before dense columns of Austrian infantry were concentrating within rifle range of our positions. Their first attacks were directed that night, and at dawn on Sunday, in the district of Tworilne, where, however, the Austrians suffered enormous losses.
In the centre, in the Rabba-Radseioff district, an extraordinarily stubborn and furious battle waged all day on Sunday. The enemy’s desperate attacks often ended in hand-to-hand fighting. His losses were excessively great. All the slopes of the mountains, as well as the ravines, are strewn with Austrian dead. Many of the enemy’s units were annihilated to the last man.
An official statement issued on Monday night says that the prisoners and guns captured to the north of Grodno belong to the best German army corps, the 21st Field Corps, which in time of peace was stationed at full strength on the French frontier and which was recently transferred to Eastern Prussia.
The initiative in the fighting to the north of Grodno has passed to us. The Germans, notwithstanding the poor success that attended their efforts in the Edvabno-Bohr region, continue their attacks, but these are wanting in vigour.
Our progress in the Przsanysz region continues, and in certain sectors is distinctly marked. In these we are capturing villages in rapid succession, taking from 500 to 600 prisoners in each.
The Germans abandoned guns, quick-firers, motor vehicles and bicycles at Przasnysz. The strategical initiative is now entirely on the Russian side.
TWO GERMAN AIRMEN RESCUED
Two German airmen were landed at Lowestoft on Saturday morning from the motor trawler New Boy, and were handed over to the naval authorities.
The men had been rescued in the North Sea, where they came to grief last Sunday.
It appears that they were flying from Ostend when they fell into the sea, and they were rescued after having clung to their machine, which is now a total wreck, for two days.