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 TRAINING LEAGUE
What ails the Morpeth Training League?
Some time ago there was evidence of it being able to do great things if called upon. It appears that the enthusiasm evinced at the commencement is gradually disappearing, and there is now a likelihood of the league being abandoned.
At a meeting of the committee held last week it was decided, as the response to the circular sent out and appeal made through the Press, was so poor, that unless more men join there was nothing for it but to abandon the league altogether. The committee, however, are going to keep it open for another week in order to try and obtain in that time sufficient men to enable them to continue.
It would be a great pity if the league was abandoned. We think if the people of Morpeth read the statements made by Lord Joicey they would be better able to realise the necessity of doing all they can in the present crisis.
In that statement he says that “Every man and every gun will be needed if we are to bring this war to a successful finish,” and by joining the training league every man may be fitted and ready to take his place when the day comes, and after the scare last week everyone ought to be prepared for any emergency arising from air and sea raids on the North East coast. The drills are held each Monday and Wednesday nights at the Council School yard, Castle Square, and it is hoped that a good number of recruits will come forward to enable the committee to carry on the Training League.
ST GEORGE’S DAY
Today (Friday) is St George’s Day. It will be duly celebrated by the military stationed in Morpeth, St George being the patron saint of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
We understand that the Military Committee of the Chamber of Commerce will inspect the battalion in the forenoon, and present to every man a red, white and blue rose. Among the visitors will be the Bishop of Newcastle and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle.
In the evening a big recruitment meeting will be held in the Market Place. Prior to the meeting there will be a procession through the main streets by the local bodies, Grammar School Cadets, Boys’ Brigade, Boy Scouts. A band will head the procession.
STOBSWOOD AND WIDDRINGTON AMBULANCE BRIGADE
The following members of Stobswood and Widdrington Ambulance Brigade proceeded to the Nottingham Military Hospital last Friday:— Pts. Jobson, Sexton, Little, and Burge.
7th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers — Major G.S. Jackson, to be temporary lieut-colonel (18th April); Captain Hon. J.A. Joicey, to be temporary major (18th March); Second Lieut. J. Welch, to be temporary captain (April 18th); Lieut. J.F. Lambton, to be temporary captain (April 18th).
Second lieutenants to be temporary lieutenants (18 April): F.W. Smail, F.B. Cowen, J.W. Merivale, W.J. Davis, G.F. Ball.
APPEAL BY THE MAYORESS OF MORPETH
The Belgian Soldiers’ Fund (19 James Street, Oxford Street, London, W.) are organising a Pound Day throughout Great Britain, on Thursday, May 6th. The Mayoress of Morpeth has kindly consented to help the work by receiving gifts at the Council Chamber on that day, and she appeals to every man and woman in Morpeth to bring one pound, or one half pound, or one quarter pound, of groceries to be sent to the Belgian soldiers who are fighting in the trenches.
These brave men have no one to send them the food comforts that are so greatly needed on active service.
The Belgian Soldiers’ Fund sends from one to two hundred cases of provisions every week, but a great deal more is needed. Indeed the fund is unable to meet half the demands upon it because the weekly supplies that come into the office are limited.
One pound of groceries, such as chocolate, cheese, lump sugar, dried fruit, or tinned supplies, such as tinned meat, jam, milk, meat extract, salmon, is a very little gift from those who have all the comforts of life about them to the men who have sacrificed their very homes for their honour and their nation.
The Mayoress appeals to the people of Morpeth to bring this little gift to the Council Chamber without fail on Thursday, May 6th, in order that she may have a consignment worthy of their town to send to the Belgian soldiers.
CURIOS FROM THE FRONT
Mr P. Murray, of Olympia Gardens, Morpeth, has had forwarded to him an interesting collection of curios from the seat of war.
They include a German helmet (in good condition), several pieces of shell, among them being a piece of the famous “Jack Johnson,” a few pieces of china, and a beautiful brass cross, and other small mementoes. They are well worth inspection.
During the past few days recruiting in the Ashington district has been exceedingly brisk, many having gone to join their comrades-in-arms. But the call is: “More men, and still more men.”
A GUNNER’S BATTLE RECORD
Mr R. Osbaldston-Mitford, of Mitford, Morpeth, has received a letter from a gunner with whom he got into touch through forwarding supplies of tobacco and cigarettes to the Front. The letter reads as follows:
“I have been sent out to the Front again, as you will see by my new address. I have been transferred to the Royal Horse Artillery from the Royal Field Artillery. I am with the Indian Cavalry Division, the Bengal Lancers, and the Poona Horse, having joined this division six weeks ago.
“I have another honour to my credit — Neuve Chapelle. I dare say you read an account in the papers how splendidly we behaved. I shall never forget it as long as I live. Fancy 100 batteries opening fire at a given time. It was horrible the three days it lasted.
“We got warmly praised by General Rawlinson, commanding the division. Perhaps you will remember the extract from orders — I happened to see it in the papers — of how the 8th division 4th Corps went into battle, and it is a strange coincidence, is it not, that I am on the same battlefield I was on from the 4th to the 10th October, when we drove the Uhlans headlong back, when they made a bid for Calais.
“I shall have a fine medal when the war is over, from all the principal engagements, as follows: Retirement from Mons, Charleroi, Courtrai, Rivers Marne and Aisne, Salis sur la Lys, Hazebroeck, Mervrille, Armentieres, and now Neuve Chapelle.
“There is another popular regiment close by us — the Northumberland Hussars. They have done some good work out here.
“I got your parcel quite safe and enjoyed the tobacco — very good stuff — and many thanks for your kind regards. It is a pleasure to have good friends. Glad to say we are having some good weather here now, but it keeps frosty at night.”
COMMERCIALS LEAVE ROTHBURY
The Battalion of Northumberland Fusiliers stationed at Rothbury for over three months past received a sudden call from Rothbury on Wedneday afternoon.
The usual military duties were being carried out when the bugles sounded the alarm, and very soon there was a stir in the camp, and in a very short time the billets were cleared and the men all in marching order, ready to be conveyed by rail to an unknown destination.
The several companies, together with their officers, were conveyed from Rothbury Station by two trains.
The men seemed very bright and cheerful, and a large number of civilians turned out to bid them good-bye. Much regret was felt and expressed by the Rothbury folk, as the soldiers were quite at home amongst the people of the village, who have tried their best, generally, to make them happy and comfortable, concerts and suppers being of weekly occurrence, given by several residents of Rothbury and Thropton. The men appreciated the kindness shown. Their presence, too, has been of great financial benefit to the tradespeople of the town. They leave with the hearty good wishes of all for their future happy welfare.
OF SLIGHT IMPORTANCE
It was not bad enough that the Kaiser should have sent his great gas-bag to spread terror amongst us, but read what the German papers have to say about it. Talk about insult to injury! Here is what the Berlin “Lokalanzeiger” says about us:—
“Blyth, where the Zeppelin was first sighted, lies at the mouth of the little river of the same name, and is of slight importance. For this reason no bombs were thrown there.”
Of slight importance, eh? Why, would not Blyth people sooner have had the German bombs than this impudence?
Then the report goes on to refer to the airmen paying more attention to Bedlington and district where there was ironworks, etc. Now it is more than fifty years since the ironworks at Bedlington ceased to exist.
My opinion is that the men in the big balloon knew no more about Blyth and Bedlington than did the scribes in the office of the paper quoted.
RECITAL IN AID OF THE BRITISH RED CROSS SOCIETY
We desire to draw attention to the violin and organ recital to be given in St James’ Church on Sunday, 26th inst., at 3pm, by Mr Edward C. Jackson and Mr John Wyatt. The fact that the proceeds are to be given to the British Red Cross Society will, we are sure, appeal to all.
This society is doing a humane work among the wounded and invalid, here and on the Continent; and any effort to provide the society with funds to carry on its work should be supported.
We feel sure that from a musical point of view the recital takes a high stand, and all that will remain is for the public to attend and liberally give towards the object in view.
THE WAR AND THE DANGER FROM HOUSE FLIES
ALNWICK URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL
The Medical Officer, Dr R.B. Robson, informed the members that one thing which was of very great importance was the danger from house flies.
They had in proximity to their shores a terrible war raging. There were thousands of caracses unburied or imperfectly buried. These in the near summer would breed a pestilence or something of the sort that they could not conceive.
There was a great earthquake or flood in China some 27 or 28 years ago and there were thousands upon thousands of people killed. They were left unburied, and it had been said that the influenza epidemic had emanated from this circumstance.
There was bound to follow in the trail of the war this summer some terrible epidemic — cholera among the older people, and enteritis, caused by flies among the children. The common house-fly was a main factor in carrying disease, and they wanted a cure against these insects. He suggested that pamphlets should be distributed about the town giving some simple methods of how best to combat the house-fly, which information might help to do good. He also suggested that a good spraying machine be obtained for spraying quick-lime, which was a good disinfectant.
It was agreed to bring the Medical Officer’s suggestions under notice of the Sanitation Committee for their consideration and report.
• The Lighting Committee reported that Mr T. Bolton, superintendent of police, suggested that certain of the more conspicuous lights should be discontinued, and that all the public street lamps be extinguished at ten o’clock pm. The Lighting Committee recommended that this be done.
Mr W. Bell said it was a farce for lights in places of business to be put out and inconvenience caused, and the lights to be allowed in houses of pleasure. He moved that the authorities request that the electric light be dealt with just in the same manner as gas-lights.
Mr Lingwood seconded, and after some discussion the Committee’s recommendation was carried.
LOCAL RECHABITES AND THE WAR
The 31st annual meeting of the Northumberland District of Rechabites was held on Saturday in the Church Institute, Newcastle.
The proceedings dealt chiefly with war matters, and reports were submitted showing that 1,702 members of the district had gallantly taken up duties on his Majesty’s service in connection with the war, equal to 15 per cent of the total membership, and that the members, men and women, left at home had undertaken to pay the contributions of all the servicemen to keep them in benefit, for both sickness, wounds, and death owing to the war, at a total cost of £1,900 a year for the district alone.
It is estimated that 20,000 Rechabite members of the Order, belonging to the home and colonial districts have taken their place with the armed forces, and are all under similar conditions as to benefits and contributions.
In the juvenile section the children of parents who are away on service are being maintained in benefit during the war, even where the parents are not members of the Order.
The D.C.R., Bro. John Little, in his opening remarks, referred to the war tragedy now desolating Europe, and the Chancellor’s statement that the three enemies we had to contend with were Germany, Austria and drink, and that the greatest of these was drink.
Bro. John Ritson, P.D.C.R., proposed the following resolution:—
“That this meeting of Northumberland Rechabites, at this time of grave national crisis, views with regret, alarm and humiliation the realisation of the fact that the traffic in intoxicants is causing such deadly retardation of the production of the vitality necessary for producing war material, to such an extent as to actually jeopardise the high position of the whole British Empire, and is crippling the efforts of our gallant soldiers who are personally facing our enemies on the battlefields amid storms of fire in field and trench.
“At such a juncture we are thankful to His Majesty the King for his splendid personal example, which he has so nobly shown, and also to Lord Kitchener and all others who have followed the King’s illustrious elad, and this meeting resolves to help that moral suasion movement in every way possible.
“In our view the reign of alcohol as a beverage has always been accompanied with inefficiency, loss, waste of money, and time, crime, pauperism, disease, sorrow and wretchedness, and, even now, with the dreadful weight of war menacing our national vitality itself, the ravages of the drink curse are simply being intensified to the extent to which the greater earnings of too many of the producers are being poured into the drink channels.
“Therefore, on all these grounds this meeting believes that the short, sharp, decisive cure for our present grave difficulties is to be found in prohibition of the sale of spirits and other intoxicants, and urge on the Government the immediate adoption of this course, and we hereby assure them of our whole-hearted support in any steps that are taken to meet this end.”
Bro. J. Ritson said people could not call Rechabites bigoted teetotallers now, when the Tsar and King were leading them. The song used to say follow your leader. So said they. It was a serious thing to know that 57,000 brave men had laid down their lives, but the tribute which drink demanded from them was serious. The men who drank were anxious to have the traffic stopped, and were appealing to the nation to do something to save them from themselves.
Bro. David Ritson seconded, and said prohibition was the only solution, but he was willing to take anything that would help to ameliorate the evils of drink. A publican at Glasgow had said that if the men got 2d. an hour more he would get it all. A local landlady had remarked that it was her opinion that the men could not do their best unless the public houses were closed and for her part she would give up her beer house to help the cause at the Front if it was demanded. Many of the Byker men had declared they would willingly do without drink. The resolution was carried unanimously.
It was decided to give £10 to the Angus Watson Business Men’s Press (Prohibition) Campaign.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH.
The Commandant, No. VI. V.A. Hospital, Morpeth, begs to acknowledge the following gifts for the use of the patients in the hospital:— Eggs, Mrs Straker, Miss Reed, and the Mayoress (Mrs Charlton.) Fruit: Miss Adamson. Flowers: Master J. Dunn (2), the Mayoress (1); Miss Simpson. Fish: Mrs Harding. Bread: Mrs Jobson. Magazines: Miss Fisher. Flower vases: Miss E. Mouat.
FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES FOR THE NAVY
Sir.— The hon. secretary of the Vegetable and Products Committee, in London, asks us to bring before you an urgent appeal to the people of the district to support our branch with further contributions, either in cash or kind, for the supplies to the Fleet are falling off seriously just at the time, unfortunately, when they are most needed.
If people could be brought to realise the facts which are emphasised in the mid-April report of this committee, the president of which is Lord Charles Beresford, and would reflect on the horrors they might have experienced but for the brave, vigilant men of our fleet, they would surely respond promptly and freely to this appeal, which only asks for those food commodities which are needed to keep the men in good health. We have many proofs of the appalling misery which might have been our lot had our enemies had the freedom of the sea. Nothing is more certain than that our fleet has saved us from a hideous experience. Though more remote, that danger might yet be possible, but for our “Guardians of the Sea.”
In the light of these facts can any one refuse to pay a little of the great debt we owe those men?
Fresh vegetables of any kind and in any quantity, carriage paid to Cramlington Station, or donations to purchase the same will be thankfully received by
WM. KELL, F.H. HARDY.
Hon Secretaries of the Cramlington Collecting Society
3 Blagdon Terrace, Cramlington.
ASHINGTON MAN MENTIONED IN DISPATCHES
Private Thomas Page, R.A.M.C., who is attached to the 1st Field Ambulance, 1st Division, on active service, has been mentioned in dispatches for distinguished service.
Accompanied by another member of his company Private Page rescued an ambulance that was in imminent danger, and brought it safely into the British lines. A wheel of the vehicle, which was found to contain two wounded men, had collapsed, and the driver was missing. Private Page, who is 24 years of age, was born at Ashington, where his parents have resided for 35 years, and was always a keen ambulance student. He removed to Greenside less than a year ago, from which place he enlisted on the outbreak of the war.
BELGIAN REFUGEES AT ROTHBURY
A Newcastle lady, who has taken much interest in the welfare of the Belgian refugees at Rothbury, has received a letter from Madame Wayemans, one of the refugees, thanking her most cordially for various useful garments which she had received, and acknowledging the kind treatment extended to them at Rothbury.
Mr and Mrs Livingstone, Wells House, Rothbury, provided the house for the accommodation of the refugees, which was partly furnished by Lord Armstrong. Mr and Mrs Livingstone have looked after the welfare of the inmates (20 in number) since their arrival in October, and the inhabitants have freely contributed each week all the housekeeping expenses.
THE MINERS’ DEMAND
Referring to the miners’ demand for a 20 per cent war bonus increase, states a writer in the “Newcastle Daily Chronicle,” involves all the elements of a very grave crisis.
The Miners’ Association of Great Britain have twice declined to grant a conference on the ground that they had no authority to deal with wages questions. Meanwhile, there is not the slightest doubt that the owners in the various districts would consider the demands locally. The South Wales coalowners, in fact, voluntarily offered their workmen five weeks ago an increase of ten per cent on standard rate as from April 1st last.
Yet, irrespective of local economic conditions and customs, and the willingness of the local Boards to discuss the matter, the Miners’ Federation are apparently bent on forcing a uniform increase. At any rate, the whole situation is to come under review at a conference of the Minders’ Federation to be held in London on Wednesday and Thursday next.
There is more than a suspicion that the Miners’ Federation is endeavouring to utilise the war as a means of establishing a National Wages Board. Apart altogether from the practicality of such a Board, the present is the wrong time to prepare the way for an agitation like that.
We say this without any attempt to prejudice the claim of the men for some return in consequence of the increased cost of living. It is obvious of course, that this return should bear some relation to the increased prices which coal owners are receiving for their coals; and according to Mr Robert Smillie himself, the ascertainments made in the various Conciliation Board areas, hovering on a period up to the end of February, only allowed increases at the pit banks varying from 1 1/5d in some districts to 1/6 in others.
In Northumberland the increase only allowed an advance to the miners of 1 per cent. And yet the Miners’ Federation are insisting upon an all round advance of 29 per cent.”