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.
DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDALS FOR TWO MORPETH SOLDIERS
Two Morpeth men, Private G. Burrell and Pte. C. Martin, have been awarded the much-coveted Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry displayed in action.
The circumstances in each case are practically identical as described by Capt. H.R. Smail, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, who sent to Mr J. Burrell, 23 Bridge Street, and Mrs C. Martin, 7 Grey Place, the following account:—
“During the attack on the 26th April, both men carried up a box of ammunition to the firing line under a very heavy artillery, rifle and machine-gun fire. They advanced entirely unsupported by others for over a mile, the ground providing very little cover.”
The Captain stated that he wrote to them as he felt sure the men would make light of what they did. They had every reason to be exceedingly proud. He added that he was glad to write about other subjects than casualties.
“Somewhere in Belgium.” 23/5/15.
From Capt. H.R. Smail, 1st Line, 7th N.F.,
To His Worship the Mayor of Morpeth.
It will no doubt give you and the inhabitants of Morpeth great pleasure to know that two of your fellow townsmen — No. 1180, Pte. G. Burrell, and No. 2188, Pte. C. Martin, of No. 1 Company, 7th N.F., have been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal — a decoration very much coveted and difficult to obtain in this campaign.
During an attack on St Julien on 26th April these two men, with conspicuous gallantry, brought up a box of ammunition to the trenches we were occupying. For over a mile they had to traverse ground plastered with shell and machine-gun fire, yet on their own, they came on undaunted, reaching the said trench amid cheers from the various members of all regiments occupying it.
I witnessed this gallant action myself, and am exceedingly glad the recommendation was favourably received by the Commander-in-Chief.
You will no doubt be so good as to see that proper notice is taken of this in the local press. May I add that I have always been proud to have the two Morpeth platoons in my double company, but since seeing their pluck in action and endurance of hardship I am still prouder. They have, indeed, been a credit to their native town so far. My only regret is that there were so many casualties in our first two actions.
I may also say that only three of these medals went to the 7th, the other going to a Berwick man also in this company.
O.C. No. 1 Coy., 1/7 N.F.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Pte. Joseph Shaftoe, 7th N.F., of Morpeth, was killed in action in France on April 28. He was 30 years of age, and leaves a widow and four young children.
Information has been received by Mrs Stevinson, of Newgate Street, Morpeth, that her son, Pte. Edward Stevinson, of the 7th N.F., has been wounded in action.
Mrs Daglish, Fernlea, Morpeth, has received the following letter from Capt. H.R. Smail, 7th N.F., serving at the Front:— “I am sorry to have to write to inform you of the death of your son, Pte. R.A. Daglish, 1st Company, 7th N.F. While in the trenches on the 16th May, he was shot in the head by a sniper. We had him attended to and conveyed to hospital. We never had much hope of his recovery. He was conveyed to hospital at dusk, and we now have information that he expired at 11.5pm on the 18th. I very much regret his death, more especially as he has served his country so long and so well. Please accept my deepest sympathy in your loss.” The deceased was 27 years of age and was an electrician at Ashington Colliery. He has been eight years in the Territorials. His late father (Sergt. T. Daglish) used to be one of the crack shots of the Morpeth Company of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Private William Chrisp, of the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action on May 5th. The deceased soldier was well known in Scotland Gate, where he lived for several years. He was a soldier of considerable experience, he having joined the army when quite a youth. In all he had 16 years’ service. He had the medals for the Soudan, Crete, and the South African war. When mobilisation took place, though his term of service had expired, he volunteered and was accepted. Great sympathy is felt for his widow and four children.
News has been received at Choppington that Robert Wiseman, of that place, has been killed in action.
Pte. R. Nicholson, of Hirst, has been killed in action.
Nicholas Millican, R.N.D., of Cambois, has been killed.
Pte. J. Davison, of Ashington, has died of wounds received in action.
Seaman T. Donkin, R.N.D., of Ashington, has died of wounds.
Lance-Corpl. J.E. Tonsey, K.O.S.B., of Ashington, has died of wounds received in action.
Wm. Liddell, Tyneside Naval Division, of 35 Middle Row, Bates Cottages, has been wounded.
Ordinary Seaman W. Errington, of Seaton Delaval, attached to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, has been wounded.
Pte. R. Bell, Royal Naval Division, of Bates Cottages, has been wounded.
Ordinary Seaman J. Heffron, of Ashington, has been wounded.
Ordinary Seaman S. Lambert, Royal Naval Division, of Cambois, has been wounded.
Pte. B.A. Dewar, of Ashington, has been wounded in action.
Mrs Self, of 49 Myrtle Street, Hirst, has been officially informed that her husband, Ordinary Seaman Thomas Hy. Self, Royal Naval Division, Howe Battalion, has been badly wounded during the action in the Dardanelles.
Pte. H.B. Campbell, R.M.L.I, of Ashington, has been wounded.
Pte. G.N. Edwards, 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, of Hirst, is wounded and missing.
Pte. E. Davitt, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Bedlington, has been wounded. Information has been received by Mr and Mrs Joseph Smails, of Shilbottle, that their youngest son, Private William Waston Smails, had been killed in action near Ypres. Soon after war was declared Private Smails enlisted into the 7th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers (Territorials) at Alnwick, and went to the front with his battalion on April 20th. Prior to joining the colours he assisted his father, who is a carting contractor at Shilbottle.
Mr and Mrs Statton, of Albion Row, Shankhouse, Cramlington, have received intimation that their son, Lance-Cpl. James Statton, of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, who was wounded and “gassed” in action on April 27th (as was reported in our columns last week) has died in hospital at Boulogne. The acting chaplain at the hospital, who conveyed the sad news to the parents, states that he was totally blind up to about one hour of his death. The deceased, who was about 27 years of age, was very highly respected in the Cramlington district, who share with the relatives in their great loss.
Councillor George Bewick, chairman of the Weetslade Urban District Council, has received information that his nephew, Pte. Robert William Gillespie, of the 2nd Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers, has been wounded in action, and he is now in hospital at Boulogne.
Mr and Mrs Noble, of Longhirst, have received official notification through the War Office of the death of their son, James Noble, private in the above regiment, killed in action on May 13th in the Dardanelles, at a place not stated. He completed six years’ service in January last.
Mr Jos. Cooke, of 30 Dene Row, Bates Cottages, has received official information that his son, George Cooke, has died of wounds in hospital near the Dardanelles.
Mr and Mrs Job Gates, of Seaton Burn, have received an official intimation that their son, Private James Gates, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, has been killed in action. Mrs Wilson, of Lane Row, Burradon Colliery, has received official intimation that her son, Pte. A. Wilson, of the 5th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers, has been wounded in action, and is now in hospital at Lincoln.
News has been received at Burradon that Pte. Frank Wanless, of Double Row, Burradon Colliery, who was serving with the 5th Batt. N.F. in France has also been wounded.
Official information has been received at Cramlington intimating that Capt. T. Wood, of the 7th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers, has been wounded in action in France. Captain Wood, who received his commission in the early stages of the war and went out to France about five weeks ago, was manager of the Cramlington group of collieries.
ROLL OF HONOUR
McCLOUD — Killed in action in France on April 26th, aged 19 years, Willie McCloud, 7th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, the dearly beloved son of William and Mary McCloud, 73 Hartside Terrace, East Chevington Drift.
SHAFTOE — Killed in action in France on April 28th, aged 30 years, Private Joseph Shaftoe, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, Morpeth. Deeply mourned.
DAGLISH — At Bailleut, on the 18th inst., from wounds received, aged 27 years, Ralph Atkinson, dearly beloved son of Mary and the late Thomas Daglish, of Morpeth.
CHRISP — Killed in action on May 5th, in his 41st year, Private William Chrisp, of 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, eldest and dearly beloved son of M.E. and the late William Chrisp, of Plessey Checks, Cramlington. Deeply mourned by his sorrowing mother and brothers.
CHRISP — Killed in action on May 5th, in his 41st year, Private William Chrisp, 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, dearly beloved brother of George and Polly Chrisp, 2 Everitt Street, Hartford Colliery.
CHRISP — Killed in action on May 5th, 1915, aged 41 years, William, beloved husband of Mary Ann Chrisp, of Scotland Gate. Deeply mourned.
Arise! ye sons of Morpeth!
Your country needs your aid,
And in the years that’s coming
Never let it ever be said
That you were cowards or wasters
Or afraid to do or dare,
Or in your country’s battles
Afraid to do your share.
I’ve known you all since boyhood,
And together we have played;
And now as men together
Let our motto be displayed.
The foe that fights against us
Are stern, unkind and cruel,
So come out to the trenches
And help to give them gruel.
When Britain’s flag’s victorious
And freedom wins the fight
Then, proudly you can tell them
You’ve fought for truth and right;
Oh, townsmen, brother townsmen,
If you could see things here
Your heart would bleed for Belgium,
In your eye would rain a tear!
The Germans are barbarians,
Such cruelty never was known —
Just fancy if the mothers
And children were your own;
Nearly every man is training
As they never did before,
Then up and at them, boys,
As your fathers did of yore.
(Formerly of Morpeth).
THE PRESBYTERIAN ROLL OF HONOUR
The office-bearers of the Morpeth Presbyterian Church have got completed their Roll of Honour, which contains the names of the men who are members and adherents of the church and past scholars of the Sunday School and Bullers Green Mission School, who are at present serving their King and country in the Army and Navy.
There are altogether 41 names, and are as follows:—
Eva Schofield, 2nd A.T.B.E.F.; Edith Purdy, A.M. Aldershot; John S. Purdy, A.A.M.C.; Thos. Grey, B.C.; S.A. Wright, R.S; Peter Lawson, N.H.; Wallace Patrick, N.H.; Wm. C. Angus, N.H.; R.G. Angus, N.H.; Harry Angus, N.H.; Silas Angus, N.H.; Wm. Welsh, N.H.; Geo. Grey, 18th R.H.; James Flint, 7th N.F.; Gordon Jobling, 7th N.F.; Thos. Hood, 7th N.F.; Fred Wilkinson, 7th N.F.; Wm. Reay, 7th N.F.; Walter Welch, 7th N.F.; John Nicholson, 7th N.F.; Chas. Armstrong, 7th N.F.; Fred Oliver, 7th N.F.; John R. Mackay, 7th N.F.; Robt. Rogers, 7th N.F.; Jos. Dick, 7th N.F.; Ernest V. Tweedy, 7th N.F.; Anson Grey, 7th N.F.; Ernest Mackay, 7th N.F.; Thos Marshall, 8th N.F.; James Nicholson, 14th N.F.; Hugo Kunz, 14th N.F.; Ed. G. Lawson, 18th N.F.; Robt. Maxwell, T.S.; Jas. Wilson, T.S.; F. Douglass, T.S.; Athol Reay, R.F.A.; P. Davison, R.F.A; G.W. Bolton, 2nd K.E.H; T.H. Tweedy, 8th S.L.I.; R. Waterston, R.N.; W. Smith, R.N.
The essence of the design is extreme simplicity, in consideration of the singleness of purpose and adhesion to the elementary principles of honour which prompted our beloved land to participate in this tremendous conflict; and it was deemed inadvisable to introduce the laurel and other post-victory emblems as decorative motifs in view of the probable duration of the war.
The inscription of their names on the Union Jack, with the nebuly ground suggestive of sea power, indicates the honour in which we hold those men and women who have gone forth from amongst us to maintain on the fields of France and Flanders and on the waves of the rolling ocean those principles for which our national flag of liberty always stands.
The colours of France and Russia, of Servia and Montenegro, and of Belgium and Japan, with the arms of St George and Northumberland representing more local interest, connected with a plain band of ivy leaves, may be taken together as symbolising the sure hope and faithful adhesion to a noble cause of our people and our Allies, and our determination to see this business through — and to see it through well.
Mr John McNicol, of the Land Office, Morpeth, and a member of the church, designed and executed the roll, and it is quite a work of art. It has been suitably mounted and framed with a neat gilt frame, and looks very well indeed. It is being exhibited in Mr Robertson’s shop window, and it is intended to hang it in a prominent place in St George’s Church.
MINERS’ RELIEF FUND
The annual meeting in connection with the Northumberland and Durham Miners’ Permanent Relief Fund is to be held on Saturday, June 5th, at the Assembly Rooms, Barras Bridge, Newcastle.
The miners of the North have responded nobly to the call of their King and country in this crisis of its history. All honour to them. But this very call to arms has drained us of the best of our membership, about one-fourth of which and 25 per cent of our office staffs have joined his Majesty’s land and sea forces since the declaration of war on August 4th, 1914.
The young and middle aged able-bodied miners have responded to the call, but the effects of that call are seen today in our depleted membership, and no doubt exists in our minds that the aftermath will be felt more or less as times rolls on. In many instances we find that workmen bordering on 60 years of age are being dispensed with from the pits owing to the drainage of the younger men. The possibilities and likelihood is that they would have been still working.
Here are some significant figures: For the three months ended March 31st, 1914, 276 aged miners claimed to be on to the fund, but for the same period of 1915, the number taken on was 381, or an increase in the liabilities of the current and future years, and thus may be looked upon as one of the indirect results of the present gigantic struggle on the plains of Flanders and elsewhere.
Another incidental, but having an equalling telling effect on your society, is that numbers of supplementary benefit members, of which there are 566 who have at various times gone to do light work, are now finding their light work occupation gone, and are, in consequence, back on to the fund at full benefit.
MORPETH BOARD OF GUARDIANS
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.
Mr Craigs, in submitting the monthly contract for groceries, stated that the committee recommended the acceptance of the contract of Messrs. Pickering and Co. It was the only one received.
The committee noted, he said, that there was an advance in several things this month. It might be interesting to note in making comparisons with the prices of last year that flour had advanced 40 per cent, oatmeal 40 per cent, barley 40 per cent, peas 50 per cent, beans 60 per cent, treacle 90 per cent, sugar 90 per cent, rice 20 per cent, cheese 40 per cent, butter 20 per cent, and tea, 45 per cent. With regard to tea, Mr Craigs said that its increase was due partly to the fact that a better quality had been obtained.
“We are paying 250 per cent more for matches than we did last year,” added Mr Craigs. “Of course, there is one redeeming feature, and that is we have not so many inmates to keep.”
Mr Dormand: Are there any articles showing a reduction?
Mr Craigs: There is only one. I noticed salt was 2/3 last year and 2/- this.
Mr Macleod: Are candles down?
Mr Craigs: No; they’re up.
Mr Macleod: Because I bought some the other day, and they were down. (Laughter.)
A communication was received from the Local Government Board urging upon local authorities to offer all facilities for their workmen to join the army and economise labour wherever possible. Where substitutes were required, to engage men who were not eligible for the army.
Mr Craigs: That falls in with our action this morning with reference to the porter.
A PORTMANTEAU SOLD FOR £6 AT MORPETH
On Wednesday last Mr T.B. Waters gave and sold by auction a portmanteau in the Market Place, the proceeds of which will be sent to the brave 7th N.F. now at the Front in the form of cigarettes, etc.
It was bought and given back again by the following ladies and gentlemen at 5/3: Councillor J.H. Simpson, Councillor R. Swinney, Supt. Marshall (twice), Mr Thos. Waters, Mr Crombie (Longhirst), twice, Mr Wade, (Bedlington), Mr Dand, Mr T.E. Whittle; and at 2/9 by Mrs Goven, Miss Hudson (Hudson Place), Mrs Hall (Pigdon), Mrs Walter Bowman, Mr W. Gray (The Cafe), Mrs H. Stevens, Mr Primrose, Mrs W. Dobson (West Moor), Mrs T.B. Waters, Dr J.B. Waters, Mr Wm. Donaldson, Mrs Potts (Coldside), Mr J. Athey, Mr Murray (South Terrace), Mr W. Wade, Mr A. Straughan, Mr A.W. Young, Mr Hall (Carlisle). The portmanteau being put up for absolute sale, Mr J. Jardin (Town Clerk) became the owner at 21/-. Altogether, the handsome sum of £6 was the result.
The Auctioneer intimated that the money would be spent in providing suitable “comforts” and sent over to the “Boys of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers,” together with the names of the donors.
Mr G.W. Purdy gave a leather handbag for the same fund, which sold for 2/2.
The auctioneer wishes to thank all those who so kindly supported him in this worthy object.
THE RECTOR OF MORPETH’S APPEAL
Those who so kindly subscribed to the fund for providing portable periscopes for the 6th and 7th Northumberland Fusiliers at the Front will be interested to read the following letter, which I have received from the Colonel of the 6th Northumberland Fusiliers:—
22nd May, 1915.
Dear Cousin Davies, — On behalf of my battalion I write to you to thank you very much for arranging for me to receive 17 periscopes from friends of the battalion. I have just come out of the trenches after five days, with the knowledge that periscopes are invaluable in this trench fighting. We had three or four shot to pieces during our stay, and the remainder became more and more valuable. The pattern you have sent is, I think, about the best. It is most thoughtful of you and your friends to send us this gift, and it is a real help to me to receive them, especially as ours are mostly shot to bits.—
O.C. 6th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers.
My own son writes as follows:—
I am very pleased about the periscopes. I should like the kind donors to realise that there are two alternatives, either your head must go up or a periscope must. There is no half-way house, and a large percentage of both commodities are bound to be hit, and is hit, every day.
Of the 37 periscopes sent out, evidently 20 have been handed over to the 7th Battalion N.F. Since last week I have received the following additional sums:— St James’s Day Schools, 10/3 (making 35/3 in all); Miss MacKay, 12/6; Mr S.A. Brown, 2/6; Mr Thomas Simpson (Hepscott), £1 5s; and Miss Dorothy Swan, of Longframlington, has collected £4 for periscopes for the 7th N.F._
JOHN J. DAVIES.
THE RECTOR’S FUND FOR PERISCOPES
The Rector of Morpeth’s (Canon Davies’) appeal for funds to send periscopes to the Northumberland Fusiliers serving in the trenches in France and Flanders is receiving a good response.
Nothing more valuable than a periscope can be sent to the men in the trenches, as it is a great protection to them against sniping. They can sit quite safe in the trenches, and by means of a periscope can see all that is going on above the top of the trenches and all over the open. The enemy’s snipers are in positions protected by steel plates and are watching day and night, and if any of our men happen to put their heads above the top of the trenches they are sure to be shot.
Sometimes the top of the periscope is hit and broken, so the men are constantly needing a fresh supply. We trust that the friends of the soldiers will continue to send their subscriptions to the Rector and enable him to send more of these invaluable instruments to our men at the Front.
RAILWAY PASSENGERS’ LUGGAGE
The Railway Executive Committee have issued a special notice stating, owing to the enlistment of railwaymen and the consequent shortage of staff, the Railway Companies earnestly request passengers to limit the quantity of their luggage as much as possible. It is hoped that the public will give attention to this matter and to relieve the congestion, especially during the forthcoming holiday and summer season.
The regular railway staff is much reduced and the difficulty of getting through the work on railway platforms has become a very pressing one.
WHITSUNTIDE AT MORPETH
The weather experienced for the Whitsuntide was of a most delightful description, and those fortunate individuals who had the special privilege of being on holiday must have found real enjoyment whether seeking pleasure at the seaside or in the country.
By the way, Morpeth and surrounding district, rich in natural beauty, offers ideal ground for pleasure-seeking. Morpeth had not its customary Whitsuntide appearance this year.
Compared with former years there was a large falling-off in the number of visitors from the Tyneside and other places.
This was only to be expected for hundreds of persons engaged in the manufacture of munitions of war were fully employed over the weekend. Then again, Northumberland has given thousands of its sons to the colours, which has had the effect of lessening considerably the quantity of holiday makers.
If there was a large decrease in the number of brakes, conveying trippers to the town, there was no diminution in the number of motor cars and motorcycles that passed through. There was a continual stream of cars all day long.
NEWCASTLE FARMERS’ CLUB
Sir,— The various bodies which were instructed to collect subscriptions in money, or kind (seeds, stock, implements, etc.) to assist our Allies to restore the agriculture of their countries, which has now been so utterly destroyed by the ravages of war, have now been merged into one central committee under the auspices of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, with H.M. the King as patron and his Grace the Duke of Portland, K.G., as president.
Sub-committees have been formed in various centres to receive and acknowledge subscriptions, and for the counties of Northumberland and Durham a joint committee of the various agricultural societies has been appointed, with the undersigned as secretary and treasurer, respectively.
This fund is being enthusiastically supported in other parts of the kingdom, and it is earnestly hoped that agriculturalists and all others interested in this centre will respond generously.
The following subscriptions have already been received:— His Grace the Duke of Northumberland, £100; W.J. Armstrong, Esq., £10 10s; Glendale Agricultural Society, £10; W.H. Ralston, Esq., £1 1s; Miss Balleny, £1.
Further subscriptions should be sent to the treasurer, Farmers’ Club, Newcastle-on-Tyne; or direct to Messrs Lloyds Bank, Ltd., Grey Street, Newcastle, or any of their branches, which will be acknowledged fro time to time through the Press. Promises in kind should be sent to the secretary, Pegswood Moor, Morpeth.
OSWALD M. MCBRYDE, Secretary.
ARTHUR HARGRAVE, Treasurer.
THE TERRORS OF GAS
A graphic account of the terrible effects of Germany’s most frightful of all barbarities, the use of poisonous gases, is given in the following letter. The writer is Private Arthur Bulling, of the R.A.M.C., formerly on the staff of the Blyth branch of the International Correspondence Schools, and writing to a friend he says:—
I am now nursing all the cases for which the medical officers entertain no hope. It is an awful task, and one that always keeps me in the open. I have just witnessed one of the most terrible and horrible sights of the war. It was the scores of men who got the asphyxiating gas blown at them from the German trenches.
No one can describe it. It is absolutely beyond human conception.
We would never imagine that men could be made such a frightful mess of. Here they lie about gasping for breath. It is like one weak frightened thing struggling against some unknown power that is strong enough to crush it, yet holds against it. In many cases they never get over it. They develop pneumonia as a result of the gases.
It is indeed terrible. The cases I am engaged on are men whose wounds have turned poisonous and have got gas gangrene, a most highly contagious thing among wounded men. I am, therefore, a voluntary exile, as I am isolated with them to minister to their needs. I offered to do this as I had had experience in this line before, and I am on my own with helpless men.
I have only my letters to look forward to, to relieve the monotony, as I am not allowed to go where there are any wounded, in case I spread this awful disease.
The entrance of Italy into the European conflict and on the side of right against might has made many of those stay-at-home pessimists take a more hopeful view of things.
The news from the seat of war this week is of a very satisfactory character. Strong pressure is being brought to bear on the German hordes, and step by step they are being driven, but not without great sacrifice on the part of the Allies, from their entrenched positions.
Great demands are being made on the armies in the field, and so the call for more men is being sounded throughout the length and breadth of the land.
We have not the slightest doubt but that the manhood of the nation will continue to respond to the call, and that the eligible young men of Morpeth, who have not hitherto responded, will come forward and do their “little bit” in their country’s need.