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.


A munitions bureau has just been opened at 41 Newgate Street, Morpeth, for the enrolment of skilled workmen for the making of munitions of war.

It is in charge of Mr J.R. Bowman, local agent of the unemployed insurance, and is open from 6pm to 9pm, on Saturdays from 4pm to 6pm, and on Sundays from 3pm to 6pm.


For Meritorious Service in the North Sea, 1st class Petty Officer Richard Fuller, O.N., has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

Mr Fuller before joining the navy on the outbreak of hostilities was employed at the Electric Power Station, Morpeth.


Mr Henry Johnson, 38 Foreman’s Row, Seaton Delaval, has been officially notified that his son, Private J. Johnston, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was wounded on June 18th. Private Johnston was in Canada when the war broke out, and was amongst the first to enlist.

Private George Gibson, 7th N.F., of the Transport Section, was killed in action on June 14th. He was 25 years of age, and the husband of Mrs Gibson, of Choppington.

Official information has been received by Mrs Dudding, Portia Street, Hirst, that her son, Seaman James Dudding, R.N.D., has been killed in the Dardanelles. He was 32 years of age.

Mrs Whitworth, 368 Maple Street, Hirst, has been officially informed that her husband, Seaman William Whitworth, of the Hawke Battalion, R.N.D., has been wounded and is now in hospital in Alexandria.

News has been received that William Elliott, son of Mr and Mrs Robert Elliott, 55 Pont Street, Ashington, has been killed in action near the Dardanelles.

Mr and Mrs J. Robson, of 2 Railway Cottages, Newsham, have been notified of the death of their son, Joseph Robson, R.M.L.I. during fighting at the Dardanelles on June 11th.

Mr and Mrs Martin French, of 5 Low Main Place, Cramlington Village, have received a telegram to the effect that their son-in-law, Private Robert Skelton, of the 7th N.F., has been killed in action in France. Private Skelton, who was 24 years of age, leaves a wife and one child.

Private R. Skelton, 7th N.F., was killed in action in France on June 23rd. He was the son of Mrs Skelton, of Chevington Drift.

Mr and Mrs George Mordue, Craster Place, Alnwick, received a telegraphic message from the hospital in Boulogne that their son, Drummer J.W. Mordue, 7th N.F., (First Line) had died from wounds.

Arthur John Flintoff, youngest son of the late Mr Churchill Flintoff, Alnwick, has been killed in action in the Dardanelles. The deceased, while in Alnwick, was prominently identified with the Percy Rovers’ Football Club and other athletic institutions.

News has been received by Mr William Miller, Woodhorn Road, Ashington, that Seaman Andrew Dunn, of the Naval Brigade, was killed in action on June 6th. Seaman Dunn was employed at Elswick Shipyard before he joined the colours at the end of last year. He was 29 years of age, and he leaves a widow and three children.

Private W. Schofield, 5th N.F., son of Mr and Mrs Schofield, Ashington, late of Palmersville, Forest Hall, died in France from gas poisoning on May 26th, in his 21st year.

Pte. James Wright, 7th N.F., Hirst, has been wounded.

Pte. J. Howes, 7th N.F., Hirst, has been wounded.

John T. Storey, Royal Naval Division, Newbiggin, is reported missing.

Seaman J. Hindmarch, Collingwood Batt., R.N.D., of Hirst, has been wounded.

Mr Thomas Wardle, Cambois, has received a letter informing him that Private Charles Wheatley and Private Joseph Connolly, of the Northumberland R.A.M.C., attached to the 7th N.F., and who were stationed at Cambois, prior to their departure for the Front, have been killed in France. They were in charge of a water cart when a shell burst beside them, killing Wheatley outright and so severely wounding Connolly that he died the next day.

Information has been received by friends at Blyth that Signaller R. Hardy, 5th N.F., of Wallsend, who was stationed in the Croft Road Store Hall previous to going to the Front, died on June 17th, of wounds received in action.

J.W. Pegg, Royal Naval Division, of Pegswood, is reported missing.

J. Smith, 7th N.F., of Bedlington, has been killed in action.

Seaman J.H. Harrison, R.N.D., of Backworth, has been reported wounded.

Word has been received intimating that Able Seaman Randle, of Hirst, has died of wounds received whilst in action at the Dardanelles.

Mr and Mrs Brotherton, of Fourth Row, Ashington, have received word that their son, Pte. James Brotherton, of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, has been severely wounded in the chest whilst in action, and is lying in hospital somewhere in France.

Mrs Hartford, Austin’s Buildings, South Cramlington, has received official intimation from the War Office that Pte. R.W. Hartford, of the 5th Batt. N.F., has been killed whilst in action in France. Prior to joining the colours, Pte Hartford worked at Seghill Colliery.

Private P. Welsh, 5th N.F., of 3 Whitfield Buildings, Longbenton, has been missing since May 24th.

An officer in the 1st Northumberland Artillery, Lieut. Leonard Milburn, has been severely wounded in France. He is a son of the late Sir John D. Milburn, Bart., of Warkworth, and served for a considerable period in the Northumberland Territorial Artillery. Relinquishing his commission, he joined the family firm of William Milburn and Co., shipowners and merchants, Newcastle, but on the outbreak of war he offered his services to the Government, and received his present commission shortly afterwards. It appears that while in stiff action, Lieut. Milburn was struck on the shoulder by a shell, which first tore a long wound in his arm and then killed a gunner standing near.

Lieut. Henry R. Wight, 2nd Border Regiment, has been reportedly wounded in the Dardanelles operations. Lieut. Wight, who belongs to a Morpeth family, was born in Newcastle, where he is well-known in the scholastic profession. He was in the O.T.C. at Armstrong College, and at the end of August last was gazetted to the 3rd Battalion, Border Regiment, and from there was transferred to the 2nd Battalion to see active service in France, from whence he was invalided home suffering from frost-bite in both feet. On recovery, he returned to France, and was later transferred to the 1st Battalion, and sent to the Dardanelles, where he was wounded in the right arm, and is at present in hospital at Malta.

News has been received of the death of Able Seaman James Dawson, R.N.V.R., Collingwood Battalion, who was killed in action in the Dardanelles, June 17th, 1915. He is the son of Ellen and the late George Dawson, of 2 Wescott Terrace, Penshaw, and late of Radcliffe Colliery. He also lived at Amble for some time. This brave youth was a good son and a happy-natured lad, with ever a twinkle in his eye and a joke on his lip, was most popular with his many friends, and his untimely death is deeply deplored. Sympathetic references were made to his death at the Amble Wesleyan Church on Sunday evening last, where he attended when living. He is one amongst the many brave young lads who have laid down their lives for their King and Country and in the great fight for civilisation and freedom.

Mr and Mrs Thomas Liddle, of 7 Cross Row, East Radcliffe, have received information from the Territorial Headquarters, York, that their son, Pte. Thomas M. Liddle, who was reported killed in action on May 31st, is now reported wounded, and has been admitted to Bevan Hospital on June 16th. The news was very gladly received by the parents and many friends of the brave lad, who had fought for his King and country.

Private George Straughan, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, died in France of wounds by shrapnel on June 19th. He was the youngest son of Robert and the late Annie Straughan, Longframlington, and was 23 years of age. He enlisted into the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers two years prior to the declaration of war, and went out to France with his battalion on April 20th. Before the war he worked at West Sleekburn Colliery.

Private J.H. Bell, 1st Sherwood Foresters, son of the late Joseph and Mary Bell, of Fourstones, and Clarabad Terrace, Forest Hall, was killed in action in France on May 9th.

Pte. John Bacon, 5th N.F., of 15 Blagdon Terrace, Seaton Burn, died in Boulogne Hospital, on May 26th.

Information has reached Ashington that Pte. S. Coe, R.A.M.C., who was a member of the Ashington Corps of the St John Ambulance Brigade, has been wounded in the fighting at the Dardanelles.

Dr. McCracken, who left Blyth for service with the Forces in the Dardanelles, is reported to be progressing in a very satisfactory manner. He received a gunshot wound in the abdomen and hip, and his case was classed as serious. His immediate removal to the Anglo-American Hospital at Cairo, where he is at present, was ordered, and he will soon be able to get into harness again with the naval forces. Surgeon McCracken’s home is at Knocknakiell, Maghers, Co. Derry, Ireland, where his father, Mr Thomas McCracken, resides. The doctor, who is attached to the Royal Naval Division, was wounded during operations in the Dardanelles on May 25th. He practised for a short time at Blyth, and volunteered for active service on the outbreak of war. He is attached to the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division, one of three battalions specially complimented for their brilliant qualities by General D’Amade in his message to General Sir Ian Hamilton, commanding the Expeditionary Force of the Mediterranean.


NOBLE.— Killed in action on 24th May, 1915, aged 20 years, Pte. Cornelius Noble, 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, youngest and dearly-beloved son of Alice and John Noble, of 310 Church Street, Walker.

He fell, but as a hero falls, by glorious martial car;

His duty done, his life fulfilled, a sacrifice to war;

And one dear hope eclipsed the rest, one hope his heart did crave,

To win the Cross, the Order, or an honoured soldier’s grave.

Oh! England, torn ‘twixt pride and grief in this memorial age.

‘Tis men like these whose glorious names adorn your history’s page.

Sleep on, dear son, in a far-off grave —

A grave we can never see;

As long as life and memory last

We will remember thee.

Deeply mourned and sadly missed by father, mother, brothers, and sisters, and all relations and friends. Gone, but not forgotten.


Private Samuel Smith Mabon, of the 7th N.F., writing to his wife in Morpeth, says he has been in many engagements, and is going on all right so far. He also sends the following lines. It is a funeral knell:—

As the thund’ring of the battle

Falls and rises in its tone,

I can hear the shouts of victory

Mingling with the dying moan.

Then the clear note of the bugle,

Then the stir of bursting shell

Peel out in distinct order —

To many it is a funeral knell.

Thus my mind so swiftly moving,

From this awful wreckage-field,

Takes me back to my old homestead,

With its tiled roofs so red.

I can see the grand old gardens

With their speckled hedges green,

And the dear old fields of beauty,

With their crops of corn and hay.

Then my fancy, changing ever

From these scenes before my eyes,

Compare vivid recollections

Of the partings and goodbyes.

There they stood upon the platforms;

All the ones I loved the most,

Hoping and trusting may the God that watches o’er us,

Guide the moon and stars.

Bless the friends I left behind me,

Bring me safely from the war,

But if the hand of the Almighty,

Will my aim be in the skies,

May my death be as a soldier —

Striving, fighting, fall, and die.


In answer to most urgent appeals from the Front for sandbags, arrangements have been made for making them in Morpeth.

Meetings will be held at the Soldiers’ Institute, every Tuesday, at 3 o’clock, when material will be cut out and instructions given for making them up at home in the size and shape required.

Money to pay for the material will be raised in small sums by means of collecting cards, which will be distributed at the meetings. All willing to help are invited to come to the meetings and take cards.

Contributions towards the cost of material will also be gladly received and may be paid to Mrs Dickie, Ward House, the hon. treasurer.

An officer writes: “Every sandbag may save a soldier’s life. We cannot have too many.”


Fulbeck, Morpeth.



The adaptability of some of our local soldiers to their uncongenial surroundings is extremely interesting.

Amongst the communications received this week at the “Herald” Office is one from a young Morpeth soldier at the Front — Private James Wm. Hay, son of Mr Jas. Hay, of Procter’s Yard, Morpeth. He expresses himself as highly satisfied with the comfort of his dug-out.

The writer is evidently of an artistic turn. His postcard contains the sketch of the interior of his dug-out, including his cooking arrangements, the construction of which comprises a variety of expedients. He adds that when the coke fire is on, the dug-out is very “comfy,” and although it only holds two men comfortably there is generally six in for a “crack” at nights.

Doubtless in the coming time such a card will prove an interesting souvenir of the times of stress and strife which are now being endured.


An open-air recruiting meeting was held in the Market Place, Morpeth, last Saturday night. There was a large audience. The principal speaker was Mr C.H. Keane, of London. Mr J.W. Laws presided. Mr W. Simpson (Unionist agent) was also present.

Mr Keane gave a stirring address on the war, and made a special appeal to the young unmarried men to come forward and take their places beside their comrades-in-arms.

Votes of thanks to the speaker and chairman concluded the meeting.

A large and enthusiastic recruiting meeting was held in the Morpeth Market Place on Wednesday. Mr T. Simpson, of Hepscott, presided.

Patriotic speeches were delivered by Mr George Renwick, Springhill; Mr C.H. Keane, London; Lieut. Lyon, and Regimental Sergt.-Major Wadge, of the Tyneside Scottish.

After the meeting ten recruits were obtained. The pipers of the 3rd Tyneside Scottish played through the town, accompanied by recruiting officers.


Mr J.P. Turner, recruiting officer, Morpeth, has received the following letter from Lord Kitchener:—

“I wish to express to you personally, and to those who have helped you in your recruiting work, my best thanks for the energy that has been displayed by you all in the matter of recruiting.

“I would ask you to take an early opportunity of urging all able=bodied men in your neighbourhood to come forward and enlist so that they may be trained as soldiers to take part in the War, and help to keep our forces in the field at the maximum strength.

“I shall be glad to hear of any reasons that may be given you by young and suitable men for not availing themselves of this opportunity to see service in the Field, where they are so much wanted.”


The campaign which has been inaugurated this week in this part of Northumberland, under the auspices of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee should be the means of attracting many young men to the army.

Arrangements have been made to hold open-air meetings in the more populous centres, and recruiting officers are being stationed in the most likely places in order to induce the young men to come forward and serve their King and country.

In Morpeth, Ashington, and other districts successful open-air meetings and military band parades have already been held, and the results have so far been satisfactory.


A few weeks ago Mr T.B. Waters, auctioneer, Morpeth, sold a portmanteau by auction in order to raise money to provide extra comforts for our local soldiers at the front.

The sale was a financial success, and the result was that well stocked parcels were dispatched to their destinations in due course.

This week Mr Waters has received the following message of appreciation from Lance-Corporal Davison, the eldest son of the borough surveyor, on behalf of the Morpeth “boys.”

As promised on my field service card I am taking this, my first opportunity, to thank you and all your kind supporters for the host of valuable articles sent out by you for the local lads of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers.

I am certain that if you could have witnessed the keen delight with which those comforts were received you would have felt amply repaid for all the trouble you must have taken on our behalf, and it was a pleasure to me to share them out for you.

It so happened that we were resting in a plantation at the time when your parcels arrived, and lying quite close to a section of the Army Veterinary Corps under the command of Lieut. Taylor (of Morpeth), and to which were attached a few more Morpeth boys, so they also came in for a share of the good things, and much appreciated they were.

The “fags” reached me later, whilst we were very busy in about the hottest corner we have yet been in, and they were passed up the trench at the first quiet spell, with Morpeth’s compliments.

I cannot tell you how much we appreciate these kind actions, and to say “thank you very much” is a very poor thing indeed, but if you could only realise the enormous lifting power of a parcel or news from Morpeth it would do your heart good, and you would understand how difficult it is for one to adequately express their thanks.

It is the very practical manner in which the people of Morpeth have of showing their keen interest in us that spurs us on and encourages us to do greater things and so make ourselves still more worthy of their interest.

I have mislaid the list of names of those who bought and gave in the portmanteau again, and I must ask you to convey to them our very warmest thanks at your earliest opportunity.

To yourself, we are especially grateful, and were looking forward to the day when we can return to thank you personally for all your kindness.— Yours, etc.,

(On behalf of the Morpeth boys),



A most successful meeting of the above was held on Thursday, July 1, in the Soldiers’ Institute.

The tea, which was given by his Worship the Mayor, realised £1 5s 6d. The treasurer desires to acknowledge with many thanks the following sums — Mrs F. Brumell, £1 1s; Mrs Swinney, senr., £1; Mrs Halls, 10/-; Miss Harbottle, £1; Miss Cooper, 5/-. Also a bale of flannel and a web of calico from Messrs Fisher, Renwick and Co.; and socks (14 pairs) from the Mayoress; also four pairs of socks from Miss Kate Hopper.

Owing to next Thursday being the annual holiday there will be no sewing meeting. On the 15th July the tea will be given by Mrs Martin Tighe, in the Soldiers’ Institute.