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.
MUNITIONS WORK BUREAU
The progress of the munitions work bureau, started by Mr J. Bowman, in Newgate Street, Morpeth, this week has been satisfactory.
There have been enrolments every night, but mainly from the outlying districts. Enrolments from Morpeth have been rather slack.
ROLL OF HONOUR
The relatives of Seaman Wilfrid Tipper, Collingwood Battalion, R.N.D., of 73 Juliet Street, Hirst, Ashington, have been officially notified that he has been missing since he was in action near the Dardanelles about June 20th.
Seaman Thomas Matthews, R.N.D., of Ashington, was wounded in action near the Dardanelles on June 6th.
Seaman J. Mason, R.N.D., of Dudley Colliery, has been wounded.
Captain R. Braithwaite, 10th Durham Light Infantry, has informed Mrs G. Elliott, Queen Street, Alnwick, by letter, that her younger son, Pte. William P. Elliott, 10th D.L.I., has been killed in action in France. Prior to joining the regiment at the outbreak of the war, Private W.P. Elliott was a school teacher at Ashington.
Lieut. Frank Smail, 7th N.F., son of the proprietor of the Berwick Advertiser, has been wounded at the front. Lieut. Smail was originally a trooper in the Lothian and Border Horse, and was a farmer near Kelso before going to France.
Mrs Daughtry, of Coronation Terrace, New York, has been officially informed that her son, Seaman Philip Daughtry, Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Mrs Harris, of Back to Back Row, Dinnington Colliery, has received an official intimation from the Admiralty that her husband, Able Seaman Tom Harris, R.N.V.R., has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
News has been received by Mrs McLawrence, Ashington, that her husband, Tpr. J. McLawrence, Northumberland Hussars, has been wounded.
Sergt. J. Bowman, 7th N.F., of Ashington, has been wounded.
Seaman Thomas Bestford, of Seghill, has been wounded.
George Burgham, of Ashington, has been killed.
Pte. James Ruddick, 7th N.F., of Bedlington, has died of wounds.
Seaman Henry Rhodes, Royal Naval Division, of Ashington, has been killed.
Signaller M. Bell, N.F., of Hirst, wounded.
Pte. J.W. Slater, Northumberland Fusiliers, Seaton Hirst, wounded.
Seaman V. Henderson, of New York, near Backworth, is missing.
Seaman J.H. Eashham, of West Sleekburn, is wounded. He was serving with the Hawke Battalion of the R.N.D.
Pte. Victor Henderson, of Shiremoor, has been killed in action near the Dardanelles. He has another brother in action, whilst John Henderson, also a brother, is a stoker on board the Tiger.
A.S. George W. Reed, R.N.D. Reserve, of 108 North Row, Bedlington Colliery, has been wounded in the Dardanelles.
Pte. A. Henry, Royal Marine Light Infantry, nephew of Mr and Mrs Lilley, of East View, Bedlington Station, has been wounded.
Mrs Hall, of 11 South Row, Seaton Delaval Colliery, has been notified that her husband, Seaman James Hall, Hawke Battalion Royal Naval Division, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
The death from enteric fever occurred in a French hospital on Friday of Private Lilburn Lacey, of the 2nd East Yorks Regiment, who was a native of Blyth. Lacey, who worked as a bricklayer in Blyth until the outbreak of the war, was a fine strapping fellow, well over six feet in height, and was well known in the town and district. A keen sportsman, he frequently ran in local foot handicaps, and was a follower of the pitmen’s potshare bowling. He was a man of great strength, and his death at the age of 36 years from fever will be deeply deplored by a wide circle of his friends and acquaintances, with whom he was a great favourite. He was a son of Mr Joseph Lacey, tailor, of Sidney Street, Blyth.
ROLL OF HONOUR
WALTON – Killed in action in France, June 30th, Sapper Teesdale Walton, Northumbrian Division, Royal Engineers, aged 22 years, youngest son of the Rev. Robert Walton, Guisborough, Yorks.
ROBINSON – Killed in action on June 13th, “somewhere in France,” Alexander, son of Thomas A. and the late Elizabeth Robinson, of Chevington Drift, Broomhill. Ever remembered by his father, stepmother, sisters and brothers.
TEN DAYS IN THE TRENCHES
Mr Marley Kelly, of Hood Street, Morpeth, has received two letters from Private J. Nicholson, of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers.
He says: “We have just come out of the trenches for a day or two, having been in for ten days without a wash or a shave. Every time the Germans make an attack they use poisonous gases; I got a fair dose of the stuff. If it was not for their artillery, the Germans would soon be finished.”
In his second letter, which is dated June 29th, Private Nicholson says: “We were in the trenches for nine days, and a hot place it was. Perhaps the hottest place we have been in. The Germans were only twelve yards away, and so you can imagine what it would be like. We lost a good few men, but the Germans lost more.”
Being of a sporting turn, the writer, in his letter, alludes to Pegswood sports, which were held last Saturday.
MORPETH SOLDIERS’ THANKS FOR GIFTS
That our soldiers at the Front appreciate parcels sent to them from home is evident by the letters of thanks, which Mr Ed. Lamb, secretary of the Workmen’s Institute, Morpeth, has received this week.
Driver J. Cairns, 7th N.F., transport section, writes: “I received your kind letter and parcel, and many thanks for same. I shared them out to the Morpeth men, and I can’t tell you how pleased the men were when I told them where the parcel had come from. They were pleased to know that the men and boys at the pit were still thinking about them. You might thank them one and all for their kindness towards us.
“I suppose you have heard about George Gibson being killed. All the boys of the transport mourn his great loss, for he was one of the happiest lads we had out here. We have had the worst luck in the brigade regarding our transport, but it would not be war if nobody was killed. We will just have to stick in in the same way as we used to do when we had a bad place in the pit.”
The other letter was received from Sergt. M. Nichol, of the 7th N.F. He states: “Your parcel reached us safely, and I beg to thank you on behalf of No. 2 Platoon for your kindness. I can assure you it does our hearts good to think that the people of the old town still think of us out here. The parcel reached us when we were in the trenches and was very acceptable. Thank all the members on our behalf.”
Writing to Mr John Charlton, of Rothesay Terrace, Bedlington, Pte. W. Smith, Royal Scots Fusiliers, who is a prisoner of war in Holland, says: “You might please let me know if my name has been mentioned for swimming across the canal at Mons with Lieut. Pollock, who was wounded.
“I got him to the waterside all right, where I left him with some civilians. I think our regiment must think we are both drowned. All the rest of my comrades here are receiving letters and parcels from lords and ladies whom they do not know. I am a prisoner, but all right.”
In a note Mr Charlton states that Pte. Smith has been reported killed twice in the casualty lists. He was wounded twice at Mons. He went through the South African campaign and saw service in India. In case some of his friends in the Bedlington district wish to communicate with him, we are asked to state that all letter should be addressed to Pte. W. Smith, No. 7318, Royal Scots Fusiliers, Gefangenen Lager, Zossen, Deutschland.
LIFE IN THE TRENCHES
Private J.H. Hyslop, Maxim Gun Section 6th Northumberland Fusiliers, writing to Mr James Dellow, Newcastle, says:
“We are again in the first line, and the German trenches are about 50 yards away. We are at the outskirts of a wood, living underground like rabbits. It rained all last night, so that the mud is about a foot deep.
“It is really wonderful what a change is worked in the appearance of an erstwhile smart and polished British Tommy after a day or two in the trenches. We turn into things that are drab and mildew, and the only thing that does not seem to change is our spirits.
“As you know the 5th Northumberlands have been out in Flanders for close upon two months now, and we have had a fairly busy time. You would see from the newspapers of the time of our action at St Julien, near Ypres. Since then, April 26, we have been in and out of the trenches regularly. I have been very fortunate in getting along so far unscathed.”
After speaking of having qualified first class in connection with machine gunnery before leaving England, of the deadly character of these weapons, and of his French being of use to him – he was educated at Barnard Castle – in his talk with the natives he goes on to speak of the beauty and fertility of the country, and adds: “Perhaps the housing of the people leaves a great deal to be desired. In fact, if we had such living conditions in England, they would most certainly bring about a general election or something equally awful! I imagine the old-world English cottage of two hundred years ago to have been on a par with the present state of things here.
“We passed through a large town a night or two ago, a town possibly twice the size of Morpeth, and I don’t think there was one house which had not been struck or damaged in some way by artillery fire. How would England enjoy such treatment, I wonder.
“We get the newspapers pretty regularly here, and it is very amusing to read of the various goings on at home. It is very evident that they have no conception of the awfulness of this 20th century tragedy. Perhaps it is only given to soldiers and the next generation to appreciate it.”
OUR OWN COLUMN
Many and loud are the complaints of unobscured lights from windows and doors in towns and villages in East Northumberland, making the places just a prey to Zeppelin raids.
The police are doing what they can to induce people to obscure their lights by prosecuting the offenders, but still there is much room for improvement, especially at our seaside towns and villages.
The people have the safety of the places practically in their own hands by obscuring all their window and door lights at nights. This can be simply and cheaply done by substituting dark blue or dark green window blinds, or attaching dark blue or dark green cloths to the present blinds.
A writer in a German newspaper, giving a graphic description of a recent Zeppelin raid on the Northumberland coast, stated that the occupants of the aircraft looked for lights below, and where they were they steered their ship and dropped their shells.
By effectively obscuring all lights at nights, the people are greatly helping the military, as without lights to guide them, the Zeppelins lose their bearings and disaster befalls them.
7th N.F. COMFORTS
The second consignment of comforts (comprising 14 parcels) were sent off last Monday to Lance-Corporal Andrew Davison, and included were: 1,000 cigarettes, 1 gross chocolate bars, chewing gum, mint lozenges, (milk) chocolate naps, Nestle’s Swiss milk, glasses and tins of various pastes, prepared coffee, milk and sugar, lemon curd, Oxo cubes, sardines, safety matches, apples, oranges, lemons, tomatoes, bananas, salad, writing material and envelopes, pencils, etc.
I wish to thank Mrs Irwin, The Nest, Morpeth, for her kind donation of £1.
St James’ Terrace, Morpeth.
Three policemen serving in Alnwick have resigned from the Northumberland Constabulary and joined the army.
They are all natives of upper Tyneside, and their names are H.C. Proud, Archibald Robson, and Walter Cowan.
North Seaton Colliery, as has been pointed out in the Herald on several occasions, has set a fine example in patriotic efforts during the present war. Mr John Ritson gives an interesting account of what has been done at the colliery and puts forward a proposal which is well worthy of the consideration of similar communities.
He states: “I think for the sake of stimulating similar service, the public ought to be made aware of the great amount of good that can be done by a small community, if earnest and organised.
“Shortly after the war started, when distress seemed to be looming in the distance, North Seaton Colliery workmen and officials set themselves the task of preparing for an emergency, and at a public meeting carried the following resolution: ‘That when the pit shall work six days per fortnight they be levied 6d; full time men, 1/6; officials 2/- per fortnight; seven days or more, 1/-, 1/6 and 2/- as above.’
“This has been loyally adhered to, and has enabled us to send out of a population of less than 2,000, the sum of £315 to the Lord-Lieutenant’s Fund.
“We have supplemented the rent allowance to soldiers’ wives; kept widows supplied with parcels of groceries, sent donations to the Belgian Relief Fund and the Red Cross Society and helped in other ways to the amount of £130, and still have a balance in the bank of £220.
“Previous to the war, we employed at our colliery just over 1,000 men and boys; out of that number, about 300 have left for active service in one form or another; and the committee has undertaken as far as possible that for every man that falls in battle or dies of sickness contracted while on his majesty’s service, up to and including twelve months after the war, their wives or dependants shall be paid the sum of £25 by the Prudential Insurance Company, who have undertaken this risk at a special premium.
“I wish to make a suggestion to all and sundry in the North-country district who have the good of others at heart.
“The toll of life is terrible. Fathers are being cut down by the thousand, leaving us their dear little ones to be provided for, and it is to us they must look for help. Shall they look in vain?
“A fund can be raised, a fund ought to be raised, by the contributions of every man and boy who is working regularly, whereby these children shall have every facility put within their reach that will enable them to go through elementary and secondary schools to the university.
“Why should it not be so when pits are working full time and good wages?
“Several collieries are taking up no levies for the benefit of those who remain. They ought to do so.
“I appeal to the leaders at Burt Hall to organise meetings; no one can do this work better, and I know from experience that our men are willing to be levied for so noble a cause.
“I claim we have a duty to these dear orphan and fatherless children, and that we ought at once to fulfil it. There is no time to be lost.”
This weekend brings the anniversary of the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic.
The annual gala is not to be held this year, and its abandonment was a sensible step in view of the present crisis.
A retrospective glance reminds one of the changes that have taken place since the miners foregathered on the Castle Banks.
Mr John Wilson, M.P., who though not present at the last picnic, was for many years a platform figure at the annual gala. He was then hale and well; he has since gone over to the great majority. Mr Dixon Cowie, another familiar figure, has passed away. Few who listened to the president, Mr Joseph English, on that day (July 11th), thought that in two short weeks his resignation would be notified from the Burt Hall. Mr English is now far across the Atlantic.
These thoughts relate to the personal aspect, but when one remembers the subjects that engrossed men’s minds that day – the idiosyncrasies of the “star turn,” Mr Jas. Larkin, the short shifts question and other topics discussed, it is like looking through the wrong end of a telescope in view of the international maelstrom which is now the overmastering and all-absorbing idea of us all today.
Let us hope that when another picnic day comes round that this terrible struggle will have ended with the triumph of the Allies and the forces of freedom, and that the greeting of the orators will, amid the recollection of the sad sacrifices of war, be “sursum corda!” — Lift up your hearts — which even now should be our motto.
In connection with the Tyneside Scottish Brigade encamped at Alnwick, and the Depot Company of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, an open-air church parade was held in the Pastures on Sunday morning.
An interesting military pageant was witnessed, the men marching from their encampment on to the field, the battalions being attended by their pipe and drum and bugle bands, while the Depot Company of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers (3rd line) was headed by their brass and drum and fife bands.
The service, which was also for the confirmation of a number of soldier candidates, was conducted by Bishop Ormsby, assisted by Captain the Rev. G.D. Barker, chaplain of the Brigade, and the Rev. Canon Mangin, vicar of Alnwick.
The hymns Onward Christian Soldiers and All People That on Earth do Dwell were sung, being accompanied by the brass band of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers.
A large number of townspeople were also present at the service.