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.
OUR OWN COLUMN
Wednesday last was the anniversary of the declaration of war, and throughout the length and breadth of the land the day was commemorated by the holding of patriotic demonstrations at which those present pledged themselves to spare no effort to carry on the war to the successful issue.
The occasion was celebrated at Morpeth in a very fitting manner and worthy of the traditions of the ancient borough. Arrangements were made on an elaborate scale to hold a miliary procession through the streets, and how well the organisers succeeded was amply demonstrated by the number that took part in it. The procession was the largest we have seen in the town for many years, the different units of his Majesty’s forces, stationed in our midst, taking part.
Tremendous interest was centred in the proceedings, the crowds that gathered in the streets, especially in the Market Place where the procession formed, being of large dimensions. It was in every respect an historic occasion, and not soon to be forgotten by all those who participated in it.
The public meeting was a huge success. Hundreds of the townspeople assembled. Splendid speeches were delivered by several local gentleman and others, when the need for further sacrifice on the part of manhood of the nations was emphasised. The men of Morpeth have loyally come forward to the call of King and country, and we feel sure that they will continue to do so, in this grave crisis in their country’s history.
One of the speakers was a soldier, home wounded from the front, and he made a stirring appeal to the young men to come and help their brothers in the trenches. He mentioned the fact that this was his second campaign, and asked for one recruit. Soon one was forthcoming, for a man left the audience, mounted the lorry, and said: “I have gone through one campaign already and I am going to join you in this one.”
The meeting, with one accord, passed a resolution testifying to its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle in maintenance of those ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and sacred cause of the Allies.
A MAGNIFICENT RESPONSE
Morpeth has taken its full share in supporting all good causes which have sprung into being since the war began.
Last Saturday the Mayoress organised a “flower day” on behalf of the sailors guarding our shores.
The Mayoress was assisted by a large band of willing helpers, and the success which attended the effort exceeded the anticipations of the most sanguine amongst them.
In different parts of the town there were stalls appropriately named after super-Dreadnoughts. The ladies, who kindly acted as sellers, worked hard and disposed of during the day hundreds of artificial pansies, until there was scarcely a person in the streets who was not wearing a pansy. The total amount collected, when boxes were opened, was £76 7s, which bears testimony to the magnificent response made by townspeople.
The Mayoress desires us to thank all those who assisted, especially the stallholders and their assistants for their services and also the tradesmen in the town who did work in connection with “flower day” gratuitously.
MILITARY PROCESSION AT MORPETH
The demonstration that was held in Morpeth on Wednesday evening, to mark the anniversary of Britain’s entry into the war, was an unqualified success.
Splendid arrangements were made beforehand so that the historic occasion could be celebrated in a manner worthy of the best traditions of the town. The townspeople loyally supported the organisers in their well directed efforts. Flags were flying from most of the principal buildings, and persons having sons or relatives in his Majesty’s forces also put out flags.
The first part of the proceedings was an imposing military procession, which created considerable stir in the borough. Great crowds assembled in the main streets, particularly in the Market Place, to witness the procession. It was undoubtedly one of the largest military processions that has ever taken place in this district.
It was composed as follows:— First came several members of the Scottish Horse, then the band of the 4th Tyneside Scottish, several motor-cars containing the Mayor and members of the Corporation and officials, followed by the Scottish Horse the 6th Durhams, the Scottish Horse Pipers, the Northern Cyclists, the Boys’ Brigade, and Boy Scouts. They proceeded by way of Newgate Street, Copper Chare, Howard Terrace, Dark Lane and Bridge Street to the Market Place.
There an immense crowd afterwards gathered to listen to inspiring speeches bearing on the war, and at the close, the meeting loyally and enthusiastically passed the following resolutions:— “That on the anniversary of the declaration of a righteous war this meeting records its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle in maintenance of those ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and sacred cause of the Allies.” The Mayor (Councillor T.W. Charlton) ably presided over the meeting. The principal speakers were Mr R.C. Oliver, Major Ralph Crawford, the Rector (Canon Davis), Rev. Joseph Miller, Captain H.F. Whitehead, of the 4th Tyneside Scottish, and Lance-Corporal Montgomery, who is home wounded from the front.
The platform was a representative one, and others who supported were: Alderman S.W. Brown, Ald. J.R. Hood, Councillors Ed. Norman, L. Armstrong, R.L. Fearby, George Jackson, J.H. Simpson, J.R. Temple, and J. Elliott, Mr Jas. Jardin (Town Clerk), Mr Middlemiss (rate collector), Mr F.W. Wood (mace bearer) and Mr W. Simpson, who carried out the arrangements in connection with the memorable proceedings.
At the outset the Mayor said that this was the first anniversary of this most cruel war. They could hardly realise the position at the present time. They all knew that this war had cost them millions of money and thousands of valuable lives. They could afford to lose the money, but not the men.
He hoped that those who had now reached military age would loyally come forward and help their gallant comrades in the trenches and elsewhere. If they failed to answer the call then it meant the prolonging of the war.
He referred to the fact that Alderman R.J. Carr was unable to be present owing to being engaged in munition work. He hoped that others would follow his example. He again appealed to the young men to rally to the colours and help to bring this terrible war to a successful issue. (Applause.)
Mr R.C. Oliver said this patriotic demonstration of the Morpeth people was only one of the countless number that was being held throughout the length and breadth of the far-stretched British Empire. Twelve months ago Germany declared war on Russia and before midnight a state of war existed between Germany and Great Britain. That condition of things, was still prevailing.
The tremendous issue still hung in the balance, and no one could unhesitatingly say as yet what the ultimate issue would be. He believed that they could and would win, but greater efforts would be required of them; greater sacrifices would need to be made. It might strike some people as being a little unusual to celebrate the anniversary of a war, the end of which was not even in sight. He was convinced that it was a wise resolution to hold this demonstration. There was nothing about it in the nature of rejoicing. It was more in the nature of a solemn reminder of the awful events through which the country was passing.
The outstanding feature of the twelve months’ war was undoubtedly the gigantic strength of Germany. Through those demonstrations we, as a nation, made an appeal to all those who had it in their power to hasten the time when a successful issue would be brought to this war. He asked all possible recruits to bring their hesitation to an end and range themselves along with their fellow Britains and cousins across the seas, in the trenches in Flanders, and in the Gallipola Peninsula, or in the navy. (Applause.)
In reviewing the situation created by the war he said there was one aspect of this conflict which they could look back upon with the utmost satisfaction and that was the righteousness and justice of our cause. (Applause.)
Major Crawford said he hoped the day was not far distant when there would not be found in any town in this country any man of military age who was not wearing the King’s uniform or who was not engaged in the equally important work of making munitions to bring this war to a glorious and victorious issue.
If they put their whole strength and energy into this gigantic struggle then the result would be a victory more glorious than any achieved by our soldiers in previous wars.
He believed that many had hung back not from motives of cowardice, but that they did not feel the need of their services. There was the greatest need and no victory would be possible unless the country put its whole strength into the struggle. (Applause.)
Morpeth had old traditions, and within a stone-throw of the Market Place was the home of Lord Collingwood. Lord Nelson said of him at the battle of Trafalgar: “See how that noble fellow, Collingwood, carries his ship into action.” (Applause.)
The Rector, in moving the resolution which is given above, said that there was no man in England with a sense of proportion and with any insight into eternal issues of great problems, who could for a moment doubt the righteousness of their cause. In this great conflict against the armed might of Germany they were fighting for freedom and liberty, fighting for eternal justice, fighting for God.
They had only slightly as a people realised the enormity of the struggle in which they were engaged, they had only slightly grasped the motive of the great issues involved, and they had only slightly realised the volume of sacrifice which they were being called upon to make to carry this war to a successful end. He appealed to every man and woman, worthy of being called citizens of this empire, to do everything that was necessary to win this war. (Applause.)
The Rev. Joseph Miller, in seconding the resolution, said that on August 4th last year, he was in Hamburg. He well remembered the state of affairs some few days prior to the outbreak of war, particularly during the days immediately preceding the declaration of war.
From what he saw and heard while a minister of the Church in Hamburg he was convinced that Germany had been preparing for war for many years. He had heard it said that it would have served Germany better had this war taken place in 1915. What did that point to? It pointed to the fact that their preparations would have been entirely completed in 1915. The preparedness of Germany was well nigh completed in 1914. But the war lords began to realise that Russia and France had begun to prepare and meet the force that Germany was preparing to send out against them, and he might say, against the world, and particularly against England.
They were fighting for honour, peace, and liberty, and those things were worth fighting for. (Applause.)
Lance-Corporal Montgomery said that after seven months in the firing line he had returned home. It was not his own fault that he had come back, it was the fault of the Huns. “You know what we are fighting for,” observed the speaker. “Can any young man stand aside and read his papers daily about the atrocities in Belgium and do nothing? I have been in Belgium and have seen some terrible sights. The Kaiser said he loved Belgium, and look what he has done to the country he loves. What will he do to the country he hates? and that country is England.”
He then appealed to the young unmarried men to step forward and help the lads in the trenches. (Applause.)
Captain Whitehead also made a stirring appeal for recruits.
The resolution was then put and unanimously carried.
The proceedings were brought to a close by the band rendering the National Anthem.
ROLL OF HONOUR
News has been received that Gunner G.A. Spurgeon, Royal Field Artillery, of Clifton Row, Netherton Colliery, has been wounded in the Dardanelles. His father was killed in the Boer War.
Seaman E. Fairless, of Seghill, is missing.
Seaman R.C. Taylor, Royal Naval Division, Newbiggin, has been wounded.
Seaman Thomas Mulrow, Royal Naval Division, of Ashington, has been wounded.
Private J. Middleton, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Ashington, has been wounded and is now missing.
Pte. W.H. Pearce, Royal Marine Light Infantry, New Delaval, is missing.
Pte. Joseph Dyne, Choppington, wounded and gassed.
Sapper R. Wightman, of Hirst, wounded.
Signaller H. Patton, of Blyth, who was recently wounded while on active service, is now in hospital in the North of Scotland. He has been wounded in the leg and the bullet is still embedded in the fleshy part.
Private James Richardson has succumbed to wounds received at the Dardanelles. He was a married man, 30 years of age, and lived at Seaton Hirst.
Information has been sent by the Admiralty to his friends in Alnwick that Arthur Burrel Tait, of the Royal Marines, was killed in action on July 13th. He was the eldest son of Mr William Tait, formally chief clerk in the goods department at Alnwick Railway Station, and grandson of Mr Arthur Richardson, one of the oldest men in Alnwick, who has a son at the front.
Sergeant E. Hindle, of the King’s Royal Rifles, writing to his father, at Newbiggin, states that his younger brother, Corporal Victor Hindle, has been wounded.
News has been received by Mr and Mrs Dalton, Mill House, Morpeth, that their son, Leading Seaman Michael Dalton, was killed at the Dardanelles on July 14th. This is the second son they have lost during the present war.
Private John Appleby, “D” Company, 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, has been missing since May 24th. His wife, Mrs Minnie Appleby, of 52 Oswin Avenue, Forest Hall, would be glad of any information concerning him.
VEGETABLES FOR THE FLEET
The Morpeth branch of the organisation for providing vegetables for the Fleet was again busy on Wednesday in the Town Hall and 13 crates of fruit and vegetables were despatched to our brave sailors.
Mrs Fenwick and Mrs Ralph Spencer thank all helpers through the Press, as it is quite impossible to do so by personal letters.
Very thankful acknowledgements have been received direct from His Majesty’s ships, and there is no doubt this voluntary help is most thoroughly appreciated by our gallant men.
Business will be as usual every Wednesday in the Town Hall, Morpeth, from 9am till 12 noon, and all information will be given.
A meeting of the Northumberland Education Committee was held last week at the Moothall, Newcastle, Alderman A. E. Bell, vice-chairman, presiding.
The School Buildings and Sub-Committee reported that a letter had been received from the Board of Education which stated that the Army Council, in any further requisitions for school buildings, would not pay any rent for the use of the buildings, but would, in addition to bearing the cost of reinstating the premises at the end of the military occupation, make good reasonable additional expenditure that may be necessarily incurred by the Local Education Authority with the approval of the Board in providing educational facilities elsewhere.
Alderman Hogg said members of the committee would remember that at the last meeting of the council the chairman of the Finance Committee referred to the windfall which the council had received in the shape of rents for schools occupied by the military authorities. But that would no longer be the case, because, according to the decision referred to, they were not likely to make any profit.
Alderman Hogg said it was proposed to insure school buildings against damage by aircraft or bombardment. The matter would not, he added, have been referred to under ordinary conditions, but now that schools could be insured at 3/- per cent they felt that all within the danger zone should be provided for in this way. The matter had been left in the hands of the chairman, vice-chairman, the secretary, and himself. His own opinion was that they should be fairly liberal in their selection of schools, the rate not being high.
Mr Craigs said he could not see how they could leave out Ashington and Hirst.
Canon Finchy remarked that the Building Sub-Committee would have a free hand.
COMFORTS FOR THE 7th N.F.
Sir,— I have just heard from Lance-Corp. Andrew Davison, and in his letter he wishes me to thank all the good people of Morpeth for their kindness through making it possible for me to send “comforts” to the “boys” of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers.
I am sending off another consignment on Monday, being able to do so through the kindness of Mrs Gutherson, Ulgham, who sent me a hearthrug, which was sold and re-sold, making the handsome sum of £2 16s, it being bought and returned by the following: Mrs Dickie, Mr Jos. Cudworth, Mr Jos. Rutherford (Dyke Nook), Mrs Grey (The Cafe), Mrs Strong (Coalburn), Mrs J. Blackhall, Mr Thompson (Queen’s Head), Mrs T. Fail, Mr Burdon, Mr Allen, Mr Fredericks, Mr T. Waters, Mr Dand, Mr Jas. Docherty, Mr Miller (Ashington), Mrs H. Davison, Mrs Nichol, Miss Relph, Mrs Stanners, and Mrs Rutherford (Dyke Nook). Also I wish to thank Mrs Allon Burn for her kind donation of 10/-.
Anyone wishing to defray the cost of comforts I shall be pleased to forward same to the Morpeth lads of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers. — Yours, etc.,
THOS. B. WATERS
St. James’s Terrace,
AUGUST BANK HOLIDAY
August Bank Holiday has come and gone. It was noticeable that the streets of Morpeth did not present such an animated appearance as in former years. The marked change in the number of visitors was only to be expected under the circumstances.
In the past the Olympic games, the premier sports in the North, have attracted thousands of pleasure-seekers to the town, but this year the promoters, owing to the war, found it necessary to abandon the sports.
After all it was really surprising, considering the war-like times in which we live, to have seen so many strangers in the borough on that day, large numbers arriving by train, char-a-banc, brake, and cycle from Tyneside and the surrounding districts. On the Stanners trippers galore spent some enjoyable hours. The natural beauty of Morpeth and the neighbourhood proved a source of enjoyment to many of the visitors.
As there were no excursions by rail, places nearer home were visited by those on holiday bent. Goodly numbers left the town for Newbiggin and Whitley Bay, and as the weather was ideal, holiday makers had a good time.
THREE ASHINGTON MEN AWARDED THE D.C.M.
A most successful and enthusiastic demonstration, attended by probably between three and four thousand people, was held at Ashington on Wednesday evening, the anniversary of the declaration of war. The four local bands played to the People’s Park from various points, accompanied by the Volunteer Training Corps and Boy Scouts under Mr Herrod, and a squadron of Scottish Horse.
The principal speakers were Professor Hadow (Principal of Armstrong College) and Mr Charles Percy, Alnwick. Councillor W.S. Pattison, chairman of the Ashington Council, presided. The great audience had the privilege of listening to a striking eloquent address by Professor Hadow, who held his hearers spell-bound from his first sentence. The chairman, in introducing the speakers made a patriotic speech and referred with pride to the part Ashington and the surrounding district was playing in the war. From figures which had been supplied to him he found that so far as the Ashington Coal Company was concerned, the number of employees serving in the Army and Navy was 3,200 out of a total employed before the war of 9,400. The total employed of recruiting age was 5,860. Of these there remained, including additional men set on since the war began, 2,800. This number included all who were physically and medically unfit. Thus, of those between the ages of 19 and 40 there had enlisted 55 per cent, and probably of the total physically fit for service, 83 per cent had gone to serve their country.
He quoted further figures, giving the number of recruits from the district. From Ashington (not colliery employees), 500; Newbiggin, 550; North Seton Colliery, 300; Ellington, 150. This gave a grand total for the Ashington, Newbiggin, North Seaton and Ellington district of 4,600.
He went on to say that some of the brave lads had lost their lives and many had been wounded, but he was proud to call attention to the fact that Ashington had been honoured, three of her sons having been presented with the D.C.M. for bravery in the field of battle. These were Regimental Quartermaster-Sergt. Booth, son of the late Mr Booth (formerly manager of Ashington Colliery, and brother to Mr F.L. Booth, the present manager); Sapper William W. Fairless, 1st Northern Royal Engineers (an Ashington lad now in the Royal Infirmary); and Private Tom Page, of the R.A.M.C.
Professor Hadow moved the following solution: “That on this anniversary of the declaration of a righteous war this meeting of the citizens of Ashington records its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle in the maintenance of those ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and sacred cause of the Allies.”
In doing so he referred to the preparedness of Germany and the unpreparedness of this country when war was declared, proving at any rate that we were not the aggressors.
A thing had taken place in Britain the like of which had never been in the history of this or any other country — that by purely voluntary methods and sheer patriotism we had from a small beginning of 160,000 men in the expeditionary force, raised an army of three million men.
He quoted a German writer who said that there was now no question of crushing the allies. He strongly condemned the kind of criticism which had appeared in certain quarters recently and appealed to his hearers to keep before their mind the absolute necessity for action and solidarity of purpose throughout the empire in order to bring about a lasting peace — not a patched-up peace, not a half peace which would serve the enemy’s purpose and enable him to come again in 20 years’ time.
He called attention to the splendid service of the Navy, which was no less grand because they made no flourish of trumpets. There was not a single German ship in commerce on the high seas, and they were transporting troops, etc., without the loss of a single man or horse. He also referred to the excellent record of recruiting at Ashington.
Mr Chas. Percy seconded the resolution, and also treated his hearers to a spirited address and urged that all differences should be sunk for the good of the common cause, and that whatever the Government might be it must use every possible means to carry the country on to victory. (Applause.)
Mr Alex. Greig, chairman of the Ashington Recruiting Committee, supported the resolution.
The resolution was carried unanimously.
Mr J.J. Hall proposed a vote of thanks to the speakers and chairman, which was enthusiastically carried.
MORPETH GRAMMAR SCHOOL
The annual distribution of prizes in connection with the Morpeth Grammar School took place in the Assembly Hall of the school on Friday afternoon last. Considerable interest was centred in the event, there being a large attendance of parents, friends, and past scholars. Mr N.I. Wright (chairman of the governors) presided, and was supported by the Rector (Canon Davies), Rev. Dr. Drysdale, Mr F. Brummell, and Mr G.D. Dakyns (headmaster).
In submitting his annual report, the headmaster said he did not think that anyone who had attended last year’s prize-giving anticipated that within a week this country would be plunged into the most terrible war the world had ever seen.
The school began to take its share in the war within a week of its commencement, and a very large number of cadets, let it be said to their credit and honour, gave up a considerable portions of their summer holidays, and day after day did orderly work for the Northern Cyclists’ Battalion, and for over three months they performed that work. Colonel Collis had told him that owing to the duties performed by the cadets, men were relieved for more important work.
They were very glad to help in this way and also to billet the soldiers. They could not have managed to billet the men had they not got the Presbyterian schoolroom, and they were greatly indebted to the officials of the Presbyterian Church for enabling them to carry on the school work. He was justified in saying that the school, notwithstanding many difficulties had suffered less than might have been expected — in fact it has suffered very little.
He referred to the general work of the school and said that it had been very satisfactory during the past year. The average attendance had been 137, that being 13 more than the average attendance of last year. It was the highest average attendance that they had had in the school for many years, and the number of new boys that had entered the school had created a record.
He referred to the Roll of Honour, a copy of which was given to each one present, giving the names of those old boys who have taken up arms in the service of their King and country. He knew that the list was not completed. Since the list was printed the names of other two boys had been mentioned, and there must be more names. He would be very grateful for further information as to old boys serving their country. The whole of the school had learned a great many valuable lessons from the war. At the close Mr Dakyns announced that Colonel Watson, of the 6th Durham Light Infantry, had kindly come to inspect the school cadet unit. It was a great honour to the school, especially because Colonel Watson was from the front, and they welcomed him that afternoon with great gratitude. Colonel Watson had sent the regimental band to play to them in the play ground facing the school and they were grateful to him for that also. The cadets were under the command of Captain N.G. Evans. After they were inspected by Colonel Watson, who was accompanied by Lieut. Copeland, they executed certain movements. Colonel Watson congratulated the cadets on their smart appearance. The march past was excellent and their movements were very good. He was pleased to note their careful attention to details.
He was glad to learn that a good number of the old boys were serving at the front, and he hoped that some others might follow their example.