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.
Under the auspices of the above League a large and enthusiastic meeting was held at Morpeth on Sunday night in the Market Place. The chair was occupied by Ald Carr, ex-Mayor of Morpeth, who has recently employed his holiday by working in the shell shop at Scotswood.
The speaker was Mr James Clare, of Newcastle, who has been actively identified with the recruiting campaign in the district, and who met with a good reception.
Alluding to the present controversy between the Voluntarysts and Conscriptionists, he deprecated any premature decision being arrived at, inasmuch as the issues involved were so far-reaching that the future of the British race must be largely determined by the decision of the nation on the question.
If a change had to be made, he hoped that the present bitterness would be allayed, and that the nation would endeavour to arrive at some common basis of national defence. It would be a tragedy of the worst character if at the present time the nation’s energies were to be distracted by political dissension.
He did not despair of voluntary effort, because he believed that the voluntary system had not yet shown any symptoms of exhaustion, and all that was required was to maintain the present activity in recruiting.
He was sure that the sons of Britain would rally round the standard of the Empire, and assist in the destruction of the world’s curse — Prussian militarism.
A vote of thanks was accorded to the speaker, and the meeting concluded with cheers for King and country, and for the army and navy.
MORPETH MEN IN THE TRENCHES
We have received the following interesting letter, signed by Private John Dunn and Private Edward Jameson, 10th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, from “Somewhere in France.” Both men belong to Morpeth.
The letter reads as follows:—
Will you kindly allow us to have a small space of your paper to let some of our friends know in the old town how we are going on?
Since we landed in France we have had no easy time, having done plenty of hand marches, and with bad roads to walk on, you will guess what it is like with full kit on your back.
We have been sent into the trenches, but we are still very happy, and are having a very fair time of it with the Germans.
In the mornings when we are trying to get our breakfast ready, the big German shells fly over our heads and make it rather exciting, but we pass it off by saying to each other: “That one will do some damage where it hits,” and take no more notice.
Well, we have seen some awful sights since we came over here — towns and villages completely wrecked and ruined, and churches (which they seem to take for their targets) are razed to the ground.
Up to now we haven’t come across any of our old pals, or the “Terriers.”
We might also say that all the Morpeth boys of our battalion are all right.
With best wishes to all our chums who are left in the old town.
(BY L-CPL. SEABROOKE, 7TH N.F., MORPETH.)
What is the sound we mostly dread
As fast asleep we lie in bed?
It’s yelled into each sleepy head:
“Come on! Stand to!”
Inside our dug-outs warm and dry
We hope to get a few hours’ lie,
We’re hardly in when comes the cry’
“Get up! Stand to”!
We do the work we’re set to do,
And make up ration parties too;
Our hours of sleep are far too few
Before “Stand to”!
We fill the sandbags, carry wood,
And do our duty as we should,
But we would dodge it if we could,
That d—d “Stand to”!
We do our best ‘mid shot and shell,
Then to our dug-outs for a spell;
We’re hardly in when comes the yell:
“Now then! Stand to”!
Oh! many a cruel thing is said,
And curses showered on the head
Of the sergeant bringing us from bed,
With “Up! Stand to!”
SAVED BY HIS
A packet of his mother’s letters in his breast pocketed saved the life of Pte. C Murrel, who whilst fighting in Gallipoli was picked off by snipers.
The bullet striking him on the breast, was diverted by the letters, went down his ribs and came out at his thigh.
He is progressing well in hospital.
LOCAL ARTILLERYMAN IN ACTION
In writing to his parents in Morpeth, Gunner J. Cairns, D Battery, Royal Field Artillery, who is in the fighting line, says: “When we arrived out here about May 20th we went into action the same night.
“We were in about a fortnight, and after we came out the gun pits got blown to pieces.
“Before we left we had a bombardment. All along the line went the rattle of every big gun. You talk about sensation? Well, I never heard anything like it before, but I have had a few since.
There are a few Morpeth lads in this battery, and you should see them around me when the “Morpeth Herald” arrives.
“We have been in some very tight corners since we landed here,” continues the writer, “and the Germans don’t forget to waste a few shells. It makes one wonder how they keep going at it, but nearly always we come out on top.
“Well, they will never in the wide world break though our lines. I think we won’t be long in finishing the Huns off. What we have got to watch are the snipers as they are all crack shots.
“We are in action at present. The Northumberlands and Durhams are praised all over for their good work and great deeds.”
ROLL OF HONOUR
Seaman M. Irmie, of the Royal Naval Division, of Shiremoor, has been wounded.
Sergt. R. Emmett, who formerly resided at Cowpen, has been killed in action.
Pte. J.T. Killoran, of West Sleekburn, has been wounded.
Pte. J.R. Miller, of Blyth, is reported wounded.
Corporal W. Barnes, of Choppington, is wounded.
Pte. T. Smith, 6th Border Regiment, of Blyth, has been wounded.
Pte. C.F. Saunders, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Hirst, has been wounded.
Pte. George Thirtle, 9th West Yorks, of Hirst, has been wounded.
Pte. W. McCarthy, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Newbiggin, has been wounded.
Pte. J. Carroll, of Bedlington, has been wounded.
Pte. Wm. Steel, 6th East Yorks, of Bedlington, has been wounded.
Private Robert Clark, 9th West Yorkshire Regiment, of Blyth, has been wounded.
Pte. R. Halcrow, of Choppington, has died of wounds received in action.
Seaman T.B.D. Patterson, of Ashington, has been killed.
Private J. Ellison, of West Cramlington, has been wounded.
Pte J. Hedley, East Yorks Regiment, of Bebside, has been killed.
Pte. W. McCabe, East Yorks, Regiment, of Bedlington, has been wounded.
Pte. J. Shadforth, 6th East Yorks Regiment, of Bedlington, has been wounded.
Pte. T. Burton, 6th East Yorks Regiment, of Bedlington, has been wounded.
Private E. McSherry, 8th N.F., Morpeth, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Private A. Wade, 8th N.F., Morpeth, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Lance-Corporal M. McKinley, 8th N.F., of Morpeth, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Private Thompson Brown, 9th N.F., of Blyth late of Hexham, has been killed at the Dardanelles.
Lance-Corporal R. Rogerson, 9th West Yorkshires, of Morpeth, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Private Michael O’Brien, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Morpeth, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Privare John Turner, East Yorks (Pioneers), of Netherton Hall, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.
Pte. Edward Huntley, 8th Northumberland Fusliers, of Hirst, has been killed in action.
Pte. John Tweedy, Northumberland Fusiliers, of Cowpen Village, is reported a prisoner of war.
Lance-Corporal A. Howes, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Blyth, has been wounded.
Pte. J. Mason, 8th N.F., of Bedlington, has been killed in action at the Dardanelles.
News has been received at Earsdon that Pte. C. Jacques of the 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, has been killed in action. He formerly lived at John Street, Earsdon.
Word has reached Blyth that Pte. John Whiteman, of the 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, has been wounded during the recent action in the Dardanelles.
Word has been received by his friends at Ashington that Lance-Corporal J.F. Chapman, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, is missing.
Private Jas. Hedley, of Bebside Furnace, who was one of the four sons who with their father has been serving the country on active service, is also posted killed. He was also a promising youth.
A letter has been received from Gunner Frank Blakey, whose home is at 15 Edward Street, Blyth, stating that he is wounded and in hospital, but hopes soon to be home to Blyth.
Pioneer Edward Boyle, son of the late Mr Hugh Boyle, the Northumberland Miners’ Association president for some years, and previously of Seghill, has been killed at the Dardanelles.
Mr and Mrs J. McFadden, Dispensary Street, Alnwick, have received official information that their eldest son, Sergt. William McFadden, 6th Batt., 6th Yorkshire Regiment, who went out to the Dardanelles, is missing.
Corporal T. Marshall, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, son of Police-Supt. Marshall of Morpeth, has been posted as missing at the Dardanelles. He enlisted shortly after the outbreak of war, and was in the machine gun section.
Private Roger Routledge, of Bebside, whose death in action has been reported, was the first recruit to leave that place after war broke out. He enlisted on August 14th, 1914. He was a fine, promising lad, and his decease is much regretted.
Deep sympathy has been expressed to Mr and Mrs George Thomas Shields, of No. 1 Institute Row, West Sleekburn, who have had intimation that their son, Private Robt. Wm. Shields, N.F., was killed on September 13th, having been shot through the head.
Lance-Corporal J.H. Bix, who worked at Crofton, has written a letter to Mr R. Wilson, Blyth, intimating that he has been wounded in the stomach. He was shot at 3.30 on a Saturday and lay until 10.30pm on the following day before he was picked up. Yet he is progressing favourably.
Mrs Simmons, of New Deleval, has received official intimation that her son, Private James Simmons, of the 8th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was reported missing at the Dardanelles on August 13th. Private Simmons, who is 30 years of age, worked as a hewer at New Deleval before enlistment.
Mrs Hall, of 29 Park View, West Moor, has received official intimation from the War Office that her husband, Sergeant Geo. Hall, of the 8th Northumberland Fusliers, was killed in action at the Dardanelles on August 19th. Sergt. Hall has seen 18 years’ service, and fought through the Boer War, receiving both medals and clasps. He leaves a widow and four children.
MORPETH MAN HOME FROM THE FRONT
Private George Hedley, of the 2nd Batt., Coldstream Guards, son of Mr Joshua Hedley, of Corporation Yard, Morpeth, who has been at the Front since the commencement of the great war, was home on furlough for a few days last week.
His many friends in the borough were glad to see him looking so well after the many hardships he has gone through.
Private Hedley was at Mons and La Bassee, and also took part in several other big engagements, and has had some hairbreadth escapes. He has been buried up on two occasions and also been wounded. He was present when Corporal Dobson, of South Shields, performed the valiant deed that won for him the Victoria Cross.
He is an old member of the Morpeth Boys’ Brigade.
Private Hedley, who is at present unfit for active service, is now attached to the R.A.M.C., and returned to headquarters on Saturday night last.
MINERS AND WAR WOUNDED
The miners of Northumberland have been appealed to to subscribe to a convoy for wounded at the Front, and it is to be regretted that whilst the miners of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, and Cheshire have consented to do their share of equipping convoys, Northumberland have refused.
The vote was by proxy, and it was proposed to pay a levy of 6d per week for 40 weeks.
Mr Wm. Straker, the secretary, made an appeal in support of the proposal, and no better advocate could there have been for even so admirable a cause, yet, in spite of that, the proposal was defeated by 208 against 242 votes.
The reasons given for this action are three-fold. One is because the Government ought to supply all the ambulances required; and the other reason is that some men decline to supply the proposal which came from a coalowner, as the coalowners had not conceded 11 per cent advance.
And a third reason I have heard given is that those few men who decide things at lodge meetings are not as sympathetic and broad-minded as the individual members of the Association and certainly the latter seems in the light of events very true.
IF THE SOLDIERS HAD VOTED
Northumberland miners have done well in their country’s crisis. They have endured the loss of home, of comfort, and of life itself; but let it not be forgotten that the coalowners have suffered and died as heroically as instanced by the death of the gallant Captain E.J. Lamb, whose brave achievements and death have been recorded in brass this week in the colliery offices at Cramlington and in the Press of the nation.
Over a quarter of a million of Northumberland miners are serving with the colours, who have proved that they are the bravest of the brave.
When one thinks of the bloody fields of Flanders and of the shambles at the Dardanelles, where the wounded lie for long hours — sometimes days — without food or water or of the kindly hand to succour them, the thought arises that our brave miners abroad who have left good homes and good wages for deprivation and hunger and cold and suffering; if they had had the voting papers put into their hands how many of these would have marked them as did the 242 who formed the majority.
Those will full bellies and soft beds to go to, at their lodge meetings held up their hands against a sixpenny level to aid those who lie stricken on the field that our shores may be saved from the devastation of an inhuman, insatiate and inveterate enemy!
No, the miners in the dug outs would not have voted in the way the majority at the lodge meetings have done, and the truth is forced upon us that the best men have gone from amongst us.
Despite the warnings that are given in the Press daily with regard to the necessity of having all lights effectively obscured at nights, there are still many people who, perhaps more from thoughtlessness than anything else, fail to realise the great danger run not only by themselves but by those who comply with the Order from hostile aircraft.
From Newbiggin, Ashington, and Morpeth no fewer than sixteen persons were summoned to Morpeth Court on Wednesday for the offence, and the presiding magistrate pointed out that if people saw the damage that was done by aircraft they would take care that the lights on their premises were properly shaded.
On previous occasions the Bench dealt leniently with offenders, but last Wednesday the fines were much stiffer, and the total sum “scooped in” amounted to £9 5s.
Many a score of green blinds and other contrivances for shading lights could have been purchased with the money expended in fines.
PEGSWOOD’S PATRIOTIC CHILDREN
Mrs Glass, Mrs Maine, Mrs Chadwick, and the children of Pegswood School wish to thank all the donors who so liberally subscribed towards the £5 11s 3d which was collected in Morpeth the other Wednesday.
The money is to go towards buying cigarettes and comforts for our soldiers and sailors.
Mrs Thompson, West Chevington, W.J. Patton, and “A Friend” are especially thanked for giving so liberally, as the procession came off the 2.30 train.
COMFORTS FOR THE SCOTTISH HORSE
Mrs McDowall, East Cottingwood, Morpeth, is sending comfort to the Scottish Horse now at the Dardanelles.
She would be grateful for help to make it possible for each to enjoy something from the parcel, and hopes all friends of the Scottish Horse will send a gift of money, shirts, socks, mufflers, mits, sweets, biscuits or tobacco.
BLYTH N.C.O. BECOMES SEC.-LIEUTENANT
Regimental Sergt.-Major William Bower, of Blyth, has been gazetted a Second-Lieutenant, and the distinction has given the liveliest satisfaction to Lieut. Bower’s many friends in the North.
He was for a number of years a non-commissioned officer in the Blyth detachment of the Tynemouth Royal Garrison Artillery, and locally took a very practical interest in all branches of athletics, notably football. He relinquished his duties as trainer to the Coventry City F.C. to take up miliary duty after the war broke out.