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.
The following interesting letter has been received by a Morpeth resident from Sergt. W.T. Gilmore, “M” Squadron, 1/3rd Scottish Horse, who made many friends whilst stationed in the town.—
Tigne Hospital, Malta
“You will see by above address that I’ve been seen, and got hurt in the being and seeing. To begin with the end, I got a wee bit damaged by a Turk sniper a week past last Sunday. A chance shot came through the parapet of our trenches and caused a bit of annoyance to your humble.
“Not content with entering my left upper-arm and taking the liberty of trespassing thence to my shoulder, where it now lies pending its removal, this said bullet shred a piece off a ‘bully-beef’ tin, which caused some discomfort to my left ‘harker’ (Anglice: ‘ear’) by tearing therein a suitable resting-place (whence it was later forcibly ejected).
To continue and complete my catalogue of bashes and bruises, I had one or two superficial ‘dents’ which don’t really matter. My scalp got a cut (since healed) and my arm was peppered with small stones, and, having passed through the black-and-blue stage, is now sort of yellow-and-orange. But I’m still very much alive and cheery and longing to cry quits with my unseen and anonymous adversary.
“Well to commence at the beginning now, we had a glorious passage! We left — on the Thursday, having embarked the previous forenoon. The ship, which in other times is a Trans-Atlantic liner, moved into the outer basin overnight, and next morning (Thursday) we set out on our voyage of adventure all in great spirits. We had quite a decent send-off considering the secrecy attached to such events.
“Strange indeed were the feelings of us as the moment arrived when our dearly-loved land was fading from sight. Then, for the next few days it was a case of ‘the blue lone sea,’ our days being occupied by ship routine drill — fire and boat drill — and physical exercise and our leisure being spent in reading and sleeping. The weather was magnificent, and sea sickness was almost an unknown quantity.
“On the Sunday we arrived off the ‘Rock’ but made a very short stay — leaving in little over an hour for our next call. Our ship coaled here, so we had 36 hours’ wait; but we weren’t allowed ashore. The Governor-General came on board and inspected us.
“We left — and rumour was busy — we were under fresh orders! This proved to be correct, and on the Sunday we arrived at the Base. We stayed here two days then we left for the Peninsula, landing under cover of darkness. Next morning we were in amongst it! We had our baptism of fire — shrapnel — and had a few casualties. Late next night we moved up to the reserve trenches where we stayed for a fortnight, then we moved up to take our place in the firing-line. I had four days, when I got ‘laid out’ as related.
“Now, as regards impressions and news, even though I were permitted to give them, believe me, one gets more news from the papers than could be got from any but the Staff! The only impression I can give is the fine feeling of getting such wounds as I got. It is a nice pleasant feeling, and the soreness doesn’t commence for some hours, and then it wasn’t bad in my case except arm-stiffness.”
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor T.W. Charlton) presided.
Mr Armstrong referred to the question of lighting. He said that they had a long dreary winter before them and the town in total darkness. He thought the Council should try and secure lights at the street corners and dangerous places. Those lights could be shaded both on the top and down each side so far in order that people might see their way home in safety. He was sure if they could be allowed to have those shaded lights it would be a great boon to the townspeople. They would be just as safe from hostile aircraft as when the town was in total darkness. He moved that the Council try and get permission to have a few lamps lit.
Mr Jackson seconded.
Town Clerk: I take it that you mean that we approach the police with the view of inducing them to allow us to light certain lamps.
Mr Armstrong: Yes; and the Surveyor to state what lamps should be lit.
Mayor: At Newcastle they have the lamps darkened three parts down.
The motion was carried.
FOR THE SAFETY OF PEDESTRIANS
Owing to the streets being in total darkness the lot of the pedestrian is not a happy one. In wending his way along the paths in the dark he occasionally comes to grief in a variety of ways. Seeing the long winter months have yet to be faced, the prospects are not rosy for those who must be out of doors at night-time.
The question was raised at the Council meeting, and the suggestion was thrown out that an effort might be made to get permission to light a certain number of lamps at street corners and dangerous places. It was stated that the lamps could be so shaded that the light would only show on the ground. The police authorities are to be approached with a view of inducing them to allow the Council to carry out this scheme of reduced lighting into effect.
It is necessary in these changed times in which we live that all obstacles in the way of posts, etc., should be removed from the path of the pedestrian. The Council has decided to remove the posts at the Mayor’s Bridge. As they have never served a useful purpose it is surprising that they have not been removed long ago.
The posts placed on the path leading to the railway station could also be removed with advantage to the travelling public. Many persons have come to grief at this place owing to posts being there.
NORTHUMBERLAND COAL TRADE
The exports of coal in September, not including bunkers, totalled 4,096,637 tons as compared with 4,096,453 tons in Sept., 1914, and with 6,501,578 tons in September, 1913. Practically, then, we are exporting, apart from bunkers two-and-a-half million tons less a month than in normal times.
It will be noticed that the Coal Exports Committee have managed to restrict the exports to almost exactly the quantity shipped abroad in September last year. The closeness of these figures is perhaps a coincidence, for the Committee, after their first drastic restrictive policy in May, when the licensing system came into operation, have gradually allowed shippers a little more latitude.
In June the exports were 3,725,000 tons, in July they were 3,732,000 tons, in August 3,854,000 tons, and last month over 4,000,000 tons. The increases are not very substantial, but they show that the committee is amply satisfied that we have ample coal for home consumption, even if it has still a fear that some of our exports may reach the enemy.
There are numerous complaints, for example that much of the coal sent from this country to Holland is being diverted through the Kolen bureau into the hands of the Westphalian Syndicate. The trouble there, of course, is that the Germans wish to increase their coal exports into Holland for the sake of their own banking credit with the Dutch during the war, and to pave the way for the complete capture of the Dutch coal trade after the war.
This flagrant interference with our coal trade in Holland is a matter both for the Government and our coalowners and shippers, for a trade of close on 200,000 tons a month is well worth preserving.
It is interesting to find from the figures that Sweden only got 195,000 tons last month as against 633,546 tons in September, 1914, and 394,314 tons in September, 1913; that Russia received only 3,173 tons last month as against 17,398 tons in September, 1914, and 668,472 tons in September, 1913; that Norway secured 224,461 tons last month as against 233,754 tons and 174,861 tons in the two previous Septembers; that Denmark’s figures are 291,764 tons, 405,824 tons and 275,724 tons in the same periods; that the exports to Germany in September, 1913, were 833,326 tons, and that the loss of this trade has been somewhat made up by our increased coal exports to our Ally, France, which last month took 1,687,755 tons as against 569,667 tons in September, 1914.
CAPTAIN SMAIL AGAIN THANKS PEGSWOOD SCHOLARS
Captain H.R. Smail, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, writes to Mrs Glass of Bothal Terrace, Pegswood, as follows:— “I have again to thank you and the Pegswood scholars for remembering my men. Thank you all very much for the tobacco and cigarettes you sent out. Glad to see you, personally, continue to take and interest in my men.”
THE MAYORESS OF MORPETH’S SEWING MEETING
Tea was given by Mr T. Gillespie, Winton House, and realised £1 6s 6d.
The hon. treasurer acknowledges with many thanks a donation of 10/- from Mrs Carr and Mrs Pyle, Hudson Place, and gifts of mufflers, socks, mittens, and wool from the Mayoress, Mrs R.J. Carr, and Miss Weightman, and a large hearthrug from Miss McDowall, Dyers Cottage, which will be sold by auction in the Corn Market, Morpeth, on Wednesday first.
Miss E. Robinson, War Office lecturer, will give a short address on “Women and the War” at the sewing meeting next Thursday. Will all interested please come.
NEWCASTLE COMMERCIAL BATTALIONS
Sir,— On behalf of the three battalions raised by the Newcastle and Gateshead Incorporated Chamber of Commerce, namely, the 16th, 18th and 19th Northumberland Fusiliers, may we remind the friends of all ranks of the duty and the privilege of doing all they can, especially during the winter, to mitigate the hardships of the soldiers’ lot on foreign service.
The Council has in order to prevent waste, overlapping, and to secure an adequate and properly-regulated supply and distribution of the various things that are needed, formed a special sub-committee, which will be known as the Comforts Committee, to take this matter in hand in co-operation with the commanding officers.
The help of the ladies is particularly desired, and a ladies’ committee is being formed. A fund will be raised, and a central store established, and the willing efforts of all friends will be fully organised and directed to the common object.
We appeal, therefore, confidently to all relatives, employers, and other friends of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of these battalions to help either by work or contributions in money or kind.
Ladies willing to assist should write to the President of the Ladies’ Committee, Mrs George Renwick, Springhill, Morpeth; to the vice-president, Mrs W.H, Ritson, Springwell Hall, Durham; to Mrs F. Carrick, The Elms, Gosforth; or to Mrs J.T. Lunn, Heathfield, Gateshead, or attend a meeting which will be held at the Y.M.C.A. on Friday next at 2.30pm, where they will be cordially welcomed.
Subscriptions should be addressed to the honorary treasurer of the Comforts Committee, Mr Alfred Brewis, Millburn House, or paid direct to Lloyds Bank Ltd., Quayside Branch, Newcastle, and other communications to the Honorary Secretary, Mr Herbert Shaw, Chamber of Commerce.
F. CARRICK, Chairman.
ALDRED BREWIS, Hon. Treasurer.
HERBERT SHAW, Hon. Secretary.
A list of subscriptions is appended hereto:— Mr F. Carrick, £50; Mr George Renwick, £25; Mr A.M. Sutherland, £25; Messrs U.A. Ritson and Sons, Ltd., £21; Mr Alfred Brewis, £20; Major R. Temple, £10 10s; Mrs Alfred Bewis, £5 5s; Mr E.R. Newbiggin, £5 5s; Mr Parker Brewis, £5 5s; Mr T.W. Bourne, £5 5s; Mr F.W. Mundell, £3 3s; Mr A.W. Carrall, £2 2s; Mr Herbert Shaw, £2 2s; Mrs Herbert Shaw, £2 2s; Mr Ridley Warham, £2 2s; Mr T.M. McBryde £1 1s.
ROLL OF HONOUR
News has been received of the death in action in France of Joseph Henry Duncan, 5th N.F., youngest son of Mr and Mrs J.F. Duncan, 62 Chirton West View, North Shields, and formerly of Morpeth. The deceased, who was 25 years of age, was an old pupil of the Municipal High School. He was trained as a chemist, and was in the employ of the Sunderland Gas Co., after which he went to the Commercial Gas Co. of Wapping. He was a former member of the Percy Park Rugby Football Club.
DEATH OF A DELAVAL SOLDIER
On Saturday there was interred at the Catholic Cemetery, Cowpen, the remains of the late Private Robert Wigham. Deceased was a deputy at New Delaval, and in the early stages of the war volunteered for the army. He died suddenly whilst at home on leave.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Corpl. A. Robsinon, of Segill, wounded.
Private T. Stoney, of Bebside, wounded.
Private R. Turnbull, of Bebside, wounded.
Private J. Redpath, 19th Yorks, of Choppington, gassed.
Private Sam Todd, 14th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Morpeth, wounded.
Private C. F. Hill, of Shiremoor, wounded and gassed.
Cyclist W. Matthewson, of Blyth, wounded.
Driver J. T. Morgan, Royal Field Artillery, of Hirst, wounded.
Private Andrew Lowden, 19th Yorks, of Seghill, wounded.
Corpl. Palmer, Northumberland Fusiliers, of Choppington, wounded.
Private T. W. Gibbon, Northumberland Fusiliers, of Choppington, gassed.
Corpl. Samuel Lee, Somerset Light Infantry, of Newbiggin, wounded.
Private Wm. Watson, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Blyth, wounded.
Corpl. J. F. Bickerton, of Ashington, wounded.
Private J. W. Spooner, of Cramlington, missing.
Private J. E. Uldock, of Ashington, wounded.
Private J. Wallace, of Ashington, wounded.
Private W. Robson, 13th Northumberland Fusiliers, of New Hartley, wounded.
Private W. Holland, of Blyth, is reported missing.
Private J. Pringle, of New Delaval, wounded.
Private T. Storey, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Bebside, wounded.
Private J. Bower, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, Bebside, has been gassed.
Lance-Corpl. W. Lee, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Kitty Brewster, wounded.
Private Jesse Par, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Seaton Hirst, wounded.
Private R. Hyde, 19th Yorks Regiment, of Cambois, wounded.
Private W. Armstrong, of Barrington, gassed.
Private J. Redpath, of Choppington, gassed.
Private N. Stokoe, of Cowpen Village, wounded.
Sergt. A. Armstrong, of Cramlington, wounded.
Private T. Robinson, of Barrington, wounded.
Private Thos. Burn, Army Service Corps, of Netherton, wounded.
Private W. H. Burn, 6th East Yorks, of Bedlington, wounded and missing.
Private W. Paxton, 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, of Bedlington, wounded.
Private T. Conroy, of Stakeford, died of wounds.
Private W. Gore, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Choppington, wounded.
Lance Corporal R. Ward, of Bebside, wounded.
Private Stephen Brian, Grenadier Guards, of Hirst, wounded.
Private A. Websill, 10th Yorks, of Shankhouse, wounded.
Lance-Corpl. H. Kelly, 8th East Yorks, of Burradon, wounded.
Private John T. Slack, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Choppington, wounded.
Private Robert Tyson, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Choppington, wounded.
Private William Stephens, 8th Somerset Light Infantry, of Cramlington, wounded.
Private John R. Fairley, 10th Yorks of Seaton Delaval, wounded.
Private C. Garrigle, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Cramlington, wounded.
Lance-Corpl. Fred Lumsden, West Surrey Regiment, of Cramlington, wounded.
Information has reached Ashington that Private D. Wrightson has been killed in action.
Drummer John Kenney, 14th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Burradon, died of wounds.
Private Joseph Cameron, 8th Somerset Light Infantry, of Blyth, has been wounded and gassed.
His parents at 16, Duke Street, Shiremoor, have been informed that Corporal E. Leese has been wounded.
Able Seaman Hugh Maclean, Nelson Battalion, of Chapel Row, Seghill, has been wounded in the Dardanelles.
Private G. C. Richardson, 4th Northumberland Fusiliers, of Lemington, late of Seghill, has been wounded in Flanders.
The death is announced of Corpl. Thos. Malone, 14th N.F. (Pioneers), of Blyth. He was killed on Sept. 27th.
Private J. Aitken, 7th N.F., orderly to Lieut. R. Oliver, Morpeth, severely wounded at the Dardanelles.
Private D. Atkinson, 8th N.F., of Choppington, has been killed in action at the Dardanelles.
Trooper Walter Pringle, Northumberland Hussars, of East Farm, Killingworth, was wounded on Sept. 30th.
Mrs Paul, of 3 Dalmatia Terrace, Blyth, has received official intimation that her son Sergt. Royal Paul, 8th East Yorks, was wounded in France.
Private William Ellison, 14th N.F., the son of Mr and Mrs Ellison, 32 East Row, Isabella Pit, Blyth, has been killed in action.
Private Ned Davis, 12th N.F. of Bedlington, has been wounded in France, and is now in the Lord Derby War Hospital at Warrington, Lancashire.
Word has been received at Blyth that Pte. W. Ellison, Isabella Colliery, of the 14th Northumberland Fusiliers, has been killed in France.
Private Charles Moore, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, of 28, Railway Row, Shankhouse, was shot through the head at the Dardanelles, and is now in Malta Hospital.
Mrs Summers, wife of Pte. John Summers, Kitty Brewster, who received word from a soldier in France, that her husband is missing, has received from his officer a letter denying that Pte. Summers is reported missing.
Private Nicholas Stoker, of Cowpen, is in hospital in Newcastle suffering from wounds in the feet. He describes scenes in the captured German trenches of murdered women which he states should fire the blood of any Britisher able to shoulder a rifle.
Official information has been received by Mr Wm. Tait, 3, Sixth Row, Ashington, that his son, Corpl. H. Tait, 8th D.L.I. has been killed in France. He was formerly a schoolmaster in the Council Schools at Hirst, and joined the Bede College Coy. of the 8th Durhams.
News has been received of Ralph Purves, a Spital man who is in the East Yorks, and who has been missing at the Dardanelles since August. It has now been ascertained that he is a prisoner. Prior to the war Purves worked at Bedlington, here his wife resides.
Mrs Norris, of 33, Crofton Street, Blyth, has received information that her husband, Sergt. John Norris, 13th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was wounded and gassed on Sept. 26th and is now in a Liverpool hospital. Previous to enlistment he worked as a coal hewer at New Delaval.
Mr and Mrs S. Hyde, of 2 Chapel Row, Cambois, have just received official information that their son, Private R. Hyde, of the P.W.G. Yorkshire Regiment, was wounded in France on Sept. 26th, and is now in a military hospital at Liverpool.
News has been received by Mr Andrew Michie, nurseryman, Alnwick, that his son, Private Gilbert Michie, 10th Cameronian Highlanders, has been killed in action. Mr Michie has two other sons serving with the Colours–Harry George Michie, who is second lieutenant in the 15th Northumberland Fusiliers, and Archibald Johnson Michie, a private in the Gordon Highlanders.
News has been received by Mr and Mrs Forster, of Gladstone Street, Blyth, that their son, Private George Moffatt Forster, of the 14th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action somewhere in France on Sept. 26th. Private Moffatt had been in the Army for 12 months, and only went to France a month ago. Previously he was an apprentice at Blyth Shipyard, and for a short time worked on the railway at Cambois. He was only 20 years of age.
Capt. Charles Mael Ridley, of Park End, Northumberland, who went to France with the Northumberland Hussars in October, 1914, died of wounds in France on Oct. 7th, Capt. Ridley was the eldest surviving son of the late Mr John Hilton Ridley, of Park End, and was 30 years of age, having been born at Ovingham-on-Tyne on Dec. 24th, 1884. He was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, Perthshire, and at Jesus College, Cambridge. He succeeded his father in the Park End, Cumberland, and other estates in 1904. He married in 1907, Daphne, daughter of the late Mr Calverley-Bewicke, at Close House, Wylam, and is survived by the widow and three daughters. He obtained his captaincy in the Northumberland Hussars in Oct. 1914, and went out immediately with the regiment. Capt. Ridley was well-known in the hunting field, having been a member of the Tynedale and Haydon hunts.
We regret to announce the death of Sergt. F. Swinney, of the 14th Northumberland Fusiliers, while taking part in the attack on Hill 70 on September 27th, he had his left knee shattered by shrapnel. On being removed to the Base Field Hospital at Rouen, France, he was operated on, and wrote home in very hopeful spirits, but, unfortunately, another operation had been deemed necessary, and from this he never rallied, and passed away on the 5th October. He leaves a widow and child, and will be remembered as the son of Hannah and the late William Swinney, of this town. Four years ago he took up his residence in Newcastle, being engaged as a pattern maker at Messrs Hawthorn and Leslie’s works, St. Peter’s. He took an active and practical interest in the work of the Brown Memorial U.M. Church, and was associated with both the Works and Chapel Choirs, and ungrudgingly gave his services to many associations in the district by which he will be greatly missed and deeply mourned.