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 weather has been too changeable of late to predict with any degree of certainty what the atmospheric conditions will be over Christmas. No matter what the weather is like there is one thing certain — that Christmas Day, which falls tomorrow, will be celebrated in a manner which will be in keeping with the times in which we live.
Since last Christmas Day a big toll has been made on the lives of the manhood of our nation, but those who mourn for the loss of loved ones have the consolation of knowing that their departed fell doing their duty in defence of the Empire, and for those national ideals so dear to us all.
It is a good thing in these days of stress and strife that there comes a season when kindly greeting and goodwill can be exchanged. The time has come, and we hope that the crowning festival of the year will be one of peace and comparative gladness in the homes. We wish all our readers “A Merry Christmas.”
THE GALLANT PIPER OF LOOS
A splendid reception was accorded to the North Country hero, Piper Daniel Laidlaw, V.C., of the 7th King’s Own Scottish Borders, at Morpeth, last Friday.
Piper Laidlaw, who had come direct from the hospital at Warrington, was met at the Central Station, Newcastle, by his brother-in-law, Mr Joshua Harvie, an official at the County Asylum, Morpeth. There was also present the ex-Mayor of Morpeth (Mr T.W. Charlton) and Councillor J.R. Temple of Morpeth. The gallant piper did not reach Morpeth until 1.15 in the afternoon, the train being over half an hour behind the scheduled time. He was met on the platform by the Mayor (Alderman Ed. Norman). He received a rousing welcome from the military and civilians on the platform.
A processions was formed at the station entrance, Piper Laidlaw being seated in a motor car by the side of the Mayor. There were also in the car the piper’s brother-in-law (Mr J. Harvie) and Mrs Harvie. Headed by the band of the 6th Northumberland Fusiliers, the procession wended its way through the streets to the Market Place. En route the gallant piper was received with much cheering.
On arrival at the Market Place Piper Laidlaw was heartily cheered by the crowd of soldiers and townspeople who had gathered for the purpose of welcoming him. The Mayor was supported by several of his colleagues, namely Alderman Carr, Councillors Geo. Jackson, J.H. Simpson, Jas. Elliott, R.N. Swinney, and J.R. Temple, also Mr Jas. Jardin (Town Clerk).
Piper Laidlaw was looking remarkably well, considering his trying experience at Loos. He carried with him the pipes he played in action. The circumstances under which he won the coveted decoration are thus described: “With absolute coolness and disregard of danger he mounted the parapet marched up and down, and played his company out of the trench. The effect of his splendid example was immediate and his company dashed out to the assault.”
The Mayor, in an address, said it was his privilege to welcome into their midst one of their heroes, and was sure they all felt privileged in having a visit, however brief, from Piper Laidlaw. They were all aware of what he had accomplished on the field of battle, and they honoured him for his bravery. He would like to say that every man who went out to face the enemy was a hero.
He was pleased Morpeth was taking such a prominent place in the war. Morpeth was represented by lads in almost every regiment and in almost every ship. They had their D.C.M. heroes and they were proud of them.
He was sorry to have to relate that he noticed recorded in the “Morpeth Herald” the death of one of their D.C.M.’s, who had died in hospital. He was sure that their heartfelt sympathy would go out to Mr Bullock, ex-schoolmaster of St James’s, Morpeth. They were all proud that his son had so distinguished himself before he passed away.
“We are here,” proceeded the Mayor, “to congratulate the gallant piper who has paid us a visit. He is a hero who did the right thing at the right time. He had the good fortune and the right spirit — that spirit of inspiration — to inspire men by the music of his pipes. When he mounted the parapet and played that soul-stirring tune the men in the trenches were ready to follow and do their duty, and they did it nobly and well. (Applause.)
“We have heroes going away from Morpeth every week, ready to face the enemy. I would say to you all assembled be kind to the soldiers lads in our midst. Do your best for them, for we cannot do too much for them. They have shown us how to act the manly part.” (Applause.)
The Mayor them shook hands with the hero, amid the further cheering of the crowd.
Piper Laidlaw, in acknowledging the welcome, thanked the Mayor for his kindly words and the people of Morpeth for their hearty reception. He was pleased to be among them, and he hoped before long to see a lot more North Country lads at the front to assist them in driving back the Huns. (Applause.)
The interesting ceremony ended, the gallant piper drove off in the motor car to his brother-in-law’s house, where he stayed overnight. He left the town on Saturday by the 12.37 train for Wooler in order to spend his ten days’ leave with his wife and family at Doddington.
As soon as it became know that Piper Laidlaw was going to visit Morpeth, the management of the Playhouse engaged his services for both “houses” on Friday night.
At the first performance the seating accommodation of the building was taxed to the uttermost, and a popular reception awaited the hero. When he appeared on the stage it was the signal for the greatest enthusiasm. The gallant piper played with fine effect several stirring tunes which, needless to say, delighted his hearers beyond measure. At the second performance, the reception given him was of the same hearty description and he was cheered.
The same evening Piper Laidlaw had a great ovation at the Soldiers’ Institute, Morpeth, where he played at a concert which was in progress.
Only a few of his more intimate friends were present at Alnwick Railway Station on Saturday afternoon to welcome Piper Laidlaw when he arrived accompanied by Mr Jos. Harvie, his brother-in-law. He was met my his father and mother, who greeted him most affectionately. His brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mr and Mrs C. Goodman and their family, and Mrs Maddison, were also present, as were Councillor John Armstrong, Mr John Edie, Mr Watson, and others, who warmly congratulated the hero.
MORPETH CHURCH INSTITUTE
The annual meeting of the members of St James’ Church Institute, Morpeth, was held last week under the chairmanship of the Rector (Cannon Davies).
The hon. secretary, Mr W. Armstrong, presented his annual report, which read as follows:— ”You all know that owing to the war our membership is depleted, and, as fas as I can ascertain, there are over forty of our members serving their King and country at the present moment.
“Since our last annual meeting, I regret to say that some of our active members have fallen in battle, but they still live with us as heroes of the Empire. May we always treasure their memories and think of the good they did in connection with this institute.
“It has been a quiet and uneventful year as regards lectures, debates, and musical evenings. We have had a few small whist drives in the institute, which were fairly well attended. The institute still caters in the way of making provision for writing and recreation for the soldiers stationed in the town, and through the kindness of Mr J. Nicholson the institute is opened earlier for their benefit. I am glad to state that a goodly number avail themselves of the use of these rooms.
“We have during the year had to reduce our committee to 12 for the better working of the institute, owing to the shortage of men who were able to take duty. However, on the whole, we have managed that part fairly well so far, but I am afraid, under Lord Derby’s scheme, we will find it extremely difficult in the near future to get duty men. In conclusion, I beg to thank the committee for their services under the circumstances.”
Mr R.T. Carman proposed, and Mr J. Wastle seconded, the adoption of the report, which was agreed to.
Mr S. Wood gave his financial statement as follows:— Receipts for the year, £28 14s. 7d.; balance from 1914, £34 4s. 5½d; total £62 19s. 0½d. Expenditure for the year amounted to £40 11s., leaving a balance of £22 8s. 0½d. to the credit of the institute.
The Rev. F.C. Hardy in moving the adoption of the financial statement, said the institute was to be congratulated on the statement of affairs, considering the strenuous times through which they were passing. Mr J. Smail seconded the motion, which was carried.
Another institution in the town — the Young Men’s Christian Association — has accomplished much good work during the past year. Since the soldiers were stationed in the town the rooms of the Association have been placed at their disposal, and, as in the case of the Soldiers’ Institute, healthy and wholesome recreation is provided for the men.
The attendance daily amply demonstrates how much the soldiers appreciate the place to send their leisure hours.
HONOUR FOR LOCAL MEN
For gallant service in France, Staff-Sergt. W.R.A. Boden has been awarded the D.S.M. The gallant officer is a son-in-law of Mr Charles Alderson, solicitor, Morpeth and Blyth.
Ernest Arkless, the 19-year-old son of the Rev. Mr Arkless, vicar of Earsdon, has been gazetted Second-Lieut, in the Duke of Wellington’s Own Regiment.
To most people who have to find their way through the streets on these dark nights, a flash-light proved a very handy companion. These useful bull’s-eyes light one’s path around many a dangerous corner and avert many a nasty collision between pedestrians.
While they answer a very useful purpose in the hands of most people, they are nothing short of a nuisance in the hands of some when they are flashed in the face of a passerby. Those who have experienced this sort of thing know the great annoyance that it occasions to the person “flashed.”
Now that a number of shaded lights have been permitted in the main thoroughfare in Morpeth, people can walk about with greater comfort and less risk than hitherto.
COMFORTS FOR OUR SOLDIERS AND SAILORS
During the past three months the children of St James’ (Mixed) School have resumed their contributions towards providing comforts for the soldiers and sailors. The sum of £3 0s. 6d. has been raised, and expense on wool, which has been knitted into socks, etc., by the girls, writing tablets and postage stamps for the wounded.
By this means 23 pairs of sicks, 19 pairs of mitts, 8 pairs of bed socks, and 2 pairs of cuffs have been divided between the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers and the 1st General Hospital. In addition to the above the sum of 13/9 was sent by the scholars to the Overseas Club Christmas Fund for Soldiers and Sailors.
VEGETABLES FOR THE NAVY
The people of Broomhill, Red Row, and Chevington Drift have for the past few months been carrying on a great work in sending fresh vegetables to the Navy. It is worked in conjunction with the Vegetable Products Society, which has its headquarters in London.
It is highly gratifying to know that since the formation of the Broomhill branch nearly four tons of vegetables have been sent to the Navy from Broomhill. These of course have been collected throughout the district.
An appeal is now being made to those in the district who have not already subscribed to this worthy object to contribute any kind of vegetables, such as turnip, cabbages, etc. A postcard to the hon. secetary of the Broomhill branch, Mr Oliver Young of 26, Hedgehope Terrace, Chevington Drift, will have immediate attention.
THE SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE, MORPETH
A most enjoyable concert, arranged by Councillor R.N. Swinney, was given in the Soldiers’ Institute last Friday evening, when the contributors to the programme were the pupils of Morpeth Council Girls’ School.
There was a very large and appreciative audience. Councillor Swinney, who presides, referred to the fact that Piper Laidlaw, who had won the Victroia Cross for heroic conduct at the battle of Loos, would appear and play a few stirring airs. (App.) The Mayor (Ald. Ed. Norman) also addressed the soldiers, and said how readily Piper Laidlaw had consented to come there that night when asked by Councillor Swinney in the afternoon.
Piper Laidlaw, who had a splendid ovation, played several tunes to the evident delight of all. At the close the soldiers gave three rousing cheers for the gallant piper and his comrades-in-arms in France.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Private R.H. Collins, 14th Northumberland Fusiliers, of New Hartley, is reported killed.
Sergt. J. Sampson, Northumberland Fusiliers, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, has died of wounds.
Sapper O’Niel, R.E., of Bower Street, Blyth, has been wounded, and is now in hospital at Sheffield.
Private J.R. Scott, Northumberland Fusiliers, of Newsham, is reported wounded.
Sergt. C. Ellis, East Yorks, who belongs to New Delaval, has died of wounds.
Driver James Reed, R.F.A., son of Mr and Mrs C. Reed, West Sleekburn Colliery, has been killed in action.
Lance-Corporal Thomas Smith, son of Mr and Mrs M. Smith, late of Ariel Street, Hirst, has been killed in action.
Edward Richardson, A.B., Hawke Battalion R.N.D., eldest son of Mr and Mrs J. Richardson of Choppington, has died of wounds.
Mr and Mrs John Wanless, of 4 Low Double Row, North Seaton, will be pleased to receive any information concerning their son, Private J.W. Wanless, 10687, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, who is reported missing.
Mr and Mrs Wm. Newton, of Cross Row, West Cramlington, have been informed that their son, Private W. Newton, who has been serving with the Essex Regiment in the Dardanelles, is in Cardiff Hospital suffering from dysentery.
News has been received by his relatives at Alnwick, that Private John Dixon, 8th Northumberland Fusiliers, has died in hospital at Alexandria. Private Dixon, who was the youngest son of the late Mr Thos. Dixon. Clayport, Alnwick, enlisted into the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, and served for seven years in India. Called up at the outbreak of the present war, he went through several battles in France, and was wounded. He was then sent out with the 8th Northumberland Fusiliers to the Dardanelles, where his death has occurred.
ROLL OF HONOUR
HOPKINS.— At the General Hospital, Alexandria, on the 17th inst., of pneumonia, in his 26th year, Private William Hopkins, 6th East Yorks, of Bedlington. Deeply mourned by his mother, sisters, brothers, and brothers-in-law.
REED.— Killed in action, Belgium, December 4th, in his 21st year, Driver James Reed, R.F.A., the youngest son of Charles and Alice Reed, of West Sleekburn Colliery. Deeply mourned.
HALL.— Killed in action in France, October, 4th, aged 33, Private John William Hall, 17194, 2nd N.F., dearly-beloved son of Mr and Mrs John Hall, 3 Palmer’s Terrace, Ferney Beds, Widdrington.
FERGUSON.— Word has been received from the War Office that 15545, Private John Ferguson, 2nd Royal Fusiliers, died in the 15th Stationary Hospital, Mudros, Dardanelles, suffering from pneumonia, on December 8th, 1915, aged 23 years, youngest son of the late James and Annie Ferguson, of Stobswood Colliery (late of Amble). On whose soul, Sweet Jesus, have mercy.—R.I.P.
CHRISTMAS PUDDING FOR TOMMY
We have pleasure in recording today the success of the Army Christmas Pudding Fund which was initiated by “The Daily News” and to which our own readers have so generously contributed.
The full demands of the War Office have been met, and enough pudding has been sent to the front for all the armies in the Western expedition (France and Flanders and the Mediterranean forces (Dardanelles, Salonica, Egypt, Gibraltar, and Malta). There remains a small surplus, which is being devoted to the wounded.
The total amount of the fund is some £26,000, which represents at least half a million households of every rank of life. His Majesty the King himself subscribed £25.
The War Office has given its most benevolent assistance to the fund, superintending closely the manufacture of the puddings, which were packed in 8lb tins (each tin supplying 16 men), and conveying the puddings free of charge from the makers to the front.
Many scores of tons of tinplate were used for many hundreds of tons of pudding. A special steamer took the puddings to France and the precious cargo was fully insured.
WARM COMFORTS FOR THE SOLDIERS
Feminine fingers are busy making shirts and other comforts for wounded soldiers back from the front and for those in hospitals abroad, and knitting needles and crochet hooks are very active. Never has knitting received such an impetus as since the beginning of the war, and never before have women worked more earnestly at the making of scarves and belts and mittens and so on for men-folk.
Those who are not very clever at knitting or crochet work are using their sewing needles to advantage, and providing convalescents with shirts and dressing gowns, etc., made of nice, soft flannel, of an unshrinkable kind, of course, of other woollen material quite soft to the touch. For dressing-gowns, fluffy woollens, like Pyrenees, and a stout quality of cloth are excellent; while for pyjamas and shorts, grey or striped flannel may be suggested, and there is a very charming choice of these flannels for those in quest of them, stripes of all desirable sizes being offered in the new patterns, which include blue and white and pink and white stripes and medleys of grey.
On Christmas Day a football match will take place in the Stobhill field, near Morpeth railway station, between the Conservative Club and the R.A.M.C. The proceeds are to be given in aid of the Morpeth V.A.D. Hospital.
BLYTH PRIMROSE LEAGUE’S GIFT TO SOLDIERS
Blyth Primrose League members have despatched 85 parcels to sons and brothers of members serving with the Forces.
Mr T.C. Blackburn, secretary, has received some very touching letters of thanks from the recipients.
SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE, MORPETH
We wish to acknowledge with thanks the following donations:— Mr C. Bainbridge, £5 5s.; Mr F. Heron, £1 1s.; Mrs C. Taylor, £1 1s.; A. Friend, £1; Mr R. Lockey, 10s. 6d.; Mr T. Gillespie, £1 1s. —Thomas B. Waters, secretary; Ralph Crawford, treasurer.
WINTER QUARTERS FOR SOLDIERS AT BLYTH
The new quarters of the Missions to Seamen, Blyth, were formally opened in the Central Hall Buildings, where a fine institute has been provided, giving excellent accommodation, facilities being provided for recreations of various kinds, including billiards and other games, reading, writing, and music. The fitting out has cost over £100.
THE DELAVAL TIMBER CASE
Blyth magistrates had unique important issues to try on Tuesday, when Mr Ornsby, agent of the Seaton Delaval Collieries, and Mr Tweddle, the manager, were charged with a violation of the Mines Act by not having sufficient timber in portion of the Relief Pit on three separate days.
There was some trouble in September, and the pit was laid idle a day by the workmen. Information according to the evidence of Mr Poole, assistant mines inspector, was supplied him. In consequence he visited the pit, with the result that the proceedings were instituted by the Home Office. The agent of the company was not held responsible and dismissed, but his under official, the manager, was fined £10.
It is a most regrettable case. The Seaton Delaval Coal Company have long been noted for efficiency in such matters, but the closing of the over-seas timber trade for a period put the management in temporary difficulty for timber, and as the company was supplying coal to the Admiralty and France, pressure was being put on by the Government for the maintenance of the output, and if blame was attributable to any cause it was due to zeal to comply with the needs of the Government and the nation.
There was no accident, and the deputies reported that the places were safe although the shortage of timber was frankly set forth in those reports, and efforts were made to get timber from the surface and also by drawing from disused places.
Mr Wilson, H.M. Inspector, declared in evidence that the agent was undoubtedly responsible in the case, but Mr Clark, who conducted the prosecution, admitted that Mr Ornsby had done all that was possible to get timber, an admission which Mr Holmes made the most of in Mr Ornsby’s defence, and succeeded in convincing the magistrates that Mr Ornsby was placed in a “cruel position” and entitled to a dismissal.
The manager, Mr Tweddle, was not so fortunate. He admitted that he had not complied with the law in not having supplied Mr Orsnby with a written statement as to the position underground, but mentioned that he was in frequent touch with Mr Ornsby at the office, and had not consequently handed to him written communication. He was fined £10. Rather a cruel position for the manager to have a conviction recorded against him under the circumstances, when the agent was absolved from blame by the Bench.
Private E.D. Soulsby, from the Artists’ Rifles, O.T.C., has been gazetted 2nd liet. in the 3/5th Manchester Regiment.
The Press Association is officially informed that the following list of reserved occupations is supplementary to that published on November 29th. A further list is being prepared by the Committee on Reserved Occupations now sitting at Gwydyr House, Whitehall:—
Carpet Manufacture. — Departmental managers, foremen and overlookers, wool sorters, timers and tacklers, fettlers or jobbers, card grinders, sizers.
Rope manufacture. — Foremen, rope formers and layers, framemen, warpers and winders, tarrers, reelers.
Bleaching dyeing, calico printing, and textile finishing trades. — Departmental managers, foremen or overlookers, calender-men, manglers and stiffeners, beetlers, driers, and stovers, millers and scourers, engravers, machine printers, packers (pressers only).
Hoisery finishing trade. — Foremen or overlookers, bleachers, millers and scourers.
Wholesale clothing manufacture (heavy). — Departmental managers, foremen, band knife cutters, pattern cutters.
Wholesale shirt and brace manufacture. — Departmental managers, foremen, cutters, and choppers.
Paper manufacture. — Potshormen, beatermen, paper machinemen, back ton–ters on paper machines, calender men, reelor men, cutter men, head rag boilers.
Brush manufacture. — Foremen, hair sorters, borors, finishers.
Hide and skin markets, and skin and bone factories. — Departmental managers hide and skin classers.
Margarine manufacture. — Foremen, churnmen, blenders, kneaders.
Preparation of edible oils and fats. — Foremen, pressmen, oil refiners, coopers.
Wholesale meat trade. — Slaughtermen, head salesmen, meat porters.
Cold Stores. — Superintendents and foreman, porters or warehousemen.
Retail butchers’ shops. — Proprietors or manager, slaughtermen.
Food preserving trades. — Bacon curing, departmental managers, foremen or gangers, slaughtermen and cutters, curers, salters or cellarmen, stovemen or driers, ham and bacon testers.
Other preserved meat. — Fruit and vegetables: Buyers, foremen, packers.
Fish curing. — Foremen, smokers or curers.
Grocery and Provision trade. — Wholesale departmental managers, buyers, foremen, head warehouseman, hoist men and loaders, stovemen and driers. Departmental stores: Departmental managers (meat, grocery and provisions). Other grocery and provision shops normally employing two or more assistants. (Cases of smallers hops to be dealt with individually by the local tribunal, in view of the varying circumstances of the proprietor and of the district). Proprietor or manager, buyer for multiple shops at headquarters.
Chemists. — Analytical, consulting and research chemists (not to be accepted for immediate enlistment or called up for service with the colours without the consent of the Royal Society in each case).
Chemical laboratories. — Head laboratory attendants. Coal depots or wharves. — Depot or wharf manager, porters, and loaders, trimmers and tippers, carmen.
Licensed pilots, officers, and crews of vessels belonging to the general light-house authorities (not to be accepted for immediate enlistment or called up for service with the colours without the consent of the authority by whom they are licensed or employed.
Carters, lorrymen and draymen (horse or power) not engaged in delivering to private houses. (This reservation is an addition to the classes of carters, lorrymen and draymen reserved under specified trades).
Clerks in industrial establishments. — In most industries there are certain clerks who are indispensable on account of their technical knowledge, their intimate acquaintance with their employer’s business, or the managerial and directly character of their work. It is impossible to separate these men by classification from other clerks who can be replaced, as the distinction depends upon the circumstances of the individual case rather than upon the description of the occupation. Needful exemptions must therefore be left to the local tribunals, after consideration of each case on its merits.