In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1916, 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.
A public meeting was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, on Wednesday night last to discuss the question of postponing the Whitsuntide and Morpeth annual holidays. Among those present were the Mayor (Ald. Ed. Norman), chairman, supported by Councillors R.N. Swinney, Geo. Jackson, Jas. H. Simpson, and Jas. Elliott.
The Mayor, in opening the proceedings said:— Before we proceed to our regular business, I should like to say a few words upon the regrettable loss this nation has sustained during the last few days by the sad drowning of Lord Kitchener, and we Morpethians, along with our fellow countrymen, feel the loss of that great man, in whom all had confidence.
It is not until he is gone that we can fully appreciate the work that he has accomplished for us. Not until now can we realise the hold he had upon the world — upon our Allies, and also upon the neutral powers. The Mayor then asked the gathering to express their sorrow by a standing vote, which was given.
The Mayor then stated that he had called the meeting to make arrangements whether or not there should be any Whitsuntide holidays. It had not been until after the Easter holidays that the Government has found out what a serious effect it has on the output of munitions. As they did not want a repetition of that again, the Government had advised the country not to take a holiday until further on in the year, at a more favourable time.
If the matter was considered in the proper light, why should people take holidays when the boys in the trenches were working every day without any break? The collieries and munition workers were not going to take the holidays; why should tradespeople take it? He (the Mayor) hoped that Morpeth would not be behind the example shown by other towns.
Mr E.D. Soulsby suggested that the meeting take into consideration at the same time Morpeth annual holidays.
The Mayor remarked that he hoped they would.
Mr Franks suggested that a day extra holiday be taken at August Bank Holiday and that the Morpeth annual holiday be taken in September if things were favourable.
Councillor Elliott thought that a very good idea, but he suggested that Morpeth annual holiday be on a Monday instead of on a Thursday, as it allowed people to have a long weekend.
Councillor R.N. Swinney quite agreed with what Councillor Elliott had suggested. From experience he had found it an unwise policy having a holiday on a Thursday. Men generally thought it was hardly worth while going to work on a Friday and the half-day on the Saturday. His firm had been requested to work during the holidays, and it was not fair that tradespeople should close their shops and others working as usual. He thought it would be a good plan to postpone the holidays until August, and if circumstances permitted, then to take an extra day to compensate the loss of Whitsuntide holiday.
Mr E. Soulsby proposed that the Whitsuntide holiday and Morpeth annual holiday be postponed until further on in the year. Councillor Swinney said he had much pleasure in seconding the motion, which was carried unanimously.
Mr Jobson then proposed that an extra day be taken at August Bank Holiday, and that Morpeth annual holiday be fixed for the first Thursday in September, subject to a further postponement if circumstances were not favourable. This motion was seconded by Councillor Jackson and carried unanimously.
At the close of the meeting, Ald. Hood proposed a vote of thanks to the Mayor for the efficient manner in which he had discharged the duties of chairman. This was seconded by Mr P. Kelly, and carried.
Sir— On behalf of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the 17th Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, I with to express, through the medium of your paper, my appreciation of the many kindnesses shown to them during the time they have been stationed at Morpeth, i.e. since last August, the recollection of which kindnesses will, I am sure, be a source of great pleasure in years to come.— Yours, etc.,
D.C. LEPLAND ORTON,
Lieut-Colonel, R.A.M.C. (T.), Commanding 17th Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, Woodhorn Camp, 8th June, 1916.
1ST MORPETH COMPANY, THE BOYS’ BRIGADE
The last day of May saw the close of the 21st year of the above company, but owing to the war, the event was not marked by any special festivities, as the Officers decided to postpone the “Coming of Age” celebration till a more suitable occasion.
In spite of so many officers and senior boys being away on military duties, the full routine of work was kept up all the session, and the keenness of the boys is shown in a marked manner by the record number of badges and certificates which have been gained. The qualifications for the various awards are such as are well calculated to have a lasting effect for good upon the character of the boys; continuous effort upon the part of each recipient being a requisite condition (in addition to proficiency) in each subject.
It has been a great pleasure during the year to receive so many cheery letters from the boys on active service, and to note their numerous promotions, and especially to know that so many of them acknowledge the great help their B.B. training has been to them, and also to welcome so many at our Drill or Bible Class meetings when they have been home on leave.
The Company is proud of its 184 members who voluntarily responded to their Country’s Call. It is proud of its “D.C.M.” won by Pte. George Burrell of the 7th N.F., an old Boy; proud of its 8 officers on service, and of its 7 Boys who have gained commissions from the ranks of our army. It is also proud of its 11 members who have laid down their lives for their country. Their memory will ever live in our history, and their example be reverenced.
At home, the company has ended the year with 120 officers and boys on the roll. There have been 28 drills and 35 Bible class meetings held, at which the average attendance has been 101 and 107 respectively.
In spite of continually losing members on reaching the military age, the Bands have been kept up exceedingly well. Forty of the recruits who joined at the beginning of the Session have remained in the Company — this is only 2 less than our highest record. The work of carrying on the drill has been most difficult as we had to drill in three separate places at once, and could never have the whole Company together for drill purposes owing to lack of accommodation. How we yearn for a suitable drill hall of our own! What may we not achieve when we get one?
During the session, 20 members were confirmed at St James’ Church, and the Company has contributed the sum of £4 10/- to missionary and charitable institutions.
MORPETH RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Rural District Council was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.
The Clerk reported that Mr Adams, the surveyor, and Mr Smith, roadman, had been called up for military service on June 13th. The committee recommended that the Council support the application for these two men and the engine driver Kinghorn to be exempted from military service.— The recommendation was carried.
The Chairman in feeling terms referred to the tragic death of Lord Kitchener, and moved that a letter be sent from that council to the King, expressing their sympathy at the great loss His Majesty and the country had sustained by the death of Lord Kitchener.— The motion was carried in silence.
THE NAVAL BATTLE
Until the news spread of the tragic fate that had befallen Lord Kitchener and his staff at sea all interest was focussed on the naval battle which took place off Jutland.
Every word bearing on the all important topic was read with great avidity, and all the accounts that have come to hand regarding the Fleet’s doings on that memorable occasion testify eloquently to the fact that the British Navy has maintained the glorious traditions of the past and again amply justified its claim to be “Mistress of the Seas.”
Whilst we all deeply deplore the loss of so many valuable lives, for, after all, ships can be replaced, we know that the officers and men of the Fleet fought courageously to the end — and won. In its latest achievement the Navy has covered itself with imperishable glory, and we must all feel grateful to the gallant men who man our ships of war, and who have kept this island of hours free from an unscrupulous enemy.
A GREAT SOLDIER
The news of the death of Lord Kitchener, which was published broadcast on Tuesday, created profound consternation and grief throughout the British Empire. It was felt by even the man in the street that England had lost its greatest soldier and military organiser. He was a man of wonderful genius, ability and industry, and in the present war all these qualities have been brought prominently to the front.
When he organised what is now known as Kitchener’s Army, he crowned all his previous triumphs in military organisations. Only a man of his extraordinary powers could have accomplished the task which he set himself to do with such magnificent results.
His loss is a heavy blow to the nation in this, its hour of trial. He was a great chief in the true military sense of the word, and when the history of the great war comes to be written his name will be writ large in its pages.
NO HOLIDAY AT PITS
The pits have come into line with other industries respecting the postponement of the Whitsuntide holiday.
The decision to work next Monday was arrived at on Monday at a meeting of the Northumberland Miners’ Association and the Coalowners’ Association, presided over by Mr Tom Taylor. The following resolution was adopted by the joint meeting:—
That the collieries shall be open for work on Monday, the 12th inst., and the Miners’ Committee will use all possible endeavours to secure the attendance of the workmen at all the mines on that day. Payment for working on the day named will be, in addition to the ordinary wage, a sum of 1s for each person of 16 years and under, and 2s for each person over that age; these figures not to be subject to any addition of county percentage. The holiday to be at such future time as may hereafter be arranged.
With respect to the other classes of workmen at the mines, it is intended that all who work on Whit Monday should be entitled to the ordinary overtime rates in accordance with county arrangements; in the case of any workman for whom there are no such overtime rates fixed then the extra sums arranged with the miners in the above resolution are to apply.
SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ HELP SOCIETY
The secretary of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society (Major A. Tudor Craig), with headquarters at Brompton Road, London, has sent the following communication to Ald. Ed. Norman (Mayor of Morpeth):—
”I am desired by the committee to express to you their grateful thanks for so kindly sending cheque value £79 10s, being proceeds of flag day and sale of work held in Morpeth on May 3rd for the benefit of the ‘Lord Roberts’ Memorial Fund.’”
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH
Sir,— May I appeal through your columns for voluntary cooks for the Red Cross Hospital?
Since the outbreak of war the whole of the cooking for the patients and the staff has been done by members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, but for various causes the services of some of them are no longer available, consequently the work falls heavily on a few.
I cannot help feeling that there must be in Morpeth some who, if they knew of the want, would gladly welcome this opportunity of being of service to their country. I shall be glad to give further information to anyone willing to help.— Yours etc.,
Quartermaster V.A.D., Red Cross Hospital
ROLL OF HONOUR
WATSON— Pte. George Watson, 2nd Border Regiment, killed in action in Belgium, youngest son of the late William and Sarah Watson, of Dogger Bank, Morpeth.— Ever remembered by his loving sister and brother, Mr and Mrs Murray, 35 Albert Street, Amble.
Mrs O’Neil, of Quarry Row, Wideopen, has been officially notified that her husband, Private E. O’Neil, of the Royal Scott Fusiliers, has been killed in action.
WAR AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE
Lord Armstrong presided at a meeting of the Northumberland War Agricultural Committee on Monday. The petrol question was again discussed, and the secretary (Mr C. Williams) read correspondence from Mr Blenkinsopp, of Ross Farm, Belford, on the matter.
Mr Blenkinsopp said he had followed their advice, and now possessed a motor, but he had not yet got a single turnip in as he could not get petrol.
One member said that more spirit was now available and he advised farmers who had petrol engines not to despair, but to continue to ask for petrol from their dealers.
It was shown that the organisation of helpers was now complete, thanks to the enthusiasm of Mrs J.C. Straker. Wardens had been appointed in rural and urban districts with 150 sub-wardens.
At Hexham a group of ten inexperienced women cleaned about 18 acres of corn on Thursday last, and the farmer was so well satisfied with their work that he had requested the warden to arrange for helpers to clean the whole of his corn land.
A letter was read from the headquarters of the Northern Command to the effect that applications for assistance on farms would be dealt with and soldiers would be placed at the disposal of farmers for short periods where labour was essential. A soldier would not be released for more than four consecutive weeks.
Mr Robert Thornton moved that the attention of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries should be called to the scarcity of agricultural labour and of its bearing on the food supply, and to the action of local tribunals in sending men to military service who are necessary on the farms. Already beef, walking on its legs, was worth 1/3½ a pound, and if they were not given the men to look after the cattle the price of beef must go higher. He wanted to stay the hands of the tribunals which has been recklessly sending men from the farms to active service.
Mr Temperley said that he believed the military representatives were now alive to the importance of retaining farm labour.
Mr Thornton withdrew his motion and moved that the committee should nominate members to appear before the tribunals, under the auspices of the Board of Agriculture.
The basis suggested at a York Conference, said Mr Temperley, was one man to each team of horses, one man to every fifty store cattle, one man to every 200 sheep, exclusive of lambs, and one man with women assistance to 20 milk cows, or one man without assistance to every 12 cows.
In the end it was decided to rescind a former decision not to appoint agricultural representatives, and that local committees should nominate representatives whose names would be submitted to the Board of Agriculture as suitable members to sit on local tribunals.
MORPETH AUCTION MART
In aid of the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund, the committee of the Philipson Farm Colony, Stannington, kindly fowarded two donkeys to be sold at the Morpeth Auction Mart on Monday. The realised £16 10s, and are again to be sold next mart day.
The buyers were as follows:— Messrs Hunter, Outchester, £1; Hunter, Middleton Grange, £1; Stephenson, Lemmington Hill Head, £1; Scott, Belford Moor, £1; Younger, Hepscott Manor, £1 10s; Ross Bros., Scremerston, £1; Brown, Chester Hill, £1; Humphrey, East Burton, £1; Walton, North Trewick, £1; Mr Carr, Grindon, £1; Mr Younger, Burradon, £1; Atkin, Farm Colony, 10s; Fail, Hepscott, 10s; Moffet, Hoppen, 10s; Ashby, Blyth, 10s; Robson, Earsdon Moor 10s; Downie, Whitley Bay, 10s; Clark, Hedley Wood, 10s; Lawson, North Shields, 10s; Turnbull, Blyth,10s; Richardson, Brinkburn Hope,10s, Dormand, Wallsend, 5s; White, West Moor, 5s.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH
The Commandant of the Red Cross Hospital wishes to give thanks for the following gifts:— Miss Hopper, Mrs Cecil Percival, Miss Moore, Misses Florrie, Ella, and Megan Meynell, eggs; Miss MacDowall and Mrs J Simpson, cakes; Major Cookson, Mrs Coble, Girls at the High School, Mrs Craver, Miss Moore, Mr MacDowall, and Anonymous, flowers, fruit, and vegetables; Mrs Harvey, milk; Miss Jennings, electric lamp; Miss Wallace, cigarettes; Mrs Creighton, old linen; Colonel Verdin, books.
We should be grateful for the loan of a large cupboard.
Mr W. Straker, secretary of the Northumberland Miners’ Association, on Tuesday afternoon, sent the following telegram of sympathy to the Prime Minister on the reported death of Lord Kitchener:—
“Northumberland Miners’ Association’s Committee profoundly regret the almost irreparable loss the country and you have sustained by the death of Lord Kitchener, and the committee instruct me to assure you of the deepest sympathy of the whole membership of this association.— Straker.”