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.
In referring to the death of this another of our soldier townsmen who have laid down their lives for their country, the Rev. J. Miller, of the Congregational Church, Morpeth, spoke to his congregation on Sunday morning, the 10th inst., in the following terms:—
“We keep adding names to the Roll of Honour, for our men-folk are ‘joining up’ one after another, and I am exceedingly sorry to say that the list of those associated with us and have fallen in battle continues to grow. I learnt during the past week that George Blackhall was killed in action on July 14th. It is a comparatively long time since then, but when the sad news reached those who are left to mourn his loss I had just gone away for a month, which period brought us almost up to the present. Hence my previous silence respecting this matter.
“It was not my pleasure to meet my late brother, but from letters he wrote to me and to others, and from what his comrades have said of him, I have been able to form an estimate of his character. Several of such letters are very interesting, and citations from one or two will not be out of place here.
“A comrade of George Blackhall’s, both before and since the war began, writing on August 2nd to express sympathy with Mrs Blackhall and her three children, speaks very highly of his late companion, mentioning the fact that his death was instantaneous and consequently painless. The writer also felt that he had lost a brother with whom it was always a pleasure to consort, and who was a source of inspiration and help in danger and out of it. He was greatly respected by everyone in the unit who knew him and he gave his life for king and country.
“Private Blackhall’s letter written in answer to my first to him, is full of appreciation and thankfulness for what he called our kindness in remembering and cheering the ‘boys’ who were doing their utmost in a noble cause. He was very pleased to have his name on our Roll of Honour, and he joined us in prayer; he looked forward to a glorious victory and the home-coming, and everything in his thought and action had relation to his wife and children, now a widow and fatherless, and to the maintenance of justice and righteousness.
“George Blackhall has not come home to us; he has gone to be with God to Whom he addressed his petitions and commended his loved ones. With him all is well; but the loss of those who miss him most (and I may say that his little daughter of four years shares the bereavement) is very great and their lot very sad, especially as his son George, 13 years of age, who has been in hospital ten months, is not yet well.
“They are bearing their burden bravely, and our hearts go out to them in dearest sympathy, and our united prayers are that they may be sustained in the days to come. May God richly bless them in their great trial, and as they have given all they possibly could, even the husband and father, may they prove that our blessed Lord neither leaves nor forsakes any who put their trust in Him.”
Private Blackhall enlisted on September 14th, 1914, and went to France on September 8th, 1915, where he served in the Transport Section of the 14th Northumberland Fusiliers until the time of his being killed. He was much respected by all who knew him, and we bespeak the sympathy of all our readers for Mrs Blackhall and family in their sad bereavement.
SECOND LIEUT. HIGH CLARKSON ANNETT
Second-Lieut. Hugh Clarkson Annett, D.L.I., was killed in action on September 16th.
Lieut. Annett was the second son of the late Mr Henry Annett of Widdrington, who was well known in agricultural circles, the family having farmed in Widdrington and neighbourhood for nearly 400 years. The name of Annett is a household word among the agricultural community in the North.
Lieutenant Annett was educated at Guisborough Grammar School, and became a graduate of Durham University. He took his degree of Bachelor of Science in mining at Armstrong College. He then became an articled pupil to Professor Merivale at the Broomhill Collieries, where he received his practical training in mining.
He had a distinguished college career, and was given the Daglish Fellowship. In accordance with Mr Daglish’s bequest founding the fellowship, he studied mining in France and in Germany. On his return he obtained an appointment as assistant manager with the Cramlington Coal Company, and was afterwards appointed manager of their Hartford Colliery.
On leaving Cramlington Coal Company he received an appointment with the Horden Collieries, County Durham. He was with them until he received his commission in the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He went to France in March this year.
He was exceedingly popular, being of a particularly bright and sunny disposition. On leaving Hartford he was made the recipient of a very handsome testimonial from the officials and workmen of the colliery. He had the knack of gaining the regard of all those who worked under him. In mining circles he was regarded as a young man who had before him prospects of a brilliant career.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Private Alan M. Herriott, Newbiggin, has been killed.
Private James McAllister, Seaforth Highlanders, late of Seaton Burn, has died of fever.
Mr Archibald Inglis, Howick Street, Alnwick, has received official news that his son, Private Andrew Inglis, of the KOSB is wounded and missing.
Mrs Stanners, Clifton, has received word from her son, Private Jas. W. Stanners, that he is now a prisoner in Germany.
Lance-Corpl. John Sherrington, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, is reported missing from July 1st, 1916. His sister, Mrs R Jackson, 60 West Row, Bebside, will be grateful for any information regarding him.
Mr and Mrs C.J. Young, of Ewesley Cottage, Ewesley, Morpeth, have received official notification that their son Private J. Young, N.F., has been wounded in action, and is now in hospital at Warrington.
Mr Christopher Jobson, Miller’s Yard, Dudley Colliery, has received news that his brother, Private Edward Jobson, Yorks Regiment, who was reported as missing, has now been reported as having been killed on July 1st. The deceased leaves a widow and five children.
Mrs John Brown, Stephenson Terrace, Rothbury, has received intimation that Rifleman Wm. Nichol, of the Rifle Brigade, was reported wounded and missing since July 1st, 1916. He was the son of the late John Nichol, Alwinton, and was only 18 years of age.
ROLL OF HONOUR
ANNETT.— Killed in action on the 16th inst., aged 30 years, Hugh Clarkson Annett, 2nd Lieut., Durham L.I., second son of the late Henry Annett of Widdrington and of Mrs Crawford, Stanton Fence, Morpeth.
ELTIS.— Killed in action on the 13th of August, 1916, Private John Eltis, N.F., aged 31.— (Ever remembered by his loving uncle and aunt, Thomas and Elizabeth Taylor; and cousins, Adam, Willie, and Annie, 48 South Row, Bedlington, Station.
ELTIS.— In loving memory of our dear brother Private J. Eltis, who was killed in action on Aug. 13th, 1916.— (Ever remembered by his loving brothers and sisters.)
ROBERTSON.— Died from wounds received in action on Sept. 7th, Private J.S.T. Robertson, beloved husband of Alice Robertson (nee Bell), aged 28 years.— (From his loving wife and two children.)
ROBERTSON.— Died from wounds received in action on Sept. 7th, 1916, aged 28 years, Private John S.T. Robertson, the dearly beloved son of the late John and Barbara Alice Robertson, late of 27 South Row, Sleekburn.
LOGAN.— Killed in action on September 9th, 1916, Private Ralph Logan, dearly beloved son of William and Mary Ann Logan, 17 South Row, Bedlington, aged 18 years and 11 months.— (Ever remembered by his loving father, mother, sisters, and brothers, and all who knew him.) “R.I.P.”
RESCUE PARTY’S GALLANTRY
We have received the following communication from Sapper H. Pooley, of Morpeth, who is serving “Somewhere in France” with a Tunnelling Company of the Royal Engineers. He writes:— “I receive the ‘Herald’ every week from friends in England, and I always have a pleasant read when off trench duty, and I see lots of news from the lads who enlisted from the good old North Country town. As I am one of those who enlisted the same day as Lieut. Sanderson, our late mayor, perhaps a few lines from me will be interesting to your readers.
“I served fourteen months with the Tyneside Scottish. While at Warminster we were asked for volunteers for mining to be despatched immediately to the Front. That was last October. I was a volunteer, and was sent to the Royal Engineers’ depot. I was sent later to the Dardanelles for a few weeks. I came off with my company, being one of the last drafts off Cape Helles, the last place evacuated. Then we went to the Isle of Limmos in the Grecian Archipeligo, and from there to Egypt, and then to France on March 1st. We went straight to the firing line, where I have been ever since except for a short leave granted to me in June.
“I had not been back long before the Germans sprang a big mine, imprisoning five of our comrades. Volunteers were asked for, and I again volunteered with a good heart and succeeded in getting three of our comrades out, under great difficulties.
“One of the men left could have been got out, but he refused to leave his wounded comrade. Now, poor fellow, he is no more. I am alluding to Sapper Hackett, V.C. It was hard lines. Three of the five saved and two lost, owing to the side pressure. The rescue party were in great peril, and finally, much against their will, had to give in.
“I am pleased to say that four of us — all transfers out of the Tyneside Scottish, received the Military Medal for our services on that occasion, namely, Sapper H. Pooley (Morpeth), Sappers Jim Smith and Geo. Smith (both of Bedlington), and Sapper Joe Thornton (Rowlands Gill).
“Two days before I received the medal I was over the top (with the best of luck) in a bombing raid. We got into the second and third lines, and, what’s more, got back safely. We do see life out here at times, you bet.”
LIEUT. M. M. OGILVIE, MORPETH
The friends of Second-Lieut. M.M. Ogilvie, N.F., will be glad to learn that he has been promoted to lieutenant.
Lieut. Ogilvie joined the ranks on September 8th, 1914, served in France, and was wounded. He received his commission in October last year.
FARMERS’ RED CROSS FUND
The promoters of the free gift auction sale held at Morpeth on Wednesday are to be congratulated on the success which attended their well-directed efforts on behalf of such a worthy object as the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund. Delightfully fine weather prevailing, the attendance at the sales was very gratifying indeed.
The entries comprised live stock, produce, eggs, butter, poultry, potatoes, furniture, and various useful articles, and, needless to say, the organisers were once again indebted to the kindly donors of gifts in cash and kind. The produce, etc., was sold in the Market Place at 11.30am and the live stock and hurdles were disposed of at the Cattle Market at one o’clock. At both places bidding was very brisk, and in numerous instances goods were returned by the purchasers to be re-sold.
A word of praise is due to the hon. secretaries and auctioneers (Messrs Thos. Waters and Son, and Mr Thos. Clark of Morpeth and Mr R. Gray of Ashington), who carried out their work with such energy and enthusiasm and which had such gratifying results.
Prior to the sale commencing in the Market Place, the Mayor (Ald. Ed. Norman) addressed the gathering. Unfortunately Major Crawford, the chairman of the committee, had had bad news that morning which had completely unfitted him from taking any part in those proceedings. He had news from the War Office that one of his step-sons had been killed in action, and they all knew what that meant when it was received for the first time.
During the past two years it has been the sad experience of many parents to have to mourn the loss of their dearest and best who have given their lives for the sake of their king and country. He was sure they all felt and sympathised with Major and Mrs Crawford in their great loss.
Proceeding, he said they had met that day in the interests of that noble society — the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund. The Red Cross meant much for those who lay wounded on the battlefield. Nothing gave the wounded soldier more joy than to find a member of the Red Cross near to him in a time of need. They would all take it as a privilege that day to be allowed to do their very best on behalf of this worthy society which was doing so much for the wounded in the different theatres of war.
He was proud that the farmers in this locality had come again to their aid. It was only a few months since they had a very successful sale for the Red Cross. He noticed that they were all wearing the Red Cross flag and he hoped the spirit of that would imbue each one of them so as to make the venture what the organisers would like it to be — a great success in every respect.
The Mayor thanked the donors who had given of their substance, and he hoped all standing round would do their part in giving the best prices for the goods. Let them keep uppermost in their minds the cause that had brought them together. The needs of the wounded were increasing every day. More men were falling as the battle proceeded, which made it all the more necessary for every effort to be put forth to help the cause. He hoped they would have a record sale.
Their best thanks were due to the auctioneers and the ladies and gentlemen who were taking a share in that day’s venture. Let them all continue to work in like manner until victory crowned the efforts of the Allies in the cause of freedom and liberty. (Applause.)
The sale then commenced in earnest, and by one o’clock every article was disposed of.
The Mayor, who was received with applause, said that in these war times they were all called upon to do their bit, and their bit was never completed until they had done all the could that lay in their power. He was pleased that they had made this extra effort to provide for those who were making a great sacrifice. They were grateful to their soldiers for what they were doing. He was a poor man, and scarcely worth the name of Englishman, who was not prepared at the same time to make some sacrifices.
He acknowledged the great debt they owed to the donors of the gifts. If they had the opportunity of walking through the trenches, and also seeing the members of the Red Cross at work he felt sure that they would all feel only too pleased to give a helping hand to the society. As Mayor of Morpeth he was proud that the public had responded so well to the appeal made. (Applause.)
In connection with the sale, a successful flag day organised by Mrs Geo. Renwick, Mrs R. Crawford, Miss Renwick and Mrs Chris Taylor was held. A very large number of flags were sold in the streets and at the railway station. The amount realised was £40. The Morpeth Pipe Band played.
COMFORTS FOE THE 7TH N.F.
The officer commanding the battalion abroad informs me that flannel shirts, cardigan jackets, and especially socks, will be much needed during the coming winter.
I shall be glad to receive and acknowledge any of these articles as formerly, and take this opportunity of assuring those who so kindly contributed last year that these gifts were very useful and highly appreciated.
ROBT. SCOTT, Lieut.-Colonel,
Newton House, Lesbury.
Railway Station : Christon Bank.
WAR SAVING CAMPAIGN
Under the auspices of the National War Savings Committee, a representative meeting was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, last Friday evening. The Mayor (Ald. Ed. Norman), who presided, was supported by Mr T.R. Williams, organising secretary of the Northumberland War Savings Committee; Mr T.S. Robinson, chief inspector of the Northumberland and North Durham Society for the Protection of Animals; and Councillor R.S. Turnbull.
The Mayor said that it afforded him much pleasure to take the chair. England means to win this war, and he felt sure they all wanted to have a share in the victory. He was pleased so many representatives of the young people were present. By interesting themselves in the war savings scheme they could say in the years to come that they did their little bit to help in this great war.
After all they had got the men, and it was for them to see that the Government got the money to carry on the war to a successful issue. They might not be able to give much, but it was wonderful how each little sum helped. He was sure that they did not want to be behind other towns in giving a helping hand.
Mr Williams, who outlined the scheme in a very convincing manner, said he was pleased to see the day schools so well represented by the teachers. The idea was that the National Committee should endeavour to form local committees in every town, urban and rural district, and borough throughout the country, and they were there to form a war savings committee for the borough of Morpeth.
He had met a considerable number of district councils in Northumberland, and in every case they had appointed a committee straightaway or called a public meeting to form a committee. It would be the business of the committee to stimulate, inspire, and to organise war savings in Morpeth.
The means by which they were going to obtain money was by 15/6 post office certificates. Those were being sold at the rate of four millions a week. They must remember that every little, when properly organised and put together, became a very vast sum of money.
When they had formed their committee they would next proceed to form war savings associations. They could form them at any works, club, or railway station, or in connection with any organisation or friendly society, but it would be the duty of the local committee to see that it was properly formed. They would supply the necessary form, and when they had a secretary and chairman for the committee they would enrol members, take subscriptions week by week, sixpence being the minimum, but they could give as many sixpences as they liked, and when they got the 15/6 completed they would get a certificate.
If an association had thirty one members each paying sixpence a week, a certificate could be bought in the name of the association at the end of the week. At the end of the thirty-one weeks they would have a certificate for each member of the association.
The great point of the scheme was that the longer they kept the money in the better the investment, and at the end of five years the certificate was worth twenty shillings. He pointed out that any person could purchase as many as 500 certificates, costing altogether £387 10s, which were worth £500 at the end of five years. From the point of patriotism alone it was their duty to support the scheme by purchasing those certificates.
Proceeding, Mr Robinson said it had become more and more their duty to look to their financial resources because this war would be shortly a matter of finance. He believed that it was in the minds of the Germans today that they were beaten so far as men where concerned already, but they were hoping that England might be beggared in the process. Therefore it behoved everyone of them, who had a little money to spare, to put it aside for the purpose of those certificates.
On the whole they must give the Government credit for doing their best in the matter. Extravagance on their part had not been wilful. It had come about through ignorance. Surely the British Empire was a thing worth investing in. They had got to be sober. There was far too much drinking, and he asserted that two-thirds of the misery and crime in this land was directly attributed to the excessive use of intoxicating liquors. There was far too much swagger in their towns, far too much costly dressing both for men and women, and they would have to get out of that abominable habit. They must have rigid economy.
The Mayor moved: “That the following ladies and gentlemen having heard the aims of the National War Savings Committee explained, form themselves into a local war savings committee for the Borough of Morpeth with power to add to their number:— Councillor R.S. Turnbull, Miss Jones, Miss Foster, Miss Cooper, Miss Bruce, Miss Mouat, Mr F. Brumell, Mr F.E. Schofield, Mr Phaup, Rev. F.C. Hardy, Mrs Hardy, Miss Brown, Miss Legge, and Mr William Simpson.”
That Mayor, who was elected convener of the committee, said the object was worthy of all the energy and enthusiasm which they could out into it.
Mr Robinson, in moving a vote of thanks to the Mayor, said that he (the Mayor) had been doing work within the last few weeks that would add considerably to the prosperity of the town — in fact it was a bit of the best work that had been done in Morpeth for many years. (Applause.)