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.
The Morpeth Detachment of the 1st Battalion is forging ahead. The enrolment now reaches the satisfactory total of 135 men. More are still required, and it is the anxious desire of the committee to bring the number up to the company strength of 250 men. All men should join at once and take the opportunity now presented of making themselves efficient to defend their country in time of need.
The volunteer movement is now receiving the full support of the War Office and our most famous generals. An inspection of the men is to take place at Newcastle on the 12th inst.
Last Sunday’s parade of the Morpeth detachment witnessed a large muster in spite of the inclement weather. Instead of the usual drilling in the Grange House field, Ald. Wm. Duncan, who was in command, held a route march. A halt was made on the way, when the men were put through a series of movements, which were smartly gone through.
Ald. Duncan took the opportunity of congratulating the detachment on the increased interest and proficiency shown by every member. He expressed the opinion that the drills could not have been better performed that morning. He urged upon all members not only to be regular but punctual in their attendance at all drills.
On Tuesday night there was a splendid turn-out. Squad drill was engaged in, but this was varied by physical drill exercises under Ald. Duncan, who again expressed himself as highly satisfied with everything connected with the corps. He called their attention to a report in the newspapers, which stated that the Government intended to make use of the Volunteers, that they would be provided with equipment, and that they would receive musketry instruction.
Last night’s drill was well attended. On Sunday morning first there will be the usual parade in the Grange House field at 10.15, when it is hoped there will be a big muster.
Owing to the military taking over the Corn Exchange, the committee have now definitely arranged for the Morpeth men to have their drills in the Council Schools, Castle Square, where the parades on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the future will take place at 6.50pm.
Men can be enrolled there any parade evening, and we would urge all men to join in this excellent movement, which will be of great benefit to themselves and a safeguard to their country.
THE TREATMENT OF OUR HEROES
Sir,— Every true-hearted man and woman has ever had the comfort of our heroes first and foremost in their minds, and more so just now when our splendid lads are fighting and dying to uphold the honour of our Empire. In cases, however, happily remote, one learns that the treatment meted out to battered humanity is not in keeping with the prestige of Britain.
To illustrate this, one of our one brave Northumberlands, after two years of fighting, and one of four Ashington brothers who are serving their country, arrived at Morpeth on Saturday night last from a Glasgow hospital, suffering from a shrapnel wound in the foot. Unfortunately the last connection to Ashington has already departed.
Being rather handicapped with kit, etc., and his wound precluding him from doing the distance by road, he made his way into the town. Here he was told that probably he would find a resting-place at the Orde House billet, but found that the only available place was a bed on the floor.
However, the wanderer had the good luck to fall in with a Samaritan in the person of the Playhouse manager, who insisted on the hero returning with him and sharing his home. His wound being dressed, the refreshed soldier returned home on Sunday.
It may be urged with some truth that most of us have enough to do in these times, but surely with our soldiers, whether of one county or another, it should not even be thought of that in our borough there is no place to accommodate those who happen to be so inconvenienced.
By all means let us distribute our comforts, and see that our gallant lads want for nothing in the way of ordinary comforts. My object in penning this, seeing that the district in which the Blyth and Tyne operates, has sent many of her sons to the fighting line, and this being the second case within a week, it is certainly up to the authorities to arrange for the housing of those who may be similarly situated.— Yours, &c.
THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME
At The Playhouse, Morpeth.
Cinema-goers in this district desirous of seeing the official pictures (taken by permission of the War Office) of our lads and their grand and glorious work on the sodden fields of France, should make a point of visiting the above-named house during the latter part of next week.
In the comparative security of our coastal home we have but a faint idea of how our boys are still “carrying on” and altering the map. In five parts, from the activities before Fricourt in June to the shell-shattered village of Mainetz, and the continuation of the “push,” make one wonder and marvel what Tommy has accomplished in the face of fearful odds — scenes to stir the hearts of everyone.
MORPETH WAR SEWING MEETING
The tea on Thursday was kindly given by Miss Rutherford, Ash Trees, and realised £1 12s 9d.
The treasurer acknowledges with many thanks socks from Mrs Arthus Angus and Miss Harbottle, King’s Avenue.
The following letter to Mr T.B. Waters will be of much interest to members of the Sewing Meeting:— “As our ‘Blighty spokesman,’ will you please convey, on behalf of all the Morpeth boys of the 7th N.F., our very best thanks to the ladies of the Morpeth Sewing Party for the 50 pairs of beautiful home-knit socks which, as a result of their kindly labours, you were able to send us.
“We have had to thank these ladies several times in the past for a variety of gifts, but I can safely say none were more welcome than this last batch of socks. I am confident that if they could witness the warm reception such gifts get by our lads they would fell amply repaid for their efforts. We look forward to the day when we can thank each and all personally, and in the meantime trust that the support which such work deserves will be readily forthcoming and so enable these willing workers to continue their good work.
“To conclude, we wish to thank you very sincerely for the active part you have always taken on our behalf. We have lots to be thankful for, and the majority has been through your kindness.— Yours, etc., Andrew Davison.”
MORPETH COMPANY BOYS’ BRIGADE
Sunday last being Founder’s Day, the 1st Morpeth Company of the Boys’ Brigade held a church parade to St James’s Church.
Previous to the service the company, under the command of Captain Johnson and Lieuts. Arrowsmith and Jackson, marched through the main streets of the town headed by their drum and fife and bugle bands. There was a strong muster, 122 members being on parade.
The Rev. F.C. Hardy, curate of Morpeth, was the preacher, and preached from the fifth verse of the 12th chapter of Romans. In the course of his sermon, Mr Hardy referred to the large numbers (over a quarter of a million) of Boys’ Brigade lads who had voluntarily joined the Forces during the present war, and showed that the training they had received in the Boys’ Brigade had made them among the finest and most reliable men in our armies.
The preacher also spoke of the 194 members of the Morpeth Company who were known to be on service, and said that 15 of them had given their lives for their country, while 30 more had been wounded, and three were known to be prisoners of war.
In the absence of Mr J. Wyatt, the organist, Mr A. Armstrong presided at the organ.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Pte. Isaac Young, 80 Portia Street, Ashington, has been killed in action.
Pte. J.G. Shaw, 2 Ash Street, Gosforth, died of wounds received on October 11th.
Pte. J.J. Willis, 16 Jackson Street, Annitsford, formerly of Seghill Colliery, was killed in action on September 26th.
Mrs Stainsby, 29 Hood Street, Morpeth, has received word that her son, Pte. J. Stainsby, Lancashire Regiment, has been wounded in action.
Mrs Hart, 41 Garden Terrace, Earsdon, has received word that her husband, Pte. John Hart, was killed by a trench mortar on October 10th. Prior to joining the Army deceased worked at Church Pit, Backworth.
Mr and Mrs J.W. Marshall, Elsdon Road, Gosforth, have been officially informed that their son, Pte. James Marshall, Canadians, is posted as missing since September 26th.
Pte. Sidney Womack, of the Yorks and Lancs, Regiment, late of Longwitton and Morpeth, was killed in action on October 2nd. He was 23 years of age. After leaving school, he was employed on the estate of Col. P.B. Cookson at Meldon until shortly after the outbreak of war. He joined the Tyneside Scottish in July, 1915, being transferred to the Yorks and Lancashire Regiment later.
Mrs Dixon, of 153 Maple Street, Hirst, has receiving official notice that her husband Pte. Thos. B. Dixon, N.F., has been posted as missing since September 26th.
ROLL OF HONOUR
ELLIS.— Missing since Sept. 25th, 1915, now reported killed, Private Richard R. Ellis, N.F., of Bebside, aged 24 years.— (Ever remembered by his loving uncle and aunt and cousins, W. and Bella Wilson.)
ERREL.— Killed in action, July 1st, 1916, Sergt. W. Errel (better known as Sammy), Tyneside Scottish.— (Deeply mourned by his loving sister and brother-in-law, Jean and Charles Carr Robertson.)
FENWICK.— Died from wounds on the 15th Sept., aged 22 years, Corporal Charles Fenwick, East Yorks, of Bedlington Station.— (Ever remembered by his sister and brother-in-law, Nellie and William Tait, Barrington.)
PARKES.— Killed in action on 22nd August, 1915, aged 29 years (10729), Private A. Parkes, the dearly beloved son of Joseph and Emma Parkes, No. 4, Second Row, Choppington Colliery.— (Deeply mourned by his father, mother, wife and family, sisters and brothers; also his brother Joe (in France), sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, uncles and aunts; also all who knew him.) R.I.P.
SWAN.— Killed in action in France, on 15th Sept., Sergt. Gilbert Swan, 7th N.F., beloved husband of Dorothy A. Swan, of Longframlington.
SHOTTON.— Died of wounds in France, on the 15th Sept., aged 20 years, Lance-Corpl. Harold Shotton (2319), N.F.— (Deeply mourned by his father and mother, brothers and sister.)
WOMACK.— Killed in action, October 2nd, 1916, aged 23 years, Private Sidney Womack, York and Lancs Regiment, late of Longwitton, Morpeth; and Netherwarden, Hexham.— (Ever remembered by his loving grandmother, E.M. Dryden and Uncle George.)
A meeting of the Northumberland Education Committee was held at the Moot Hall, Newcastle, last Thursday, Sir F.D. Blake, M.P., presiding.
Ald. Hogg drew attention to the prices of school requisites having risen by 125 per cent. He objected to it, and suggested that they should get terms from other people.— It was agreed to do that.
An addendum to the report of the committee to the County Council contained the following:—
In order to encourage children attending elementary and secondary schools throughout the county to be thrifty, and to invest small sums of Government War Savings Certificates, the committee authorised the appointment of a small sub-committee, of which Mr H.M. Richards, H.M.I., is chairman, to formulate a scheme and enlist the co-operation of managers and teachers.
Steps had already been taken in some of the schools to enlist subscribers for War Savings Certificates, and nearly £1,000 had been collected.
The special sub-committee issued its appeal in May last, and during that month 5,178 children in 113 schools saved £1,096, making an aggregate of £2,076, the number of War Savings Certificates purchased being 1,269.
At the end of July, when most of the schools broke up for the holidays, the number of children subscribers had increased to 8,482 in 170 schools, the total amount subscribed being £4,581, and the number of certificates purchased being 2,351.
At the end of September the figures were: Number of children, 10,750; number of schools, 199; total subscribed, £7,313; War Savings Certificates purchased, 4,866.
The committee is of opinion that this is a very gratifying result, and reflects credit upon the efforts made by the teachers in the schools concerned. It regrets, however, that all the schools in the county are not represented in the return.
Miss Pease stated that in one of the county schools 600 eggs had been sent by the children to their hospital. Ten children had subscribed £33 and £31 had also been found for the Red Cross Fund.
A report stated that the children were invited to write an essay on “What can I do to help my country.”
One hundred and thirty-five of the best essays were examined, and in his report Mr Richards stated that all types of schools in the county were represented, and, while regretting that more schools did not participate, was able to say that the high quality of the work amply compensated for lack of quantity.
One example of the extracts from the essays which had been published indicated a lively appreciation of the connection between savings and munitions. The pupil writes:—
“In these days of munition work and overtime there must be few who cannot spare fifteen shillings and sixpence to buy a War Savings Certificate, and the amount saved can also purchase 124 cartridges. Yet how many realise, as they take a Certificate, that they may be enabling some soldier to have another 124 shots at the enemy.
“Most people have heard of the deadly nature of those hand grenades our cricket-loving Tommies make such practice with. One grenade can kill four or five men, so that given luck, a fine day, a good bomber, six grenades and plenty of Germans, thirty of them can be killed by every six grenades. Yet six grenades only cost fifteen shillings and sixpence.”
The essay of another little girl indicates the value of lessons in thrift. She says:—
“In the summer I often wear at home cashmere stockings. These will not refoot when the feet are done, but they need not be wasted. I can cut the feet off two pairs and open the legs of one pair. They are easily opened if the seam at the back is followed. I have one stocking for the back and one for the front, which I sew together. This makes a little jersey for a boy or girl about three years of age when a piece is cut from the other pair of stockings and the rest sewn in for the arms. The piece left over is to bind the top.”
The committee hoped that in its next report to the Council it would be able to say that all teachers in the county would be co-operating in this movement.
Ald. Taylor made the only comment on the above, he sarcastically remarking that he thought there was a paper shortage.
CONCERT AT MORPETH
A very successful concert was held in the Y.M.C.A. Lecture Hall on Thursday week by members of the Cheshire Yeomanry. The chair was taken by the Rev. J. Miller, Morpeth, who, in his address, alluded to the good work being carried on by the Y.M.C.A.
Those who took part were as follows:— Pte. Dunkerly, Pte. H. Cook, T.R. Hornby, Cpl. A.J. Chantler, Pte. Worthington, Pte. Morriss, Pte. Slipton, Pte. Jones.
At the close Mr E. Cowling, secretary of the Y.M.C.A., moved a vote of thanks to the chairman, Cpl. Chantler, the organiser, and others who had taken part.
Cpl. Chantler, in replying, said he wished to thank those responsible for throwing the Y.M.C.A. open to soldiers. Being strangers, they did not know what to do with themselves at night, but in the Y.M.C.A. everything they needed was provided for them.
ASHINGTON SOLDIER HERO’S DEATH
Association football enthusiasts throughout the country, and particularly those of Northumbria, will regret to learn that Company-Sergeant-Major R. McFadden has died in hospital from the effects of wounds received in battle.
A hero in civil and in Army life, it was befitting that he should have gained the Military Medal for gallantry in action, the intimation appearing in the “London Gazette” in September last.
Born at Ashington, McFadden developed his game as a forward with Blyth Spartans, from which club he joined Clapton Orient. It was while serving the Homerton organisation that he gained a national reputation and afterwards played in a North v South International match. He was angled for by most of the big clubs in the country, one of which offered £1,000 for his transfer. A skilful and hearty player he got many goals for his club.
Little over a year ago McFadden rescued a child from a burning house, while he also saved two boys from drowning in the River Lea.
MORPETH SOLDIERS’ CIGARETTE FUND
Lieut. J.N. Armstrong, Sergt. T. Lothian and Sergt. G. Dunn beg to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of cigarettes (for distribution) from the above fund.
MINERS AND THE ARMY
Mr Forster states that miners not fit for general service are being released from the Army to enable them to assist in increasing the output of coal.
If they cease to engage in coal-mining, they are liable to be recalled to Colours, as they also are in the event of national emergency.
MORPETH SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE
“White Elephant Sale”
This sale will take place in the Institute on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 25th, to raise much-needed funds for the above Institution.
All ladies and gentlemen in Morpeth and District are asked to kindly contribute articles they can do without, whether old or new.
Furniture; glass; china; ornaments; clocks; watches; jewellery; wearing apparel; pictures; books; game; poultry and provisions of any description; animals and birds, alive or dead.
MRS J.J. JAMES, Newgate St., Morpeth,
MISS RENWICK, Springhill,
They will be pleased to give all information, and receive contributions in money or kind. Tea will be provided at reasonable charges.
Admission 6d. After 5 o’clock, 3d.
Soldiers in uniform free.
CHRISTMAS PUDDING FUND
For two years in succession through the enterprising efforts of the “Daily News” assisted by various newspapers and commercial houses in the country the troops of the various expeditionary forces were provided with a plum pudding on Christmas Day.
Last year we did our little bit to help to collect funds for such a good object. Our efforts on that occasion were so successful that we have decided, as we stated last week, to do our best again to assist.
We, therefore, make a special appeal to our readers to help us to raise money in this part to swell the fund, which has been jointly organised by the “Daily News” and “Daily Telegraph,” with the concurrence of the War Office, to provide every British and Colonial soldier in France, Flanders, Balkans, Egypt, Mesopotamia, East Africa, Malta, and Gibraltar with a Christmas pudding from home on Christmas Day.
Hundreds of men from Morpeth and the surrounding districts are serving in the various regiments in these places mentioned, and they will be included in the general scheme of distribution, and we would specially ask our readers not to miss the opportunity of helping to brighten the lives of our gallant lads.
It is worth noting that sixpence will provide for one man and £21 will supply an infantry battalion.
Last year we raised a very respectable sum, but we hope that the response to our appeal this time will be even more generous. Subscriptions will be gratefully received at the “Herald” Office, Bridge Street; the Foundry (Swinney Bros.), and the Social Club, Market Place, Morpeth.