In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1917, 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.
Mr Joseph Reay, auctioneer, Morpeth, has received official news that his eldest son, Pte. William Reay, N.F., died on the 24th April from wounds received in action in France.
The deceased was an old Grammar School boy, and after leaving school assisted his father in the auctioneering business. Before joining his regiment three years ago he was book-keeper and shorthand typist with Pentland and Co., Morpeth.
About a year ago he was wounded, and some months ago he was home on leave, looking very fit and well. Three weeks ago he was severely wounded in the “great push,” in the arm, severing all the arteries. His father and young wife were notified of his serious condition, and the latter went to the hospital in France to see him. She arrived at the hospital on Sunday, 22nd April, and remained with her husband until his death, which took place two days later. His widow also attended the funeral.
The deceased was a member of the Morpeth Y.M.C.A, a regular attender of St George’s Presbyterian Church, and was greatly respected by a large circle of friends.
Mr Reay has four other sons in the army (all his family), two of whom are fighting in France.
MORPETH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Last Sunday evening the Rev. Dr Drysdale, of St George’s Presbyterian Church, preached a funeral service, in the course of which he made fitting reference to the death of Trooper George Grey of the Hussars, and Private Wm. Reay of the Northumberland Fusiliers. The former was killed in action and the latter died from wounds in France.
After the evening service the usual monthly intercessory service was held, conducted by Dr Drysdale, when prayers were said on behalf of our brave soldiers and sailors, who are facing privations, hardships, and trials in the great cause of freedom and justice.
Details of the death of Trooper Grey were given in our “Roll of Honour” last week.
WEDDING AT MORPETH
A wedding of great local interest was solemnised at St Mary’s Parish Church, Morpeth, on Tuesday, when the contracting parties were Louisa Marjory Oliver, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs R.C. Oliver, of Bowmer Bank, Morpeth, and Captain Douglas Stewart, R.F.C., son of the late Mr Wm. Stewart, High Church, Morpeth.
The parties being well known in the town, a large number of people assembled in the church to witness the marriage ceremony, which was performed by the Rector (Canon Davies).
The bride, who was charmingly attired, carried a lovely bouquet of carnations and lilies of the valley, and was attended by her sister, Miss Margaret Vera Oliver. The best man was Capt. H.G. Gilliland, North Lancashire Regiment.
Since the outbreak of war the bride has been nursing at the local V.A.D. Hospital, and in honour of the auspicious event the nurses and patients in charge of Mrs Fullerton James (commandant) and Dr Philip (medical officer) lined up on the path outside the church entrance, and the patients formed an arch with their crutches and sticks.
In view of the war condition the wedding was celebrated very quietly at the residence of the bride’s mother. The bride’s cake was cut by the bride with the sword of the best man.
The happy couple, who received numerous telegrams of congratulations from relatives and friends, left later in the day for the South where the honeymoon is to be spent.
It is interesting to record that Captain Stewart and the captain who acted as best man have just recently escaped from Germany, where they have been prisoners of war, the former for over eight months and the latter for two and a half years.
It will be remembered that Captain Stewart was shot down from a fighting machine in August last year.
In making their escape Captain Stewart and Captain Gilliland endured great privations, lying concealed during daytime and travelling woods and fields at night almost entirely without food. Both officers, who have been badly wounded, are very reticent as to the details of their wonderful escape. Captain Stewart had made two previous unsuccessful attempts to escape.
PRETTY WEDDING AT MORPETH
The marriage of Miss Doris A. Dickie, only daughter of Captain Hugh Dickie, R.A.M.C., medical officer for Morpeth, and Mrs Dickie, of Morpeth, to Lieut. J.C. Liddle, R.F.C., only son of Major J. Liddle, R.F.C., and Mrs Liddle, of Harrogate, which took place at the Congregational Church, Morpeth, yesterday, created a great deal of local interest.
There was a large attendance of well-wishers and friends in the church to witness the ceremony, which was performed by the Rev. Jos. Miller. The best man was Mr Austin Dickie, G.C., Woolwich, brother of the bride.
After the ceremony a reception was held at 2 Fenwick Grove, attended by a large number of guests. The bride and bridegroom were the recipients of many beautiful presents from relatives and friends, included amongst the gifts being war relics from Lieut. Liddle’s brother officers.
Lieut. Liddle, who only returned from France on Wednesday, has been over twelve months on active service.
After the reception the happy couple left by motor amidst showers of confetti for the South, where the honeymoon is to be spent.
CAPTAIN G. NEWTON AGAIN IN HOSPITAL
Captain Gerald Newton, who is now well known in Morpeth Borough in view of his expressed ambition to represent it in Parliament after the next election, has evidently been in the thick of the strife in France. Having recovered from wounds, he is now in hospital suffering from shell-shock, but is said to be progressing as satisfactorily as can be expected.
TWO HAUXLEY HEROES
Recent communication from the Front has brought sad news to two houses at Hauxley fishing village, and that news is that two cousins have paid the great penalty. These young men are John Robert Taylor, son of Mr Ben Taylor, and Lance Corporal Harry Taylor, both belonging to the Northumberland Fisheries.
The former was killed in action on Easter Monday and the latter on the 19th April. They both enlisted on the 12th May, 1915, joining the Cycle Corps, and both went out to France in 1916, where they have seen some desperate fighting, to which both fell on the above dates.
John Robert Taylor was an athlete, and in the world of sport perhaps he excelled in the art of swimming, for which he held many prizes. Among the most important of these prizes was the Gray Challenge Cup, which he won at Alnwick about four years ago. He was at that time the best swimmer in a very wide district, and his handicap was seen to when the next year’s gala event came off, which was a compliment to his prowess of the art.
In addition to this he was a singer of no mean order, and his fine bass voice was heard at many concerts in the district. These two heroes were esteemed to a great degree throughout the district.
Seventeen resolutions are on the agenda for the annual Council meeting of the Northumberland Miners’ Federation, to commence at Burt Hall at ten o’clock on May 19th.
War bonuses to meet the increased cost of living, rent and coal for married surface workers, light work compensation, and other topics will be discussed.
Motions stand as follows:—
Ashington.— That we instruct our side of the Minimum Wage Board to at once seek for an increase of minimum wage rates in proportion to the increased cost of living. In the event of the two sides not agreeing, our side give notice to have an umpire called in.
Algernon.— That we seek to arrange with the owners that the present arrangement of no local reductions be continued after the war.
West Wylam again returns with a proposal on the subject of peace:—
That we ask the Miners’ Federation to appeal to the Government to at once open out negotiations for peace, believing that a negotiated settlement, rather than settlement by force of arms, will best secure the peace of Europe, and that the continuance of the war can only bring further disaster on the peoples of the world without settling any of the issues involved; and urge the Government to now use its efforts and influence with the Allies and Central Powers to bring the war to an end by negotiation.
AN INTERESTING LECTURE
We anticipate a good audience to hear the Rev. A.G.E. Gibson’s interesting lecture “With Our Boys on the Somme,” which he is to give in the Congregational Church on Thursday, May 10th, at 7.30.
The rev. gentleman is well known in the North, and has done good work in connection with the Y.M.C.A. in France for three months. The pastor of the church is in the chair, and the collection will be devoted to the worthy object of the Y.M.C.A. Huts in France.
NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL
The annual meeting of the Northumberland County Council was held yesterday, the Duke of Northumberland presiding.
Mr Askwith (Blyth) proposed the re-election of the Duke of Northumberland as chairman of the Council for ensuing year.— Col. Joicey seconded the motion, which was unanimously agreed to.
Responding, his Grace thanked members for their confidence. It was always a pleasure to preside there. They were now living in strenuous times. It had been a great help and strength during the period of the war. He looked back to the old days when the County Council was not so unanimous in its discussions, but they seemed to have got out of the stormy waters into, as it were, the peaceful ocean of business.
The Chairman referred to the projected scheme of rationing the people, and indicated the probability of having to hold a special meeting to deal with that matter, which had been dealt with in all the newspapers, and if the people would not read the newspapers and His Majesty’s proclamation, he was hopeless about the result.
He looked upon rationing with alarm in regard to the increased cost involved.
The most serious feature today was the shortage of provisions, which was a danger that would be before them more than anything else. If people would not deny themselves, he could not see what could be done. But they should ask members to impress upon the people the necessity of self-denial and economy.
Mr Young (Haltwhistle) asked if he would be in order to move a resolution in regard to strong drink, to which the Chairman replied in the negative.
Ald. Taylor said many people did not recognise there was a scarcity of food, or there would be less need for rationing. He believed greatly in the influence of the advice of the leaders in the trade unions and would urge that.
Mr Weir said he agreed with what had been said in regard to urging people to reduce their food supplies as far as possible, but he had yet to be convinced that the working people had not been doing their best in that matter for a long time.
He regretted he could not divulge information that had come to him in regard to waste in houses of people who were not working men, where bread had been taken from the ashpits. With men who had hard work it was a question whether their food could be reduced much more.
Before they appealed to working men let them be thoroughly satisfied that all that could be done was being done by other classes to meet the need.
He hoped, whether they passed a regulation or not, those who had the power would see that they took their courage into their hands to see that the food of the people was not taken for unnecessary purpose. Was there a need of feeding packs of hounds? (A Voice: And race-horses?)
Mr Weir said he would be one of the last to stand in the way of asking the working men to reduce their food as much as possible and to economise, but he wondered if they knew the sacrifices working people had been making in the way of potatoes and sugar shortage.
He asked the County Council when the King’s proclamation came forth to appeal likewise to the higher classes. He cited a case where people had boasted that they had such stocks of flour that they had not yet used war bread.
He hoped the Government would take their courage into their hands to prevent the consumption of beer. It had been said they would be afraid of putting the question to working men to go without beer, but he knew the answer if a working man was asked whether he would have beer or bread.
He would ask Sir Francis Blake not to be lacking to see that Government did all it could in that matter (Applause.)
Mr Gilbert (Hirst) said there were people who for want of knowledge could not judge what the working classes were doing in the way of sacrifice. There was a large number of homes where the men were soldiers where those who made the laws could not expect them to make a deal more sacrifice.
If people had to be made alike they would be sorry that rationing had not come sooner — that it had not come at the beginning of the war — but unfortunately the thought seemed to be “Put other people on rations, but leave me out!”
He would tell them honestly it would never be satisfactorily carried out by the voluntary system. He said he had astonishing facts in regard to what some people had done in the way of storing food for themselves, and cited a case where a person had taken a thousand pounds motor car to London and brought it home with a load of flour— (Cries of “Name.”)
Mr Gilberton said he would not give the name there, but he could do so. He added that the majority of the people of this country would not do anything until they were made to do it.
The discussion terminated, the understanding being that a special meeting of the County Council will be convened when the Government scheme came out.
CREDIT FOR FARMERS
All farmers do not seem to have yet realised the chance offered them to obtain loans for the purchase of seeds and artificial manures.
In the past too many farmers have obtained their supplies from dealers on credit — a system open to obvious objections.
But now the Board of Agriculture have authorised War Agricultural Executive Committees to arrange with various banks for loans to those farmers who cannot pay cash. Practically all the leading Joint Stock Banks have agreed to assist the scheme.
The loans will be given for the express purpose of increasing food production; they be will be given under a Government guarantee, and therefore on cheaper terms as regards interest than farmers could get for themselves.
Farmers who wish to take advantage of this valuable offer, or would like further information, should apply to the secretary of their County War Agricultural Executive Committee.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Pte. H. Turnbull, Blyth, is reported killed in action.
Private Chris Tweddle, late of Bebside, has died of wounds.
Lance-Corporal Key, son of Mr Ed. Key, formerly of Blyth, has been killed in action.
Pte. A.E. Henderson , Hirst, missing since September, now reported killed in action.
Pte. Thos. Varley (better known as Moy), of Seaton Delaval, killed in action.
Sergt. J.T.S. Bourn, of Maple Street, Hirst, died of wounds.
Pte. James Barber, of Hartford Colliery, killed in action.
Sapper J.H. Robertson, Royal Engineers, of 55 Coomassie Road, Blyth, has been killed in action alongside an officer in the trenches.
Pte. Andrew Forest, Allon Road, Newbiggin, missing since last September, now reported killed in action.
Pte. Robert Common, N.F., youngest son of the late Mr Edward Common of Warkworth, has died of wounds.
Mr and Mrs W. Gillis, Prestwick, Ponteland, have now been notified that their nephew, Pte. John Graham, was killed in action on April 15th.
Pte. William Bell, N.F., eldest son of Mr Edw. Bell, Clayport, Alnwick, is reported to have been killed in action.
Pte. A.E. Henderson, Hirst, late of Newcastle, has been killed in action. He has been missing since September 20th.
Mrs F. Benson, 42 Henry Street, Gosforth, has been informed from the War Office that her husband, Pte. R. Benson, K.O.Y.L.I. (late of N.F.), has been missing since February 12th.
Mrs Winchester, of Gill’s Lane, Alnwick has received information that her husband, Sergeant Matthew Winchester, N.F., was killed in action on the 18th April.
Mr and Mrs Alfred Beet, of Avenue Terrace, Dinnington Colliery, have received news that their son-in-law, Pte. T.E. Dodgson, Canadians, has died from wounds received in action in France. The deceased was the fourth son of Mr and Mrs James Dodgson, late of Seaton Burn Post Office.
News has been received by Mr and Mrs W.J. Lupton, of 158 Newbiggin Road, Seaton Hirst, that their eldest son, Second-Lieut. Frank Lupton, York and Lancs. Regiment, was killed in action on April 25th. The deceased was 24 years of age, and at the outbreak of war was a student in Bede College, Durham.
Miss Campbell, New Delaval, has received news of the death of Private J.R. Robertson, R.E. He had gone into action, leaving an unfinished letter, the last words of which were:— “Everyone is going on champion our here just now, but that does not say they would sooner stop here—”