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.
The wounded “boys” from the Red Cross Hospital were entertained by the Ladies’ Committee of the Soldiers’ Institute on Tuesday night last to a whist drive, concert, and supper, and a right good time they had.
First prize, case of Barling pipes, given by Mrs G. Renwick, was won by Pte. Wigley; second, 2 Army hair brushes in case, given by the Ladies’ Committee, Pte. G. Colley; consolation prize, match box and cigarettes, Pte. Dyche. Miss Renwick presented the prizes.
A plentiful supply of smokes were given by Mr T. Swinney, sen., and Mr Hugh Green. Each man received a packet of cigarettes from the ladies. A most enjoyable concert, over which Mrs J.J. James presided, was given by Corporal Chantler, Lance-Corporal Chantler, Pte. Shipton, and Pte. Cook.
At the close Corporal Torrance, on behalf of the “boys”, moved a vote of thanks to the ladies for their great kindness. This was given with three hearty cheers.
WOUNDED SOLDIERS AT PEGSWOOD
On Saturday a few of the Co-operative Store employees entertained 21 of the wounded soldiers from Morpeth. Arriving at Pegswood with the 1.15 train they were taken to the Institute Hall, where they were comfortably seated till tea was ready. Among the happy band was the local hero, Sergt. J. Smith, in his wheel chair.
The fare was thoroughly enjoyed by the wounded men. After tea Mrs Jones and Mrs Gibb entertained them with songs. The following looked after the interests of the “boys”:— Mesdames Westie, Jones, Gibb, Stephenson, Hogg, and Morris; Misses Hogg, Dent, M. Browell, A.G. Browell, Riddell, Scott, Hedley, Fraser, Bell, Brannen, Hine, Robinson, and Anderson.
The Rev. Mr McBean spoke words of cheer to the soldiers, his remarks being greatly appreciated. Mr Jos. Waugh (Pegswood) officiated at the piano in masterly style.
Success indeed attended the efforts of the Pegsworthians in providing our heroic lads with a little recreation, satisfaction and gratification being the order of the day in this prosperous colliery place.
LOCAL MILITARY HONOURS
In Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatch of April 9th, Lieut. H.H. Hutchinson, R.G.A., received special mention for gallant services and devotion to duty. He is the son of Mr Thomas Hutchinson, of Pegswood.
Mr John Bell, of Paradise Row, Cramlington Village, has received news that his nephew, Lance-Corporal John George Bell, N.F., has been awarded a Card of Honour for service rendered in the field in France on July 1st, 1916; also on May 8th, 1917.
Councillor George Bewick, vice-chairman of the Weetslade Urban Council, of Dudley, has been informed that his nephew, Corporal William Gilhepsie, N.F., has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the field.
Private Joseph Sims, N.F., second son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Sims, Plantation Row, Dinnington Colliery, has been awarded the Military Medal.
FACE THE FACTS
People who will not face and realise facts are making many difficulties for Britain just now, and may end in making the whole food question much more serious than it need be. One gladly recognises that numbers have addressed themselves with all serious earnestness to obey the Food Controller’s suggestion. But not even the patriotism of these people will suffice to avert serious shortage if equal or greater numbers go on their way with blind eyes. And many do.
They do what the ostrich is said to do (though the statement is probably a libel on the ostrich), and hide their heads behind a rock, imagining that because they cannot see danger it cannot see them. They meet everything that is said about food difficulties with the easy phrase, “Yes, but—” finished off with a smile which means that the thing need not be taken so seriously, and these kind of folk are always the first to say, when the crisis they have refused to believe in at length arrives, “Why didn’t you tell me in time.”
For the benefit of human ostriches of this type, let it be set down once more that the following facts are true. They hold good precisely as the multiplication table holds good.
First, that the submarine menace has not been overcome up to the present. The recent figures show that plain enough. One may have what hopes one likes about overcoming it, but the sober fact is that it is not overcome yet.
Next, that there is not food enough to carry us on to the next harvest at our present rate of consumption. That sentence means exactly what it says, and no qualification whatever must be read into it.
Next, that all is being done in the way of increased production cannot have any effect for a long time yet, and the real food crisis will be upon us, and must be met, before it can tell; and last, that no miracle is going to happen to make up for our own extravagance and folly.
Extravagance and waste, even in Morpeth, is rampant in many homes. It is scandalous to see the vast amount of bread put into pails and buckets, standing at doors, waiting to be removed, and the crusts of bread to be seen lying in our streets. Do these people realise that we are at war, and that there is a scarcity of cereals in the country.
The more food we destroy and throw away, we are not playing the game, but assisting the Huns to destroy our nation root and branch with their U boats. Instead of wasting we must eat less, and deny ourselves in our bread consumption, if we mean to surmount the perilous period that lies ahead.
The trouble is that in this matter those who will not face the facts hurt so many others beside themselves. They hurt the whole nation — might be its undoing, in fact, if they were allowed to sleep on. Usually the man blind to realities injures chiefly himself, but it is not so here, for which reason, it must be repeated, as if with hammer blows loud enough to penetrate the soundest slumber, that it is time to wake up and see things as they are.
By Mr Wm. Simpson, Press correspondent for Morpeth War Savings Campaign.
COUNTY APPEAL TRIBUNAL
A meeting of the Northumberland Appeal Tribunal was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, last Friday.
The Clerk mentioned the case of Walter Featherstone (25), managing grocer, Broomhill, a conscientious objector, who at the last hearing at Morpeth was ordered to find work of national importance to the satisfaction of the tribunal within one month.
Mr T.D. Shawk, Morpeth, explained that Featherstone had started in an iron stone mine at Newton-on-the-Moor a week last Sunday, and when he asked the company for a certificate describing his employment he was immediately presented with a letter of dismissal. The consequence was that he was out of employment. The man was then doing work of national importance.
Featherstone remarked to Major Cross that they apparently did not want a conscientious objector there. He was employed labouring on the top of the quarry. Major Cross: Was it spade work.— Featherstone: Yes.— Do you understand anything about horses?— Yes.— If I had the means to help you into agricultural work would you accept it.— Yes, I am willing to do anything like that.
Major Cross (to tribunal): I will take no objection to his present employment if he leaves himself at my disposal: and turning to Featherstone he said: If you get work in agriculture it is up to you to stick to it and do your best.— Featherstone: I will do that.
The case was adjourned for arrangements to be made as suggested.
An appeal was made by J.A. Anderson jun. (31), South Terrace, Morpeth, described as manager of wholesale and retail wine and spirit business, farm, and aerated water factory. His father, Mr J.A. Anderson, also appealed on his behalf. The Clerk stated that the man was granted temporary exemption by that tribunal until May 1st.
Mr T.D. Shaw who represented the applicant, said that there were two new points to raise since they were there before. At that time applicant’s classification was general service. He had been under Dr Kunz suffering from chronic eczema. His hearing was almost gone in one ear and the other was very much jeopardised. He thought it would be more satisfactory to have Anderson examined by the Central Medical Board.
In reply to Major Cross the appellant said his father, who was 74 years of age, was unable to look after the business. They had nine licensed houses. Mr Shaw remarked that the only one they had to supervise the various concerns was the applicant. Applicant referred to the reduction of his staff owing to the demands of the military, and Major Cross asked: What made four of your men go into munitions?— Applicant: I suppose they thought it was safer.
The case was adjourned for special examination by the Medical Board.
Ed. C. Jackson (38), solicitor, Auburn Cottage, Morpeth, passed C1, appealed against the decision of the Morpeth tribunal, one month final until May 23rd. His employer, Mr F. Brumell, solicitor, also made an appeal on applicant’s behalf. The local War Pensions Committee, of which Mr Jackson is secretary, also supported the applicant’s appeal.
Major Cross: With regard to your work on the Pensions Committee there is nothing there but an intelligent lady can do?— Applicant: Mrs Brumell and Mr R. Crawford found the work too much for them.— Mr Brumell said he looked upon Mr Jackson as indispensable in his office, and Jackson stated that his work as secretary of the War Pensions Committee was very considerable.
The appeal was allowed, and conditional exemption was granted as long as he was engaged in this present work.
Mr Shaw appealed on behalf of Chas. R. Angus (39), draper, 23 Howard Terrace, Morpeth, passed C1, and who got one month final from the local tribunal. He said that applicant carried on business as a draper with Mr Armstrong. They had four men in the army. Applicant was training regularly in the Volunteers.
Applicant said that if he was called up they would have to give up the travelling altogether.— Major Cross: Travelling is a small part of the business?— Applicant: No.— In these times of shortage of labour do you think a man’s services should be occupied in seeking orders for draperies?— Yes.— The appeal was dismissed.
The military appealed against the temporary exemption given by the local tribunal to William Gebhard (26), single, pork butcher, 19 Newgate Street, Morpeth. He was passed for general service. Major Cross called attention to the rules clearly laid down with regard to young men under 31 years of age.
Mr Shaw, who represented the appellant, said that the man’s father and mother were Germans. They came to this country 45 years ago, and had not been out since. The appellant was catering for the poorest classes in this town, and the mother had now to go out of the district, being a German. If the man had to go it would mean closing down the business.
Major Cross: Do you mean that this business is of high national importance?— Mr Shaw: It is of great local importance in view of the scarcity of food and the class of food he deals in for the poorer classes.— The military appeal was allowed.
The case of Leslie A. Fairbairn (23), hairdresser with Wm. Rutherford, Bridge Street, Morpeth, was next heard. The local tribunal recommended one month with leave to come back and against that the military appealed. Appellant had now been passed for general service. Mr R. Nicholson represented the man.
Major Cross said that under the regulations no tribunal would be justified in keeping this man in his present employment. Mr Nicholson said this was a special case. The applicant had been medically rejected twice, and Mr Rutherford, the owner of the business, took him into his service and went into the Army on the understanding that Fairbairn would not be called upon.
Chairman: The man is now passed for general service.— The military appeal was allowed.
Mr R Nicholson made application, on behalf of the employer, for leave to apply for renewal of exemption of J Fred Burn (19), Tranwell Farm, Morpeth, shepherd.— Leave to apply was refused.
In the case of William Tennant (30), ploughman, Longhorsley. The military lodged an appeal. Mr Nicholson, who represented the appellant, said that they were entitled to notice from the local tribunal. The case was adjourned until the next sitting, and Mr Nicholson was supplied with the necessary notice giving particulars.
The military appealed against the decision of the Rural Council tribunal with regard to Alfred Mark (32), timber feller, Linden, Longhorsley. Mr Tomlinson, agent for Colonel Adamson, claimed that it was of national importance.— The appeal was dismissed.
Mr Nicholson appeared on behalf of Oswald Elliott (25), motor mechanic, 25 Oldgate Street, Morpeth, who was granted temporary exemption until June 16th by the local tribunal, and against that the military appealed. Elliott was passed C2.
Mr Nicholson said Elliott was the mainstay of the business carried on by his mother. He looked after the steam thresher and other machinery. She relied on him for doing all repairs.— The appeal of the military was dismissed.
The military also appealed against George Little (19), ploughman, Whitefield, Morpeth, who had been granted conditional exemption. Mr E.C. Jackson represented the farmer, Mr John Angus.
Major Cross based his objection on the agricultural census, which showed one man in excess of the requirements. Mr Jackson said that Mr Angus was quite unable to do any work on the farm. They had tried to get a double hind at the hirings to release Little, but had failed.— The appeal was dismissed.
Mrs Bilton, of Bridge Street, Morpeth, appealed for Thomas Lee (26), single, who was employed by her as a hairdresser. The Clerk stated that the man had been grated one month final until May 23rd to enable Mrs Bilton to find another manager.— Chairman: The appeal is dismissed, and the man has to go.
The military appealed against Sidney Henson Pegg (38), house furnisher with G.B. Grey, Morpeth, who was granted three months’ temporary exemption by the local tribunal. Passed C1. Mr Alf Grey appeared on behalf of Pegg.
Major Cross said that Mr Grey had a brother partner in the business and another two men. The man was not employed in work which entitled him to exemption from military service.
Mr Grey said he had 22 girls in the business, and his brother spent a lot of time in connection with the volunteers. He had 19 men away since the war commenced. He also pointed out that Pegg had seven children under 14 years of age. That was an important point to take into consideration.— Major Cross: But the separation allowance will be equal to his wages in this case.— Mr Grey: I am not discussing that.— Major Cross: But you made that a special point.— Mr Grey: He is the only man I have asked for, and I only mentioned the fact about the children. He is essential to my business, and I think I will manage badly without him.— The military appeal was dismissed.
Mr R.C. Oliver on behalf of the firm, Messrs Oliver and Sons, Morpeth, applied for exemption for the foreman baker, Chas. C. Hudson (32), The Knoll, Morpeth, who was passed for general service. He was highly skilled, and was the pivot upon which the whole establishment rested. They had two other men and three women assisting.— The appeal was dismissed.
The appeal by Robert M. Smith (39), decorator, Manchester Street, Morpeth, with Thomas Dick and Co., of the same place, for exemption, was dismissed.
In the case of R.J. Simpson (35), married, gardener, 5 Burnside, Morpeth, who applied for exemption, the Clerk stated that he had a conscientious objection to military service. Simpson was passed for B1.
A letter was read from Ald. Ed. Norman stating that he had known Simpson for some time, and he believed him to be sincere in his convictions and in the attitude he took up with regard to military matters. He was doing work of national importance in the production of foodstuffs.
Applicant said he was a member of the Primitive Methodist body.— In answer to Major Cross he said that he could not take up arms and objected to non-combatant service, because it supported militarism. He had held those views for 12 or 14 years. He would undertake work of national importance if he was not sent to take the place of another man who had to go into the Army.
Major Cross: Would you be prepared to use force to protect your wife and children?— Applicant: I would do my best by speaking to him, but I would not attempt to injure him.— Answer my question. Are you prepared to use force to protect your wife and children against violence.— To use force, no.— Have you a vote?— I cannot tell you.
Chairman: The appeal is allowed on applicant undertaking work of national importance within one month to be approved by this tribunal.— Applicant: Can I take market gardening.— Major Cross: You must make some sacrifice.
Mr T.E. Whittle, contractor, Market Place, Morpeth, appealed on behalf of George W. Elliott (28), single, cartman, and cabdriver, residing at Pretoria Avenue. He said the man had been rejected three times and was now passed for general service. He thought the man should be sent to the Central Medical Board
Chairman: How many lady drivers have you got?— Mr Whittle: One, but I don’t care for them, but you have got to put up with them.— Major Cross: Is he a strong healthy man.— Mr Whittle: No, he was in bed three weeks sometime ago.— How did you get on?— Well I had to get on without him.— The appeal was dismissed.