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.
Brigadier-General John Moore, C.B., has been awarded the Legion of Honour (Croix Officer).
General Moore is a son of the late Mr John Moore, of Longhirst Farm, near Morpeth — for many years secretary of the Bothal Coursing Club — and has been in command of the Veterinary Forces in the field since the beginning of hostilities.
Private M. Coulson, N.F., Forest Hall, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in tending to the wounded under heavy fire. Private Coulson had previously been recommended for devotion to duty and good work.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) presided.
After the reading of the minutes of the previous meeting the Town Clerk stated that in accordance with the Council’s instructions he had written to Lieut. W.S. Sanderson as follows:—
13th June, 1917.
“My dear William,— By the direction of the Town Council, passed at their meeting yesterday, I am taking the earliest opportunity of conveying to you the very hearty congratulations of your colleagues upon the well-deserved distinction conferred upon you by your honourable mention in the dispatches of your Commander-in-Chief.
“I need hardly say that I sincerely echo these congratulations, and look forward with confidence to your still further distinguishing yourself. We are all proud of you and highly appreciate the glory your conduct reflects upon your native town.
“With kindest regards, yours very truly,
“JAS. JARDIN, Town Clerk.”
The Town Clerk explained that the above letter arrived in France just after Lieut. Sanderson had left there for home on a brief holiday. Lieut. Sanderson had called upon him, and said that he would attend a meeting of his colleagues and thank them personally, but something had prevented him from attending.
By the Council’s instructions he had written the following letter to Lieut.-Colonel Irwin Wright:—
June 13th, 1917.
“Dear Colonel Wright,— While well merited expressions of goodwill are pouring in on you from all sides, can you spare a moment’s attention to the hearty congratulations of the Mayor and Corporation of Morpeth upon your having attained to the honour of the D.S.O.?
“Need I say that I sincerely concur in the congratulations offered — though the D.S.O. is no more than we expected of you?
“We hope you may be spared to return in good health and strength to the bosom of your family, upon whom, as well as your townspeople generally, to reflect this and higher honours.
“With the kindest of regards and the best of good wishes.— “I am, yours, very truly.
JAS. JARDIN, Town Clerk.”
In reply, the Town Clerk said he had received the following letter:—
In the Field, June 26th, 1917.
“Dear Mr Jardin.— Among the many letters of congratulations which have reached me during the past few days, none has given me greater pleasure than that of the Mayor and Corporation of Morpeth.
“I am greatly touched by their expressions of goodwill and esteem. Many new links and fresh ties are formed out here, links which will not be easily broken; but to be thus affectionately held in remembrance by the friends of one’s old town is a thing which I shall not readily forget.
“If there is one thing which can give me greater pride than to command a battalion of Northumberland Fusiliers it is to realise that those at home hold us worthy of the great task with which we have been entrusted.
“We sincerely believe that the time is now not far distant when Morpeth will welcome those who have tried to be worthy of her great traditions.— Believe me, your very truly,
“IRWIN WRIGHT, Lieut-Colonel.”
The Town Clerk read a circular from the Town Clerk of Reading with copy of resolution passed by that Corporation recommending the Government to authorise local authorities to purchase coal for storage for winter supplies.
The committee recommended that the Council support the Reading resolution, though the powers recommended would not be necessary where, as in Morpeth, the district is close to the coalfields.
An application was received from the local secretary of the Food Control Campaign for the use of the Town Hall for limelight lecture by the Rev. Joseph Miller on Friday, July 17, which was granted.
Encouraging progress is being made by the Morpeth Company of the Northumberland Volunteer Regiment under the command of Lieut. W. Duncan. Now that the detachment is equipped with rifles, bayonets, and belts, instruction in the care of arms, firing etc., is being pushed forward.
Last Sunday morning, although the muster was not so large as usual, the men who turned out spent two hours in the open in carrying out most interesting work.
On Sunday, if the weather is favourable, the men are going to have a field day. They will parade at the Drill Hall at 10 in the morning and return about four in the afternoon. Each man has got to bring his own rations. It is anticipated that a large number of the men will avail themselves of the opportunity to take part in the operation.
MORPETH WAR SEWING MEETING
A special meeting of the above will be held on Thursday, 19th July, at 3pm.
A “Lettuce Tea” will be given by the Mayoress at 4 o’clock. It is hoped there may be a good attendance.
VEGETABLES FOR THE NORTH SEA FLEET
The Morpeth Branch Depot is now open every Wednesday from 9.30am till noon, when gifts of fresh fruit and vegetables will be gratefully received at the Town Hall.
MORPETH WAR SAVINGS’ ASSOCIATION
FOOD CONTROL CAMPAIGN
A limelight lecture on “The Food Battle” will be given by the Rev. Joseph Miller on Tuesday, 17th July, 1917, at 7.30pm, in the Town Hall, Morpeth. Alderman Edward Norman will preside.
Come and hear what part you can take in the saving of food.
WAR INFORMATION OFFICE
With the sanction of the Lord Mayor and War Relief Fund Committee, the War Information Office, 9 Eldon Square, Newcastle-on-Tyne will be closed for personal interviews from Friday afternoon, July 13th, till July 30th.
During that time all enquiries by letter will be dealt with and care taken that each enquiry is dealt with immediately, and it is hoped that no extra suspense or inconvenience will be caused.
All letters should state clearly what is required, and give full regimental particulars of the person concerned.
In the case of a casualty notified unofficially, the communication itself should be sent with full regimental particulars of informant. If a casualty is notified officially the official notice should be sent, and in all cases the relationship to the enquirer should be stated.
Every care will be taken in obtaining the reduced travelling vouchers for the relatives of men in hospital, and the medical reports on the men.
Miss Ridley particularly begs that no enquiries be made personally, as the object of closing the office is that the clerks who have worked untiringly for so long may have their holiday at the same time, so that they may have the full benefit of the rest, and start work again with renewed vigour on July 30th.
ROLL OF HONOUR
GLENTON.— Private Thomas Glenton, aged 33 years, reported missing since July 1st, now reported presumed dead on the 1st or since.— Deeply mourned by his father, the late Ellen Glenton, loving sisters, brothers, and brothers-in-law.
GREEN.— Died of wounds in France, July 3rd, 1917, Private M. Green, N.F., fifth son of Mrs and the late Matthew Green, of 8 Copper Chare, Morpeth, and beloved husband of Jane Green, Newsham.— Deeply mourned by his loving wife and two children, mother, brothers, and sister and brother-in-law.
RICHARDSON.— Killed in action on June 7th, 1917, Acting-Sergeant Walter L. Richardson, N.F., of Netherton Colliery, beloved son of Robert Richardson.— Ever remembered by his loving father and step-mother and all at home.— R.I.P.
ALLEN.— Killed in action in France, June 7th, 1917, Private T. Allen, 9th York and Lancaster, beloved son of Mr and Mrs T. Allen, 16 George and Dragon Yard, Morpeth.— Ever remembered by his loving father, mother, brothers and sister.
GRAHAM.— Killed on Saturday, 7th July, on board H.M.S. —, T.B.D., William Arthur, only son of Joseph and the late Hannah Graham, and grandson of Robert Luke, Wansbeck Place, Morpeth, aged 20 years.
COCKBURN.— Died on 2nd May, 1917, aged 22 years, Lance-Corporal William Cockburn, prisoner of war in Germany, youngest child and only son of the late John and Dorothy Cockburn late of Elyhaugh, Felton.— Deeply mourned.
SCOTT.— Killed in action on April 9th, 1917, Sergeant John Scott, N.F., aged 22 years, of 11 Telephone Row, Bedlington.— Deeply mourned by his sorrowing father, brother, and sister, and all who knew him.— R.I.P.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Private J. Buglass, 17 Institute Row, West Sleekburn, was killed in action on June 5th.
Mrs Orr, 62 Beaumont Terrace, Gosforth, has received information that her husband, Sergeant David Orr, is missing.
Mr Wm. Thompson, late of Pottergate, Alnwick, has received official information that his son, Private Alex. H. Thompson, has died of wounds received in action.
Mrs Richardson, of 75 Yard Row, Netherton Colliery, has been officially informed that her husband, Acting-Sergt. Walter Richardson, N.F., was killed in action on June 7th, 1917.
Mr and Mrs Daniel O’Hare, 6 Lumsden’s Lane, Morpeth, have received official news that their oldest son, Private James Daniel O’Hare, was killed in action on June 16th. He was in the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Private Edward Johnson, Australians, son of the late Mr Matthew Johnson, of Pont Street, Hirst, has died of wounds received in action on June 3rd. Before emigrating to the Antipodes over four years ago, he was employed at Linton Colliery.
News has been received by Mr and Mrs Jeffrey, West Thirston, Felton, of the death of their eldest son, Wilfred, a sapper in the Royal Engineers, from appendicitis. Sapper Jeffrey joined the Forces in March, 1916, and in July last year was drafted to the East. Previous to enlistment he followed the trade of slater and plasterer with his father and younger brother.
Mrs M Green, 8 Copper Chare, Morpeth, has received official information that her son, Pte. M. Green, N.F., died from wounds on July 3rd, also that her son, Private Wm. Green,. was wounded on June 26th, and is at present in hospital in France. Previous to joining the Colours Private M. Green was a machinist with Messrs G. and N. Wright Ltd., timber merchants, and Private Wm. Green was a platelayer on the N.E.R. Mrs Green has five sons in the Army.
The parents of Lance-Corporal Dixon Donkin, of Chevington Drift, have received official word that their son has been killed in action. At the age of 18 deceased joined the Northumberland Fusiliers on August 15, 1915. He went to France in April, 1916. He was wounded at the battle of the Somme, and was blind for some time. After recovery he returned to the Front in January last, and took part in the battle of Arras and also at Messines, where he made the great sacrifice. Prior to enlisting he was a putter at Chevington Drift Colliery.
Official news has been received by Mrs Allsopp of the Sun Inn, Cowpen Quay, of the death of her brother, Private Daniel Lavery, who was killed in action. Private Lavery won the Military Medal for distinguished service in saving a wounded officer. He was wounded over a year ago, one bullet never being extracted. The deceased soldier was a bachelor, of quiet demeanour and much esteemed by all who knew him, and the news of his death has evoked sincere sorrow at Blyth, where he has lived practically all his life.
Lance Corporal James Albert Crawford, R.E., whose mother resides at 45 Plessey Road, Blyth, and who was killed on the Balkan front a week past Saturday, was an apprentice at Blyth shipyard before enlistment. He went out East nearly two years ago with another Blyth shipyard apprentice, who was accidentally killed over a year ago, and now he has gone under. Three of his brothers are in the Forces. Deceased was 21 years of age, and was a son of the late Mr Michael P. Crawford, who was a waterman for the supply of ships on the River Blyth for many years, and an enthusiastic volunteer officer in the Blyth detachment of the T.R.G. for a long time.
Mrs Wilson, of Harrogate, has received official news that her husband, Private J.M. Wilson N.F., and eldest son of Councillor W. Wilson of North Seaton Road, Ashington, has been killed in action. Mrs Wilson has received a sympathetic letter, dated June 14th, from the Wesleyan chaplain, the Rev. W. Hawkins.
Mrs Smith, 20 Double Row, Cowpen Colliery, has had information of the death of her husband Private James Smith, Australian Imperial Force, who was killed in action on June 9th. Before emigrating to Australia four years ago he worked as a coal hewer at Cowpen North Pit. He joined the Colours in Australia when war broke out, and served 12 months in New Guinea Islands, where he was discharged. He enlisted a second time, and came to England this year, and had been in France four months. The lieutenant of his company, writing to Mrs Smith, says:— “He went over in one of the big attacks and was doing splendid work, when a shell struck our trench and claimed its toll. Your husband was not marked in any way, but was killed instantly by concussion. I feel sure that your knowledge that he was taking part in such a glorious victory will be some slight consolation to you in your loss.”
Mr T. Allen, of the George and Dragon Yard, Morpeth, has received word from the War Office that his son, Private T. Allen, York and Lancaster Regiment, was killed in action last month. He has also received a message of sympathy from the King and Queen, and the following sympathetic letter from the Officer Commanding “C” Company:— “It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the death of your son, Pte. T. Allen, who was killed on the 7th June. In your sad bereavements I offer you my sincerest sympathy. His death, along with others who gave up their lives that day, has caused a great loss to us, but our loss cannot compare with yours. The little time he was with us I found him to be a good soldier and always ready to do his duty. In offering you my condolence I echo the sentiments of all officers, N.C.O.s and men of this company.”
COUNTY APPEALS TRIBUNAL
The Northumberland Appeal Tribunal (Berwick area) held a meeting at Alnwick on Wednesday under the presidency of Mr D.H.W. Askew, chairman.
J.A. Anderson, jun., farmer, etc., Morpeth, applied for leave to appeal to the Central Tribunal to be exempted from military service. It was stated that owing to the health of Mr Anderson, sen., there was no one but the son to look after the business, which was a difficult and responsible one. The son had only passed for C1.— Leave was given to appeal to the Central Tribunal.
A similar application was also made in respect of John James Dent, insurance agent for the Pearl Assurance Company and administrative officer, residing at Morpeth.— It was stated that before the war 19 collectors were employed in the district; now there were only one male and 11 female collectors.— Leave was granted to appeal to the Central Tribunal.
Application was made for the exemption from military service of James Hewitt, grocer’s assistant, Red Row, Chevington, in the employment of the Broomhill Co-operative Society.— Hewitt, it was stated, had been called up two or three times and rejected as unfit for military service, but at his last examination he had been passed for C3 on the 27th July last. He was sent home as they were not requiring C3 men at that time. Subsequently on being re-examined he passed for B1. The other man, Johnson, who was in the Stores at that time, was in the Army now.
The military representatives said that Hewitt was really in the Army now and an absentee, the proper course not having been pursued.— The Tribunal said application must be made to the Army Council and the facts of his case put before them. If they gave leave then the tribunal would re-hear his case.
Henry Smith, clothier, etc., Granby Buildings, Morpeth, appealed against the decision of the Morpeth Tribunal. The appeal was made on the grounds of domestic hardship, his father being past work, and the appellant being his only support. He was besides a conscientious objector, but did not object to perform civil work for the country. On the 7th April last year he was, on examination, placed in category C3, for any sedentary work, and was then told to go home, not being wanted at the moment.
The military representative said Smith was in the Army now, he not having complied with the notice sent to him to appeal.— The tribunal dismissed the appeal, having no jurisdiction under the circumstances.
An appeal was made by the employer in respect of Joseph Hopper (32), rabbit catcher, Throphill, in the employment of Captain Mitford. It was stated that Hopper was the only man kept on the estate of several thousands of acres. He had been rejected several times, but subsequently had passed for C2. The rabbits were greatly increasing, and if they had not a man to catch them they would soon be over-run and the crops destroyed. Captain Mitford had received letters from his tenants appealing to him to send a rabbit catcher as the damage being done by the rabbits was serious.
When the nation was in need of food it was most essential that they should save the crops. But if Hopper was wishful to go to the war Captain Mitford would not put any obstacle in his way.
This was another case where the proper course had not been followed, and consequently Hopper at that moment was really in the Army.— The appeal was dismissed, the tribunal having no jurisdiction, but an application could be made to the Army Council for leave to have a rehearing.