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.
In the list of awards by the King, issued on Saturday last for bravery in the field, we are pleased to note that Lieut.-Colonel John S. Purdy, youngest son of the late Mr Geo. Purdy, Morpeth, of the Australian Army Medical Corps, who commands the 10th Australian Field Ambulance, has gained the D.S.O. as an immediate award for this services in a recent battle in France.
The paragraph reads as follows:— “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer was in charge of the evacuation of the wounded from regimental aid posts to dressing stations. Although continually under shell fire — at times of a most intense character — for seven days he exercised close personal supervision over the evacuation of the wounded, and by his own example of courage and disregard of danger, he animated all ranks with a similar attitude of mind.
“To the thoroughness of his arrangements and devotion to duty is largely due to the quick evacuation of all wounded. The same untiring energy and devotion was seen in the previous week of this officer during preliminary operations.”
Lieut.-Colonel Purdy has seen nearly three years’ service with the Australians in Egypt, at the Dardanelles, and in France. Whilst in Egypt he held an important appointment as specialist sanitary officer to the Australian and New Zealand Forces, being promoted to his present rank in January, 1916. He served with the 6th and 10th New Zealand Contingent in the Boer War as surgeon-captain.
In civil life he is Metropolitan Medical Officer of Health, Sydney, Australia. Before receiving this appointment he was 3½ years Chief Health Officer for Tasmania.
Lieut.-Colonel Purdy received his early education at Morpeth Grammar School, and was an exhibitioner and captain of that school in 1890. He graduated M.B. and C.M. at Aberdeen University, where he also received the M.B. in 1904, and D.P.H., Cambridge, 1903, when he was resident surgeon at the London Lock Hospital.
He has made many contributions to medical magazines, is an F.R.S., Edinburgh, and F.R.G.S. Last year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal L. Inst. In 1910 he was president of the Public Health Section of the Australian Medical Congress, Sydney, and since represented Tasmania in the Inter-State and Commonwealth Food and Drugs Conference, and the Australian Conference on Tuberculosis. He was Inspector of Boy Scouts in New Zealand and Commissioner in Tasmania, receiving the decoration of Hon. Silver Wolf.
MORPETH SOLDIER KILLED
Mrs J. Hall, New Phoenix Yard, Morpeth, whose husband, Private John Hall (38480), Lancashire Fusiliers, was previously reported missing, has now had official news that he was killed in action. Mrs Hall has received the following letter from Second-Lieut. T. Pagett, Lancashire Fusiliers:—
Dear Mrs Hall,— Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in the sad loss you have sustained through the death of your husband. He was killed while rushing up a trench to the help of a wounded comrade. The Germans were shelling heavily at the time, and a shell burst right in the trench and killed him instantaneously along with one of his comrades.
We buried them both together the same night behind the trench. I hope the grave will soon be out of shell fire, as we are advancing in that part of the line. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy, and may God be your comfort in your sorrow.— Yours sympathetically, T. Pagett, Second-Lieut., L.F.
Previous to enlistment Private Hall was employed by Mr A. Straughan, of the Black Bull Livery Stables. He was well-known in Morpeth and district, and had not been in France quite eleven weeks when he met his death. He was 31 years of age.
LOCAL SOLDIER WOUNDED IN ACTION
Notification has been received from the War Office that Second-Lieut, Percy H. Satchwell, Northumberland Fusiliers, has been wounded in action, and is now in hospital abroad suffering from a gun-shot wound in the thigh.
He is a son of Mrs Satchwell, of 12 Albert Terrace, Whitley Bay, and previous to joining the ranks in September, 1914, he was in practice as a solicitor with the late Mr William Webb of Morpeth.
MORPETH GRAMMAR SCHOOL MILITARY HONOUR
M.C.— Temporary Second-Lieut. Arnold Tiffaney Dudley, York R. — For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading his company successfully when all the other officers had become casualties.
He showed great judgement in his selection of strong points for the defence, and set a fine example to his men of coolness under heavy shell fire. Although wounded, he remained in command for 36 hours.
THE LADIES MATCH
We would again draw attention to the football match that has been arranged to take place, under the patronage of the Mayor and Corporation of Morpeth, tomorrow (Saturday), in the Grange House field, when the champion lady munition workers’ teams of the North will meet.
The match has been organised by Councillor R.N. Swinney for the benefit of the funds of the local V.A.D. Hospital.
The opposing teams will be Wallsend Slipway Ladies versus Palmer’s, Hebburn. The Mayoress of Morpeth will kick-off at 3.30 in the afternoon. Mr W. McCracken, of the Newcastle United, will act as referee, and the Morpeth Pipers’ Band will be in attendance.
MORPETH GAS COMPANY
The annual meeting of the shareholders of the Morpeth Gas Company was held at the works on Tuesday evening. Mr Ralph Crawford (chairman of the directors) presided.
In the annual report the directors congratulated the shareholders upon the successful result of the year’s working. The favourable position in which the company found itself owing to its previous policy, coupled with economical and careful management, had enabled them, in spite of unprecedented difficulties due to the war and the diminution of business caused by restricted lighting, to show as satisfactory a result as ever.
The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report and balance sheet, said that the past year has been, as they would well imagine, a very anxious year owing to the circumstances of the war, particularly as they affected the company.
They were pleased that in spite of those adverse circumstances they had been able to do as well, and if not better, this year than any previous year. The dividends had been fully maintained, and that had been done without intrenching in any way upon the reserves of the company.
At the commencement of the war they had been able to instal a new holder on favourable terms. They had spent £1,000 on the new holder, and it would have been impossible to have got it now or after the war for that sum.
The repairs and renewals had cost £653 as against £784. The repairs and renewals had kept the works in a thorough and efficient order. When the war was over, and had increased business, they would be fully equipped at their works to take full advantage of it.
Salaries and wages had amounted to £831, as against £766. When they considered the large increase in wages in the country, the comparatively small increase of £70 was highly satisfactory to them.
Of course, they had worked with a fewer number of men, and he wished to pay a tribute to the loyalty of the staff and for their support in these exceedingly trying times.
The sale of gas in cubic feet had amounted to 24,206,000, and last year it totalled 26,377,000 cubic feet, showing a falling off of 2,171,000 cubic feet. That was accounted for by the restrictions in lighting. It was a serious matter, but it was unavoidable, and due to circumstances which would pass away when the war ended.
The shareholders had always been given a reasonable dividend. While many companies had had to reduce their dividends, they had been able to pay the old rate. Shareholders could rest assured that if they could go through those difficult times without loss of dividend they would go through more prosperous times with much greater results.
He hoped war clouds would soon pass away and that they would be blessed with the sunshine of peace once more. It was the wish of them all that the end of the war would result in complete victory for our Army, and that the German menace, from which the whole world had suffered, would be ended once and for all.
During the year they had subscribed five guineas to the Morpeth Red Cross Hospital. They had laid down a rule that they would not subscribe to any institutions, but leave it to the individual shareholders and directors to give in a private capacity. It was very easy to be generous with other people’s money.
In this case, however, the Red Cross had a rather peculiar claim upon them. They had made an application for the gas supplied to the hospital to be reduced in price. They felt as directors, if they reduced the price to the hospital they might have similar applications from others, and they considered it best to give a donation of five guineas.
The actions of the directors was approved.
The Chairman also referred to the waste land adjoining the works which had been under cultivation. They gave plots to the workmen and the lots left over they let at a satisfactory rent to the most suitable applicants. That waste land had been turned into excellent vegetable gardens.
The Morpeth detachment held their usual parade on Tuesday evening, when the attendance was small, the weather being against outside work.
The company marched to Cottingwood and were drilled under the superintendence of Lieut. Morrison, of Headquarters’ Staff, and afterwards returned to the Drill Hall, where the company was split up into squads and given musketry instruction preparatory to the men undergoing their tests on Sunday first at the range at Morpeth Common.
The majority of the men of Morpeth Company have now passed their efficiency tests in all subjects, and have now only to go through their tests in firing before being posted as efficient.
The firing tests to be held on the Common on Sunday are to commence at 8.30 in the morning, and the men are required to be on parade at the Drill Hall, Copper Chare, at 7.45.
It is desired that every member of the company should parade, in order, if possible, to get through the test, when every man passing will be served out with uniform.
The men will provide their own rations.
There is still room for more members in the company, which is not yet up to full strength. It is regretted that more men, who could without difficulty join up, will not do so.
The movement is now on a thoroughly organised footing, and is regarded by every military authority in the country as a force of the greatest importance at the present time, and is receiving the fullest support from the Government and War Office, who are leaving no stone unturned to bring the force up to the highest state of efficiency.
To the credit of the men who are members of the force, they, on their part, leave no stone unturned to make themselves efficient.
Sergt.-Instructor Roberts, who has recently been attached to the company, is now making himself felt, and is most assiduous in his attention to duty, and his work is showing itself in the men’s drill.
Now that he has got settled down it is important that more men should join up and take advantage of the training under the instructor.
A sergeant-instructor in musketry has also now been attached to the battalion, and visits with instruction in this most technical and difficult branch of military work will be given by him.
For any man wishing to join the local company the present is an excellent opportunity.
The men parade on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6.50pm, and on Sunday mornings at 10 o’clock at the Drill Hall.
Any wishing to join can sign on at the times stated.
MORPETH’S CIGARETTE FUND
Two gallant Morpeth soldiers, Privates Ed. Stevinson and Ant. Daglish, in thanking the good ladies of Morpeth for their kindly thought in sending cigarettes, mention that the last parcel, arriving only a few days ago, was most welcome.
They join with the rest of the boys in their thanks to the generous helpers in so magnificent a scheme.
A few of the Northern lads were on leave when the “fags” went round, but it was only the right thing to do to share them out amongst the others.
In conclusion, the boys hoped that the committee responsible would endorse their action.
DEMONSTRATION ON PRESERVING FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
At the request of the Board of Agriculture, Miss Denny, of the Northumberland Guild of War Agricultural Workers, will give a lecture and demonstration on the preservation of fruit and vegetables at 3pm in the Council Schools, Morpeth, on Saturday, 8th September.
It is hoped that many will avail themselves of the opportunity of learning how to avoid waste of fruit by cheap methods.
There is no charge for admission.
GROCERS’ MEETING AT MORPETH
A meeting of the grocers in Morpeth was held in the Town Hall on Wednesday evening. Mr W.A. Grey presided.
The object of the meeting was to elect an advisory committee in connection with the sugar distribution scheme.
The committee appointed was as follows:— Mr W.A. Grey (chairman), Mr G.A Frank, Mr J. Simpson, Mr S.P. Kilby, Mr Barnston, and Mr J.R. Bowman (secretary).
We are asked to state that a hearty invitation is extended to all grocers to attend the meetings.
PRESENTATION AT WIDDRINGTON
Mr J.T. Taylor, manager of the Widdrington Co-operative Society, who is joining the Forces, has been made the recipient of a handsome Sheraton Clock, the gift of a number of friends.
Councillor H. Annett presided.
The presentation was made by Dr H.R. Hunter.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Private Robert Henderson, whose mother resides at Marlow Street, Blyth, has died of wounds.
Mr M.B. Goodfellow, tobacco manufacturer, Alnwick, has received word that his son, Private Matthew Goodfellow, York and Lancs., has been missing since August 7th.
Mr and Mrs T.A. Thorp, Bondgate Hall, Alnwick, have been advised that their eldest son, Second-Lieut. Thomas Tudor Thorp, Royal Field Artillery, has been killed in action. He was 20 years of age, and was grandson of the Rev. W.T. Thorp of South Charlton.
Private J. Brown, of Earsdon, has been killed in action. He was a surface worker, and was employed at Holywell Colliery. He was a member of the Labour Battalion. Several of his comrades were killed on the same day by a shell.
ROLL OF HONOUR
BARNFATHER.— Killed in action in France, August 7th, aged 20 years, Lance-Corporal George Barnfather, 242270 Scouts’ Section, Duke of Wellington’s, formerly of N.F., beloved son of Mr and Mrs John Barnfather, Gordon Street, Guide Post, Choppington.
HALL.— Killed in action in France on Aug. 8th, Private J. Hall, Lancashire Fusiliers, aged 31 years, the beloved husband of Wilhelmina Hall, 1 New Phoenix Yard, Morpeth.
JEFFERSON.— Died August 18th, 1917, of wounds received in action, aged 22 years and 5 months, Gunner Wm. Jefferson, 81741 Royal Field Artillery, dearly beloved son of John and Barbara Jefferson, 48 North Terrace, Bedlington.
McINTYRE.— Died of wounds on August 11th, 1917, aged 28 years and 4 months, Lance-Corporal James McIntyre, No. 107667 East Yorks, the dearly beloved eldest son of Luke and Jane Hannah McIntyre, of Choppington Colliery.
PRESENTATION TO A HAUXLEY HERO
Corporal J.T. Sinclair has brought honour not only to himself, but to his native village of Hauxley by his bravery on the battlefield, for he has been awarded the Military Medal.
On Tuesday night he was the guest of many of his friends at Radcliffe and Hauxley at the Radcliffe Picture Hall, where he was presented with a wallet of Treasury notes, subscribed by those friends and presented under the auspices of the Radcliffe Soldiers’ Fund.
The chair was taken by Mr Robert Wood, whose interest in the soldiers and solicitude for their welfare is well known. He introduced the Rev. J.S. Stancliffe, curate-in-charge of Radcliffe, who made the presentation, and in doing so paid a high tribute to those brave lads who had made so many sacrifices in the cause of freedom and humanity, and spoke of the pleasure of having one of those heroes with them that night in the person of Corporal Smailes.
He was pleased to have the honour of presenting him with a wallet of Treasurer notes as a token of their high appreciation of his noble deed. (Applause.)
Corporal Smailes, in a brief but feeling way, responded and thanked them for their kindness in making him that presentation.
MORPETH RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Rural Council was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.
The surveyor (Mr Osborne Blythe) reported that since their last meeting he regretted that no rolling had been done until Monday last. He had taken all steps possible to get a supply of stone. The contractors pleaded inability to get waggons.
Circular letters were read from the Food Controller with reference to carrying out the scheme of food control in the council’s area.
Mr Dormand moved that the committee consist of eleven members of the Council and one lady.
Mr Annett moved that the committee consist of six members of the Council and six co-opted from outside.
Mr Dormand’s motion was carried by 8 votes to 5.