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.
Sir,— May I ask for the use of your columns to draw attention to the Flag Day which will be held in Morpeth on Wednesday, September 19th, and Saturday, September 22nd, to assist the Y.W.C.A. to do for the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps what the Y.M.C.A. is doing for the soldiers?
Women have enlisted for the duration of the war, and have gone or are going to France, not in hundreds, but in thousands. In the danger zone and outside it, they are to be found everywhere except in the actual trenches. There are few kinds of work that they are not doing.
The work is hard, the miliary discipline strict, and the nervous strain intense. Their courage and self-sacrifice are no less than those of the men, their need of places to rest and recreation as great.
We appeal to your readers to show their appreciation of the fine work done by British women by giving a donation to provide huts for them in France. £500 erects a hut, or provides a rest room and canteen.
A hut or rest room can be named after a donor of this sum, or after the town in which the money is collected, and we hope to have a Morpeth Hut at the Front as a result of our “Women’s Day,” and thus to help the women who are helping to win the war.— Yours etc.,
A. A. TEMPLE.
Mayoress of Morpeth.
Mrs PHILIP COOKSON,
GARDEN FETE AT LINDEN HALL
In glorious weather a fete was held in the grounds of Linden Hall, which has for some time been a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers.
The programme included races for boys and girls, pillow fighting, obstacle races, “grabbing the pig,” egg and spoon race, and a hat trimming competition for the soldiers.
Prizes were given by Lady Armstrong, the Misses Adamson, Mrs Adamson, Mrs Clayton, and other ladies, the refreshments being supplied by the ladies of the neighbourhood.
An enjoyable day was brought to a conclusion with a whist drive and dance.
WHALTON AND EGG COLLECTING
Egg collecting for the military hospital at Coxlodge has been carried out with great success for a place the size of Whalton, where 932 eggs have been collected and despatched.
This must have been exceedingly welcome for the wounded soldiers who are being nursed back to health there.
EGG COLLECTING AT LONGHIRST
The third effort in the way of egg collection at Longhirst resulted in 440 eggs being obtained, of which Miss Rena Crombie collected 100, and Miss May Crombie 78.
Lieut. C.A. Hoy, only son of Mrs Hoy and the late H. Hoy, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, has been awarded the Military Cross.
Lieut. Hoy was formerly a student at Morpeth Grammar School and Armstrong College, Newcastle.
Second-Lieut. W. Golder, D.L.I., has received a letter from Major-General J.M. Campbell in appreciation of his distinguished conduct on April 28th, and congratulating him on his fine work in the field.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor presided.
The committee reported that letters and copies of resolutions by school managers were received asking the Council to assist in avoiding a stoppage of the schools during the period of the winter billets for soldiers.
The committee recommended that the Council request the military authorities to endeavour to obtain other quarters than the schools. This was agreed to.
Reference was made to the street lighting.
Mr Swinney remarked that they were worse off than last year. They got more light in Newcastle.
Mayor: I have felt that this is not an opportune time to go and ask for more lighting facilities.
Mr Armstrong: I think it is a very opportune time to go and ask for more light. We ought to use our influence and get as much light as possible.
Ald. Norman: This town can be put in darkness in two or three minutes, and we get far more notice than that. I don’t think that we should be kept in darkness, and it seems rather hard that we cannot have more light than we have at present.
Mr Fearby said it was preposterous that we should be kept in darkness in the winter time, when the lights can be turned out in a minute.
Mr Charlton said that Mr Fearby was the greatest offender on the North Field estate. One night when he (Mr Charlton) was on special duty Mr Fearby’s lights were very brilliant. He ignored the Council.
Mr Fearby stated that his windows had good thick blinds and half curtains in front of the blinds. He had been to the trouble to ask a neighbour to walk round the house with him and no light could be seen coming from his house.
Mr Charlton: Since I was up there and spoke to you about it.
Mayor: Order! Order!
The matter then dropped.
The Rev. Jos. Miller having declined to accept office as a member of the Borough Food Committee, the committee recommended that Mr J.Ed. Hindmarsh be elected in his place. This was agreed to.
MORPETH PARLIAMENTARY BOROUGH
A smoking concert was held in the George and Dragon Hotel, Morpeth, last Friday evening, when Captain Gerald Newton, the prospective independent candidate for Morpeth Parliamentary Borough, addressed the company. Councillor R.L. Fearby was voted to the chair.
After the usual loyal toast the Chairman proposed the toast, “The Army and Navy,” and coupled with it the name of Lieut. A. Dowson and Mr Chas. Bennett.
Both Lieut. Dowson and Mr Bennett replied, and wished Captain Newton the best of luck in his candidature.
The Chairman then proposed “Success and prosperity to our prospective candidate, Captain Newton.”
It would be a credit to this town and the Parliamentary Division of Morpeth to be represented by one who had not shirked his duty.
With regard to soldiers’ pensions, Captain Newton said they all knew what our dear, benevolent, and kind Government had done for soldiers who had come back from the war maimed.
He bound himself to back up any true and legitimate plea of any man discharged from the Army, who by reason of his wounds or any other incapacity, could not earn his livelihood. He was out to fight for him and see that he got his just reward.
The men had done their but, and it was up to them to do their bit for the soldiers.
What wounded soldiers, who has been badly treated, had to do was to see the president or secretary of the local advisory committee in his district. Give one or the other all information regarding their case.
He would be informed, and when he got into Parliament he would see the Secretary of Pensions, and ask him very quietly to look into the case.
If there was nothing done in a few days, he would go back and ask him if he had forgotten. If he did not do something he (Captain Newton) would raise the question in the House every day for twelve months if necessary until the Government were sick of his name in order to put things right. (Applause.)
There was the fiscal policy. Well, he was neither a free trader or a tariff reformer, but they wanted common sense in a matter like that. Up to now they had people at both ends of the string, and Germany had accumulated an immense amount of this country’s money through their short-headed policy.
His policy was no taxes on food, reciprocity with our Allies and Colonies. Tariff reform up to the hilt with the Huns, Austrians and other enemies. A graduated tariff in accordance with their attitude to this country, and in accordance with our interests in the different articles from neutral countries.
By that way they were going to smash trusts.
He contended that Parliament ought to be able by one single motion to raise or lower taxes on any article in order to smash trusts.
Questions were invited, and several were asked.
One individual asked: What would you do with the German navy?
Captain Newton replied: Take it, and make it part of the British Navy.
Despite the fact that there is an insistent call for men, and pressure has necessarily to be put on the sense of honour of every man with respect to his duty to his country in the present crisis, the Northumberland Voluntary movement is in a very healthy condition.
Men are coming forward steadily, if slowly, and those who are enrolled are carrying out their part of the contract with enthusiasm.
A feature is that the military authorities are now concerning themselves with the formation of special corps, and in a very short time there be little to choose between the establishment and equipment of the Volunteer Force and the Regular Army.
Their part in the scheme of defence has been drawn up for the whole country, and each infantry battalion of the Volunteers has got its specific job to perform. There are now engineer, artillery, and medical corps in process of formation, and the prospect is that they will very soon be at full strength.
The First Battalion has started a forward movement in Newcastle.
Reference was recently made to the fact that it was the intention of the authorities to use certain schoolrooms for the training of recruits, so as to save the men from having to travel long distances to put in their drills.
A suitable centre for the east end was found to be the Raby Street Council Schools, and a company has been formed there, under Captain J.S. Waller. A good response was made at the opening meeting.
A start will be made next week in the west end, and the Elswick Road Schools will be used. The O.C. will be Captain J. Tinn.
The 2nd Battalion, with headquarters at North Shields, has increased its strength, and a rally at Preston Colliery added some sixty recruits to the roll. The battalion will have a recruiting march to Whitley Bay on Sunday this month.
Volunteer literature has been distributed at the seaside railway stations with very good results.
The miners have taken a fancy for volunteering in the 3rd Battalion area, and a splendid result has been achieved. This battalion still leads the way in respect of numbers, and the Cramlington, Seaton Delaval, Bedlington and Bebside districts have all done well.
From the physical points of view, it would be difficult to raise a better battalion in the country.
It would be satisfactory if a similar state of things existed in the 4th Battalion, the figures of which rise slowly, and not in the way that might have been expected. The 4th has been entrusted with very important work in the defence of the county.
The trouble is that the weak link is Gosforth. At quite remote parts of the line, such as Bellingham, men are drilling with keenness, while at Gosforth not one-tenth of the possible number of recruits has answered the call. It is up to Gosforth to remove this stigma.
The 5th Battalion has made rapid progress recently, and is now the second strongest battalion in the regiment.
The headquarters of the new engineer corps are at Barras Bridge drill hall. It is to consist of a fortress company.
There will be detachments raised in Newcastle, North Shields, Blyth, and Amble, for the signallers. About 500 men are wanted, and one-half that number is already enrolled.
Three companies of artillery are to be raised from North Shields, and one from Hexham, Blyth, and Morpeth.
Men will be specially trained to drive cars, motor lorries, and commercial vehicles. The work of this unit is very important, as in case of necessity their services might be required for the Regular Army.
It is probable that three field ambulances will be raised, all probably from the St John Ambulance Brigade.
A test mobilisation will take place towards the end of October, or the beginning of November, in which the whole movement will be tested and any deficiency discovered will form the basis of training during the winter.
Provision will be made for schools of instruction for officers and N.C.O.s, and, having now got into comfortable quarters, the men will have an opportunity of getting on to the miniature ranges.
THE SPRINGHILL FETE
The fete which was held at Springhill, the residence of Mr and Mrs Geo. Renwick, on Thursday last week, has been an unqualified success. This was amply demonstrated at the meeting of the committee which was held in the ante-room at the Town Hall, Morpeth, on Wednesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) presided.
The secretary reported that the total amount realised from the ladies’ football match and the fete, after defraying all expenses, was £173 1s 5d.
He said that the best thanks of the committee were due to the football committee, with Mr G.D. Smith as secretary, for the splendid work in preparing the field for the game and selling of tickets. The balance from the match, including £5 17s 6d for dolls, was £19 17s 5d.
It was also mentioned that thanks were due to the Mayor for having borne some of the expenses, to Mr W.A. Grey for giving the use of the field free, to Mr A. Young for supplying gratuitously mineral waters for the players, and also to the secretary for entertaining the teams to tea.
In connection with the fete, the takings, including donations amounted to £140 16s 7d, and less expenses made a net balance of £130 4s.
Mrs Fullarton James, commandant of the hospital, had received donations amounting to £16 3s, and dolls sold by the patients had realised £6 7s.
The committee also wish to thank the tradesmen who gave prizes, the ladies who provided the refreshments, and the gentlemen who gave donations: Mr R. Elliott and Mr Straughan, who did the carting free; Mr A. Young for the lemonade; Mrs Joicey, who supplied the tea tent; Mr Docherty, who gave the pig; the special committee who carried out the sports, and the artistes who provided the concert.
Thanks were also given to Mr Renwick for placing his beautiful grounds at the disposal of the committee.
The secretary states that the doll competition was won by number 25, and the winner can have it by applying to him.
In the cake competition the correct weight was guessed by three competitors. As the cake was not claimed the committee sent it to the V.A.D. Hospital.
The Mayor proposed a special vote of thanks to the secretary and all the workers and subscribers for their ungrudging and generous help.
Councillor Fearby seconded, and Captain Fullarton James also joined in expressing his thanks to all.
LETTER OF THANKS
Sir,— I wish, through your help, to thank all those who have contributed to make the fete at Springhill so great a success.
The total sum, as at present ascertained, is £173 1s 5d, which obviously has not been obtained without much hard work on the part of the organisers (of whom Mr Robert Swinney was the most indefatigable chief), as well as generosity on the part of numerous donors of money and kind.
A remarkable feature of the balance sheet was the smallness of the expenses, each and all evidently competing with one another to reduce the gross takings by the least amount possible.
The people of Morpeth and district have constantly during the last three years shown their appreciation of the obligations we all owe to the wounded soldiers by many acts of kindness; they have, by this fine effort, shown that this spirit has lost nothing by the passing of the months.
It is impossible to mention by name all those who have helped in various ways, but Mr Geo. Renwick must not be omitted, who not only gave the use of his grounds and garden for the fete, but also a handsome donation and much personal help on his own part and that of Mrs and Miss Renwick.
I should also like to mention the Mayor and Mayoress, who gave valuable help, and the wounded soldiers themselves who were inmates of the hospital at the time, who worked hard both beforehand and on the day itself.— Yours etc.,
P. JAMES, Commandant
ROLL OF HONOUR
BELL.— Killed in action, June 1st, 1917, Corporal William Bell, of 5 Pont Street, Hirst, late of the Commercial Battalion; also Lance-Corporal J.A. Bell, 37286, late of Northern Cyclists, of 74 Milburn Road, Hirst.
BELL.— Killed in action, August 19th, 1917, aged 24 years, Private John Robert Bell, 36532, Northumberland Fusiliers, and dearly beloved son of John and Mary Ann Bell, 320 Welbeck Terrace, Pegswood.
DORGAN.— Killed in action in France on the 31st of August, 1917, aged 19 years and 4 months, Nicholas, the dearly beloved and youngest son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Dorgan, 34 Portia Street, Hirst, Ashington.
LATTY.— Killed in action on 2nd August, aged 22 years and 7 months, Gunner William Latty, No. 127437 R.F.A., dearly beloved son of Mary Todd of Hirst Head Farm, Bedlington.
TAIT.— Killed at sea, the result of an explosion on August 29th, 1917, Signaller G.H. Tait, aged 21 years, the beloved son of Jane and the late Henry Tait, of 10 Pioneer Terrace, Bedlington Station, and grandson of the late Henry and Isabella Tait, of Barrington Colliery.
THOMPSON.— Died of wounds in France on August 27th, 1917, Sergt. Thompas Thompson, Northumberland Fusiliers, dearly loved son-in-law of David and Mary Besford, 72 Milburn Road, Ashington, and beloved husband of Mary Thompson, and only son of Ronald and Annie Thompson, Radcliffe.
YEARHAM.— Reported missing, now reported killed in action on the 23rd April, 1917, Corporal J.W. Yearham, 14737, aged 23 years, the dearly beloved son of Samuel and Elizabeth Yearham, of 49 Ninth Row, Ashington.