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 death of Private Robert Raymond Cooper, N.F., son of Mr and Mrs S.R. Cooper, High Church, Morpeth, has occasioned much regret among a large circle of friends. He was killed on October 26th.
Deceased, who was 24 years of age, was educated at Morpeth Grammar School and afterwards attended Skerry’s College, Newcastle. Before enlistment he was in the service of Wilson and Armstrong, steamship brokers and coal exporters of Newcastle.
He was a member of St James’s Church choir, the Church Institute, and the YMCA. He also took an active part in football and cricket and was well liked by his fellows in the borough.
Among the letters of condolence received by the bereaved parents is one from the Commanding Officer, who pays a high tribute to his worth as a soldier.
THE “HERALD” IN THE TRENCHES
Sir,— I read with interest from time to time of the “Morpeth Herald” being in the trenches on the Western Front, and on reading it again in your issue of the 28th September, I though it may interest you to know that the “Morpeth Herald” is also in the trenches in Palestine, and is read with great interest.
Since embarking for Egypt in January last my parents have not missed one single week in sending out the “Morpeth Herald” to me, and strange to say, despite the Hun, with the exception of two, every one has reached me.
There are one or two Morpethians in the trenches here and all welcome the “Herald”.— Yours etc.,
J. HOWARD JACKSON, Lieut.
MORPETH OFFICER WOUNDED IN PALESTINE
Councillor Geo. Jackson, of Bridge Street, Morpeth, received word from the War Office on Monday that his son, Lieut. J. Howard Jackson, has been wounded in action in Palestine, but that his wounds are not serious.
MORPETH RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Rural District Council was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.
The Clerk reported that the Food Control Committee had appointed a Food Economy Committee from their body.
The Food Control Committee had to report that 3,094 sugar cards had been issued. The retailers’ returns had all been checked, and authorities to wholesale merchants would be issued.
Potatoes had been dealt with. Meat and coal prices had been fixed and slaughter house returns had been made. A sub-committee had been appointed for transport purposes.
All the Orders of the Food Controller had been complied with, and the committee asked to have a cheque for £50 to cover expenses up to December 31st. It was agreed that the cheque be given.
Mr Hudson, in moving the following resolution, said it was a matter of great importance:— “Seeing that the increase of home-grown supply of food is a national duty, and that the Government is urging farmers to take their share by enlarging the acreage of land under the plough, the people who live in towns should be asked to take part also.
“It is suggested that the Urban District Councils should supply town refuse in a fit state to be used as manure at cost price. It is also suggested that the Government should be asked to call upon the railway companies to supply to the councils as many trucks as shall be wanted at a reasonable notice.”
Mr Hudson said there was a large quantity of good manure being sent out to sea and in other ways being rendered of no use whatever. It was a case of destroying a good and excellent fertiliser which they could not replace except at a very considerable cost. It was absolutely necessary owing to the increased cost which had fallen upon the farmer.
He did not say that he had no compensation on other respects; but it seemed a very strange thing to send a valuable fertiliser out to sea and put on the roadways when, by a little care in taking all out that was of no value — a very small proportion of the whole — the land would get the benefit of the remainder.
However well farmers might farm their land by keeping it clean and cultivating it thoroughly, they could not dispense with the manure.
Mr Hemsley seconded the resolution, which was unanimously carried.
It was also decided that copies be sent to urban councils in Northumberland and Durham and to the Board of Trade and the Board of Agriculture.
ST GEORGE’S CHURCH ROLL OF HONOUR
Last Sunday Dr Drysdale intimated the intention of members of St George’s Fellowship to ask the congregation to contribute towards sending to each of the brave boys on the roll of honour, numbering between 50 and 60, a Christmas letter, signed by the minister, with some little token of remembrance.
Friends are asked to send the addresses of the recipients at once to the “Herald” Office, care of Mrs Geo. Middlemiss, jun., the hon. secretary of the Fellowship.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Mrs Nixon, of Nixon’s Buildings, Dudley, has received news that her husband, Corporal W. Nixon, N.F., has died in France from wounds.
Private Thomas Taylor, Newbiggin, has been killed in action.
Mrs R. Hetherington, 100 Waterloo Road, Blyth, has received word that her son, Gunner P. Hetherington, R.F.A., died of wounds in France on October 27th.
Mrs John Hall, of Longhorsley, has received word that her son, Cyclist T. Hall, has been wounded for the second time, and is in Bascombe Hospital, Hants. Both father and son are serving their King and country.
Mr and Mrs Thos. Walker, Goose Hill, Morpeth, have received official news that their son, Private R. Walker, fell in action on 26th Oct.
Mrs Spoors, Morpeth, has received word that her husband, Signaller A. Spoors, has been wounded and gassed, and is now in Reading Hospital.
Mr and Mrs Lamb, of 20 Edward Street, Morpeth, have received news that their second son, Private Charles F. Lamb, has been wounded in the right hand, making this the fourth time he has been wounded, and is now in hospital in Cheshire.
Mr and Mrs Edmund Garvie, Bridge Street, Morpeth, have received official news that their eldest son, Private Oswald Garvie, R.A.M.C., was killed in action in France on October 24th.
Private Garvie was born and brought up in Morpeth. He was partly educated at St James’s School, under Mr Wm. Bullock, and afterwards was at Morpeth Grammar School, under Mr G.D. Dakyns.
He served his apprenticeship as a grocer with Mr T. Duncan, Morpeth, and was afterwards an assistant in the Morpeth branch of the Newcastle and District Supply Stores. He was next transferred to branches of the Supply Stores in Durham, Leeds, and other large towns in the Midlands.
He joined the R.A.M.C. in 1915, and was shortly afterwards sent to France. For some time he assisted in the large hospital at Boulogne.
He was a youth who was well known and much respected in Morpeth. He leaves a widow, father and mother, and a large circle of relations and friends.
News has been received by Mr and Mrs J.S. Hood, Longbenton, that their son, Private Robert William Hood, was killed in action on October 18th. This is their second son killed in action.
Second-Lieut. Robert Thompson, N.F., was killed in action on October 26th.
Only a few weeks ago he was made the recipient of the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while on patrol. He was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Arthur Thompson, of Warkworth.
Private Jas. Wigham, New Road, Isabella Pit, who was suffering from wounds, has now succumbed to his injuries.
Private Thos. Robinson, 5 New Road, Isabella Pit, is reported missing.
Private T. Wright, whose parents reside at Low Wood Row, North Seaton, has been killed in action.
Private John Rogers, 30 Doctor Terrace, Bedlington, has been killed in action.
Information has been received by Mr R. Dawson of 9 Palmersville, Forest Hall, that his son, R. Dawson, A.B., of the Hawke Battalion, has been killed in action in France.
Sapper W.J. Robson, late R.E., has died of wounds received in action in France.
Private Raymond Douglass, West Yorks (late of Longwitton), has been gassed and is in the Wharncliffe War Hospital, Sheffield.
Private George Dickinson, who was well known in sporting circles in the Newsham district before going to Australia where he joined the Colonial Forces, has died of wounds.
ROLL OF HONOUR
BATCHELOR.— Killed in action, on April 25th, 1917, aged 37 years, C.H. Batchelor, N.F., dearly beloved husband of Wilhemina Batchelor, of Hunns Buildings, Choppington.
CRAIGS.— Died of wounds received in action, October 27th, Private Thomas Robert Craigs, aged 26 years, dearly beloved and youngest son of Mr and Mrs Craigs, Chevington Crescent.— Deeply mourned by his loving father, mother, sisters, brothers, sisters and brothers-in-law, and mother and father-in-law, uncles and aunts, cousins and little nieces and nephews.
CRISP.— Killed in action on October 18th, 1917. Signaller Robert John Crisp, dearly beloved and eldest son of Robert and Elizabeth Crisp, Thirston, Felton.
LEDGERWOOD.— Killed in action on October 9th, Private John Ledgerwood, 42525, Manchester Regiment, beloved and eldest son of Mr and Mrs A.E. Ledgerwood of Ashington.
LESLIE.— Killed in action, October 31st, 1917, aged 19 years, Private Robert Andrew Leslie, No. 223066 East Yorks, late Corporal N.F., of 66 Beatrice Street, Ashington.
MIDDLEMISS.— Killed in action on October 26th, 1917, John Robert Middlemiss, Z/2802T. Acting Able Seaman (Higher Grade), Howe Battalion, R.N.D., aged 22 years, eldest son of Mr and Mrs Middlemiss, of 10 Ninth Row, Ashington Colliery, and grandson of the late John and Mary Huntley.
POLLARD.— Killed in action in France on 26th Oct., 1917, Private John Pollard, 51059, N.F., the dearly beloved husband of Janet Pollard, (nee Jackson), The Hospital, Chevington.
SANDERSON.— Killed in action, October 26th, 1917, aged 28 years, Private John Sanderson, Northumberland Fusiliers, No. 201939, the beloved son of Jane Ellen and the late John Sanderson, of No. 18 Inners House, Mill Bank Crescent, Bedlington, and grandson of the late William and Anne Walker of Doctor Terrace, Bedlington.
TAYLOR.— Died of wounds received in action on October 28th, Private Thomas Taylor, Australian Infantry Force, aged 21 years, only son of Joseph and Mary Ann Taylor, late of Ashington.
VISITING THE WOUNDED IN FRANCE
The writer, an inhabitant of a quiet Northumberland village, was recently the recipient of a telegram from the War Office stating that his son was dangerously wounded, and granting permission to visit him in France.
I had no knowledge that such visits were permitted, and the ways and means of negotiating the journey were unknown quantities. The thought, however, of the dear boy lying dangerously ill “somewhere in France” caused all fears of the journey to vanish, and it was at once undertaken.
I have now returned home, and it is with the hope of helping others in the same circumstances that this article is written. My visit lasted nearly three weeks, and the information is based on my own experience and conversations with other visiting relatives, and also with officials of the YMCA with whom I came in contact; but it must not be taken as infallible or in any way official.
Who may go? I give the answer to this question with some diffidence, but I think I am fairly safe in saying that—
1. In cases where two relatives wish to go they may be (1) the father and mother, (2) the wife and father, (3) the wife and mother.
2. In cases where only one relative wishes to go he (or she) may be (1) the father, (2) the mother, (3) the wife, (4) the sister, (5) the brother, (6) the fiancee.
There is, however, one important regulation which should be mentioned. If the person entitled to go produces a medical certificate that he is unfit to travel alone another friend may go also.
The telegram from the War Office will state that it must be produced at that place to be exchanged for a “permit” so the first step is to reach London. If the visitor is not prepared to pay his train fare he may apply at the nearest police station, where he will be supplied with a free railway pass.
Having reached London, the next step is to find the War Office, and it may be a help to know that bus 77 passes that building, and also to know that the YMCA has provided a house at 74 South Audley Street, where relatives of the wounded passing through London may stay, and where information and assistance will be gladly given.
At the War Office, the telegram will be exchanged for a “Permit,” a free pass will be given, and instructions as to train and boat imparted.
The visitor’s difficulties are really now over, for at the embarkation quay officials of the YMCA, Salvation Army, or Red Cross are awaiting the arrival of the train. Visiting relatives are taken charge of, and seen safely through the examination of “permits,” etc, and unto the boat.
Arrived in France, officials of the same societies come on board the boat, and see the visitors through all necessary formalities, and pass them on to the hospitals where the wounded boys are lying.
The period allowed for a visit is in the first place one week, and, if the medical officer thinks it necessary, this is extended week by week. During this time visitors stay free of charge at the YMCA hostels.
I frequently saw the unavoidable discomforts of the visit increased by the want of proper preparation. Some visitors arrived absolutely as they stood, expecting to leave again on the same or next day.
A visitor should not, of course, take more luggage than he can carry easily, but his bag should hold sufficient clothes and toilet requisites for at least a week. Above all, wear strong boots, and, if possible, take a pair of slippers and a small boot-cleaning outfit. The roads are bad and rain comes down heavily.
The above is written chiefly for those visiting men in the ranks. The relatives of officers travel under the same conditions, but they pay their own train and boat fare, and are usually guided by officials of the Red Cross.
The purpose of this article is to help those unfortunately called upon to make the journey and to remove the natural fear of the undertaking, but I should like to add an expression of my appreciation of the kindness and ability of the officers of the YMCA and Red Cross.
In the lady who presided over the hostel visitors found a veritable “guide, philosopher, and friend.”
I should also like to bear witness to the splendid fortitude and patience of the gallant boys lying in the hospitals, and to the skill and devotion of the doctors and nurses.
CONCERT BY BLINDED MUSICIANS
A Grand Concert Will be given by the blinded musicians, in aid of the sailors and soldiers blinded in the war, in the Playhouse, Morpeth, on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 2.30pm.
Recruiting is going forward steadily, and good progress is being made throughout the regiment. Several of the battalions have recruited splendidly, while a number of men are required in others to bring them up to strength. The establishment would be complete if the numbers were increased by about 600 men.
At present only about ten per cent are “A” men (those over military age), and it is hoped that many men similarly circumstanced will see their way to join up so as to release young men who, from time to time, are wanted with the Colours.
Nearly one-half of the men in sections A, B, and C have qualified to earn the efficiency grant. Tests are proceeding regularly, and it is probable that all men of these sections will be efficient within the next month or two.
There is no slackening of effort on the part of those in command of the Morpeth Company to bring it up to a high state of efficiency. That they have accomplished a great deal towards that end is evidenced by the way in which the men perform their drills.
Last Sunday there was a splendid turn-out on Cottingwood, where the men were put through various movements which were performed in a very creditable manner.
On Tuesday evening the men received instructions on mounting guard, and shown how these important duties should be carried out.
It was very gratifying to find such a bumper house in the Avenue on Wednesday evening, when a performance of pictures and varieties were given in aid of the Company’s funds.
ENTERTAINMENT AT MORPETH
For the benefit of the funds of the Morpeth Training Corps, a first-rate entertainment, consisting of pictures and varieties, was given in the Avenue Theatre, Morpeth, on Wednesday evening.
The whole affair proved an unqualified success, thanks to the efforts of the proprietors of the Avenue and the Company Committee. The theatre was packed, and many were unable to obtain admission.
Mr Tom Payne, on behalf of the officers and men, thanked the public for their generous patronage, and announced that those who had purchased tickets from the committee and were unable to gain admission would be admitted to the theatre any other night by showing their tickets.
The programme was of a varied and interesting character, and for three hours the audience thoroughly enjoyed the fare. The music was supplied by the Avenue Orchestra.
The promoters of the concert are greatly indebted to the artistes, who kindly gave their services; to Mr T. Cooper for loan of piano; and to Mr Seabrook for flowers and floral decorations for the stage.