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.
Mrs Wm. Winn, jun., has received official news that her husband, Private W. Winn, of the Cameronions, S.R., was killed in action on Nov. 28th, 1917.
He was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Winn, butchers, Hexham, formerly of Morpeth, and was educated at Morpeth Grammar School. Before joining the Army Private Winn was a grocer with Messrs Brough and Sons at Ashington.
Private Winn was only in France between two and three weeks when he was killed by a shell. He leaves a widow and one child.
Mrs Winn received the following letter from a comrade:— “Much regret to inform you that your husband, Private Winn, was killed in action on the afternoon of the 28th November. He suffered no pain whatever as his death was caused by a shell. He was killed a few yards from me. I saw him buried last night.
“This will be a great shock to you, but you will be proud to know that he died like a soldier at his post. I did not know him very well, as he was only with us a short time, but from what I did see of him he was an excellent soldier. He died for a glorious cause, and we who are lucky enough to have come through can only express our admiration for heroes like your husband.”
Private George Watson Elliott, of Morpeth, has been killed in action. The following letter has been received by his sister, Miss Elliott, Pretoria Avenue, Morpeth, from Lieut. Wright:— “It is with the deepest regret that I have to inform you of the death in action on November 27th of your brother.
“He was a very good soldier and his loss is felt very keenly by the whole of the company. There may be some small comfort to you in knowing that his death was instantaneous, and up to the time of his being hit he was in the best of spirits. I wish to extend to you the heartfelt sympathy of the officers, N.C.O.s, and men of your brother’s company in your sad bereavement.”
We regret to have to announce the death of Corporal Arthur Bowman, youngest son of Mr and Mrs Fenwick Bowman, 21 Bridge Street, Morpeth.
He was a bright and cheerful lad, and was educated at St James’s School, Morpeth, under Mr W. Bullock. He then served his apprenticeship with Mr J. Myers and Mr W.E. Rutherford, hairdressers, Morpeth.
He joined the Northumberland Fusiliers on Sept, 5th, 1914, went to France on April 20th, 1915, was wounded in June 1915, and again on Sept. 15th, 1916. He had just returned to his battalion and shortly after going into action on November 14th, 1916, he was reported missing.
He was a member of the Boys’ Brigade, where he rose to the rank of sergeant, and also a member of St James’s Church Institute.
Some of his ancestors fought at Waterloo and in the Crimea and at the siege of Sebastopol, while one of his brothers was in the Boer War. Another brother is now in Mesopotamia.
A letter of sympathy was sent along with the report of his death from the King and Queen.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott) presided.
The Town Clerk read a letter from the Home Office intimating the suspension of the Shop Hours Early Closing Order during Christmas and New Year holidays.
Ald. Norman moved: “That a roll of honour containing all the names of the Morpeth men who are or have been on active service with the troops at the Front, and specially distinguishing those who have made the supreme sacrifice, be placed in the notice case in front of the Town Hall.”
He said that he had mentioned the matter at the committee meeting, and they had very gratefully accepted the proposal. He brought it forward that night in order that they might publicly endorse the motion and show their appreciation of what the men who had volunteered had done for them.
He was not only voicing the wish of the Council, but the desire of all the inhabitants of the borough. There was not a battle ground in all this great war but what they could find Morpeth represented. They wanted to make that a temporary roll of honour until the war was over and the boys came home.
There were over 1,000 men and lads who had gone from Morpeth and over 100 of them had fallen. They remembered with gratitude what they had done for them. The roll of honour would be in a prominent place, where anybody could see it at any time of day.
He would like the Council to be kind to the soldiers’ children and the children of those men who had fallen in the war, and he would be pleased if they, as a council, could do something to brighten their Christmas for their fathers’ sake.
Mayor: It is a very appropriate think to do. It is only a preliminary step for something better.
Ald. Hood said he had very much pleasure in seconding the motion, and added that he associated himself with everything Ald. Norman had said.
Mr Fearby said that the most fitting way to honour those heroes at the conclusion of the war would be to increase their roll of Freeman. He thought it would be a proper thing to confer upon each one of these brave men, who had gone out there, the freedom of the borough. It would be an important thing to set such an example to other boroughs of the country.
Mayor: I don’t see why we should not do so.
Mr Turnbull: We might carry out Ald. Norman’s motion now, and the other suggestion could be dealt with when the men return from the war.
Ald. Norman’s motion was carried unanimously.
The Mayor intimated that special thanksgiving services were to be held throughout the country on Sunday, January 6th. Seeing that it originated from the King he suggested that the Council attend St James’s Church. This was agreed to.
The Mayor also intimated that Mrs Elliott of Oldgate, was going to hold a dance in the Masonic Hall in aid of the Red Cross, and she kindly invited the Corporation to attend.
The surveyor submitted a plan received from the V.A.D. Hospital of proposed erection in the Corporation Dacre Street garden for use as a dining room for the V.A.D. Recommended that the plan be approved as temporary building only.— Adopted.
The Town Clerk submitted correspondence with the owners of the Thorpe estate requesting the Council to protect the vacant portions of the land taken for allotments under the Lands Cultivation Order from trespass and carpet beating. Recommended that the Mayor Ald. Norman, and Councillors Swinney and Temple be the committee to consider the matter and report to the Council.
ROLL OF HONOUR
ADAMSON.— Killed in action on the 26th Oct., 1917, aged 23 years, Sergeant George Leighton Adamson, N.F.
BOWMAN.— Missing since November 14th, 1916, now officially reported killed, Corporal Arthur Bowman, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, the beloved and youngest son of Fenwick and Jane Bowman, 21 Bridge Street, Morpeth.
DAVISON.— Reported missing on November 14th, 1916, now announced dead, aged 21 years, Lance-Corporal Thomas Davison, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers, son of John and the late Ethel Davison, Station Road, Ashington.
DUNN.— Previously reported missing now reported dead, on the 14th November, 1916, Sergeant George Dunn, 23 years of age, dearly beloved husband of May Dunn, 202 Hawthorn Road, Seaton Hirst.
ELLIOTT.— Killed in action on November 27th, aged 29 years, Private George Watson Elliott, East Lancs Regiment, of 3 Pretoria Avenue, Morpeth, formerly of Church Street, Wooler, son of the late John and Jane Elliott and brother of T.W. Elliot, 12 Croydon Road, Newcastle.
EMBLETON.— Missing since November 14th, 1916, now reported killed on that date, aged 20 years, Private John Thomas Embleton, 3227, N.F., dearly beloved son of Thomas and Lydia Embleton, 5 Fourth Row, Ashington.
GILROY.— Killed in action October 12th, 1917, aged 19 years and 10 months, Private James Gilroy, Grenadier Guards, eldest and beloved son of Charles and Sophia J. Gilroy, 121 Rosalind Street, Hirst, Ashington.
WINN.— Killed in action, November 28th, 1917, Private Wm. Wallace, Cameronians, (Scottish Rifles), dearly beloved husband of Sarah A. Winn, also beloved son-in-law of Mr and Mrs R. Carmen, 27 Edward Street, Morpeth.
WAR SAVINGS CAMPAIGN
Under the auspices of the local War Savings Committee a public meeting was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, on Monday evening, when an address was delivered by Major Richard Rigg, J.P., of London. The chair was taken by Ald. Ed. Norman. There was only a small attendance.
Ald. Norman said they were living in times which were serious to them as a people. They had passed through three years of stress and strain, and there had been numerous calls made upon them. He hoped, as a nation, they should be able to meet all financial obligations voluntarily and without any compulsion. Their sacrifices were comparatively small compared with those who were fighting in France and elsewhere. He hoped that they would put their very best into the war savings campaign. (Applause.)
Major Rigg said that the issue of this war, notwithstanding the unshakable fervency of their faith, had still to be decided. It could only be determined in their favour and in the favour of the Allies and civilisation if Great Britain, by her supreme and unparalleled effort, succeeded in equipping the Allies with the primary essentials of war — and that was adequate financial support.
Looking at the facts they surely showed that if this war was to be fought out to a finish then that finish could only be arrived at by the exhaustion by one or other of the Powers engaged, and it was clear by preventing that exhaustion and in maintaining armies in a position to maintain the fight that side would win whose money lasted the longest.
It was impossible to wage war without unlimited supplies of wealth, and even a shortage in that direction meant nothing short of military paralysis. The modern soldier was bound to consume an enormous amount of wealth. He alluded to the enormous cost of modern engines of war, and said that the men had to be fed, clothed, and equipped and provided with illimitable supplies of ammunition.
If Great Britain and our gallant Allies could hold out for a fortnight longer than Germany and the Central Powers, their victory was assured. He believed that nation would lose that first failed to provide its troops with munitions of war and food. He was convinced that it was the last million pounds sterling that was going to win the war.
He believed that German resources were very considerable. Germany had tens of thousands of cattle and also raised 75 per cent of her own cereals. Germany had sufficient food within her borders to support her people, though on short commons, for many a long day. They should dismiss from their minds that a serious food famine would compel Germany to surrender.
The problem that confronted this country was the conservation of its resources so that they would be able to maintain an effective offensive longer than Germany could maintain a real defensive.
The men of the British Army and the Allies had shown deathless courage on the field of battle, and had won for themselves imperishable glory, but had the people at home — the people for whom our valiant lads had bled and laid down their lives — risen yet to the height of their stupendous responsibilities?
The war savings movement ought to unite them all in the common bond of fellowship and self-denial. Waste on the part of individuals or classes was at all times foolish, but in times of war it was nothing short of a national danger.
He then gave a few interesting facts and figures of the economic and financial position of this country. He quoted the huge daily expenditure connected with the war — 8 million pounds a day — and said there was only one effective way in which the situation could be dealt with, and that was that they should, as a people, in this national crisis, diminish their expenditure and increase their savings. (Applause.)
If they saved more they would have more money to lend the State.
He referred to the 15/6 war savings certificates which realised £1 in five years. The National War Savings Committee had been formed with a two-fold object — to give every opportunity to the small man and the wage-earning population of this country to invest in Government securities, and to urge upon the people the vital and imperative necessity of reducing consumption.
They had accomplished much. They had in this country something like 1,590 Central War Savings Committees, over 40,000 war savings associations, 120,000 voluntary workers, and four million war savers. Since February 1916, they had sold no less than 130 million war savings certificates. It had been, with all honour to the workers of this country, truly a democratic movement. (Applause.)
They were very much appalled by the submarine menace, and the only effective way by which they could deal with it was for every individual in this country to reduce his consumption of goods. Every penny they saved was sacred and should be dedicated to the service of their country until the end of the war.
Many people were looking, as a result of this war, to the more regeneration of this country, but as an outcome of this world-wide catastrophe they could not hope for the dawning of a better day merely by the sacrifices of those who were fighting, unless the civilian population, in their individual capacity were prepared to shoulder their obligations and tread the path of self-denial and self-sacrifice. (Applause.)
He explained that the 15/6 war certificates were the finest investment that had ever been offered to the people of this country. They got five per cent interest for their money free of income tax, and their money was absolutely safe, because it had behind it the security of the British Empire.
Their money could not decrease in value, it was constantly increasing. The State would never repudiate its liabilities. There were four million war savers, and they hoped to see that number raised to eight millions, if not to 16 millions. (Applause.)
By the purchasing of war savings certificates they were postponing the expenditure of their money until it would be a real benefit to them. After the war prices would go down to pre-war figures, and with the £1 they would receive at the end of five years they would be able to purchase twice as much as they would with the 15/6 which they invested in war savings certificates.
He appealed to them in the name of democracy to support the movement for all they were worth. (Applause.)
He then thanked Mr Williams and the officials and committee of the Local Committee for what they had done.
The Mayor, in proposing a vote of thanks to the speaker and chairman, said he felt sure that the people of Morpeth would continue to give their wholehearted support to the movement, and also assist to prosecute the war to a victorious finish.
MORPETH CIGARETTE FUND
The Treasurer (Mrs Stevinson, Newgate Street, Morpeth), and committee of the above Fund beg to return their most sincere thanks to the respective managers of the Playhouse and Avenue, Morpeth, for so generously responding to their appeal for funds.
The sum of £5 7s 6d. was collected, which will mean many more smokes for our brave Northumberland lads in Flanders, Egypt, and the Holy Land, where they are performing deeds of heroism in their great flight for justice and right.
Another enjoyable concert was held at the Y.M.C.A. last week, when a party of Morpeth ladies, assisted by a few soldier friends, entertained a large khaki audience.
The chair was taken by Mr W.L. Wilkinson, who expressed his pleasure at seeing such a large gathering, and hoped they would make free use of the rooms while stationed in the town.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Owing to the scarcity and high price of paper we were compelled some time ago to reduce the size of the “Herald,” and can only deal with local events.
We are thus reluctantly compelled, for the present at least, to suspend the insertion of letters to the Editor of a controversial nature and likely to create a discussion owing to waste of space.— Editor.