In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1918, 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 last day of the old year was cold and showery and was not at all congenial for shopping. However, during the day there was a good number of people in the streets of Morpeth, and business, on the whole, was very brisk.
As the night advanced there was very little commotion in the streets, and as the midnight hour approached few persons were to be seen. The result was that the new year was quietly ushered in. There were no bells pealed from the Clock Tower.
WORKHOUSE INMATES ENTERTAINED
For the second year in succession the inmates of Morpeth Union Workhouse and the children at the Homes were entertained to dinner on New Year’s Day by Mr George Renwick of Springhill, his kindly hospitality once again being much appreciated by old and young. The dining hall of the workhouse was very attractively decorated, and the arrangements made by the Master and Matron (Mr and Mrs S. Hoey) and staff left nothing to be desired. On entering the dining room Mr and Mrs Renwick were cordially received by the inmates.
After the dinner packets of tea and sugar and tobacco and pipes were distributed amongst the inmates, the goods — scarce commodities in these days — being much appreciated by all.
Mr Robert Allison, in proposing a vote of thanks to Mr Geo. Renwick, said: I rise, on behalf of my fellow inmates, to return thanks for this very rich and acceptable feast so generously provided by the kindness of Mr George Renwick. It gladdens our hearts to see so many kind friends about us this New Year’s Day, and we thank them very heartily for their kindness and attention to our comfort and enjoyment.
In these very trying times we are aware it is no easy matter to cater so successfully for so many.
Another year has gone, and still the war is going on, with at present very little prospect of a real and abiding peace. Our brave men both soldiers and sailors, aye! and the women, too, are doing wonders on the production of the necessaries for carrying on the war; and surely the patriotism of the nation was never at a higher pitch and determined more than ever to have no dishonourable substitute from his Satanic Majesty’s chief of staff, that blasphemous hypocrite, the Kaiser, who even has the audacity to claim the Almighty God as his ally.
We want a real peace — (applause) — not veiled war, not a war thinly veneered over with diplomatic forms and platitudes, but an honourable and victorious peace — (applause) — with Prussian militarism, the Kaiser, and all his satilites utterly discomfited and crawling in the mire of their own iniquity and abominations.
Then there may be a chance of healing the terrible injuries inflicted in the course of this long and bitter struggle. The only direct way to a satisfactory peace lies through a crushing victory for our brave troops. (Applause.)
In responding, Mr Geo. Renwick, who was received with applause, said he was delighted to be with them once again. If there was any tinge of regret it lay in the fact that the war was still going on. Whether or not it would last to next year he could not say. He was sure that everyone would join in the hope that before another year came round the country would enjoy the blessings of peace. (Applause.)
He could imagine from what Mr Allison had said that if he has been a young man he could not have been sitting there. He would have been in the trenches trying his best to confound the Kaiser until they got that peace which they so ardently desired. They had much to be thankful for at home.
A boy writing from the Front had pointed out to him in his letter that he had been living in a tent for the past two months with snow and mud around. Thousands of others were doing the same. They had something to be thankful for in that house where they were well looked after. They had had on the table plum pudding with currants in it. He could not get any currants to put in his plum pudding. (Laughter.)
Each one had been provided with a packet of sugar and tea. Now if they went to the shops in town with pockets full of money they could not buy sugar nor tea. Whether next year they would have plum puddings, with currants in it, and tea and sugar, he could not say.
Outside at the shops they had queues waiting to try and buy butter or margarine, tea, sugar, cheese, and bacon.
He wanted to point out that they had a good deal to be thankful for in their old age, and he sincerely hoped that, along with his wife, he would be spared to meet them there again. (Applause.)
He then referred to all the helpers and said: I wish you all a happy New Year. I sincerely hope that before another year the boys will be home, and that you will have a more happy year than you have ever had in the past. (Applause.)
Three ringing cheers were given for Mr and Mrs Geo. Renwick, which concluded the proceedings.
MORPETH OFFICER MENTIONED IN DISPATCHES
Mr George Renwick’s numerous local friends will be pleased to learn that one of his sons in the Army, of whom there are five, has just been mentioned in dispatches for meritorious conduct.
This is Major W.H. Renwick, formerly of the Northumberland Fusiliers, but now attached to the Middlesex.
A RADCLIFFE SOLDIER’S DEATH IN FRANCE
Mr and Mrs George Rutherford, of Pegswood (late of Radcliffe) have received a letter from the Army chaplain informing them of the death of their son, Lance-Corporal David Henry Rutherford, who died of wounds on the 20th December.
His parents received a letter from the chaplain on Friday saying their son had been asked to write to tell them he had been wounded, and they got another letter from him on Saturday saying he had died the same day.
This was his second time in France. He was out fifteen months the first time, and was invalided home with trench fever, and went back again in February last, and was expecting to get his leave in January or February.
His younger brother was wounded on the 1st June, 1916, and was in hospital until March last, when he was discharged unfit for service.
Great sympathy is felt for his parents and family.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Mr and Mrs Wm. Davis, of Amble, have received official news that their son, Lance-Corporal Thomas Davis, King’s Royal Rifles, is reported missing from May 3rd last.
Mr and Mrs R. Finlay Robertson, 6 Fenwick Grove, Morpeth (late of Alnwick), have received official news that their only son, Lance-Corporal Adam F. Robertson, Hussars, has been missing since November 30th. He was engaged in farming operations before the outbreak of war. He is a grandson of the late County Alderman Adam Robertson, of Fountain House, Alnwick.
ROLL OF HONOUR
MIDDLETON.— Killed in action on November 30th, 1917, aged 30 years, Private Samuel Moses Middleton, 18027, N.F., B.E.F., son of Thomas Middleton, of Bedlington.— Ever remembered by his father, brother, and sister.
THE FOOD SUPPLY
How many of us three years ago would have thought there would be such difficulty in procuring foodstuffs essential to the maintenance of the body.
That such is the case one need only go into town, and there you will see large crowds awaiting their turn to be served with a little sugar, butter, or tea; and pretty often do they come away empty-handed.
We have been told again and again to ration ourselves voluntarily. Whilst this is good advice, and is being carried out by some, under existing conditions it operates unfairly, and too often to the detriment of the poor.
As much as we dislike compulsion in all its forms, we consider it to be the only fair basis on which equality can be effective.
Under present conditions those who have the wherewithal and influence can procure what they desire. The great majority has to grin and do without.
If compulsory rationing by legal enactment was put into force much of the discontent would disappear, and the people would thus realise they were getting a fair deal in the way of food.
Nothing short of this will tend to allay the suspicion that prevails in the country.
LESS BUTTER AND MARGARINE
We are faced by the prospect of a still greater shortage of both butter and margarine.
Our present allowance of fats (including butter, margarine, lard, oils and fats) is 10oz. per week, but many people eat 10oz. of butter or margarine alone, without considering the other fats. People who do this are doing others out of their share, for the amount available is limited, and is likely to be much reduced as the winter goes on.
Many people have given up butter and margarine altogether because of the difficulty of buying them, and rather than stand in a queue for hours they have eaten dry bread.
But it must be imagined that because the queues are being broken up and the butter and margarine are being more evenly distributed more can be eaten.
Ten ounces a week is the amount allowed at present, but the truly patriotic thing to do is to reduce your fat ration to 5oz., and thus put off the evil day when there will be no fat at all.
WHIST DRIVE IN PONTELAND
A whist drive and dance were held in Smith’s Assembly Rooms, Ponteland, in aid of the Soldiers and Sailors’ Welcome Home and Memorial Fund.
A sum of £10 2s 3d was realised.
CHEER OH! GARDENERS
Every man with a garden, if he is a patriot, will resolve in the New Year to make it produce more for his own table than in 1917.
If he can sell his surplus and buy groceries, bread, or meat, he will do so, but whatever happens, he must stock his larder from his garden — not a day, or an hour must be wasted throughout the whole year to produce the desired result.
The hours spent in digging every Saturday afternoon are worth far more to the country than cheering on the football crowds.
The time for that sort of thing has long gone by.
We have all got to buck up and produce food, and the sooner we realise this the better.
Last Sunday morning there was a good muster when company drill was indulged in, and for part of the time the O.C. gave a lecture on rifle shooting, and pointed out that there was going to be arranged team shooting competitions throughout the battalion.
He wanted the company to select their ten best shots to form a team.
Yesterday afternoon a shooting competition was opened on the miniature rifle range for prizes amounting to three guineas in cash.
The competition will be continued on Saturday afternoon, and all members of the company, who are desirous of competing should attend at the range between the hours of two and four o’clock.
MORPETH V.A.D. HOSPITAL
On New Year’s Day the patients of the above hospital were entertained to a concert kindly arranged by Nurse Irene Young.
Mr Charles E. Young presided, and the following ladies and gentlemen contributed to the programme:— Miss Marjorie Hall, Christon Bank; Lieut. Hendry, H.L.I., attached Shropshire Yeomanry; Lance-Corporal Bodle, S.I.Y.; Mr C. E. Young, Scout Bertie Jobson.
Miss I. Young acted as accompanist. Cigarettes were kindly provided by Miss Young and Miss Hall.
A sergeant proposed a vote of thanks to the artistes for their services, and said they had enjoyed very much the splendid entertainment.— This was carried with three cheers.
The Chairman responded on behalf of the artistes, and said how happy they were to have had the opportunity of being amongst them that night and of passing a pleasant hour or two.
The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and the National Anthem brought a very enjoyable evening to a close.
CONCERT AT ELLINGTON
A most successful and enjoyable concert was given by the children of Ellington Sunday School and members of Cresswell Church choir on Thursday and Friday evenings last in aid of those men who have lost their sight whilst doing service for their country.
Each evening the schoolroom was crowded out and the first evening accommodation could not be found for many people, who were obliged to retrace their steps and hope for better luck the next evening.
The part of chairman was taken by Mr H.S. Hunter, the manager of Ellington Colliery, the first evening, and by the Rev. Horsfall, vicar of Cresswell parish, the second evening.
Mr A. Cowton proved a most capable accompanist.
The colossal success of the concert was a very gratifying reward to Mrs Bell and her staff of willing helpers.
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 want of space.— Editor.
BOROUGH OF MORPETH
Sunday, January 6th, 1918, is to be held throughout the Kingdom as a day of national prayer and thanksgiving, and the Mayor and Corporation of Morpeth intend to be present at the special morning service at St James’ Church, ay 10.45am.
The public bodies and the general public are invited to meet the Town Council at the Town Hall at 10.30am and to take part in the church processions.
MORPETH RED CROSS HOSPITAL
The Commandant acknowledges with many thanks the following gifts:— Cakes from Mrs Slater, Clifton; cake from Mrs Jos. Simpson; brown loaf from Mrs J.S. Mackay; eggs and milk from Mr Gillepsie; vegetables from Mr Temple and Council Schools; crackers, nuts and apples from Mr Elliott; flowers from Mrs Hudson, Stobhill Farm; papers from Mrs Evans; £1 10s from Mrs Brown, Pigdon, proceeds of a whist drive.
The Commandant wishes to thank Mr and Mrs James Swinney for a very enjoyable whist drive and supper given to the patients and staff; also Mr A. Young for a concert, which was much enjoyed.
MILK PRICE ORDER, 1917
The Food Control Committee for the Borough of Morpeth under powers conferred upon them by the Milk Prices Order, 1917, hereby give notice that they have fixed the maximum price at which milk may be sold by retail within the borough, at seven pence per quart when delivered to the purchasers’ premises and six pence per quart when not so delivered, until further notice.