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 names of several North Country soldiers appear in the records of deeds for which the Distinguished Conduct Medal has been awarded, and which are published in a supplement to the “London Gazette”:—
24307 Private R. Gibbon, Northumberland Fusiliers, Morpeth.— For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as stretcher bearer, bringing two wounded men through a barrage. When buried by an enemy shell he struggled free and helped a wounded man. Though terribly bruised and suffering from shock, and ordered by the M.O. to lie down, he returned to the front line and assisted in bandaging men there for three hours.
24346 Sergt. J.D. Jefferson, M.M., Northumberland Fusiliers, Bedlington.— After his platoon officer had been wounded he took command of the platoon establishing them along the line of the final objective, and later stalked and killed a sniper who was interfering with their work. Although wounded, he remained with the battalion and was relieved twelve hours later.
PLAYHOUSE PATRONS ASSIST HUT SCHEME
At the request of the Mayor of Morpeth (Councillor Jas. Elliott), the directors of the Playhouse organised a special matinee performance which was given last Thursday in aid of the fund for raising £500,000 for the purpose of extending the work of the YMCA Huts scheme.
From every point of view the entertainment was a huge success. The commodious building was filled with a very appreciative audience, and the whole of the proceeds were devoted to this worthy and necessary object. The success of the venture was due in a large measure to the untiring efforts of the Mayor, Mr F. Turner, the manager (Mr F. Tinsley), and Councillor R.N. Swinney. Not only was the use of the building given free, but the staff of the Playhouse also gave their services gratuitously.
The pictures shown on the screen were followed with great interest, which included an official French film, showing French towns liberated by the German retreat, and the havoc wrought by the devastating Huns, and a five-part Vitagraph drama kindly lent by Sir George Jury, and a Keystone comedy, which kept the house in happy humour.
Mr Alf. Rowe rendered two songs with much acceptance, and was enthusiastically encored. Miss Anderson of Bedlington also sang two songs in a pleasing manner.
At an interval in the programme Captain H.D.K. Davies, eldest son of Canon Davies, rector of Morpeth, who was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry on the field, was made the recipient of a wristlet watch by the Mayor on behalf of the War Heroes Fund.
Councillor R.N. Swinney, secretary of the fund, who presided, said that they had another local hero with them that afternoon, and he had much pleasure in calling upon the Mayor to make the presentation. (Applause.)
The Mayor expressed the pleasure it gave him to congratulate another of their brave lads from France, namely, Captain Davies, who had been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished service in the field. They were all delighted to have Captain Davies there that afternoon. On behalf of the War Heroes Fund he had the greatest of pleasure in handing over to him the wristlet watch. He hoped that he would be long spared to wear it, and that when he returned to his duties at the Front he would have a safe and speedy return. (Loud applause.)
In accepting the gift, Captain Davies had a rousing reception. He thanked them for the kind feeling they had shown. He said it was through the splendid work of his company that he had been enabled to receive his decoration.
He wished them to understand that for every decoration which one received there were at least twenty men behind the scenes who never came before the limelight, and yet they did work equally good and sometimes better. He paid a high tribute to the men at the Front and to the work of the people at home. He appealed to them all to stick in and help to win the war this year. (Applause.)
The Mayor then thanked all present for their patronage and for the way they had responded to the call to provide funds for the huts scheme. He understood that they would raise from that performance between £30 and £40. (Applause.)
That was very creditable to the people of the borough. He then cordially thanked the directors and the manager for their unstinted support and help to make the venture such a success, and also the artistes for their services. (Applause.)
As a result of the matinee a cheque for £36 11s 6d has been forwarded to Rear-Admiral Mark Kerr, C.B., the treasurer of the fund. This result was largely due to the whole-hearted support given to the effort by the Mayor and Mayoress of Morpeth.
The thanks of the promoters are specially due to Mr Alfred Rowe and Miss Anderson, the artistes, to Sir William Jury, and to the Triangle Plays Company, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who gratuitously provided the excellent films exhibited. The staff of Pictureland (Morpeth), Limited, worked unstintedly and freely, so that the whole proceeds of the matinee should be given to this worthy object. The small expenses for printing, etc., were covered by voluntary contributions.
BUSINESS MEN’S WEEK
The effort to comply with the request of the Government to raise £20,000, the cost of eight aeroplanes, has been responded to with considerable alacrity and energy by the people of Morpeth this week.
Last Monday witnessed the opening of the Hut Bank in the Market Place where purchases may still be made today (Friday) and Saturday in National War Bonds or War Savings Certificates. The arrangements for the week’s campaign were made by the Morpeth War Savings Committee with Mr W. Simpson as secretary. Mr G.W. Phaup is acting as clerk at the Hut Bank for the War Savings Certificates, and Mr J.R. Mitchell, of Barclay’s Bank, is responsible for the War Bonds.
There was a fairly large gathering at the opening of the Hut Bank, which was performed by the Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott).
The Mayor explained that the object of Business Men’s Week was to further the sale of National War Bonds and War Savings Certificates. He appealed for the loyal support of every business man, woman, and child in the borough. Morpeth’s share in the loan was expected to be £20,000, the cost of eight aeroplanes.
Mr Geo. Renwick, in the course of a rousing appeal, said that they were there to ask them to lend some money to the Government on such terms as they have never had the opportunity of lending before. They were going to pay a higher rate of interest than any other Government had ever paid. The money was required to keep the war going until victory was achieved.
He knew that Morpeth would be loyal to the cause, and he felt certain that by Saturday night the Mayor would be in the proud position of saying “We have raised £20,000, and probably more.” (Applause.)
Mr Robinson also addressed the meeting.
Prior to the opening of the Hut Bank a meeting was held at the Mart, under the presidency of the Mayor, when eloquent appeals were made by Mr Geo. Renwick and Mr S.T. Robinson.
On Wednesday a number of meetings were held in the Market Place and also at the Auction Mart. The speakers were Captain W.S. Sanderson, Major Ralph Crawford, the Mayor, Ald. Ed. Norman, Mr R.C. Oliver. In the Town Hall a large meeting was addressed by Mrs Jos. Miller and Mr S.T. Robinson.
The results are as follows:— Monday, £13,242 19s; Tuesday, £4,614 9s 6d; Wednesday, £9,301 6s 6d; Thursday, £4,289 16s — total for four days £31,448 11s.
The final result will be announced from the Hut in the Market Place at noon on Monday. There is still time to do your best to double the amount by Monday morning. The Hut will be open for that purpose till 9 o’clock on Saturday night.
The annual meeting of the Governors of Morpeth Dispensary was held on Monday evening. Mr F.E. Schofield presided.
The Chairman remarked that they still required to move in the direction of more subscriptions. He thought that some subscriptions, such as the Corporation’s subscription, had been withdrawn under a misapprehension.
The idea was, when the Insurance Act came into operation, that dispensaries and hospitals would be unnecessary things. It could not be too clearly impressed upon the public generally that the benefits from the Insurance Act were not given to dependents at all. The only provision under the Insurance Act was to provide medical benefit to insured persons, and if there was a surplus in connection with the Sanatorium Fund that might be applied for the benefit of the dependents.
The second thing that affected the Dispensary mostly was that in the early days of the war by arrangement with chemists and doctors the Government had made provision for medical attendance to dependents of soldiers; but it was found that was not going to work, with the result that the Government had withdrawn that support from the dependents of the soldiers.
The Dispensary at that stage had stepped in, with the result that the number of patients had steadily increased until this year they had had a greater number of patients upon the funds than they had ever had before.
It would perhaps surprise them to know that during the month of February there were 133 prescriptions for medicines and also appliances supplied by the Dispensary. How many visits the doctors had had he could not tell, but they must have been much more than double that number. In the month of January the number of patients treated was over 100, and a large proportion of those were soldiers’ dependents.
At the present day they had drugs going up enormously in price. The Dispensary had an arrangement with the chemists, which was an exceedingly generous one, to dispense at the same rate as they got through the Insurance Act. They had bills going up steadily and would continue to go up.
He wanted the public to understand that those expenses would increase, and as long they had the war on they would continue to treat the soldiers’ dependents and children. It was most important that all persons connected with churches and other public institutions and the Corporation should realise exactly that in spite of the Insurance Act, the war, and everything else, that the claims of the Dispensary were greater, and that the usefulness of the Dispensary was greater now than in any other period of its history. (App.)
Mr R.C. Oliver said that they were grateful to Mr Schofield for having brought that matter before them. That was not the time for private individuals or corporate bodies, who had supported the institution in the past to withdraw their help. Never was the institution doing more useful work than at the present day.
Mr J.R. Mitchell thought than when those facts were made public it would do the Dispensary good.
MORPETH RURAL DISTRICT LOCAL FOOD COMMITTEE
All farmers & dairymen in the Rural District of Morpeth are required to send in to me at the Food Office, returns of the quantity of butter sold or used by them in the year 1916, and an estimate of the quantity to be sold or used by them respectively in the year 1918. The returns to reach me not later than Wednesday, the 13th inst.
CLERK AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER.
Food Office: 15 Bridge Street, Morpeth.
Since the departure of the sergeant-instructor of the Morpeth Company his duties have been taken over by some of the company’s N.C.O.s. So far their work has been very successful. Keen and enthusiastic in everything they do, it has the effect of inspiring these qualities among the men. In every way the O.C. is making the drills as interesting and varied as possible.
Last Tuesday evening the adjutant of the 5th Battalion paid a visit to headquarters, when the men were put through a course of bayonet fighting. There was a splendid muster on parade.
It has now been decided to hold a two days’ trek at Easter, on Sunday and Monday. About 50 men have given in their names to take part in the trek. The present arrangements are that the men will proceed to Acklington by train and march from there to Longframlington. They will be billeted overnight at houses in Longframlington Village. A sham fight will be included in the operations.
In connection with the company a very enjoyable whist drive and dance took place in the Drill Hall last Friday evening. The hall was tastefully decorated for the occasion by Corporal Barnston, and the arrangements that had been made for the event left nothing to be desired. There was a large company present.
The whist drive winners were Miss S. Fulthorp and Corporal J. Smailes. Excellent dance music was provided by Mrs Carmen, Privates T. Payne and F. Daglish, and Mr J. Clouston. The M.C.s were Sergt. G. Brown and Private F.B. Whyte. The refreshments were supplied by Mrs Nichol, Thorpe’s Cafe.
ST JAMES’ CHURCH, MORPETH
Perhaps one of the most ambitious musical efforts ever attempted in Morpeth will be given in St James’s Church on Thursday evening, 14th March, at 7.30 precisely.
Two famous works will be sung, namely, “The Song of Destiny,” by Brahams, for mixed voices, and “The Festegesang,” by Mendelssohn, for male voices only. Given health and opportunity Mr Harvey is destined to take a place amongst the foremost ranks of English tenors.
This is a programme worthy of the occasion to supplement the funds of the Morpeth War Heroes Fund, of which Councillor R.N. Swinney is the worthy secretary, and who is, by the way, a relative of Mr Harvey. Mr John Vine, F.R.C.O. one of the most accomplished musicians in the district, will preside at the organ, and Miss Gladys Willis, L.R.A.M., a pianist of whom Morpeth ought to be proud, will be at the piano.
Miss Willis has placed her great gifts at the disposal of all, in season and out of season, for the men in khaki and for charity’s sweet sake, and her future will be followed with interest by the people of the ancient borough.
MORPETH WAR SEWING MEETING
The committee are indebted to Mrs T. Swinney, jun., and Mrs James Swinney for giving their annual tea to the above sewing meeting, which realised £2 6s.
The hon. treasurer acknowledges with many thanks 2/6 from “A Soldier’s Friend”; socks from Miss Harbottle.
Tea will be given next week by a friend interested in the work of the Sewing Meeting.
A meeting will be held in St James’ Infant School on Saturday, March 9th, at 3pm, to which all women and girls are invited to come. Miss Guest will address the meeting on “Women’s Institutes.”
The meeting is called at the request of the Board of Agriculture, and is for all classes and ages of women.
MEAT RATIONS FOR ALL
TO COME INTO FORCE ON MARCH 25th.
Meat rationing is to be applied to the whole of Great Britain on March 25th. It follows closely on the London and Home Counties scheme covering all kinds of meat, offal, suet, bacon and ham, sausages, poultry and game, hares, rabbits, venison and horseflesh, and cooked, canned, potted, and preserved meats.
There will, at the outset be a flat ration, but grading according to occupation will be dealt with later. The weekly quantities are the same as in London, three coupons each representing a money value of 5d, and one a value for “equivalents.” Children under ten years of age will obtain half this quantity.
Butchers throughout the country have been registered, and dealers in meat of all kinds will now have come into line.
ROLL OF HONOUR
CAISLEY.— Reported missing on May 3rd, 1917, now reported killed on that date, Private John W., beloved husband of Hannah, (nee Blair), and son of Mary and the Late Robert Caisley, Alnwick.
TOWN HALL, MORPETH
Owing to the large quantity of names for parcels, I intend holding another Whist Drive and Dance in above on Wednesday, March 13th, 1918.
Tickets: Gents, 2/-, Ladies, 1/6.
MRS GRAY (Cafe)
MORPETH RED CROSS HOSPITAL
The Commandant acknowledges the following gifts with many thanks:— The boys of the Council Schools for collecting vegetables; Hon. Mrs Joicey, books; Mrs Smiles, cigarettes and books; Mrs Hoey fresh eggs; Mr Gillespie, fresh eggs and milk; Mrs J. Simpson, cake; Mrs McDowall and Miss McDowall, cakes; Mrs Carr and Mrs Pyle, scones and cigarettes; Miss Deuchar, fresh eggs; Miss Cooper, cakes; Mrs J. S. Mackay, brown loaf.
A communication has been sent out by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries to the various councils of the country, intimating that the period for existing allotments has been extended to January 1st, 1920.
When the allotments were first established the period was fixed for one year to end on January 1st, 1918.
The extended period applies to all allotments throughout the country.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
A special meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott) presided.
In accordance with notice given, Mr Fearby proposed that the motion relating to Sunday closing in the town, passed at a recent Council, be rescinded. He had no shop, but he felt that those who did carry on business, however small, were entitled to some consideration from them.
He pressed his rescinding resolution on the ground that the motion was not passed in a regular manner. He considered it was an infringement of the liberties of the people. They had allowed themselves the right to have a glass of beer, play golf, and indulge in joy-riding in a motor car on Sundays. If it was right for public houses and cinematograph shows to be open on Sundays surely it was equally right for small shops to be kept open for the sale of such minor necessities as the people required. It was also a benefit to people who visited the town on Sundays.
Mr Grey, in seconding, said that he had the greatest sympathy for the small trader. During the last three or four years of war the small trader had had one of the most difficult struggles in his life. In many cases they had gone into those small shops to make their livelihood; in other cases the husbands had gone to the Front, and in some cases they had gone into the business at one of the most difficult times with very little training for business.
They were in competition with the bigger shops. The big trader could look after himself. He had capital, had the confidence of his banker, and if he needed money he could get it, which the small man could not.
Apart from the religious point of view, if they closed the small traders’ shops on Sundays they might practically close them altogether. They had evidence that there was undoubtedly a lot of small people living from hand to mouth.
Mr Temple said that he would not like Bridge Street to be turned into something like the Newcastle quayside on Sundays. People were objecting to Sunday trading because they saw it was becoming a growing evil. Of course, the sale of milk must be done on Sundays. If they had work all round what was to become of the Sunday — the day of rest? The English Sunday had made England what it was, and they believed in it.
The Mayor remarked that two small traders had already closed their shops.
For the rescinding of the motion there voted— Messrs Fearby, Grey, Duncan, and Turnbull — four votes.
Against the motion— The Mayor, Messrs Temple, Norman, Armstrong, Simpson, and Waterson.