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 dissolution of Parliament is announced and a General Election will take place on December 14th.
I regret that it has been considered necessary to have a General Election at a time when it will be difficult, if not impossible, for most of those serving with the fighting forces abroad to take an effective part in it, or, if they receive a ballot paper, to learn the views of the respective candidates before recording their votes.
None have a greater right to a full share in determining the conditions of the Britain that is to be, than the men, who by their valour, devotion, and endurance have ensured the safety of their Country.
I have been invited to the Parliamentary Borough of Morpeth Liberal Council, to become the Candidate in succession to your old and revered Member, the Right Honourable Thomas Burt.
We all rejoice in the victory of the Allied cause; the triumph of Right over might, the destruction of Prussian militarism and the preservation of liberty and freedom.
The nation is united in support of the principles stated by the Allied Governments as the essentials of a just and lasting peace.
I regard as of vital importance the establishment of a League of Nations to ensure peace; to guarantee “the reign of law by the consent of the governed;” and to secure the limitations of armaments.
Generous provision must be made for the dependents of those who have fallen, and for disabled men. Those, who, in serving with any of the fighting forces, have been incapacitated from following their previous occupation, must be freely assisted by the State to train themselves for new employment, and to establish themselves in business or as wage-earners.
Unemployment benefit (additional to any benefit under the National Insurance Act) should be given until discharged and demobilised men are settled in some new occupation.
The Government have decided to go to the country as a Coalition, on the ground that unity of purpose and action is necessary during the transition from a state of war to peace. It would certainly be desirable that an attempt should be made to secure united action in laying the foundations of a new and better Britain.
I am prepared to support the Coalition Government in carrying out the programme of social reconstruction if the measures brought forward, in my judgement, are progressive and democratic, and do not involve the surrender of any Liberal principles.
There should be a radical change in the Land system, in the interest of the whole community. Land should be available for men who have served in the war, who wish to cultivate small holdings, or allotments, or to obtain land for cottages or gardens.
It will be necessary for the State to secure that provision is made for a comprehensive housing scheme and to render the financial assistance that is essential.
During the war there has been a great advance in national sobriety. It will be for the new Parliament to consider measures in the light of the experience gained.
It is necessary to secure popular control of the liquor traffic, and to provide social centres as an alternative to the public house.
In devising measures for the reduction of the national debt, the principle should be to “fit the burden to the back,” or graduation according to “ability to pay.”
As one who fought for women’s suffrage, I earnestly hope that the newly enfranchised women will make full use of their votes. It is perhaps unnecessary to emphasise that many of the vital problems now engaging the attention of the country are questions with which women are intimately concerned.
With the coming of Peace, the restrictions imposed during the war should be speedily removed.
I cannot hope in this brief address, to deal with all the important problems of the day. But I shall endeavour at public meetings and otherwise, to inform the electors of my views and to answer questions fully and frankly.
I should oppose reactionary measures and support proposals calculated to advance the interests not of one section, but the whole nation.
On these grounds I venture to ask for the support of your note and interest.
27th November, 1918.
THE SOLDIERS’ COALITION CANDIDATE
Captain Gerald D. Newton, Independent Candidate, opened his election campaign in the Co-operative Hall, Morpeth, last week, when he addressed a fairly large audience. Councillor R.L. Fearby presided, and introduced the candidate.
Captain Newton, who was well received, said he had his first introduction to that constituency when he was stationed at Morpeth at the beginning of the war. He had made many friends, and it was with feelings of deep gratification that he was starting this most momentous and far-reaching movement of theirs in Morpeth.
He was a firm supporter of Mr Lloyd George. When he was in Italy he had written to Lloyd George and had told him that he (the speaker) was coming out as an Independent candidate, and that if he got in he was going to back him up.
He was going to make another statement which no doubt would astonish them. He was the official Coalition candidate for this Division. (Applause.) What was meant by Coalition? It was the joining of two forces. He represented the joining of two forces, “Tommy and Jack.” He was not the politicians’ Coalition candidate, but the soldiers’ Coalition candidate. He would always be in favour of the Coalition as long as it went straight, but when it went wrong he would be down upon it like a ton of bricks.
His tariff policy was very simple. He maintained that as they had fought side by side with their Allies for years they ought to give them the benefit. Let them have free trade with their Allies and their Colonies. If there was to be any differentiation between the two let them give their Colonies free trade, and their Allies a distinct preference over neutral countries.
Secondly, they should have tariff reform up to the hilt against their enemies.
There was always a danger when they had tariffs on articles that they would have trusts, and there was also a danger that they would have people profiteering. He maintained that Parliament by one single Act should be allowed to raise or lower the tax on any article brought into this country in order to avoid profiteering or unnecessary raising of prices.
He said that he agreed entirely with the 14 points presented to him by the Discharged Soldiers and Sailors, but he was going to add another point, and that was that every enemy alien in England today, immediately peace was declared, should be sent out of the country — (applause) — and that no enemy alien should be allowed to enter this country for at least ten years. (Applause.)
Having seen the brutality of the Hun, he considered that no punishment was too severe to inflict upon them. They wanted to have all the indemnities they could from them.
Mr W. Parker moved a vote of confidence to Captain Newton, which was seconded by Mr W. Robson, supported by Mr Chas. Bennett, and carried unanimously.
On Monday evening Mr R. Walker presided over a meeting at the Reay Hall, Bedlington, whereat Mr Meares was the speaker. Mr Meares said he was there to deal not only with mere local questions but with national matters.
In regard to the withdrawal of control of industries and doing away with the Defence of the Realm Act, there was at least one regulation which he considered should not be withdrawn, and that was in regard to harbour pilotage. No longer should foreign pilots be allowed to enter British ports without a British pilot.
He favoured the idea of a League of Nations. It would mean that nations spend less money on armaments, and also the abolition of conscription.
The Empire had been built up by enterprise and the constructive abilities of the people. In coming forward as a candidate he only did so from a sense of public duty.
Referring to wounded men with families and war widows, he urged that they should receive support out of a German indemnity.
He claimed that Mr Lloyd George had been largely responsible for the satisfactory termination of hostilities. The daily cost of the war was well know, and many millions had been saved. Could not the State make a gift of a million for the great service that great man had rendered?
BRITISH WORKERS’ LEAGUE CANDIDATE DR T.M. ALLISON, MAJOR R.A.M.C.T.
Dr Allison was born on a Cleveland farm, and has been connected with that highly successful farm in Northumberland (the Philipson Farm Colony, Stannington), for years. He therefore knows much of farming and agriculture, and his views on land reform are as sound as they are sweeping.
“Soldiers Homes and Institutes should be placed on the Soldiers’ Farm Colonies, thus becoming the markets on the site itself, and giving fresh milk and fresh food on the one hand, and saving cost of carting and railway fares on the other.”
Such are some of Major Allison’s suggestions for agriculture. His views on mining are no less striking and suggestive.
The mines of Northumberland should combine and co-operate to pay a reasonable standard dividend. Any surplus, after providing for depreciation, redemption of capital, and other proper deductions, should be divided between the worker, as wages, and the public as purchasers. Then high or profiteering dividends would cease.
Royalty rents should be abolished over a just period, and if, for example, 1/- a ton is paid, a proportion should go to help the poorer collieries to pay the standard dividend, and a proportion should go towards wages, and towards reduction of prices.
In fairness to the landowner, who has hitherto legally received these royalties, the change should be a gradual one.
There are two reasons for the suggested change viz:
(1) The royalty rents are unjust towards the mine-owner, the mine-worker, and the public.
(2) That the men who have faced the music have saved the coal-fields from the Germans, and deserve a just share in the security they have created.
Major Allison is in favour of exacting the severest penalty in the spirit of justice (not of revenge) from Germany, the nation which has so wickedly brought misery upon Europe. He suggests that the Germans be made to produce, for a time, and sell at cost price, coal for France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, and Montenegro.
And that they (the Germans) with their own labour, shall reclaim the shell-stricken fields of France and Belgium, and that they build with the debris of their own houses (chosen by lot) concrete dwellings of France and Flanders, and that they furnish the same with their own furniture.
The Germans should be hewers of wood and drawers of water to Europe for years to come; then they would realise that War does NOT pay.
Dr Allison is of opinion that having freed Europe, we should ask the foreign waiters and waitresses in London and other towns to return to their own land, and should replace them with our own women (who will tend to be thrown out of employment when the boys come home.)
The women should have a proper living wage, proper food and reasonable hours, and all sweated labour should cease.
ROLL OF HONOUR
RATCLIFFE.— In loving memory of Pte. Geo. Ratcliffe, 2nd D.L.I., who was killed in action on Oct. 23rd,aged 21 years and 10 months.— Ever remembered by Scoutmaster T. Blakelock, 155 Bothal Terrace, Pegswood.
TURNBULL.— South View, Bishop Auckland, on the 2nd inst., Thomas Turnbull, aged 38 years, only and dearly beloved brother of Sarah Ratcliffe, of 130 Bothal Terrace, Pegswood.
GRAHAM.- Died from wounds received in action on the 10th Oct., 1918, aged 19 years, Pte. Thomas Graham (57963), 2nd York and Lancs Regt., dearly beloved son of Sarah A. and the late John Graham, of 49 Monkseaton Terrace, Seaton Hirst, Ashington, late of Dipton.
BATTENSBY.— Killed in action in France, Nov. 4th, Pte. T.W.M. Battensby, aged 23 years, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, the dearly beloved and eldest son of T. and E.A. Battensby, 21 Freehold Terrace, Guide Post, Choppington, and grandson of the late Wm. Mills, of Storey St., Cramlington.
ROGERS.— Died on 24th Nov., 1918, at the 34th Casualty Clearing Station, France, from pneumonia, Lance-Corpl. Robert Rogers, R.E., the dearly beloved and youngest son of John and Elizabeth Rogers, 3 Stanley Terrace, Morpeth.— Deeply mourned and sadly missed by his loving father, mother, brothers and sisters, and all who knew him.
WILLIS.— Died of wounds received in action in France on Nov. 3rd, 1918, Pte. G.J. Willis, aged 23½ years, of H.O.Y.L.I., dearly loved and second son of John and Isabella Willis, Sixth Row, Choppington Colliery.
HEWITT.— Killed in action on Oct. 23rd, 1918, aged 30 years, Private Roger Hewitt (100814), D.L.I., son of the late John and Isabella Hewitt, late of North Seaton.
SKINNER.— Killed in action, Oct. 3rd, 1918, aged 21 years and 10 months, Private Harry Skinner, 384/8th N.F., dearly beloved son of Elizabeth and the late Henry Skinner, of 60 Katherine Street, Ashington.
COLLIN.— Killed in action, Nov. 4th, 1918, aged 28 years, Pte. Matthew Collin, R.A.M.C., the dearly beloved husband of Rose Collin (nee Hall), 6 St Albans’ Crescent, Windy Nook.
ARRIES.— Reported wounded and missing since Dec. 2nd, 1917, now presumed dead, Lance-Corpl. Jack Arries, aged 27 years, dearly beloved husband of Margaret Annie Arries, Hirst Head Farm, Bedlington.
ALLAN.— Died of malaria in Egypt, Gunner Peter Allan (94320, R.G.A.)— Deeply mourned by his wife, Ellen Allan, 7 Dawson Place, Morpeth. R.I.P.
BLACK.— Killed in action, Nov. 4th, 1918, Pte. John Black, Machine Gun Corps, dearly beloved husband of Mary E. Black, 12 Auburn Place, Morpeth.— Deeply mourned.
A WARNING TO THE PUBLIC
Sir,— A number of cases of larceny have occurred in this County lately, arising through over hospitality, and I think the public should, in its own interests, be warned against the indiscriminate admission of strange soldiers into their houses.
These men often claim relationship with the persons whose hospitality they ask, and usually remain in the house for one night only, departing the following morning with any valuables they have been able to abstract.
The same man not infrequently visits a number of persons in this way.
No doubt there are cases where soldiers need temporary help, but care should be exercised in admitting unknown men into the house, so that while the deserving may get relief they need, the criminals do not by their action cast reflection on so honourable a profession.
Captain, Chief Constable of Northumberland.
NORTHUMBERLAND AGRICULTURAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The Government has decided that a limited number of ‘pivotal’ men in Agriculture shall be released in advance of general demobilisation. The number for Northumberland is 130 men.
Farmers in the county who desire to apply for such men are requested to send stamped addressed envelope for the Application Form to the undersigned not later than December 10th.
Chief Executive Officer,
Agricultural Executive Committee’s Offices:
30th November, 1918.
MORPETH WAR SAVINGS COMMITTEE
Thanksgiving Week, Dec. 2nd to 7th (inclusive), 1918.
Come to the Hut in Morpeth Market Place, and invest in War Savings Certificates. You will help to place the soldiers of the Empire and show your gratitude in a practical way.
HOUSEHOLD FUEL & LIGHTING ORDER, 1918.
In pursuance of the power vested in me by Clause 87 of the Household Fuel and Lighting Order, 1918, I Hereby Determine:—
(1).— That no delivery of coal, coke, or other solid fuel to a private dwelling house shall exceed 1 Ton in the month except with my express consent.
(2).— That no trolleyman, hawker, or other retailer of coal, coke, or other solid fuel shall deliver more than 1 cwt. at a time to any private dwelling house and not on any account more than 3 cwts. in two consecutive weeks.
The provisions of Clause 85 of this Order remain in force except as modified above, and apply to all other descriptions of premises than private dwelling houses. The minimum quantities referred to in Clause 51 are not varied by the permission to sell 3 cwts in two consecutive weeks set out above. (“Month” means a calendar month.)
Local Fuel Overseer,
Morpeth Rural District.
Dated 4th December, 1918.
BRITISH WORKERS’ LEAGUE CANDIDATE
Major T.M. Allison, R.A.M.C., the British Workers’ League candidate for Morpeth, opened his campaign in the Town Hall, Morpeth, last Thursday. The meeting was well attended, and the chair was taken by Mr S.T. Robinson.
Major Allison said that he had just come back from taking charge of one of the general hospitals on the Western Front, and from what he had seen during the last twelve months in France he was satisfied that drastic measures must be taken to provide for the discharged and maimed soldiers back from the Front.
On the great question of housing expert knowledge must go hand in hand with the architects wherever houses were built. He hoped that the authorities would see that there was an even distribution of buildings in towns and in the remotest villages of the land.
He was fortunate in being brought up on a farm, and having been in touch with the management of a farm at Stannington, he knew what successful land management meant.
In connection with the health of the people and housing, there must be sweeping land reform. He was out for justice and a stern peace.
Major Allison held a meeting at Scotland Gate on Saturday. He impressed upon his hearers that he had come specially from France to contest the division on the grounds that he insisted on full and ample recognition being given to discharged and disabled soldiers and sailors, and that we should have a full and complete programme of housing reform and solid schemes for the bettering of conditions under which the workers lived.
WANSBECK PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION
A General Election forced upon the country at the present time does not secure Labour’s approval. This election is a deliberate step by the reactionary forces to secure a power and advantage that could not be gained after the tragic consequences of the War are correctly revealed.
With the object of preventing the institution of such power, I have been called upon by the Labour forces in the constituency to again contest the seat.
Since the Bye-Election, when I made such a successful claim to your vote and influence, military hostilities have ceased. The road is now clear for national and international reconstruction.
Labour in this election must not only show that it intends to solve its own industrial and social problems, but also be determined to build such a League, embodying the democracies of all nations, as will make a future war impossible.
The first question that will claim my attention is a just and generous provision for all discharged Soldiers and Sailors, their widows and other dependents. In whatever way these need assistance, it should be fully met by a direct charge on the State, and not left to voluntary agencies.
A guaranteed standard existence for all demobilised men and their dependents, this to apply also to the men and women displaced from munition factories is a question demanding immediate attention. Complete security against unemployment must become an established fact, and to this end I will support the immediate introduction of a six hours working day in all industries.
The problem of reconstruction must not be a patching-up of the old economic order. Production for profit, irrespective of the lives of the people, must be at once abolished.
Land, minerals, mines, railways, shipping, electricity, etc., must be retained by the Nation in the interests of the Nation.
The question of sufficient houses and better houses, at fair rents, calls for drastic State measures. A Special Health Department, with its own Ministry, must be instituted to improve the life of the people. Our aged people must have a large increase in pensions.
Education, both as regards the teacher and the scholar, needs to be lifted to greater social importance.
These are a few of the many questions that call for attention, and can only be dealt with by a strong Labour Parliament.
I stand for the immediate application to Ireland of the fullest possible measure of Home Rule. Ireland is one of the small nations that must have self-determination.
All taxes upon food stuffs must be abolished. The general policy of Free Trade must be maintained. The financial obligations of the Nation should be met by adjusting taxation according to the ability to hear it.
Increased death duties and the taking of unearned income shall have my attention.
I stand for the complete restoration of the freedom of speech, removal of the press censorship, free choice of residence and occupation, and the abolition of all compulsory military service.
It is impossible within such a short circular-letter to convey my point of view on all the great national questions. This I hope to do more fully during the Election campaign.
Hoping to be favoured with your vote and influence.
Yours most truly,