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 monthly meeting of Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor Charles Grey) presided.
The Town Clerk reported receipt from Capt. Newton, R.A.M.C., of several articles of interest picked up by him on the French battle front which he offered to the Corporation as a contribution towards their proposed war museum.
The committee recommended that Capt. Newton’s offer be accepted, and that the Town Clerk write him a letter conveying the thanks of the Council.— Agreed to.
The Town Clerk submitted a circular from the acting organiser of the King’s Fund for Disabled asking for the Council’s subscription during “Gratitude” week towards completing £3,000,000.
The committee recommended that the Town Clerk reply intimating that the Germans should be called upon to pay every penny necessary to make complete reparation to all disabled.— Adopted.
A circular was received from the Town Council at Deptford enclosing copy of a resolution calling for the handing over of the ex-Kaiser for trial. It was agreed that a similar resolution be adopted by the Council.
Mr Armstrong proposed that the Council decide definitely what steps were to be taken to carry out the resolution to establish a national kitchen for Morpeth and that the scheme be proceeded with at once.
He said that at the last meeting the resolution to rent certain premises was defeated, but that did not alter the question of the resolution that a national kitchen be established in the town. The need was as urgent as ever it was. He referred to the large number of women who were working in market gardens, and who had no time to cook hot food for themselves and their children.
Mr Swinney seconded the motion. The deputation had seen the good food the people in Sunderland got at a reasonable cost.
Mr Simpson said it was moved at the previous meeting that there be no communal kitchen.
The Town Clerk replied that there had been no proposal before the Council that there should be no communal kitchen.
The Mayor said there was the large Army cook-house behind the Town Hall which the Council might purchase, and use it as a kitchen whenever the necessity arose.
Mr Sanderson supported the motion. Those kitchens were all over the country.
Mr Waterston: It was a failure at Blyth.
Mr Sanderson: That is no argument against the scheme. We are superior to the business people at Blyth. (Laughter.)
Mr Fearby suggested that they find out if there was a demand for it on the part of the people who were going to benefit.
Ald. Duncan said he voted against the proposition the last time. Up and down the country the kitchens had been ghastly failures. There were places bigger and more industrious than Morpeth who had abandoned the scheme because they had found it was not self-supporting.
People thought they were going to get a good square meal at a small charge, and after a few times the appetite was not there for vegetable pie. (Laughter.) Food was becoming more plentiful than it was a month ago. The flour was better, and there were larger quantities. He saw no reason for establishing a communal kitchen.
Mr Armstrong’s motion was defeated.
LOCAL MILITARY MEDALLIST
Pte. R. Gibbon, D.C.M., N.F., youngest son of Mr and Mrs Gibbon, 6 Edward Street, Morpeth, who is on leave at present, has received word from his officer stating that he has been awarded the Military Medal.
STANNINGTON WAR HOSPITAL
Sir,— The North of England Anglo-American Care Committee consisting of representatives of the British and American Red Cross has been formed to assist, with donations of goods sent from America, the local Military and Auxiliary Hospitals, and especially to provide comforts for the patients of Stannington War Hospital.
These patients are all shell-shock patients, and for them no provision has been made to afford extra comforts.
We appeal to the public for assistance to provide Christmas cheer, the Government rations not permitting of the extra so necessary to make our soldiers in hospital feel that they are not forgotten at a time of national happiness.
May we appeal to the public to send something as a thanks-offering for the end of the war. The small amount required is about £150, and donations may be sent to Mrs Fullarton James, Stobhill, Morpeth.
PRESENTATION FROM THE VOLUNTEERS
The officers, NCOs, and men of “A” Coy, 4th V.B., N.F., spent a most enjoyable evening at the New Phoenix Inn, Morpeth, last Friday. There they were entertained to dinner by Lieut. Charles Grey, who is Mayor of the Borough.
At an interval, the presentation of a fruit and flower vase was made to the Mayor, the inscription on the piece of the plate being:— “Presented to Lieut. Charles Grey, by the NCOs and men of “A” Coy, 4th V.B., N.F., in commemoration of his year of office as Mayor of the Borough of Morpeth, 1918-19”.
Sergt.-Major Matheson said he had a very pleasing duty to perform. A few weeks ago when it became known that Lieut. Grey was to become Mayor of the Borough, Sergt. Brown and other NCOs thought it would be a very fitting tribute to the esteem in which Lieut. Grey was held by the Company, if they presented him with some memento that would always remind him of the time when he served during the great war as an officer of the Morpeth Volunteer Company, and also as Mayor of the ancient Borough of Morpeth.
As an officer he had performed his duties exceedingly well. He referred to some of the long route marches in which they had taken part. Lieut. Grey would be able to tell his grandsons of the long, long trail to Longframlington and back. (A voice: “And the blisters!”)
He had no doubt that many who were on those long trails would look back on those days with pleasure, knowing that they had done something by getting themselves into training in case the Germans had attempted an invasion. They had never been called upon to meet the Germans. All the same, they were ready if called upon.
Lieut. Grey’s year of office opened auspiciously with the signing of the armistice, and he hoped in a short time they would have the peace terms signed and then they would all get settled down.
He then said he had great pleasure in asking Lieut. Grey to accept the piece of plate. They wished him long life, success and happiness, and expressed the hope that he would look upon the gift as a tribute from the “boys.” (Applause.)
Pte. S.W. Brown said that it gave him great pleasure to support Sergt.-Major Matheson in handing over the piece of plate to their worthy friend, the Mayor. He assured those gentlemen who had not been so closely connected with the volunteers that Lieut. Grey had won the esteem of the Coy. (Applause.)
Every credit was due to the officers and NCOs for they way they had handled the Coy. He was speaking from experience, as he had 30 years in the old volunteers, and had been in that Coy. since its formation.
Sergt. Geo. Brown said it was a happy thought that had struck him that they should do something to show appreciation of Lieut. Grey on becoming Mayor of the ancient borough.
He hoped that the Mayor had entered upon his duties with a lot of good resolutions, and that at the end of his year of office they could say he had looked after the “boys,” that he had done his best for them, and that he had made their lives healthier and better.
He thanked the officers of the Company for the way in which hey had carried out their duties, and for the friendly spirit shown at all times. They had not only been officers, but friends. It was a standing joke that someone had called them the “Sunday Companions.” He was pleased to belong to the “Sunday Companions,” and for the benefit of the person who gave them that name he would add that they were companions on the other six days. (Applause.)
Lieut. T.D. Shaw said that during the two and a half years he had been in the volunteers he had come more in contact with Lieut. Grey than even the men had. Lieut. Grey had been always most anxious to do what he could to help the war in every shape and form, and in every way he had certainly done all he could to help the volunteers of Morpeth.
From the beginning the local Coy, had been looked upon in the Northumberland Volunteer Regiment as one of the best, if not the best Company. (Applause.) When he said that, no small praise was to Lieut. Grey for the part he had taken in moulding and shaping them together.
Lieut. Chas Grey thanked them for the great honour they had done him with that beautiful flower and fruit base. It had come as a great surprise to him.
He took that opportunity of thanking them all for the manner in which they had done their duty sometimes under the most irksome circumstances. He felt if the Volunteers had been called upon to defend the coast the men of Morpeth would have gone and done their duty. (Applause.)
He would have been proud to have marched at the head of his platoon, and he had not the slightest doubt that they would have done all that was demanded of them and a little more.
It has been his duty to be in contact with the Town Clerk as Returning Officer of the borough, and of the 40,000 names on the voter’s list, no less than 8,000 were absent voters. That meant that there were 8,000 men from the Borough of Morpeth in the Army and Navy. (Applause.) Now, the average for the country was one-eighth of the voter’s list. That meant their quota was 5,000 men, but he was proud to say, that that district had sent 3,000 more than its share.
At the last war savings campaign in the town they had raised £68,000, or £48,000 more than the quota. In the Hut at the Market Place that week the amount they had to raise was £45,500, and he would be surprised if they did not double it.
The town of Morpeth had provided more than its share in men and money, and had also supplied the munitions from Messrs Swinney’s foundry.
With regard to the remark about making this country better for working men, he said it had always been his ambition and he had supported every measure for the betterment of the working classes in the town.
The Town Council at the earliest possible moment would proceed with its building scheme on the High Stanners. Morpeth would be one of the first Corporations to start a housing scheme after the war. (Applause.) There were many improvements that were needed. The clock had been put back by Kaiser Bill for four or five years, but the Corporation was determined to erect decent houses, and also to secure more allotments.
The beautiful present would be a memento to him for many years to come of the happy days he had spent in the volunteers. (Applause.) He hoped that would not be the finish of the Volunteers, but that the conditions might be such that they could continue for years to come. (Applause.)
Lieut. Grey then proposed the health of Capt. Sanderson and the Town Clerk, and said that Capt. Sanderson was one of the first men in Morpeth to join up when the great war commenced. (Applause.)
Capt. Sanderson, who was received with the singing of “For he’s a jolly good fellow,” and the Town Clerk, suitably responded.
The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and the National Anthem concluded a very pleasant gathering.
SAVINGS CAMPAIGN AT MORPETH
Thanksgiving Week at Morpeth was a great success, the general arrangements being in the hands of the local War Savings’ Committee.
In the Market Place there was a large gun which had done service in France, also a hut, where war bonds and war savings certificates were sold. Morpeth’s quota was £40,500. The Morpeth rural district amalgamated with the urban district, and their quota was £80,500.
The Mayor (Councillor Charles Grey) said he had great pleasure in declaring the hut open for the sale of National War Bonds and War Savings Certificates. The percentage that was given on the war bond was equal to 5 per cent., and in some instances, 5½ per cent. In the opinion of experts this loan would not last for many more months as the Government would be in a position very soon to get their loans at 4 per cent.
The Mayor, Mr Ralph Crawford, and Mr T.S. Robinson addressed the farmers at Morpeth Auction Mart on the subject of war savings.
Considerable interest was manifested in the war savings campaign on Wednesday last week. The town was visited by the Band of the Northumberland Fusiliers from Newcastle. The Band attracted many people to the Market Place.
A meeting was held in front of the Hut. The Mayor said this was to be “feed the guns week,” for Morpeth. The guns did not need to be fed, and he hoped they would not have to be fed again. They were calling it thanksgiving week.
The war to all intents and purposes was over, but the need for money was as great today as ever it was. They had from six to eight millions of men in the field, and those men had to be fed and paid, and also at the termination of their services had each to receive a gratuity, which for privates amounted to £29.
He was prepared as a business man to talk to them as business men. The British Government offered them an investment for any man that could be got. It was also a safe investment. What were the qualities they looked for in an investment? The first quality they looked for “Is it safe?” “Is it saleable?” “Is it likely to fall in value?” “Is it acceptable as security for a banker’s loan?” and “Will it yield a good interest?”
There was not a single investment in the country today that could combine those five points, except the Government loan.
They had behind it the security of the British Government, and the British Government never stood so high in the estimation of the world as it did now. They had won the war, and the Prime Minister had told them that Germany would have to pay up to her utmost capacity. They had also to remember that 18 million people had invested in this loan so that no future Government could ever dare to repudiate it.
They could purchase Bonds or certificates today and they would be saleable tomorrow at the same price. They would not fall in value, but increase in value every year. For a banker’s loan they could not have a better security.
A good rate of interest was paid. In the opinion of great financial experts in this country the chance to invest at the same rate of interest would not last much longer.
“You must invest now,” added the Mayor. “There’s the hut. Come in and invest what you like. I appeal to the farmers especially. It is the greatest investment ever known.”
ROLL OF HONOUR
PICK.— Lieut. Alfred James Pick, 3rd D.L.I., attached K.O.Y.L.I., attached R.A.F. as pilot, killed in an accident on December 2nd whilst flying in Kent, elder and dearly beloved son of Alfred and Ellen Pick, of Bedlington, aged 23 years. Interred at Bedlington, Dec. 7th.
REED.— Previously reported missing, now reported having died in a German Field Hospital on 25th March, 1918, aged 36 years, Corpl. Robert Reed, 17 Castle Terrace, Ashington, and elder son of James and Mary Ann Reed, of Adderstone Mains, Belford. Buried in Military Cemetery of Vermand.
BLACK.— Killed in action in France, Nov. 4th, 1918, Private John Black, Machine Gun Corps, aged 35 years, eldest son of the late James Black and Isabella Davison, 35 Bridge Street, Morpeth.— Deeply mourned.
DUNN.— Died at Collooney Camp, Sligo, Ireland, 7th inst., aged 18 years and 9 months, Pte. W.T. Dunn, Suffolk Yeomanry, the beloved son of Richard and Mary Ann Dunn, of West Sleekburn Colliery. Interred at Cambois, Churchyard, Dec. 11th.
RICHARDSON.— Killed in action on Oct. 29th, 1918, Driver William Ferguson Richardson, Royal Field Artillery, aged 26 years, dearly beloved husband of Margaret Richardson, 6 Rosalind Street, Hirst.
VOLUNTEER’S FUNERAL AT MORPETH
The funeral of the late Mr William Duncan Dobinson, second son of Mr and Mrs Dobinson, of 2 Olympia Gardens, Morpeth, took place on Tuesday, the place of interment being Morpeth Churchyard.
The deceased, who was 30 years of age, died from pneumonia last Sunday following an attack of influenza.
Deceased having been a member of the Morpeth Company 4th Volunteer Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers since its formation, was accorded a military funeral. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack.
The cortege was preceded by a firing party, consisting of members of the local Volunteers, in charge of Sergeant George Brown, followed by the Company’s Pipers and drummer, under Pipe-Major Strong.
Prior to the internment a service was held at the house, conducted by the Rev. Jos. Miller, Congregational minister, who also said the committal prayers at the graveside.
Three volleys were fired over the grave, and the “Last Post” was sounded. Amongst the wreaths was one from the Morpeth Company 4th V.B.N.F.