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.

Saturday, 11th August 2018, 14:17 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd August 2018, 13:28 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, August 9, 1918.

Lieut. A.E.V. Brumell, Northumberland Hussars, has been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of four Hotchkiss gun teams.

When the enemy attacked he displayed the greatest courage and skill in placing and handling the guns, and besides causing great delay to the enemy, inflicted on them very severe casualties. He fought the whole day, and was wounded in the evening whilst collecting stragglers.


Lieut. S. Renwick, Scots Guards, youngest son of Mr George Renwick, of Springhill, Morpeth, has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.

When the brigade took up a fresh line, this officer was sent out with two sections on outpost duty. At dawn, seeing the enemy advancing in large numbers, forced them to deploy about 700 yards distance by well-directed fire.

They then advanced to within 200 yards, when they were stopped after suffering heavy casualties. He was then ordered to withdraw to the main line, which he did most skilfully.


The following message from the Prime Minister was read on Monday night in the different Picture Halls in the district and was enthusiastically received:—

The message, which I sent to the people of the British Empire on the fourth anniversary of their entry into the war, is “HOLD FAST.”

We are in this war for no selfish ends. We are in it to recover freedom for the nations which have been brutally attacked and despoiled, and to prove that no people, however powerful, can surrender itself to the lawless ambitions of militarism without meeting retribution, swift, certain and disastrous, at the hands of the free nations of the world.

To stop short of victory for this cause would be to compromise the future of mankind.

I say “Hold Fast”, because our prospects of victory have never been so bright as they are today.

Six months ago the rulers of Germany deliberately rejected the just and reasonable settlement proposed by the Allies. Throwing aside the last mask of moderation, they partitioned Russia, enslaved Rumania, and attempted to seize supreme power by overwhelming the Allies in a final and desperate attack.

Thanks to the invincible bravery of all the Allied armies, it is now evident to all that this dream of universal conquest for the sake of which they wantonly prolonged the war can never be fulfilled.

But the battle is not yet won. The great autocracy of Prussia will still endeavour by violence or guile to avoid defeat, and so give militarism a new lease of life.

We cannot seek to escape the horrors of war for ourselves by laying them up for our children. Having set our hands to the task, we must see it through till a just and lasting settlement is achieved. In no other way can we ensure a world set free from war.

“Hold fast!”


The fourth anniversary of the war was celebrated at Morpeth last Sunday afternoon by the holding of a meeting for united prayer and intercession and as a day of remembrance in the Playhouse. The service, which was largely attended by the townspeople, was conducted by the Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott), who was supported by the ministers of the town.

The speeches were interspersed with suitable hymns, led by a choir composed of the different church choirs in the town, and an orchestral band organised by Mr J. Jobson.

The Mayor said: “Four years today I was awakened by the bells in the Old Tower ringing at half-past six in the morning in the Market Place. I found our Mayor, Councillor Sanderson, consulting with Colonel Collis, and I was asked to get my motor out and convey men to Cresswell to dig trenches.

“I landed my first batch on men on the links of the village about nine o’clock, and on my way back I passed motors loaded with men and picks, spades and shovels, and then more motors and men and more men until I reached Morpeth.

“Then I began to wonder what the men would do for something to eat after working in the hot sun. In the hurry very few had provided themselves with any eatables.

“I ventured to make a speech from the top of my motor, and asked our women of Morpeth to give me some bread and cheese, tea and coffee to feed the men, and before 11 o’clock I had a load of everything in the way of eatables you could mention. By one o’clock everyone had a good feed. Everyone was satisfied and returned home tired but proud of their work that day.

“From that day until now Morpeth has acted up to all the traditions of its ancient and glorious past. Our men have volunteered, and like heroes have bled and many have fallen. Our women have worked like never before to assist all causes and to keep the home fires burning until the boys come home.

“Now let me ask you to make the most of our meeting. Let us get into the spirit of it, and let us feel that we are here in the Divine presence as surely as if we were in a cathedral. Let us sing the hymns from our hearts as we realise the depth of their meaning to us. The closer we get into touch the greater blessing we shall carry away.”

After the singing of a hymn and prayer by Dr Drysdale, the Mayor went on: “Today is the fourth anniversary of the day when the call went forth to England’s sons and daughters as never before in the history of our nation and Empire. The call to awaken ourselves.

“We had had such a long time of peace that we were wrapped up in a stupor of complacency and sense of security that we had almost become blind to our national birthright with all its privileges, ideals and interests. To say nothing of the neglected duty of three-fourths of our people to the sacred and divine obligations to our God.

“By that neglect we had countenanced a nation utterly gotten in selfishness and self-righteousness; utterly devoid of God or His Spirit’s teachings, a nation fed with militarism just as a mother feeds her child with milk, until they looked upon and said to themselves that ‘Might is right’, and believing in this, with a trivial excuse, they plunged the whole of Europe in war.

“Thank God that England’s leaders stood the test of our integrity to our covenants and accepted the challenge. Thank God that our nation, aye, our Empire, backed them up and said ‘Right is might.’

“Just as surely as our ‘contemptible little army’, stretched out until it was practically only one man deep on the plains of the Flanders and France to link up with the French army, stood the shock and arrested the advance of the German hosts in full strength. Just as surely as we are fighting a just and righteous cause to emancipate the whole world from the dominating power and thraldom of militarism and the lust of world power.

“It is our purpose to place our heart’s desires before God this afternoon,” continued the Mayor.

“Let us approach God both here and at home, and with faith pray for our King and Empire. Pray for our soldiers who fight for us on all the fields of battle that they may be sustained in the long and weary strain by our faith in them and by their own faith in God so hold fast until the tide of battle turns to victory.

“Pray for our sailors, the men who keep watch and guard the seas. May they realise that the eye of God never sleeps or slumbers. Pray for the men who fight in the air, and for them to go down into the deeps, that on their greater risks they may have the greater sense of God’s protecting care.

“Pray for our prisoners of war, that all causes which embitter their lot may be removed. Pray for the sick and wounded, for the doctors and nurses who attend to them.

“Pray earnestly for the dying and dead. Pray earnestly that to their closing eyes that light will appear which brightens, which guides, that welcomes them home to heaven and to past.”

The Rev. D. Jones said that they were living in an atmosphere of war, but he wanted to bring them into an atmosphere of both war and prayer.

The men who were fighting for us were often discouraged not by the enemy, because they had hearts too big for that, but by things that happened at home. If they had their troubles and anxieties they must cover them, if they had grounds for discontent they must hide them so that when the men came home on leave they must find nothing but encouraging looks and cheerful and sustaining and loving support in every way.

There were people who were trying to find short cuts to peace, but they would not only be the longest way round, but would be the betrayal of those who had fought and suffered. Britain must be strong to do only that which was right and true — to stand by its friends to the last, and to be loyal to the utmost to its Allies.

They should never be able to excuse themselves if they made such a peace as to sacrifice Belgium or leave Serbia to be overthrown and trodden under foot for ever. He was sure they would never do such a foul act.

The Rev. J.C. Sutcliffe said that the hymn “Holy Father in Thy mercy” that they had just sung was one which was sung almost every Sunday evening by the boys out in France. It reminded them that all were gathered together not only as citizens of the town, but as citizens of the Empire. Their prayers and thoughts were mingling with the prayers and thoughts in other parts of this land.

One was reminded of the awful price by which their own security and peace were being secured. It had been his privilege to be with the Army in advance, but it had also been his privilege — nay, not privilege — to be with the Army in retreat. It was then he witnessed those scenes of men and women, boys and girls, flying for their lives before the invader.

When he looked out upon their own nation in peace and comparative security, he asked the question: “Is England worthy of all the self-sacrifices that are being offered on their behalf?” Did they fully realise today what it meant in broken bodies and in shattered homes? Let them remember that the peace and security which they now enjoyed was being bought in blood and tears.

When he remembered those self-sacrifices which were being made in Flanders and France and saw the drunkenness that was still all too prevalent amongst them, when he remembered the light-hearted way in which men would adopt the down-tools policy and called to mind the spirit of greed and grab that was all too prevalent in their commercial life, and compared all those things with the sacrifices of England’s greatest and best, he asked himself “Are we worthy of them?”

That was a question each one must ask for himself, and answer in the presence of God. He was not pleading that they should go about with long faces. The call to them was that they should carry sunshine into the homes. The boys out yonder did not go about with long faces: they cheered one another.

They should plead for a deeper note of sincerity in their religious life. No nation had any right to claim a blessing of God upon its efforts unless they did that. It was no use a man praying for God’s blessing when he himself was doing what he could to raise prices of foodstuffs. It was a standing disgrace the prices that people had to pay in this country today.

God was a God of righteousness, and He not only stood by the sailor and soldier who give his all, but stood by the widows and the orphans, and those who by their iniquitous dealings made it doubly difficult for those people to live in those times must not plead the hypocrite and ask God’s blessing to rest upon them.

Let them remember that the blood that was being shed in France still flowed in the veins of some poor mother.

The Mayor said that he would allude to “Remembrance Day,” of which that service formed a part. He said: “I would re-echo in part the message yesterday by the President of the United States. ‘We are bound alike to those who have fallen and to those who stand steadfast in the battle line and to those yet unborn for whom we hold our heritage in trust’.

“That our resolution shall not even falter until the full accomplishment of the purpose for which this war was undertaken, and to which we have consecrated our effort, our suffering, our endurance. United by the tie of a common purpose and by the bond of a common sacrifice the free nations of the British commonwealth, will and must hold firm to the end.

“Let us recall the big motives which led us to take up arms and to maintain at all costs that liberty and justice should be upheld. We should remember these things and be grateful.

“And now at this service let our hearts go out in deep and sincere sympathy to all who have suffered bereavement through the war. It is out duty to relieve as far as humanly possible the heartbroken fathers and mothers, the widows and the fatherless children, the weeping brothers and sisters of our fallen men.

“There are many vacant places in Morpeth and an aching void in many hearts which only God can comfort and relieve. In honour to our fallen heroes let us pass our tribute of sympathy in silence standing for a moment.”

The audience then stood in silence while the “Last Post” was sounded by two buglers.

After prayer by Ald Norman the proceedings concluded with the National Anthem by the orchestra.

The Mayor announced that the collection had amounted to £11 1s 3d, which would be forwarded to the Northumberland Prisoners of War Fund.

A stand was erected at the entrance to the hall on which the public were invited to place flowers as a tribute of their respect and sympathy to any of their lost loved ones. After the service the flowers were taken to the churchyard.


Mr William Noble, of Belmont House, Morpeth, who has kindly offered to provide additional seats for the use of wounded soldiers and the public generally in the borough, has received the following appreciative letter from His Worship the Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott):—

“I received with great pleasure your kind letter and generous offer to provide additional seats for the use of wounded soldiers, visitors and public generally of our ancient borough. I can assure you that your former gift of seats was greatly appreciated and used by all who visit the Park.

“I gladly accept and thank you for the offer, and I have instructed Mr J. Davison the surveyor, to see you and have arrangements made for having the seats placed where they will best serve the purpose. Again, I thank you on behalf of the Town Council and the people of Morpeth.”


A detachment of the Morpeth Volunteers, under Second-Lieut C. Grey, attended the camp held at Berwick last weekend.


Will he held on Thursday, August 29th, in Springhill Grounds (Kindly lent by Mr and Mrs George Renwick).

Particulars in next week’s “Herald” and Posters.


Those having gardens and allotments with vegetables and fruit to spare or cannot use should send them to Mrs Spencer, who attends the Town Hall, Morpeth, every Wednesday from 9 to 12 o’clock, to collect fresh vegetables and fruit for the sailors in the Navy in the North Sea.

Let no garden produce waste, as Mrs Spencer can find a good use for everything.


Councillor R.L. Fearby presided at a meeting at the George and Dragon Hotel, Morpeth, on Saturday evening, and on behalf of the friends and supporters of Captain Newton presented that gentleman, who is leaving for service in Italy, with a souvenir in the shape of a case of pipes.

Captain Newton thanked them cordially for their gift. It was a night of surprises, and he would add one more by the information that he was to be married before leaving this country. (Applause.)

He was well assured that the work they had been doing so well and successfully would be faithfully maintained, and he hoped on his return that they would felicitate each other on the dawn of a peace in conformity with the noble aims for which this nation had engaged in the great war. (Applause.)


The Northumberland War Agricultural Executive Committee has been informed by the Food Production Department that arrangements have been made to provide additional soldier labour for harvest work.

Farmers who wish to avail themselves of this labour should apply at once to the Chief Executive Officer, Northumberland War Agricultural Committee, 9 Eldon Square, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

A number of Band boys from the Army have also been made available for farm work, and may be of considerable assistance as unskilled labourers


Sir,— On behalf of the Horticultural Sub-Committee for the county of Northumberland, I am venturing to invoke your assistance in calling the attention of your readers to the comparative failure of the cultivated fruit crops this year, and to urge on all who can help, (1) the absolute necessity of saving all fruit possible for jam making and preserving, and (2) the necessity also of collecting blackberries and other wild fruit with the same object.

To enable this to be carried out, I would ask all landowners and occupiers of land to co-operate by allowing blackberries and other wild fruits to be picked by duly authorised pickers, such as members of the Guild of War Agricultural Helpers, Boy Scouts, and school children under proper control.


Chairman of the Horticultural Sub-Committee for the County of Northumberland.

Cragside, Rothbury, August 5th, 1918.


Private Frank Davidson, East View Avenue, Cramlington Village, has been killed in action.

Mr Wm. Rutherford, The Crescent, Ewesley, Morpeth, has been notified by the War Office that his second son, Private Jack R. Rutherford, Lewis gunner, West Yorks Regiment, was wounded on July 19th, and is lying in hospital in France.


The Commandant of the above hospital wishes to thank Mrs Drury, Granby Cottage, for so kindly washing 15 counterpanes and blankets, free of charge, for the hospital.

She also wishes to thank those who have sent the following gifts:— Mrs Ralph Crawford, for 48 fresh eggs; Mrs Angus, Climbing Tree, books; Miss Davidson, papers; the ladies of Morpeth War Sewing Party, 12 pairs of socks; Miss Murray, lettuce; Mrs Mackay, brown loaf; Miss A. Waters, cigarettes and eggs; Mrs Bainbridge, lettuce; Mrs Cookson, flowers; Mrs Jos. Simpson, teacake; Miss Whitelock, cushions and glass basins; Miss Pringle, cigarettes; Mrs Joicey, books and flowers; Mrs J.J. Gillespie, vegetables; Mr Pringle, Tritlington, eggs; the girls at Bow Villa for two large pots of jam.