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.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 12:24
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, May 31, 1918.

Lance-Corporal Thomas Wm. Hewitt, son of Rachel Hewitt, contractor, Lawson’s Buildings, Morpeth, has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery in France.

Lance-Corporal T. Clark, Yeomanry, a son of Mr T. Clark, the well-known Northumbrian agriculturist and sportsman, residing at East Linden, Longhorsley, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty while in action.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, May 31, 1918.


Under the direction of the Mayor of Morpeth (Councillor James Elliott) Empire Day was duly celebrated at Morpeth last Friday by the holding of a demonstration on the High Stanners and a procession through the main streets of the town, in which the juvenile section of the population took an important part. Flags were flown at the Town Hall, the Clock Tower, and other buildings.

Mr Dakyns, who had a splendid reception, said: “I am glad that it has been arranged by the Mayor that we should meet to do honour to Empire Day, falling as it does this year just at the crisis of the great war. For I am certain that if the Empire had not come to the help of the Old Country in the dark days of 1914-15 and stayed by us, and done the great deeds they have done, we should have been as Belgium and as Serbia, and perhaps, if possible, in a worse state.

“I need not tell you — you all know it well — how many thousands of men have come how many thousand miles from every part of the Empire — from the ends of the world, to fight for the Empire, to give their lives, to give their all, for the Empire.

“We know that Anzac has become a household word, that the Canadians saved the day, perhaps saved the Empire, with the help of the Northumberland Fusiliers at Ypres. (Applause.) We know that the Indian soldiers have fought and fallen side by side with Englishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen, and Irishmen, and that Indian Princes have poured out their treasures to help us fight and to help the wounded and the sick. We also know that the Boers of South Africa have helped to wipe the Germans off the Dark Continent.

“In a word there is no corner of our world-wide Empire, on which the sun literally never sets, no corner so far removed, so obscure, or so weak that it has not done its bit. Verily it is an Empire of Heroes. (Applause.)

“How is it that this little bit of an island, set in the silver sea, has managed to grow into such a huge world-wide Empire? It is because Englishmen, Welshmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen — we Britishers all — with all our faults, love freedom, justice, and righteousness for other people as well as for ourselves. If it had not been that we love freedom, justice, and righteousness we would not have been in this war at all. The Empire stands for freedom, justice, and righteousness, and as long as it stands for that it will last. (Applause.)

“I thought as I watched you gathering up to salute the Empire flag that you were a type of the Empire. You come from different schools, from different sorts of schools, you have different interests and different occupations, you have your rivalries — and quite right too, because you have your love for your school — but you have all gathered together to salute the flay. (Applause.)

“But you boys and girls are more than a type of the Empire, you are the Empire that is to be. There is no empire but the men and women who live in it. There is no empire but ourselves, and our duty to the Empire is to make ourselves as good children and as good men and women as we can in every way.

“You can all learn three things — (1) You can learn to be good in body. You have got to learn to play the game in the full sense of the word. The German does not know how to play football without cheating. We can play the game and not take an unfair advantage of an opponent. Boys should join their school Cadet Unit or the Boys’ Brigade, or the new Volunteer Cadet Unit which is to be formed in Morpeth.

(2) Be good in mind, and learn all about the world we live in and about the men who have made our Empire for us; and (3) Be good in soul, so that we, too, may love freedom, justice and righteousness, and so make our Empire stand secure.” (Applause.)

Ald. Ed. Norman also addressed the gathering. He alluded to the heroic sacrifices made by our soldiers and sailors. They all appreciated highly what the women of England were doing in this great war. He wondered how many of them were represented on the field of battle that day.

He hoped they would all go from that gathering with a new spirit of sacrifice, ready to do their part, and prepared to show the spirit of the true British soldier. (Applause.)

All stood and saluted the flag, followed by the massed schools singing the National Anthem.


The friends of Major Wilfrid L. Gibson, at one time road surveyor stationed at Morpeth, will be pleased to know that he occupies a staff appointment in France, which gives an outlet for his experience as an expert in road construction and maintenance.

Major Gibson is county engineer of Perthshire in civil life. Originally with the Scotch Horse, Major Gibson transferred to the Royal Engineers, and as has happened with many other men of outstanding ability and experience, his rise in the army has been rapid.

Should Major Gibson visit Morpeth at any time on leave he is sure of a hearty welcome from the people of the town which he served so faithfully and well some twenty years ago.


A.B. Matthew Brown, late of Widdrington, writes as follows:— “I would like to appeal to your readers to send any old library books. We have a literary club on board, but are very short of books.

“Any books sent to the following address will be gratefully received:— M. Brown, A.B., 3 Mess, H.M.S. Monitor, 23, G.P.O., London.”


The Flag Day for the Church Army huts, arranged by the Mayor and Mayoress (Mr and Mrs James Elliott), was held at Morpeth on Saturday last.

The stand-holders commenced their duties at one o’clock and having beautiful weather continued until 7pm. Everything considered, the amount realised was an excellent and gratifying result.

With the subscriptions added to the collections the receipts amount to £41. The Mayoress heartily thanks all the workers and subscribers for their generous assistance to such a worthy cause.


Notice is hereby given that the scheme for national rationing of sugar, fats (butter, margarine and lard), butchers’ meat and bacon will come into force on July 14th, 1918.

Every householder and other person separately resident in the Rural District of Morpeth must fill in a form of application, which can be obtained at the Food Office, address below, or from the clerk to the sub-committee of the area in which he resides.

Every householder resident in the Rural District, whether intending to obtain supplies from retailers within or outside of the district, must fill up an application form as regards the inmates of the house for registration.

All application forms must be completed and returned to me before Saturday, 15th June, 1918. The new register so constituted will form the basis for the issue of the National Ration books.

The existing Food Cards (Buff) will be used up to 24th June, 1918, and from that date the retailers with whom the card is registered will be instructed to supply rationed food stuffs therein specified until July 14th, when the National Scheme commences.

Dated 29th May, 1918


Clerk and Executive Officer,

Food Office, 15 Bridge Street, Morpeth

By Order of the Committee.

May 31st, 1918.


It is necessary for the Executive Committee to register immediately all men over 23 and under 31 years of age employed in Northumberland in the following occupations and to consider whether they shall be enlisted for Military Service:—

(a) Men occupied as farmers, market gardeners, fruit farmers, and dairy farmers in the production of food of a character and quantity which is of national importance.

(b) Men (not within paragraph (a)) engaged in agricultural work, including men occupied as Bailiffs, Foremen, Grieves, Stewards, Byremen, Cattlemen, Cowmen, Horsemen, Stockmen, Yardmen, Carters, Ploughmen, Teamsters, Waggoners, Hinds, Shepherds, Farm Servants, Thatchers, Stallion Men or Leaders.

(c) Repairers of agricultural implements and repairers and attendants of steam ploughs, tractors of threshing machines, and drivers and mechanics employed in connection therewith.

(d) Agricultural Blacksmiths, agricultural farriers and wheelwrights.

(e) Heads of Departments and experts employed in the wholesale food seed industry, or in connection with forest tree nurseries (but not general employees in these industries).

(f) Managers, foremen and highly skilled employees employed in connection with agricultural drainage.

(g) Retail harness makers and repairers who are wholly or mainly employed in their trade in dealing with the local requirements of the agricultural community.

(h) Land Agents who are wholly or mainly employed in assisting Agricultural Executive Committee, or who are essential to the administration of an agricultural estate.

Forms for particulars may be obtained by sending stamped addressed envelope to the undersigned, endorsed N.S.


Hon. Secretary,

9, Eldon Square, Newcastle-on-Tyne


Mr George Middlemiss, 6 De Merley Road, Morpeth, has received news from his son, Second-Lieut. Geo. A. Middlemiss, Sherwood Foresters, that he is a prisoner of war in Germany and is unwounded.

News has been received by Mr and Mrs Robt. Donkin, of Hood Street, Morpeth, that their son, Private J.D. Donkin, Royal Irish Fusiliers, recently reported missing, is now a prisoner of war in Germany.

Mr and Mrs R. Carmen, Edward Street, Morpeth, have received a postcard from their son, Private M. Carmen, N.F., saying he is a prisoner of war in Germany and wounded, but the wound is healed up and he is in the best of health.

Mr and Mrs Pringle, Tritlington, Morpeth, have received a card from their son, Private W.O. Pringle, Lincolns, stating he is a prisoner of war and well. He was previously reported missing.

Mrs Wilson, of 9 Paradise Street, Cramlington Village, has received news that Sergt. J. Russell, Royal Scottish Fusiliers, who has been wounded on four occasions has now been killed in action.

News has been received at Blyth that Wm. Middleton, R.N.D., has died from wounds whilst a prisoner of war in Germany.

Private James Garret Lewis, East Yorks, of Percy Street, Blyth, is now reported missing since April 25th.

Private Oswald Watson, of Disraeli Street, Blyth, is reported missing.

Private Stephen Wardrope (29), of Dandsfield Place, Radcliffe, has died through being gassed in France on the 8th May. He belonged to the Machine Gun Corps.

Private Kelly, Phoenix Street, Newsham, is reported missing since March 23rd.

Lance-Corporal Matthew Adamson, Beecher Street, Cowpen New Town, is reported to have been killed on May 10th.

Bomb. Neil, of Wheatridge Row, Seaton Delaval, a nephew of Councillor S. Neil, has died from wounds.

Private S. Bell, North Corner, Seaton Delaval, is reported killed in action.

Private Grieves, Long Row, New Hartley, is reported to have been killed in action.

Private Matthew Millican (30), son of Mr and Mrs Alex. Millican, 21 North Row, West Sleekburn, died at a Base Hospital in France on May 13th from wounds received in action.

Official intimation has been received that Sergt. Adam Tait, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action between the 24th and 27th April, just about a month ago. He was awarded the D.C.M. for bravery in the field.

Mrs Charles H. Dawson, White Swan Hotel, North Sunderland, Chathill, has received two cards from her husband saying that he is a prisoner of war in Limburg, German, and is quite well. He is a native of Morpeth, where his parents still reside. They have another son who has served three years in France and a son-in-law also serving in France.


SMAILES.— Killed in action on April 17th, 1918, Pte. John Robert Smailes, 59071, 5th Batt. West Yorks, beloved son of Arthur and Isabella Smailes, of Ashington (late of Radcliffe), and grandson of Ann and the late Robert Bell, of Broomhill.


A deputation of well-known licensed victuallers, headed by Mr John Morgan, of the George and Dragon Hotel, Morpeth, waited upon Dr. Newton last week to ascertain his position with regard to matters affecting the trade.

Dr. Newton delivered a short address in which he declared that the Trade were entirely mistaken in defending their interests in the modest fashion they had lately adopted.

In his opinion they ought boldy to claim credit for supplying the inhabitants of the British Isles with one of the most pleasant and healthy beverages that the science of man had yet produced. It was beer that he alluded to.

Beer contained all that is soluble in boiling water of the malted barley grains, was highly nutritious, and the tonic qualities it derived from hops gave it restorative qualities for men exposed to cold and fatigues, which made it absolutely invaluable.

He believed that he could, in his army experience, distinguish the beer drinker from the tea and spirit drinker. The former bore the pain of operation better, made a quicker convalescence and generally was a far better patient that the latter. With the beer drinker there was none of those troublesome dyspeptic worries that so often kept the tea and spirit back on recovery.

“For myself,” the popular candidate for Morpeth wound up, “I always drank beer in France. The water was too dangerous, far too full of enteric. The wine, though the Frenchmen liked it and fought well upon it, did not suit an Englishman, or at any rate a North-countryman’s palate. Tea and coffee tasted good, but there was no stay in them and they interfered too often with sleep.”

But for the aid of good, sound, unsophisticated beer, he was sure that many who were alive in England now after undergoing the perils of the Front, would be numbered with the great majority, and, since seeing is believing, he was perfectly satisfied as a medial man that those who wantonly ran down the moderate beer drinker were labouring under a gross delusion.


Notice is hereby given that the weekly ration of butter or margarine is increased from 4ozs to 5ozs per head until further notice.

Dated 29th May, 2018


Clerk and Executive Officer,

Food Office, 15 Bridge Street, Morpeth.


Every care should be taken to prevent losses from spoilage in certain flours and meals during hot weather. In view of the importance of breadstuffs to ourselves and the Allies at this time, it is essential to reduce to a minimum such losses as may occur through careless handling and storage.

Flours and meals should be stored in cool, dry, well-ventilated places; warehouses should be whitewashed and swept clean before these products are placed in them; large supplies should not be accumulated. If too large a stock is on hand, it should be reduced and the flours and meals consumed as soon as possible.

Care should be taken in storing bags of flour and meals to have sufficient space between the tiers to allow substantial ventilation, and to raise the bags sufficiently from the floor to exclude rate, mice, and insects; also to permit cleaning of the floors without the necessity of transferring the products from one part of the warehouse to another.

Special care should be taken of the following products: Bran, shorts and middlings, oats and oatmeals, whole-meal flours, rye flour, barley flour, soya bean meal. These products should be kept moving or used as soon as practicable, and should not be allowed to accumulate in warehouse.