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, 26th May 2018, 11:33 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, May 24, 1918.

The anniversary services in connection with the Primitive Methodist Church, Howard Terrace, Morpeth, were successfully held on Whit Sunday.

At both services the following interesting letter, which had been received from the Rev. J.C. Sutcliffe, the esteemed pastor of the church, who is at present working in connection with the Y.M.C.A. in France, was read:—

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, May 24, 1918.

“Dear Brethren.— It seems fitting on the occasion of your church anniversary that I should write you a word of cheer. It is the second anniversary in succession that I have been absent from your midst. Needless to say, I shall be very much with you in thought and spirit. May the God of all grace be with you during the Whitsuntide!

“These words are being penned in a hut which stands on ground made sacred by the sacrifice of many a brave English and French soldier. The censorship forbids me to tell you the exact spot. Suffice it to say that it was the scene of one of the great battles of 1917.

“Evidences of that struggle are to be seen on every hand: shell holes, trenches, dug-outs, shattered trees, and alas! soldiers’ graves.

“These things speak to us of the horrors of the war and also of the splendid courage and self-sacrifice of our fellow countrymen.

“They have given their all in the cause of individual and national liberty. Their surrendered lives is a call to us to re-dedicate ourselves afresh in the service of our Lord and Master.

“As Christians we too are engaged in a great warfare. The Captain of our salvation calls us to fight manfully under His banner, and to count not our lives dear unto ourselves.

“If we would wage a successful war it behoves us to put on the whole armour of God and fight valiantly against all those evils that stand arrayed against God and humanity. The world needs men who will be true to Christ at whatever cost to themselves.

“The call comes to you and to me in those days of sorrow and bereavement. Only as we answer that call can its wounds be healed and the Kingdom of Righteousness, peace, and joy to be established in the earth.

“There are many more things I should like to say, but time forbids. I am thankful to say I am in good health and finding much joy in ministering to the men out here.

“God willing I hope to renew my labours amongst you in the course of a few more weeks. Meanwhile you have my earnest prayers for a successful anniversary, both financially and spiritually.”


Lieut. Ronald B. Baylis, Machine Gun Corps, eldest son of the postmaster of Morpeth, has been awarded the Military Cross.

Mrs Gibbon, 9 Reid Street, Morpeth, has received word that her husband, Bomb. J.S. Gibbon, R.F.A. has been awarded the Military Medal.


A detachment of the Morpeth Company, in charge of Second-Lieut. Chas. Grey was detailed for duty at the funeral of the late Duke of Northumberland on Saturday last.

We understand that two of the officers — Lieut. Wm. Duncan and Second-Lieut. T.D. Shaw — have during the past week been attending a special course in anti-gas training at the Northern Commercial Bombing and Anti-gas School.

They had a somewhat strenuous though interesting training in the methods adopted against gas attacks and the use of gas and smoke warfare.


Mr and Mrs Richie, Humford Mill, Bedlington, have received official news that their only son, Private William Richie, is missing since between April 11th and 14th.

Mr and Mrs Pringle, of West Farm Cottage, Tritlington, Morpeth, have received official news that their eldest son, Private W.O. Pringle, Lincolns, has been posted missing since April 15th, 1918.

Mr and Mrs A. Campbell, of Western Terrace, Dudley, have received official news that their only son, Private J. Campbell, East Yorks, has been posted as missing.

Mr and Mrs Eastham, 47a Station Road, Cramlington, have received official news that their son, Private Wm. Eastham, D.L.I. has been posted as missing since March 21st.

Mr and Mrs Robt Wrightson, of Blue Top Row, High Pit, Cramlington, have received official intimation that their son, Gunner Rich. Wrightson, R.F.A., has been posted as missing since March 21st.

Mr John Colquhoun, of 21 Ridley Street, Cramlington, has received official news that his son, Private Edward Colquhoun, N.F. has been reported wounded and missing since March 21st.

Mr and Mrs Campbell, of the Dudley and Weetslade Social Club, have been informed that their son, Private Anthony Campbell, N.F., has been posted as missing since March 21st.

Mr and Mrs Railston, Hepscott Manor, Morpeth, have received news that their son, Gunner W.J. Railston, has been wounded for the second time, and is lying in hospital in France.

Mr and Mrs John Robertson, of 42 Swarland Terrace, Broomhill, have received official news that their son, Private Robert Robertson, Leinster Regiment, is missing since 21st March.

Private J. Hudspith, M.G.C., of 67 Vicarage Terrace, Wideopen, who was wounded in France some few weeks ago and afterwards sent over to a hospital in the South of England, has died from the effects of his wounds. Previous to joining the Colours he was employed at Seaton Burn Colliery and leaves a widow and three young children.


MITCHINSON.— Died of wounds on April 4th, 1918, whilst a prisoner of war in Germany. Pte. Arthur Mitchinson, dearly beloved husband of Mary Mitchinson, of Vulcan Place, Bedlington, late of Broomhill.— Deeply mourned by all.

JOISCE.— 8 Strong’s Buildings, Scotland Gate, Choppington. Died of wounds, May 9th, Pte. Wm. Joisce, aged 31 years, beloved husband of Georgina Joisce (nee Lennon).— Deeply mourned by his loving wife.

RODGERS.— Pte. A. Rodgers, 16222, 9th N.F., who died of wounds received in action, April 17th, 1918, aged 22 years and 8 months.— Deeply mourned and sadly missed by Mr and Mrs Smith and family, 12 Sanderson Terrace, Ferney Beds.

SUTTON.— Pte. William Henry Sutton, of the 1st Middlesex Regiment, only son of the late William and Ada Sutton, of Victoria Terrace, Windsor, who was wounded on July 1st, 1916 and was reported killed in action on April 17th, 1918, aged 37 years.— Sadly missed and ever remembered by his loving sister Alice and the Misses Pattison, of 1 Cottingwood Lane, Morpeth, also by his sister Mrs Hutchings, of London, and his Aunt Mary, of Eton, Windsor.

TAIT.— Killed in action on April 14th, 1918, Pte. Thomas Nelson Tait, M.G.C., dearly beloved son of Thomas and Mary Ann Tait, of Bedlington Station.— Deeply mourned by his dearly loving father and mother, sisters and brother and brothers-in-law.


The “American Tea” given by Mrs Wright of Beechfield in aid of the funds of the above sewing meeting, was an unqualified success.

Arranged and carried out in a few days, it realised, with some donations from generous friends, the handsome sum of £10 11s.

The committee are deeply grateful for this response to their appeal for this good cause.

Socks are gratefully acknowledged from Mrs Charlton, Carlisle House.


The banner of the Northumberland Hussars, which was used at the commemorative service at the Albert Hall, London, in December last, is on view in the window of Messrs Robson and Son’s premises.

The banner, which was obtained as a result of the efforts of Mrs Cookson, of Meldon, who collected money from the relatives and friends of the men who served in France in October and November, 1914, commemorates the service of the first seven divisions.

It is a beautiful emblem of the Yeomanry, and will, it is stated, be on view for a week.


A general meeting will be held in the White Swan Inn, Morpeth, on Wednesday, 29th May, at 7pm, when all members and intending members should be present.

Business very important.


Secretary, Morpeth Branch


A Flag Day will be held in Morpeth tomorrow (Saturday, May 25th), to assist the funds of the above.

Subscriptions from any friends who wish to help the grand work carried on for the benefit of our men on all fronts by the Army Huts, will be gratefully received and acknowledged by the Mayoress (Mrs J. Elliott), and in order that all may have time to respond, the fund will be open until Friday, May 31st.


Sir.— The military situation has necessitated calling up a large number of agricultural labourers, which will seriously deplete the available labour during the coming hay, corn and potato harvests.

It is of vital importance that the harvest of these crops should be successfully secured this year.

This success will depend largely upon boys at public and secondary schools who have reached an age that will enable them to do useful work on the land.

The extent to which farmers are counting on their help is shown by the fact that demands for over 17,000 boys have already been received at this Ministry, and there is no doubt that these numbers will be largely increased when the full effect of the calling up for military service has been appreciated by the farmers.

Of these numbers, not less than 3,000 will be required during June and July, and a further 3,500 are needed for October for potato lifting if suitable accommodation can be arranged.

In view of the above facts, I am reluctantly compelled to appeal to schools to release during term time such groups of boys as may be necessary for getting in the harvest.

This is a time of national crisis, and the ordinary consideration of education has not the same force as in normal times.

As I have pointed out, it is necessary to provide men for the Army and it is necessary to provide labour to take their places on the farms, and I must urgently appeal to parents, headmasters, and boys to give all the help they can.

In view of my representations as to the urgency of the national need, the President of the Board of Education concurs in this appeal, and is issuing a circular on the subject to secondary schools in England and Wales.

All offers of service must be made through the headmasters of the schools.

Headmasters who have not already received the regulations and who can offer boys of 16 and over should communicate with this Ministry.— Yours, etc.,


Ministry of National Service,

Westminster, S.W.1.


The business of the annual council meeting of the Northumberland Miners’ Association was commenced at the Burt Hall, Newcastle, on Saturday. The president Mr William Weir, occupied the chair.

The secretary, Mr W. Straker, at the request of the Coal Controller and Controller of Shipping, brought before the delegates the necessity of increasing the output of coal in order to meet the national needs at the present time.

The miners were urgently requested to return to work on Tuesday after the Whitsuntide holiday.

It was pointed out that notwithstanding the demands for coal, a number of the pits had been idle recently.

Linton proposed that, if within six months after the end of the war, coal mines, railways, and waterways are still in the hands of private owners, the triple alliance of miners, railway-men, and transport workers then declare a down-tools policy to enforce nationalisation, this resolution to be sent to the Miners’ Federation Conference.

It was carried by 43 votes to 13.


Mr W. Weir presided over the resumed annual council meeting of the Northumberland Miners’ Association, held at the Burt Hall, Newcastle, on Wednesday.

Notice had been given by West Wylam to move the following peace resolution.—

“That we, the Northumberland miners, think the time most opportune, because of a widespread desire among the peoples of the belligerent countries to end by other means than force this disastrous war, to bring pressure to bear upon the British Government and its Allies to initiate peace by negotiation.

“We request, therefore, that a conference of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain be convened at the earliest opportunity to promote this policy, so that the Allied Governments may inaugurate a clean and lasting place.”

The motion was withdrawn, as the time was considered inopportune.


At the request of the Government, and with the support of the Education Committee and the Boy Scouts Association, a Volunteer Cadet Company is being formed in Morpeth for boys between the ages of 14 and 17, who do not already belong to a similar organisation.

The objects of the movement may be summarised as follows:—

(a) The development of the character of the youth during the critical period of his life by a training in discipline, self-reliance, and loyal co-operation.

(b) The creation of a strong influence making for patriotism and public service.

(c) The provision of a suitable physical training and the advancement of knowledge of personal hygiene.

(d) The imparting of elementary military instruction to enable the future citizen to help — if need be — in the defence of his country.

(e) The aiding in the production of the good and efficient citizen by making the training — while recreative — of real educational value.

Captain Kennedy has agreed to take command of this company.

Boys wishing to enrol should apply at the Drill Hall, Cooper Chare, on Friday or Saturday, the 24th and 25th inst., from 6pm to 9 pm.

A boy will gain the following advantages by joining the Volunteer Cadets:—

(1) He will be developed physically, intellectually, and morally by the training received;

(2) he will learn the meaning of discipline, self-reliance, and co-operation;

(3) he will be taught what to do, and what to avoid, in order to improve his general health, with the possible result of a happier and longer life;

(4) he will realise more fully his duties as a citizen in after life;

(5) he will have uniform provided free, and no expense will be incurred by him in connection with the organisation.


The Commandant desires to thank those who have been kind enough to send the following gifts:—

Bag of potatoes, Mr Smith, East High House; books, Mrs Dickie; fresh butter, A Friend; fresh eggs, Mr Pringle, Tritlington; leeks and flowers, Mrs Rayne, High House; flowers and vegetables, Mrs Joicey; rhubarb, Anonymous; cake, Mrs J. Simpson; lettuce and radish, The Mayor; flowers, Mrs Grey, Grange House; rhubarb jam, Mrs Jos. Simpson, Howard Terrace; lettuce, flowers, watercress, Mrs Murray; cauliflowers and lettuce, Mrs Dakyns; flowers, Mrs Griffins; books, Mrs Purdy; flowers and eggs, Miss Reed, Newton Underwood; vegetables, milk and presents for whist drive, Mrs Simpson, Hepscott; and for fresh vegetables collected by boys at the Council Schools.


Several new Orders have been issued by the Ministry of Food, the chief of which relate to fish and sugar.

A new Order amends the Fish (Prices) Order, No. 2, under which the principal Order is made to apply to Ireland. A general reduction in prices is brought about. The Order comes into force on May 27th.

The retail prices show that haddocks and cuts of cod are 1/8 per lb., cuts of ling 1/6, fresh herrings 7d., plaice 2/2, cuts of salmon and grilse 4/-, lemon sole 1/11, sprats 6d., kipper 11d., bloaters 9d., and smoked cod and haddock 1/9.


The War Office (Wool Section) desire to bring to the notice of all persons concerned that, as a result of the Sale of Wool (Great Britain) Order, 1918, private dealings in wool grown in Great Britain and the Isle of Man is prohibited, and all holders of such wool are required to sell it to the Director of Raw Materials and deliver it to the merchants authorised to collect it on his behalf, as in 1916-17.

A schedule of maximum prices has been fixed for dealing in British wool of the 1918 clip. It should be understood that these prices are the maximum prices for good conditioned wools in washed or unwashed classes, and consideration is given when valuing to the quality, cleanliness, and the manner in which the wool is got up.

The basis of prices has been fixed at 60 per cent, above the average prices ruling in June-July, 1914.

Census forms are being sent out, accompanied by a leaflet, and growers’ attention is particularly called to the same. It is necessary to have the census forms filled up and posted within seven days of receipt. Failure to do so renders the owner liable to loss of interest.

Interest will be paid as from 1st September, 1918, for all owners of clips of more than 50 fleeces who are instructed to deliver their wool after that date, and who returned their census forms within the specified period, and otherwise carried out the instructions given by the Deputy Executive Officer.

No interest will be paid on clips of 50 fleeces and under, and it is desired that all small clips should be sent to the merchants authorised to take delivery immediately it is clipped.

The collection for Northumberland and Durham will be carried out by Mr R.L. Mactaggart, Deputy Executive Officer, 52 Westgate Road, Newcastle.

All dealings in fallen, broken, or gathered wool are prohibited, and such wool should be sent along to the merchant authorised to accept same (with the clips), and particulars of such wool be given at time of despatch.

Unwashed daggings and clarts are not subject to above conditions, but can only be sold to persons holding a license issued by the Deputy Executive Officer.