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, 3rd March 2018, 12:09 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 1, 1918.

The objects of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers were explained at a largely attended meeting of the branch in the White Swan Hotel, Morpeth, on Wednesday evening, when Mr Wm. Dodds, local president, was in the chair.

The Chairman remarked that the Federation endeavoured to obtain justice and fairplay all round for those who had stood loyal and sacrificed the best of their manhood for the country.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 1, 1918.

Pensions should not be taken into consideration in fixing a discharged soldier’s rate of wages in civil employment. In addition to pension the discharged soldier was entitled to treatment until his health was completely restored. That was one of the most urgent necessities of the moment. (Applause.)

When soldiers and sailors returned to civil life it was important that they should be used to the best advantage. The country must provide a larger outlook for men who would not be able to go back to their old occupations. The best opening, he thought, was connected with the land. The allotment and smallholders movement should go on after the war.

It was necessary that all the members should as far as possible take up work of national importance and so release as many A1 men for the Army.

Reports were read by the secretary (Mr J.W. Busby) and Mr Thos, Wade, which were very satisfactory.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 1, 1918.


Regimental Sergt.-Major W.T. Sones, Northumberland Fusiliers, who was formerly attached to the Third Special Reserve, at Alnwick and Newcastle, has recently been awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for conspicuous gallantry on the field.

Sergt.-Major Sones left the Army in 1913, after 25 years service, on pension, and took up an appointment as bandmaster and drill instructor at Netherton Training School. He rejoined at the outbreak of war, and has been on active service since 1915. He was mentioned in dispatches after the Somme offensive.

At present he is at his home at Stannington on leave, and returns to the Front on Sunday first.


The 30th annual meeting of the Morpeth Conservative and Unionist Club was held in the billiard room of the Constitutional Club on Wednesday evening. Mr J.J. James (vice-chairman) who presided, was supported by Mr Alf. Scott and Mr W. Simpson (Unionist agent).

The secretary (Mr Robt. Arrowsmith) presented the annual report, which gave an excellent resume of the work of the club during the past year. He stated that they commenced 1917 with a membership of 168. There had been 91 new members, making a total of 259. Eleven members had withdrawn, making a membership at the end of the year of 248.

Out of that number they had 51 members on active service, whose subscriptions were not collected, and two of them had made the great sacrifice during the year, namely, E. Luke and E. Matheson, this making a total paying membership of 197.

Their worthy chairman Captain Sanderson, was still on active service, also various members of the committee, but let them hope that the war would soon be at an end and that they would welcome them all back in a true and loyal manner.


The authorities, having sanctioned the proposal made some time ago for the formation of a Morpeth section of the Northumberland Motor Volunteer Corps, a meeting was held in the Council Chamber, Morpeth, last Friday evening in order to make the necessary arrangements for its inauguration. The Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott) presided.

Captain Barnes said that that was not the first occasion on which he had spoken in that room on behalf of the Northumberland Volunteer Force. On his previous visits he had come for men and also for money. He hoped they would be just as successful this time in getting a section of the Motor Corps as they were in raising one of the best companies in the County Volunteer Force.

They were raising five battalions of infantry in the county, and Morpeth had taken its share splendidly. In addition to the infantry battalions they had now got a Volunteer Medical Corps and Engineer Corps, and now they were busy raising a Volunteer Motor Corps.

At the present day they had got a stronger Volunteer Force in the county than what existed in 1907. That fact must be very gratifying to all interested in the Volunteer movement. The Motor Corps was the last to be raised, but it was not going to be the least in some respects. It has been looked upon as more important by the authorities than any of the corps they had raised. He appealed to them to give the local section which was about to be formed a good send off. (Applause.)

Major George referred to the organisation generally, and also as to the work that would have to be performed by men joining the corps. One of the requirements was that a man should be able to drive a car. He also stated that Mr Arthur Young was in charge of the local section.

Lieut. Sandeman emphasised the fact that it was absolutely essential to have those motor sections in different centres of the county, and as business men they recognised that an organisation of the kind such as motor transport work was second to none in the work of the Volunteer Army.

The Mayor remarked that it was pleasing to learn that the local company of Volunteers had given so much satisfaction at headquarters. It was up to them to make the motor section just as successful.

Mr Geo. Renwick said that they all recognised the importance of motor sections in connection with the Volunteers. The officers who had spoken knew perfectly well that mobility was of the very first importance at the present time.

There were difficulties in the way. He had motor cars but he had no petrol. There was no use saying to the men “There are the motor cars. We want you to drive.” He would like the officers to tell them where they were going to get the petrol.

Again, there was the question of “joy riding.” He had the members of the Serbian Mission at his residence recently, and on their return journey to Newcastle they were stopped at Blagdon, and although the constable was told who were the occupants of the car, they were told that they were “joy riding”. They would have to have “joy riders” so to speak, to train the men to drive and also patrol to drive their cars.

He was quite willing to lend his cars for the purpose of training men. He was sure that the people of Morpeth, who had at all times been ready to take their share in the defence of the country, were still ready to help in every way they possibly could.

Of course the mobility of the whole Volunteer Force depended on getting supplies of petrol placed at the disposal of the owners of cars, and when they were out training the men, they must see that the owners or those in charge were not prosecuted for “joy riding.” Nobody knew better that Major George that those runs would be absolutely necessary.

Captain Barnes replied that they wanted to raise the sections first, and then they could approach the proper authorities and say “We have got the men, and it is for you to supply the petrol.” He added that men must sign on for the duration of the war. The number of drills per month was ten for recruits and eight for men who were efficient.

Major George said they wanted to get in every man who could drive a car, because it saved tuition.

Mr T.D. Shaw remarked that there were several men present who were in the infantry and could drive cars.

Captain Barnes replied that if any man wanted to transfer from the Volunteers into the Motor Section, he must first of all get the permission of his Commanding Officer.

On the motion of Lieut. Sandeman, seconded by Lieut. Dunford, a hearty voice of thanks was accorded to the Mayor and Mr Renwick.

The Mayor in reply said that he would do everything possible to help them. Mr Renwick also replied in similar terms.

At the close of the meeting several of those present filled up the enrolment forms, including the Mayor.


On Monday first the Hut Bank will be opened by his Worship the Mayor (Councillor James Elliott) at 12 noon. Mr George Renwick and others will address a public meeting from the Hut in the Market Place, Morpeth. Prior to the opening of the Hut Bank Messrs Renwick and Robinson will address a meeting at the mart at 11.30am.

The Hut Bank will be open daily from 9am to 8pm throughout the week. Meetings will be addressed each evening in the Playhouse and Avenue theatres by various gentlemen.

On Wednesday meetings will be in full swing in the Market Place, when Mr Renwick and other gentlemen will deliver addresses at 12.30. At 2pm, in the Town Hall, Mrs Renwick and other ladies will address the farmers’ wives. On Thursday Mrs Renwick will also address a meeting of the ladies of the town immediately after the unveiling ceremony of the roll of honour of the post office staff.

An aeroplane will manoeuvre over the town at intervals.

During “Business Men’s Week,” March 4th to 9th, every town or district in the country will be asked to provide the money for some tangible object needed for the winning of the war. We of the town of Morpeth are asked to pay for eight aeroplanes.

Though we hope that a notable page will be added to the plain man’s book of history, the idea belongs to the good old traditions of our race. From the time of the Norman William to that of Edward I, the owner of every “knight’s fee” had to send a quota of men, fully equipped, to serve in war. As far back as the days of Ethelred ships for the Navy were provided by various towns on the coast, and the Cinque Ports at first (Dover, Hastings, Romney, Hythe, and Sandwich) had special duties and privileges in this respect. The inland counties were equally liable, though in those days no aeroplanes could menace them, and wars were small matters.

But what was right and necessary in the time of William the Conqueror is no less so in the evil hours of William and the Kaiser. And we take it for granted that the whole business community of Morpeth will do a good share.

Some people imagine that to lend money to the Government is to prolong the war. But Sir Robert Kindersley, whose knowledge of international finance is of a practical kind, says plainly, “If we do not lend, the war will go on just the same, but the State would be driven to unhealthy methods of finance.” To avoid such unhealthy methods calls for the prompt and united efforts of all practical citizens.

We suggest with deference that from the pulpit encouragement might come. And the auctioneer throughout the week can hammer the idea home and sell Bonds.

A business man nowadays may be a woman. Most of us are connected with business to some extent. In effect all are asked to buy during this special week not less than the average of £2 10s per head of the population (£20,000 for eight aeroplanes). The purchases may be made in National War Bonds or War Savings Certificates.

Those who can buy more than their allotted sum should do so, and so make up for those to whom £2 10s is a heavy item. All who can must join, even if their contribution be no more than 6d. on a War Savings Card.

There is no sacrifice involved, unless it be a sacrifice to go without luxuries, and to shake off a bad habit or two. The security is first-rate, the interest high. National Savings War Bonds are repayable with a bonus, and War Savings Certificates may be cashed in case you need the money.

As about eight million people hold Government securities, discussions about repudiation may be left to the future. Assuming (as no one has a right to do) that some Government should attempt it they would have to reckon with an electorate composed largely of war savers, who are of all sorts and conditions.

A plain setting forth of the merits of National War Bonds and Certificates is part of the work that the promoters have undertaken. They have an unanswerable case — Mr W. Simpson, Press correspondent, War Savings.


The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday.

With regard to the detention of children in the workhouse the Clerk reported that he had received a reply from the Local Government Board stating that the Board consented for the duration of the war to the Guardians entering into arrangements with the police authorities, under section 184, Children’s Act, 1908, for the reception of children into the workhouse for detention.

A letter was read from Mr Carmichael, of Spital Hill, asking for an increase of price of milk as supplied to the workhouse and cottage homes. The present price was 1/6 per gallon, and, as the control price was 1/9, he asked the Guardians to make up to the control price. His application was based upon the present high cost of feeding stuffs.

On the motion of Mr C.E. Young, seconded by Mr Lee, the application was referred to the Contracts Committee for a report at next meeting.


The past year has been a very successful one for the society known as the Morpeth Allotment and Smallholders Limited, and this was amply demonstrated at the annual meeting which was held in the George and Dragon Hotel last Tuesday evening. There was a large attendance of members, the chair being taken by Councillor Isaac Armstrong (president).

The secretary drew attention to the flower and vegetable show, which had been arranged to take place in the Town Hall and Corn Exchange on August 31st.

The object of the show was three-fold — to get men to grow as much vegetable food as possible, that all the proceeds should go to the Red Cross, and that all the labour of the committee and other people would be free.

There would be two distinct features — an open class and a class for small garden or allotment holders. He had taken over the duties of secretary of the show.


A meeting will be held in St James’ Infant School on Saturday, March 9th, at 3pm, to which all women and girls are invited to come. Miss Guest will address the meeting on “Women’s Institutes.”

The meeting is called at the request of the Board of Agriculture, and is for all classes and ages of women.


The following are the weekly quantities of the rationed articles apportioned to each person:—

Tea 1½oz.

Butter and/or margarine 4oz.

Bacon and/or cheese 4oz.

For the Food Control Committee,


Local Food Office,

7, Bridge Street, Morpeth,

Feb. 27th, 1918.


A Grand Dance will be held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, on Friday, 8th March, 1918, in aid of Local War Heroes’ Fund.

M.C.’s, J. Lamb, T. Turnbull. Refreshments. Tickets, 3/-, couple, 2/- Gents, 1/6, Ladies.


The Morpeth Company continue to make excellent progress and the attendance at drills is fairly satisfactory. The instruction given is of the best, and the men are doing extremely well.

The appeal for funds has met with a ready response locally, and further subscriptions have been received from Mr R.C. Oliver, Second-Lieut. T.D. Shaw, and Mr G. Jackson.

Preparations are being made for having a trek during the Easter holidays.

A beginning has been made with the formation of a Morpeth section of the Northumberland Motor Volunteer Corps in charge of Mr Arthur Young. The Mayor is amongst those who have enrolled.


Last Sunday afternoon an egg collection was made at the Congregational Church Sunday School, Morpeth, on behalf of the Red Cross.

No fewer than 156 eggs and 15/- in money were collected, part of which were sent to the Morpeth V.A.D. Hospital and the remainder to London through the Newcastle depot.


His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to confer the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the following:— Sergt. J. Abercrombie, Yeomanry, Ashington; Driver R. Caisley, A.S.C., Ashington; Private (A/L/C) A. Davison, Yeomanry, Ashington; A.B.G. Davison, R.N.V.R., Ashington; Sergt. J.G. Dickinson, Yeomanry, Alnwick.

Second Bar to Military Medal: Private J. Sims, M.M., N.F., Hazelrigg. Bat to Military Medal: Private J. Hodson, M.M., N.F., West Cramlington.

Military Medals: A.B.J. Smith, R.N.V.R., attached M.G. Coy., Morpeth; Corporal G. Snaith, York Regiment, Bedlington; and Driver, R. Symington, R.F.A., Seghill.


The owners of the rookeries are earnestly requested to destroy the nests or to scare the birds from the nests so that the number of rooks may be reduced.

Under the Rookeries Order, 1917, made under the Defence of the Realm (Consolidation) Regulations, 1914, where the rooks in any rookery are so numerous that they cause, or are likely to cause injury to crops, the War Agricultural Committee is required to deal with the matter.

If the owner of the rookery has failed to do what is necessary, the Executive Committee may authorise any person to go into the rookery and kill the birds or otherwise diminish their number.


NICHOLSON.— Killed in action on December 30th, 1917, my dear brother, A.B. John Robert Nicholson, R.N.D., Bebside.— Ever remembered by his sister Etta and brother-in-law, Coy., Sergt. J. Simm (in France), his nephew and niece, Jack and Josephine.

NICHOLSON.— Killed in action on December 30th, 1917, aged 28 years, A.B. John Robert Nicholson, R.N.D., beloved and eldest son of Joseph Nicholson, foreman mason, Bebside Colliery and Mrs Nicholson, 85 Front Street, Bebside.— Deeply mourned by his father, mother, brothers, and sisters, and all who knew him.

WATSON.— Died of wounds received in action, in Palestine, 21st Feb., Private Thomas Watson, aged 20 years, eldest and beloved son of Charles and the late Mary Watson, of 1 Bennett’s Walk, Morpeth.