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, 29th September 2018, 1:17 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Notice from the Morpeth Herald, September 27, 1918.

Mr and Mrs Baylis, The Grove, Morpeth, have received notice that their eldest son, Lieut. R.V. Baylis, M.G.C., has been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in the field.

Quoting from “The Times,” the following record appeared under the above officer’s name on Saturday, Sept. 21st.—

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 27, 1918.

“During a withdrawal this officer handled and fought his guns most skilfully. He covered the withdrawal of the infantry and inflicted very heavy casualties on the enemy, finally driving them back in disorder. Throughout the operations he set a splendid example of cheerfulness and courage to his men.”

Lieut. Baylis was educated at Oxford High School, but when his father was appointed post-master at Morpeth, he entered Barclay’s Bank, Darlington.

Enlisting in 1914 in the Public Schools Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, he saw active service in 1915. Later he received his commission in the Royal Sussex, and was afterwards transferred to the Machine Gun Corps.


An interesting presentation ceremony took place at the Wansbeck Ironworks, Morpeth, on Tuesday, when Corporal James Joseph Flynn, of the Northumberland Fusiliers (late an employee of the firm), was made the recipient of a handsome wristlet watch from the local War Heroes Fund and a number of war savings certificates from his employers (Messrs Swinney), and his fellow-workmen.

Corporal Flynn was awarded the medal for conspicuous bravery when held up at a strong point, and, rallying his section, attacked the same successfully.

The presentation was made by the Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott).

The Mayor, in a reminiscent speech, said that he would feel more at home if he addressed those present as workmates and for this reason: “It is just 40 years and a month since I first appeared in this foundry. I came as an apprentice to the old fitting shop over the way. I remember the furnace man in the person of Jamie Flynn, the father of our hero today.

“I regret,” proceeded the Mayor, “that we have been unable to get the Military Medal in time to present it. However, I have much pleasure, on behalf of the War Heroes Fund, to present to Corporal Flynn this wristlet watch as a further memento of the great honour her has gained in winning the Military Medal.

“At the same time I have also the pleasure of handing over to the gallant soldier seven war savings certificates as a mark of appreciation from his fellow-workmen. Now, Corporal Flynn, we wish you a safe return and long life and happiness.” (Applause.)

Corporal Flynn, in acknowledging the gifts, returned his sincere thanks. He hoped the war would be over soon, and that he would be back to work amongst the boys. (Applause.)

Ald. Norman endorsed everything the Mayor had said. He asked them never to forget their indebtedness to the men who had fought for them. If it had not been for those splendid fellows who had stood between them and the Kaiser their position would have been deplorable.

They were proud of every honour that came to those works, which had a splendid record. The men were keeping up that record. They were the soldiers of industry.

He then moved a vote of thanks to the Mayor, who had rendered yeoman service during his mayoralty.

He would like also to congratulate Mr Flynn upon having such a brave son fighting and helping his country to victory. (Applause.)


Sincere regret was felt in Morpeth and district when it became known that Private John Wm. Brown, Canadians, only son of Mr and Mrs Robert Brown, 3 Fenwick Grove, Morpeth, had fallen in battle.

The sad news, received by his parents by cable from his home in Canada last week, stated that he had been killed in action.

The deceased came over to England with his regiment in December, 1917, and at the time the following account appeared in a Canadian newspaper:—

“Among the soldiers who left Winnipeg for overseas was Private J.W. Brown, who, in order to do his bit, threw up a legal practice and joined the Canadian Officers’ Training Corps. Being eager to get away, he declined to wait for a commissioned post and volunteered to go as a private in the ranks. He was accorded a hearty send-off at the Union Station on the departure of the draft.

“For the past three years, Private Brown, who is a barrister by profession, has been connected with the law firm of Macdonald, Craig, Tarr, and Ross, Winnipeg.”

Deceased, who had a very promising career before him, was born in Morpeth. As a boy he went to the Presbyterian Day School, of which the late Mr James Ferguson was headmaster, and there he gained a scholarship. He then went to the King Edward VI Grammar School, Morpeth, when the late Mr Wm. Davidson, B.A., was headmaster. He was also a pupil at the school under Mr G. D. Dakyns, B.A., the present headmaster.

On leaving, he entered the offices of Messrs G. and F. Brumell, solicitors, Morpeth. From there he went to the office of Messrs Dees and Thompson, solicitors, Newcastle, and after 4½ years’ service he receive an appointment in the office of Messrs Leadbitter and Harvey, solicitors, Newcastle.

After ten years with that firm he emigrated to Canada in March, 1912, where he soon made his mark in the legal professions. While there he served his articles with Messrs Macdonald, Craig, Tarr and Ross, Winnipeg, successfully passing all examinations with honours for barrister and solicitor. He continued to practice with the firm until he volunteered for active service.

From his early manhood he closely identified himself with Liberal politics, and held very progressive views. He was a great admirer and staunch supporter of the Right Hon. Thomas Burt, M.P.

He was a very effective platform speaker, and frequently addressed political meetings in the borough and neighbouring districts. He was at one time secretary of the Morpeth Liberal Association, and also a member of the Liberal Club, Newcastle for a number of years.

He took a great interest in the Morpeth bells and was a regular bellringer in the Old Clock, Tower.

He married in May 1917, May, daughter of Mr and Mrs David Richardson, of Winnipeg, Canada (late of England). He leaves a widow and infant daughter.


On Monday, Sept. 30th, 1918, at the Town Hall, the Mayor on behalf of the inhabitants of the Borough (as represented by the War Heroes’ Fund), will present Miss Eva O. Schofield, R.R.C., with a tea service of silver plate in commemoration of her having gained the Royal Red Cross (1st Class), for valuable and distinguished services with the Armies in the Field.

He will present Captain H.E.V. Brumell, M.C., with a gold cigarette case in appreciation of his having earned the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of four Hotchkiss Gun Teams.

The Mayor (Councillor James Elliott, J.P.), will take the chair at 6.30pm, when he hopes for a good attendance of the public to do honour to the occasion.


A section of the R.A.M.C. (V.) is being formed in Blyth and Morpeth for coast defence in their own district.

Men are urgently required to volunteer for this work, which is extremely interesting, and those who are exempt from active service, either starred or over age, will be asked by tribunals to join either this section or the Volunteer Training Corps. The work of the R.A.M.C. is lighter and much more interesting.

Those who are not qualified in ambulance may volunteer and classes will begin at an early date, and those will count as drills. Ten drills a month must be put in, and as two can be put in one evening there is no great hardship.

Only in case of an invasion would the section be at all likely to leave the district, and even then it would be unlikely as the sections are watchers of their own coast. Were an invasion to occur the district would be evacuated, and all business would stop.

Employers are asked not to put any objection in the way of men joining the section.

The sections already formed are greatly composed of men who are employed in Government work such as foundries and collieries. Many chemists and business men have already joined, and these are already trained in the St John’s and the Red Cross Ambulance Societies.

The R.A.M.C. (V.) is organised not to supersede those societies, but to unite them and co-ordinate the work. If the section is at any time mobilised the men are paid the usual R.A.M.C. pay and would otherwise be treated as a section of the Army.

Names should be sent in at once to Mr Whittle, chemist, Morpeth, to Mr Wilson, chemist, Blyth, or to Mr Mather, of Cowpen.— J.P. Philip, O.C.


At the special meeting of the Morpeth Town Council, held last Thursday, the following questions, in addition to those given in our last issue, were considered.

The Mayor said that the report of the committee on the National Kitchen proposal was to have been submitted.

Town Clerk: We expected the Sunderland kitchen would be opened on Monday, and when the agendas were sent out there was no contradiction to the contrary.

On Saturday morning I had a telegram from Miss MacNair:— “I am sorry in delay at answering your letter of the 12th inst. I find that the opening of the Sunderland kitchen has had to be postponed owing to the fact that one boiler and one streamer was held up somewhere on the railway, and it may a week or even longer before it is opened. This is very disappointing, as everything else is ready and the staff engaged.

“The committee can see it is as it is if they desire, but it would not be so interesting or so useful as if in working order. It is the type of kitchen I should recommend most for Morpeth.”

Mayor: The Sunderland kitchen is the one she wants us to inspect as it seems to be the one she is in favour of adopting in the borough. One receipt of that telegram and letter I though it best to let it lie over until next Council meeting and in the meantime the committee to make their inspection and report.


The annual meeting of the Morpeth Grocers’ Association was held in the Town Hall on Wednesday last week, Mr W.A. Grey presiding.

The secretary (Mr J.R. Bowman) read the annual report as follows:— In presenting the first annual report and balance sheet, it may be interesting and helpful to the members to briefly note to some extend the work accomplished during the first year of existence of the association.

The first meeting was called at the request of the executive officer of the local Food Committee, and was held in the Town Hall on August 29th, 1917. The result of that meeting was that a further meeting was called for September 19th, when it was decided to form a Grocers’ Association.

At that time, owing to the shortage of supplies of food, the question of distribution was serious for retailers as well as those in authority, and it was decided that the Association should support and work in harmony with the local Food Committee. Notwithstanding the multitude of new criteria, fluctuating prices, low profits, etc., that attitude has been fully maintained throughout the year.

Sixteen meetings have been held, with a fair average attendance of the 14 members who constitute the association, whilst the meetings have necessarily mainly taken the form of conversations on new orders, etc.

It may be noted that the attention of the Town Council was called to the fact of goods being offered for sale at the station and other places of the town instead of the open market; also the closing for dinner hour, initiated by the association, is now appreciated by all. Letters in relation to rationing and man-power Bills have at different periods been sent to members of Parliament.

In March, 1918, we became affiliated with the Federation of Grocers’ Associations of the United Kingdom, and in June, 1918, we joined the North Eastern Council of Grocers’ Associations, and are now linked up with over 100 associations, with more than 20,000 members.

A strenuous year has been passed, critical times may yet be before us, but the signs all happily point to an improvement. The continued support of all members is solicited, both financially and by attendance at the meetings.

It was decided to sent a letter of protest to the Food Controller against the contemplated rationing of jam, honey and syrup.


Mrs Gair, of Ashington, has received news that her husband, Private John Gair, D.L.I., late of Morpeth, has been gassed for the second time, and is lying at the base in France.

Mr and Mrs Jardin, Dacre Cottage, Morpeth, have received word that their son, Private Thos. Jardin, West Riding Regiment (late Yorks), was wounded in the right arm on September 10th. This is the second time he has been wounded, and he has also been gassed.

Mr and Mrs Taylor, of Whitley, near Belford, have received information that their son, Corporal John Taylor, Coldstream Guards, died in action on August 27th. Before enlisting he was a member of the Northumberland Constabulary.

Mrs M. McCulloch, Proctor’s Yard, Morpeth, has received official news that her son, Private C. McCulloch, Leicester Regiment, is lying ill at the 1st Australian General Hospital, Rouen, suffering from a shrapnel wound in the left leg.


NEVIN.— Died of shell wound, 15th September, at Casualty Clearing Station, France, Corporal John Nevin, I.N., T.A.S.C., the dearly beloved husband of Isabel Nevin (nee Glass, late of Wingate), 22 Kingston Terrace, Roker, and 25 Wansbeck Terrace, Ashington; and second son of John and Francis Nevin, Birch View, Stocksfield.

JOBSON.— Died at sea on 16th inst. on H.M.S. “Africa,” Christopher Jobson, 1st-Class Stoker, aged 27 years and 9 months, eldest and dearly beloved son of Thomas and Dorothy Jobson, 42 Doctor Terrace, Bedlington.

YOUNG.— Killed in action, August 21st, 1918, James Brown Young, R.N.D., aged 30 years, the beloved son of Margaret and the late John Young, 72, Eighth Row, Ashington.— Deeply mourned by his loving mother.


A Grand Concert on Thursday, October 3rd, 1918, will be held in aid of The Comforts Fund of the War Hospital, Stannington.

Doors open at 2pm. Commence at 2.30pm.

Tickets: Numbered & Reserved, 2/6; Reserved, 1/6. Plan of Hall may be seen and seats booked at J.J. James, Newgate Street, Morpeth.

Admission: 6d, and 1/-. Tickets may be obtained from Members of the Committee.