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, 22nd September 2018, 2:23 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 20, 1918.

The Institute Hall, Pegswood, was the scene of a very interesting ceremony on Friday night, it being the official decorating of Captain Herbert Hutchinson, who was recently appointed Chevalier of the Order of the Crown and awarded the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) by the King of the Belgians. The hall was well filled when Mr John Spense took the chair.

In introducing County Councillor Nichol to present the decorations, the chairman said that although Captain Hutchinson had not enlisted from Pegswood they had a just claim upon him, he having been born and brought up to manhood in their minds.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 20, 1918.

County Councillor G.R. Nichol said that the great war had had many ups and downs, besides passing through many vicissitudes. What they had withstood as a nation pointed to the conclusion — that they never stood in a better position that they did at present.

They knew how he did disliked militarism in every form. They need not accept his word only regarding the country’s position, but the Premier, Mr Lloyd George, speaking at Manchester, and General Smuts, speaking at Newcastle on the same day, said they were certain of victory.

He had at one time been of opinion, along with others, that this war would never be fought to an end. Certainly he was not in a position to judge the country’s strength, but they should all remember the fact that the German offensive had been turned against them.

The guest of the evening, Captain Hutchinson, had been born at Pegswood, and in the true sense of the word he was a Pegswoodonian.

He (the speaker) had resided in Pegswood for some 15 years, and had watched with interest the development of Capt. Hutchinson. He could remember when he travelled back and forward to Newcastle, and was delighted when their guest received his B.Sc. and later his M.Sc., and he was sure that there were still greater honours open to him in scholastic circles.

His military career was no less brilliant. Enlisting at the outbreak of war, he had seen active service in France, where he was sure he has done his duty.

In addition to receiving the two honours about to be presented, he had also been awarded the Military Cross, which he would receive on Wednesday at Buckingham Palace. He (Mr Nichol) had asked Sergt. Smith what other honours it were possible for him to receive, and he had replied the V.C. and D.S.O.

He then read over the following document before pinning the two decorations to Captain Hutchinson’s breast:— “Albert, King of the Belgians, to all present and to come, Greeting! Wishing to bear testimony to our high regard to the undermentioned officer of the English Army, on the recommendation of the Minister of War, we have agreed to decree: 1st. Lieutenant Herbert Hutchinson, R.G.A., is appointed Chevalier of the Order of the Crown, with the addition of the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War), he being an intrepid observer, and having shown the greatest energy and coolness in critical situations.

“He will likewise wear the palm. 2nd. He will take rank in the Order from today’s date. 3rd. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs, having the administration of the Order, is charged with the execution of the present decree.— Given at General Headquarters, 8th December, 1917. (Signed) Albert.

“For the King, the Minister of War. (Signed) De Guninck. For confirmed copy, the Director-General to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H. Costermans.”

Continuing, Mr Nichol then asked the captain to accept a gold wristlet watch from the inhabitants of Pegswood, and he hoped that he would be long spared to make use of it. (App.)

In a few appropriate words Captain Hutchinson thanked County Councillor Nichol and the inhabitants of Pegswood for the honour they had done him. It made him feel it very much to think that hundreds who were deservedly entitled to some official recognition would not be awarded anything.

Speaking from personal experience, he was pleased to state that the organisation in France was now much better that it was at the beginning of the year.

In France he had only come across one or two local men, but he would never forget one Australian he had met, who, being severely wounded, was returning from the first big push. The Australian appeared to be in the best of spirits, and on asking him why he was so pleased he replied he had just received the honour of his life. On enquiring what that honour was, the Australian replied, “I have just come over the top with the Fighting Fifth. They’re the best fighters in France.” (Applause.)

A programme of music was ably rendered by Messrs Chapman, Slaughter, Algy, Scrother, T. Hutchinson, and Miss L. Nichol, and Mr Miller ably presided at the piano.

Captain Hutchinson is the son of Mr Thomas Hutchinson, headmaster of Pegswood Schools. He was educated at Rutherford College and Armstrong College, Newcastle, at the latter place taking the M.Sc. degree. On leaving college he was appointed assistant master at Theme, and later senior master for mathematics at Bristol Grammar School.

In 1914 he joined the O.T.C., and obtained his commission in the D.L.I. in the following March, but was later transferred to the R.G.A. He has been mentioned in dispatches, and has been slightly gassed and wounded.

He is a keen motorist, having won many trophies in hill climbing and 24 hour road trials. As a footballer, he has played both rugby and association. In the former he played for Clifton. He also took great interest in cricket, appearing a number of times for Oxfordshire.


Many people assembled in the vicinity of St Robert’s Roman Catholic Church in Oldgate, Morpeth, last Friday afternoon, to witness the funeral of the late Stoker Robert Dalton (25), who died in Haslar Naval Hospital, Gosport, from pneumonia on September 9th.

The deceased, who was married, was the sixth son of Mr and Mrs Dalton, of Corporation Yard, Morpeth.

The Dalton family have a splendid record of patriotism to their credit. Two brothers of the deceased have been killed in the war, another is a prisoner of war in Germany, and another two are still serving in the army and Navy respectively. This is not all, for the father of this patriotic family has also served and been honourably discharged from the army.

In the morning, Requiem Mass was held at St Robert’s Church, and prior to the removal of the coffin a service was conducted by the Rev. Father Kershaw. A detachment of sailors under Lieut. G.W. Blake were in attendance, and six of the sailors acted as pall bearers. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack.

Behind the hearse were four mourning coaches. There was a large following on foot, including naval and military men and representatives of the Morpeth branch of the National Federation of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers.

The service at the graveside was of a very impressive character. Numerous wreaths were placed upon the grave, including one from the local branch of the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, and one from the Morpeth Workmen’s Institute.


Mrs Paton, of 7 School Row, Barrington, has received official news that her brother, Rifleman Ed. Johnson, of the K.R.R., has been killed in action.

Mrs Salmond, 28 Oldgate, Morpeth, has received official word that her husband, Corporal A.G. Salmond, I.A. Forces, has been wounded in right breast and arm. He has been twice previously wounded.

Mrs Hogan, of Jackson Street, Annitsford, has received news that her son, Private John Hogan, N.F., has been killed in action.

Mrs McLaren, Whinhams Cottage, Dark Lane, Morpeth, has received official news that her husband, Private George McLaren, West Riding Regiment, has been wounded for the fourth time with gunshot wounds in the left hand and wrist and has gone through an operation in the 22nd General Hospital, Dannes Canniers, France.

Mr and Mrs H. Hardy, Bolsover Street, Pegswood, have received official news that their son, Leading Seaman Henry Hardy, Hawke Battalion, R.N.D., was killed in action on August 25th. Previous to enlistment four years ago he was employed at Ashington Colliery as a putter. Would those having sons in “C” Company kindly enquire how he fell, as any news would be gratefully received by his parents?


ROBSON.— Killed in action on August 28th, 1918, Lance-Corporal Robert Robson, 1/16 London Regiment, aged 29 years, beloved husband of Frances Robson, and eldest son of John and the late Elspeth Robson, of Freehold Terrace, Guide Post.— Ever remembered by his loving wife and two little daughters.

BROWN.— Killed in action on the 20th September, 1917, Pte. Wm. Brown, N.F., of Guide Post, Choppington.— Deeply mourned by his loving father, mother, brother and sisters and brothers-in-law serving in France and Italy; also aunt and uncle Mr and Mrs Maxwell.

MOORE.— Killed in action on the Salonica front, August 28th, 1918, 82597, Gunner Thomas William Moore, aged 22 years and 9 months, 1st Battery Trench Mortar Section, Royal Field Artillery, dearly beloved son of William and Mary Moore, 27 Fourth Row, Ashington.— Deeply mourned by father, mother, brothers Jim and Art and friends. Grandson of the late Thomas and Hannah Edwards of Broomhill.

FORREST.— Died of wounds at the 56th Casualty Clearing Station, France, August 25th, 1918, aged 25, Robert A. Forrest, beloved son of Alice Dixon, and step-son of Andrew Dixon, 8 New Row, New Delaval.— Deeply mourned by his loving mother, step-father, brothers and sisters; also Jack and May (in France).

NELSON.— Died on the 12th Sept., 1918, from gas poisoning received on the 4th Sept., aged 21 years, Gunner George Thomas Nelson (81400), R.F., the dearly beloved son of Thomas and Mary Alice Nelson, of Stobswood.— Deeply mourned by all who knew him.

HARDY.— Of your charity pray for the repose of the soul of L.S. Henry Hardy, R.N.D., dearly beloved son of Henry and Mary Hardy, Bolsover Street, Pegswood, who was killed in action, August 25th.— Deeply mourned by his broken-hearted mother, father, only sister and brother.

WILKINSON.— Killed in action in France on August 30th, 1918, aged 32 years, Pte. Isaac Wilkinson, 7th N.F., son of Sarah Ann and John Wilkinson, 124 Newgate Street, Morpeth.— Deeply mourned by his father and mother, loving sister Jenny, and Joe, and brothers, and all who knew him. His duty was nobly done.

CAIRNS.— Died of wounds received in action, September 22nd, aged 22 years and 7 months, Pte. Jas. Alexander Cairns, N.F.— Deeply mourned by father, mother, brother and sisters.

JOHNSON.— Killed in action on the 23rd August, 1918, Rifleman Ed. Johnson, the son of the late Thomas and Mary Ann Johnson, of Barrington.— Ever remembered by his brothers and sisters, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces.


At the adjourned conference of the Northumberland Colliery Enginemen and Firemen, held in the Burt Hall, Newcastle, last Thursday, the following resolution was carried unanimously, with instructions that the general secretary forward it to the Prime Minister and Sir Douglas Haig respectively:—

That this conference of the Northumberland Colliery Enginemen and Firemen’s Association place on record our approval of the war aims of the Government and our Allies, believing that no satisfactory peace can be obtained until we have driven the enemy out of France and Belgium and smashed the military power of Germany, so that the world may be safe for democracy; also we congratulate Sir Douglas Haig on the splendid victories recently attained by the British armies on the Western front.


A special meeting of Morpeth Town Council was held last night. The Mayor (Coun. Jas. Elliott) presided.

The appointment of a local fuel overseer for the borough under the Household Fuel and Lighting Order, 1918, was considered. The Town Clerk stated that there had been no applicants for the post as advertised.

Mr Swinney: I did not expect there would be any applications. I understand the salary is 27/- a week. Town Clerk: £105 per annum.

Mr Swinney: And he has to find his own office and assistant out of that. It is poor comfort to ask any discharged soldier to apply for such a salary. I move that the surveyor be appointed.

Mr Fearby, in seconding, said he thought that the remuneration for a discharged soldier was not sufficient. He thought there would be some difficulty in getting the class of wounded soldier capable of taking such responsibility. They could not have a more capable man than the surveyor, who would, he was sure, discharge the functions worthily and with credit to the Council.

Town Clerk: It is only fair to the Council to state that they have not fixed the salary. The maximum salary fixed by the Order is £105 per year. We have nothing to do with the salary.

The appointment of the surveyor as fuel overseer was then agreed to.

Town Clerk: It is necessary to intimate the appointment to the Local Government Board, as they provide half of the salary.

The Mayor said he had approached the surveyor a week ago, and he said that he was willing to keep things going.

Surveyor: One of the principal reasons why I allowed my name to be nominated in connection with the office is: You have heard the question of wounded soldiers for these appointments. Well, something of the sort was in my mind at the time.

One of my sons has been discharged after four years’ service, but he is still unfortunately in hospital. He wrote to me a month ago stating that he expected to be out of hospital in three weeks’ time.

He has unfortunately caught a chill and is laid up with influenza. He asked me a month ago to endeavour to get him clerical work to do as he could not undertake any other kind of work. He would like something to occupy his mind. I think in that case I could supervise, and he could do the clerical work.

My son wrote me again on Wednesday, and I thought probably he had sent in an application. He announced that he was unable to finish his application for the post. He may not be here for some time.

I had nothing in my mind as regard salary, but I should be prepared to do the overseer’s work at the scale if the Council would provide in the meantime a clerk to assist in making up the forms. There is a large shoal of forms.

Mr Grey proposed that the surveyor be given the maximum salary, which he was entitled to, £105, and let him find his own clerk. When his son came back he could give him the office.

Mr Charlton seconded Mr Grey’s motion.

It was agreed that the fuel overseer receive the maximum amount and that he provide his own assistant.


The members of the Morpeth Social Club held their annual leek show on Saturday, which proved a great success.

The pot leeks were excellent, there being strong competition and some wonderful specimens. The blanch leeks were very disappointing, owing to many of the best growers having joined the Army. The collection of vegetables was really good, some fine celery, onions, turnips and carrots being shown.


The Morpeth and district branch of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers held a meeting on Sunday morning, when it was decided to run a football club in aid of the funds.

The following donations were thankfully received:— Mr J.E. Mitford, jun., £1; Mr J. Bertorelli, 5/-. Any further donations will be thankfully received.

In connection with the dance held at Bothal in aid of the above branch funds, the committee and members wish to thank all those who patronised it and helped to make it a success. The sum of £5 was turned over to the treasurer after all expenses were paid.

The committee also thank Messrs C.C. Armstrong, W. Fletcher, and Scrowther for carrying out the arrangements.


Many interesting letters are reaching the Coal Controller from people anxious to save coal and asking advice as to how best they can help the nation by doing so. In reply he has issued the following:—

To save coal you should mix coke with it, a third of which will have no bad effect on the fire. Use fire bricks to reduce the size of the grate or have a false bottom fitted. Keep your kettles and pans clean. Dirt and soot absorb and waste heat.

Never use gas for cooking when the kitchen fire is alight. Take out the electric light bulbs that are only a temptation. Put in smaller gas burners where much light is not required.

Never mend a fire late at night. When you only want a fire a short while use gas or electricity if you can in place of coal. Use gas in place of coal when you are able. Gas stands for other important things in war time such as high explosives, dyes, fuel oil, fertilizing, and tar.

Finally, save coal on your allowance. The less you take the better the chances of all needs being met.

Every pound of coal saved will help our soldiers, and help to bring an earlier victory.


As the result of a concert the sum of £32 was realised in connection with “Our Day” at Broomhill in aid of the Red Cross Society.

The concert party consisted of Captain and Mrs Snaith, Lieut. and Mrs Fox, and Lieut. Barfield, who since coming to the district have raised about £150 for war charities.