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, 8th September 2018, 12:51 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 6, 1918.

Lieut.-General Sir John Maxwell, Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, delivered an address in York on Wednesday at a Mansion House function.

Referring to the war, he said that at the present moment the Germans were undoubtedly showing a very decadent moral, and the Austrians were in a very, very bad way economically and in a military sense. The events of the last few weeks had shown us, and he thought would prove, that the German Empire was very near the point when there would be events of the far-reaching importance, though it was impossible to say with any exactitude what they would be.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 6, 1918.

We must not build up too great hopes, but he thought that we should find that there would be, and very shortly, a crack-up of the German power, and “one it cracks,” added Sir John, “I don’t think the end of the war will be very far off.”

He thought the end of the war must be within a year, and for the reasons he had stated. The dependencies of Germany were only hanging on, and the only thing that kept them together was the hope that Germany was going to win.

Up to March this year one had to be very, very sanguine indeed to say that Germany had not a sporting chance of winning the war. “Now I do not think,” Sir John concluded, “she has got a dog’s chance of winning the war.”


The list of honours for services in Mesopotamia published a few days ago includes Lieutenant Willoughby Thornton Wrigley, who has been awarded the Military Cross.

Lieut. Wrigley, who is the son of Rev. Dam Wrigley, vicar of Hartburn, joined the Wilts in 1914, and served through the campaigns of Gallipoli, having been at both evacuations, and has since that time been in Mesopotamia.


The following have been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field:—

Lance-Corporal W. Gascoigne, M.M.P. (Newbiggin); G. Graham, Scottish Rifles (Blyth); Corporal M. Haynes, Worcester Regiment (Cramlington); Private (Acting Lance-Corporal) T.W. Hewitt, A.S.C. (Morpeth); Sergt. A. Johnson, N.F. (Backworth); Sergt. J. Sanderson, R.F.A. (Alnwick); Corporal R. Shepherd, N.F. (Newbiggin); Gunner G.B. Shotton, R.F.A. (Cramlington); and Corporal (Lance-Sergeant) T. Stephenson, Cheshire Regiment (Ashington).


In order to provide comforts for the men of the Royal Navy, minesweepers, auxiliary fleet patrol boats, merchant service, and interned sailors in Holland, the Mayoress (Mrs Jas. Elliott) has made arrangements to hold a Pansy Day at Morpeth tomorrow (Saturday).

The Mayoress extends a cordial invitation to all who are disposed to aid in this good movement.


Officially reported killed in action on 29th June, 2018, Corporal Alexander S.C. Tully, East Yorks, of Longhirst Lane, and late of Longwitton.

Mrs A. Summerhill, 3 Hastings Street, Cramlington, has received official news that her husband, Gunner Geo. Summerhill, Tank Corps, has died from wounds received in action.

Mr and Mrs Lazenby, 74 Milburn Road, Ashington, have been informed that their son Pte. Barnard Frederick Lazenby, reported missing on October 26th 1917, is now presumed killed.

Mr W. Lamb, 7 Station Cottages, Morpeth, has been notified by the War Office that his oldest son, Private W. Lamb, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was wounded on August 1st, and is in hospital in France.

Mrs Fairbairn, 7 Goose Hill, Morpeth, has received word that her husband, Private Henry Fairbairn, is a prisoner of war and unwounded.

The many friends of Mr and Mrs J. Jacques, Stratford, London (formerly of Pegswood), will learn with regret that their only son, Private J. Jacques, was killed in action on August 20th.

Mrs B. Monaghan, King’s Head Yard, Morpeth, has received word that her third son, Corporal Oswald Monaghan, N.F., was killed in action on the 17th inst.

Mr and Mrs A. Fisher, 10 Sanderson Terrace, Ferney Beds Colliery, have received a call from their son, Private G. Fisher, stating that he is a prisoner of war in Germany. He was posted missing on March 21st.

P.C. Mitchell, of Morpeth, has received word that his brother, Sergt. J.R. Mitchell, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, has been wounded in the left knee by a machine gun bullet.

News has been received that Sergt. Robt. Carruthers, R.A.M.C., Bedlington Station, was killed in action on August 23rd.

Miss Brady, 100 Newgate Street, Morpeth, has received news that her brother, Corporal W. Brady, R.A.F., has been seriously wounded. Previous to being in the R.A.F. he was with the Northumberland Hussars and went overseas in 1914. He is the youngest son of the late Mr W. Brady, builder and contractor, Morpeth.

Mrs James Wetheral Swanson, Wellwood House, Morpeth, has received news that her husband, Private J.W. Swanson, Coldstream Guards, has been badly wounded whilst in action in France and is in hospital. A later letter says that he had been wounded in the right arm by three machine gun bullets, that an operation had been performed, and that he was progressing favourably. In civil life Private Swanson was a coal merchant and proprietor of the coal depot at Morpeth Station. He joined the Coldstream Guards about 18 months ago, and has been in France about five months.

Private J. Arries, N.F., has been wounded in the recent fighting in France, and has lost his left foot. When war broke out he was living at Chevington Drift, and he was the first man who joined up from that place. He has been through all the campaigns since and has seen some hard fighting.

It is pleasing to note that Dr. Loughridge, who is at present a prisoner of war in Germany, has been promoted. He was gazetted on July 1st as captain. He has been ill and in hospital lately.

Mr and Mrs John Todd, 12 Bullers Green, Morpeth, have received news that their youngest son, Private Robert H. Todd, Welsh Guards, has been severely wounded in the left buttock and is in hospital in Rouen, France.

Signaller Jack Mather, of New Delaval, writing to Mrs Tauney, a widow at New Delaval, conveys the sad news of the death of her son, Pte. Arthur Tauney, of the Australian Imperial Force. The letter concludes: “He died like a hero, one of the best and bravest of lads.”


BARNFATHER.— Previously reported missing since September 21st, 1917, now presumed to have died on that date or since, Private James W. Barnfather, 43366, 20th D.L.I., aged 21 years, dearly beloved grandson of William and the late Sarah Barnfather, of Ashington, and will ever be remembered by their son William (now in France) and their daughter Maggie, who loved him as a brother.

BREWIS.— Wounded in action on the 15th August, 1918, and died of wounds on the 28th August, aged 18 years and 10 months, Private J. Brewis, East Yorkshire Regiment, youngest son of Mary and the late Thomas H. Brewis, 9 Crawford Place, Morpeth.— Deeply mourned by his sorrowing mother, sisters, and only brother (now serving in France).

CARRUTHERS.— Killed in action, August 23rd, 1918, aged 33 years, Sergeant Robert Carruthers, 23776 R.A.M.C., the dearly beloved husband of Mary Carruthers, 11½ Pioneer Terrace, Bedlington Station.

MACKENZIE.— Missing since October 26th, 1917, now presumed killed on that date, Pte. J. Mackenzie, 290746, 7th N.F., late of Widdrington Colliery, dearly beloved son of Mary Jane and the late J. Mackenzie.— Ever remembered by his loving mother, brother, and sisters, and brothers-in-law, also his brother Fred, now serving in Salonica.

MACLAUCHLAN.— Missing since September 3rd, 916, presumed killed, Private G.A. Maclauchlan.— Mourned and missed by sister Eliza and Bill.

STRAUGHAN.— Killed in action, April 16th, 1918, aged 20 years, Private William Pyke Straughan, of Elm House, Morpeth.— Deeply mourned.


Sir,— Through the medium of your paper, I should like to appeal to the generosity of the people of Morpeth and district for books, magazines, papers and games for our wounded soldiers at the new V.A.D. Hospital, Stannington.

Would anyone who has anything that is likely to brighten or enliven the evenings of our soldiers kindly leave them at 60 Newgate Street, Morpeth, when they will be forwarded to Stannington.

Yours, etc.,


Mayor of Morpeth


The annual meeting of the shareholders of the Morpeth Gas Light Company was held last Friday evening, for the purpose of considering the directors’ report, passing the accounts, electing directors, and transacting other business. Mr Ralph Crawford (chairman of directors) presided.

Proceeding, the chairman said there was no doubt that this war had hit the gas industry exceedingly hard. When they read the balance sheets of the different gas companies in the country, they saw how very much they had been affected. There was a diminution of dividend in almost every instance, but when they had been maintained they had only been maintained by trenching on their reserves.

Therefore he could congratulate the shareholders of that company on that fact that though the past year had been full of anxiety to the directors, and to those who had to do with the management of the company, notwithstanding the increased cost, the shareholders received the same amount of money from their investment as they did in pre-war days.

In the case of shareholders free from tax, they received more because they got a return. The dividend was nearly 6½ per cent., instead of 5 per cent., to those people who were free from tax, and it was a very satisfactory thing to know that those people, with limited incomes, were receiving a larger return than at any time in the company’s history, and it would help to tide them over the difficulties of the present.

Whatever the difficulties in the past had been they might depend upon it that they would be far greater in the year that lay before them.

As they knew, gas was manufactured directly from coal and coal was the all-important factor in a gas undertaking. They were threatened with a very great shortage of coal. Coal prices had enormously increased, and not only that, difficulty was being experienced in obtaining coal. Wages had increased until more than doubled. Owing to lighting restrictions their sales had gone down.

The shareholders might derive this consolation that they had not touched their reserves. They had no less a sum than £1,066, which was available and they had carried forward a sum of £534. Putting those two sums together they had practically £1,600 that would be available if need be to meet the coming year. They only required the sum of £1,285 to pay the dividends for the coming year.

He felt confident that before they met again next year they would be enjoying the blessings of peace, and that the company would be in a position to go straight ahead. They had been fortunate enough not only to maintain the works in a thoroughly efficient condition, but immediately after the war commenced they had put in a new holder, which could not be put in now for twice they money they had paid for it.

Taking the gas made this past year, they had manufactured 27,656,000 cubic feet as against 27,930,000 cubic feet the previous year, being a decrease of 274,000 cubic feet. In 1914 they had manufactured 30,143,000 cubic feet of gas.

Last year the coal had cost them £3,644 as against £2,880, and in 1914, £2,540. The increase in coal had been from 16/10 in 1914 to 23/- a ton last year, and if they took the increase as it would be during the coming year it would mean 68 per cent on coals on pre-war rates, and 71 per cent on wages.

Even when they had increased the price of gas to 5/- per 1,000 cubic feet, which they must do immediately after their next collection, it would only mean an increase of 66 per cent in coal and 71 per cent in wages.

He was anxious to give those figures to show that they were not maintaining their dividends by taking an undue advantage of their customers. It also ought to do away with any criticism that they were exploiting the public and making them pay unduly for gas.

He then moved the adoption of the report. Mr Wm. Noble seconded and the report was adopted.


The picturesque grounds of Springhill, Morpeth, the residence of Mr and Mrs George Renwick, were on fete yesterday, the occasion being a garden party and gymkhana. The event was largely attended by the townspeople, and the “round of attractions” provided were generously patronised.

The promoters had two praiseworthy objects in view — the giving of a helping hand to the funds of the Blinded Northumberland Soldiers and Sailors, and the local V.A.D. Hospital, and, it goes without saying, that each will benefit handsomely by yesterday’s effort.

The arrangements that had been made for the event left nothing to be desired — everything went with a swing from first to last. Miss Shirley Schofield as organising secretary, discharged her onerous duties in a manner which won for her high encomiums.

The programme was a comprehensive one, and provided excellent scope for all and sundry. The Morpeth Pipers’ Band played pleasing selections of music.


It is of national concern that the blackberry crop, now just ripening should be got in and placed in the hands of jam makers. The failure of the fruit crop has created a great shortage of jam, and unless the hedge rows are thoroughly stripped of the fruit and berries are put into a national pool, our sailors and soldiers will have to go short.

The Ministry of Food is organising the collection of the crop. The Ministry is relying upon the patriotism and self-sacrifice of the civil population, and particularly the children, upon whom in a very large measure the success or failure of the enterprise depends.

The Education Committee of the two Northern Counties have given their hearty approval to the scheme and have invited the teachers to lend their aid in organising bands of pickers amongst their scholars. Where the prospective crop justifies the effort masters and mistresses will supervise the work.

The collections of fruits will be delivered to local agents (in many cases the heads of schools) who will forward it on to a jam making centre.

They will be paid by the local agent at the rate of 3d for every pound of sound fruit they gather and deliver, and they will have the added satisfaction of knowing that they will be doing a real service for the men who are fighting for them.

Their elders too, it is hoped, will give their co-operation; their example will be of the greatest value.

The names and addresses of local agents to whom the fruit should be taken will appear in the advertising columns of this paper within a few days. Enquiries respecting the scheme should be addressed to Major H. Barnes (V.F.) Assistant Food Commissioner for Northumberland and Durham, 6/7 Collingwood Buildings, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who is organising the collection in the two counties.


The Whalton and Dissington War Savings Association, having raised the sum of £13 8s per head in the War Weapons Week, the authorities have officially announced the christening of an aeroplane “Dissington,” the total sum raised being £3,354 16s.


The Commandant begs to thank the following for kindly sending gifts during the week:—

Eggs, Mr Pringle, Tritlington; flowers and vegetables, Hon. Mrs Joicey; magazines, Mrs Grey; vegetables and magazines, Miss Davidson; flowers, Miss Cairns; brown loaves, Mrs J.S. Mackay; vegetables, Mrs Bainbridge, Espley; lettuce, Mrs Frederick; flowers, St James’s Sunday School; roll, eggs, cocoa, and coffee, Miss Sproat; vegetables, Mrs Slater, Clifton; eggs and butter, Mrs Rayne; potatoes, Mrs Bell, Meldon.

The employees of Messrs Rutherford very kindly entertained the patients to a picnic at the Abbey Mills, which was much enjoyed by the men.


Chiefly owing to the shortage of feeding stuffs in the country during the last six or eight months, and to the appeal to stock-keepers to produce as much meat as possible in the form of pork, it has been suggested in some quarters that a portion of the barley crop should be set aside for feeding to live stock.

The Food Controller has carefully reviewed the situation, and had decided that no barley which is fit for human food shall be permitted to be sold or used except for milling for human consumption, malting, munition spirit distilling, vinegar-making, or any other licensed manufacture, but that the extraction in the milling of barley shall be considerably reduced.

The effect of this will be that, compared with the amount of offal obtained from milling barley at the present extracted during the past season, a much larger quantity of offal should be forthcoming for stock feeding purposes during the next season, as the feeding valuer of the new season’s offals will be very much higher than that of the offals obtained from the old extraction.

The feeding value of the increased quality will also be materially improved.