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.

Sunday, 28th January 2018, 11:27 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, January 25, 1918.

The Food Control Committee for the Borough have asked us to make it known to our readers that a food rationing scheme for Morpeth has now been adopted and provisionally sanctioned by the Food Controller.

After February 27th no person will be able to purchase supplies of tea, butter, margarine, or bacon or cheese within the municipal borough of Morpeth without a food rationing card issued by the Food Control Committee.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, January 25, 1918.

Forms of application for these cards will be distributed to every householder in the course of a few days and when these forms have been properly filled in and returned to the Food Office the latter will issue a food rationing card to every person entitled to it.

These cards are divisible into portions, and these portions will be deposited by the holder of the card with the merchant or merchants with whom he intends to deal either for the whole or for any one or more of the articles rationed.

Householders should note that they cannot be registered with any grocer or other dealer except by the deposit of a portion of the card issued by the Food Office. No other cards are valid for this purpose, nor is any other method of registration.

If any householder has been induced to enter his name as a customer with any dealer or does enter his name otherwise than by deposit of a portion of the official food card, he is in no way bound by having done so, and when he receives his card from the Food Office he is at perfect liberty to deposit it or a portion of it with any merchant with whom he wishes to deal.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, January 25, 1918.


Lieut. H.H. Hutchinson, R.G.A., of Pegswood, who was recently awarded the Military Cross, has just been gazetted Chevalier of the Order of the Crown in the Belgian List of Honours, and awarded the Croix de Guerre.


The supplement to the “London Gazette,” Dec. 24th, 1917, giving a list of officers mentioned by Sir Douglas Haig in his dispatch, dated November 7th, 1917, for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty, includes under the Australian Army Medical Corps, Lieut.-Colonel J.S. Purdy, D.S.O.

Lieut.-Colonel J.S. Purdy, who has been in command of a Field Ambulance, has now been promoted to the rank of Colonel (temporary), whilst commanding the Third Australian General Hospital, France.

Colonel Purdy is the youngest son of the late Mr George Purdy of Morpeth, and a brother of Mr G.W. Purdy, of Dacre Street, Morpeth.

Driver M. Scott, R.F.A., son of Mr Walter Scott, a well-known saddler in Morpeth, has received the Card of Honour for having distinguished himself by good service in the field.


In connection with the National War Aims Committee a public meeting, organised by Mr Wm. Simpson, the local hon. secretary, was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, last Tuesday evening, when Sir W.H. Hadow, Principal of Armstrong College, Newcastle, who has recently been on the Flanders Front, gave a convincing address on “What we are fighting for.” There was a very large audience present. The Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott) presided.

The Mayor took it that they were all waiting to hear the speaker place before them the war aims or in plainer language tell them “what we are fighting for.” He was sure that Sir William, after his personal experiences on the Western Front, would give them an interesting, instructive, and convincing testimony to the righteousness of our cause. (Applause.)

Sir William Hadow, who had a splendid reception, said it was a heavy responsibility to speak anywhere on the war at the present time. That was not really the time for oratorical display — the issue was far too serious.

He wanted to put before them in all sober and serious earnest that the whole future of the civilisation of Europe, and, perhaps, the civilisation of the world, depended on what happened in the next two or three months. In the tremendous issues everyone of them would have a greater or lesser share. That was to say that it depended on what this country did as to how much liberty, happiness, and opportunity for progress would belong to the children and their children’s children. They were all equally concerned in that matter, and they had all the same end in view.

The issues of the war were not summed up in the question: “What is to be done with Belgium, Serbia, or with Poland, or what is meant by the freedom of the seas or whether we have to give back the German colonies.” All those questions were important enough, but those were only symptoms, only details, but behind them and beneath them were far more vital questions.

It was nothing less than the whole question of what was to be the citizenship of the future. What was to be the relation of every man and woman to the State of which they formed part. Germany at present was standing for one ideal of State, while we and our Allies were standing for another. He believed that if the German ideal prevailed — and prevail it would if the Germans did win the war — there would be no longer for them what they called liberty, progress, or happiness.

To explain the difference of the two ideals he must give them some facts of the great revolution in 1848. Germany before that time had not been an empire, but consisted of a number of little States. When the revolution came the German mind was at sea between the many different ideals, and in that uncertainty there arose a man to whom Germany looked upon as its greatest citizen — Bismarck.

He was a man of abundant energy, and great ability, and very keen patriotism. His ideal was material aggrandisement and material power of the State to which he belonged. He indicated that into his people, believing that to secure the material welfare of the State all means were justifiable. That had prevailed in many other countries in the more ancient days. It was then the natural expression of the State’s life, but in the course and march of civilisation every State had given up that ideal except Germany.

We had come to see that the justification of war was only the defence of right, justice, and liberty, and that an aggressive war, undertaken to increase national power and prosperity, was a crime.

Bismarck’s ideal was to make Prussia great, and to be great he made victories. He first of all, with Austria as his ally, picked a quarrel with Denmark, and invaded her territory. The war only lasted a few days, and Denmark was in the dust. The speaker believed that this country should have intervened on that occasion. Bismarck began his first step towards aggrandisement by making an unjust war.

Bismarck fixed an unjust quarrel with Austria. He attacked Austria with his picked troops, and the war only lasted six weeks, and at that end Austria was in the dust. Bismarck took a second step towards material power.

The next nation he attacked was France. They all knew that Bismarck forced France into war by forging a telegram. The Germans were ready and the French were not. The war lasted a few months. Paris was taken, and France was in the dust, Bismarck took his third step towards his aggrandisement by an wholly unjust war. With that war was built the German Empire. Bismarck himself had said that the German Empire was welded together by blood and iron.

Considering the wars from 1864-70, it was not surprising that the German nation should be brought up to believe that it was invincible. Remember that all the men who were making this war now were the men who were the children in the ‘sixties and ‘seventies, and that was the gospel on which they were educated.

He referred to the system of political teaching on which the Germans of the last generation were brought up. There rose up a German professor who had in his class Cabinet Ministers, great bankers, and financiers. The ideas he inculcated were “War is the natural medicine for a sick State,” “War is the way in which a State finds its natural expression.” He looked across the North Sea and saw a country spreading all over the world, and believed that our Empire was held together by force.

When Germany went to war with us in 1914 they asserted and believed that India and the Colonies would be only too glad to break away from the tyrannous power which had been exercised over them. What happened? Nothing in this war had been more impressive than the splendid loyalty and affection which India and the Colonies had set to the Mother Country. (Loud applause).

Sir William next alluded to the teachings of Nietzsche, the German philosopher, and to the doctrine of force and might. Had they not seen that abundantly illustrated through the war? Did not Germany start the war with the aggressive intention of strengthening and enlarging her territories?

He believed that the greatest disaster that had ever happened to any nation in the history of the world was the disaster that happened to Germany in her victory over France in 1870. That was the beginning of the doctrine of “Might is right.” That had proved Germany’s moral and spiritual undoing during the last years of the last century, and it seemed that it was going to prove her undoing in the present war.

They had heard a great deal about the atrocities by German troops in the war, and a terrible record it was. The most horrible thing was the burning of houses and the massacring of civilians which has been done by the command of German authority, and done by men who were human beings, and who had done it because they had been brought up to the doctrine of absolute obedience to the commands of the State. That was the German occupation of obedience to the State, and he hoped they would never come to that. (Applause.)

Proceeding, he said that it was for all of them to bear their part in the war. They might ask: “What can we do to help the downfall of Germany, to help the cause of righteousness and justice?” He answered that question by giving the messages he had received from the gallant men at the Front when on a visit there.

Those men read in the papers about strikes and discontent at home, and also about profiteering, and said that those things did not do them any good. What they wanted to read about was that the people were behind their backs, that they would see that they got sufficient munitions, and that there would be no premature half-patched peace. (Applause.) He would ask them to send through him to the soldiers at the Front a resolution of encouragement.

“We, the people of Morpeth, here assembled, send our cordial greetings to the Northumberland Fusiliers. (Applause.) We express our sympathy in their hardships, our admiration for their achievements, and we hereby pledge ourselves by every means in our power to support His Majesty’s Forces on land, on sea, and in the air, until they secure the conditions of a just and lasting peace.” (Applause.)

The resolution was enthusiastically carried.

Mr Simpson proposed a vote of thanks to Sir William Hadow, which was given with much heartiness. The meeting concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.


The Northumberland Volunteers, having been authorised to form two companies of motor volunteers, the door is now open to one of the most attractive units of the regiment. There are four sections in each company, and 26 men in each section.

A Company has already three complete sections, although there is a margin over the nominal number to which recruiting can go, and men are still wanted. Another section is to be formed at Hexham, while there is a complete company to be raised for the Morpeth, Blyth, Whitley, and North Shields areas.

The sectional commanders have been arranged for, so that the movement has got fairly to work, and will soon be in full process of utilisation with other units of the regiment.

It need not be pointed out that the motor section is nowadays essential and is one of the important links in a complete military system. From the inquiries that have already been made it looks as if these companies will be very popular, and that there may be rather a difficulty to get into them. Certainly a more agreeable way to do one’s bit could hardly be found for men who have the experience.

Recruits with knowledge of motor cars and who drive a car, a motor cycle, or a motor lorry will be welcomed in any of the sections. Mechanics will also be accepted, and the experience they require will be taught them as soon as the have enrolled.

Technical lectures are part of the course that the men will be put through, and a competent staff is already engaged in this work. A number of chassis have also been provided, one, two and four cylinder, and with them the dismantling and reconstruction of parts will be learned. Instructional classes will be held and batches of men taken in rotation.

Appeal is being made to men in the outlying districts of the county where qualifications fit them for undergoing training of this kind, and one aspect of it that should not be lost sight of is the advantage of such a course and such an experience in civil life. Further information can be obtained from any of the Headquarters of the regiment in the county.

The regiment is now busily engaged on practical military programmes, and it is reported from all centres that the work is being carried out with earnestness and with satisfactory progress. Every week sees the citizen army a more efficient part of the service.

The recruits are being quickly knocked into shape, and not the least conspicuous feature is the way in which the over-age volunteers are adapting themselves to the new state of things, on which head the competent instructors are to be congratulated on their judicious handling of the squads. Most of the men are now in uniform, and present an excellent appearance on parade.

Whilst recruits are continually in request it is satisfactory to note the number that are being attracted to the regiment, and it should not be long — if everyone has regard to his responsibilities — before the strength is made up in all battalions. It is only then that the effective reserve which the authorities have in hand can be put into full operation in the county. There is a special need for men over military age joining up, and, seeing the numbers still to draw upon, the authorities hope that many will come forward at the earliest possible opportunity.

One of the great attractions of volunteering continues to be in the direction of rifle shooting, and everything is being done to foster this enthusiasm. A large number of ranges have been placed at the service of the regiment, on which competitions can take place during the winter months. This is expected to turn out a big lot of marksmen for open-air practice.

The effect of this is that the men are being kept well together and the spirit of rivalry maintained. From what has already been seen on the ranges the honour of being the best shooting battalion in the regiment is not going to be an easy one to carry away.

In Morpeth the movement, considering all things, is going strong. Interest in the company is steadily maintained, as is evidenced by the attendance at drill. No opportunities are being missed by those in command to bring the men up to a high standard of efficiency. In Sergt. Roberts the company has a capable instructor and an assiduous worker.

The week-night drills are being carried out indoors. Last Sunday morning witnessed most of the men on parade with full pack. At present the men are having a thorough training in squad and rifle drill, and in other ways receiving useful instruction. On Monday evening the adjutant, Lieut. Morrison, paid a visit to headquarters and put the men through various exercises.

As a result of a recent shooting competition, thirty of the men have been selected to take part in four shooting tests on the miniature rifle range, and the ten best shots will be chosen to shoot for the battalion trophies on February 12th. Then the two best teams will compete on a neutral range to decide which is the best team in the battalion.

The first two tests took place last Tuesday and yesterday. The next two tests are fixed for Sunday first and the following Tuesday evening. Great interest is being taken in these tests, and, naturally, there is keen rivalry among those taking part for a place in the team. Sergeant Parker is acting as N.C.O.

Lieut. W. Duncan, O.C., has received, on behalf of the company, the sum of £12 from Mrs Elliott, of Oldgate, part proceeds of a dance organised and held by her in the Masonic Hall. It is hardly necessary to add that the officers, N.C.O.s, and men feel grateful to Mrs Elliott for her generous contributions to the funds of the company.