In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1917, 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, 30th September 2017, 2:10 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 28, 1917.

Councillor and Mrs Geo. Jackson, 26 Bridge Street, Morpeth, have received official word that their eldest son, Second-Lieut. Pilot G.W. Jackson, Royal Flying Corps, who was reported missing on May 7th, is now reported killed.

A communication from the War Office, dated September 20th, states: “With reference to the letter from this office of 13th September concerning Second-Lieut. G.W. Jackson, N.F. and R.F.C., I am directed to inform you that this officer’s death has now been confirmed in an official list received from Germany.

“It is said that his machine was shot down north-east of St Quentin on May 7th, and that his disc has been recovered. I am directed to express the sympathy of the Army Council with you in your bereavement.”

Second-Lieut. Jackson was educated at Rutherford College, Newcastle, and joined the Royal Engineers at Cambridge, afterwards receiving a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers in September, 1915.

After being nearly a year with his battalion he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps in August, 1916. He trained at various R.F.C. centres in the United Kingdom, and received his wings in February this year. He went out to the Western Front in March last, and, as already stated, was killed on May 7th, in the 27th year of his age.

He had shown much promise as a flying officer, and his early demise is much regretted by his brother officers, who sympathise with his family in their sad bereavement.

Councillor Jackson has received from Lieut.-Colonel J.J. Gillespie, N.F., a letter expressing the sympathy of himself and his brother officers. His Commanding Officer wrote that “he was a good and careful pilot. His loss on that account is the more regrettable.”

The deceased officer took a keen interest in all kinds of sport. Whilst assistant clerk and steward at Cambridge Asylum he played for the Cambridge Rugby team. Other teams for which he played were Birmingham and Barnsley Hall.


Private J.W. Purvis, in one of the labour companies, like all the boys at the Front, delights to get news from home.

He writes: “I will be much obliged, Mr Editor, if you will allow me a little space in what many of us call a ‘letter from home’ when we receive the ‘Herald.’

“I want to thank the kind friend who has sent me the paper on several occasions. I may say we receive the ‘Herald’ with the best of thanks, as we all like to have the news from our little native town.

“Of course, we appreciate all sorts of newspapers or books, and if any kind friends will send them I will distribute them among the boys.

“Our company is a large one, and we always share out everything from home.— Private J.W. Purvis, 45 Labour Company, B.E.F., France.”


Mr Wm. Simpson, Press correspondent, Morpeth War Savings Committee, sends us the following for publication:—

It is necessary, if the war is to end as swiftly and as victorious as may be, that everyone should realise himself or herself to be taking an actual part in the campaign.

We — the civilians at home — are “behind the lines,” and we wear no uniform but we are attached to the fighting forces none the less. Our task is different from theirs; but their task and ours are two parts of one great task lying upon all. We are farther from the front, but even this only in distance, hardly in importance.

At any rate those at the front cannot be carry their work through unless they are supported by the earnest faithfulness of those in the rear.

And when we are asked to practice careful self-restraint and economy, to lend to the country whatever money we can spare, we must not think that all this is a sort of sideshow, a sort of additional effort which, while certainly valuable can nevertheless be done without. Our practice of “saving and lending” is a vital and essential part of the plan of campaign, and the war depends upon it.

The sober truth in this matter is so far from entering into the minds of many people that they are apt to dub it as silly exaggeration when they are forced to hear it. It is truth all the same.

We are really part of the Navy and Army — ”behind the lines.” And the long series of war-makers through whom victory is to be attained, running as it does from the commanders-in-chief right through all ranks and classes of naval and military men, through the munition workers down to those who polish the smallest screw in the smallest weapon, is not finished even when it gets to that point. For its last member it has is — us.

To economise and to stick a sixpenny coupon on a war savings certificate card is just as much a military operation as the brain work of a general and his staff.

There is in all probability a further military “offensive” soon to come, and there is an autumn “war savings campaign” at hand. These two things are one.

The men who have to carry the first through ask that those “behind the lines” shall, in carrying through the second, be as true as they.

And one may say that those who have sacrificed themselves echo a similar call.

“See that ye gain in full what we have died for”: but we cannot do that unless we take self-denial as an order to be rigidly enforced.

What has been done, and what is to be done still, cannot achieve its full result without the co-operation of those who stand in lines which are far enough from the front trenches, but which are nevertheless part of the actual battlefield.


The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Rural District Council was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.

The Clerk stated that he had received an Order from the Board of Trade for regulating the prices of coal. The important point for the Council was that every coal merchant in the Rural Council area had to sell coal according to the prices fixed.

The Order states:— “It shall be the duty of all coal merchants to supply the local authority for the district or districts in which their places of business are situated, or in which coal is sold or delivered by them, with such information as may be required by the local authority for the purpose of ascertaining whether the retail prices of house coal sold in bulk or in small quantities in their area comply with the requirements of this Order.”

The Order was referred to the Food Control Committee.

The Clerk read the following letter from Mr Jas. Jardin, clerk to the Morpeth Town Council: “The Town Council have had under their consideration the Coal Prices Order, 1917, and I am directed to point out that practically the whole of the inhabitants in the borough depend for their coal supply upon the station depot and Cottingwood and Tranwell Collieries, and that that depot and these collieries depend upon the borough for practically the whole of their trade, from which it appears that the only strictly local body to be served by the Order has the protection of the people living within the borough whose council are powerless to afford that protection, whilst the coal suppliers to whom the Order is to be applied are within the jurisdiction of the Rural District Council.

“Under the circumstances I am directed to ask whether the Rural District Council are willing, if it could be done, to transfer the administration of the Order to the Borough Council in that portion of the rural district which includes the station coal depot and the two collieries referred to.”

Mr Hudson: I am opposed to that.

Chairman: Let us manage our own affairs.

The Clerk read another letter from the clerk to the Morpeth Town Council as follows:— “At a meeting of the Borough Committee on Monday it was pointed out that some difficulty is likely to arise in reference to the residents in the Rural District immediately outside the Borough boundaries, such as Loansdean to Catchburn on the south roads, the station to Stobhill on the Shields Road, Cutter’s Buildings to Park House, Peacock Gap, Grange House, and High House.

“These people all deal with Morpeth grocers to whom their sugar cards will be given, and then the Morpeth grocers will apply to the borough committee for leave to buy sugar, whilst the Rural Committee will have the sugar papers (i.e. the householders’ application for sugar cards), from which alone the family allowance can be fixed.

“I understand that in some places (North Seaton for instance), the Rural Council have arranged for portions of their area to be joined with the adjacent U.D.C. Committee. If this is permissible the cases named above seem proper ones for a similar arrangement.

“If your committee are agreeable the Borough Committee are prepared to undertake the supply of country residents in immediate proximity to the borough.”

The Clerk was instructed to write that the Rural Council would administer the Orders themselves.


Although recruiting for the regiment is at the rate of 300 a month, the authorities have far from reached the standard which was set for the county of Northumberland. Two thousand men are still required before the regiment will be at full strength, and have at its disposal the necessary margin of something like one thousand men.

The raising of this number is not thought to be a difficult matter, although the sooner it is done the better.

Some districts have dome remarkably well, while others again have shown a complete lack of interest in the movement. Gosforth, Prudhoe, Newburn, and Haltwhistle have failed up till now. If there had been anything like a decent proportion of the available men from those districts the force would have been practically up to strength.

The 3rd and the 5th Battalions are the strongest to date, and there is a steady forward movement in all the others with the exception of the 4th, which includes the places to which reference has been made. It is not too late for them, however, to come into line, and the authorities are considering what steps will be required to be taken.

A noteworthy feature is the number of men who are coming forward to sign the agreement for the duration of the war, which is one of the best indications of an awakening interest on the part of the committees concerned.

Last week it was stated that a number of specialist units were to be raised. This decision has given a wider choice to the prospective candidates, and there has been keen competition for enrolment in most of these branches.

A course of instruction in engineering has been arranged, and this will commence next month.

The signalling company consists of headquarters and four sections, and of these the headquarters of the Newcastle Section is already at half-strength. A course of instruction will begin on October 1st, at the Artillery Drill Hall in Barrack Road, in work which the company will be required to do in the event of mobilisation.

Similar sections are being formed at Amble and Whitley Bay, and already 50 per cent of the men required have been recruited at each place. In addition, a further section will shortly be raised at Blyth.

It is hoped, at an early date, to proceed with the formation of an electric light company, with headquarters at Tynemouth, and these men will be trained in the maintenance of electric plant within the area, and the working of the searchlights. The Commanding Officer is Captain Denton.

With regard to the County Motor Volunteers, sections are necessary in Newcastle, North Shields, Tynemouth, and any motorists who wish to join should send in their names to the O.C. of the County Motor Volunteers, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle.

The work of this unit is practically that of the Army Service Corps, and what is urgently desired is that men should be enrolled who are drivers of commercial vehicles, as well as men who are drivers of private cars, the latter of whom will be trained to drive transport vehicles. About one half of the men required have been already secured.

The Artillery Corps at Tynemouth and Blyth are being rapidly completed and an offer has been made to the King of a County Medical Corps consisting of three Field Ambulances. It is expected that the whole of the personnel will be provided by the St John Brigade, and it is anticipated that Northumberland will lead the way with probably the first County Medical Corps in the Volunteer movement.

Perhaps the greatest proof of the success of the Volunteer movement in the county of Northumberland lies in the record of the 5th Battalion, which is the junior battalion in the county. The battalion was only formed in April, and it already has a strength of 800 men, of whom over half have now signed on for the period of the war.

The battalion is recruited over a large area, embracing the north of the county. The headquarters are at Alnwick, and detachments have been formed and are in full working order at Berwick, Morpeth, Ashington, Wooler, Milfield, Amble, Radcliffe, Rothbury, Harbottle, Felton, and Longframlington. In addition new detachments are about to be formed at Broomhill, Warkworth, and Widdrington.

In August the battalion spent a week in camp at Berwick, and gained great benefit from training received at the hands of the officers and N.C.O.s of the Regular Army stationed locally.

Unfortunately, the weather prevented firing on the range most of the week, and so few men were able to complete the efficiency tests required to enable them to draw their uniforms. Shooting has, however, been carried out during the last six Sundays on the ranges at Berwick, Alnwick, Rothbury and Wooler, and now more than 250 men have passed out as efficient, and are being put into uniform. It is hoped to pass through many others during the next month.

In the battalion the Berwick Company stands first at present with a strength of 200, of whom 70 per cent have signed on for the duration of the war, and already 50 per cent have passed their efficiency tests. The company only required another 30 recruits to bring it up to strength, and it is hoped that this number may soon be raised.

Morpeth is the second strongest company.

The small outlying detachments are all doing good work, though faced with much greater difficulties. Suitable buildings have now been obtained for all of them to drill in during the winter months, and of course the larger detachments are all accommodated in Territorial Drill Halls. For the coming winter no less than nine miniature rifle ranges have been put in working order.

The battalion is still short of men to complete it up to strength. It is hoped that men will come forward at once, so that their shooting tests on the open ranges can be carried out before the weather makes it impossible.

Information will gladly be supplied on application at the Headquarters, 5th Battalion Northumberland Volunteers Regiment at the Drill Hall, Alnwick, and at the Drill Halls at Morpeth, Ashington, Berwick, Wooler, and Amble, and at the Jubilee Hall, Rothbury.


The annual harvest thanksgiving services in connection with the Wesleyan Church, Morpeth, were held on Sunday last, when the pulpit was occupied by the Rev. E.O Lane, Ashington.

At the evening service the text taken was “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God that giveth the increase.”

The rev. gentleman said that he has been especially interested in the war work of the past year.

He could remember the seed-time. It seemed so long in actually coming that men began to think there would be no seed-time. Yet the seed-time did come in sufficient time to be followed by a bounteous harvest.

In conjunction with the harvest thanksgiving, a public meeting was held on Monday night, when the chair was taken by the Rev. J.J. Ward, supported by Dr Drysdale.

In addressing the meeting, Dr Drysdale dealt with the enormous crops cultivated this year in spite of war conditions. He was sure that, notwithstanding the submarine menace, there would be enough food if wisely distributed to meet the needs of the English people.


The success which attended the efforts of the ladies, who kindly acted as flower sellers on two days last week, in aid of the fund to provide huts for British women doing war work in France, was of a most gratifying character, the total amount realised being £94 4s, including donations.

The arrangements for both days were made by the Mayoress (Mrs J.R. Temple) and Philip Cookson of Meldon Park.


It is pleasing to be able to announce that the Playhouse, in spite of the enhanced tax on amusements which comes into force next week, intend that prices shall remain as hitherto, thus assuring adherents that the extra call upon their pockets will not interfere with their regular night of amusement.

Admirers of Pearl — and their number is legion — will welcome her in a new and vigorous role in rare doings in connection with gallant lads who gird on their armour in defence of the land giving them birth.

One of Pathe’s, “Pearl of the Army,” there is woven around it most remarkable happenings.

With the photo-play, booked for the week-end, unique situations crop up consequent upon circumstances in the youthful days of a heroine whose first step leads to results not lost upon present days.