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, 17th June 2017, 11:09 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 15, 1917.

Lieut.-Colonel N.I. Wright, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who has just been gazetted a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, and who was recently mentioned in dispatches, is a son of Mr N.I. Wright of Morpeth.

Colonel Wright served through the South African campaign, and rejoining the Forces at the outbreak of the war, was wounded in April, 1915, but was enabled to return to active service in France in October of the same year.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 15, 1917.

He was advanced to his present rank in October, 1916.


We have received a copy of a Canadian paper — St Catharine’s Standard, Ontario — containing a report of the death of Private Thornton Wanlace Dunn. The writer states that Private Dunn’s father, the late Mr R. Lancelot Dunn, was a native of Netherwitton, where the Dunn family has been over a century, and where some still remain.

The report states that Private T.W. Dunn, of the Welland Canal Protective Force, has done his bit and given his life for the Empire, without having visited the front, having lost his life by drowning in the canal while in the discharge of duty.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 15, 1917.

Four times he endeavoured to enlist with the overseas forces, but was rejected because of his eyesight. His first attempt was made upon the outbreak of hostilities when he attempted to go overseas with the 10th Field Battery. Three times since he had tried to attain his patriotic object with the same result. He continued to serve in the Protective Force with that object in view.

Early on Sunday morning, April 29th, he was on guard duty at Port Colborne when he either tripped over some object or slipped and fell into the icy waters. In falling he shouted, alarming his comrades, who threw him a lifebuoy which he was unable to grasp. Half-an-hour later his body was recovered. A mark on his temple showed he had been stunned in falling.

The deceased was buried with military honours.


Among the many grateful letters received from Northumbrian lads at the Front is one from a well-known Morpeth soldier who desires to remain anonymous.

In thanking the subscribers to the above fund, he states that “smokes” are scarcer now than they’ve been for some considerable time. The “Morpeth Woodbines” are always acceptable, and it is gratifying indeed to witness the smiling faces of the lads who receive them and who express their thanks to the generous people of Morpeth who are ever in their thoughts.


Thomas Dick & Co., Ltd. Painters & Decorators, 6 Manchester Street, Morpeth, beg to intimate to their customers that their manager has been called to join His Majesty’s forces.

At the same time they will continue to sell wallpapers, paints distempers, &c.


The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) presided.

At the outset the Mayor said he felt sure that their sympathy would go out to two of their colleagues — Councillors Swinney and Jackson, who each had a son posted missing. He hoped that soon they would receive better news.

The Major also mentioned that Lieut. W.S. Sanderson, one of their colleagues, had been mentioned in dispatches, and Lieut-Col. Irwin Wright, another of their townsmen, had been awarded the D.S.O.— The Clerk was requested to send letters of congratulation to them.

The Town Clerk read a letter from the Land and Building Reconstruction after the War Committee requesting information as to ward buildings in the borough which may be required to be left for acquisition by the Council.— The committee recommended that the surveyor be instructed to supply the Town Clerk with a list of any military erection likely to be useful to the Council, and the Town Clerk report the same to the military authority.— Agreed to.

It was reported by the committee that the Town Clerk had resigned the post of National Registration officer for the borough as being insufficiently paid.— The committee recommended that the position be laid before Mr Bushell, local representative of the Local Government Board, the latter to be asked to say what amount of the Council’s expenditure they would refund if the Council increased the salary from six guineas to, say, £30 a year.

The Finance Committee reported that the Town Clerk had read a letter from Mr Bushell, from which it appeared that the Council, not the officials, were responsible under the Act for the carrying out of the work, and that the Act provided that any surplus of expenditure beyond the Local Government Boards’s contribution should be met out of the rates.

The committee recommended that the Town Clerk be asked to resume the work at a salary of £30 a year, payable half-yearly, until it was seen what part of the first half-year’s expenditure the Local Government Board refunded.— The recommendation was carried.

The Town Clerk submitted correspondence with the National Service Commissioners, from which it appeared that the latter wished to establish in each district a system of registration of volunteers for labour substitution, and asked that a committee be appointed.— It was agreed, on the recommendation of the committee, that the Mayor, Messrs Swinney, Elliott, Fearby, Simpson, Jackson and Turnbull be the committee to appoint the committee required to prepare and carry out the scheme.

In accordance with notice given, Mr Armstrong drew the Council’s attention to the recent Order empowering local authorities to prosecute for breaches of Food Prices Order, and proposed (1) That a notice be inserted in the “Herald” inviting all purchasers of food who may be over-charged or otherwise subject to a breach of such order to communicate the facts at once to the borough surveyor; (2) That the borough surveyor be authorised and instructed to prosecute without further authority in all cases where in his opinion the evidence submitted discloses an offence.

Ald. Brown: Will the surveyor take the opinion of the Town Clerk in cases?

Mr Armstrong: The surveyor can do that.

Mr Grey seconded the motion, which was unanimously agreed to.


Writing on the proceedings of the recent Council meeting, Mr Straker, in this month’s circular to the Northumberland miners, remarks that the peace by negotiation resolution deserved, and will yet receive, much more reasoned consideration than it got.

“I only desire to say that I entirely agree with your president when he declared that ‘he was convinced that peace would only come by negotiation.’ Peace is coming by negotiation and coming much more swiftly than pride, passion, and prejudice can see.”


The Morpeth Company is still pushing ahead and increasing in efficiency. The attendances at drills are very satisfactory, and the enthusiasm shown by the majority of the men is excellent. Such enthusiasm helps considerably to make the movement, locally at any rate, a success. It is worthy of note that the officers spare neither time not trouble in the training of the men.

Last Sunday morning, when the company were having rifle drill on the Common, a visit was paid by Major Graham, Officer Commanding the 5th Battalion, who was accompanied by the adjutant. Later the men were marched back to the Council Schools, where an inspection was held.

The officers of the company — Lieut. Wm. Duncan, and Second-Lieut. Chas. Grey, and Second-Lieut. T.D. Shaw — were sworn in by Major Graham.

On Tuesday evening enrolments were taken for the duration of the war, and between 50 and 60 men, only 10 being over military age, signed the form. Further enrolments took place last night, but it is hoped by those in command that there will be a more ready response by the men over military age.

The headquarters of the company have been removed to the Masonic Hall, which is admirably adapted for military purposes.


Another interesting cookery exhibition, under the auspices of the Morpeth War Savings Association, was held in the Town Hall yesterday, when a large number of ladies attended to inspect the dishes displayed.

Among those who kindly supplied wholesome and economical fare for the exhibition were the Mayoress (Mrs J.R. Temple), Mrs Jas. Jobling, Mrs W.Y. Price, Mrs W. Simpson, Mrs Fuller, Mrs A. Temple, Mrs G.W, Phaup, Miss Urpeth, Mrs Brumell, Mrs L. Miller, and Miss M.A. Richardson.

During the afternoon an interesting address was given by Miss Hawley, of Chelsea. There was a large attendance, the chair being taken by the Mayoress (Mrs Temple).

Miss Hawley dealt with food economy, and urged upon the heads of households to rise to the occasion and see that there was no waste of food.

At the close Mrs Miller proposed a vote of thanks to the speaker and the Mayoress, which was heartily carried.

At Whalton last night Miss Hawley and the Rev. Jos. Miller of Morpeth addressed a large audience. Mrs Eustace Smith presided.

Meetings will be held at Pegswood tonight (Friday), County Councillor G.R. Nichol in the chair; at Mitford, the same evening, Canon Macleod in the chair. An open-air meeting will be held in the Market Place, Morpeth, tomorrow (Saturday) at three in the afternoon. The Rev. Jos. Miller will preside, and Miss Hawley will be the speaker.


A memorial service for the late Emily Wilding Davison was held at St Mark’s Church, Jarrow, on Saturday. The vicar, the Rev. T. Wallace, associated in the commemoration all those of the parish who had fallen in the war or had lost their lives by reason of air raids or other acts of the enemy.

A meeting in the memory of the late Emily Wilding Davison was also held in the Market Square, Morpeth, on Sunday evening. The speakers were Mrs Crow and Mrs Blanche.

In Hyde Park, London, a similar meeting was held on Sunday in memory of Morpeth’s militant daughter.


Dramatic fare of the best has been booked by the management of the Avenue Theatre, Morpeth, for their patrons next week. One of the loading pictures is to be screened on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It is described as one of the most dramatic productions every presented and is entitled “The Spirit of France.”

The story is strong in plot. The acting human and real, settings realistic, particularly the scenes in the fort, and the artillery in action.

For the latter part of the week “Sons of the Empire” is to be projected, showing the tanks going forward and in action and other incidents in the series of wonderful war pictures.


A special Tyneside Fund has been opened with the object of devoting its proceeds to providing a portion of the extension of the London headquarters of the Union Jack Club. The extension of these premises is unanimously desired throughout both services, and the addition to its headquarters will be the nation’s memorial to those who fall in the present war.

The name of the Tyneside will be permanently associated with the portion provided, and the particulars concerning the fund will be found in our advertising columns.

The Union Jack Club is used by large numbers of men of the North during their temporary sojourn in London on their way home on leave or returning to the North Sea or the trenches. The club provides them with good fare, comfortable bedrooms, and healthful recreation. It is the most popular of all service institutions, is non-sectarian, and entirely self-supporting.


Pte. A.K. Musgrave, 19 Burn Avenue, Forest Hall, has been killed in action.

Corporal E. Charlton, R.G.A., of 16 Lee Street, Annitsford, killed in action.

Pte. William Carse, Canadians, son of Mr and Mrs James Carse, late of Newton-by-the-Sea, has died from wounds received in action.

Mrs Blair, 23 Hazelrigg St., Dudley Colliery, has received news that her husband, Pte. Wm.T. Blair, has been reported missing since April 29th.

Mr and Mrs J.R. Wray, 83 Percy Street, Blyth, have been notified that their son, Pte. Joseph Wray, is reported missing since April 28th.

Mr and Mrs Henry Reed, 4 North Row, Seaton Burn, have been notified that their only son, Pte. T.R. Reed, is reported missing since April 28th.

Mrs Waters, 30 Front Street, Annitsford, has been informed that her son, Gunner G. Waters, was killed in action on May 18th.

Mrs Caisley, 13 Woodhorn Road, Ashington, has received information that her husband, Pte. J.W. Caisley, West Yorks, has been missing since May 3rd.

Mrs Thompson, of Black’s Buildings, Alnwick, has received official information that her husband Pte. James J. Thompson, N.F., has been missing since April 27th.

Councillor Wm.D. Spittle, Clayport, Alnwick, has received official news that his eldest son, Pte. Harry Spittle, East Yorks, has been missing since May 12th.

Information has been received that Sergt. J. Henderson, son of Mr and Mrs R.F. Henderson, Wooler, has been killed in action. Deceased had resided in Blyth for some years, where his widow and four children remain.

Sergt. James Henderson, N.F., who was killed in action a month ago, was 33 years of age, and resided with his wife and family in Gladstone Street, Cowpen Quay. Some years ago he was employed by the United Yeast Company at their Blyth branch.

Corporal George Colin Anderson, a stepson of Mr Robert Oldfield, of 11 Goschen Street, Blyth, has been killed while performing an act of humanity in trying to rescue a wounded comrade. Before enlistment, Corporal Anderson, who was 32 years of age, was employed as a cartman at Newbiggin, and before that worked in the local mines. One of his comrades has written to Mrs Kemp, his sister, describing his death. He says: “I have an unpleasant piece of news for you. Your brother, Corporal Anderson, of this battery, was killed yesterday (June 2nd) by a shell. He dashed out of the pit to drag in another man who was wounded by the first shell, when another came and killed them both. He had only been up there one day. His death has cast a gloom over the whole battery, and everyone is sorry to lose him, as he was one of the best.”

News has been received at Blyth that Sergt. Samuel Haley of the Tyneside Irish, who some time ago won the Military Medal for gallantry, has been killed in action. He resided at Cowpen New Town, Blyth.


COLMAN.— Killed in action, William Colman (A.B.), April 25th, 1917, aged 24 years, No. 3775 R.N.D., of 86 Milburn Road, Hirst.— (Deeply mourned by his loving father, brothers, sister, and sister-in-law, also Mr and Mrs Tweedy and family.)

MEINS.— Missing, now reported killed in action on July 1st, 1916, Private Andrew Meins, N.F., of Choppington Guide Post.— (Deeply mourned by his loving mother, daughter, son, and his brothers and sisters.)

ROSS.— Reported missing July 1st, 1916, now officially concluded killed then or since, Private J. Ross, 23rd Batt, N.F., aged 40 years, the beloved son of the late Andrew and Margaret Ross, late of Barrington.

TATE.— Killed in action, May 28th, 1917, Private George Tate, N.F., beloved son of Margaret and John Tate, of Bebside.— (Deeply mourned by his sorrowing parents, brothers, sisters, and all who knew him.)

PEARCE PURDY.— Missing on Sept. 3rd, 1916, and now reported dead.— (Deepest sorrow, from father and mother, and his only brother Thomas and his sister-in-law, and his sister Frances, and grandfather and grandmother, uncles and aunts, and all who knew him.

WILSON.— Killed in action on April 23rd, 1917, Edward Dixon (Ned), R.N.D., youngest son of Richard and late Jane Wilson, late of Minto Place, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

YOUNG.— Killed in action on April 18th, 1917, Private E.C. Young (Machine Gun Corps), aged 25 years, beloved husband of J.A. Young, of Ashington.


The annual report of the Pegswood Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Fund shows that £76 6s 4d was received, £27 12s was spent in sending parcels abroad, and £19 3s 8d in sending postal orders abroad. Home service men received parcels of the total value of £20 5s.


Public interest has been somewhat concentrated upon the decision of the Northumberland miners to be given by a proxy vote in regard to the peace-by-negotiation resolution emanating from Wylam Colliery, which was discussed and rejected by the delegates at the recent Council meeting.

It will generally be anticipated that the vote will be somewhat similar to that of the Council meeting in view of public feeling at present, but this is by no means certain, for the method by which the proxy vote is taken is somewhat peculiar, inasmuch as it is taken by a show of hands at lodge meetings which, as a rule, are but sparsely attended.

For instance, at a certain large colliery, when the question of this resolution came up for consideration, there were only 12 persons present at the meeting. Six voted in favour of the resolution, four against, and two remained neutral, so that when the returns are sent in this large colliery will figure as being in favour of the resolution in question.

It is thus evident that at many a colliery the prevailing opinion as represented in the returns may be very much different to what really exists in regard to a matter in connection with which the issue is of considerable moment.