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, 3rd June 2017, 2:09 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 8:01 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: News from the Morpeth Herald, June 1, 1917.

Private R.W. Wilkinson, son of Mr and Mrs W. Wilkinson, of 281 Welbeck Terrace, Pegswood, and grandson of Mr R. Wilkinson, of Wellwood House, Morpeth, has had a narrow escape from death while on active service.

In April last a rifle bullet passed through his cigarette case in his left breast pocket and came out at his right side. Private Wilkinson is at present lying at the base.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 1, 1917.


Captain Alan Stuart Alderson, son of Mr Chas. Alderson of Morpeth Castle, has been gazetted to major of the Royal Garrison Artillery, with precedence from 1st June, 1916.

Major Alderson is well known in Morpeth and Blyth, and his many friends will be pleased to learn of his promotion. He is at present stationed at Columbo.


HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 1, 1917.

In a list of names of officers and names submitted by Sir Douglas Haig to the Secretary of State for War as deserving of special mention for valuable services in connection with the war, we notice that of Lieut. W.S. Sanderson, D.L.I., of Morpeth.


The men of the Morpeth Detachment of the “A” Company, 5th Battalion Northumberland Volunteer Regiment, will long remember the Whitsuntide weekend just past.

A trek for a couple of days, entailing over 32 miles marching, provided the men with a touch of strenuous work and military discipline, and they are to be congratulated upon the manner in which they came through the ordeal.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 1, 1917.

The weather was ideally glorious, but favoured a deck chair in a garden rather than a march of 32 miles along dusty roads with a rifle over the shoulder.

On Saturday afternoon the advance party, in charge of Sergt. Kennedy, packed stores and utensils and started off for Longframlington, to which village the main body were to march on the following morning.

On Sunday morning the detachment paraded with rifles in the Castle Square at 8 o’clock under the command of Lieut. Wm. Duncan, and headed by the Pipers of the detachment marched off for Longframlington at 8.30 in high spirits.

The rifles which the men carried have just been received from headquarters and form part of the armament with which it is intended to equip every man in the regiment.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 1, 1917.

The morning was perfect for the march, and the skirl of the pipes at Longhorsley, the first halting place, brought all the villagers to the green, where the men halted awhile. After ten minutes break the march was resumed to Weldon Bridge, where a further short halt was made, after which the detachment went on to Longframlington, where it was to be billeted overnight. Longframlington was reached about 12.30.

The march created healthy appetites for the dinner prepared by Mr E. Thompson, late of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, who had kindly undertaken to act as cook for the detachment, and to whose efforts much of the enjoyment of the whole outing was due.

After dinner “rest awhile” holds good in the Army, and the men were free till 3 o’clock, when again “fall in” was sounded, and the men in sections, under Sergeants Brown, C. Rutherford, and Smiles, proceeded to an adjoining field, kindly placed at the disposal of the detachment by Dr Fenwick, and had a short course of rifle drill and instruction in musketry till time for tea.

After a further rest and brush up the detachment assembled again at 6 o’clock for church parade, and marched to the Parish Church, where the vicar conducted the service and delivered an appropriate address.

The sacred edifice was well filled, and at the conclusion of the service Corporal Alf. Rowe, of the Morpeth Detachment, finely rendered the solos from Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah.’ His rich tenor voice, well known to Morpeth audiences, never was heard to better advantage.

After supper at 9 a short concert was held in the Granby Hall, where the men were billeted, and many of the villagers attended. Mr Bell of the Granby Arms Hotel kindly placed his piano at the service of the detachment, and did much to add to the enjoyment of the visit. At 10.30 “Last Post” was sounded, which signalled the end of a perfect day.

On Monday morning reveille was sounded at 6.30 and “fall in” at 7. The younger element of the detachment had physical drill under Lieut. Duncan, while the remainder of the men went for an hour’s march, returning at 8 fit for breakfast.

At 9.30 the men paraded again, and after inspection were joined by a contingent from Alnwick, under Captain Dickinson, and proceeded to attack Mount Pleasant, which had been seized and was held by a strong force of “Germans.” After a pounding by artillery, the Morpeth men went forward to the attack, supported by the Alnwick detachment. The drill was successfully formed, and those who reached the summit declared that every “German” had been put out of action. The men then returned to their base for rations and rest.

During dinner the Commanding Officer, Major Graham, and Captain Leask, D.L.I., the adjutant of the 5th Battalion, made a short visit of inspection, after which the waggons were loaded and at 2.30 the detachment started on their return journey to Morpeth, which had to be reached by 8.30.

Felton was reached at 4.15, where a break of one hour was made for tea, and the final stage of the journey was started at 5.15, and Morpeth reached at 8.30. The men marched through the town, headed by the pipers, looking extremely fit and well, if, perhaps a little dusty and tired, but none the worse for the long marching except a few blisters here and there.

The marching was at all times excellent, and particularly the last stage from Felton to Morpeth, and the townspeople are to be congratulated in possessing a body of men so full of spirit and energy ready to do their duty when called upon to do so. The outing was well arranged from beginning to end, went without a hitch, and was much enjoyed by both officers and men.

Second-Lieut. C. Grey was detailed for duty as orderly officer on the Sunday and Second-Lieut. T.D. Shaw was orderly officer on Monday; whilst Bugler Ellison, of the Morpeth Boys’ Brigade, acted as bugler.

The officers and men are particularly grateful to the Rev. C.B. Carr, vicar of Longframlington, for having placed the Parish Hall at the disposal of the detachment, and to Mr Bell of the Granby Hotel for the use of the Granby Hall for billets and the adjoining field as a parade ground, and also to Dr Fenwick for use of the field for the camp and drilling.

It is hoped that more men will now join the detachment. There are many men in Morpeth who could do so with very little trouble, and the time taken up in training would be well spent and such would but be doing their duty to themselves and their country.

It must be patent to all that the War Office regard the Volunteers as a very important factor in home defence, and it may be that the time will come when this force will be entirely relied on for home defence. It is, therefore, clearly the duty of every able-bodied man to enrol and get into training without delay.

The men are to be uniformed and completely equipped, and it is expected this will be done at an early date. Certain equipment has already been obtained by the Headquarter Staff of the 5th Battalion, and uniforms are in hand. The highest military authorities in the country wholeheartedly support the volunteer movement and are daily appealing for more men to enrol.

Morpeth men have never failed when duty was to be done, and an urgent appeal is now made for more men to be enrolled. This can be done at the Council Schools any Tuesday or Thursday evening at 7 o’clock, or on Sundays at 10 o’clock. It is not necessary to put in every drill — 14 per month till efficient, and ten afterwards is all that is required.

It is understood that another attempt is to be made to form a detachment at Pegswood, when it is hoped the men will enrol in large numbers.


Sir.— I beg to call attention to the extraordinary hard times we are passing through at the present. I am sure a great many families will be hard pressed to pay for provisions and other articles, and they are likely to advance still further; fully 80 per cent on most articles of food have taken place.

No doubt many wage-earners are having wages advanced to meet the great rise, such as munition workers and Government controlled establishments; but there are many not having anything like wages to cover the huge rise in prices.

I would suggest that we ought to try a “municipal kitchen.” The food could be bought very much cheaper in larger quantities and could be cooked very much better and in a more economic style. Dinners could be supplied at a very cheap rate and carried home. We know the small buyers have to pay outside prices for everything they have to buy. The concern could be run on lines to pay expenses only.

I am of the opinion it would tide over a very critical period of the war, be a great boon for the working classes, and could not be called a charity affair.

If any of the townspeople care to take it up, I shall be glad to supply a building for the duration of the war (rent free) that would require no great expense in putting in order for carrying on the concern.— Yours, etc.




It is not an easy thing to convince mature people of their changed duties and responsibilities in these times of conflict and strife. Much less easy it is to convince the young and thoughtless.

To a boy a stray pigeon appears to be his legitimate quarry, especially if he happens to possess that weapon prized by youngsters — a catapult.

The seriousness of wounding a carrier pigeon in these times was emphasised at Morpeth court on Wednesday, by Mr Shaw, in prosecuting a boy for breaking a pigeon’s wing at Newbiggin. A fine of £1 was imposed, which is light compared with what might have been inflicted under the Defence of the Real Act.

All concerned must mark, learn and digest the fact that pigeons must not be interfered with in these times as they are “doing their bit” in service to the State.


BURGE.— Killed in action, April 29th, 1917, Pte. M. Burge, 1172, N.F., beloved son of John and the late Margaret Burge, late of Amble.— Ever remembered by his loving father, step-mother, brothers, and sister.— 17 Liddell Terrace, Ferney Beds Colliery, Widdrington.

COOPER.— Killed in action, May 29th, aged 27 years, Lieut. W.J. Cooper, 2nd Canadians, dearly beloved husband of Mora Cooper, and son-in-law of Mr and Mrs Geo. Walton, Pegswood.

ELLIOTT.— Killed in action, April 29th, 1917, aged 32, Pte. George Elliott, No. 717, N.F., beloved husband of Minnie Elliott, Vulcan Place, Bedlington.

GRAY.— Killed in action, April 2nd, 1917, Pte. James Gray, No. 35165, aged 26, dearly beloved husband of Jane Gray, of North Seaton Colliery.

HARRISON.— Died May 7th, 1917, from wounds received May 3rd, Sergeant Arthur Harrison, N.F. eldest son of William and Eleanor Harrison, Avenue Head, Seaton Delaval, aged 24; also on September 20th, 1916, from wounds received on 16th September, William, second son, aged 20.

HORN.— Killed in action, May 7th, 1917, aged 20, Pte. William James Horn, 1598, D.L.I., eldest son of Mr and Mrs Horn, of 8 Oswald Terrace, Amble.

THOMPSON.— Missing since July 1st 1916, now presumed dead, aged 26, Pte. John Thompson, No. 1323, N.F. dearly beloved son of Thomas and Elizabeth Thompson, Windsor House, Guide Post, and grandson of Elizabeth and the late John Kidd, blacksmith, Guide Post.

PATTIE.— Killed in action in France, April 28th, 1917, Acting Sergeant J.T. Pattie, eldest son of William and the late Mary Ann Pattie, and step-son of Isabel Pattie.

VICKERSTAFF.— At V.A.D. Hospital, Morpeth, on May 28th, aged 29 years, Pte. F. Vickerstaff, 2/1 Cheshire Yeomanry, of Macclesfield.

WHIPPS.— Died of wounds received in action May 20th, 1917, Gr. J. Whipps, R.G.A., husband of E. Whipps, 30 Gordon Terrace, Stakesford, aged 32. Also Pte. R. Gibson, N.F., step-son of J. Whipps, and only son of E. Whipps, missing since November 14th, 1916, late of South Africa.

YOULL.— In loving memory of Private Isaac Youll, Northumberland Fusiliers, beloved son of Alexander and Elizabeth Youll, North Gate, Morpeth, aged 22 years, killed in Action, April 23rd, 1917.— He gave his life for his King and country.


Pte. Robert A. Holmes, Dinnington Colliery, formerly reported missing, now reported killed.

News has reached Blyth of the death of Second-Lieut. W. Mitchell.

News has been received that Lance-Corporal George Neal, 34347, Yorks and Lancs., of Choppington, has been missing since April 9th, 1917.

Mr and Mrs J.M. Green, Canongate, Alnwick, have received news that their son, Pioneer E.A. Green Royal Engineers, has been killed.

Mr G. Reid, of Forest Hall, has received a telegram from the King and Queen expressing regret at the death of his nephew, Second-Lieutenant Percy Macdonald, D.L.I.

Mr Hewitt, Bilton, Alnmouth Station, has received information that her husband, Driver William Hewitt, died in a casualty clearing station in France on May 4th.

Lance-Corporal J.E. Lynch, son of Mr and Mrs J. Lynch, 12 Low Cross Row, Seaton Burn, notified missing since July 1st, is now presumed killed.

Mr and Mrs Masterman, of Chapel Row, Dudley Colliery, have received news that their nephew, Pte. Matthew Latty Masterman, Somerset Regiment, is reported missing since 22nd April.

Mrs Thompson, Plessey New Houses, Cramlington, received information that her second son Pte. Arthur Sample, 2934, N.F., who was reported missing on Sept. 15th, 1916, is now reported killed.

Mrs Collier, 10 Hyde Terrace, Gosforth, has received notification that her son, Pte. George Collier, Australian Forces, is posted as missing from April 11th.

Information has been received by Mr J. Stevenson, of Bilton Barns that his son, Lance-Corporal J.S. Stevenson, was killed on April 9th. Mr Stevenson had the misfortune to lose his other son in January.

Mr and Mrs Harrison, Avenue Head Farm, Seaton Delaval, have been informed of the death of their eldest son, Sergt. Arthur Harrison, N.F., who died from wounds on May 7th. He enlisted at the beginning of the war at Morpeth, being then engaged by Mr Harris, Ulgham Park. In September, 1916, he received the Card of Honour. He was 24, and is the second son they have lost in the war.

News have been received by Mrs Geo. Hunter, of Co-operative Buildings, Burradon Colliery, that her husband, Private George Hunter, was killed on April 29th.

Lance-Corporal George Edward Summerbell, N.F., Isabella Colliery, killed April 9th.


An inquiry is now being made by the Admiralty Shipyard Labour Department to see how far it is possible to employ miners in Northumberland, who may have odd idle days, in the shipyards and munition factories.

When there is no work for them temporarily at the collieries, it is thought they may be given casual employment in local works of the kind mentioned. It is believed that there might be an opportunity of putting idle days at the pits to good use in the Blyth, Shields, Wallsend, and Elswick district.


Among the troops who specially distinguished themselves in recent fighting are the Northumberland Fusiliers.

They have shown especial genius in rounding up prisoners from isolated shell holes and dug-outs, says Mr W. Beach Thomas, the “Daily Mail” representative at Headquarters, and have scarcely ever failed to reach their objectives in local attacks during the Arras fighting.

I should doubt whether two bodies of men ever admired each other more than the Northumberland Fusiliers, and the Londoners after their co-operation at High Wood last September, and again I heard this week a succession of mutual compliments.

“No one but the X Battalion would have made us such good dug-outs,” said the Northumberlands; and indeed, the dug-outs were as comfortable as a house, and their neighbours whom I visited afterwards, said they always felt that things would go right if the Northumberlands were with them.

After what was done in this way by the men of this regiment in front of the Butte de Warlencourt, near Bapaume, nothing is impossible; but these times are over.