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.

Sunday, 26th March 2017, 3:11 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: News and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, March 23, 1917.

The Recruiting Officer (Address, Recruiting Office, 5 Market Place, Morpeth), asks for information regarding the following men, as to whether they:—

(a) Have joined the Army.

HERALD WAR REPORT: News and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, March 23, 1917.

(b) Are excepted from the provisions of the Military Service Acts, 1918.

(c) Are in possession of a definite Certificate or Badge exempting them from liability for Military Service.

(d) Are in a Certified Occupation.

(e) Have removed to another district.

HERALD WAR REPORT: News and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, March 23, 1917.

The above information is required to complete records in recruiting offices, and any communication will be treated in strict confidence.

Roberts, H.J., age 21, Boughton, Worcester; Wyatt, A.W., age 18, Copenhagen Street, Worcester.

Bartram, Chas., George and Dragon Yard, Morpeth, Gas Stoker; Scott, Wm. Edward, 10 Katherine Street, Ashington; Edwards, G. Thos., Red Row, Ashington; Henry, Wm., 34 Milburn Road, Ashington; Roberts, Harold, Front Row, Cambo, Morpeth; Lyons, Geo. Spital Hill, Morpeth, Labourer or Tramp; Richardson, Peter, Monkseaton Terrace, Ashington, Miner; Charlton, Robin; Young, C., 327 Titchfield Terrace, Pegswood, Miner; Reilly, Patrick, Longhirst Brocks, Farm Labourer; Hamilton, John, 20 Newbiggin Road, Ashington; Brandon, Charles, 41 Hawthorn Road, Ashington; Gilmour, W.G., 52 Pont Street, Ashington; Tees, M. Wm, Ralphsfield, Morpeth; Douglas, Robert, Badged N.A.T. (Appeal); Stephenson, W.P.; Thorburn, Thos.; Newton, Wm., Ritton White House, Ewesley, Morpeth, Labourer; Campbell, L., Cresswell Hall, Morpeth, Chauffeur (private service).


A special meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held last night. The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) presided.

The Clerk read the following letter, which he had received from the High Sheriff of Northumberland, Mr R.G.E. Mortimer:— “I beg to acknowledge, with many thanks, the receipt of a cheque for 50 guineas, being the Corporation of Morpeth’s subscription towards the Northumberland Volunteer Force.

“Please express to the members of the Corporation my appreciation of the cheque, not only from its monetary point of view, but as showing that they realise and value the amount of time, work, and money the volunteers of the county have put in and are putting in to make themselves efficient to defend this county if ever the occasion arose. With many thanks, Mr Town Clerk, for your personal support.”

A letter was received from the National War Savings Committee stating that the co-operation of the civic authorities was so successful in the War Loan that the Ministry of Food had asked them to undertake a similar campaign with the object of reducing the consumption of food throughout the country.

The campaign would fall broadly under two heads on which further suggestions would be sent when they received the Council’s assent to their proposal. They were (1) an inquiry into local food problems and conditions so as to discover the best methods to be adopted to reduce food consumption without detriment to health and efficiency; (2) an educational campaign to convince all classes of the paramount necessity for such reduction, and to promulgate methods of accomplishing it. A financial grant would be available very much on the lines of the War Loan campaign.

The chairman of the National Committee trusted that they might rely on the Council’s valuable support and co-operation in the campaign.

The Council agreed to give their support.

A letter was received from Lady Carson asking the Council to organise a flag day on behalf of the British and Foreign Sailors’ Association on June 1st. The arrangements were left in the hands of Councillor Swinney.

A communication was read, signed by Mr A. Bonar Law, expressing his thanks for the splendid work done in connection with the War Loan. He trusted that the stimulus which has been given by the War Loan campaign to the War Savings movement would continue to bear fruit and that every effort would be made to maintain local organisations in a state of vigorous efficiency so as to secure the largest possible contributions from every class to the national cause.


Writing from “Somewhere in France” to the hon. treasurer of the above Fund (Mrs Stevinson, Newgate Street), a Morpeth soldier, Private W.B. Stoker, gratefully acknowledges the receipt of what he describes as “a grand box of fags.”

Evidently they came in handy, for the gallant lad had done without a “pull” all that day, and couldn’t get to the canteen to buy the pleasing whiff, as Fritz was busily engaged in shelling the village wherein the canteen was situated. The expression on the faces of his pals when handing the smokes around, especially when told they were “blightey” fags, was good to see.

Concluding, this Morpeth lad states that the German was getting no rest now, and indications seem to point that the war will not last much longer.

Another of the local lads, in acknowledging the welcome packet, mentions that the word “acceptable” does not convey the meaning sufficient to indicate how highly the smokes are appreciated by the boys.

A parcel had been sent to Sergt. T. Lothian, who handed them around to the men of this company. The boys were in good health and wishing for the fine weather to be with them again.


Speaking at Cresswell, the Duke of Portland said he welcomed the food restrictions so far as they applied to the people of his own class, many of whom paid too much attention to the quantity and quality of their food. They must share in the restrictions and privations. He was practising what he preached, and had reduced the services in his house and on his estate to a minimum. His eldest son was a soldier, and his family and household were on war rations.

The gardens at Welbeck were being changed that they would produce more human food, and this was being done by many other owners of pleasure grounds.


It is very commendable indeed to witness the zeal that is being displayed by our amateur horticulturists, locally, with the view of increasing the food supply of the country. All over the county there has been a big demand for allotments, and the demand has been well met by local authorities making full use of the powers invested in them under the Land Cultivation Order.

In the Borough of Morpeth all the applicants for gardens have been provided for. Thorpe’s field has now been pegged out into 83 plots, and in accordance with instructions from the Morpeth Town Council, a week past Tuesday, Ald. Ed. Norman and Councillor R.N. Swinney on the following Thursday met and settled the question of drawing for plots. Mr J. Dumble represented the workmen at the ballot. It is interesting to note that all these additional plots have been taken up.

On Saturday afternoon there was a formal opening ceremony by the Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple), who was accompanied by Ald. E. Norman, Councillors R.N. Swinney, and Geo. Jackson. The majority of the holders were present.

The Mayor, with his practical experience as a market gardener, went round the various plots and tendered useful advice to the holders, which was naturally much appreciated. He also took up the spade and gave practical demonstrations how best to remove the turf.

To the most casual observer it must be apparent that Morpeth is going to do its share in vegetable production. A visit to Thorpe’s field allotments on Sunday would no doubt have occasioned no small surprise, but what was being done was a welcome innovation in these times and in keeping with the request of the Food Controller.

There, most of the holders were busily engaged in taking off the turf, and preparing the soil, showing that they realise there is not a moment to be lost.

The ladies, too, are not to be denied, for on Monday morning and evening the fair sex were engaged in the strenuous work of handling the spade. Among the visitors on Sunday was the Rector of Morpeth.

It is also worth noting the good feeling that exists among the amateur gardeners. Here is a sample of it. As one of the allotment holders is shortly to be called up, a few of his friends got together, to the number of half a dozen, and gave him a useful digging day, and have also decided to plant his seed potatoes and look after his plot while on service.

It is said that one of the holders was so enthusiastic over his work that he had dug up a part of his neighbour’s plot before he found out his mistake. Surely not a case of trespass, but good work done gratuitously.


The Executive Committee of the Northumberland Miners’ Committee have had before them a request by the Home Office, forwarded to the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain, that the practice be abandoned of laying the pit idle when a fatal accident occurs in a mine.

The Committee resolved that it could not depart from the present custom, which, they consider, is deep in the nature and sentiment of the miners of the county, not to go down the mine on the day that a dead body is brought out of it.


Sir,— The National Service commissioner particularly requests those responsible for the organisation of the above movement to lay before the people through the medium of the local Press the objects sought to be obtained by the introduction of voluntary labour.

These are principally — the desirability of co-ordinating the supplies of labour available and directing such into the most appropriate channels for the national welfare.

It must be obvious that at such a time as this, and the crisis in our production capacity as a nation occasioned through the necessary withdrawal of large bodies of men for the fighting forces, many essential industries are paralysed for want of labour. Especially is this so in our food producing areas.

A body of canvassers will wait upon you during the course of the next few days for the purpose of recruiting for national service, and it is hoped that Morpeth, which has done well in providing soldiers for the Front, as well as in the various methods of relieving distress, will respond to this further and not less important appeal to its resources.

The committee will also endeavour to arrange for public meetings and addresses by prominent speakers, who will further explain details, etc.— Yours, etc.,



Recently a bazaar was held by the people and children of Ponteland in order to provide a spinal chair and two self-propelling chairs for the wounded at the Northumberland War Hospital, Gosforth.

The bazaar was organised by Miss Eva Green and Miss Mollie Laws, and was held in Smith’s Assembly Rooms, kindly lent by Mrs Smith. The opening was presided over by Mr and Mrs C.F. Hunter of Smallburn, and among the children who lent their aid as stallholders were Misses May Green, Queenie Collins, Alice Murray, and Carmen Green of Ponteland; Miss May Wheatley of Gosforth, and Miss Cissie Tait, of Wallsend.

A tea was provided, and at this Mrs Murray, Mrs Collins, Mrs Laws and Miss H. Laws of Ponteland, and Mrs Wheatley of Gosforth assisted. In the evening, at the conclusion of the bazaar, sketches were given by Miss Simpson and the children of the Cottage Homes.

The bazaar was a great success, the total amount received being £36 8d 6d. Later the spinal chair was presented to Ward 26 by Miss Mollie Laws and Miss Eva Green, and was received by Major Laws and the staff of Ward 26. The two self-propelling chairs were presented to Wards 3 and 5, and were received by the matrons of the wards.

Afterwards a tea was provided by the donors of the chairs. Fruit, cigarettes, and vegetables were handed round, and an enjoyable afternoon was spent. The children and ladies who took part in the bazaar were present on both occasions and the children were arrayed in fancy dress to represent the Allies. Two pneumonia jackets and walking sticks were also presented to Wards 3 and 5.


The King has sanctioned the formation of the 5th Battalion of the Northumberland Volunteer Regiment, the area of whose operations extend from the Wansbeck to the Tweed, with headquarters at Alnwick.

A good many recruits have been enrolled in the Headquarters Company, and the men are taking much interest in their drills. Their instructors are Regimental-Sergeant Walton and four sergeants of the Northern Cyclists Battalion, who have given their services.

Major Graham is the officer in command of the battalion, and Captain R. Neville, who has recently returned from the battlefields in France on sick leave, is temporarily doing duty as acting-adjutant, his offices being at the Drill Hall in Fenkle Street.

It has been arranged to hold a class for giving instruction to men ready to undertake the duties of non-commissioned officers.


In order to meet the present urgent demand for men, the War Office recruiting authorities have decided to re-open the voluntary system of enlistment as regards miners only.

It is hoped and expected that a ready response will be made by the miners of Northumberland and more especially by the younger men.

In the early days of the war the miners were foremost in their applications to enlist, and they have since bravely borne the brunt of the hardships and losses experienced by our Army.

The end seems to be within sight, and now is the time for a strenuous effort on the part of all to bring about a successful and triumphant termination.

A man can be posted to any infantry regiment he desires provided vacancies exist. There are also a few vacancies in the R.F.A. Only those passed fit for general service can be accepted.

Men willing to join should apply to the nearest recruiting offices, which are situated as under:— Amble, Alnwick, Hexham, Blyth, Ashington, Bedlington, North Shields, Morpeth, and Newcastle-on-Tyne (Barracks).

E.W. DASHWOOD, Colonel.

Commanding 4th Recruiting Area.

Newcastle-on-Tyne, March 20th, 1917.


In connection with the recent Memorial Service held at St James’ Church, Morpeth, we published a list of the local men who have fallen in action.

The name of Private Edward Hedley O’Brien should be submitted in place of Private Ed. O. Burn, in the Roll of Honour.


The 29th annual meeting of the Morpeth Conservative and Unionist Club was held in the billiard room of Collingwood House, Oldgate, on Wednesday evening. Mr J.J, James, the vice-chairman, occupied the chair in the absence of Lieut. W.S. Sanderson, who is on active service. There were about 40 members present.

Mr R Arrowsmith read the annual report, which was as follows:— “I congratulate you upon having another very successful year, in fact, I may say the most successful year in the history of the club.

“The majority of you are fully aware that there has been a few changes in the management of the club during the past twelve months. Our worthy chairman, Councillor Sanderson, is still on active service, and consequently has not been able to occupy the chair at any of our meetings. However, that position has been very able filled by your vice-chairman, Mr J.J. James, who has conducted the business of the club in a most worthy and capable manner.

“Your honorary secretary, Mr T.E. Dodds, was compelled to leave us through being compelled to take up work of national importance and your committee thought fit to appoint Mr John Embleton to act in the capacity of honorary secretary pro. tem.

“Your secretary also, Mr Jas. Stafford, was called to the Colours during the latter part of the year, and Mr Hutchinson and myself were appointed to carry out the duties of secretaries pro. tem.

“Upwards of 70 of our members have been called up.”


Morpeth possesses two really useful institutions for our soldiers — the Soldiers’ Institute and the Y.M.C.A. Rooms. Both these institutions for over two years now have played a very important part in the entertainment of the soldiers who have from time to time been stationed in the town and neighbourhood.

It is evident from the large attendance daily at both places that the men continue to appreciate the efforts made on their behalf for their comfort and amusement. They are both run on popular lines, and nothing is wanting in these ‘Homes of Welcome.’

Writing material is provided free, and full facilities are afforded soldiers for conducting correspondence or otherwise spending an intellectual hour. Refreshments are also supplied at moderate charges.

Great praise is due to the ladies and gentleman who have the welfare of both institutions at heart.


Under the auspices of the Northern Command Committee of the North-Eastern Cross Country Association, a military run took place over a three-and-a-half miles course at Widdrington on Saturday afternoon. There was a field of 100 competitors, representing a fine body of athletes attached to the various military units stationed in the neighbourhood.

Brigadier-General M.O. Little, C.B., acted as starter, and there were also present Col. St. Oswald, Lieut-Col. A.J. Collis, Lieut.-Col. G.C.B. Weld Forester, Lieut.-Col. Verdin, Major C.T. Dugdale, Capt. D. Clifton Brown, Capt. E. Caldwell Cook, and Capt. Hughes.

Headquarters were provided by Mrs Laing at the Widdrington Hotel, and the local farmers generously granted the use of their fields for the occasion.

Capt. G.W.E. Hammer acted as the local secretary, and was able supported by Major Onslow, Capt. G.M. Cowie, Lieut. A.D. Hanmer, Second-Lieut. Sturrock, whilst the Cross Country Association was officially represented by Messrs W.T. Rainbow, G.M. Todd, J. Farriers, W.J. Sloan, R.T. Waters, and C.S. Crichton.

The competitors were entertained for tea in the Church School.


Private Thos. Halliman, Annitsford, late of Chirton, has been killed in action.

Private Dennis Prior, of Cramlington, missing since July 1st, is now reported killed in action.

Private E. Angus, Dinnington Colliery, who had been missing since July 1st, is now reported killed in action.

Mrs Angus, 41 Station Terrace, Cramlington, has received information that he husband, Pte. Enward Angus, previously notified missing since July 30th, is now presumed dead. Previous to joining the Colours, Private Angus was employed at the Lamb Pit, Cramlington.

Lance-Sergeant J.W. Gray, whose wife resides in Woodbine Terrace, Blyth, is now officially reported killed in action on July 1st, after being missing since that date.


APPLEBY.— Killed in action, previously reported missing, Pte. H. Appleby (23/591), T.S., aged 38 years, beloved husband of Sarah Ellen Appleby, 239 Yard Row, Netherton.

GOODWILL.— Killed in action, July 1st, 1916, previously reported missing, Private Jos. Goodwill (20/1050), T.S., aged 35 years, beloved husband of Isabella Goodwill, 251 Yard Row, Netherton.

HALL.— Missing since 1st July, 1916, now reported dead (officially), Private William Hall, aged 24 years, beloved and second son of John and E.A. Hall, 82 South Row, West Sleekburn, formerly of Guide Post.

McKENZIE.— Killed in action, July 1st, 1916, previously reported missing, Private M. McKenzir (23/636), T.S., aged 33 years, beloved husband of Rosie McKenzie, 251 Yard Row, Netherton.

OSBORNE.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed, July 1st, 1916, Private Archibald Osborne (196), N.F., aged 37 years, beloved husband of Elizabeth Osborne, 7 Middle Row, Stakeford.

STEWART.— Missing since 1st July, 1916, now reported killed in action, Private Jospeh Stewart, beloved husband of Jane Stewart, of Tankerville Yard, Bedlington.

WIDDRINGTON.— Killed in action, Feb. 20th, 1917, Private R. Widdrington (9th Yorks), aged 40 years.

WAITE.— Killed in action. Previously missing, now reported killed, on August 18th, 1916, Private William Waite, M.F., aged 24 years, the dearly beloved husband of Jane Isabel Waite, of East Sleekburn.


Last Sunday morning, Major Graham, the officer commanding the 5th Battalion, paid a visit to headquarters at Morpeth, and addressed a few words to the men on parade. He referred to the volunteer movement in the county generally. He asked for the co-operation of every man in the regiment at this time. He appealed to every man in the company to do his utmost to get recruits to bring the Morpeth Company up to full strength.

Afterwards the men, in command of Acting Second-Lieut. Duncan, marched to the Common, where the three platoons were put through a series of interesting movements. The men were also instructed in the judging of distances, an important feature in the training of soldiers nowadays.

This week the attendances at parade have been satisfactory. Platoons 2 and 3 have been engaged in company drill, and Platoon 1 has been receiving further practice on the Morris tube range. Acting Second-Lieut. Grey is orderly officer this week.

On Wednesday evening there was an interesting shooting competition on the range between teams from the three platoons.

For the week ending April 1st, the orders are:— Orderly Officer, Acting Second-Lieut. T.D. Shaw. Next for duty, Acting Second-Lieut. Wm. Duncan. Orderly Sergeant, Sergt. Geo. Brown. Next for duty, Sergt. C. Rutherford.

Duties:— Morpeth Detachment — Nos. 1 and 3 Platoons; Tuesday and Thursday, company drill. No. 2 Platoon: Tuesday and Thursday: Rifle range. Sunday, April 1st, Route march or company drill.

Rothbury.— Monday and Wednesday at 7pm.