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, 4th March 2017, 10:43 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 2, 1917.

Sir,—Very many readers of your valuable paper will be interested to know that I propose holding on Sunday evening, the 11th inst., at 6pm, a special service in St James’ Church in memory of our Morpeth men who have fallen in the war.

I should feel grateful to the friends and relations of the dead if they would kindly send me the names of the fallen, and if they would inform me or the church wardens if they desire seats to be reserved for them at the service.— Yours, etc.,

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 2, 1917.



The volunteer movement is spreading in Northumberland, and in nearly every town and village detachments have been formed. Morpeth has not been behind in the movement, for this town has had a strong detachment in training for some months past. It is now known as A Company of the 5th Battalion.

To increase the strength of the local company is what is now greatly desired. It is felt by those who from the very commencement interested themselves in the movement, locally, that there is a large number of men in the borough over military age who could join up and thereby equip themselves for any emergency that may arise.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 2, 1917.

We understand that there is going to be a general canvass of all likely men in the town, and by this means it is expected that a large number of additional recruits will be obtained. Considering its population there is no reason why Morpeth should not have a company of at least 250 men.

Excellent facilities are provided for training. The company meets in the Council Schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm, and on Sunday morning at 10.15.

Great interest has been given by the men in the shooting practice provided at the Morris tube range. Platoon Nos. 1 and 3 have been on the range this week. Some excellent results have been obtained, testifying to the care and attention which members have paid to the instruction previously given on the subject of shooting.

Company drill has also been taken up with enthusiasm, the various movements having been well gone through. Last Sunday morning the men had a six-mile route march, which was greatly enjoyed.

Acting Second-Lieut. Chas. Grey is orderly officer this week.

For the week ending March 11th, the following are the orders:— Acting Second-Lieut. T.D. Shaw; next for duty, Acting Second-Lieut. Wm. Duncan; orderly sergeant, Acting-Sergeant Geo. Brown; next for duty, Acting-Sergeant C. Rutherford.

Duties:— Morpeth Detachment; Nos 1 and 3 platoons — Tuesday and Thursday, Company drill; No. 2 Platoon; Tuesday and Thursday, Rifle Range. Sunday — Route march or company drill. Rothbury Detachment — Monday and Wednesday, Platoon drill.


The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presented.

At the last meeting Mr Dormand gave notice that he would move that the Guardians give a grant of £100 towards the Northumberland Volunteer Regiment Fund. When the matter was brought forward he asked leave to withdraw his motion. He explained that after considering the motion further he thought it would be better if the Rural Council could take it up. That would give Ashington, Newbiggin and Bedlington a free hand in the matter. He would bring the question up at the next meeting of the Rural Council.

The Clerk intimated that at the last meeting of the Rural Council the question of investing in the War Loan had been considered. The Council decided to invest £3,000 in the new War Loan, and thought the Guardians would like to have £1,000 of that loan allocated to them.

Mr Hunter moved that the Guardians take up the £1,000 of war stock offered by the Rural Council. He thought it would prove a valuable asset to the Guardians.

The motion was unanimously agreed to.

Mr Craigs submitted the following tenders for confirmation:— Messrs Pickering for provisions and groceries; there was a fair advance in some of the articles. Mr Stoker for butcher meat (no change). Mr Pearson for greengroceries; reduction in potatoes and a slight advance in some of the other items. Mr W. Duncan for bread, and Messrs Oliver for flour.— The above tenders were accepted.


General Pitcairn Campbell, of the North-Western Command at Cherbrook Red Cross Hospital, Nantwich, presented Private A.S. Rolfe, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, with the Military Medal, awarded him for conspicuous bravery on the field.

Private Rolfe, seeing his colonel fall wounded, ran to him, and, lifting him upon his shoulders, was carrying him to the British lines when the colonel sustained a mortal wound. Private Rolfe was himself wounded three times.


In acknowledging receipt of cigarettes, Pte. E. Stevinson, of Morpeth, writing from France, mentions that there was never such a rush for smokes as most of the lads had been short of “baccy” during the last week or two. There being no canteens in the district, buying fags was out of the question.

A supply was also sent to Sergt. T. Lothian (another Morpeth lad), who distributed them among the Morpeth men in the company.

The fresh weather arriving, there also came with it the familiar mud; but the lads were in good health and all joined in thanking the good people of Morpeth who so generously contributed the wherewithal for the fags which greatly helped to keep the boys merry and bright.


A meeting of the Pegswood Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Christmas Parcel Fund was held in the Institute Hall. The balance sheet showed an income to £76 6s 4d, and the expenditure £73 7s 8d.

The 92 soldiers and sailors abroad each received a parcel to the value of 6/-, also a postal order value 4/-, and the 44 soldiers and sailors at home each received a parcel value 9/-. £6 was also handed over to the Mothers’ Union, per Rev. M.F. McBean, for the knitting of socks. After various other items the balance of £2 8s 8d was given to the Mothers’ Union.

The committee wish to thank the Workmen’s Social Club and the Store for their donations. On the motion of Mr James Jackson, seconded by Mr Joseph King, a hearty vote of thanks was given to the chairman, Mr T. Welsh, Mr W. Davison (treasurer), and Messrs J. Bell and T. Miller (joint secretaries).


The lecture to be given by the Rev. J.T. Wardle-Stafford, D.D., in the Wesleyan Church, Morpeth, on Thursday, is sure of a large audience. His subject, “The Overthrow of Germany,” is one that cannot fail to excite widespread interest, while Dr Wardle-Stafford’s rare gifts as an orator always make his lectures a treat.

Full particulars will be found among our advertisements.


Mr Lloyd George delivered, in the House of Commons last Friday, his eagerly awaited statement on the restriction of imports. The following are some of the principal points:—

Reduction in imports of timber by developing home supplies.

Farmers to be persuaded to increase the cultivation of land.

Guarantee of a minimum price for wheat of 60/- per quarter this year. In 1918 and 1919 the price would be 55/-, in 1920 and 1921-1922 45/-. It would then come to an end.

Oats would be 38/6 this year, 32/- in 1918 and 1919, 24/- for the next three years.

Potatoes would be guaranteed for the coming season only at £6 per ton.

A minimum wage of 25/- a week for agricultural labourers.

The landlord not to have the power of increasing rents except with the consent of the Board of Agriculture.

Imports of paper and paper-making material to be reduced to 640,000 tons — half of the present amount imported.

Imports of apples, tomatoes, and certain raw fruit prohibited altogether.

There was a large stock of coffee and cocoa in the country, and the import must therefore be stopped.

In feeding stuffs they hoped to save 900,000 tons a year.

Oranges, bananas and nuts would be restricted 25 per cent; tinned salmon 50 per cent.

Imports of foreign tea, coffee and cocoa would be prohibited, and Indian tea restricted.

Aerated minerals and table waters would be prohibited.

Brewing would be cut down to 10,000,000 barrels per annum, which would effect a saving of 600,000 tons of foodstuffs.

There would be a corresponding restriction on spirits in order not to drive the public taste from beer to spirits.


The committee have to thank Mrs Noble of Castle Square for a very successful tea, which realised £2 4s. Tea next week will be given by Mrs Renwick, Spring Hill. No. 475 won the child’s set, which realised £1 7s, for which we have to thank the kind donor.

Socks are acknowledged with thanks from Mrs Halls and Miss Harbottle; A Friend, 2/6; Mrs Carr and Mrs Pyle Hudson Place 10/-.


Grand Concert in aid of the War Heroes Fund, Thursday, March 22nd, 1917.

Full Particulars Next Week.


Private J.R. Ferrier, 22 Allgood Terrace, Bedlington, was killed in action on July 1st.

Private J.E. Fenwick, 122 Beatrice Street, Hirst, late of Hartford, has been killed in action.

Private G.H. Nixon, 9 West Street, Coxlodge, who had been reported missing, is now reported killed in action on July 1st.

Mrs Hume, of Heworth Village, has been notified that her husband, Private J. Hume, N.F., previously reported as missing, is now reported killed.

Private John Dawson, of Bebside Furnace, reported missing since July 1st, is now reported killed.

Mrs Geo. Wilson, of 7 Sandersons’s Terrace, South Cramlington, has received news that her husband, Lance-Corporal Geo. Wilson, reported as missing since July 1st, has now been killed in action on that date.

Mrs Stephen, of 17 Cross Row, West Cramlington, has received news that her brother, Private A. Bickle, previously reported missing, is now reported as killed in action.

Lance-Corporal Richard Fynes Cropp, N.F., eldest son of Sarah and the late Thos. Cropp, previously reported missing, is now reported as killed in action on July 1st, 1916.

Private J. W. Cunningham, 1 Second Street, Netherton Colliery, was killed in action on July 1st. He had been missing since that date.

Mrs J. Hood, 18 John Street, Earsdon, has received official news that her husband, Sergeant John Hood has been killed in action. He had been missing since July 1st.

Private Joe. Robson, Choppington, late of Wrekenton, who had been reported missing since July 1st, is now reported killed in action.

Private Samuel Jefferson, Seaton Hirst, has been killed in action. He has been missing since July 1st.

Private G.H. Sands, 11 Buteland Terrace, Newbiggin, missing since July 1st, is now reported killed in action.

Private James William Atkinson, 104 Newgate Street, Morpeth, late of Bedlington, who had been reported missing, is now reported killed in action on July 1st.

Private Ambrose Sickle, of 42 Terrace Road, Cramlington, reported wounded and missing since July 7th, is now officially reported to have been killed on that date.

Second-Lieut. Guy Askew James Burdon-Sanderson, Northumberland Fusiliers (died of wounds on February 21st) was younger son of the late Richard Burdon-Sanderson, of Otterburn Dene, Northumberland, and Mrs Burdon-Sanderson, and grand-nephew of the late Professor Sir J.S. Burdon-Sanderson. He was 19 years of age, and has his commission in August, 1916.

Mr and Mrs Joseph Wilkinson, 8 Liddell Terrace, Widdrington, have received word that their son, Corporal John Wilkinson, was killed in action on July 1st. Prior to enlisting he worked at Ferney Beds Colliery.

Mr and Mrs Robt. Robson, Station Road, Cramlington, have received news that their son, A.B. Thos. Todd Robson, R.N.D., has been killed in action.

News has been received that Private Bloomfield, of Sidney Street, son of the late Daniel Bloomfield of Bebside has been killed in action.

Mr James Atkinson, Ninth Row, Ashington, has received notification of the death of his son, Private James Atkinson, R.N.D., who has died of wounds.

Lance-Corporal Edward Wilson, N.F., eldest son of Mr and Mrs Thos. Wilson, 18 Chapel Row, North Seaton Colliery, was killed in action by shell fire on February 18th. Lance-Corporal Wilson was only 20 years of age.

Mrs Saint, of Lee Street, Annitsford, has received a letter from an officer stating that her husband, Lance-Corpl. James Saint, who was recently awarded the Military Medal for heroic bravery on the field, has been killed. Lance-Corpl. Saint prior to enlistment, worked at Seghill Colliery, and the Seghill workmen, on his return, intended making a presentation to him in honour of his bravery.


ATKINSON.— Died of wounds in France, February 13th, 1917, James Atkinson, R.N.D., aged 24 years and 10 months, dearly and only beloved son of James and Isabella Atkinson, 69 Ninth Row, Ashington.— Deeply mourned by his loving father, mother, and sisters.

WILSON.— Killed in action on February 13th, 1917, Lance-Corporal Edward Wilson, dearly beloved son of Thomas and Sarah Jane Wilson, of 13 Chapel Row, North Seaton.

YOUNG.— Killed in action on July 1st, 1916, previously reported missing, Corporal E.J. Young, N.F., dearly beloved husband of Elizabeth Young, 15 Third Street, Netherton Colliery.

ROBSON.— Missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed in action, Private Allan Robson, 841 N.F., aged 25 years, dearly beloved brother of Margaret Lennon, Fourth Row, Choppington.— Deeply mourned by his sisters and brother-in-law, Robert and Maggie Lennon and Hilda and Elsie.

RENWICK.— Died of wounds received in action on 19th February, 1917, Private Joseph Renwick, N.F., aged 31 years, dearly beloved and youngest son of James Goodall Renwick, Stannington.— Ever remembered by his loving father, sisters, brothers, and brother-in-law.

SKIDMORE.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action on July 1st, 1916, Pte. John Skidmore, N.F., dearly beloved husband of Sarah Jane Skidmore, of 210 Sycamore Street, Ashington.— Deeply mourned by his wife and two children.


Men over military age should come and do a work of national service by joining this company at once.

Recruits can be taken at the Council Schools on Tuesdays & Thursdays, at 7pm, Sunday, 10.15am.

Training Commences on Joining.


A long list of names of officers which have been brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable services rendered in connection with the war has been issued. The following attached to Northern regiments, are included:—

Lieut. F.R. Allison, N.F.; Captain (temp. Major) G. Armstrong, N.F.; Lieut-Colonel T.J. Carlile, T.F. Reserve, N.F.; Lieut-Colonel R.M. Edwards, C.M.G., N.F.; Major A.S.G. Cattell, N.F.; Major S.C. Ferguson, Reserve of Officers, late N.F.; Lieut-Colonel A.J. Foster, N.F.; Major (temp. Lieut.-Colonel) B.O. Fyffe, N.F.; Lieut-Colonel J.J. Gillespie, N.F.; Capt. J.Y.T. Greig, N.F.; Temp. Major G. Henderson, Northumberland Yeomanry (T.F.); Lieut. C.R. Jones, N.F.; Major (temp Lieut.-Colonel) H. Luhrs, N.F.; Lieut-Colonel D.R. Macdonald, N.F.; Captain W. McLellan, N.F.; Lieut-Col. P.S. Nicolls, N.F.; Major H.L. Ovans, N.F.; Lieut-Colonel R.J. Roddam, N.F.; Temporary Captain V.B. Rogers, N.F.; Lieut.Colonel C.E. Thornton, N.F.


The Commandant wishes to acknowledge the following gifts with thanks:— Fresh eggs, Mrs Patrgle, Tritlington, and Mrs Oliver, Bowmer Bank; cakes, Hon. Mrs Joicey, Mrs J. Simpson, Miss Bruce; eggs and leeks, Mrs Rayne; tea, sugar, jam, marmalade, and cigarettes, Mrs Carr and Mrs Pyle.

Dr Philip has kindly consented to hold a course of lectures on home nursing in order to qualify nurses to work in the hospital. The Commandant hopes there will be a good response, as more nurses are urgently required. Mrs Philip will receive the names of those wishing to attend the classes.