In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1916, 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, 20th November 2016, 08:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 15:50 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, November 17, 1916.

Mr Adamson, Station Cottages, Morpeth, has just received a letter from his son, Pte. M. Adamson, N.F. (at present in a convalescent hospital in France suffering from shell shock), giving some details of his experiences at the front in France.

On the 4th August, Private Adamson and a comrade were sent to cover some men doing repairs to the wire entanglements between their trenches and those of the Germans. While doing the repairs the German artillery started a very violent bombardment of the British trenches, cutting the two soldiers off, a number of the shells exploding where Adamson and his comrade were working.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, November 17, 1916.

The latter was killed and the former buried in a shell hole. The bombardment continued for several days. Adamson managed to extricate himself from the shell hole, but only to be buried again by the shells falling on each side of him. He was buried no less than five times.

After suffering seven days of extreme agony, without food and water, and shells bursting round about him, his company officer and a sergeant, searching between the lines, came across Adamson, whom they had given up as dead, in a very exhausted condition. They ministered restoratives to him, and had him conveyed to the base hospital.

On recovering a little, he was sent to a convalescent hospital to be treated for shell shock.

He is now progressing favourably, and expects to come to Morpeth soon for a short furlough.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, November 17, 1916.


Private George Richard Williamson, Northumberland Fusiliers, who was awarded the Military Medal for exceptional bravery on July 7th, is expected home from hospital in the early part of next week. Private Williamson’s home is at 4 Hamilton Terrace, Morpeth.

The circumstances which won for him the medal are as follows: During the attack made by his battalion on the enemy’s line he displayed exceptional courage and devotion to duty in attending to wounded men under intense machine gun and rifle fire.

He also received a card stating “The G.O.C. congratulates you on being awarded the Military Medal.”

The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) has been asked to pin on the medal, and arrangements will be made to hold the ceremony in the Playhouse during the coming week.


Sir,— May I make an appeal in your widely circulated paper on behalf of the above Working Party? We have sewn and knitted for more than two years, and this is the first special appeal for funds it has been necessary to make.

We have plenty of willing workers, but the cost of materials (mostly flannel and wool) is so great that unless some financial aid is given we shall be most reluctantly compelled to curtail our output. But I am sure your readers will not allow as to diminish in any way the gifts to the terribly tried men coming out of the rain-soddened trenches of France, Belgium, and the East.

The executive are constantly receiving letters and messages of thanks from the front saying how highly the men prize the comfort of Morpeth shirts and socks. All donations sent to me will be gratefully received and acknowledged.— Yours, etc.


Hon. Treasurer.

Wellbank, Morpeth


The Secretary of the Morpeth War Sewing Meeting has received the following communication from William Stewart, R.F.A., “Somewhere in France:—

”It gives me very great pleasure to acknowledge receipt of your parcel of socks. They came just at the right time when I needed them. Please accept my sincere thanks.

“You might also give my thanks to all those who devote their valuable time and assistance to the sewing meeting in the dear old town.”


The Soldiers’ Institute, which is situated in Bell’s Yard, off Bridge Street, Morpeth, is indeed an excellent institution, and for the past two years it has served a really good purpose in adding to the comfort and enjoyment of the soldiers who have been stationed in the town and neighbourhood.

There entertainments are provided for the soldiers, refreshments supplied at a moderate cost, and writing materials supplied free.

Of course, the Institute cannot be carried on without funds, and many kind friends have given a helping hand.

In order to raise much-needed funds, what is described as a “White Elephant” sale is to be held in the Institute buildings on Saturday, November 25th, and it is of interest to note that Lady Armstrong will perform the opening ceremony at two o’clock in the afternoon.

The charge for admission is sixpence, after five o’clock threepence, soldiers free.

Music and other attractions usually associated with sales of work will be provided.

We are asked to state that the ladies and gentlemen who have kindly promised goods to send them to the Mission Room, Manchester Street, from November 20th to 23rd, inclusive, where they will be received by ladies of the committee from 2pm to 5pm. Any large articles or bulky parcels will be called for if the secretary is notified.

Refreshments should be sent to the Soldiers’ Institute on the day of the sale at 10am.


November 25Th, 1916.


In famed Morpeth toon, not far from the Tyne,

They hev a greet Institute bonny and fine;

It’s a home fur the sowljers, when deun with their wark,

Where they write aal their letters, and hev a bit talk.


In the bonny bit Institute,

The handsome wee Institute,

The bonniest Institute ever was seen.

They forget fur a moment the drill-sergeant’s shoot—

Form fours, as you were, left turn, right aboot,

One, two, three, and four, slop arms, stand at ease—

When they are permitted to laugh and to sneeze.

Chorus:— In the bonny bit Institute, etc.

They hev gramophones, newspapers, pianos and smokes,

“Daily Mails,” “Comic Cuts,” with its quips and its jokes,

Magazines of aal kinds they will find by the score,

So what can the sowljer lads wish to hev more?

Chorus:— In the bonny bit Institute, etc.

There is coffee and tea and slices of ham,

Currant cakes and nice tarts, runing over wi’ jam;

The ladies they serve at the counter each night,

And aal do their best to look happy and bright.

Chorus:—In the bonny bit Institute, etc.

To keep the place gannin, some money we need,

And that’s why with friends of the sowljers I plead.

They surely won’t let the Institute fail?

So send us some things for the “Elephant Sale.”

Chorus:— In the bonny bit Institute, etc.

A “White Elephant Sale” we’ve decided to hold,

Where aal sorts of things may be sent to be sold.

If you’ve not got an elephant send us a cow,

And if you’ve not that, why, then, send a bow-wow!

Chorus:— To the bonny bit Institute, etc.

I feel sortin the folks of wor canny aad toon

Will aal dee their best our great efforts to croon,

To cheer up the sowljers, who risk limbs and lives,

In fighting fur mothers, homes, sweethearts, and wives.

Chorus:— Help the greet Institute, etc.



This fund was organised in October, 1914, by Mrs Moore, the wife of Brigadier-General Moore of Longhirst, and a small committee of ladies for the benefit of the men of the A.V.C. on active service with British Expeditionary Forces.

Since its inauguration the fund has supplied large quantities of woollen garments — mufflers, socks, mittens, gloves, belts, vests, pants, mackintosh coats, sou’westers etc., also large quantities of stationery, magazines, books, games, etc., for use in recreation huts and the large veterinary camps, and weekly a parcel of papers, magazines, etc., to each A.V.C. unit.

These have been vastly appreciated by the men on active service, who in many cases are in isolated places and find it impossible to purchase any papers or little toilet articles locally. The fund also supplies A.V.C. units in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Salonika, and the Balkans.

At present the demand for warm comforts, especially vests, pants, mufflers, gloves, sock and mitts, is very great, and as supplies of gifts of knitted garments are falling off this season, Mrs Moore especially appeals for subscriptions so that articles may be purchased and despatched with all urgency to supply the numerous requests she is receiving from officers of the garments most needed by their men.

A flag day in aid of the above will be held in Morpeth to-morrow (Saturday) under the patronage of the Mayor and Mayoress of Morpeth.


Private F. Arkle, Earsdon, has been killed in action.

Private G.R. Joisce, West End, Bedlington, has been killed in action.

Lance-Corpl. J. Thompson, 25, Allotment, has been killed in action.

Private J.A. Moody, Seaton Delaval, who has been missing since August, 1915, is now reported killed.

Private James Cook, of Bebside, previously reported missing, is now reported to have been killed in action on July 1st.

Private John Godsmark, Bomarsund, has been killed in action. He was reported missing on July 1st.

Private George Thompson, late of Annitsford, who has been reported as missing for a considerable time, is now officially reported killed.

Lance Corporal J. Harris, Gateshead, late of Dinnington Colliery, who was reported missing on July 1st, is now reported killed in action.

Mrs Coulson, 6, Delaval Road, Forest Hall, has received word that her husband, Private W. Coulson, previously reported missing was killed in action on July 1st.

Lance-Corpl. W. Dixon, of Dovecot, Old Hartley, who was a Military Medallist, was killed in action on July 1st. Before the war he worked as a miner at Hartley Pit.

Private Robert John Miller, N.F., is reported to have been killed in action on October 12th. He was the eldest son of William and Belle Ann Miller, Rock Moor House, Alnwick.

Mrs Thompson, of Plessey Farm, Cramlington, late of Morpeth, has received official information that her second son, Private Arthur Sample (No. 2934), N.F., previously reported wounded, is now reported wounded and missing since 15th Sept.

Private William Jacobs, N.F., Cowpen Square, made the supreme sacrifice on the first day of the Big Push. He had first been reported missing, but it is now officially notified that he was killed.

It is two years since he enlisted, when he was just 18 years of age, and previously he worked in the pit.

The relatives of Private Thomas Wilson, of West Thirston, Felton, who has been missing since 15th September last, have received unofficial news of his having been killed.

A memorial service was held in the Parish Church, Felton, for Private Wilson, as well as for others who have fallen in the war.

Official news has been received by Mrs Simm, 24, Allgood Terrace, Bedlington, that her brother, Corporal John Bowman, R.F.A., died from wounds on October 12th. He was a son of the late Mr Thomas Bowman, formerly of Morpeth.

Before being called up, the deceased was employed by the Bedlington Coal Company. He was wounded at Sossions in Sept. 1914.

Mrs W. Doney, of 3 Corving Road, East Cramlington, has received official word from the War Office that her husband, Private Wm. Doney, N.F., who was reported missing on 1st July, is now reported killed.

Private Doney was amongst the first batch of recruits at the Cramlington Recruiting offices to enlist in the N.F., in Oct., 1914.

He worked as a miner in the “Ann” Pit, Cramlington, and was deeply respected by his fellow-workmen.

Private Wm. Wood, West Sleekburn, is reported killed in action.

Sergt. Alex. Jeffrey, Bedlington, has been killed in action.

Private W. Redford Pattison, Cambois, is reported killed in action.


FAWDON.— Missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed, Private George Robert Fawdon (Tyneside Scottish), of Morpeth. The face we loved is now laid low, The fond, true heart is still; The hand we clasped when saying good-bye, Lies now in death’s cold chill. His pleasant face and kindly ways, Are pleasant to recall, He had a kindly word for each, And died beloved of all.— (Ever remembered by his loving wife and family, and all who knew him.)

HALE.— In loving memory of Alexander Hale, the beloved son of Joseph and Mary Hale, of 20 Doctor Terrace, Bedlington, who was killed in action, on July 1st, 1916.— (Ever remembered by his loving father, mother, brothers and sisters,)

JOISCE.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action on July 1st, 1916, Private George R. Joisce, N.F., dearly beloved husband of Ethel and eldest son of John and Hannah Joisce, of West End, Bedlington.— (Deeply mourned by his wife and family.)

McGREGOR.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action on July 1st, 1916, Private F.A. McGregor, Tyneside Scottish, of Pegswood.— (Deeply mourned by his loving wife and family.)

MAVIN.— Killed in action, July 1st, 1916, Private Anty Mavin (595, N.F.), the dearly beloved husband of Maggie Mavin, of 16 Old Colliery Row, Bedlington— (Sadly missed and deeply mourned by his sorrowing wife and 3 children.) Also my brother, Private James Gray, died of wounds, July 2nd. (Ever remembered by his sister Maggie, and children.)

TELFORD.— Died of wounds in France, October 31st, 1916, Private Thomas Telford, aged 29 years, son of Margaret and the late William Telford, of this town. Deeply mourned. He lies in a far-off grave, A grave we cannot see; As long as life and memory lasts, We will remember thee.

TURNER.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed, July 1st, 1916, Private James Turner (No, 1163, N.F.), aged 30 years, second son of Christina Turner and the late John Turner, of 2 Ellesmere Gardens, Stakeford.— (Ever remembered by his sorrowing mother, sister and brothers (somewhere in France), sisters-in-law, uncles and aunts.)

JACKSON.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed, on July 1st, 1916, Sergt. George Jackson (810, N.F.) (formerly of the late Durham County Constabulary), the dearly beloved husband of Margaret C. Jackson, of 41 Victoria Terrace, Bedlington Station; and son of James and the late Isabella Jackson, and son-in-law of William and Mary Philipson, of Barrington.— (Deeply mourned by his loving wife and little daughter, Molly.)


On Sunday morning last Lieut-General Sir E.C. Bethune inspected a good muster of the Volunteer Forces, which paraded under County Commandant Baker, on the Town Moor.

The beautiful weather attracted a large gathering of spectators, and the interest in the proceedings was added to by the manoeuvres of one of the battle planes which form part of the city’s defences to aircraft attack. About 2,000 men paraded, and created an excellent impression both by their appearance and also by the smartness of their marching and parading.

Among those present on the Moor during the inspection were the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Scarborough, Lieut-General H.M. Lawson, Major-General R.A.K. Montgomery, Brigadier-Generals Kelly, English, Westmacott, Little, and Wallerstein, as well as Admiral Alban Tate.

A drum-head service was conducted on the field by the Rev. W. Moule (vicar of Benwell), after which Lieut-General Bethune addressed the men from the saluting base.

He said that the Volunteers must not be disappointed at not yet having received equipment and arms. The Government had first to attend to the more important work of equipping the forces for service abroad. When the new scheme came into operation the men who had agreed to serve for the duration of the war and had put in a definite number of drills, would be the first to be equipped and armed.

He complimented the men on their appearance, and wished the movement greater success still in the norther county.

After the speech the men “marched past,” and left the Moor.

The Morpeth Detachment of the 1st Battalion Volunteer Regiment made a brave show at the inspection on the Town Moor. The number on parade was 104, the men being in command of Mr Wm. Duncan, the officer in charge.

It is interesting to note that a compliment was paid to one of Morpeth’s instructors, Mr Hoey. By request, he acted as Regimental Sergt.-Major of the Second Battalion at the inspection.

Captain Moncrieff expressed to the officer commanding the Morpeth Detachment his great admiration of the men’s excellent bearing on the occasion of General Bethune’s visit. He also expressed his appreciation of the manner in which the men had performed their drill, and on their readiness and general smartness on the parade ground.

A public meeting in connection with the organisation was held on Monday night in the Town Hall, Newcastle. The Lord Mayor (Mr Geo. Lunn) presided over a very large attendance.

The Chairman said the meeting had been called by resolution of the Council in order to stimulate recruiting of the new voluntary force.

His lordship paid a high tribute to the various military organisations which had already taken part in the war. They were there, he added, to ask for another army of volunteers for home defence. They did not want men of military age or men who ought to be in the army.

He hoped that Government recognition would take shape in substantial support. They were very anxious to know what the Government was going to do for this movement.

Lieut.-General Sir Edward Bethune, who was heartily applauded, said there appeared to be certain misconceptions about the treatment of the volunteer force. At the commencement of the war the minds of the Army Council and others were concentrated upon getting and preparing men for the immediate need. They they had to get arms and munitions, and during this time of stress and trouble, the volunteer movement started entirely spontaneously.

Time went on, and at last official recognition was given to the V.T.C. They were told that, at their own expense, in their own time, and with their own machinery, they were perfectly welcome to make a national army. But the Government could not help them, being too busy.

The menace of invasion became less, and more troops were sent abroad, and the authorities began to find that the Volunteer force was going to be a very useful force for home defence. He was put at the head of the Volunteer movement last July, and in the meantime they had been trying to make regulations whereby they could get the fullest value and use out of the Volunteers.

But, if the Government made them really efficient, the Government must ask them to do a little bit more. If they did that, the Government were bound to do something for them.

The desire was to make them what the Territorial Force was when it started from the old Volunteer Force. But the Government must have some tangible guarantee that the men would keep their promise. If they were going to play the serious business of war they could not have too many guarantees. The Government, therefore was going to ask for a guarantee that men would serve until the end of the war.

This volunteer question was a very difficult one, because when they came to think of it, a volunteer in Newcastle or anywhere on the East Coast was worth two or three on the West Coast of England, in the south of England, or even the Midland Counties.

The Volunteer Force had been working hard, but the Army Council could not quite see how they were going to be used in the state in which they were. What they had done in the past had not been due to any inherent unwillingness of the War Office, but to the mere course of events. It was not a snub that the Government has not done more. They had to take the men that they most needed.

The Government asked them to perform a certain number of drills — ten per month, of one hour each for the first two months, or until a man was efficient, and to keep up his knowledge by doing as many drills as were considered necessary. These would not be more than they were able to perform.

It was hoped to make the conditions such as would be not only agreeable and acceptable, but possible. Twenty drills per month would be called for from recruits, or until they had passed the test, which they could do at any time. They they would do ten drills per month. They must pass a medical examination equivalent to C1, which meant that they must be able to do five miles with a pack of 43lbs.

If a man left his employment, or had to move to another district, and he put his case before the commanding officer, the latter would be allowed to set him free from his engagement.

The Government was prepared to provide a uniform or equipment, arms, instructors, and give all possible facilities for learning the work required. Arrangements would be made for taking men to musketry drills at reduced expense or free. Ammunition would be provided.

The Government were trying to be honest and straightforward. They had laid no plot for getting men into the trenches. In case of emergency they would have to go where needed, but as soon as the emergency was over they would be able to return.

Lieut.-General Lawson also addressed the meeting, pointing out the benefits which a man could confer upon the country by coming forward for home service.

The Duke of Northumberland proposed a vote of thanks to Lieutenant-General Bethune and Lieut-General Lawson. They ought, his Grace added, to feel proud that they could be of some use in the present emergency.

Dr Hadow seconded, which was carried with acclamation.

Major-General Montgomery moved a vote of thanks to the Lord Mayor, which was seconded by Col. Baker-Baker, and unanimously carried.


Private R. Stobie, Blyth, and Private L. Clayton of Blyth have been awarded the Military Medal.


Sir,— It is an old-time saying that truth is stranger than fiction, and, apparently, from ‘Inhuman’s’ criticism of the action of ‘Justice’ in ventilating a real grievance, it has ricochetted back to his mind with such appalling force that he actually is confused in his first sentence.

Let me refresh his somewhat dull memory by informing him that the letter in question appeared in the “Herald’s” issue of the 3rd inst. and not the 28th ult.

To me, and indeed I should include all right-thinking persons, it is certainly a travesty when “Inhuman,” who must either be a soldier himself or connected with the military in some manner, defends the action and could be amused at a wounded brother-in-arms seeking shelter within their gates.

Was the floor, even with blankets provided, a fit and proper bed for a wounded man just recently out of hospital? And, taking it for granted that the billet was unsuitable for a soldier shorn of his normal faculties, would it not have been an act of common humanity for his military brethren to have piloted him to a refuge where he might have been attended to?

‘Inhuman’ is an adept at shelving the real issue when mentioning the Samaritan. For his edification, let him know that there are many in this good old borough. I may know little of the ways of the Army, but since everyone at present are soldiers or are in the making, it is probable that such knowledge has extended; and certainly if such as reported are a sample of the said ways, I am thankful when ignorant.

We all know that Tommy has to rough it, and his privilege is to grouse — and the grouse is mostly in its enjoyment and he then “passes over to the other side” and receives the rest entitled to. Of such stuff are our heroes made.— Yours, JUSTICE.