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, 16th October 2016, 12:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 5:30 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Adverts from the Morpeth Herald, October 13, 1916.

Morpeth is proud of its contribution to the Army. Morpeth lads were amongst the first volunteers for active service. Many of Morpeth’s sons have distinguished themselves in action. Unfortunately, many of them have fallen, but there still remains a goodly number who are fighting on, and amongst them are two holders of D.C.M.s.

Whether the future period of the war be long or short, it is clearly the duty of every Morpethian to give and do all he can to raise a memorial to the brave Morpeth men who have taken part in the war, and with this object the Mayor, with a committee, have started a fund to which it will be the duty, as no doubt it will be the pleasure, of every Morpethian to contribute.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Adverts from the Morpeth Herald, October 13, 1916.

Collection boxes have been placed in each of the banks in the town, as well as in every licensed house. These boxes have been provided gratis by well-wishers of the scheme, who hope that the public will subscribe liberally so that when our lads return they may find awaiting them a tangible recognition of their services and sacrifices and a proof that they have not been forgotten in their absence.

What form the memorial will take will depend to some extent upon the amount collected between now and the end of the war, when a public meeting will be called to decide. In the meantime the boxes will be opened periodically and the amounts collected by each box separately will be published in the following week’s issue of the “Herald.” Subscriptions may also be sent to any member or official of the Council and will be acknowledged in the same way.

The movement deserves a hearty response which we hope it will have.


HERALD WAR REPORT: Adverts from the Morpeth Herald, October 13, 1916.

The following copy of an Order of the day, which has just reached us, gives some idea of the kind of men we are required to honour:—


3rd October, 1916

Nobody could be prouder than I at commanding such troops as you of the 50th Division. Within a few days of landing in this country you made a name for yourselves at the second Battle of Ypres. Since that battle you have gained a great reputation on account of your magnificent defence of a portion of the Ypres salient during the worst months of the year.

From the 15th September to October 3rd you have had another chance of showing your qualities in attack, and it is not too much to say that no division in the British Army has or could have done better. You have advanced nearly two miles and have taken several lines of German trenches.

Your gallantry and determination on every occasion since you joined in the Battle of the Somme have been worthy of the highest traditions of the British Army.

I deplore with you the loss of many of our intimate friends and comrades. I thank you for the excellent and cheerful way you have undertaken every task put to you.

(Signed) P.S. WILKINSON,

Commanding 50th (Northern) Division.



The first parade of the Morpeth Detachment Northumberland Regiment was held on Tuesday night in the Corn Exchange. There was a large turn-out, and a dozen new members enrolled, making a total enlistment of 63.

Lieut. Galloway was in command and four non-commissioned officers from headquarters, Newcastle, acted as drill instructors. Squads were formed, and the first phases of military drill were gone through. Members were very much interested and enthusiastic. The instructors expressed themselves as satisfied with the turn-out and with the manner in which the first drills were performed.

Many old Volunteers and Territorials were present. Squad No. 1 was formed of men who have seen Territorial service.

It is expected that a good many more recruits will join, and there is every prospect of a successful military body being formed in the ancient borough.

The Mayor (Ald. Ed. Norman), before the men were dismissed, addressed the Corps. He complimented the men on the splendid turn-out, and said that the Aldermen and members of the Corporation would do whatever they could to further the interests of the corps. He wished the men and officers in command every success.

The second drill took place last night, among other officers present being Capt. and Adjutant H. Barnes. Further enrolments bring the total up to 74. Lieut. Hoey and other officers took part in the drilling and it is hoped that sufficient officers and non-commissioned officers will be found locally. The drills were efficiently gone through.

The full parade in connection with the Company will take place on Sunday first at 10.15am in the Grange House Field.


Private E.S. Smith, 16 Walter Street, Dinnington Colliery, N.F., was killed in action on September 15th.

Information concerning Private John Turnbull 1320 N.F., who has been missing since July 1st, will be thankfully received by his wife at Newbiggin Colliery.

Private David Connell, Alnwick, N.F., has been killed.

Mrs Tate, Middleton, Morpeth, has received word that her elder son, Private E. Tate, has been wounded for the second time, on September 15th, and is now in hospital at Keighley, Yorkshire.

Mr J. Sproul, Gas Works Cottage, Morpeth, has received official news that his son, Lance-Corporal Robert Sproul, N.F., is seriously wounded in France.

Lance-Corporal J.R. Goodban, 55 Ashfield Road, Gosforth, was killed on September 15th.

Private A. Granger, Ashfield Road, Gosforth, has died from wounded received on September 16th.

Mr and Mrs Burrell, Bridge Street, have received official news from the War Office that their son, Lance-Corporal George Burrell, was wounded on September 15th and is now in hospital at Hale, Cheshire.

Mrs J. Futers, of 1 Castle Square, Morpeth, has received information that her son, Private Stephen Futers, 2194, N.F., has been wounded in action in France for the third time on September 15th, and is now in hospital in Oxford.

Mr and Mrs T. Athey, 17 Edward Street, Morpeth, have received official information that their son, Private Wm. Athey, was wounded on Sept. 15th, for the second time, and is now lying in Edinburgh Hospital.

Second-Lieut. Murphy, Gosforth, N.F, was killed on October 3rd.

Second-Lieut. Albert Gray Straker, 30 Beaconsfield Street, Blyth, was killed on October 3rd. He held a scholastic appointment under the Blyth Education Authority before he joined the army. He was killed on the anniversary of his birthday.

Captain Alan Stevenson, of the Sherwood Foresters, has been killed in action. He was a classical master in the Duke of Northumberland’s School at Alnwick prior to the outbreak of the war. Captain Stevenson was about 30 years of age.

Private R. Strong, D.L.I., a son of Mrs L. Strong, George and Dragon Yard, Morpeth, has been wounded in action and is in hospital at Bristol. Writing to his mother, he says: “I have been wounded again in the left hand. When in a charge I got about 200 yards across and was struck. I could not go any further as my left hand was useless, so I had to come back under shell and machine gun fire. I was lucky to get back. I was only with my battalion two days when we went into action. I don’t know how Jim Strong has come on yet, but his brother was killed about a fortnight ago.”


BROOKS.— Killed in action on Sept. 17th, Lance-Corporal David Brooks, N.F., aged 20 years, of Sleekburn. (Ever remembered by his loving mother and stepfather, and sisters and brothers, and brothers-in-law, and all friends.)

FEWSTER.— Killed in action, Sept. 15th, 1916, aged 22½ years, Bomb. Ernest Fewster (2997), N.F., the dearly beloved husband of Alice Ann Fewster, Pegswood. We think we see his smiling face, As he bade his last good-bye, And left his home for ever, In a foreign place to die. But we have the consolation, He bravely did his best, Somewhere abroad, my dear husband sleeps, A hero laid to rest. But the hardest part is yet to come, When the warriors all return, And we miss among the cheering crowds, The face of my dear husband that is gone. They miss him most who loved him best, May God grant him eternal rest.— (Sadly missed and deeply mourned by his loving wife; also his mother, father, and mother-in-law, and all who knew him.)

LEATHEM.— Died of wounds received in action, Sept. 26th, 1916, Private J.W. Leathem, N.F., dearly beloved husband of Lizzie Leathem, and dearly beloved son of David and Dorothy Ann Leathem, of Holywell Village, and grandson of John and the late Alice Jacques, of Bates Cottages.— (Deeply mourned and sadly missed by his sorrowing father, mother, sisters and brothers.)

PURDY.— Killed in action, Sept. 15th, 1916, Lance-Corpl. James Robinson Rutherford Purdy, of Middle Steads, Widdrington. His King and Country called him, The call was not in vain; On Britain’s roll of honour, You’ll find a hero’s name. No mother’s care did him attend, Nor over him did a father bend; But the hardest part is yet to come, When the warriors come marching home, And we miss among the cheering crowd, The face of a dear pal that is gone. But the unknown grave is the bitterest blow, None but a mother’s heart can know.— (Ever remembered by his dear pal, Peter Kelly.)

SWAN.— Killed in action about Sept. 15th, 1916, aged 23 years, Lance-Corporal George Swan, Northern Cyclists, beloved son of James and Sarah Ann Swan, Vulcan House, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

SHAW.— Killed in action, August 29th, 1916, aged 32 years, Private F.R. Shaw (708), N.F., the dearly beloved husband of Dorrie, and the eldest son of William and the late Martha Shaw, of Bedlington, and son-in-law of James and the late Annie Smith, New Delaval. (Deeply mourned by his sorrowing wife and friends, and all who knew him.)

SCOTT.— In loving memory of our dear brother, Private James Scott, N.F., killed in action on July 1st, 1916, aged 44 years, beloved son of the late James and Alice Scott, of West Sleekburn.— (Ever remembered by his loving sisters, nephews and nieces.)

THOMPSON.— Killed in action, July 1st, 1916, Private R. Thompson (938), Tyneside Scottish, late of Dudley.— (Deeply mourned by his loving mother, brother, sister and brother-in-law.)


A meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Ald. Ed. Norman) presided.

The Town Clerk having reported the formation of a Morpeth detachment, the committee recommended that they be offered the Corn Exchange as a drill hall, subject to certain conditions.

A letter was read from Mr J.R. Bowman, Howard Street, local agent for the Board of Trade Unemployment Insurance, asking for the use of the Town Hall to hold a meeting for the purpose of advertising the urgent need for women workers at a munition factory.

Miss Sandey from the Divisional Office would attend, and address the meeting, which was fixed for next week. He added that he was not authorised to incur any expense for the meeting. As the work was of the highest national importance he hoped the Council would favourably consider the request.

The Mayor remarked that many women were working on munitions.

Mr Turnbull thought they should insist upon a charge being made for the Town Hall and he moved a motion to that effect.— Mr Fearby seconded.

Ald. Brown: When this property came into our hands we drew up rules and regulations and laid down that no person was to have the use of the Town Hall free. It would be very foolish if they did not adhere to their own rules.

The motion was carried, and the Clerk was instructed to offer the hall to Mr Bowman on the usual terms.

The following communication was received from the town clerk of St Helens: “I am directed to send you the following copy of a resolution passed by the Council, and to ask that your Council will pass a similar resolution:—

“That this meeting of St Helens Town Council is of the opinion that the existing weekly payments made by the Government to wives and dependents of soldiers are inadequate and do not afford a proper standard of living.

“The Council considers that the greatest injustice is being inflicted upon the dependents of our men who are fighting at the Front.

“Whilst various classes of citizens have had their incomes increased because of the high cost of food, the wives and dependents of those who are suffering risk and losing life and limb have received no increase. Thus in addition to mental suffering caused by the constant suspense due to the fact of their having husbands and sons fighting in the forefront of the nation’s battle, the present payment condemns them to a position of poverty and injustice.

“In the opinion of the Council these people should be the most honoured and not the worst treated.

“The Council thereupon calls upon the Government to give earnest consideration to the question of substantially increasing the separation allowance to wives and dependents. That this resolution be sent to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, Secretary for War, and that borough Councils be requested to pass a similar resolution.”

Mr Fearby thought they should have some reliable data to work upon. He moved that they ask for more information on such an important subject.— Mr Jackson seconded.

Mr Armstrong: The separation allowances are the same all over the country, so I do not see how you can get any more information. I think it is a resolution that we ought to support in order to obtain for the wives and dependents of the men who are fighting our battles a reasonable allowance. Prices of foodstuffs have gone up considerably of late, and many of the dependents will be in very hard straits. I move that the Council support the resolution.

Mr Simpson seconded.

Mr Grey: We all know what the wives and soldiers and sailors are receiving in separation allowance. The wife receives 12/6 with 5/- for the first child, and 2/6 for each other child. Every right-thinking man must know that a woman with one child, receiving 17/6 a week, cannot pay rent and buy food and other necessaries with the prices now ruling. It means almost starvation. It is no use asking for further information. Let us support the resolution.

It was unanimously agreed to support the resolution.

A letter was received from an officer of the Tyne Garrison making formal application for the use of (1) Corn Exchange and rooms and (2) stores loft over fire brigade premises, also Tower Buildings.

The Town Clerk was requested to reply to the effect that the Council has no objection to the military having the store over the fire brigade premises and the Corn Exchange provided they found another drill hall, such as the Council schools, for the Volunteer Training Corps.

He was also asked to point out that the rooms they referred to were in the occupation of the Morpeth Mechanics’ Institution, and that the Corporation on principle would like them to content themselves with the Corn Exchange.


Sergt. J. Cairns, Sergt. D. Douglas, and S.S. Thos. Watson beg to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of cigarettes (for distribution) from the above fund.


A sale, concert, and tea were held at Cambo on behalf of the British pensioners of war.

There was a large gathering, and the sum of £117 17s 10d was obtained — by sale, £92 17s; by concert, £9; by tea, £10 5s; and by subscriptions, £5 15s 6d.


Tea was kindly given at the above meeting by Mrs W.S. Sanderson, Warreners House, and realised £1 14s 6d.

The committee acknowledge with grateful thanks the gift of socks from Miss Cooper, Olympia Hill; Miss Thornton, Howard Terrace; and Mrs Miller, Howard Terrace.

The following letter has been received by the hon. secretary, which is one of many appreciative letters arriving every week:—

Somewhere in France,

30th September, 1916.

“It gives me very great pleasure to acknowledge receipt of your three parcels of shirts, which were, as you probably know, a veritable God-send under the circumstances. It often happens, owing probably to the great number of troops lying in any particular area, that we don’t get our supplies as often as we might. Therefore, please accept my sincerest thanks on behalf of the Morpeth men on our transport, for your very acceptable gift. You might also give our thanks to all those who devote their valuable time and assistance to the war Sewing Meeting in our town.”


On Wednesday, Mrs Ralph Spencer and Mrs L. Fenwick held a refreshment stall in the Corn Exchange, Town Hall, Morpeth, to raise funds to purchase vegetables and fruit for our sailors in the North Sea Fleet.

A number of kind friends sent plain and fancy bread, cakes and pies, etc., which were served with tea and coffee.

The stall was well patronised throughout the day, especially by the farmers, their wives, and daughters, and a good sum was realised. Mrs Spencer and Mrs L. Fenwick were in charge of the stall, and the Misses Brumell, Miss Renwick, Miss Morley, Miss Snaith, Mrs Straughan, and Miss Belleville assisted in the serving.