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, 21st August 2016, 09:30 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 18:13 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: News, notices and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, August 18, 1916.

Miss Arkless of Manchester Street, Morpeth, has received the following communication from Signaller P. Riley, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who is serving “Somewhere in France”:—

“I hasten to thank you for the parcel of good things I got today. They could not have come at a better time for I needed them very badly. The cigarettes were indeed acceptable and were a change to the awful kind we get our here.

HERALD WAR REPORT: News, notices and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, August 18, 1916.

“It is very nice to think that we are not forgotten by those at home. Such acts of kindness make our task the lighter. All is very nice out here just now except the war.

“It would be a fine holiday, free of charge, were it not for nasty things called shells, grenades, bullets, bombs, etc. I don’t think I’ll ever get to like them, but habit means a lot, and Kaiser Bill may yet realise that he is doing nothing but amusing us.”

Referring to the recent fighting the writer goes on to say that he could shake hands with himself at coming safely out of it all. Many gallant North Country lads had fallen, but none were more confident of victory than the lads out there.

When they heard of Zeppelin raids it only made them the more eager and the more determined to get to grips with the cowardly Huns. He hoped that Morpeth was its own pretty self, and that soon they should be back again. He also thanked Miss Arkless for the work she was doing on behalf of the lads who were away.

HERALD WAR REPORT: News, notices and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, August 18, 1916.


Through the kindness of members belonging the Maintenance Department, 60 Shop, Scotswood, Newcastle, a party of about 30 wounded soldiers from Newcastle Barracks were entertained at Morpeth on Saturday last.

The party on their arrival at once visited Newminster Abbey and Springhill grounds, which were thrown open to them by the kindness of Mr and Mrs George Renwick.

At 4.30 a very substantial tea was spread in the Soldiers’ Institute, after which a concert and dance took place.

At the commencement of the musical programme a wounded sergeant rose and said: “I wish, on behalf of the boys, to tender our sincere thanks to Mr and Mrs Renwick for the great pleasure we have had in walking through their grounds; and also to the people of Morpeth for the way in which they have received us. I would also like to thank Nurse Thexton and Mr Ions, the organisers, and Mr T.B. Waters, secretary of the Soldiers’ Institute, for carrying our the arrangements at Morpeth so efficiently.”

This was seconded, and supported by two other sergeants and carried by acclamation.

After songs by Mr Porter, Mr E. Johnson, Corporal Downie, and Mr Brown, Mr J. Jardin, Town Clerk, was called upon to address the gathering, and said:— “You have certainly not come here to listen to a speech; but nevertheless it gives me very great pleasure to be here today. I think I am rather out of place addressing you, seeing there is a number of Morpeth Town Council present.

“I admire you all for fighting your country’s battles, and I hope you will soon recover; and after this war is finished you will be able to look back on what part you played in this great war.

“I thought everybody knew that Morpeth was always willing to receive and entertain wounded soldiers, but I am afraid I have been mistaken, for the other day I found a nurse enquiring at my office for a likely place where she could entertain soldiers. I hope you will thoroughly enjoy yourselves during your short stay in Morpeth.” (App.)

This was followed with songs by Mr Thompson and Mr Pearson, in turn followed by a dance.

Among those present were Mr and Mrs L. Hogg, Councillor C. Grey, Mr J. Jardin (Town Clerk), Mr T.B. Waters, and several members of 60 Shop, Scotswood.


An official notice was posted on Wednesday morning stating that on and after 15th August, 1916, all men in Group 1 and Class 1, namely, men born in 1897, when they attain the age of eighteen years eight months will be called up and posted for immediate service with the colours, but will not be liable to service abroad until they are nineteen.


AITCHESON.— In kind remembrance of my dearest friend, David Aitcheson, who was killed in action, August 19th, 1915.— Deeply mourned by his sorrowing friend, A. Johnson, Second Row, Choppington.

BROWN.— In loving memory of my dear husband, Private James Brown (508), N.F., who died of wounds, July 11th, 1916.— Ever remembered by his loving wife, and sons and daughters. 57 Mortimer Street, Hartford Colliery.

BAKER.— Killed in action, somewhere in France, on July 1st, 1916, Frank, the beloved son of Frank & Jane Baker, Sheepwash, Choppington.

BURNS.— Killed in action in France on August 2nd, 1916, Rifleman Albert Burns (5565), of the London Irish Rifles, aged 19 years, beloved and youngest son of Alex, and the late Isa Burns, of 47 Institute Row, West Sleekburn, late of Widdrington. “For King and Country he did his best.”— Deeply mourned and sadly missed by his father, sisters, and brother.

BLACKHALL.— Killed in action, July 14th, 1916, Private George Blackhall, 14th Batt., N.F., aged 37 years, the dearly beloved husband of Sarah Blackhall, 13 West Greens, Morpeth. Oh, how our hearts do ache, dear husband, When we think of how you died; To think you could not speak to us, Before you closed your eyes, No matter how we pray, No matter who we call; There is nothing left to answer, But your photo on the wall, But the unknown grave is the bitterest blow, None but a wife’s aching heart can know, Though buried in a soldier’s grave, Amid the shot and shell; For Country’s sake he gave his life, And stood his trials well.— Deeply mourned by his loving wife, son and two daughters.

CROZIER.— Killed in action on July 18th, in his 23rd year, Gunner George W. Crozier, R.F.A., eldest and dearly beloved son of Robert and Jane Crozier, of East Farm, Humshaugh.

COXON.— Previously reported missing, August 9th, 1915, now reported dead, Lance Corporal Thomas P. Coxon, West Yorks, of 6 Maitland Terrace, Newbiggin, aged 24 years, the beloved husband of Winnie Coxon, and son of Ralph and the late Mary Coxon, late of Morpeth.— Deeply mourned by his sorrowing wife and uncle and aunt, Mr and Mrs Graham.

HAKIN.— In loving memory of our dearly beloved son, Shoeing-Smith George Hakin, Royal Field Artillery, Indian Exped. Force, who died in India, July 3rd, 1916.— Ever remembered by his loving father and mother, and brothers and sisters, and all who knew him.

ROBSON.— Killed in France, July 13th, 1916, Private Joseph (No. 27952), N.F., aged 23 years, third son of the late William and Mary Jane Robson, of No. 8 Chapel Row, Cambois.— Ever remembered by his loving sister and brother-in-law, and family, Mr and Mrs John Moffat, Choppington Colliery.

LAWS.— Killed in action, July 1st, Private Anthony Laws, of Bomarsund, Stakeford (news officially received.)— Ever remembered by his loving wife and family, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and all friends.

M’KINLEY— Died of wounds received in action on July 11th, 1916, Private Mark M’Kinley. Had I but seen him at his last, And watched his dying bed, Or Heard the last sigh of his heart, Or held his drooping head; My heart, I think would not have felt, Such bitterness and grief, But God has willed it otherwise, And now he rests in peace.— Deeply mourned by his sister and brother-in-law, Mr and Mrs E, McSherry, Bank Yard, Morpeth.

PEEL.— Died of wounds, on August 3rd, 1916, Private J.W. Peel, 9th West Yorks, aged 22 years and 10 months, the dearly beloved son of Richard and Elizabeth Peel, 16 Oswald Road, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.— Ever remembered by his loving father, mother, sisters and brothers, & friends.

SHORT.— Killed in action, July 13th, 1916, aged 23 years, Private Leonard Short (27848), N.F., the dearly beloved son of William & Elizabeth Short, 16 Ariel Street, Hirst, Ashington (late of Felton.) A Memorial Service was held in the Parish Church, Felton, on Sunday morning, August 13th.— Deeply mourned by his sorrowing father and mother, sisters, and brother-in-laws (in France.)

ULLOCK.— Killed in action, on August 19th, 1915, aged 19 years, Private Joseph Edward Ullock, N.F., beloved son of the late John Ullock, of Ashington.— Deeply mourned and sadly missed by his brothers and sisters, brother-in-law, and all who knew him.

WHITE.— Missing since November 8th, 1914, now presumed by the War Office to be dead, Private John Hunter White (No. 314), of the 1st N.F., of North Seaton Colliery.

YOUNG.— Killed in France, August 7th, 1916, Private George Young, M.T., A.S.C., aged 30 years, the dearly beloved and eldest son of Mr and Mrs George Young, Lane Farm, Bedlington.


By kind permission of Mr Geo. Renwick, of Springhill, Morpeth, a very successful outdoor gathering was held in his grounds on Thursday night, last week, the proceeds being divided between the local V.A.D. and Cottage hospitals.

Upwards of 500 persons paid for admission and greatly enjoyed the three hours spent at Springhill in inspecting and admiring the beautifully laid-out gardens and listening to an enjoyable concert on the lawn. The Morpeth Pipers’ Band, formed recently through the generosity of Mr Renwick, who provided the instruments and Highland dress for the members, played selections during the evening.

All the visitors were heartily welcomed by Mr and Mrs Renwick. Mr T.B. Waters, the secretary of the Soldiers’ Institute, who was assisted by Lance-Corporals Whyte and Dennis, Signallers Plant and Deakin, is to be congratulated for having made such excellent arrangements. The wounded soldiers and nurses from the V.A.D. Hospital were also present. Mr Geo. Renwick presided at the concert, which was a thorough success.

The chairman said they were extremely pleased to have the Mayor and Corporation with them that night. They had been asked to come there to inaugurate the Pipe Band. Ever since the war started he was strongly of the opinion that if they wished to carry on the war with a volunteer army they must have two things. They must have enthusiasm and they must have patriotism.

Unfortunately from the beginning the Government in their wisdom did their very best to stifle both of those important considerations with regard to a volunteer army, but later on they saw the error of their ways. He thought it was very unkind when men, who had patriotically and voluntarily come forward and offered their services were hurried away in the train, sometimes in the middle of the night, without the attendance of a band or any enthusiasm whatever.

He was glad that things were altered later owing to the patriotic action of several people who forced the attention of the Government to the importance of music. Unfortunately at the present time, they had no regiment stationed at Morpeth with a band. Recently he had heard some young fellow playing the pipes in the town, and he made enquiries and found they were anxious to form a pipe band. He decided at once to help them with instruments (applause) and then to clothe them. (Laughter and applause.)

“There they are Mr Mayor,” remarked Mr Renwick, pointing to the band in their Highland dress. “You have heard them playing, and I think they will do something to enliven our good old town. (Applause.)

“They may be useful when men go away and even more useful when men are coming home, but the time when the band will be most useful will be when the flags are flying and the boys are marching home after a great and glorious peace. (Applause.) That time may be a long way off or it may be near, but we all sincerely hope it is near. Whenever it is, I am sure of this, that the Morpeth Pipe Band will be ready to do their duty.” (Applause.)

“The band is composed entirely of Morpethians, and I want you to look upon it as your own.” (Applause.)

Mr Renwick remarked that the boys at the front were tired of cigarettes, but two things they liked were black bullets and twist tobacco. He would ask them to save up their coppers and send them black bullets and twist. He was going to sing a song written by a Tynesider at the Front, entitled “And the Day,” and in that song they made an appeal for the things he had mentioned.

The Mayor then proposed a vote of thanks to Mr and Mrs Geo. Renwick for all the many kindnesses they had received from time to time at Springhill.

They felt very miserable down at Morpeth without a band. They could not raise one worth mentioning until Mr Renwick saw the great need. There was one thing about the Pipers’ Band that Mr Renwick has brought together, and that was that they were just as good as they were beautiful (applause) and they were just as willing to serve. They had only to ask them to turn out and they ready to do their best and help.

He also referred to the many kind services rendered by Mr and Mrs Renwick to the wounded soldiers. It was only natural that they should have such a warm heart for their wounded soldiers, when they remembered that they had five sons in the army fighting their country’s battles. (Applause.) Only the other day he heard of man who spoke very highly of his officer and it turned out that the officer was one of Mr Renwick’s sons. (Applause.)

The vote of thanks was enthusiastically carried.

Mrs Renwick in a neat speech replied to the vote of thanks. She said that anything they could do at Springhill or elsewhere to benefit or assist in any way their soldiers at the Front or at home or in hospital, they could rely upon them it would be done.

They were not the only ones doing what they could in those times. It was extraordinary what people were doing. The aristocracy, middle classes and working classes were all doing what they could for their country, and everybody was making sacrifices which they felt they ought to make.

She thanked them for coming there that night, and expressed the hope that there would be a good sum to hand over to the local hospitals. They could not be too grateful to them for what they had done on that and previous occasions to raise money for charitable purposes and entertain the wounded.

Mr Renwick announced that the sum raised had been £15, which was extremely good. That money would be divided between the Cottage and V.A.D. hospitals. There were no expenses to be deducted, everything would be handed over.

They could enjoy themselves on a summer evening like that, and he hoped that it would be followed by other similar entertainments. There were other people with gardens round the neighbourhood, and he trusted that they would follow Springhill.

“There is no good having a nice place if you do not allow people to come and enjoy themselves,” remarked Mr Renwick.

The pipers then played a selection, after which Mrs Andersen rendered the song “Good-night.” The singing of the National Anthem brought a most enjoyable evening to a close.


A very happy time was spent at the Cottage Homes Ponteland on Wednesday (the twelfth anniversary of the opening of the institution), both by the children and the wounded soldiers, numbering close on 100, who were entertained by the Newcastle Board of Guardians.


Tea on Thursday was kindly given by Mrs Tighe, Waterford House, and realised £1. The treasurer gratefully acknowledges the sum of 7/6 from Mr Renwick by sale of sweet peas.


Few families have suffered more heavily than that of Private Frank Hedley, of Bebside Furnace, who, with his four sons, were miners when the war broke out, and who all enlisted.

Private James Hedley and Private Joseph Hedley have lost their lives in France, and Stoker George Hedley went down in the Indefatigable in the Jutland battle.

Now the father, who is in the Northumberland Fusiliers, is reported wounded in France.


The Commandant wishes to acknowledge the following with thanks:— Mr Jardin, lettuce; Mrs Pringle (Tritlington) and Mrs Rayne, eggs; Mrs Grey (Grange House), Mrs Rutter, Miss McDowall, and Miss Hudson, vegetables; Miss Pringle, Mrs Sanderson, and Miss Ashton, flowers; Mrs Fullarton James, Mrs Coble, Miss Hudson, fruit; Mrs J. Simpson, cake; Miss McDowall, teapot, hot water jug, cream and sugar basin. Gifts of fruit and vegetables and jam are very acceptable.

The Commandant also wishes to thank Mr and Mrs Renwick for the sum of £8, part proceeds of a garden concert kindly got up by them for the benefit of the hospitals; Miss McDowall for £6 15s., the proceeds of a lantern lecture on Serbia given by Miss Hanson; Mrs Elliott, Oldgate, for giving the patients a most enjoyable motor ride to Warkworth; and Mr Nichol Wright for so kindly giving them tea on their return.


Dr F.W. Dendy presided over a meeting of the Northumberland Appeal Tribunal, held at the Education Offices, Newcastle, on Friday.

Mr Frankham presented the appeal of a farmer, on behalf of his son, a ploughman, at Bedlington.

The Tribunal agreed that the farm could not be carried on without the son, and granted exemption until after the harvest, namely, till the end of October.

“A single man of twenty ought to be elsewhere,” said Lieut. Kingsley Taylor, the military representative, in reference to a market gardener’s son, and the Tribunal limited the concession to a fortnight.

An appeal by the military representative of the Gosforth Tribunal against the exemption of a farmhand at the Northumberland War Hospital farm was upheld, and no time was allowed, the chairman pointing out that apparently no effort had been made to replace the man.


In a district on the North East Coast, which was attacked during the air raid of August 9th, a statement to the public has been issued by the Member of Parliament and a high official of the district, in the course of which they say:—

“We have now personally inspected the guns referred to in our last letter, and satisfied ourselves that they are actually in position as shown on the plans produced to us at the General Headquarters for Home Defence.

“These guns, with the necessary searchlights, are of the most approved type, and we have found by personal inspection also that the guns are well supplied with ammunition and are adequately manned.

“We fear it is too much to expect that there will be no further visits from enemy aircraft, but everything we have seen and heard has given us incredible confidence.”