Herald War Report, August 7, 1914

This feature to commemorate the First World War brings you the news as it happened in 1914 as reported by the Morpeth Herald. It is published with kind permission of the Mackay family. We thank them for their support and generosity in allowing us access to their archive.


On Tuesday and Wednesday the reserves and territorials living at Choppington were called to join their various regiments. The local ambulance brigade were also called upon


The mobilising of the Voluntary Aid Detachments of Northumberland was commenced on Wednesday night.


A hospital tent has been arranged in the Ashington district, under the direction of the local ambulance brigade. There are 250 members of the brigade at Ashington, and already 19 of these have left for the South in connection with the Auxiliary Naval Sick Berths’ Reserves, and a requisition to organise volunteers for an expeditionary force under the R.A.M.C secured 130 volunteers on Wednesday.

To fill gaps in the local Voluntary Aid Detachments, Corps Supt. F.L. Booth is issuing an appeal for men with first-aid certificates. The appeal also includes a request for beds, bedding, and other necessary items to complete the hospital, and also for women for cooking, laundry work, etc.


The authorities seized three German vessels which were in the harbour awaiting coal cargoes. With their crews they were placed under civil and military guard and removed to the import docks, where they were berthed. The Government’s war prizes naturally became the objects of much local interest and during the course of the afternoon and evening crowds of people inspected from the quays and jetties.

Work at the pits will again be suspended today, but many people derive satisfaction from the Chancellor’s statement in the House of Commons to the effect that with the patriotic assistance of the public there would be no necessity for throwing thousands out of work. There is something like 80 per cent of Northumberland coal being sent to overseas ports in normal times, and the prospects of local miners may not be particularly bright, but they may at all events hope to share in any resumption of coal production, which, of course, will soon become necessary for home needs.


The Cramlington St. John Ambulance Brigade, also the Dudley Brigade, have been called upon to be ready for service, also the local troop of Boy Scouts.

There has been a rush on food supplies and many of the tradesmen are totally out of flour, and those who have it are restricting it for supply to their own customers and to their usual weekly quantities. Many of the shops are only open a few hours during the day.


This hospital, situated in the Borough Hall, Manchester Street, is being rapidly equipped in view of the Nation’s being at war.

The following are urgently and immediately required:

Will the people of Morpeth help by sending to this hospital:

Small Tables; Sheets; Pillow Cases; Blankets; Night-shirts; Bed-jackets; Men’s Slippers; Hot Water Bottles and Covers; Bed Socks; Mackintoshes; Old Linen; Tea Towels; Towels; Roller Towels; Dish Cloths; Dusters; Brushes; Combs & Hair Brushes; Sponges; Soap; Sewing Materials; Candlesticks; Candles.

Georgina Joicey



On Tuesday evening, shortly after seven o’clock, great excitement was in Morpeth, when it became known that the Territorials and Yeomanry had received orders to mobilise. The streets soon became thronged, as the men in full war uniform were making their way to the Drill Hall in Copper Chare, and it was expected that they would leave the town at a late hour at night. Later, it became known that the force would not leave until mid-day next day.

From an early hour on Wednesday morning, the streets in Morpeth were full of life, and many men in uniform were seen making their way to the head-quarters in Copper Chare. At half-past twelve noon, the force, under Major Jas. J. Gillespie, and Captain J.E.N. Thompson, left the head-quarters, proceeding down Newgate Street to the Market Square. Here a halt was made in front of a rolley, upon which were the Mayor (Councillor W.S. Sanderson), Ald R.J. Carr, and the Rector of Morpeth (Canon Davies), and surrounded by a large and enthusiastic crowd.

The Mayor said: “Officers and men of the Territorial Section of the Northumberland Fusiliers, and Imperial Yeomanry: I am here today on behalf of the town to extend to you a hearty send off. (Cheers). In all dark days when Britain has been surrounded by hostile forces, Northumberland has played no small part on former occasions, and I hope the same successes may be extended to you during this crisis as has heretofore crowned the same Fusiliers and Yeomanry with honour and glory. (Cheers). And when we have again bestowed upon us the blessings of peace, I hope that the glory of the Northumberland Fusiliers and Yeomanry will be greater than ever. (Cheers). There are a few lines I would like to quote to you, which I think are very appropriate for an occasion like this:-

He would leave the desk or shop to volunteer,

He would say good-bye to those he loves so dear.

Once we used to sneer him,

Now we want to cheer him.

Still your Country is very grateful, Volunteer.

All he asks is just to get the word to go;

All he wants is just the chance to face the foe.

With a cry he will march away, eager for the fray,

We are proud of him today. – Volunteers.

Personally, I know that a soldier has but a few minutes to himself on active service, and I do hope that you will at least have a few minutes to ask Almighty God for His help and support during your trials, for we are all thoroughly convinced of this: that the army in this struggle who have God on their side is the only side which will win. (Cheers). Again, on behalf of the town, I wish you God-speed, a safe and victorious return. Good-bye and God bless you. And when you get there, don’t forget to “slip it across them” (Loud cheers.)

The Rector said he had great pleasure in associating himself with the words of the Mayor. He believed from the bottom of his heart that England today was responding to the call of duty, and he believed that the call of duty was always the call of God. When they responded to the call of God, they could rest satisfied that God’s presence would accompany them in whatever trials that lay before them. He again joined with the Mayor in wishing them God-speed and a safe return. (Loud applause).

Major Gillespie said on behalf of the men he thanked them.

The order for marching was then given, and the men proceeded down Bridge Street, across the Bridge to the railway station, amidst great enthusiasm, and ringing of the town bells.


A large and enthusiastic crowd met in Bridge Street, Morpeth, to give a send-off to the Northumberland Hussars Imperial Yeomanry.

The Mayor addressing the departing soldiers, who were lined up in front of the Black Bull Inn, said: “Officers, non-commissioned officers and men, on behalf of the town of Morpeth, we are here today to give you a hearty send-off. I wish the whole of your efforts in this great crisis may be crowned with glory and the same honours you have achieved in the past may be doubly made now, and the whole citizens of the Empire are with you in this great struggle. (Cheers). Men on active service have few moments to themselves, but in your quiet moments I would ask you to kneel down and seriously seek aid from the One and only Almighty that he may be on our side. With him on our side all other armies will be nil.

I wish you God-speed and a safe return to your homes, and remember England in the past has taken care of those left behind, and there will not be a hair on their heads disturbed whilst there is a living citizen in England.

Good-bye, God bless you, and knock spots off our enemies. (Cheers).

Popular Demonstration At Seaton Delaval

Military Matters

The demonstration on behalf of the National Service League was held in the grounds of Seaton Delaval Hall on Saturday last.

At the outset of his address the Mayor of Tynemouth remarked that they had gathered on the eve of a great international crisis, the result of which no one could estimate. But whatever happened it was essential that they should remain cool and composed. It was singularly fitting that this gathering, which had for its object the educating of public opinion on the principles of the National Service League, should synchronise with the war spirit prevailing at home and on the continent.

Continuing the Mayor said he was of opinion that the whole of the Empire was coming to realise that we were so small in numbers that it was necessary for our young men to be systematically trained in drilling for the purpose of protecting our industries.

The Mayor of Jarrow said there never was a time when greater consideration should be given to the cause of National Military Service than at the present moment.

Durham and Northumberland was going pretty well for the country at present. The Territorial Force in the two counties was very near up to full strength while in addition there were some 7,000 National Reservists.

At the evening meeting the chief speakers were Mr F. H. Templer, New Zealand, and Mr Vernor Harcourt.

Mr Harcourt said they must conceive that it was every man’s duty, unless he was prevented by some physical disqualification, to subject himself to that training which enables him to defend his country in time of danger.

“You may ask where lies the danger England apprehends,” he remarked. “You have but to look across to the continent to find the reasons which we of the League think are amply sufficient to recommend our principles to you. You see the whole of Europe at present as a seething armed camp. Every country of importance is increasing its armaments. You see the spectre of war brooding over the whole continent. Do you think you are likely to always escape its sinister shadow? If you do you are living in the past – in the enjoyment of a fool’s paradise.”

Our Territorial force, he proceeded, was short by some 65,000 officers and men. But apart from that the Territorial force was short of other things. It contained thousands of men who were under 20 years of age – gallant young lads, but immature – and it would be something worse than a crime to submit them to fight a trained continental army. It was not the fault of the force, it was the stem. They wanted to supplement the force with a citizen army from the people, a force democratically organised and maintained. “You are standing on the brink of a precipice,” he concluded. “Continental countries know what invasion and all its horrors are, and I beg of you, for God’s sake to arouse yourselves and look at the matter squarely, and send representatives to Parliament empowered to act under the guidance of your wishes.

“When we can look upon 70,000 young Englishmen properly trained, we can rest assured that the Empire is safe for all time.”


On Thursday forenoon a party of the Territorial Reservists marched from their head-quarters to Morpeth Station to join their comrades. The party included Ald. R.J. Carr and Councillor Wm. Duncan.


A man dressed like a working navvy was arrested by the local troop of Territorials guarding the cable house at Newbiggin, on suspicion of being a spy. The man stated, however, that he was travelling round the coast seeking work, and after being searched, he was allowed to go.


Miss Macdowall, on behalf of the Suffrage Society, would be grateful of contributions of bed linen, men’s underwear, towels, bandages, bed jackets, etc., which she will send to the appeal from Northumberland men needing them in the present crisis.


We have received the following announcement from the offices of Messrs. Swinney, of Morpeth:–

Swinney Brothers Limited, Wansbeck Ironworks, Morpeth, have great pleasure in announcing that they will pay half wages during military service to the wives of all Reservists or Territorials in their employ who have or may be mobilised to serve their country at this crisis.

A large number of the employees of this firm have been called up.


l An official message states that the Germans attempted to delay the French advance upon Metz by trying to inundate Seiville Valley.

l The official French losses in fighting at Altkirch did not exceed a hundred killed and wounded.

l A French aeroplane has succeeded in returning from over the German frontier, despite the fact that the military aviator was wounded and machine riddled with bullets.

l President Poincare has confirmed military decoration upon the King of the Belgians.

l The Legation states that German troops have not violated Dutch territory. It is stated here that two German Generals have been killed during the fighting.

l According to published statement, the Germans, after the capture of Luxemburg, arrested the Grand Duchess of Luxemburg, but afterwards released her.

l The Government of Bavaria has registered an official protest against the war.

l The Austrians have, for the present, abandoned an attempted invasion of Servia, and have taken up strong positions just over the Austrian frontier.

l A Berlin message states that a strong French force has been decisively beaten at Muelhausen, the French division being destroyed.

l The Dutch provinces of Luxemburg, North Brabant and Zeeland are declared in a state of war.

l According to a Lemberg message, the Austrians have occupied Ksiag over the Russian border. The Austrian losses at Miechow are given as one hundred and forty wounded and killed. Cosacks, four hundred killed and wounded.

l The Dutch minister declared whatever might happen, Holland would maintain strict neutrality.

l Austrian attempts to seize Mount Lovechen have failed, but the artillery duel continues.

l It is stated on official authority that the French troops are in contact with the Germans along the entire outpost line on Alsace. Everywhere the French arms met with excellent success. The enemy were repulsed in the Vendum region, and a German battery was destroyed.

l The Dutch Legation in Paris issues a communique denying the reported violation of frontiers by German forces.

l Prince of Monaco, saluting passing French regiment, declared that the present war was a contest of civilisation against barbarism. The Germans have blown part of the railway between Liege and Louvin.

l The British authorities have requested the Japanese shipping companies to refuse passage to German reservists.

l It is stated that war has been proclaimed in Egypt. The protection of the country has been entrusted to Great Britain.

l Australia. The utmost enthusiasm prevails and enlistment for Australian expeditionary force is proceeding splendidly. A large business firm has given a thousand pounds to start a fund for providing England with flour and meat.

l Queen Amelie of Portugal was working all day on Tuesday in the nursing department of the Red Cross Society.

l The Times states that a German destroyer has been sunk by a German mine.

l Ottawa. The city has given a battery of quick-firing guns mounted on motor cars for the defence of Canada.


We are officially informed by the general manager that the North Eastern Railway do not at present anticipate that it will be necessary to curtail their ordinary passenger train service.

Trains conveying troops, military stores, etc., will however, receive preference over all other classes of traffic, and the public must be prepared for the possibility of delays to the ordinary service.