Archive for March 2017

This Week in World War One, 23 March 1917







Alexander Gladstone, son of Mr and Mrs Gladstone, Falloden Terrace, Tweedmouth, and grandson of the late highly respected Thomas Brown, N.E.R. engine driver, Tweedmouth, who met with a tragic end at Goswick some ten years ago. He is 20 years of age, was a territorial, and was mobilised with the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers in August, 1914, put in his time at Gosforth and Cambois, and went with the battalion to France in April, 1915. He was in the fateful battle St. Julien, and was wounded at St. Eloi after which he was confined to hospital for six weeks. For 15 months he was orderly and stretcher bearer under our esteemed townsman, Dr Mackay, was also a pupil under the doctor in the N.E.R. Ambulance Corps, and won 1st class honours in competitions in same. He has since leaving the Ambulance Section of the Northumberland Fusiliers been 8 months in the transport of the same battalion and has been absent from home for 15 months without leave. We wish him continued good luck and safe home, as he has like many others, some terrible experiences to his credit, although he is so young. Previous to the war he was a fireman with the N.E.R. Co.




Thanks. – The Committees of the Berwick Ladies’ District Nursing Association, and the Berwick-on-Tweed Prisoners of War Fund, would like to take this opportunity of rending their very grateful thanks to Mr Dudgeon and his concert party for the handsome sum of £38, which has been equally divided between them. These committees feel assured that they and the public generally, owe these friends a debt of gratitude, not only for the very acceptable addition to the funds of both Associations, but for a most enjoyable and successful evening’s entertainment. The Committee of the Prisoners of War Fund would like, at the same time, to thank those friends who so successfully organised a concert at Spittal for their friends, and to the promoters of other entertainments, sales of work, etc., who have so generously given of their takings for the Prisoners.

Camp Gardens – Hutments and Barracks. – A Scottish Command Order states – Attention is drawn to the urgent need of making the most of every source of food and of supplementing the messing of the troops with a variety of vegetables grown on the spot. A proportion of the vegetables necessary for the men can, in the majority of hutment camps and barracks, be grown in plots adjacent to the lines, and the attention of Command Officers is drawn to the need of prompt action.

Presentation at the Barracks. – On Monday evening an interesting presentation was made in the Sergeants’ Mess at the Berwick Barracks, when Sergt. W. Tait, of the K.O.S.B., was presented with a handsome marble clock and a pair of bronze side ornaments on the occasion of his marriage which took place on Thursday, 22nd inst.

(C) BRO 1636-8-22 Berwick Barracks


The presentation was made in a neat and appropriate speech by Sergt. Major J. B. Westle on behalf of the members and honorary members of the Sergeants Mess at the Depot, and was suitably acknowledged by the gallant recipient. Sergt. Tait has 23 years service, has been twice at the front, and has been twice wounded. He was a time-expired soldier, and re-joined his old regiment at the call of duty. He is native of Glasgow. The gifts were supplied by Messrs Ross, jewellers, Bridge Street, Berwick.






A crowded house met in the Queen’s Rooms, Berwick, on Thursday, March 15th, to enjoy a concert of unusual excellence given by local amateur artistes of undoubted ability.

The Chairman, Captain C.B. Balfour of Newton Don, Kelso, who spoke of the excellent work done by the nurses, drew special attention to the fact that the professional nurses had not only their own work to do, but were engaged besides in the training of novices which it added greatly to their labours.

Group of nurses taken in Northern France, probably c 1916. Source: Unsung heroes – World War 1 nurses. © Licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.


Captain Balfour was of opinion that our prisoners of war were in great need of help and sympathy. His own son had been a civilian prisoner in Germany since war broke out and, bad as the lot of the civilian prisoner had been we could be sure that the lot of the soldier prisoner was worse. Before the concert opened Captain Balfour said that many of the artistes were well known to him. They had come to Newton Don once every month for more than a year, and he assured the audience that if their services were as much appreciated in Berwick as they are at Newton Don, a great treat was in store for them. (Applause).

Considerable changes had to be made. Private Bell, we regret to say, is in hospital, Lance Cpl. Henderson was indisposed, and Sgt. Clark had a bad throat. The absence of these skilled soldier artistes was much regretted, but their places were ably filled by Mrs R. H. Wilkinson (piano) and Mr James Winram, the celebrated Scottish violinist from Edinburgh, whose services were fortunately secured.

The concert opened with an instrumental trio – Mr Winram, violin; Private C. Irwin, “cello; Mrs R. H. Wilkinson, piano. It was seen at once that all three were expert musicians who acquitted themselves with as much ease and facility as if they had been playing together for years.




 In nearly all cases of farm labourers, passed for general service, which have come before recent Tribunals at Berwick, the men have been ordered to serve when a suitable substitute could be found. Then the young ploughman, or shepherd, or carter has been allowed to return to his work, and nothing further has happened. Now, however, things have begun to happen. A week ago a contingent of 120 soldiers came to Berwick, nearly all men who have been doing their bit in France, and who now, because they are wounded, or for some other reason, have been placed in the C2 category. They have been ploughmen, carters, joiners, general labourers, and poultry farmers in civil life, and are as alert and keen a set of men as one could wish to see, all as eager to do their part in providing food for the people as they were eager in other days to help to keep the enemy from our shores. They are drawn from different regiments, among them are a very considerable number of Lancashire and Yorkshire men. The officer in charge is a qualified and experienced agriculturist.

19/20th Century Bondagers at work (c) BRO 1894-30


Many farmers who came to the market on Saturday said they had heard rumours of the arrival of the substitutes, but had no definite information about them. They seemed much relieved to find so many men, among them who had had experience in agriculture, and find that arrangements were in the hands of an officer with such splendid agricultural qualifications. The chief objection raised by local farmers to the substitution scheme was, “Where are these men to be housed? The farm cottages are too small to cope with even one extra person”. Another farmer, hearing this objection, took a more cheerful view. “Surely that is not a difficulty we need trouble about” he said. “I am sure we can rig up something quite as comfortable as many a billet for our ploughmen substitutes, even if we can’t provide them all with cottages.”



Alice Mary Carr-Ellison: In Peace & War

Jock, Alice, and Ralph Carr-Ellison, 41 Princes Gate, London,


Alice was born Alice Mary Campbell in 1866 in Glendaruel, Argyll, the youngest child of Archibald Campbell, Captain of the 42nd Highlanders, and his second wife, Christina Maclaren.  Alice’s brother, William, was an officer in the Black Watch, and had served in South Africa, alongside Ralph Henry Carr-Ellison, Alice’s future husband.  Ralph mentioned Alice in his letters home from Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Africa, where he was serving in the British Bechuanaland Police – a border police force.  When he returned home in the Autumn of 1892, their engagement was announced.

They were married at St. Peter’s Parish Church, Cranley Gardens, London, on 28 February 1893.  Ralph was stationed in York at the time of their marriage, and the couple lived there for a time, before Ralph was posted to Ireland.  Their only child, John (Jock) Campbell Carr-Ellison, was born on 25 September 1897, at 4 Walton Street, London.  Alice was to leave her son when he was two years old, to follow her husband to South Africa.  She set sail on the S.S. Norman not long after her husband sailed in 1899.

While Ralph was on campaign, Alice was left very much to her own devices, often for months at a time.  She would visit recent battlefields with friends, and she threw herself into the lively social scene.  Based firstly in Cape Town, she visited the sick and injured who had been sent back to the city after the battle at Magersfontein.  In January 1900, Alice made her way to Pietermaritzburg and again became involved in caring for the sick and wounded, and was asked to join the nursing staff.  Ralph did not approve, so Alice compromised; she carried on visiting the patients while acting as a voluntary nurse to those soldiers who were convalescing.

After almost three years in South Africa, on 2 July 1902, Alice set sail for Britain on the Dunottar Castle, even though she lacked the necessary permit for her passage, and brought two illegal immigrants (meerkats!) on board with her.  On 28 July, Alice landed at Callart, Invernesshire, and was reunited with her son, Jock, at Fort William.  By this time he was five years old.

Ralph had wanted to travel to Hong Kong after his return to England.  Alice was more than willing to travel with him – she was as adventurous as he was – but her health deteriorated and the plans were forgotten.  The couple moved to Guernsey in 1906, when Ralph was made Deputy Governor of the island.  Their time on the island came to an end in 1910 and they embarked on a world tour, visiting Cairo and India along the way, only returning to Hedgeley in October 1913.



During the First World War, Alice organised working parties at her home in 41 Princes Gate, London, making articles for those at the Front.  When Ralph and Alice moved to Dublin she became involved in many welfare committees to improve conditions for soldiers and their families.  She organised food and tobacco parcels to be sent to the men at the front and those in prisoner of war camps.  She also formed a workshop for disabled soldiers, where they could make artificial limbs, giving them the chance to earn a wage and support their families.

In 1917, Alice did even more for the national war effort by turning Dunston Hill House, Gateshead, into an after-care home, catering for 45 disabled soldiers and sailors at a time.  The house was in a peaceful, countryside location, but was close enough to Newcastle to make it accessible.


Photograph of Dunston Hill House.


Dunston Hill House was taken over by the Northumberland War Pensions Committee, and used especially for neurasthenic cases – men suffering from the stress they had experienced in the trenches.  Alice was elected a member of the Committee that would run the Home, and was instrumental in planning the alterations and additions that would make a home into a hospital.

During the War, Princes Gate became a gathering place for servicemen, and Hedgeley became an unofficial rest and recreation centre for disabled officers.  Both houses were for the use of overseas troops – the South African, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces.

In September 1921, at the age of fifty-five, Alice died of pneumonia at her home in London.  Her cremation took place at Golder’s Green, and the ashes were interned in Eglingham churchyard on 14 September, after a memorial service that was attended by family, friends, local dignitaries and estate tenants from Northumberland and Durham.  Mr. G. Hemming, the Head Gardener at Hedgeley, lined the burial vault with laurel and flowers from the gardens of Hedgeley Hall.

This Week in World War One, 9 March 1917






Local Minister and the Food Problem. – In compliance with the recommendation of the Food Controller the Rev. John Macaskill, M.A., on Sunday in Wallace Green Church, Berwick, directed the attention of the congregation to the circular letter he had received regarding voluntary rationing. To the young people present he delivered a short but most interesting address based on the words, “Gathering up the fragments.” He showed how much food could be saved if each was to take care of the small pieces of bread that were over at meal times, and how great this waste amounted to in the aggregate. The same lesson applied to the diligent use of time. People often remarked how clever such and such a person was, but the explanation of this was to be found in the fact the individual alluded to made proper use of his odd moments in improving and storing his mind with useful knowledge. The reverend gentleman’s subsequent sermon was in a similar theme, and in concluding he pointed out that no doubt after the war habits of thrift of a bygone generation would be inculcated. Some might be inclined to think that we would lose the habits of hospitality for which our nation had been known. While restraints were good we must see that in the end it did not deprive us of our open handedness and our willingness to share the good things of life with others, cultivating and social fellowship which we remembered as one of life’s assets.

The “Tanks” at the Playhouse. – This week the film on exhibition is the “Fools of Fate,” The variety part is sustained by Miss B. Wright, contralto vocalist, in scena song and gipsy

“The Battle of the Somme” (1916 British film) – Source: Yorkshire Evening Post – Author: British government

encampment. There should be a great desire on the public’s part to witness the film on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as it is one which attracts attention everywhere. “The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks” will prove the most in spiriting war picture the world has ever seen. It is a noble and wonderful record of the great autumn battle, and is even more interesting than the world-famous picture “The Battle of the Somme.” The pictures have been taken on the actual battlefield, and contain nothing whatever in the nature of faked or made-up scenes. The film is divided into four parts, and the boldness of the forward dash, and the manner in which the Tanks arrived to upset the German calculations are all shown in these wonderful pictures, which in the wealth of their subject excel anything the world has ever seen. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the film is to be “The Miracle of Youth.” It is a picture version of the famous novel by Bret Harte, with Hobart Bosworth in the title role. The characters portrayed are exceptionally fine, the settings and photography being magnificent. Carino, the boy violinist, should prove an excellent variety programme, as he is a master of this sweet instrument.

Speed of Military Motor Vehicles – an order by the Scottish Command states:- With reference to the W.O. Letter, 92/2508 (A.G.3), dated 4th February 1915 (Command Order No. 309, dated 9th February 1915), attention has been drawn to the increasing number of fatal street accidents caused by Government cars or privately-owned cars driven by officers and men in uniform, and it is desired to impress on all ranks that the local speed rates must be strictly observed when travelling on duty. Special arrangements have been made for authorising cars to proceed at a speed in excess of the legal limit in case of extreme military urgency by the issue of a special written authority, and it is solely under this condition that any deviation in excess of the normal speed rates is permissible. Should any omission to observe this order render an officer or man liable to prosecution by the police authorities, and subsequently conviction, they will themselves pay any fines which may be incurred. The attention of all A.S.C. M.T. drivers should be drawn to paragraphs 6 to 10, appendix 27, Army Service Corps Regimental Standing Orders.




German Claims Descent from Grace Darling  –  At Liverpool a charge of making a false statement was preferred against Weximilian Eugene Backhans (37), and alleged German who posed as a Belgian. A detective stated that prisoner married an English woman 14 years ago, and claimed that his wife was a descendant of Grace Darling. There were three children. Before the war the prisoner was known as a German, and had boasted of what Germany could do to England. Evidence was given by an hotel manager and a waiter, who had known and worked with accused, that he was undoubtedly a German. The latter witness added he knew accused to be German, and once gave him a thrashing, “Only as recently as January, “said witness. “I met him. I am in the Volunteers, and said to him: Haven’t the interned you yet? I’ll see that they do. I’m not going to do volunteering if your at large.” Accused contended that he was born at Ostend. The magistrate said accused must go to gaol for three months.




The Local Government Board recommended that selection of rations be made involving the consumption of smaller quantities of flour, meat, and sugar, and a list of alternative articles substituted could be revised with the assistance of the medical officer. No dietary tables which appeared in excess of the Food Controller’s recommendations was to remain in force after 31st March. The relief in kind to the outdoor poor was also to be revised, while allowances to officers were to be a matter of arrangement between them and the Guardians.

Shown in the top right of this recipe book, is the WW1 Barley Bread recipe.


Mr Banks, Workhouse master, said that in the matter of meat, sugar, and flour, they were already within the Controller’s standard. The Medical Officer had pointed out the difficulties in getting substitutes in some instances, but he agreed that barley should take the place of flour bread. He had communicated with the baker, and he had promised to send up samples of barley bread. It was stated by the baker that he could make 1 lb. loves of barley, and if this suggestion was carried out it would bring down the allowances of bread to 4 lb. 2 ozs, per week.

In answer to Mr Peacocke the Master said that the children got fed according to individual requirements.

It was agreed to leave the matter in the hands of the Master and the Medical Officer.