This Week in World War One, 5 October 1917











It gave us pleasure in January last to record the good work performed by Gunner Geo. Ainslie, R.N.V.R., Spittal, and we are sure our readers will join with us in congratulating him on his latest exploit, which is worthy of the traditions of the noble Service to which he belongs.

The gallant deed was performed in the magazine of a burning ship, and is described in the undernoted letters which have been received by his parents.

He writes under date of August 23rd, as follows. Seaman Ainslie is a born letter-writer, and we give his racy narrative practically as he wrote it:-

Dear Mother and Father and Sisters,

Just a few lines to let you know that we are leaving —– on Wednesday for —– in —–. I hope we go to —– to get taken off this ship – it is a dirty one. If Jane and Nellie goes to France I hope they will have a safe voyage across the English Channel. There was another ship on fire here last night, and it was a very big fire, and they all left the ship just the same as they left our ship. So me and my mate went over to it and tried our best. It was just starting to the magazine when I had to burst the door open, and we got over one hundred rounds of shell out of it. Another two minutes and the ship would have been blown up. I was there from 7 o’clock last night till 12 o’clock, and all the head men here took my name and ship’s address, and I gave them my home address as well, so if anything comes you know what to do with it; and all the head blokes come down this morning again and asked me everything about it, so I told them all, and they said they were going to write to the Admiralty about me saving the ship. The Admiralty has not decided about our ship yet, but when they hear about me again they will be quite pleased as well. I don’t know how I will come on this time, but if I do get to hear I will let you know as soon as I can. So I will draw my short letter to a close. With best love to all from your loving son, George. Good-night all. Write soon, you can tell them all —E—– and the Master – to this address.


A later communication dated Sept. 11th, 1917, says:-

Dear Mother and Father and Sisters,

Just a few lines to let you know that I have been rewarded £50 for saving the ship from being blown up. I am getting it on Friday morning, so I will let you know as soon as I get it, and I am getting a new suit of clothes as well, and I have to see the Admiral as well sometime next week. I was all day yesterday at the inquiry about the fire. The Commander sent for me twice yestered.(sic) He said that I had done very good work and I was risking my life to save the ship, he said, and I was at another inquiry to-day as well, and if I don’t come home I will send all the money to you and you can put it away for me. I hope I soon get leave; if so I will bring it home with me. So I will draw my short and sweet letter to a close.

From your ever-loving son,


Few readers hear of the many brave actions performed by our sailors, and while actions worthy of the highest commendation are of daily occurrence, little is heard of them from the columns of our public prints. Amongst these acts of gallantry the deed of Gunner Ainslie ranks in the forefront.

Leading-Seaman Geo. Ainslie is a son of Mr and Mrs John Ainslie, 52 Middle Street, Spittal, and enlisted in the R.N.V.R. two years past in December, and has seen considerable service. Mr and Mrs Ainslie have two other sons, John and James, serving in the Navy.

Good luck to you, George, and more power to your elbow.




A march out of the Local Volunteers took place on Sunday last and there was a good turnout. We understand that the smart appearance of the men created a very favourable impression on several who watched the parade, and this it is hoped will produce several recruits. Twenty recruits have been obtained.

An inquest was held on Monday evening by Mr P. M. Henderson, Coroner, on the death of Alice Curry, aged three weeks, the infant daughter of William Curry, of 31 Chapel Street, Berwick. The child’s father, a private in the Scottish Rifles, identified the body. Margaret Hutchison Curry, the mother of the child, said that the baby was alive and in bed with her between three and four on Sunday morning. She had two other children, who were sleeping at the foot of the bed. About eight the same morning she found that the child was lying dead in her arms. The body was quite warm. She did not know what had caused its death, unless it had taken a fit. She had spent the previous day in the house, except that she went to see Father Smythe about the christening of the child. She put the other two children to bed on Saturday evening, and about eight went upstairs to talk with Mrs Houston, a neighbour, and stayed there till ten, having the infant with her all the time. She then returned to her own house and went to bed, being quite sober. Dr Fraser gave evidence that there were no marks of violence on the child, who had apparently died by suffocation, or accidental overlaying. P.C. Watt, who went to 31, Chapel Street at one o’clock on Sunday afternoon, on account of information received, said the mother then appeared to be in a sober condition, and competent to take charge of children. The Jury returned a verdict of natural causes, supervening on suffocation.




Twenty-six hampers of fruit and vegetables have been despatched during September from the Berwick Branch of the Committee for providing vegetables for the Fleet. The following donors are thanked for their gifts of apples, pears, cauliflowers, cabbages, and cucumbers: – The Honble. Mrs Askew Robertson, Ladykirk; Mrs Carmichael, Rosybank; Miss Gilroy, Fair Mount; Miss Gray, Bankhill; Miss Leyland, Haggerston Castle; and Mrs Herriot, Sanson Seal. Vegetables are sent to Rosyth every Saturday and from there are distributed to various flotillas.

Hettie G. Hogarth, Acting Secy.

Photograph of the Rosyth Naval Dockyard taken in 1975. The dockyard is where vegetables from the Berwick Branch of the Committee for providing vegetables for the Fleet were delivered during WW1. © Copyright M J Richardson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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