KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Wed 1 – Miss Inez Howard’s Company presented a dramatic production of “The Rosary” in the Longmore Hall. Cairnie Parish Council submitted a petition to Huntly District Committee to have Cairnie Junction Railway Station opened up for passenger traffic.
Thur 2 – Keith School Board decided to continue German as a language course at the Grammar School and also mentioned Russian as a possibility for the following year. The Board also resolved to discontinue meantime offering cookery lessons at Keith Grammar to girls from Tarrcroys School following the closure of passenger services on the railway line from Aultmore Station to Keith.
Fri 3 – A meeting of dairymen and milk sellers in Keith agreed to increase the price of milk from 1/- to 1/3d a gallon from Monday 13th.
Sat 4 – Keith chemist Robert Garrow, local organiser for the Snapshots From Home League, was encouraging amateur enthusiasts to take photos for families to send to local men serving at the Front. The annual picnic and sports day was taking place at Ladysbridge. Recently decorated Sergeant John Ripley VC, originally from Keith, had his medal stolen in Edinburgh. It was found later in the street and handed in to the police.
Sun 5 – Rev. Alexander McKay of Botriphnie conducted his monthly service at Mill of Tauchers just across the road from the Distillery. A musical service in Grange Parish Church featured organist Herbert Sandison, soloist Josephine Anderson from Keith and the Church Choir. In Russia, Tsar Nicholas assumed personal command of the Imperial Army from his uncle Grand Duke Nikolai.
Mon 6 – Keith shoppers enjoyed the first day of draper Thomas Mitchell’s Rummage Sale. In Sofia in the Balkans, secret treaties were signed between Bulgaria and Germany and between Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. The Fordyce School Board remitted a new water supply scheme for Bogmuchals School for further consideration.
Tue 7 – A concert party from Buckie entertained the troops in the YMCA tent at Maisley. The tent had been floored courtesy of Calder’s Temperance Hotel (now the Railway Club) and was equipped with a new billiards table. Grange School had been closed for the past three weeks with an outbreak of measles.
Wed 8 – As a precautionary measure, schools in Dufftown had been closed because of scarlet fever.
Thur 9 – An attempt to remove Ramsay MacDonald from membership of Lossiemouth’s Moray Golf Club because of his anti-war views was defeated by five votes to three.
Fri 10 – Ruthven Ambulance Association held a successful social evening in the Public School.
Sat 11 – Arthur McConnachie announced the opening of his tailor’s business in Fife-Keith. The District Committee meeting in Dufftown reported that they were highly satisfied with the repairs to the Bridge of Maggieknockater. The Banffshire Herald reported the take-over of Craigellachie Distillery by Mackie & Co., Distillers, Ltd, makers of White Horse. There were now 113 distilleries operating in Scotland compared to 133 the previous year. Patients at Earlsmount had been entertained to a picnic at the Loch at Drummuir.
Sun 12 – A gospel meeting was held in Drummuir Hall. The Very Reverend Dean John Archibald died in Birmingham. He was the Episcopal incumbent in Keith from 1876 to 1912 and had overseen the building and opening of Holy Trinity Church in Station Road (later Seafield Avenue).
Mon 13 – The September meeting of Keith Town Council agreed to improve the lighting on the Union Bridge. Local milk price increases came into effect.
AC2 Robert Livingstone, Royal Flying Corps, died at King George’s Hospital in Lambeth, London. Prior to enlisting he had worked in the Post Office in Keith as a sorting clerk and telegraphist. He was buried in the churchyard in his native Kinlochlaggan in Inverness-shire.
Wed 15 – Fine weather on Keith’s September Market Day meant many farmers were busy harvesting and therefore few transactions were made. Shops remained open all day as per the Town Council Order. Dean Archibald’s funeral took place at Broomhill.
Fri 17 – A displenish sale at Garrelhill (Miss Mair) in the Glen of Newmill was well attended. A concert by Mr J.N Taylor’s summer music class was held in the crowded Hall in Milltown of Rothiemay.
Sat 18 –The shop and house at Craigisla, Grange Station, was up for sale in the Royal Hotel, Keith. On the Eastern Front the German Army captured Wilno (now Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania). Sales of growing crop were being held on the lotted lands of Newmill and Fife-Keith and also at the Cuthil, Lochend and the Golf Course.
Sun 19 – A performance at Keith Parish Church by Sir Frederick Bridge, the organist of Westminster Abbey, in aid of Prisoner of War funds, attracted 1,600 people. He was accompanied on the violin by his daughter Rosalind Stainer.
Mon 20 – The September Local Holiday was accompanied by good weather and allowed people from Keith and Newmill to venture as far afield as Aberdeen, Inverness and the Coast. The Elite Syndicate celebrated the opening of their new cinema, the Palace in Mid Street, with a showing of “Neptune’s Daughter” to two full houses.
Tue 21 – Miss Innes of Edingight, who was shortly to leave the district, brought a conjurer from Aberdeen for her annual treat to the pupils at Sillyearn School. Facing a deficit of £1,619 million for the year, the Chancellor, Mr McKenna, presented his Budget to Parliament and proposed sweeping changes to Income Tax and Supertax along with increased duties on various items. Telegraph and postal rates would be increased and the halfpenny postage would be abolished. A shelter had been erected at Bridgefoot Halt on the railway line to Banff. Passengers at the nearby Golf Club House Halt were hoping their turn would be next.
Wed 22 – A performance of local solicitor S.W. Mayer’s “Soldiers of the King” in aid of the Gordons’ Pipe Band Fund was taking place in St Thomas’ Hall. At the Palace Cinema, with a new film every night this week, patrons were watching the comedy “The Win(k)some Widow”. Abroad, Bulgaria ordered mobilisation followed the next day by a precautionary mobilisation by Greece.
Fri 24 – Sillyearn School held its prize-giving before going on harvest holidays.
Sat 25 – The YWCA Institute in Turner Street was officially opened by Lady Proctor, President of the YWCA of Great Britain and Ireland. The British began the two-week Battle of Loos, their biggest Western Front offensive of 1915. The 6th Gordons, “The Fighting Sixth”, were heavily involved, advancing 2,000 yards into German-held territory in just 70 minutes. They suffered many casualties:
Pte William Angus was 19 years old and had been an apprentice chemist with John Rioch in Mid Street, Keith.
Pte Robert Corbett, from Back Street, Newmill, is commemorated on the village War Memorial.
Cpl Donald Duncan, a Keith Territorial from 1908, had been wounded at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March and was a tailor to trade.
Pte William Duncan was 24 years old and from Moss-side, Rothiemay.
Act Cpl Charles Lawrence was in charge of a bomb-throwing squad and had worked for Paterson the baker in Fife-Keith.
Pte John McKay was 21 years old and had been a farm servant working on the milk cart of Mr Cameron of Braehead, Keith.
Pte Alexander Mitchell, who was born at Slackbuie and was a farm servant, is remembered on the Boharm War Memorial.
Lt James Scott was originally from Tarrycroys and was a teacher at Mortlach Higher Grade School in Dufftown.
Act Cpl William G. Stephen was a clerk at Isla Bank Mills.
Pte Rose Currie Stewart was 23 years old, originally from Bracobrae in Grange, and had been a farm servant near Forres.
2nd Lt William J. Watt, who was born at Whitehillock, Cairnie, was the son of Robert and Jane Watt of Land Street, Keith.
Others lost that day were:
Pte William Donald, 4th Gordon Highlanders, from Miltories, Rothiemay, was 22 years old and an Arts Student.
L/Cpl William Gordon, 10th Gordon Highlanders, had been a clerk with the GNSR and then with Brown, Shipbuilders, Clydebank.
Pte Gordon Grant, 7th Cameron Highlanders, son of Mrs Grant of Fife Street, was a machine gunner and had been a ticket clerk at Glasgow Central Railway Station.
Sun 26 – The storm and torrential rain over the weekend caused widespread damage and disruption over much of Banffshire and Morayshire. More than four inches of rain fell at Gordon Castle at Fochabers on Saturday and Sunday. The flooding was the worst experienced since the disastrous Muckle Spate of 1829. Keir Hardie, MP and former Labour Leader, died in Glasgow. A special dedication service took place in the Hillhead Mission Hall in Grange for the harmonium gifted by Miss B. Milne of Glasgow.
Pte James Bruce, 6th Gordon Highlanders, was 17 years old and from Union Street, Keith. He was a stretcher-bearer and went missing while retrieving wounded comrades from no-man’s land.
Lieutenant Colonel Angus F. Douglas-Hamilton, commanding the 6th Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, was killed leading his men in repeated charges against the enemy at Chalet Wood near Hill 70 during The Battle of Loos. His bravery led to the enemy advance in the area being checked. His posthumous Victoria Cross was presented by King George to his widow, Anna, of Bunchrew House near Inverness. Lt.-Col. Douglas-Hamilton was 52 years old, had served previously in the Sudan, South Africa, China and India, and was a former adjutant of the 6th Gordon Highlanders at Keith.
Mon 27 – The Order of the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) for Scotland (Northern Area) came into force in Banffshire severely restricting the hours and conditions of on- and off-sales. Resentment was rife in the licensed trade in Keith with the opinion that their Banffshire Licensed Victuallers Association was “moribund and useless”. A meeting of the Boharm School Board decided that the only continuation class this year would be cookery for girls. They also noted that fifteen parents had declined to allow school dental treatment for their children.
Cpl John Cormie, 1st Scots Guards, was killed in action and was the son of James and Isabella Cormie of Hill Street, Newmill.
Wed 29 – A special meeting of the Keith Gas Light Company accepted the resignation of Mr John Cay who had been the gas manager for 27 years. The position would be advertised at a salary of £100 per annum with free house and garden. The annual meeting of the Banffshire Wine, Spirit and Beer Trade Association was held in the Commercial Hotel in Keith. George Robertson, Merchant, Newmill, was appointed a director and Mrs Jeannie Sim of the Crown Hotel, Newmill, and Mr A. McDonald of the Forbes Arms, Rothiemay, were admitted as new members.
Thur 30 – For a small charge, children attended the dress rehearsal of a local amateur dramatic production in the Drummuir Hall. The street lights were switched on in Keith, with the addition of a lamp at the end of Isla Road in Fife-Keith and one in Turner Street.
Sgt James Robb, 6th Gordon Highlanders, died of his wounds in St. John’s Hospital, Étaples. He had been a warper at Isla Bank Mills, a Director of the Newmill Institute and lived with his wife, Ella, at Millar Place in Newmill.