KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Thursday 1 A meeting of the Keith School Board granted the cleaners at Tarrycroys and Glen of Newmill Schools a £1 war bonus. Miss Harvie of Keith Grammar School resigned to take up government work and was replaced by Miss Simpson of Nelson Terrace at an annual salary of £90.
Friday 2 The Corn Production Act 1917 guarantees minimum prices for staple food crops and lays down minimum wages for agricultural workers.
Saturday 3 Keith drapers’ winter sales were in full swing with Sandison’s of Mid Street finishing theirs this week. A halibut, about 8 feet in length and weighing over 2cwt, was landed at Buckie and sold for £3 15s. The United States severed diplomatic relations with Germany. The AGM of the Central Banffshire Farmers’ Club in the Commercial Hotel in Keith reported a membership of 570 and decided not to hold a Spring or a Summer Show in 1917.
Sunday 4 Rev. J. G. Cranmer gave a limelight picture sermon at Grange Parish Church on Holman Hunt’s painting ‘The Light of the World’. American troops were being withdrawn from Mexico.
Monday 5 A Glenbarry railway ticket inspector had his bail money of 7s 6d forfeited for non-appearance at Keith Police Court. Botriphnie and much of Banffshire was in the grip of a heavy snowstorm with drifting, blocked roads and the severest frosts for many years.
Tuesday 6 Keith Parish Council Landward Area Committee heard a petition from a Forgie resident regarding a closed right of way and advised him to pursue it with the Upper District Committee of the County Council. The coldest night of the year was experienced with the temperature in Keith dipping to +4°F (-15.5°C) and in Oxfordshire to -4°F (-20.0°C). Banff and Strathbogie U. F. Church Presbytery granted a four-month leave of absence to Rev. J. F. Philip of the North Church in Keith to serve at the YMCA Huts in France. Grange Parish Council expressed concern about the number of children in the parish who had not been vaccinated against smallpox. Keith Parish Council agreed to invest £500 from the Parish Trust Funds in the War Loan. It was estimated that the Keith area had invested around £100,000 including £300 from Turner Memorial Hospital and £100 from Lodge St James No 713. In its first week of operation, Keith Parish Landward had contributed more than £1,100 to its War Savings Association. Gábor Sári was born in Budapest. She was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936 and later became famous as the international film star Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Wednesday 7 At Banff Sheriff Court, a Dufftown labourer, who ushered in 1917 by ringing the Mortlach School bell on Hogmanay contrary to the Defence of the Realm Act regulations, was fined ten shillings or ten days in jail.
Thursday 8 Pte Charles Pirie (23), 2nd Gordon Highlanders, died at No 3 Clearing Station in France from wounds received in action. A native of Keith, he had served in Egypt before being transferred to Belgium and France. His grandfather, Mr Donald Ross of Station Road, has a further 15 grandsons on active service.
Friday 9 Over 130 competitors attended a whist drive in Drummuir Hall in aid of the local Volunteer Training Corps and Red Cross funds. The last of a series of fundraising concerts by Grange School Board in aid of comforts for Grange men serving in the forces took place in Crossroads School and included a party of singers from Keith. Keith North U. F. Church Sunday School held its annual soiree.
Sapper James A. M. Mitchell (21), Royal Engineers, who died today, is commemorated on the Keith War Memorial.
Saturday 10 The Banffshire Herald reported that the Maggieknockater and Arndilly Work Party had received a donation of £20 from the Spey, Aven and Fiddichside Farmer Club. They also noted that the recently introduced 50% increase in rail fares would not apply to relatives visiting injured soldiers and sailors in hospital. James Smith, tailor and clothier, Newmill, was advertising a large selection of ready-made suits for boys and youths. Two engine drivers, from Aultmore and Newmill, were presented with parting gifts from their colleagues following the closing of the Burghead to Hopeman line and their transfer to Inverness and Keith Stations.
Sunday 11 A Service of Praise was held in Rothiemay Parish Church with the collection in aid of the Belgian Refugees Fund. Mr Walsh informed the Grange Volunteers he was relinquishing command of the organisation in Grange.
Monday 12 There was relief in Grange as letters were received from two soldiers in the Highland Light Infantry who had been missing since November and were now POWs in Germany. The first park of grassland was ploughed up at Cullen House Home Farm under the Food Production Committee scheme for the county using an Emerson motor tractor and three-furrow plough.
Tuesday 13 Strathbogie Church of Scotland Presbytery gave Rev. David Anderson of Rothiemay leave of absence to work with the YMCA in France.
Wednesday 14 In Drummuir Hall, Mr William Robertson, retired colporteur, The Glack, gave lantern slide presentations on ‘Life in the Royal Navy’ and ‘The Origin of War’ with emphasis on the Balkan Question. The Newmill Literary Society and the local Volunteers met in the Library for an address by Sgt McKie of Fife-Keith on the topic of ‘Shooting’.
Friday 16 Rothiemay War Savings Committee met to make arrangements for the parish. The Railway Clerks’ Association held a whist drive in the Longmore Hall in aid of their Benevolent Fund. Woodhead,Mayen, was the venue for a successful whist drive and dance to raise funds for the YMCA Huts.
Saturday 17 John G. Fleming, the Town Clerk of Keith, was appointed Lt Col and Commandant of the Banffshire Volunteer Regiment and left for training in London. The Banffshire Herald reported donations of items including old coins to the Keith Museum. Mr J. F. Duncan, Aberdeen, Secretary General of the Scottish Farm Servants’ Union, addressed a meeting of the Keith branch in the Institute.
Pte William S. Kerr (20), 2nd Gordon Highlanders, died asleep in his bunk when the roof of his dugout collapsed after a sudden thaw. He had been apprenticed to Paterson the baker in Fife-Keith and was a cornet player in the Keith Town Band. The pipes were played at his burial in the British Military Cemetery at Marouel in France.
Sunday 18 French and Italian forces met up in the southern Balkans to cut Greece off from the Central Powers occupying Albania and Serbia.
Monday 19 Rev. Kedward from Portessie addressed a meeting of the British Women’s Temperance Association in Keith. The Emerson motor tractor moved to Braes of Enzie where 40 acres were ploughed up for crop production.
Tuesday 20 Turner Memorial Hospital advertised for a gardener, preference being given to a disabled serviceman. Provost Taylor’s Work Party opened a Rest Room at Keith Junction Station for soldiers and sailors travelling on the railway.
Wednesday 21 Mr L. F. Davidson, the sub-Commissioner for the counties of Nairn, Elgin and Banff, addressed a meeting in Keith on the new National Service scheme recently introduced by Neville Chamberlain, Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Director of National Service. British forces captured the last Turkish outposts holding out in the Sinai Peninsula.
Friday 23 A whist drive in Mulben School raised funds for the Auchlunkart, Mulben and Forgie Ladies’ Work Party.
Saturday 24 George Cameron of Bogbain was appointed Chairman of the Central Banffshire Farmers’ Club. Today was the centenary of the meeting in Skinner’s Inn, Land Street, Keith, giving off the first feus on Earl Fife’s new planned village at Cooperhill on the opposite side of the River Isla. The proposed name of Waterloo was changed to Fife-Keith. The steam yacht HMY Verona, on anti-submarine duties in the Moray Firth, struck a German mine off Tarbat Ness and sank with the loss of 23 crewmen.
L/Cpl William Fentie (23), a Seaforth Highlander attached to 134th Machine Gun Corps, died of his wounds in Mesopotamia. Born in Botriphnie and brought up in Keith, he had been in farm service before enlisting and serving in India and then in France. He is buried in the Amara War Cemetery in Iraq.
Monday 26 Two apprentice joiners from Newmill were fined one shilling each for tobogganing down the Quarry Brae. In New York, the Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band recorded ‘Dixieland Jass Band One-Step’, perhaps the first jazz recording.
Tuesday 27 A meeting of Keith Town Council and feuars identified areas suitable for putting into crop production including the upper part of the Leys, the Fife-Keith Market Green, the Golf Course and the Newmill Haugh. The farm of Eastbrae, tenanted by Mr Gordon Dickson, was advertised to let by Edingight Estate. George Mitchell, pianist and choral arranger of the George Mitchell Minstrels, was born in Falkirk. Rothiemay Red Cross members were collecting for the Orthopaedic Department of the Oldmill Military Hospital in Aberdeen.
Wednesday 28 Mr Taylor’s Orchestra and Mrs Reid’s Glee Party provided the entertainment at a musical Tea in aid of the Station Rest Room. A report to Prime Minister Lloyd George by Robert Donald of the secret War Propaganda Bureau resulted in the amalgamation of various bodies into the Department of Information. Robert Donald, originally from Corsemaul, was later appointed ‘Director of Propaganda in Neutral Countries’ and knighted for his services.