KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Saturday 1 – It was a cold and stormy start to 1916 as crowds gathered in Mid Street in Keith to see in the New Year. The Institute bell was rung for quarter of an hour after which the revellers went their separate ways. It was a general holiday in Keith with many places of business closed including the banks and law offices. The Saturday market at the Auction Mart was held as usual. Despite the weather over 200 people took the train to Elgin, Huntly or Aberdeen. The Institute Museum was well patronised as was the roller-skating rink in St Thomas’ Hall and the Palace Cinema laid on extra houses for its customers. In Rothiemay a ploughing match was held at Hillock with teas and entertainment in the Hall in the village. The Forbes Arms Hotel in Rothiemay was advertised to let.
Sunday 2 – Red Cross Sunday was observed throughout Scotland. In Keith the National Reserve along with the Volunteer Training Corps and the League of Honour marched to the Parish Church. The Newmill section of the VTC marched to an afternoon service at their Parish Church. At Drummuir the Boy Scouts and the local branch of the Red Cross attended the service at Botriphnie Parish Church. Combined services were held in Rothiemay, at the Parish Church in the morning and at the UF Church in the evening.
Monday 3 – Miniature rifle shooting practice was taking place every Monday in the Drill Hall in Keith.
Tuesday 4 – James Ward presided at the January meeting of Keith Parish Council which dealt with 181 applications for relief from the Parish Trust Funds. In London, Sir John Simon resigned as Home Secretary. In the 1930s he would serve as Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Wednesday 5 – The Government introduced the Military Service Bill. Wednesday meetings of the Newmill Literary Society during January would include diverse topics such as “The Balkan Tangle”, “The Evil of Strikes” and “The Life and Death of an Iceberg”.
Thursday 6 – The Labour Party Executive, in opposition to compulsory military service, decided to withdraw from the Coalition Government. Today was the last day for offers for standing timber at Shiel Wood in Grange. The pupils at Thomas’ School were treated by Mr C. G. Ogilvie of Delvine and Earlsmount to tea and cakes at St Thomas’ Hall followed by a film show at the Palace Cinema in Mid Street.
Friday 7 -Grange School Board appointed Miss Mary W. Thomson from Fettercairn as assistant teacher at Crossroads School. The Montenegrins gained a victory against the invading Austrians at the Battle of Mojkovac.
Saturday 8 – The Banffshire Herald reported the first hatching in the district – ten white Wyandotte chicks at Glengerrack Mains. The Upper District Committee met in the Commercial Bank Buildings in Dufftown and appointed a committee to deal with the landslip on the road near Lynemore in Botriphnie. They also re-established the District Public Health Sub-Committee to oversee the work of the Sanitary Inspector and the Medical Officer in disinfecting houses affected by diphtheria in Rothiemay. The Banffshire Committee of the Light Horse Breeding Scheme met in Keith and resolved to continue its work during 1916 with the support of the Agricultural Board for Scotland. Keith and District Pig Breeding Society held its Annual Meeting. The Rothiemay Work Party was now officially recognised as “No 28 Banffshire”. The evacuation of troops from the Gallipoli Peninsula was being completed.
Sunday 9 – A Sunday service was held in Sillyearn School.
Monday 10 -Keith Town Council discussed the dangerous state of the road to the quarry at the top of Land Street. Mr John Cay, retired manager of the Keith Gas Works, was unanimously appointed to fill the vacancy on the Council.
Tuesday 11 -The Board of Turner Memorial Hospital appointed Nurse Mary Clark, currently at Duff House in Banff, as the new matron. Despite protests from the Government in Athens, French military forces occupied the Greek island of Corfu. Pupils at Mulben School had collected ten shillings for the Overseas Club. Austrian forces continued their advance in Montenegro with the capture of the capital, Cetinje.
Wednesday 12 – Banffshire was experiencing extremely windy weather. A meeting of the Banffshire Secondary Education Committee heard that there would be no medical or dental treatment for pupils in 1916. Keith Amateur Dramatic Society’s performance of “A Man in a Thousand” was held in the Longmore Hall in aid of local prisoners of war in Germany.
Thursday 13 -The violent weather brought down a tree at Grange Cemetery damaging outbuildings at Ladyhill. Recent inspections at Glen of Newmill School and Auchanacie School resulted in “very satisfactory” reports.
Friday 14 -The young people at Rothiemay Parish Church held their annual social meeting when the Christmas trees were dismantled and presents distributed.
Saturday 15 -An early morning fire completely destroyed the Hall in Milton of Rothiemay. The adjoining premises and stock of Mr Cruickshank, the shoemaker, were saved by the efforts of the villagers. The long and arduous evacuation of the Serbian Army through the mountains of Montenegro and Albania to safety in French-occupied Corfu was being completed. Over 200,000 men had perished since the withdrawal began in November.
Sunday 16 -The Great North of Scotland Railway’s ambulance classes now had 40 females and 35 males attending the course.
Monday 17 -Keith Town Council heard appeals against the rates assessments.
Tuesday 18 – A four-day Grand Shooting Tournament organised by the Newmill Literary Society and the local section of the Volunteer Training Corps started in the Newmill Institute. Kelty, the baker, was advertising for a country vanman. Miss Ireland of the North of Scotland College of Agriculture gave a lecture on poultry in the Forgie School. Auchindachy House was advertised for sale.
Wednesday 19 -Police Judge Stewart presided as convener at a Derby Recruiting Scheme Appeals Tribunal for Keith Burgh. Banff Sheriff Court dealt with several local cases. A Grange farmer was fined for cutting open an anthrax carcase before getting veterinary confirmation of cause of death. The case against the farmer at Horsebog in Grange, for not informing the police about a stray dog, was dismissed. The Sheriff agreed to postpone the Royal Oak “treating” case pending a High Court ruling. In the case of Mrs Moggach against G & G Kynoch (her son had died of anthrax while working at Isla Bank Manure Works), Sheriff Stuart found against the pursuer because of a time delay in making the original claim. An appeal was being considered. A Cake and Candy Sale followed by a Café Chantant took place at the Patriotic Club in Turner Street. Miss Ireland repeated her poultry lecture, this time at Tarrycroys School.
Thursday 20 -The week-long armistice between Montenegro and Austria breaks down.
Friday 21 – A Patriotic Concert at Grange School included a performance of the farce “In The Good Old Summer Time”. Mr J W Kynoch of Isla Bank presented the prizes at the end of the Newmill Shooting Tournament.
The Seaforth Highlanders were involved in the Battle of Hanna in Mesoptamia (modern-day Iraq) against the Ottoman Empire.
Killed in action was 23-year old L/Cpl George Burns of the 1st Battalion. The son of John Burns of Marypark, he was previously in the Elginshire Constabulary before enlisting and had served in France prior to going out to the Persian Gulf.
Saturday 22 – Enzie and Boharm Smallholders’ Society had engaged the Clydesdale stallions Miltiades and Memento for the coming season. Maggieknockater and Arndilly Work Party was now recognised as “Banff No 21” and official badges would be issued soon. George Cameron, Bogbain, was elected Chairman of the Banffshire Road Board. The AGM of the local branch of the Scottish Rural Workers’ Friendly Society was held in William Robb’s office at 156a Mid Street, Keith.
Sunday 23 – The Austro-Hungarian advance in the Balkans continues with the occupation of Podgorica (now the capital of Montenegro) and the town of Scutari over the border in Albania. An evangelistic service took place in Rothiemay.
Monday 24 – Boharm School Board had to abandon plans for an evening class in cookery as no teacher was available. The Justiciary Court in Edinburgh confirmed there was no drinking-up time allowed in licensed premises following the 9pm closure.
Tuesday 25 – A reward could be claimed at Botriphnie Post Office for the return of a watch lost on the road between Keith and Drummuir. At Keith Police Court the accused was shocked when told the charge attracted a £2 fine. “Twa pound! Whit for?” “For being drunk and incapable” replied the Magistrate. “That’s ower muckle!” he protested but was relieved when the fine was set at five shillings or five days in jail. “That’s cheap” he declared to much laughter in the Court.
Wednesday 26 – An evening of Burns songs and recitations was enjoyed by Newmill Literary Society.
Thursday 27 – Conscription was introduced with the Military Service Bill receiving Royal Assent. The Longmore Hall Trustees held their Annual Meeting. The Shipping Control Committee was established in response to enemy attacks on merchant shipping.
Friday 28 -After a lapse of several months the local Volunteer Training Corps met at Grange School for drill.
Saturday 29 – A letter from the Scottish Command in Edinburgh stated that the German 77mm field gun captured at Loos would be sited in Keith. The farm of Maisley was advertised for let.
Sunday 30 -A gospel meeting in Drummuir Hall was addressed by Mr McNab, an evangelist from Glasgow.
Monday 31 -Cinema-goers at The Palace in Mid Street enjoyed “Heart of a Sheriff”, a tale of the Wild West, along with a comedy called “Hunting a Husband”, pictures of the Kiel Canal in Germany described as ”von Tirpitz’s hiding place” and the cliffhanger serial “The Black Box”. War Savings Committees were inaugurated.