KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Thu 1- The 6th Gordons, who had been billeted in the town of Keith over the last ten months, moved to a tented encampment on the Muir of Maisley. Rothiemay Public School broke up for the summer holidays. At Ternemny School more than three quarters of the pupils received prizes from Rev. D.A. Anderson before starting their summer break. A meeting was held in the Keith Institute Hall to establish a branch of the Women’s League of Honour. It was one of many around the County to encourage women and girls to uphold the welfare of the nation through prayer, purity and temperance.
Fri 2 – It was the end of the school year for most pupils in the Keith School Board area. Thomas M. Taylor (later Sir Thomas Taylor) was the Dux of the year at Keith Grammar School. At Fife-Keith School the pupils received sweets and a new penny from J.H. Dawson and Isaac Sharpe. The prizes at Auchanacie were presented by Mr Adam Laidlaw of Seafield Mills and at Tarrycroys by Mr Alex Auchinachie, solicitor, convener of the school committee. Rev. J.M. McPherson did the honours at Newmill School. Further afield, the children at Brodiesord School enjoyed their annual picnic at Newmills of Boyne. The Minister from Premnay conducted the preparatory Service at Rothiemay prior to Sunday’s Communion Service.
Sat 3 – The YMCA Tent at the Maisley Camp was catering for the reading, writing and recreation needs of the troops. It included a Post Office, a Savings Bank and sold light refreshments at a moderate charge. G. Baxter & Sons of Fochabers were advertising for blackcurrants, any amount up to five tons. A Free Gift Sale in aid of the Belgian, Polish and Serbian Relief Funds took place in the Keith Auction Mart and in Keith Grammar School. Items included animals, vehicles, implements, goods and produce. Sales of flags and favours by young ladies in the town added to the funds as did concerts held in the evening. In all over £800 was raised. Seafield Estates invited estimates for cleaning the Den ditch at Keith.
Sun 4 – At the North U.F. Church in Keith Rev. J.T. Webster from Budapest spoke on “War Impressions from Eastern Europe”. War casualties (killed, wounded and missing) were listed recently as : Kingdom of Bavaria 190, Britain and Colonies 258,000, Kingdom of Prussia 1.4 million. The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s casualties were even higher.
Mon 5 – About twenty Keith Scouts left for a fortnight’s summer camp at Inschtammack on the banks of the Deveron near Huntly. As yet another offending Territorial was dealt with by the Keith Police Court, the Fiscal was at pains to point out to both officers and men of the 3/6th Gordons that, outside of the Maisley Camp, it was the civil police who had supreme authority.
Tue 6 – Peter Dawson & Co were advertising for a Brewer for their Towiemore Distillery. A Public Inquiry before Sheriff Stuart and jury was held in Banff into the death from anthrax of Keith Manure Works employee, John Moggach of Union Street. A formal verdict was returned. The monthly meeting of Keith Parish Council considered its budget for 1915-16 and raised the occupier’s rates by one farthing.
Wed 7 – Despite the inclement weather it was fun and games for 200 children and 100 adults as the North U.F. Church Sunday School picnic was moved from Birkenburn to the Longmore Hall in Keith. Grange Parsh Council appointed a committee to meet with petitioners for a bridge to be built ar the ford over the Bowie Burn near Burnend. Grange School Board reported that experimental science was now being taught at Sillyearn School. Pupils in the Parish were delighted to hear that the Board had decreed a school holiday on Keith Show Day in August. In Southern Angola neutral Portuguese forces, who had been engaged since October in an undeclared war against invading German troops, eventually retook Humbe on the border with South West Africa. St Sairs Horse Fair near Oyne, the largest in the North East, attracted about 400 animals, substantially down on last year.
Thur 8 – The Minister from the North U.F. Church conducted an evening Service at Tarrycroys School. The prizegiving ceremony at Maggieknockater School was a deliberately quiet affair. Mr Murray, Convener of the School Committee, presented prize books provided by the Grieve Bequest.
Fri 9 – The July monthly meeting of Keith Town Council took place in the Institute. The Council was indignant that five shopkeepers had failed to observe the required half-day holiday on the Thursday following the June Market. The Town Clerk was instructed to write to the offenders accordingly. German forces in South West Africa surrendered the territory to the Union of South Africa troops of Prime Minister Botha.
Sat 10 – The Upper District Committee of Banff County Council met in Dufftown. Mr George of Parks complained about the damage done to roads in the Rothiemay area by overloaded traction engines. A sub-committee was established to consider framing by-laws regarding weight restrictions for roads and bridges.
Sun 11 – Rev.J.G. Cranmer conducted a Service in the Sillyearn School.
Mon 12 – The poor weather continued with heavy showers in the morning for the Keith and Newmill local holiday. With no cheap railway excursion fares it was a very quiet day.
Tue 13 – The AGM of the Keith Plate Glass Protection Association was held in the offices of Messrs Stephen, Solicitors. Cairnie Parish Council was presented with a petition pressing for the opening of Cairnie Junction Station for general public traffic.
Cpl Alfred D. McWilliam, a grenadier in the 1st Gordon Highlanders, was shot through the head by a German sniper in Belgium. A native of Boharm, he had been engaged in shorthorn breeding in Argentina for the past two years but had returned to enlist with the Gordons.
Wed 14 – Wet conditions did not deter about thirty entrants to a hoeing match at Mr Donald’s farm of Miltories in Rothiemay.
Thur 15 – Rev W.W. Cruickshank presided at a committee meeting in the Rectory of the Holy Trinity Church Men’s Society. An evening Service in the Glen of Newmill School was conducted by Rev John F. Philip from Keith.
Fri 16 – A new official world record of 4m 12.6s for the mile was set by American Norman Taber at Harvard in the United States. However, it was not until 1931 that Englishman Walter George’s unofficial time of 4m 10.2s of 1885 was bettered. George Cormack was Dux at the Glen School prizegiving. Pupils then started their split summer holidays, the remainder to be taken at harvest time.
Sat 17 – Wages were a little higher this year at the Harvest Feeing Market in Keith. Despite a shortage of men and a plentiful availability of female labour, women were in general not wanted for hairst work. Elsewhere, when 14,000 railway jobs became vacant, it was reported that 30,000 women had applied to fill the positions. In London Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst (after coming to an arrangement with Minister of Munitions Lloyd George) led the Women’s Right To Serve Demonstration. There were now 4.1 million women in work in Britain. A £50 cheque from Mrs Davidson of Cullen had procured a new piano and a gramophone for the recreation tent at the Maisley Camp.
Sun 18 – Pte Gordon McHattie, 1st Gordon Highlanders, son of Alexander McHattie of Parkhead, Botriphnie, was killed in action near Ypres. He is buried at Zillebeke in Belgium and is commemorated on the War Memorial at Botriphnie.
Tue 20 – Sgt Alexander Allardyce, 4th Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action. He was the son of the late Rothiemay minister Rev William Allardyce and had been a solicitor in Aberdeen.
Wed 21 – A labourer of no fixed abode was up before the Keith Police Court having been found in a “state of intoxication” in Balloch Road. This being his fourth offence in 12 months, he was fined £1 or ten days and was ordered to be “black-listed”. The Botriphnie School Board decided to invest some of its funds in the War Loan: £20 from the Gymnasium Fund and £20 from the Admiral Duff Bequest.
Thur 22 – The Keith Town Band gave an evening performance outside the Green School. Kirkcaldy-born Sir Sandford Fleming, the proposer of World Time Zones, died at Halifax in Nova Scotia.
Fri 23 – The Keith Branch of the League of Pity met in Reidhaven House to discuss arrangements for their fundraising on Keith Show Day. It was a busy day in Rothiemay with a hoeing match at Cairnhill and the annual sale of work of the Rothiemay Women’s Missionary Association, which also included an afternoon concert by Mr Rogers and party. Further down the Deveron at Ardmeallie three cattle were killed by a lightning strike. The popular Peter Fair or Rathven Market was held on a stance near Rathven Railway Station. Passengers, using the train to get from Portessie and Buckie or from Enzie and Drybridge to the Fair, little suspected what disastrous news the following week would bring.
Pte. John Masson, 6th Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action in France. He was born in Keith in 1879 when his father, Robert Masson, was meal miller at Strathisla Mills (now Strathmill distillery). The family later moved to Tormore Mills and John worked as a farm labourer in Inveravon.
Sat 24 – Captain Ian Fleming, Gordon Highlanders, of Malta House in Keith, was presented with the Military Cross “for distinguished conduct in the field” by King George V at Windsor Castle. It was reported that a salmon weighing 53 lb had been taken at the mouth of the Spey. It was valued at £3 15s.
Mon 26 – A shooting match took place at the Newmill Rifle Range between the Newmill and Keith sections of the Volunteer Training Corps. The Keith area experienced a severe thunderstorm accompanied by spectacular lightning. In Huntly streets were flooded and the ground in Cairnie was white with large hailstones. A public meeting in Keith was addressed by the Hon. William Watson, M.P. for South Lanark, on the subject of the War Loan. Already £4,000 had been invested in Keith through the Post Office and over £400 million nationwide.
Tue 27 – The annual horse market took place at Glass. In the Caribbean President V.B. Sam of Haiti had 167 political prisoners, including former President Zamor, executed. He was himself assassinated by the mob in the ensuing insurrection.
Wed 28 – The United States responded quickly to the unstable situation in Haiti, moved in troops and occupied the country until 1934. Drummuir, which had seen only two dry days in July, recorded 1.3 inches of rainfall in one day.
Thur 29 – At Botriphnie the scholars should have been happy. It was their prizegiving day but the School Board was not paying for prizes this year. It was also the start of their summer holidays but it was still raining. Transport was laid on to convey customers from Keith to the sale of work at the Cairnie U.F. Church at Botary. The Highland Railway Company, without any prior warning, issued the shock announcement that the Keith to Buckie line would be closed to all traffic from next week.
Sat 31 – The 3/6th Gordons marched from their Maisley Camp to Drummuir Castle and enjoyed a sports day hosted by Mrs F.V. McConnell of Hertfordshire who had rented the Castle for the season. The French Relief Fund benefitted from a collection by the Maggieknockater Sabbath School and from various collections in the lower district of Boharm. The Grouse (Close Time) (Scotland) Bill, an attempt by Lord Lovat to advance the Glorious Twelfth to become the Glorious Fifth was dropped by Parliament. For the grouse, at least, there was one more week’s respite from the guns.