WW1 July 1917


Sunday 1   At the beginning of Scottish Red Cross Week the nurses from Earlsmount Hospital attended the service in Keith Parish Church.   The Imperial flag flew over Peking once again as 11-year old Puyi was reinstated as Emperor in a rebellion against the Republic of China.

Monday 2   James Milne of Backshalloch presided at the Boharm branch of the Scottish Rural Workers’ Friendly Society’s annual meeting in Mulben School.   Red Cross week activities in Keith included billiards and bowling tournaments as well as daily performances around the town by the Boy Scouts’ Pipe Band.

Pte William Watt (24), 6th Black Watch, was one of 15 soldiers in a work party killed by a shell burst near Ypres in Belgium. The son of John and Jane Watt of Broadrashes in the Glen of Newmill, he had been employed as a farm servant in Morayshire.

Tuesday 3   Keith Parish Council increased the occupier’s rates for 1917-18 by one farthing to 1s 10d. At Aberdeen Sheriff Court, the two soldiers, charged with assaulting and robbing a Cabbachs farm servant and his companion on the road to Mulben, were sentenced to nine and five months in prison with hard labour.   All roads led to Drummuir Castle for the Red Cross Fête where over £400 was raised. A special train was laid on by the GNSR to convey patrons from Rothiemay, Grange, Keith and Auchindachy to Drummuir. Upwards of 3,000 people enjoyed a host of attractions including a Parish Tug o’ War competition where Grange defeated Cairnie in the final.   In the evening over two hundred people attended a Whist Drive in Keith Grammar School.  The lucky pupils at Kininvie School each receive a holiday gift of a half crown from Miss Leslie of Kininvie House before going on their summer holidays.

Wednesday 4   Special performances of films not seen before in Keith were shown during Red Cross Week at the Palace Cinema. Tonight’s attraction was the drama ‘The Making of Maddalena’ starring Edna Goodrich.

Pte Alfred Allan (25), 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, died at No 30 Casualty Clearing Station in France of wounds received in action. He was the youngest son of Alexander and Margaret Allan of Denhead, Keith, and had been a farm worker in the area and in Morayshire.

Thursday 5   A Children’s Carnival with various competitions, a Punch and Judy Show and a Bon Ton Café was held in the grounds of Keith Grammar School.

Friday 6   Boharm contributions in kind for today’s Red Cross Week fundraising could be left at Mulben Post Office for collection. In the afternoon a Café Chantant at Earlsmount included side shows, musical performances and teas in the afternoon and a concert in the evening.   In the Near East, the Arab Revolt, with assistance from T E Lawrence, captured Aqaba from the Turks.

Saturday 7   The Executive Agricultural Committee met in Keith and heard that soldiers temporarily assigned to farm work could remain in position for the time being.    A Red Cross Flag Day was held in the local parishes with schoolchildren collecting in Grange and Rothiemay. Almost £10 was collected in the Maggieknockater, Arndilly and Mulben districts.   A Garden Fête at Park House in Ordiquhill in aid of the Red Cross raised £133.  

Sunday 8   The service at Botriphnie Parish Church was attended by members of the Volunteer Regiment, the local detachment of Red Cross nurses and the Boy Scouts who marched from Drummuir Hall to the Church.

Monday 9   A hoeing match was held at Miltories, Rothiemay, where A. Whyte won the halflins’ competition and K. Tocher was first in the girls’ section.   All businesses in Keith, other than the two woollen mills, were closed for the July Holiday.   An accidental explosion sank the battleship HMS Vanguard in Scapa Flow. There were only two survivors from the 845 crewmen on board.   British warplanes bombed the Turkish capital Constantinople.

Tuesday 10   Pte Alexander Watson (19), 6th Gordon Highlanders, was killed by a shell burst in the trenches at the front in Belgium. The son of the late James Watson, farm manager at Curlusk, and Mrs Williamina Allan of Braco Street, Fife-Keith, he had been a farm worker in Keith and Boharm.

Wednesday 11   A fire started in the thatched roof of the dwelling house at Wellfield , Glen of Newmill. The house was completely destroyed.   At Banff Sheriff Court, the merchant at Lower Cabrach was fined £25 or three months in jail for ‘shebeening’ (selling alcohol without a licence).

Thursday 12   Bostock and Wombwell’s World-Famous Menagerie came to Seafield Park, Keith.   Republican forces occupied Peking and ended the short-lived attempt to re-impose the Chinese Empire.

Pte John Riddoch (28), Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action in France. He was the son of James and Elsie Riddoch of Stripeside Cottages, Keith, and had previously served with the 2nd Gordons in Egypt. His name is remembered on the memorials in Grange.

Friday 13   Forgie schoolchildren begin their summer holidays.

Saturday 14   Drummuir Estate threatened prosecution of anyone found trespassing in Tenrood, Tombreck, Lochend or Haggieshall Woods.   The Herald reported that Towiemore Distillery had ceased production and converted all barley stocks in store to barley meal for sale to the public.

Sunday 15   Pte Robert Peddie (31), 8th South Lancashire Regiment, was killed by a shell while assisting in the removal of wounded from the field of battle in Belgium. He was the son of James and Anne Peddie, formerly of Turfhillock, Drummuir, and was employed by William Grant & Sons, Dufftown, in their distilleries and then at their office in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Monday 16   Keith Town Council appointed Alexander Auchinachie as prosecutor under the Local Authorities (Food Control)(Scotland) Order, 1917. The Burgh Surveyor was asked to investigate light shining out from the beer cellar openings of the Royal Hotel. The Council also set up a small committee to examine the possibility of bringing electricity to the town.   An uprising with Bolshevik support broke out in the Russian capital Petrograd but was put down by troops loyal to the Provisional Government.

Tuesday 17   The name of the British Royal Family changed from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor.

Wednesday 18   The Boundary Commission for Banffshire recommended that, in the redistribution of parliamentary seats under the Representation of the People Bill, Banffshire should include the burghs of Cullen, Banff and Macduff which were currently in the Elgin Burghs constituency.

Thursday 19   There was a large turnout of Keith Volunteers who were being measured for uniforms.

Friday 20   Representatives from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the Corfu Declaration to set up a post-war Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Saturday 21   Keith Harvest Feeing Market was very quiet with most business having been done through register offices.   The Banffshire Herald reported the Ministry of Food had taken over the whole of the Scottish raspberry crop and was advertising for women to pick rasps at Auchterarder and Blairgowrie.   The Herald also reported that Winston Churchill, Liberal MP for Dundee, was back in Government as Minister of Munitions.

Sunday 22   The Russian Minister of Munitions and Marine, Alexander Kerensky, replaced Prince Georgiy Lvov as Minister-Chairman of the Provisional Government.   Siam declared war on Germany.

Monday 23   Rothiemay Parish Council met to agree their budget for the year.    A thunderstorm with giant hailstones, the worst seen for many years, affected many parts of the county.

Wednesday 25   A public auction of horse hirer’s plant and stock took place in Fife-Keith.

Friday 27   Peter Fair was held at Rathven.   Mrs Reid gave a talk on bottling fruit at Rothiemay.

Sergeant Robert Webster (24), Scots Guards, was killed in action in Flanders. He was the son of Robert and Jessie Webster, Moss Street, Keith, and had been a policeman in Glasgow.

Saturday 28   Ord Pinder’s Circus came to Keith.   The Tarrycroys Picnic was held near the Station.

Sunday 29   Rev. Dr Emslie, from Livingstonia in Nyasaland, preached at the Newmill Mission Hall.

Monday 30   Pte William Currie Stewart (27), 7th Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action in Belgium. The son of the late Robert and Jessie Stewart of Braco Brae, he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial. He had worked on his mother’s croft and in the Cullen and Deskford districts.

Tuesday 31   Several local men fell on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele:

Captain Ian G. Fleming, MC, (25), 6th Gordon Highlanders, was the son of Colonel John G. Fleming and Mrs Lilias Fleming, Reidhaven House, Keith, and had been a solicitor in Edinburgh. 

Pte John Grant (22), 6th Gordon Highlanders, was the son of Maggie Grant, Wellington Terrace, Fife-Keith. He had worked as a boot boy at the Strathbogie Hotel in Huntly.

Acting Sergeant Alexander Pirie, 8/10th Gordon Highlanders, was a native of Huntly and is remembered on the Keith War Memorial.

Sergeant George Reid (35), 6th Gordon Highlanders, was the son of George and Helen Reid, Keith, and had been a slater at Isla Bank Mills and a former player with Keith Football Club before enlisting. He had also served in the South African War.

Two North East men were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the face of the enemy:  Acting Company Sergeant Major Alexander Edwards (31), 6th Seaforth Highlanders, from Lossiemouth and Pte George McIntosh (20), 6th Gordon Highlanders, from Portessie.

Royal Hotel cellar
HMS Vanguard
Siam Flag