KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Thursday 1 In the North Sea, off the coast of Denmark, the British and German Fleets disengaged after the inconclusive Battle of Jutland. Henrietta Tayler, Matron at the Earlsmount Hospital, left to take up a position at the Queen of the Belgians’ Hospital in La Panne. An afternoon matinee had to be included at the cinema in Keith for the one-day only showing of the Charlie Chaplin film ‘Shanghaied’. Keith School Board agreed to continue the usual prize money to their rural schools. Their popular continuation classes had attracted 232 pupils and would be repeated in 1916-17. Lieutenant George Petrie Hay of Edintore was presented with the Military Cross by King George at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace for conspicuous bravery in the field.
Pte Ewen McLean (37) of the 6th Gordon Highlanders died after a short illness at Hawick Cottage Hospital. Prior to enlisting, he had been a grocer in Keith and was a prominent member of Strathisla Football Club.
Friday 2 There were two local weddings today. Mary Leith from Slackbuie, Boharm, was married at the Institute in Keith. John Allan from Bowlins celebrated his wedding at the Forbes Arms Hotel in Bridge of Alford. Showing at the Palace Cinema was the film ‘In Search of a Husband’ starring Barbara Conrad.
Saturday 3 This month meetings were being held around the county to promote the formation of local co-operative agricultural societies. Tonight’s meeting at Newmill was addressed by ex-Provost Hilson of Jedburgh on the subject of Smallholdings and Co-operation. The Banffshire Herald printed an appeal for sphagnum moss to be collected and sent to the local receiving depot at Isla Bank Mills. The local Red Cross would pay for the postage. It would then be forwarded to Edinburgh for processing into absorbent wound dressings. The Lord Chancellor had appointed 62 additional Justices of the Peace in Banffshire. New JPs in Rothiemay were John Cruickshank from Knauchland, Col Ian Foster Forbes of Rothiemay Castle and Charles Kemp from Auchencrieve. George Douglas of Bridgeton and Thomas Macaulay Smith, the headmaster at Maggieknockater, were appointed in Boharm.
Sunday 4 There was a large attendance at the burial of Pte Ewen McLean in the Old Churchyard in Keith.
Monday 5 Price increases in Banffshire public houses came into effect. A pint of beer now cost 5d and a whisky from 6d to 8d. Boharm School Board allocated 15s 2d from the Grieve Bequest to Forgie School for this year’s prizes. HMS Hampshire, en route from Scapa Flow in Orkney to Archangel in Russia, struck a German mine off the island of Hoy and sank. Among the casualties were British War Secretary Lord Kitchener and his staff on a mission to confer with the Russian Government.
Tuesday 6 Heavy rain in the area resulted in flooding at Auchindachy and the abandonment of classes in Keith as pupils were sent home from school. Despite a fall in numbers attending schools in the parish, Grange School Board produced a “highly satisfactory” annual balance sheet and managed to reduce their bank overdraft. News of Lord Kitchener’s death cast a gloomy shadow on the Smallholdings and Co-operation meeting at Crossroads School. An additional speaker this evening was Mr Drummond of Scottish Central Markets Ltd. The Entente allies, who were already in occupation of several Greek islands and the area around Salonika, began a peaceful blockade of Greece to force a change of government in Athens. President Yuan Shikai of China died in Beijing. Josephina Clayton, formerly of Keith, died in Paris aged 69. She had gone to Auxerre in France aged 15 to learn the language. She married Dr Paul Bert, later Professor of Physiology at the Sorbonne, a Minister of Education and Worship in the French Government and Resident-General in Annam and Tonkin, where he died in 1886.
Wednesday 7 War Secretary Lord Kitchener’s death was marked by flags in Keith and Fife-Keith being flown at half-mast. A whist drive in the Drill Hall in aid of war charities was cancelled out of respect. Botriphnie School Board reported there were 143 children of school age in their area. The Zeppelin bombing scare last month near Rhynie (only 13 miles from Botriphnie School) prompted the Board to follow their Boharm neighbours and insure buildings, furniture and furnishings against enemy aircraft damage.
Thursday 8 The Smallholdings roadshow addressed an audience at Rothiemay. Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, was born in Northamptonshire.
Friday 9 Various agricultural committees had cancelled their summer shows, including the Strathbogie Farmer Club and the Spey, Aven and Fiddichside Farmer Club. Turriff had narrowly decided their show would go ahead. Further cancellations were announced today by the United Banffshire Agricultural Society in Banff and the Royal Northern Agricultural Society in Aberdeen.
Saturday 10 Mrs Edward of 190 Mid Street announced the opening of a second shop selling groceries and confectionery at 40 Moss Street. Cottages at Limehillock in Grange were advertised in the Banffshire Herald for let with “Work, if desired, might be had at the neighbouring Sawmills”. The Knockando School Board meeting at the Schoolhouse was interrupted by a young couple desperately seeking an immediate marriage, the Schoolmaster also being the Knockando Parish Registrar. The Board sprang into action – Captain Cumming, who was also a JP, conducted the ceremony and two others signed the Marriage Contract as witnesses. The happy newlyweds then went off rejoicing and the Board resumed their meeting. The Great Arab Revolt against the Turks saw the capture of Mecca and the establishment of the Hejaz as an independent country.
Sunday 11 Tributes were paid to the late Lord Kitchener at religious services around the area. The National Reserve Company and the Voluntary Training Corps paraded to the Keith Parish Church. Afternoon services were held at Sillyearn and Auchanacie Schools.
Monday 12 Farmers were experiencing the worst June weather for many years with constant wind, rain and unusually low temperatures. Laying down of the turnip crop was a fortnight behind schedule. Cinemagoers in Keith flocked to the Palace Cinema to see the final exciting episode of The Master Key, billed as the most expensive thriller serial ever made.
Tuesday 13 The Upper District Military Tribunal dealt with several local appeals against military service and congratulated the farmer at Poolside, Rothiemay, on training his daughters to do agricultural work, adding that, if other farmers did the same, there would not be the same cry about the want of labour. Local fundraising efforts had endowed the dedicated Banffshire League of Honour Bed in the hospital attached to the Serbian Army in Salonika in Greece. Farm servants from Mains of Drummuir and Tauchers were fined at Banff Sheriff Court for bicycle light offences.
Wednesday 14 The Keith North UF Church Sale of Work was held in the Longmore Hall and raised £106. The first meeting of the Banffshire War Pensions Committee took place in Keith.
Thursday 15 Keith School Board agreed that the Glen of Newmill School could take the second half of their summer holidays at a time suitable for local harvest requirements. Mrs Stephen was appointed caretaker of Keith Junior School.
Friday 16 Edingight and Sillyearn Horticultural Society decided to cancel their Summer Show. Keith Burgh Military Tribunal agreed an exemption for an Isla Bank Mills card fettler from Newmill. Government contracts made up 95% of the Mills’ work. Auchanacie School started two months of summer holidays.
Saturday 17 Maggieknockater and Arndilly Work Party met in the School and were presented with their badges. Fife Estates invited estimates for work at their properties of Whippingstone, Little Cantly, Crannach Smithy and Claymires, Rothiemay. The Palace Cinema closed for the summer.
Pte William M. Smith (28), a sapper in the 3rd Canadian Tunnelling Company, was killed in action in Belgium only a few days after arriving at the Front. The son of James Smith, tailor, Newmill, he had been a farm servant before emigrating to Alberta where he worked in railroad construction. He is commemorated on the Keith, Boharm and Newmill war memorials.
Sunday 18 A gospel meeting for Botriphnie was held in Drummuir Hall.
Tuesday 20 A. Paterson of the Strathisla Bakery, Fife-Keith, advertised for a journeyman baker (not liable for military service). The publican at the Deveron Inn in Banff was fined £20 for breaches of the non-treating regulations. Provost Taylor’s Work Party sent a consignment of reading material to the 6th Gordons.
Wednesday 21 Splendid midsummer weather attended the Keith June Market. There was only a small show of horses and cattle as most farmers took advantage of the good weather to lay down the much-delayed turnip crop. The Entente blockade of Greece forced Greek demobilisation and the resignation of the Government in Athens. London College of Music examinations were held in the music room at Homewood in Land Street. A teenage Cairnie soldier, at home on leave, died on the day he was due to return to his unit.
Thursday 22 The French and British lifted the blockade of Greece. It was reported that almost half a million soldiers had lost their lives so far at Verdun in France.
Friday 23 Len Hutton was born in Yorkshire. He was knighted for services to cricket in 1956. A Keith Armenian Refugees Fund was set up by Provost Taylor.
Pte James McIntosh (28), Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action in France. The son of Mrs Smart of Gullyknowes, he was a bomb thrower and the best shot in his company during training. He was a well-known local games athlete and had been a farm servant near Elgin.
Saturday 24 Pinder’s Circus gave two performances at Seafield Park. The Botriphnie minister, Rev. Alexander McKay, travelled to Wester Corrie to officiate at the wedding of Lizzie Duff to Alexander Wink. Among the items handed in to Keith Police Station was a silver-mounted snuff horn. Mary Pickford signed a one million dollar contract with Paramount Pictures making her the highest paid star in Hollywood.
Sunday 25 A revolt began in Russian Turkestan triggered by Russian conscription of Muslims to fight fellow Muslim Turks in the Caucasus. It was eventually put down in November.
Monday 26 Four new Justices sat in the JP Court in Keith: Thomas Mitchell, George Lobban and James Auchanachie from Keith and William Simpson from Stripeside, Grange. The only case, an alleged assault at Garrelburn in the Glen of Newmill, was adjourned to next month.
Pte George Burnett (32), 14th Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment), was killed in action at the Front. He was born in Keith, the son of Andrew and Helen Burnett of Reidhaven Square. His sacrifice is marked on the Menin Gate Memorial and the Keith Parish Memorial.
Tuesday 27 King George announced that the recently established Military Medal would also be awarded to women.
Wednesday 28 The Upper District Military Tribunal heard the case put forward by an Auchlunkart gamekeeper that his job in keeping down rabbits produced 11 tons of food for the market each year. He was granted a temporary exemption.
Thursday 29 Lord Provost Taggart of Aberdeen presided at the North East Appeal Tribunal held in Banff. A Mulben postman’s temporary exemption was upheld. A ploughman from Sheals, Botriphnie, had his appeal dismissed but did get an extension before having to enlist.
Friday 30 Prizegiving ceremonies were held at various schools prior to starting their summer break including Keith, Newmill and Sillyearn. At Crossroads School, the pupils were also presented with their Band of Hope essay prizes. A memorial tablet to the late Rev. Allardyce was dedicated at Rothiemay Church. The prizegiving ceremony at the Fife-Keith School included each pupil being presented with a brand new penny and a gift of sweets before beginning their summer holidays.