WW1 May 1915

                                ­­­KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI

MAY 1915

Sat 1- The Keith Gordon Highlanders were on a recruitment driveat the coast. They had marched the day before from Keith to Portsoy where they were joined by their mascot, Floss the Airedale, who let the train take the strain and had arrived in Portsoy in style. Their recruitment march continued to Cullen where they were entertained by Provost Forbes in the Town Hall and then on to Portknockie and Buckie.  Webster’s Popular Dramatic Company’s season continued at the Longmore Hall with “The Days of Cromwell”.  Grange West U.F. Church was advertising for an organist.

Sun 2 – Austro-Hungarian forces, along withtheGerman 11th Army under General von Mackensen, began a decisive breakthrough against the Russians in Galicia (now part of southern Poland and Western Ukraine).  

Mon 3 – Strathbogie Presbytery met with the congregation in Grange Parish Church to examine the recent election of Rev. J.G. Cranmer to the charge at Grange. Despite the polarisation of the congregation, false allegations that he was English and a poor speaker, and accusations of inducement to vote by the offering of “refreshments”, Rev. Cranmer was declared elected and served the Parish for 20 years until his death in 1936.  Canadian physician Lt Col John McCrae wrote the poem “In Flanders Field”.

Tue 4 – Banff County Council met in the Institute in Keith.  Sidney Smith, the Factor of Drummuir and Park Estates, was appointed County Councillor for Ordiquhill in place of the late Lachlan Gordon Duff.  The takeover of the two roads in the Glen of Newmill was agreed. The Commissioners of Supply for Banffshire also had their annual meeting in Keith.

Wed 5 – Banffshire Secondary Education Committee met in Keith.

Thur 6 – A Displenish sale of furniture and shop goods (everything from brass bedsteads to castor oil) took place at Craigisla, Grange, the premises of Mr G.S. Carnie.  A meeting of Keith School Board discussed proposals to equip a classroom at Newmill to teach cookery to the girls of Newmill and Glen Schools.  They lamented the callous attitude of parents at Tarrycroys who were denying their children free dental treatment.  A high-powered Licensed Trade delegation of Alexander Edward of Aultmore and Oban Distilleries, John Cumming of Cardow Distillery, and Robert Cameron of Elgin, Merchant and Distiller, was sent to discuss Chancellor Lloyd George’s recent proposals regarding alcohol taxes. No removal of spirit under two years old from warehouse was agreed and the proposed doubling of duty on whisky was abandoned.  Orson Welles, American actor and film producer, was born in Wisconsin.

Fri 7 – Fast Day in Botriphnie in preparation for Communion.  Keith 6th Gordons embarked on another recruitment drive, taking the train to Rothiemay Station, and marching through Rothiemay to Aberchirder where they were entertained in the Town Hall by Provost Whitton and the Town Council.  The RMS Lusitania, sailing from New York to Liverpool, was torpedoed and sunk off the south coast of Ireland by the German submarine U-20. Of the almost 2000 passengers and crew only 761 survived.

Pte Henry Blann-Hay of the 1st Australian Infantry died of his wounds at Gallipoli. He was a native of Aberdeen and his name appears on the Keith and Newmill War Memorials.

Sat 8 – The Keith Gordons continued their recruitment march from Aberchirder to Banff.  Grass parks let at Dr Hay’s farm of Edintore.  The pupils at Ternemny School were collecting in the Knock area for Polish Flag Day.  The Banffshire Herald Fund sends 57 tins of condensed milk to the 6th Gordons at the Front.

Sun 9 –An afternoon Service was held at Auchanacie School and featured gospel singers from Keith. The British started an unsuccessful offensive against the Germans in the Battle of Aubers Ridge. Cpl John Ripley of the 1st Black Watch, a native of Keith, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous bravery on leading an assault at Rue du Bois.

Pte Robert M. Esson of the 2nd King’s Own Scottish Borderers died of his wounds. A native of Fordyce, he had formerly lived in Mid Street, Keith.

Mon 10 – The May meeting of Keith Town Council heard that the Fife-Keith public convenience had become even more convenient as someone had broken the lock. Revenue for the month had consequently dropped to just 9d.  The 6th Gordons finished their recruitment campaign at the Coast and took the train from Banff Harbour Station back to Keith.

Tue 11 – A meeting was held in Keith of all those interested in the employment of women with a view to releasing men for Military Service.  The death took place in Fife-Keith of retired Police Constable James Newlands. He had formerly been Keeper of Banff Prison.  The Licensing Appeal Court in Banff heard a petition signed by 33 objectors to the granting of a licence to Andrew Mackenzie, retired ship’s captain, for the Craigellachie Station Refreshment Rooms. After hearing the arguments, the bench of eleven Justices was split four in favour and five against the appeal, with one abstention. It was therefore down to the presiding Justice, Mr E.A. Thurburn of Mayen, who decided that he could not use his casting vote to overturn the previous unanimous decision of the Upper Banffshire Court. On his crucial vote 100 years ago the Refreshment Rooms survived and is now the world-famous Fiddichside Inn.

Wed 12 – Awards for marksmanship were given to Keith District Volunteer Training Corps at Keith Grammar School.  Germany continued to consolidate its control of conquered territory in Russian Poland.

Thur 13 – Displenish Sale at Woodpark, Edingight.  A Keith nurse, serving in the Ambulance de l’Ocean in La Panne in Belgium, met King Albert when he visited wounded soldiers.

Fri 14 – The Rev R.E. Gilbert presided at a meeting of Grange Parish Council.  James Clark of Fortry was appointed to the Council. Grange School Board heard that diphtheria, scarlet fever and bad weather had contributed to a decrease in attendance at Crossroads School.  Miss Gordon, organist at Grange West U.F. Church, was presented with a gold bracelet on the occasion of her leaving the district.

Sat 15 – Five candidates were sitting the Humphrey Bursary competition in Botriphnie School. About 200 men of the 2/6th Gordons left Keith by train for the South. Around 500 soldiers had been billeted in Keith this week.

Sun 16 – Rev John F. Philip of the North UF Church conducted an afternoon service in the Newmill Mission Hall.

Mon 17 – Displenish Sale at Arndilly Home Farm which was being put into grass. Displenish Sale at Bankhead, Grange (way-going tenant Mr Robert Gordon).  George Barclay, a survivor of the Lusitania sinking, was visiting relatives in Hill Street, Newmill. Formerly a porter with the Highland Railway in Keith, he had emigrated four years earlier to Winnipeg and was returning to take his wife out to Canada.

Tue 18 – A cuckoo was heard at the Dungeon (a pool on the Isla upstream from Braehead). The Keith Gordons marched up through Drummuir to Dufftown.

Wed 19 – Keith Bowling Club opens for the Summer Season with the first jack being thrown by Mrs Smith of Mid Street. The weather was fine for the Dufftown feeing market where farmers had to compete with the Gordons’ recruitment drive.

Thur 20 – Displenish Sale Manse of Grange, the home of the late Parish Minister, Rev Mr Johnston, and family. The Gordons continued their recruitment campaign by marching to the feeing market at Aberlour. Shortage of farm servants meant that halflins could command £20 for the term. Moshe Kitaigorodsky (later Moshe Dayan, Israeli soldier and statesman) was born in a kibbutz in the Vilayet of Beirut.

Sat 22 – Five trains were involved in multiple collisions at Quintinshill near Gretna in Dumfriesshire. One was s a troop train carrying about 500 men of the 1/7th (Leith) battalion of the Royal Scots bound for Gallipoli. There were 226 fatalities and a further 246 injured. William Emslie, wine and spirit merchant of Mid Street, was advertising Younger’s Pale Ale at 2/6 per dozen pints. Mr Emslie, who had just enlisted in the Gordons, rose to the rank of Major, was awarded the Military Cross, and would command a section in the Machine Gun Corps. The Keith feeing market was swamped with the khaki uniforms of the Gordon Highlanders and twenty men enlisted. The College of Agriculture’s sprayer was available for use for the destruction of skelloch.

Sun 23 – Italy entered the European conflict by declaring War on Austria and attacking over the border east of Venice. Austria replied by bombarding several Italian seaports.

Mon 24 – William Robertson, Stationmaster at Mulben for fourteen years, was presented with parting gifts at a ceremony in the station waiting room on the occasion of his retirement. Empire Day, first celebrated in 1902, was marked in various schools, like Ternemny and Boharm, where the pupils paraded in the playground, saluted the Flag and heard patriotic addresses by the headmaster.

Tue 25 – Mr Watson, manager of Arndilly Home Farm, and Mrs Watson were presented with gold watches on their leaving the district for the Isle of Bute.  Mr Thom, the shepherd, was presented with a purse of sovereigns. The tripartite Treaty of Kyakhta involving Russia, China and Mongolia curtailed Mongolia’s1912 Declaration of Independence but did guarantee its autonomy within China. The political crisis, caused by the shortage of munitions at the Front in France, forced Liberal Prime Minister Asquith into forming a coalition government with Conservative leader Bonar Law and Labour leader Arthur Henderson entering the Cabinet. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George, headed the new Ministry of Munitions. Winston Churchill was replaced as First Lord of the Admiralty by former PM Arthur Balfour and was sidelined to the Duchy of Lancaster. John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, declined the offer of a place in the Government. Thus the Grand Coalition included five past and future Prime Ministers.

Wed 26 – Mrs J.W. Kynoch officially opened the new 50 yard and 100 yard rifle range near the Cuthil Quarry and fired the first shot. The second and last day of the Tarryblake crow raid saw a total of over 2,000 birds culled.

Thur 27 – Boharm School Board appointed Mr J.N. Taylor of Keith as singing master at 12 guineas per annum. The pupils at Maggieknockater School had agreed to forego prizes this year and donate the money to the Red Cross.

Fri 28 – Traction engine assistant Henry McKenzie, en route with a Term Day flitting from Huntly to Buckie, was involved in a fatal road accident on the railway bridge at the foot of Seafield Avenue in Keith.

Sat 29 – Biddall’s Grand Circus came to Keith.

Mon 31 – Pte James McKenzie, 7th Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action in France. He was the stepson of Charles Smart of Knowhead, Mulben.

Lairs on the Bogbain Moss were up for let.  Plate-layers were being recruited in Keith to lift the rails on the as-yet uncompleted  Cromarty and Dingwall Light Railway on the Black Isle. The first Zeppelin air raid on London.

Italian Alpine Troops
Italian Alpine Troops
Cpl John Ripley V.C.
Cpl John Ripley V.C.
Graf von Zeppelin
Graf von Zeppelin