KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI.
Sun 1 – The month starts with a British naval defeat off the coast of Chile at the hands of the German East Asia Squadron under Admiral Graf von Spee.
Killed in action at Wytschaete, near Ypres, is Captain Robert N. King, 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. His wife,
Klara (née Kynoch-Shand), and their young family were staying at the Linn in Keith, her parents’ family home.
Mon 2 – Meeting of the Rothiemay Parish Council.
Tue 3 – Britain declared war on Turkey and immediately annexed the island of Cyprus.
Death of Lieut. Col. John Foster Forbes, Laird of Rothiemay, who had acquired the estate in 1890. He had commanded the 36th Indian Cavalry in Central India, had twice been mentioned in despatches and was also recommended for the Victoria Cross for rescuing a wounded soldier at the Siege of Jhansi in 1858.
Wed 4 – To the cheers of hundreds of townsfolk, the last of the Keith recruits for foreign service leave by the 3.33 pm train from Keith Town Station. A few minutes later another train draws into the Station bringing the first of the wounded from the Front. They are then transferred by car to the Earlsmount Hospital. Further tragedy at the Linn for Mrs King when her three-year old son, Robert, dies suddenly a few hours after becoming unwell.
Thu 5 – George Robertson, licensed grocer, opens for business in Newmill.
Fri 6 – Keith Town Council November meeting when John Laidlaw is appointed Senior Bailie and Andrew Ledingham is elected Junior Bailie. The Crossroads School concert and prizegiving took place with the prizes being provided by the centuries-old Paithnick Mortification. The Mulben Curling Club held a Whist Drive in the School in aid of the local Ladies’ Work Party funds. There were nineteen tables, the winner being Mrs Fraser of Belnabreich.
Sat 7 – Large crowds attend the funeral of Lieut. Col. Foster Forbes in Rothiemay. His eldest son, Major Ian Foster Forbes, at the Front with the 2nd Battalion Scots Fusiliers, has been shot in the chest and is presently in hospital.
Sun 8 – The annual Kirkin’ of the Council takes place with the Provost and Magistrates in their robes marching with the Councillors and Council officials to the service in the South U.F. Church. The Rev. J. D. Hunter, Boharm U.F. Church, conducts a special service at the Mission Hall in Maggieknockater with musical accompaniment by the Bugle Band and Drummers of the Dufftown Boy Scouts.
Mon 9 – At Banff Sheriff Court Mark McAllister is sentenced to three months in jail for bigamously marrying a Keith girl in October. Hedwig Kiesler is born in Vienna (later to become the international film star Hedy Lamarr).
Tue 10 – The 6th Gordon Highlanders leave Bedford Barracks for Southampton, bound for France and the Front.
Wed 11 – Displenish Sale at Burnside Croft, Botriphnie. Tenant, Mr Alexander Garden, is retiring to live in Grange. Hallow Fair was held at Fordyce. The Keith Cage Bird annual show, which had originally been due to be held today, has been cancelled because of the War crisis.
Private George Brown, 1st Scots Guards, is killed in action. He was the son of William and Annie Brown of Newmill.
Thu 12 – A Grand Benefit Concert is held at the Palace Cinema, Longmore Hall, in aid of the Red Cross at the Front.
Sat 14 – It was reported in the Banffshire Herald that “strange lights” had been seen on the Balloch and on the Kilbady Hill in Grange and the Bin of Cullen. The death took place of Field Marshal Lord Roberts, the hero of the Kabul to Kandahar march of 1880, while visiting Indian troops in France. Kynoch’s Isla Bank Mills reported a large French government order for blue-grey overcoating for their troops in the field.
Sun 15 – White’s Amusements arrive from Forres and set up at the Market Green in Fife-Keith until the 26th. One of their labourers, James Smith, an American citizen and originally from Baltimore, falls foul of the Aliens Restriction Act of 1914. The position of organist at Grange Parish Church is contested between Mr Robertson and Mr Sandison. The congregation cast their votes at the end of the evening service.
Tue 17 – The Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, presented his first War Budget to the House of Commons. Requiring to raise an additional £339 million for the period to the end of March 1915, he increases Income Tax, puts a half penny on a half pint of beer and threepence on a pound of tea. To make up the shortfall he introduces a War Loan. The Grange Kirk Session unanimously appoints Mr H. J. Sandison from Keith as their new organist.
Wed 18 – Ternemny School re-opens after additional building works.
Newmill mourns another loss when Private George Watt, 1st Scots Guards, son of Mr and Mrs Watt, Fairburn Cottage,
dies of wounds sustained in action. Prior to the outbreak of War he worked with the G.N.S.R. at Aberdeen.
Fri 20 – A full house enjoyed a concert at the Rothiemay Public Hall in aid of the School Hot Dinners Fund. Some other Parish Boards, such as Keith and Botriphnie, decided not to supply hot meals to their pupils this session.
Sat 21 – Fine weather attended the Keith Martinmas Feeing Market. Mid Street is thronged with country folks and wages are driven up as workers press for improved terms. Some, however, are left unengaged and opt for enlisting in the Army. Red Cross flag day in Keith, the surrounding parishes and throughout Scotland. To great celebration in the Mortlach area, a new road was opened between Alnaboyle in Auchindoun and Chapelhill in Glenmarkie. The opening ceremony was followed by a reception in the Mortlach Parish Hall in Dufftown. Advert in the Banffshire Herald: “Wanted at term, apprentice meal miller. Apply personally Alex. Grant & Son, Mill of Towie.”
Sun 22 – The WWI medal, the 1914 Star, will be awarded to those who have been serving in France and Flanders up to this point. The Keith National Reserve Company’s Sunday route march took them to Boghead, Cairnie.
Tue 24 – The St. Thomas’ Catholic Dramatic Society were performing “The Bride of Lammermoor” in St. Thomas’ Hall in aid of Belgian Relief Funds. The A.G.M. of the Banffshire Beer, Wine and Spirit Traders’ Association was held in Buckie. Price rises following the recent Budget were agreed and officials for the coming year were re-elected. The three main officials were all from Keith: President – George Petrie Hay; Secretary – James Nicholson; Treasurer – Major George A. Stephen (currently at the Front).
Wed 25 – Mrs Weir of Rothiemay U.F. Manse gives a talk entitled “African Snapshots” to a joint meeting of the Woman’s Guild and the Mutual Improvement Society recounting her experiences in Nigeria. In Edinburgh, Heart of Midlothian F.C. players famously enlisted in Sir George McCrae’s 16th (Service) Battalion Royal Scots.
Fri 27 – Beer prices are increased in Banffshire to 2d for a glass, 3d for a schooner, 4d for a Scotch pint bottle and 5d for an English pint bottle. Paul von Hindenburg, Supreme Commander, Eastern Front and later to become President of Germany, was appointed Field Marshal.
Sat 28 – Advert: “Distillery Workmen Wanted for Towiemore Glenlivet Distillery as Stillmen, etc. ; none but active, trustworthy, and steady men need apply. Apply with references at the Distillery.” The patriotic poem “British Soldiers Onward Go” by local poet Isa Forrest of Lilac Neuk is printed in the Banffshire Herald.
“Britain’s bravest sons are mustered
Armed once more to face the foe.
Hear the pibroch gaily sounding
Forth to cheer them as they go.”
Mon 30 – Fife Estates Martinmas rents are payable at the Estate Office in Fife-Keith. King George V visits the Front.