KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI.
Tues 1 – Summer holidays over as pupils return to school. Resumption of the several music classes in the town offering courses in piano, violin, singing and theory of music. Dancing classes by George Rose Wood of Aberdeen started in the Longmore Hall at a cost of 8/- per quarter.
In Russia, the name of the capital is changed from St. Petersburg to Petrograd.
Wed 2 –The Panel Committee of Banffshire “resolved to give free medical attendance to the dependants of men called away from their employment to the service of their country”.
Thur 3 – The Keith School Board appointed Mr Alexander Stephen, cleaner at the Fife-Keith School, to be School Board Officer and Caretaker at the three Grammar School sites at a salary of £1 per week.
Abroad, the internal political situation in Albania forced Prince Wilhelm, who had only been appointed ruler six months earlier, to flee the country.
In Rome, Giacomo della Chiesa, Archbishop of Bologna, was the surprise choice to be elected Pontiff in succession to the late Pope Pius X. Taking the name Benedict XV, he was considered to be a liberal diplomat and administrator compared to his more conservative predecessor.
Fri 4 – A public roup was held at Botriphnie U.F. Church Manse. The Rev. Robert Grant, minister there for 40 years, was retiring to live in Forres.
Rothiemay School picnic was hosted by Mrs Forbes of Rothiemay Castle.
Sat 5 – At the Drill Hall in Keith a meeting of over 200 ladies began the task of the Central Banffshire Distress Committee to co-ordinate all private relief enterprise. Similar schemes at Banff, Buckie, Dufftown, Huntly, Alford, Inverurie and Bucksburn were also to be channelled through the Keith Headquarters of the 6th Gordon Highlanders. Committees were appointed for each of the five local parishes. Keith Rural committee comprised Mrs Cameron, Bogbain along with Miss Petrie-Hay, Edintore, Mrs McPherson, The Manse, Newmill and Mrs Robb of Main Street, Newmill.
Grange Boy Scouts, under Patrol Leaders W.J. Craig and G. Clarke, had an exciting day climbing up the Knock.
The Banffshire Territorial Force Association met to consider the War Office’s decision to raise duplicate units of the 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions of the Gordon Highlanders.
In the Firth of Forth, off St. Abbs Head, the German submarine U21 sank the scout cruiser HMS Pathfinder (the first warship to be sunk by a self-propelled torpedo). Among the 259 casualties was R.N. Engineer James McKay, aged 33, who had joined the ship when the war broke out. He had begun his education at Maggieknockater School and is remembered on the family gravestone in Boharm churchyard and on the parish war memorial.
Mon 7 – A meeting took place at Edingight House hosted by Miss Innes. This was a follow-up to a meeting at Sillyearn when ladies of the parish set up a committee to organise charitable collections for the comforts of the troops.
Wed 9 – During the War joint mid-week services were held in the three Keith Presbyterian churches. Similar services took place in Holy Trinity.
In a low-key ceremony the new additions to the clubhouse at the Keith Golf Course were opened and included a tearoom, kitchen, cycle shed and lavatory accommodation. The Club Captain was George Taylor, Harmora, Keith.
Thur 10 – German spy scare when Lord Leith of Fyvie stated there were “numerous German spies in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, some of whom signalled to sea at night with lamps”.
Fri 11 – Various rural schools now had their annual prizegivings followed by their Harvest holidays. In other schools, such as Boharm, the School Board had the responsibility of granting attendance exemptions for work at the Hairst. At Sillyearn School the Dux of the year was Lizzie Stronach.
Fri 11 – Recruiting in the area had been outstripping the Army’s ability to process them in the South. This caused the principal recruiting officer for Banffshire, Col J.J. George, along with the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, and Mr Thomas Gordon-Duff of Drummuir, the chairman of the Banffshire Territorial Force Association, to meet with Lord Kitchener at the War Office. A chance remark by Lord Kitchener regarding a shortage of uniforms for recruits prompted Mr Gordon-Duff to inform him that the local woollen mills in Keith and Elgin could easily handle such requirements. Samples were quickly submitted to the War Office and Kitchener decreed that woollen mill workers on government contracts be exempt from military service.
Sat 12 – J.J. Gray, clothier and draper, announced the last week of their Summer Sale and their buyer was “leaving for the London and Paris Shows”.
Mrs T.V. Taylor of West End House, Fife-Keith, had already set off South to view and select from the Autumn Fashion Collections.
Sun 13 – The popular Gordon Mission Tent, which travelled extensively around the area, set up in Balloch Road in Keith.
Mon 14 – Keith Town Council September meeting. Items discussed included the cleaning of the Cuthil Hospital for use by war wounded and the successful trials of rock from the Burn of Backmuir for road building. A warrant was granted for building a cinematographic theatre at 169 Mid Street. The Burgh Rates for 1914-1915 included a halfpenny in the pound voluntary contribution for the upkeep of the Town Band.
Tue 15 – War Office order for blankets placed with Seafield Mills.
Wed 16 – War Office placed a large order for khaki cloth with Islabank Mills.
September Market of farm animals at Seafield Park, however, good harvesting weather resulted in a smaller than usual attendance.
Thur 17 – Rothiemay U.F. Church inducted their new minister, the Rev. W. Thomas Weir. The Service included singing by the joint choirs of the U.F. and Established Churches. Originally from Inverness, the Rev. Weir had spent 19 years as a missionary in Old Calibar in the Niger Coast Protectorate .
Sat 19 – The Upper District Committee of Banff County Council met in Dufftown. Discussions included repairs required to the Little Newton Bridge at Maggieknockater and a petition from the residents of Grange and Rothiemay regarding distillery pollution of the burn at the Knock.
Mon 21 – Last date for registering for the Voters’ Roll for future Parliamentary and Town Council elections. However, it would be December 1918 before the next U.K. General Election and November 1919 before the next Keith Town Council Election.
Keith September holiday. It was showery and cold but, nevertheless, numbers were up taking advantage of cheap fares as they sought sunshine in Aberdeen, Inverness, Grantown and other destinations. It was a busy day at the Keith Golf Course with two cup competitions being played.
Batches of recruits were processed and dispatched from Keith throughout the month.
The Times newspaper printed the Laurence Binyon poem “For The Fallen”
“They went with songs to battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.”
Tue 22 – Street lamps in Keith were lit for the first time since Summer. Mr James Cruickshank took up the position of Fife-Keith lamplighter.
Fri 25 – A Patriotic Concert was held in Maggieknockater School with people attending from Dufftown, Rothes and Aberlour.
Sun 27 – Sunday School restarts at Fife-Keith Mission Hall in Alexandra Road.
Nearly 250 take part in the Parade to the Parish Church. It included the Town Band, the Gordon Highlanders currently billeted in the town, the Keith National Reserve Company and the Men’s and Women’s Voluntary Aid Detachments.
Wed 30 – Wedding at Mains of Mulben of Jeannie Anne Macpherson to James R. Barclay, sub-editor of the Banffshire Journal and Secretary of the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society. The bride’s father, John Macpherson, had recently been appointed a judge at the Smithfield Fat Stock Show in London.