KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Saturday 1 A flag day was held in Keith, Newmill and Auchindachy for the League of Honour’s sponsored beds in the Scottish Women’s Hospital in Salonika. The Banffshire Territorial Force Association met in Banff and reported that the Infantry Regiment now numbered 1,893 with 180 in the Motor Volunteer Corps. Keith Boy Scouts’ Pipe Band performed before Sir Robert and Lady Baden Powell at the parade of Scouts and Guides at Pittodrie in Aberdeen. He complimented them on their smart appearance and the large number of badges they had attained.
Sunday 2 Rev. J. G. Cranmer’s address at the evening service at Grange, entitled ‘Peace and the Pope’, dealt with Benedict XV’s recent seven-point peace plan proposal to the Heads of Belligerent Peoples. Captain William Fleming, 6th Gordon Highlanders, gave a lecture on ‘Modern Warfare’ to Keith and Newmill Volunteers in the Institute Hall. Seumas MacNeill, co-founder of the College of Piping, was born in Glasgow. Rev. Harry Smith of Old Kilpatrick, and editor of ‘Morning Rays’, preached at Botriphnie Parish Church.
Monday 3 Three young lads appeared at a Juvenile Court in Banff and were fined or admonished for stealing apples and gooseberries from the garden at Woodside Cottage, Crooksmill. Petrol rose by 8½d to more than double the four shillings per gallon at the start of the war. Petrol vehicles were being abandoned as many firms reverted to horse-drawn vehicles. Lord Rhondda, the Food Controller, introduced maximum prices for various staple foods. Keith butchers submitted new meat prices, generally 1d per lb cheaper than hitherto, to the local Food Committee for approval.
Tuesday 4 An official visit of various Keith shops and households with regard to flour and sugar supplies was carried out by Mr Hellier, a Ministry of Food Scotland Inspector, and Mr Alexander, Burgh Surveyor and Town Council Food Inspector.
Wednesday 5 Miss Mary Cowie was presented with a gold brooch by her fellow Newmill Parish Church choir members to mark her leaving the district for Liverpool.
Thursday 6 Keith School Board decided to source firewood for fuel for the Grammar School boiler for when the limited supplies of coal and coke ran out. They also reported that Auchanacie School had achieved a 98% attendance rate, the highest on record. Kaiser Wilhelm paid a visit to Riga newly captured from the retreating Russian Army.
Pte William McCurrach (21), 5th Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action at Ypres. The son of Mrs Margaret McCurrach, Main Street, Newmill, he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium and the Newmill Parish Memorial.
Friday 7 Coldhome Dairy announced a milk price increase to 1/8d per gallon. Auchindoun School held its prizegiving prior to starting its harvest holidays.
Pte James Milne (19), 16th Highland Light Infantry, was killed while raiding a German trench. The son of James and Annie Milne of Bridge Street, he had been employed by Messrs Park & Co. in Keith.
Pte Arthur Milne (41), 4th Seaforth Highlanders, died at the 61st Casualty Clearing Station of wounds received at Ypres. A native of Moorend, Boharm, he had been a maltman at Glen Grant Distillery in Rothes. He was buried at Dozinghem and is remembered on the Boharm and Rothes Memorials.
Saturday 8 A meeting of dairymen and other customers, concerned as to the future supply of distillery draff, was held at the Keith Institute. The District Committee met in Dufftown and welcomed John Macpherson as a Parish Council representative for Boharm and Botriphnie. The Committee agreed to meet half the cost of repairing Rothiemay roads damaged by extraordinary timber traffic. The Newmill Special District public health assessment was fixed at 4½d which was half last year’s rate. Winter pasture was advertised to let at Braes of Lowrie Burn near Keith.
Pte George A. Robertson (21), Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action. The son of George and Jessie Robertson, he was born in Keith and is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery in Belgium.
Sunday 9 At Rothiemay U F Church, Mr James Laing deputised for Rev. Weir who had left for a tour of duty with the YMCA Huts at the Front.
Monday 10 A public auction of oats, turnips and various implements, including a hand threshing mill, took place at Broughnamary Croft, Boharm. The Palace Cinema opened after its summer break with a showing of ‘The Scarlet Woman’ starring Olga Petrova, billed as ‘Keith’s Favourite Actress’.
Pte Joseph Simpson (19), 4th Gordon Highlanders, fell in action. He was the son of Alexander and Isabella Simpson of Land Street, Keith, and had been a farm servant.
Tuesday 11 It was reported that Mrs Margaret Geddes, Cotton Croft, Fordyce, who had just received congratulations from the King on her 101st birthday, was still able to assist in taking in the harvest. Herbert Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru was born in Prague, Bohemia. He became a film actor and changed his unwieldy surname to the much easier ‘Lom’.
Wednesday 12 Mr John McWilliam, better known as ‘Oxie’, took clyack at Hillhead, Followsters, all his crop being now in stook. Aged 91, he had scythed all the reaper roads himself. At Banff Sheriff Court, a farm servant from Viewfield, Boharm, was fined ten shillings for failing to obscure properly his bicycle light. The Central Powers introduced a provisional constitution for Poland with a constitutional monarchy and a Regency Council.
Friday 14 Keith country schools start their harvest holidays. Russia declares itself a republic.
Saturday 15 A football match between Earlsmount Hospital and a Keith XI was held at Seafield Park.
Pte Alexander Stephen (27), 16th Highland Light Infantry, was killed in action at the Front. The son of Alexander and Isabella Stephen, Old Town, Keith, he had been a butcher before enlisting originally with the Gordon Highlanders. He is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery in Belgium.
Sunday 16 Col Forbes, Garrison Commander, Aberdeen, inspected about 250 members of the various platoons of C Company at Seafield Park. They were informed that the Banffshire Volunteer Regiment would be split into two battalions and C Company would be divided into two companies.
Sapper James Milne (22), Railway Operating Department, Royal Engineers, died in hospital at the Front after being wounded by a bomb dropped from a German aircraft. He was the eldest son of James and Jane Milne, Mid Street, Keith, and had been a porter at Cairnie Junction prior to enlisting.
Monday 17 Summer Time ended with the clocks being put back. The Keith September Holiday was cold but dry. Few people ventured away from the town and the Palace Cinema was busy at both the evening houses. The price of a 4lb loaf in Keith was fixed at 9½d cash over the counter.
Tuesday 18 The farms of Fieldhead near Keith and Tillydown on the Mayen Estate were advertised for let. At Ibrox in Glasgow, the King presented Pte George McIntosh , Gordon Highlanders, with his Victoria Cross ‘for most conspicuous bravery’. His Majesty also presented 20-year old Lizzie Robinson, a munitions worker at the Cardonald National Projectile Factory, with the Order of the British Empire for ‘devotion to duty’. She was the very first civilian woman to be so honoured.
Wednesday 19 A flag day was held in Keith for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors. The Banffshire Wine, Spirit and Beer Trade Association raised the price of a bottle of whisky to 7s 6d but kept beers at the same price.
Thursday 20 Pte William A. Allan, 4th Gordon Highlanders, died in action at the Front. A native of Rothiemay, he is remembered on the Parish Memorial and at Tyne Cot in Belgium.
Acting Corporal William Cowie (23), 4th Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action. He was a fisherman from Seatown, Buckie, before enlisting at Keith. He is commemorated on the Keith war memorial and the Tyne Cot memorial.
Saturday 22 T V Taylor of Fife-Keith advertised an extensive range of furs including Siberian mink, wolf, beaver and skunk. Gardenhead of Cantly was advertised for immediate let. Boharm School Board authorised teachers and pupils to collect horse chestnuts. One ton of chestnuts could replace half a ton of precious cereal in the manufacture of munitions.
Monday 24 Mrs Robertson waded into the Isla at the Campbells’ Hole to rescue an unconscious four-year old boy who had fallen in while playing on the river bank.
Tuesday 25 Mr Harry Theobald from London addressed a meeting of the Keith branch of the British Women’s Temperance Association.
Wednesday 26 The Servicemen’s Rest Room at Keith Junction catered for its 10,000th customer. Collection of application forms for the Food Controller’s sugar rationing scheme began in Keith.
Pte William Winchester (26), 1st Gordon Highlanders, fell in action in Belgium. The son of William and Margaret Winchester of Land Street, Keith, he had been a farm servant in Grange. His sacrifice is commemorated on the Newmill and Tyne Cot Memorials.
Friday 28 Miss Christie, sorting clerk and telegraphist, was presented with a travelling rug by her colleagues at Keith Post Office to mark her transfer to Largs PO in Ayrshire.
Saturday 29 The Banffshire Herald reported that 20 wagons with over 300 whisky casks had left Towiemore Distillery for England for ‘Government purposes’. Public auction crop sales were held at Kempcairn Wood and Lochend. A Sale of Work in aid of children in occupied Allied countries was held in the Grammar School. Keith bakers were instructed to charge no more than 9d for a loaf.
Sunday 30 Military drills were carried out by Grange Volunteers at Fortrie. Jazz drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich was born in Brooklyn, New York.