KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Thur 1 – Maundy Thursday service at St Thomas’ Church. Keith School Board hears that attendance at Newmill School has been seriously reduced by whooping cough and other ailments. Mr Alexander McDonald starts his motor hiring service from the Forbes Arms Hotel in Milltown, Rothiemay. The Carting Contractors’ Association of Keith and District increase their charges from 10d to 1 shilling per hour. The North U.F. Church choirs hold concerts in the Church Hall.
Fri 2 – Keith Territorials Sports Day in Seafield and Nursery Parks. Contracts for the renovations at Manse of Keith had gone mainly to local tradesmen. The architect was W.F. Stewart of Fife-Keith.
Cpl Robert W. Reid, 2nd Middlesex Regiment, died at 10 General Hospital, Rouen, of wounds received at Neuve Chapelle. He was the son of Fife-Keith insuranceagent Robert Reid and, after serving with the 2nd Scots Guards in South Africa, had joined the Civil Service in London. P
Sat 3 – The Toll House at Auchindachy is advertised to let. The annual parade of travelling stallions was held at Seafield Park, Keith. The Banffshire Herald office displayed a catalogue of fancy hand-crafted goods for sale by men of the Royal Naval Division currently interned in Groningen in neutral Holland.
Sun 4 – Easter Sunday. Rev. John Will of Aberfeldy was the last of the four candidates invited to preach for the Grange Church vacancy. About 80 ministers had expressed an interest in the vacancy caused by the death in January of the Parish Minister, Rev G.A. Johnston. H.J. Tennant, the Under Secretary of State for War, visited the Earlsmount Hospital. McKinley Morganfield (Blues singer Muddy Waters) was born in Mississippi.
Mon 5 – Rev. and Mrs James Stockdale hosted an “at home” for the Grange West U.F. Church Bible Class in the Church Hall. Fordyce School Board wanted to know whether they could grant school exemption to children over 12 years of age to allow them to be employed in agricultural work because of the shortage of farm servants. Ambulance classes start at Ruthven School under Dr. Garson from Huntly.
Tue 6 – An enthusiastic crowd at Mulben Public School enjoyed a Grand Scotch Concert by Boharm Church choir. At the April meeting of the Keith Parish Council the Inspector of Poor is instructed to prosecute those who persist in defaulting on smallpox vaccination.
Wed 7 – The concert at Keith Drill Hall, in aid of the Belgian Relief Committee, started with a selection on the piano by J. Barr Cochrane of Elgin. Eleanora Fagan (later known as Billie Holiday) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Grange Church Congregational Committee controversially voted 12 to 7 to put forward Rev. J.G. Cranmer as sole nominee for the vacancy of minister.
Thur 8 – A highly successful concert for the upper district of Boharm was held in Maggieknockater in aid of the Local Work Party.
Fri 9 – A tragic fatal accident occurred in Grange when local postman Robert Herd fell into the River Isla on his way home from the Post Office to Nethermills. He had been the postman for the Shiel and Edingight districts for 19 years.
Sat 10 – A timber sale was held at Cairds Hill Sawmills and shooting-brakes were employed to convey potential customers from the Royal Hotel Stables to the sawmills. A meeting of the Upper District Committee of Banff County Council was held in the Commercial Bank Buildings in Dufftown. It was reported that 350 yards of new fencing had been put up on the Waterside road at Rothiemay and that the Auchindoun-Glack road was still in a “pretty rough state.” The committee allocated £40 to improving two roads in the Glen of Newmill and a grant of £12 10s would go towards improving the refuse collection in the village of Newmill. Letters home from the Front suggested that there was no love lost between the Prussian troops and their allies in the Bavarian and Saxon regiments. The Banffshire Herald reported the enlistment at Keith of student George A. Currie (later Sir George) from Windyhills, Grange. In his 1914 Report the County Medical Officer highlighted “the dangerous system of faucetless drains” in Newmill. Frederick Osborne, a driver with the Royal Horse Artillery, wrote to his grandmother, Mrs Innes of Reidhaven Square, that he and some others had been recommended for the Victoria Cross for action at Compiègne. Driver Osborne did not get the V.C. but was awarded the French Médaille militaire. He was later killed at Gallipoli.
Sun 11 – The film, “The Tramp”, starring Charlie Chaplin, was released.
Mon 12 – Only three members appeared for the Keith Golf Club AGM. The meeting was declared inquorate and adjourned. At the Keith Town Council April meeting it was reported that the census of the Burgh had revealed 184 males eligible for military service. These names were passed on to Col. J.J. George who had stated “My aim is to raise 1,000 men in this county to form a new battalion of the Gordon Highlanders.” The Council agreed to supply water to the proposed Gordon Highlanders’ camp at Muir of Auchanacie. The public well in Nelson Terrace had been removed, being surplus to requirement. They also heard that the public were “a little slow” to take advantage of the new conveniences in Fife-Keith, takings from which, in March, had amounted to only 6d.
Tue 13 – Chief Constable Hope of the Banffshire Constabulary advertised for temporary constables to fill vacancies caused by men who had enlisted in the army.
Wed 14 – A concert was held at Rothiemay in aid of the Women’s War Aid Guild. Catches on the Corniehaugh and Rothiemay Waters of the Deveron included a 17lb salmon. A furniture sale took place at Goukstone Toll Bar. This was the last day for taking lapwings’ eggs – 9d per dozen was being offered by Mrs George of 111 Land Street and Reid’s of 133 Mid Street. A smoking concert for departing soldiers was held in the Royal Hotel.
Thur 15 – Keith Gas Company raised the price of gas from 5/5 to 6/3 per 1,000 cubic feet. Keith Bowling Club AGM decided not to play matches against outside clubs this season.
Fri 16 – The Keith Photographic Society’s new darkroom was unveiled in the Institute Museum. To let at Rothiemay were Woodhead of Barlatch and Croft of Moss-side. A reward was offered for information regarding a black and white collie which was missing from Inchcorsie. Various Estates were letting moss lairs, among them Craig Moss, Craigbourach Moss and Mayen Moss at Rothiemay, Henheads Moss on Aultmore, and Herricks and Garrelhill Mosses in the Glen of Newmill.
Sat 17 – In a football match at Seafield Park a Keith XI were outgunned 7:1 by a team from the 6th Gordons.
Mon 19 – Keith Spring Holiday – it was dry and blustery. As neither the Highland Railway nor the G.N.S.R. was offering cheap excursion fares, most people stayed at home. Primrose Day throughout Great Britain celebrated the life of former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. A meeting of the Edingight and Sillyearn Horticultural Society agreed to hold their Show in August. It would include a beekeeping demonstration and a children’s garden plot competition.
Tue 20 – Ex-Provost Robert Cameron presided at a meeting of the Upper Banffshire Licensing Court. In spite of 33 objections, including that of Chief Constable Hope, a new certificate for the Craigellachie Station Refreshment Rooms (now the Fiddichside Inn) was granted to former ship’s captain Andrew McKenzie from Aberdeen. Col. J.J. George, 3/6th Gordons, wrote to each of the 184 men in Keith identified as eligible for military service: “Are you prepared to do your duty?”
Wed 21 – Keith Police Court dealt with a spate of cases of bicycles and carts being used at night without lights. Dissention among the 466 parishioners of Grange Church regarding the sole nominee situation resulted in a very close congregational vote of 145 to 125 in favour of Rev. Cranmer’s nomination.
Thur 22 – A social evening took place in Botriphnie U.F. Church when Rev. Garrow was robed with his new pulpit gown by the oldest lady member of the congregation, Mrs Grant of Ardgaithney. Keith Philharmonic Society held their AGM. A tragic accident took place in a public house in the Cowgate in Edinburgh. The barman, Gordon Johnstone, formerly of Newmill, was showing a German shell, a battlefield souvenir, to a customer, when it exploded causing much damage. Mr Johnstone later died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Fri 23 – Between 70 and 80 Gordon Highlanders marched from Keith to Huntly for a recruitment weekend. Sub-Lieutenant Rupert Brooke, RNVR, the war poet, died in the Aegean from an infected mosquito bite. He was buried on the Greek island of Skyros.
Sat 24 – Braco Estate in Grange was offering Limehillock Cottage, the old Toll Bar, for let. Tarnash Farm and Meal Mill were for let. It was revealed that Pte William Souter, 1st Gordon Highlanders, formerly rural postman in Botriphnie, had been taken prisoner at Mons and was now one of 476 Gordon Highlander POWs in Germany. It was reported that some Scottish POWs in Schleswig in the north of Germany were working on the local farms for a daily wage of 75 pfennigs (about 9d). The Banffshire Road Board agreed to adopt the two stretches of road in the Glen of Newmill. Today saw the start of the expulsion of Armenians from the Turkish capital, Constantinople.
Sergeant James Paul, 7th Canadian Infantry, was killed in action. Born at Cairnhill in Grange, he had served in India and Africa with the Gordon Highlanders before emigrating to Canada.
Sun 25 – Britain and neutral Italy signed the secret Treaty of London whereby Italy would make territorial gains in the Balkans if it joined the Allies against Austria and Germany. Start of the landings at Gallipoli. St. James Lodge 713 hold their Annual Service at Holy Trinity Church in Keith.
Mon 26 – The Gordon Highlanders are each presented with a cigar by the Huntly Police Inspector before their march back to Keith.
John Innes of the 1st Central Ontario Regiment died of wounds received in a gas attack at Ypres. A native of Botriphnie and a worker on the Canadian Pacific Railway, he had formerly been the driver of the bus between the Station and the Commercial Hotel in Dufftown.
Tue 27 – Death in Moscow of Russian pianist and composer Alexander Scriabin. A smoking concert took place in the Commercial Hotel in Keith.
Wed 28 – AGrand Concert was held in the Drill Hall, Keith and featured Dufton Scott. The grazings at Seafield Park were up for auction in the Town Clerk’s office and intense bidding resulted in an almost four-fold increase on the previous year.
Thur 29 – Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd George outlined his proposals to double the duty on spirits.
Pte Jack Simpson of the 10th Canadians died of wounds received at the Front. The son of ex-Bailie William Simpson of Nelson Terrace, Fife-Keith, he had emigrated to Winnipeg and had set up as a building contractor.
Fri 30 – Gordon Highlanders set off on a recruitment march to Portsoy and the Coast. Britain signs a Treaty with the Idrisi tribe, effectively recognising the insurgent state of Asir on the Arabian Red Sea coast in their fight against the Ottoman Empire.