LIFE & TIMES IN KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI.
August 1914 Sat 1 – Germany declares war on Russia. Second day of Wapinschaw at Braehead Rifle Ranges. Third annual Keith Highland Games in a field off Bridge Street – admission 6d.
Sun 2 – Germany invades Luxembourg and remains in occupation till after the Armistice in 1918.
Mon 3 – Germany declares war on France. Italy declares its neutrality.
Short-time working starts at Isla Bank Mills. Prices rise in Keith shops and “panic-buying” ensues. Aberdeen Co-op refuses to raise its prices.
Banks are instructed to remain closed till Friday. Territorial Force officers are posted on duty.
Tue 4 – Germany declares war on Belgium. Britain declares war on Germany. USA declares its neutrality.
Mr Smart’s Sunday School picnic at Mains of Auchindachy. Grange Parish Council meeting. Short-time working starts at Seafield Mills.
Postal Orders are made legal tender.
The 6th Gordon Highlanders Territorial Force is mobilised. Evening performance by Keith Town Band in Regent Square, Fife-Keith. The busy Post Office remains open throughout the night to facilitate communications.
Wed 5 – Lord Kitchener made War Secretary.
Thomas Davidson of Drummuir Kennels gets first prize for his Silver Dorkings at the Craigellachie Show.
Montenegro declares war on Austria-Hungary.
Thur 6 – Ramsay MacDonald (Chairman of the Labour Party) resigns in protest at the War.
Gordons Territorials arrive by road, train and on foot in Keith.
Fri 7 – Defence of the Realm Act passed. Prince of Wales establishes the National Relief Fund.
Mobilisation of the 6th Gordons Territorials completed with over a thousand soldiers billeted in the town.
Presentation at Rothiemay Station to Stationmaster James Robertson on his promotion to Oyne – his successor is Alexander Massie, Stationmaster at Coleburn.
Sat 8 – Grange Sunday School picnic.
With the sudden increase in population, Keith takes on the appearance of a garrison town and the magistrates reluctantly request public houses to close early at 9pm.
The Great North of Scotland Railway Company keeps a 24-hour guard on its rail bridges on the Isla and the Deveron.
An heir to the Fife Estates is born in London – HH Prince Alastair of Connaught, ninth in line to the throne.
Preparations are made for the receipt of wounded military at Turner Memorial Hospital (20 beds) and at the Cuthil Hospital (8 beds). Twenty beds are made available at Drummuir Hall and Earlsmount in Fife-Keith is turned into a Red Cross Hospital.
Sun 9 – Two German trawlers are captured off the Banffshire coast by RN destroyers.
Religious services for the mobilised Territorials are held in Seafield Park and in St Thomas’ Church. They then deposit their Colours in the Mid Street branch of the North of Scotland and Town and County Bank. “War on a scale unprecedented in the history of the world for magnitude has been declared; and the issues of it not even our shrewdest statesmen can foresee.” Rev. W.H. Macfarlane, South U.F. Church, Keith.
Tue 11 – The Territorials depart Keith for the South in two special trains.
Many local shows cancelled because of the crisis – among them: Keith Show on the 11th, Cairnie Home Industries Show at the Central School on the 14th, Keith Flower Show on the 26th and Tomintoul Games on the 27th.
The War Office established the Press Bureau to manage and censor information to the public.
At the AGM of the Banffshire Liberal Association, sitting MP Captain Walter Waring announces he will be standing down at the next General Election.
Wed 12 – Britain declares war on Austria-Hungary.
“The Glorious Twelfth” – birds are plentiful. Mr F. W. Gore and party from the Royal Hotel are out on Isaac Sharpe’s Aultmore moor and bag 19 ½ brace of grouse, two hares and one snipe. They later donate a pair of rabbits to each of the dependants of married men of the local company of the National Reserve and Territorial Force currently away on military service.
Rothiemay United Free Church elects the Rev. W. T. Weir of St Andrew’s Church in Dundee to be their new minister.
Many local patriotic groups are set up at this time. In Boharm, a ladies’ work party is established with Mrs Neish, West Bank, as Convener, along with a committee of Mrs Macduff of Deanshaugh, Mrs Sim, snr, and Mrs Sim, jnr, both of Crossroads, Mrs Robertson, Station House and Miss Fettes from the Manse.
Thur 13 – At the Longmore Hall, Durward Lely and John Clyde’s Dramatic and Variety Company presents “Our Sons’ Wives” and “Cramond Brig”.
Fri 14 – Strathisla Angling Association resolve that the fishing on their water should be free for the duration of the crisis. Prizegiving takes place at the Glen of Newmill School.
Sat 15 – The Panama Canal is opened.
Mon 17 – National enrolment of Special Constables begins.
A meeting of Keith Landward residents takes place in the Newmill Institute to establish a committee of the National Relief Fund with William Pirie, Chairman of the Landward Committee, presiding.
Wed 19 – The Rev. Matthew Stewart of St Paul’s Church in Perth is inducted to Keith Parish Church.
At the Keith Golf Course, the Ladies’ August Button Competition is won by Miss Maggie Macdonald.
Thur 20 – Death of Pope Pius X.
Fri 21 – Botriphnie United Free Church call the Rev. Duncan S. Garrow of Inchgower to be their minister following the retirement of Rev. Robert Grant.
There is an eclipse of the sun.
Mon 24 – The Keith August Holiday is a very subdued affair.
Wed 26 – Sgt John Grigor, 1st Gordon Highlanders, killed in action near Caudry , during the Retreat to the Marne following the Battle of Mons. He was the stepson of the late Sgt Major James Inns, caretaker and librarian at the Keith Institute.
Thur 27 – College of Agriculture demonstration of oats experiments at The Bush near Keith.
Fri 28 – Lord Derby establishes the “Pals’ Battalions”.
Eight Keith Boy Scouts have been assisting the Buckie Coastguards for three weeks and receive a visit from Sir Robert and Lady Baden-Powell.
Mon 31 – Folksong collector, author and playwright Gavin Greig died at Whitehill Schoolhouse, New Deer.