KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Mon 1 – The month starts with an afternoon service in the Glen Public School by John Esson of the Gordon Evangelistic Mission. Stanley Matthews (footballer) was born in Stoke-on-Trent. Keith School Board send a letter to Mr John Rushton appointing him as Principal Maths and Science teacher at a salary of £190 per annum.
Tue 2 – In view of the continuing War crisis, the Hortus Club decide not to have the usual annual show in 1915. Instead, they would hold a special show of sweet peas in August. The U.F. Presbytery meeting in Keith heard that the Kirk Sessions of both the North and South U.F. Churches were in favour of a Union. Grange Parish Council reported that the new implement shed in the cemetery was now in use. A new stove, suitable for cookery and laundry as well as heating, had been installed in Crossroads School. An assistant female teacher required at the Glen School with “special qualifications for infant teaching, a drawing qualification desirable. Salary £65.” Norman Wisdom was born in Marylebone, London.
Wed 3 – The touring cinema arrived in Milltown of Rothiemay for one night showing the latest scenes from the Front. At Banff Sheriff Court, a Keith couple from Moss Street were jailed for two months for child neglect. Today was the last day of use for postal orders as currency. Sufficient Treasury notes of 10/- and £1 denominations had been printed to cover requirements. Mr William Robertson, retired colporteur (distributer of religious tracts), of Glack of Clunymore, gave a limelight lecture on the current state of Belgium at Kininvie Public School.
Turkish forces crossed the Sinai Peninsula from Palestine and were attempting to force their way across the Suez Canal. They were pushed back by Egyptian and British Empire troops.
Thur 4 – The Volunteer Training Corps was established at a meeting in Newmill. John Rushton (see Mon 1st) dropped a bombshell by tendering his resignation. He then invited the Board to make him an increased remuneration offer. They declined and said that Mr Rushton “was not a gentleman” and also asked that his travelling expenses be returned.
Fri 5 – In spite of wild and stormy weather, an entertainment party from Huntly attracted a good audience at Rothiemay in aid of the War Aid Needlework Guild.
Pte Arthur J. Grant, 5th Scottish Rifles, was killed in action near Armentières. A native of Botriphnie, he was the son of the Rev. Robert Grant, recently retired U.F. minister. He had been employed as an apprentice ship broker in Glasgow. He was buried the following day on what would have been his nineteenth birthday.
Sat 6 – Drummuir Estate advertised the tenancies of West Starhead and three crofts at Broomhill to let from Whitsunday 1915. A cream and black ferret had been found near Auchindachy Station. The Forgie Picnic Committee had given £2 to the local Work Party funds. Aultmore Distillery advertised for workers. Daybell’s Electric Cinematographic Theatre had moved on from Rothiemay and set up in the Hay Memorial Hall in Cornhill. The projector and the accompanist’s piano light were run off the battery of a car parked conveniently at the door of the Hall. The Wild Birds Protection (County of Banff) Order had been extended for another two years. The Banffshire Herald reminded its readers that this was not just a European conflict but was being fought in over 20 countries around the world from Africa and the Middle East to China and the Pacific. Local unrelated insurrections were also taking advantage of the situation to advance their own particular causes.
Sun 7 – Pope Benedict XV had his prayer for peace read out in every Catholic church throughout Europe.
Mon 8 – Keith Town Council held its February meeting and discussed diverse subjects such as the Burgh’s Bylaws regarding pigstye specifications, the pruning of treesin various streets and the progress of the new urinal in Fife-Keith. J.A. Reid moved his dental practice from 160 Mid Street to Laurel Bank, 14 Broomhill Road. The premiere of D.W. Griffith’s controversial film “The Birth of a Nation” took place in Los Angeles. It starred Mae Marsh and Lilian Gish.
Pte William J. Mearns, 6th Gordon Highlanders, was hit by a stray bullet while on night sentry duty and died later of his head wound in Merville Hospital, France. He was 17 years old, lived in Station Road and had been employed at Isla Bank Mills.
Tue 9 – The last of the North of Scotland College of Agriculture’s weekly lectures on horticulture at Keith Grammar School had featured “Small Fruits” and “Garden Pests”. In Grange the shop and house at Goukstone were advertised for sale. Also advertised was Auchindachy House. A Union Street man was fined 7/6 at Banff Sheriff Court for allowing his collarless dog to roam loose.
Wed 10 – The Richmond Arms in Tomintoul, “a first class tourist and commercial hotel”, was put up for sale by public auction in the writing rooms of Keith solicitors Thurburn and Fleming. At an upset price of £2,500 there was no offer and the sale was adjourned.
Thur 11 – On promising to immediately “quit the town” a drunk and incapable case was fined 5/- at Keith Police Court. On reappearing at the Court the following day on a similar charge the fine this time was doubled to 10/- or ten days in jail.
Fri 12 – The North U.F. Church Sunday School held their annual social in the Longmore Hall. The Sillyearn committee for gifts for the troops held a meeting where letters of thanks from the Front were read out. A whist drive and dance in aid of the local Ladies’ Work Party was held in Mulben School and netted about £10.
Pte Charles Forrest, 6th Gordon Highlanders, from Regent Street, Fife Keith, was preparing tea in the trenches at the Front when he was shot. He collapsed and died immediately in the arms of his younger brother George. “A most likeable lad”, he had been employed by the Strathisla Co-operative Society was a member of the Keith Town Band and of the North U.F. Church Choir.
Sat 13 – A ploughing match at Invermarkie Lodge in Glass and was open to competitors from Botriphnie. The judges were Mr Ingram and Mr Stephen of Hillside. Col J.G. Fleming addressed a meeting at Grange Public School to establish a local Voluntary Training Corps. A follow-up meeting was arranged and 37 men were enrolled to join along with the 29 from Newmill and the 126 from Keith (one of whom was 82 years old).
Sun 14 – Dr Elizabeth Ross, Tain, who had volunteered her services in Serbia, succumbed to typhus in Kragujevac. She was the world’s first female ship’s doctor and had previously been working in Persia.
Mon 15 – The Office of the Lieutenancy in Keith issued instructions from the Lord-Lieutenant in the event of a State of Emergency. Among the requirements were the destruction of all vehicles and slaughter of all livestock which could not be removed from areas of military operation. Emergency committees were being set up throughout the County. The annual meeting of the Keith Cricket Club was held in the Pavilion, Seafield Park. As eight players were now serving in the Army future matches seemed unlikely. The Rothiemay School Board had organised a ten-week sick-nursing course.
Tue 16 – Two penitent Keith men were up before the Sheriff at Banff after a drunken weekend break-in at the Co-op in Fife-Keith. Despite their attempts at reparations the two were fined 60/- or twenty days in jail.
Wed 17 –Newmill Literary Society’s weekly meetings in February included such diverse topics as “Memory”, “Town v. Country Life” and, tonight, an interesting paper on “Byres”. The Strathisla Angling Association held their annual meeting in the Royal Hotel and reported that they had been granted a 5-year lease from the Trustees of the Seafield Estate.
Fri 19 – The winter continuation class finished at Maggieknockater with a social evening hosted by the headmaster Mr T. Macaulay Smith. He was presented with a “handsomely inscribed” umbrella. The Unionist Club in Keith held a whist drive in their club rooms in aid of comforts for local Territorials at the Front. The Railway Employees’ Dance was held in the Longmore Hall in aid of the Belgian Fund. British and French naval forces begin an unsuccessful attack on Turkish positions in the Dardanelles.
Sat 20 – Recruitment intensifies with an appeal in the papers for employers to be patriotic and release more employees for military service. Keith Police Court dealt with the theft from the Auction Mart of five sheep’s plucks. The culprit was fined 10/- or 5 days in jail. For supplying alcoholic drink to soldiers, the District Court-Martial in Cromarty sentenced a woman to 21 days in jail. The Richmond Arms Hotel in Tomintoul was again for sale, this time the upset price was reduced to £1,500.
Mon 22 – A farm servant from Arndilly fell foul of the Keith Police Court. For riding his bike at one o’clock in the morning without a light (being “slightly intoxicated”) he was fined a hefty 7/6 with 7/6 expenses. An anti-submarine net was laid between Scotland and Ireland.
Tue 23 – The heaviest snowfall of the winter so far was reported in Dufftown and area. A festive meeting took place at Earlsmount with 19 ladies of the Keith Red Cross being presented with First Aid and Home Nursing certificates. The first infringement of the recent car headlights regulations incurred a 5/- fine at Banff Sheriff Court.
Wed 24 – The Maths and Science Department of Keith Grammar School was now without an Assistant Master. The School Board appointed Mr William Smith, Buckie to the post. Keith businessman and lime manufacturer, Mr James Inglis, died at his home, Inglby, in Seafield Avenue. As well as leasing Blackhillock Limeworks he had also worked the Braehead Limeworks and at one time owned the Seafield Arms Hotel. A concert, featuring Dufton Scott from Inverurie, in aid of comforts or the Territorials currently in Keith, was held in the Drill Hall.
Thur 25 – Fred C. Webster’s Original Classic Repertory Company began their season of dramatic productions at the Longmore Hall with “Mill of Tifty’s Annie”.
Fri 26 – Keith Parish Church held its annual bible class social in the Longmore Hall. The Shenwell Library Committee held a whist drive with tea and music in Shenwell School in aid of War Funds and raised £16.
Sat 27 –In view of the recent stormy weather and poor road conditions for their country customers, the Bee Hive Drapery in Keith extended their winter
sale for another week. sale for another week. The new Naval Base under construction at Rosyth was engaging navvies at a record 7 1/2d per hour. The Ladies’ Work Party had sent comforts from Boharm to the wounded being treated at Gordon Castle Hospital in Fochabers. A football match at Seafield Park resulted in a 5:0 win for the 6th Gordons against a combined team of Gordons and National Reserve Company. The Highland League’s 1914-15 season was abandoned with Clachnacuddin in top spot.
Pte David Knox, 6th Gordon Highlanders, was shot and killed while digging at the Front Line. He had been employed at Isla Bank Mills
and lived with his wife and three young children in Station Road, Fife-Keith.
Sun 28 – An evangelistic service with Sankey hymns was held in Rothiemay U.F. Church.