KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WW1
Monday 1 New Year’s Day was a general holiday in Keith with all the licensed premises closed for the day. Despite being dull and rainy later, there were four packed houses at the Palace Cinema, the Museum in the Institute was busy and the skating rink at St Thomas’ Hall was well frequented. A Grand Shooting Competition was held in the Drill Hall. Elsewhere, there was a game hunt in Grange and the annual ploughing match between the roadmen and labourers was held at Hillock, Rothiemay. The Highland Railway closed the line from Burghead to Hopeman.
Pte Joseph McConnachie (21), Scots Fusiliers, was lost when HMS transport Ivernia was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Mediterranean. He was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs McConnachie of Lower Auchmill, Rothiemay.
Tuesday 2 Keith Parish Council reported that there had been 162 requests for Parish Trust Funds relief and that nine shillings in money or coal had been granted to the successful applicants.
Wednesday 3 The funeral of Miss Elizabeth Innes of Edingight took place from Grange Station to the churchyard at Grange Parish Church. The children of St Thomas’ School were treated to tea and cakes at their prizegiving in the Hall and then to a special showing at the cinema of ‘Her Reckoning’ and to an episode of the bushranger adventure serial ‘Stingaree’.
Thursday 4 Britain and Germany agreed a prisoner of war exchange for internees over 45 years old.
Friday 5 Grange School Board organised a concert in Sillyearn School in aid of comforts for Grange servicemen. The pupils at Rothiemay School performed the operetta ‘Parliament In School’ in aid of the school’s Hot Dinner Fund. The school had already supplied 5,876 hot meals at a cost of almost ¾d each.
Saturday 6 In order to conserve sugar supplies, it was no longer permissible to sell sweets, chocolates or ice cream in cinemas and theatres. The Banffshire Herald reported that Lord Devonport, the Food Controller, had indicated the enforcement of mandatory ‘meatless days’ on the general public was impracticable. A voluntary rationing regime was being suggested: 2½lb meat, 4lb bread and ¾lb sugar per person per week.
Sunday 7 The local Volunteers attended a joint service at Rothiemay United Free Church.
Monday 8 The January meeting of Keith Town Council agreed that street lights might be kept lit till 11pm on special occasions. They also granted the burgh workmen a bonus of half-a-crown per week for the duration of the war. British and Empire forces, advancing across the Sinai Peninsula, reached the Turkish frontier at Rafah (now on the border of the Gaza Strip). The political situation in Russia was worsening with the resignations of the Prime Minister, the Minister for War, and the Foreign Minister in quick succession. Mass strikes were calling for the overthrow of the Tsar.
Tuesday 9 The farm of Upper Hillside on Drummuir Estate was advertised for let.
Wednesday 10 William F. Cody died in Denver, Colorado. As Buffalo Bill, he had visited the North East with his Wild West Show, coming to the Burgh Muir in Huntly and to Elgin in 1904.
Thursday 11 A three-day Shooting Competition was being held in the Newmill Institute.
Friday 12 Keith Hortus Club’s Annual Meeting decided against holding a Show in 1917 but offered prizes for the most economical use of gardens under 90 sq. ft to encourage food production. The Banffshire Upper District Appeal Court meeting in Keith, with ex-Provost Robert Cameron presiding, granted rates exemption to the Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital housed in the Rathven Parish Church Hall near Portessie.
Saturday 13 Keith Boy Scouts, under Scoutmaster Miss Elizabeth Kynoch-Shand, held a successful Café Chantant in the Longmore Hall. Miss Kynoch-Shand was later awarded an MBE for her war work. The Upper District Committee of Banff County Council meeting in Dufftown heard of further damage to roads in Rothiemay caused by timber extraction traffic. A petition was submitted proposing a new road for the Corhabbie district of Glenrinnes. A notice in the Banffshire Herald advertised the public sale of a tenement feu in Land Street, to take place in the offices of the newly combined firm ofMessrs Stephen & Robb.
Sunday 14 The Provisional Council of State of the Kingdom of Poland, recently established by Germany and Austria, held its first meeting.
Monday 15 Keith Town Council, sitting in the Institute, heard 71 cases appealing against burgh assessments. Many were by the wives of serving soldiers but, after discussion, they were refused. A social meeting of the Keith branch of the British Women’s Temperance Association welcomed 18 new members.
Wednesday 17 The Banffshire District Agricultural Committee for Food Production established an executive committee to survey the county with the purpose of bringing more land into crop production. It was estimated there were an extra 4 million acres nationwide which could come under the plough.
Thursday 18 Mr A. R. Birnie, playwright and poet, was presented with a handsome oak writing cabinet at Tenrood by the Towiemore Dramatic Club. He was the Great North of Scotland Railway agent at Towiemore and was being transferred to Cairnbulg in Aberdeenshire. Keith Parish School Board, under Chairman Rev. W. H. Macfarlane of the South UF Church, met to discuss war bonuses for teachers and staff.
Friday 19 Rothiemay Agricultural Co-operative Society hosted a public meeting in the school addressed by Mr Drummond of Scottish Smallholdings Organisation Ltd from Edinburgh to promote increased food production. Newmill Volunteers Shooting Club enjoyed a social evening. German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent a coded telegram from the Embassy in Washington to their Legation in Mexico City proposing to aid the Mexican Government in regaining the lost territories of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico from the United States. It was intercepted and decoded and would eventually bring the Americans into the war against Germany.
Saturday 20 In Boharm, a deer drive from Knockmore to Cairnty Wood bagged deer, white and brown hares, rabbits and a brace of woodcock. The Banffshire Herald reported that the Scottish and English Co-operative Wholesale Societies had bought over 10,000 acres of land in Saskatchewan to supply the flour mills of Britain. They had also purchased land in Ceylon and India to increase food supplies. Grange Ladies’ Red Cross Work Party and the County War Workers’ Society met in the manse at Whitehill. Rothiemay Parish Church Sunday School held their social evening. A war savings association was set up in the landward area of Keith Parish to complement the already established associations in Keith Burgh and in the Parish of Newmill.
Sunday 21 Rev. James Eadie of Macduff preached at an afternoon service at Hillhead in Grange.
Monday 22 At Keith Police Court, a butcher was fined for being drunk and disorderly and had to lodge ten shillings as caution for his good behaviour for the next six months. He admitted 48 previous convictions. Boharm School Board reported that 17 pupils had enrolled for Miss McWilliam’s evening cookery classes.
Tuesday 23 The Treasury issued new £1 notes.
Wednesday 24 Newmill Literary Society’s weekly meeting took the form of a Burns’ Night. Under the patronage of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society an illustrated address entitled ‘Devastated Belgium’ was given in the Longmore Hall by Eugene Rentier of the Belgian Army. Several bequests were reported at the annual meeting of the Turner Memorial Hospital including one of £300 from the late Miss Innes of Edingight.
Friday 26 Newmill Insitute Directors’ Annual Meeting agreed to invest £31 in the War Savings fund.
Saturday 27 Boharm Parish Church choir presented a hymnary and a gold and pearl pendant and chain to fellow member Bella Sim of East Lodge who was leaving the district to live in Elgin. The 35th Annual Meeting of the Keith District Branch of the National Independent Order of Oddfellows was held in the Institute Hall.
Sunday 28 Knock platoon of the Banffshire Volunteer Regiment joined their Rothiemay comrades in a service in the United Free Church at Mannoch Hill. Keith branch of the Railway Clerks’ Association claimed to have the first lady members in the GNSR system.
Tuesday 30 Four sacks of sphagnum moss had been collected by pupils of the Glen School. The Scottish Secretary signed The Wild Birds Protection (County of Banff) Order 1917 to be in force for the next three years.
Wednesday 31 The Executive Committee on Food Production met in the Keith Institute and reported that about 200 acres of grassland had been earmarked to be ploughed on Cullen, Mountblairy, Drummuir and Aberlour Estates. Botriphnie School Board agreed a staff war bonus of £10 per annum for the headmaster Mr Wilson, £6 for Miss Jeannie Jamieson and £3 to Miss Mary Ross.
Pte Robert Donald (30), 36th Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces, was killed in action in France. The youngest son of James Donald, coal merchant, Land Street, Keith, he had been apprenticed to James Donald, tailor and clothier of Mid Street, before emigrating to New South Wales where he set up his own business.