KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Tuesday 1 The New Year was heralded in by the customary sounding of the engine whistles in the yard at Keith Junction Station. The skating rink at St Thomas’ Hall was busy as was the Palace Cinema with the matinée being free to local Boy Scouts wearing their uniforms. Keith Museum was well patronised especially by customers from the country districts. The local company of the Volunteer Regiment hosted a shooting competition in the Drill Hall. Rothiemay’s annual New Year Ploughing Competition was held at the Hillock and was followed by a dance. A shoot for local farmers took place on the Grange side of the Balloch. Miss Jopp had been presented with leaving gifts on her departure from Alehousehillock School for a position at the Lower Cabrach School.
Wednesday 2 The Boharm Volunteers’ shooting competition at Mulben continued into a second day. Patients at Earlsmount Hospital were entertained to an evening of music and song by Miss Anderson and friends. The Air Ministry was established under Lord Rothermere.
Thursday 3 Keith shops reopen after their New Year break.
Friday 4 Trooper James Riddoch (22) was shot by a sniper at the Front and died shortly afterwards. The second son of Mrs Riddoch of Weetyfoot, Grange, he had been a farm servant in the Drummuir area.
Saturday 5 The first of the Keith drapers’ winter sales started with stock clearances of oddments, remnants and ‘goods of passing fashion’. Today was the last opportunity to see the Keith Boy Scouts’ Pipe Band on screen at the Palace Cinema. Pupils at Maggieknockater School had collected £1 for the Overseas Club.
Second Lieutenant John Symon (22), Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action in France. He had been a painter with his father in Keith and had originally enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders. His younger brother, George, had been killed a few weeks earlier.
Sunday 6 A Day of National Intercession and Thanksgiving was held in churches throughout the British dominions. In Keith, joint services were held during the day to hear the King’s Proclamation regarding the ‘worldwide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty’ entering its last and most difficult phase. A united service was held in Botriphnie Parish Church and, at Grange, collections were taken to set up a memorial to honour the fallen sons of the parish.
Monday 7 The London Gazette published the New Year Honours List. Among the recipients were Mrs Mildred Gordon Duff, Drummuir, President of the Banffshire Red Cross Society, awarded an OBE and James Cantlie, originally from Keithmore, Auchindoun, physician and pioneer of first aid and ambulance provision, who was made a knight. A winter blizzard covered the area with trains being held up at Auchindachy and near Cornhill. Ten-foot drifts blocked Banff Road in Keith and a funeral party en route to the Forres area was obliged to abandon the hearse to the elements overnight.
Tuesday 8 The Arctic storm, accompanied by an intense frost, continued to affect the district. Several country members were unable to attend the meeting of Keith Parish Council. It reported that £110 was available from the Parish Trust Funds for distribution among 152 applicants. President Wilson outlined his Fourteen Points, a statement of principles for peace, in an address to the American Congress. Johanna Pirrie, Milltown, Rothiemay passed her music exam in London and was now a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Wednesday 9 Banffshire Secondary Education Committee noted that building grants of £150 and £100 had been allocated to Boharm and Ternemny Schools.
Thursday 10 Heavy snow followed a short thaw. A loose mine drifted to shore and exploded near the harbour at Rosehearty killing eight people and seriously injuring several others.
Friday 11 The first of the School Board’s wartime food economy lectures, as requested by the Food Controller, was held at Newmill Public School.
Saturday 12 The atrocious weather meant there were no animals presented at the Keith Auction Mart. The Upper District Committee reported that timber traffic had damaged the road to Arndilly. The first of Provost Taylor’s Grand Evening Concerts was held in the Institute Hall in aid of Earlsmount Hospital and the Servicemen’s Rest Room. The Banffshire Herald reported there was good news for the Robertson family in Land Street as their son Alex, who had been posted missing at the Front, was now confirmed a POW in Germany and in good health.
Sunday 13 Rev. John Philip held an afternoon service in the Newmill Mission Hall.
Monday 14 Keith Town Council appointed ex-Bailie Charles McGregor an additional Police Judge. The prices for wild rabbits was fixed by the Food Controller. It was reported that the Braehead Dairy was going to reopen.
Tuesday 15 Banff Sherriff Court was busy with local cases. Two lads from Dufftown were fined for carrying and recklessly discharging a pistol on the railway line at Loch Park on New Year’s Day. A Newmill farmer was fined 7s 6d for having a dog loose on the road near the Manse of Newmill without a proper collar. A cyclist was also fined 7s 6d for having no lights on the Keith-Rothiemay road. Alex Grant, formerly miller at both Crooksmill and Mill of Towie, died at his home in Elgin. Drummuir Estate advertised Blackmuir (105 acres) and Croft of Bodenfinnoch (30 acres) for let. The Palace Cinema was showing ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’ starring Sir John Hare and Scottish actress, Laura Cowie, originally from Turtory, Rothiemay.
Wednesday 16 Supplies to butchers were being cut by 50% forcing many shops to close. In Keith, Mair, the butcher in Mid Street, would now close all day Wednesdays.
Second Lieutenant William M. Gardiner (22), The Rifle Brigade, was killed in action at Passchendaele in Belgium. He was married to Annie McGregor, Land Street, and had been a confectioner in Elgin.
Thursday 17 The other five Keith butchers elected to remain closed all day on Thursdays.
Friday 18 Miss Cumming held her second Newmill lecture and demonstration on food economy.
Saturday 19 The freezing weather continued with 28° of frost being recorded in Keith. At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the Isla Bank Manure Works was successful in its appeal in the worker’s compensation case brought by Mrs Grant, Moss Street, regarding her late husband’s death.
Sunday 20 Stoker 2nd Class John Newlands (18), died at the Royal Naval Hospital in Gosport from pneumonia. He was the son of Robert Newlands, Broadrashes in the Glen of Newmill, and was taken home to be laid to rest in the Old Churchyard in Keith.
Bombadier John Webster (30), Royal Field Artillery, died at the Welsh Hospital, Netley, Hampshire, from the effects of gas poisoning in October. The son of Mr and Mrs George Ross, Union Street, Keith, he had been with the Mounted Police in Australia.
Tuesday 22 The thaw caused the Isla at Garrowood to block up with ice and force the river downstream onto its old channel. Parks and premises were flooded including Mr Cruickshank the merchant’s and Mrs Murray’s Temperance Hotel. The government in Kiev proclaimed the independence of Ukraine from Russia.
Wednesday 23 Five Drummuir boys were fined £2 each at Banff Sheriff Court for a trail of vandalism along the Glass road in Botriphnie over Hogmanay and New Year’s Day. Whooping cough had forced the closure of Grange, Sillyearn and Crossroads Schools.
Friday 25 The local branch of the NUR held a concert and dance featuring artistes from Aberdeen and Keith in aid of their Orphans and Benevolent Fund.
Sir William Wedderburn, civil servant and politican, died at his home in Gloucestershire. He was a founder of the Indian National Congress and Liberal MP for Banffshire 1893-1900.
Saturday 26 George McLean, Boharm Public School, presided at the winter meeting of the Banffshire Educational Institute of Scotland. The Longmore Hall was the venue for an illustrated lecture on ‘Burns and Burns Land’ in aid of the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society. Over twenty lucky ticket prizes of game helped to attract a large audience. Examples of potato bread were sampled at a meeting of the Banffshire Food Control Committee in Keith.
Sunday 27 A collection was taken at Holy Trinity Church in Keith in aid of the Syria and Palestine Relief Fund. Elmore James, American blues singer and guitarist, was born in Mississippi.
Monday 28 Tank ‘Julian’, which came to Aberdeen, was one of several touring the country to promote War Bonds. Botriphnie School Board met and decided against a request by the Education Department to establish a science class this year. Civil war erupted in Finland with Helsinki being captured by the Red Guard and a Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic being established in the south of the country.
Tuesday 29 Keith singer Josephine Anderson and friends held a song recital in the Longmore Hall to raise funds for a piano for the Turner Memorial Hospital. Rothiemay School Board reported that a piano had been procured for the school in Milltown and that the Miss Kennedy’s economical cookery lectures at Ternemny had been well attended. A Portsoy resident was in Court for driving a sledge without front and rear lights but was admonished this being the first such case in the county.
Wednesday 30 Brazil decided to send a naval squadron to Europe to aid the Allied war effort.
Thursday 31 In a series of accidental collisions on a misty night in the Firth of Forth, two Navy submarines were sunk with three more submarines and a cruiser damaged. 104 submariners lost their lives.