LIFE & TIMES
IN KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI.
This year will see the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War (the Great War, the 1914 – 1918 War, the War to end all Wars). Everyone is familiar with the words, photos and films that came out of that first war. The horrors of the trenches, the shelling, the “going over the top” and the images of thousands of men being mown down by machine guns. It was the first mechanised war with the first use of lorries, aircraft and tanks, and the last war to see the widespread use of horses in the field of battle.
Yes, we are all only too familiar with the images of WWI but how did it all start? The usual trite answer is that it was caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo on the 28 June 1914. That was, however, just the spark that lit the fuse of the powder keg that was Europe at the time. The ensuing War affected everyday life world-wide, including that of the people of Keith and Strathisla.
June 28 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie assassinated in Sarajevo
June 29 – Sangers Circus at Keith. Special train laid on from Dufftown picking up at Drummuir and Auchindachy.
July 1 – Hoeing Match at Rettanoch Farm, Rothiemay won by J. Barnett.
July 2 – Foundation Stone of Allacardoch Ford Bridge, Glen of Newmill, laid by Mrs Simpson, Berryleys.
July 3 – Newmill School closed early for the summer holidays because of an outbreak of Scarlet Fever.
July 4 – The Archduke and his wife’s funeral takes place at Artstetten Castle near Vienna.
Mulben Picnic and Games at Holl Farm, Boharm. The Heavy Competition was won by Ewen Innes of Cullieshangan. Sillyearn School Picnic to Sandend.
July 8 – Grange Parish Church Sale of Work in Grange School. It was a sweltering hot and dusty summer making conditions in the school rather uncomfortable. Nonetheless, the Sale was a success. Sadly, that month, two swimming tragedies took place, one a schoolboy in the Burn of Aultmore near Auchinhove, and the other, a young man in the Spey at Fochabers.
Suffragette Fanny Parker was arrested trying to bomb Burns’ Cottage in Ayrshire. In 1910 she had addressed Suffragist meetings in Reidhaven Square, Keith, and Regent Square, Fife-Keith.
July 10 – Start of School Summer Holidays with prizegivings at Keith Grammar, Auchanacie, Tarrycroys, Sillyearn, Botriphnie and Boharm. A Summer Concert was held at Crossroads School. At Forgie School, Convener Mr Milne of Backshalloch presented each pupil with a brand new penny.
July 11 – Islabank Mills weavers outing to Spey Bay. The Cabrach Games were held at Ardwell, Cabrach.
July 13 – Keith July Holiday with rail excursions to various destinations e.g. Ballater, Pitlochry, steamer trips on Loch Ness, Loch Maree and to the Isle of Skye.
July 14 –The Government of Ireland Bill completes its passage through the House of Lords. It allows Ulster counties to vote on whether they wish to participate in Home Rule from Dublin.
July 15 – Gavin Maxwell, naturalist and author, born at Elrig, Wigtownshire.
July 18 – Keith Harvest Feeing Market. Men were scarce and wages were therefore high, with “men to build” getting £8 and women £5.
Rothiemay picnic and games held at the Haugh adjoining Milltown, with over 1600 people attending.
July 21 – Hoeing match at Alton, Boharm. Winner was George Black of Stoneytown, boys winner was Hugh McKenzie of Newfield.
July 22 – Drummuir Highland Games at Mill o’ Hole Haugh, near the Castle Gardens, featuring a gymnastic display by The Gordon Highlanders from Aberdeen. Other attractions included a smoking competition.
July 23 – Austria-Hungary presents Serbia with an unconditional ultimatum.
Fossetts Circus at Seafield Park (the Leys).
July 24 – Peter Fair at Rathven, accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds.
July 25 – Austria-Hungary severs diplomatic ties with Serbia and mobilizes its forces.
Two brothers from Drakemyres died of Typhoid Fever.
July 28 – Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. This was Serbia’s third conflict in just over a year.
Glass Annual Market on Market Hill. Berry Picnic at Tarrycroys. Keith Town Band play at Reidhaven Square. Rothiemay Station Master appointed to Oyne Station. The Foxtrot Dance launched in New York.
July 29 – Keith Shopkeepers Picnic to Cullen and Buckie.
July 30 – Lt Tryggve Gran makes first aeroplane crossing of North Sea from Cruden Bay to near Stavanger in Norway.
Funeral of Alexander Elder, lime manufacturer, takes place in Grange.
July 31 –Russia orders full mobilization.
Banffshire and Donside Rifle Association’s annual Wapinschaw at Braehead Rifle Ranges.