KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WW1
Wednesday 1 Keith Parish Church Woman’s Guild held a very successful Sale of Work in the Longmore Hall. A military wedding took place at Mill of Towie at Auchindachy. Gordon Highlanders from the Drill Hall in Keith formed a Guard of Honour with crossed bayonets for the happy couple. The Buchanan fishing party made a donation to the schoolchildren’s hot dinner fund when they left the Forbes Arms Hotel, Milltown of Rothiemay, at the end of the season on the Deveron.
Thursday 2 A Keith shoemaker’s appeal was dismissed at the Military Appeal Tribunal at Banff.
Friday 3 Fast Day services were conducted in Keith and Botriphnie. Britain signed a treaty of protection with Sheikh Abdullah, the Emir of Qatar, with Doha becoming the capital of the Gulf state.
Saturday 4 A Red Cross Flag Day and evening concert were held in Keith. Cigarettes could be sent to the front duty-paid and postage-free with Woodbines costing nine shillings per 1,000. William Longmore & Co’s annual meeting at Milton Distillery reported another successful year.
Sunday 5 The local Volunteer Training Corps was inspected at Boharm. The Emperors of Austria and Germany announced their intention to establish a Kingdom of Poland in the occupied Russian territories on the Eastern Front.
Monday 6 The Glen of Newmill School was closed for two weeks because of an outbreak of whooping cough. The British defeated and killed Ali Dinar, the Sultan of Darfur, finally consolidating their hold on the western areas of the Sudan. RMS Arabia was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean by a German submarine. One of the last survivors to leave the ship was Walford Bodie, the Electric Wizard, returning from a world tour to his home in Macduff.
Tuesday 7 A one-horse threshing mill was offered for sale at Thornton in Grange. Hassyhillocks was advertised to let in Rothiemay.
Wednesday 8 The Drill Hall, Keith was the venue for a whist drive for the Kitchener Memorial Fund.
Pte Charles R. Strachan (29), 6th Gordon Highlanders, died of wounds received in action. He was employed at Strathmill Distillery and is buried at Varennes Cemetery in France.
Friday 10 A concert, featuring local talent, was held in Drummuir Hall and included the country-life sketch, Jessie Wilkins’ Washing Day, by the local dramatic club. Keith Town Council co-opted John W. Kynoch of Isla Bank to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Robb of Fife-Keith.
Saturday 11 There was a public sale of yellow turnips at Toll of Corsairtly.
Sunday 12 British forces occupied the town of Shiraz in Persia. The Town Council and officials marched from the Longmore Hall to the Parish Church for the Kirkin’ of the Council.
Monday 13 The cost of a 4lb loaf in Keith rose to 11d.
Pte Alexander George (39), 5th Gordon Highlanders, was killed at Y Ravine at Beaumont Hamel in France. Before the war, he was a greenkeeper at the Golf Course in summer and worked at Milton Distillery during the winter.
Pte Francis C. Duncan (22), 7th Gordon Highlanders, Mains of Bellyhack, fell in action and is buried at Y Ravine Cemetery in Beaumont Hamel. He is remembered on the Botriphnie War Memorial.
Pte James McLachlan (24), 5th Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action. He was the son of Mrs Jane McLachlan of Sauchenward, Botriphnie, and is also commemorated on the Parish Memorial.
Second Lieutenant Robert J. Smith (27), 6th Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in the action at Beaumont Hamel. He was an Inland Revenue Officer before enlisting the day after Britain declared war on Germany. His name is inscribed on the Keith Parish War Memorial.
Able Seaman John B. Mellis, RNVR, Anson Battalion, Royal Naval Division, from Fife-Keith, also fell in the action and is buried in Ancre British Cemetery at Beaumont Hamel.
Tuesday 14 A schooner of beer and a glass of whisky, costing 8 to 10d, bought for two friends at the public house at Bridge of Fiddich, cost the customer a £2 fine at Banff Sheriff Court. His friends were fined £1 each and the publican £4 or 21 days in jail.
More local men fell in action today:
Pte Alexander Thomson (18), 7th Gordon Highlanders, was killed at Y Ravine. He was a native of Rothiemay and is remembered on the Parish War Memorial.
Pte Charles G. Webster was also 18 years old and in the same battalion. He was born in Boharm and had lived at Edingight and in Fife-Keith.
Pte James McLean (29), 6th Gordon Highlanders, whose wife and four children were living in Bridge Street in Keith, had been a farm servant in Deskford before the war. He was hit by machine-gun fire while stretchering a wounded comrade from the field of battle and died shortly afterwards. He is commemorated on the Thiepval and Keith memorials.
Pte Thomas R. Webster (21), 6th Gordon Highlanders, was the son of Thomas Webster of Auchenbrae, Rothiemay. He was killed at Beaumont Hamel and is buried in Mailly Wood Cemetery.
Wednesday 15 Sillyearn Cattle Breeding Society held its annual meeting. An illustrated lecture on the work of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in France and Serbia was held in Rothiemay.
Two more local men from the 6th Gordon Highlanders lost their lives today:
Pte James Paul (21) was an apprentice draper with T.V. Taylor of Fife-Keith. His sacrifice is remembered on the memorials at Thiepval and Keith.
Pte George A. Beverley (19), whose mother lived at Elrick Villa in Keith, was an apprentice chemist in Aberdeen. He is buried in Mailly Wood Cemetery.
Thursday 16 Sergeant William G. Shiach (24), 7th Gordon Highlanders, foreman gardener at Fetteresso Castle near Stonehaven, died of his wounds at a casualty station at the front and was buried at Contay British Cemetery. He was the son of James Shiach of Tominaughty, Boharm.
Friday 17 Buttermaking evening classes start at Keith Grammar School. The end of the Battle of the Somme with over one million casualties of whom 300,000 were killed or listed missing.
Saturday 18 The first annual meeting of the Keith, Glengerrack and Aultmore Cattle Breeding Society was held in the Commercial Hotel in Keith.
Sunday 19 Acting Sergeant Alexander Russell (23), 6th Gordon Highlanders, DCM, MM, from Rothiemay, died of his wounds in a hospital at the front and was buried at St Sever Cemetery in Rouen. He was the son of Mary Russell of Parrock and had been a farm servant at Mains of Davidston before the war.
Monday 20 Keith Military Tribunal dealt with several cases including a dentist, a gas stoker and a music teacher. The Town Council gave £5 to the Daily Telegraph Army Christmas Pudding Fund.
Tuesday 21 Emperor Franz Josef died at his palace in Vienna after a reign of 67 years. He was succeeded by his grand-nephew Archduke Karl and his wife Zita.
Wednesday 22 The windjammer, SMS Seeadler, slipped away from Germany to begin a campaign around the world as a commerce raider against Allied shipping. She had been built in 1888 at Port Glasgow as the ‘Pass of Balmaha’ before being seized by the German Navy earlier in the war.
Pte Joseph Copland (29), 5th Seaforth Highlanders, died of his wounds at Boulogne Hospital. He was employed by John Cormack, carpenter and joiner, Keith, and was well known and liked in the town.
Thursday 23 The Provisional Greek government of Venizelos declared war on the Central Powers.
Friday 24 An enrolment meeting was held in the Longmore Hall for the newly formed Banffshire Volunteer Regiment.
Saturday 25 Keith feeing market was held but many men of military eligible age were not hired. Lt William R. Watt from Upper Forgie, an intelligence officer in the Gordon Highlanders, was presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal by King George at Buckingham Palace. It was reported that Sgt Frank Burgess, son of Mr and Mrs Burgess of Fountainhead, Boharm, had been awarded a Bar to his Military Medal.
Pte Henry Lawrence (27), Royal Army Medical Corps, Scottish Horse Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, died in Salonika of wounds received in action at Mekes on the Macedonian front. He had worked for the Banffshire Journal and latterly for the Fifeshire Advertiser in Kirkcaldy. His mother lived at Westertown in Grange.
Sunday 26 The collection at the Botriphnie Parish Church Harvest Thanksgiving Service was in aid of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Monday 27 A meeting in Newmill School resolved to establish a War Savings Association.
Tuesday 28 Martinmas Term. Ternemny teacher, Miss Margaret Barber, was presented with a cake basket to mark her forthcoming marriage.
Wednesday 29 The Keith half-day holiday was delayed till Thursday to accommodate Term trade.
Thursday 30 Today was the last day for receipt of family parcels to relatives serving at the front, either by rail to Drummuir Station or by mail to the Castle for onward delivery by the Red Cross. No plum puddings were to be included.