Looking back 100 years to the outbreak of World War One as reported locally

Stonehaven war memorial.
Stonehaven war memorial.

This coming Monday, August 4 sees the 100th anniversary of what many see as the beginning of World War One, when Britain joined the conflict.

Ceremonies are planned all over Kincardine and Mearns to mark the centenary.

Here at the Leader, as we were preparing our usual ‘It happened in the Mearns’ column, we came across a poignant article, entitled ‘Stonehaven and the War’, published in the Stonehaven Journal on August 6, 1914:

“As early as Sunday the effect of the war cloud had reached Stonehaven. There was considerable stir in the streets, and little knots of people were gathered here and there anxiously discussing the situation. In all the churches in the forenoon reference was made to the well-nigh appalling state of affairs on the Continent and the National Anthem was repeatedly sung.

In Fetteresso Church the Reverend J. B. Burnett declared that never, perhaps, was a national outlook more charged with gloom than it was that day. It behoved all our countrymen, at this hour of national necessity and danger, to render such service and to make such self-sacrifice which lay within their powers. No one could foretell the future course of events; they could only hope and pray that God in his providence would overrule all things for good and lead the nation by a way that they knew not into a greater almity and concord. So might, hardship, famine and irreparable loss be averted from our shores.

“Sunday afternoon saw the same suppressed excitement, and by afternoon the serious state of affairs was fully realised. Monday came with little fresh news, but by Tuesday some had already realised that Britain was to be plunged into a great and momentous war. It had been frequently mooted that the Territorial Force for the first time in its existence was likely to be called out, Just after seven on the evening of Tuesday notices were posted throughout the town calling out the regular, special reserve and territorial forces, and bidding all men report themselves at headquarters at once.

“Thereafter until almost midnight animated scenes took place. The local Territorials immediately reported themselves and got instructions to parade in marching order with packs and kits packed at the drill hall at 2pm the next day. A crowd surrounded the Post Office which was open all night for telegraphic communications. At 2.30pm on Wednesday the company formed up in the High Street which was thronged with a patriotic, cheering populace. As the company, with Captain Riddoch in command, and headed by the pipe band entered the Square, an immense crowd gave it a great ovation. “

Staff from the Stonehaven Journal,(the Mearns Leader’s predecessor), were among those drafted, and the newspaper was reduced to just four pages following the declaration of war.

Stonehaven resident, Pat Morris, contacted the Leader to tell us of an amazing coincidence. When her sister-in-law, Linda Reid, visited the Adanac Military Cemetery in Miraumont, France to pay respects to the grave of her grandfather, David Reid, who came from Sunderland, she found that he is buried next to Lieutenant George Reid, a Stonehaven man, whose parents lived on Gurney Street. He was killed in action in France on August 25 1918, aged 18 years. Respects were paid to both graves.