3 Days in September 1915, 3 soldiers who crossed from #Folkestone.

20th  September 1915


Private 17324 Francis George Miles V.C.. 1/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.

Francis Miles first crossed to France as a private with the 9th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, leaving Folkestone on the 20th September 1915. Francis was wounded and sent back to England to recover. After his recovery he was posted to the 1/5th Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment. Francis served with the battalion in Italy. In September 1918 the 1/5th Battalion left the 48th Division in Italy and joined the 25th Division on the Western Front. It was here on the 23rd October 1918 Private F. G. Miles took part in the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation as recorded in, “The 25th Division in France and Flanders” by Lieut-Col. M. Kincaid-Smith, page 391 reads.

The courage, initiative and entire disregard of personal safety shown by this very gallant private soldier, was entirely instrumental in enabling his company to advance at a time when any delay would have seriously jeopardised the whole operation in which it was engaged.

Awarded……….V.C.

Tuesday 21st September 1915

Private 16331 Percival Absolon, 11th (Service) Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment.

 Percival attested in September 1914 crossing to France just over a year later. In 1916 he embarked from France to Salonica were he would be wounded in action. Percival survived the war.17

Wednesday 22nd September 1915

Captain John Macgregor V.C., M.C and Bar. D.C.M.

2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles

Born in Cawdor, in Nairnshire Scotland John Macgregor would have made a worthy thane. His mother still lived at Newlands of Murchang, Cawdor, when John served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Prior to the war He had emigrated to Canada where he worked as a carpenter.20

Macgregor was awarded the D.C.M. For an action on the 8th April 1917 during the preliminaries to the Battle of Vimy. 21

The citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal (awarded when John was a Sergeant) reads:

116031 Sjt. J. MacGregor, Mounted Rifles. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He single-handed captured an enemy machine gun and shot the crew, thereby undoubtedly saving his company from many casualties.

(Supplement 30204 to The London Gazette 24 July 1917 page 7663)

(Supplement 30845 to The London Gazette, 13 August 1918, page 9569.)

John was awarded his Military Cross for two reconnaissance missions on the 28th December 1917, and for his part in a trench raid on the 12th January 1918. 22

The Citation for his Military Cross reads:

Lt. John Macgregor, D.C.M., Mtd. Rif. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Whilst he was assembling his men prior to a raid, the enemy bombed the trench. He, however, changing his point of attack, led his men over the wire into the enemy’s trench, and successfully dealt with the garrison of the trench and three concrete dug-outs, himself capturing one prisoner. He then withdrew his party and his prisoner successfully to our trenches. Before the raid, he, together with a serjeant, had made several skilful and daring reconnaissance along the enemy wire, which materially assisted in the success of the enterprise.

The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross:

T./Capt. John MacGregor, M.C., D.C.M., 2nd C.M.R. Bn., 1st Central Ontario Regiment. For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrificing devotion to duty near Cambrai from 29th September to 3rd October 1918. He led his company under intense fire, and when the advance was checked by machine guns, although wounded, pushed on and located the enemy guns. He then ran forward in broad daylight, in face of heavy fire from all directions, and. with rifle and bayonet, single-handed, put the enemy crews out of action, killing four and taking eight prisoners. His prompt action saved many casualties and enabled the advance to continue. After reorganising his command under heavy fire he rendered most useful support to neighbouring troops. When the enemy were showing stubborn resistance, he went along the line regardless of danger, organised the platoons, took command of the leading waves, and continued the advance. Later, after a personal daylight reconnaissance under heavy fire, he established his company in Neuville St. Remy, thereby greatly assisting the 

advance into Tilloy. Throughout the operations Capt. MacGregor displayed magnificent bravery and heroic leadership.

(The Edinburgh Gazette .10 January 1919, No. 13384 page 200) 23

The citation for the bar to his Military Cross reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and leadership from 5th to 8th November 1918, at Quievrain and Quievrechain. Through his initiative, the bridges over the Honnelle River were secured. His personal reconnoissances and the information he derived from them were of great use to his commanding officer. His prompt action in seizing the crossings over the river did much -towards the final rout of the enemy.

(Supplement 31680 to the London Gazette, 9 December 1919, page15312)

John Macgregor died in British Columbia on the 9th June 1952.

This blog is an extract from notesI am compiling about the soldiers who crossed from Folkestone to France 1915-1919.

 Miles,  from VC.org.

17 Percival Absolon’s Army Pension Records.

20 John Macgregor’s Service Record.

#Folkestone, #FWW. Next stop France, June 1917

 
Notable crossing to France in June 1917 include Harry Lauder. 1   
Harry is one of many artists of the day who journeyed to the Western Front to entertain the troops. He crossed on deck with the troops rather than in the Officers quarters. Very popular with the soldiers and he remained a popular entertainer until his death in 1950. Hw was the first British entertainer to sell a million records. The journey to the Western Front must have been difficult for hi, his only son had been killed in action in December 1916. Harry wrote many songs including “|Keep Right On to the End of The Road”
Ev’ry road thro’ life is a long, long road,
Fill’d with joys and sorrows too,
As you journey on how your heart will yearn
For the things most dear to you.
With wealth and love ’tis so,
But onward we must go.

The American build-up continued, the first unit had already crossed in May. In June. No.12 Base Hospital U.S Army crossed from Folkestone. This unit did march down Slope Road.2 . After arrival in France, No 12 Base Hospital took over British General Hospital No. 18. Probably the first deaths to occur in an American Army Unit in the first World War were two nurses from No. 12 Base Hospital. Shortly after departing from the US for England on the  20th May 1917 a gunnery accident killed Nurses Helen Wood and Edith Ayres injuring a third nurse. The bodies of Wood and Ayres returned to the US and given military funerals.3

The 13th June and U.S. General “Black” Jack Pershing, along with his aid Colonel Charles Stanton came through Folkestone on their way to France.

Source, Yanks, by John S.|D. Eisenhower, http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/arrival.htm

Shortly after their arrival, General Pershing’s aide made the following remark, “Nous voila, Lafayette” (Lafayette, we are here!“) Colonel Charles Stanton 4th July 1917 British soldiers continued to cross fro Folkestone too. Perhaps most notably personnel of the 126th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. 4 The Brigade consisted of:

2/A Honourable Artillery Company

2/B Honourable Artillery Company

2/1 Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery.

They crossed on the S. S. Victoria. The end of the month again saw some very important Americans pass through Folkestone on their way to France.Mr Mowry of the American Bolling’s Aronautical Commission to Europe, and 63 men from the Civilian Motor Mechanics Group. The Group were in Europe to study British and French aircraft production techniques.5  

1) A Minstrel in France, by Harry Lauder, unknown edition, page 45.

2)  http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/adminamerexp/chapter24.html

3)  https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2017/may/northwestern-nurse-among-first-casualties-in-ww1/ accessed 21st May 2017

4) http://wetherbywarmemorial.com/id49.html

 5) Gorrell’s History AEF Air Service Sheet 8 History of Bolling’s Mechanics

#Shorncliffe’s other Air Raid Victims #FWW #Folkestone

The story of the bombing on the 25th May 1917 is well known. The burials of the Canadian Soldiers killed led to the Canadian Day Memorial Service now held annually at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. Not quite as well known is that 13 other Canadian Soldiers all from theCanadian Field Artillery who were killed in an earlier air raid were buried there. I say were because only the remains of 12 still lay buried at Shorncliffe. Sgt 42623 Edward Charles Harris’s remains were repatriated and now rest in St Catherines Cemetery Toronto.

The air raid occurred on the 13th October 1915 at Otterpool Camp. Zepplin L14 dropped four bombs on the camp killing 14. Another soldier 86687 Harry James Rixon died on the 15th, he is buried at Easthamstead. One other soldier 86398 Pringle Borthwick is buried in Wilton Cemetery, Hawick.

The soldiers killed in the air raid on the 13th October 1915 at Otterpool and are buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery  are:

IMG_8547.JPGCharles Boeyckens, a Belgian from Antwerp who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Buried apart from the other soldiers killed, he is buried very close to the Belgium plot in the cemetery in Plot C.123

The others are buried in Plot O numbers O.303-O.313 inclusive. They are:

IMG_853086372 David John Philips. Plot O.303

IMG_853186436 Sydney George Lane who was born in Burgate Hampshire. Plot O.304

IMG_853286503 Ernest William Bayes who hailed from Walthamstow in Essex. Plot O.305.

IMG_853386463 Richard Dyer Simpson. Plot O.306

IMG_853486474 Richard Stewart Truscott. Plot O.307

IMG_853586676 Charles Gordon Peterkin Plot O. 308

IMG_853686658 Wilfred George Harris. Plot O.309.

IMG_853786552 Samuel McKay. Plot O.310.

IMG_853886791 Thomas Dickson. Plot O.311

IMG_853986777 Henry Adrian Horn. Plot O.312. The epitaph reads “Fear not them who can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul.”

IMG_8542400004 Douglas Routledge Johnston. Plot O.313. The epitaph reads “Till the morning breaks and the shadows flee away”.

Sources

Surrey History Forum

Kent History Forum

CommonwealthWar Graves Commission Website

Service Records of Canadian Soldiers WW1

 

Captain Gilchrist #FWW #Folkestone Old Cemetery

Captain Robert Crooks Gilchrist the youngest son of Brigadier-General Robert Alexander Gilchrist, Indian Army, was born in Aurungabad, Deccau, India on 24 June 1878. Robert educated at Dover College and the Royal Military Acadamy Sandhurst where he passed with honours. Gazzetted to 2nd Lieut Indian Army in 1897 and promoted to Lieutenant in 1897 and Captain in 1906. At first appointed to the 33rd Punjabis and then the 46th Punjabis. He went on to serve five years with the Burmah Military Police and took part in two frontier expeditions. He was awarded the kings Police Medal for his service in the Burmah-Chinese Boundary Limitation Commission.  At the outbreak of the war, he was attached to the 59th Scinde Rifles and was killed in action at la Bassee on the 19th December 191. De Ruvigny’s state ” while leading a storming party up a German Sap under heavy fire.” De Ruvigny’s also quote from a letter sent by Major TL Leeds, who probably wrote the extract from the 59th Scinde Rifles reproduced below the photograph. The letter from TL Leeds reads

“Your son was killed yesterday morning while leading a storming party in a night attack on the German trenches. He was was most gallantly leading a storming party up a German sap under heavy fire when he was hit in the head by a rifle bullet and killed at once.” Roberts former commander also sent a letter of condolence to the family in which he sid, “I have never heard anything but the most kindly mention…” (quoted in De Ruvigny’s)IMG_8317Capt Robert Crooks Gilchrist’s memorial on his father’s grave in Folkestone Old Cemetery.

From the 59th Scinde Rifles WarDiary for the 19th December 1914

“…Capt Gilchrist went forward too and very shortly came back and asked for support which I sent up. later I heard both had been hit and the people up front hard pressed. I went up the communication trench and found Lieut Scolie who was making must plucky efforts to remove Capt Lee who was dead and Capt Gilchrist who was still alive. They were in a bit of German communication trench from the sap to their main trench. The parapet was not bullet proof and they were being fired on from three sides. Hav. Abdul Wahab with some men was plucky holding the head of the communication trench very close to the Germans. Lieut Kisch RB selecting a plan for a sandbag barricade. He showed me the place he considered best, which I told him to prepare. I told Lieut Scolie to get back Capt Gilchrist who I saw was alive, and to have Capt Lee who I saw was dead, and other bodies, I thought it best to risk no further lives. Capt Gilchrist was got behind the barricade with great difficulty but died soon after. …”

ANZAC Day #Shorncliffe #Folkestone #FWW #WWI

The 25th April is the day Australia, New Zealand, as well as a few small Pacific Nations, commemorate their war dead. Originally the day was set aside to remember the dead of the ANZAC at Gallipoli but has since been expanded to include all Australian and New Zealand war dead. At cemeteries in countries where Australian and New Zealanders service personnel are buried, there are Dawn Services. I’m not sure if there has ever been a Dawn Service on ANZAC day at Shorncliffe.  Here are the 11 Australians listed by the Australian War Memorial as being buried at Shorncliffe, plus the three men on the New Zealand War Graves Register also interned at the Military Cemetery Shorncliffe.

Carl Christian Andersen, IMG_8408

John James Forrest-Dunlop.IMG_8404

Edward Thomas FroudIMG_8406

William Burns GemmellIMG_8402

Cecil Edwin Howard, Also known as C Paling. IMG_8413

George Melbourne. IMG_8399

John Richardson PooleIMG_8400

Edward RobinsonIMG_8403.JPG

Geoffrey Campbell ScarrIMG_8396

Albert Edward William WardIMG_8411

Robert William WilliamsIMG_8414

The three men on the New Zealand War Graves Project Register are:

Henry Stokes Richards

IMG_8395

Peter Joseph GormanIMG_8416

Robert liveseyIMG_8409

I will be there a little later than the time the mad dogs and Englishmen venture out.

 

Postcard to Mum Down Under From, #Folkestone #FWW #WWI

A dreich morning, it is the only way of describing it. I am cold, wet and miserable standing here by Williams grave. My hands are a ghostly shade of pale. The camera is soaking and I have the shivers. My head is close to the dark place it often haunts. A bad morning and the photo is crap, but the day and I are in paradise compared to William’s last morning ninety-nine years ago today. The morning of the 17th April 1917 was to be William’s last.  An Australian Infantryman he was due to return to France from Folkestone that day.  He had been wounded in action in October 1917. On the 12th April, he had gone A.W.L. from Tattoo for three days. He was to receive 14 days Field Punishment No.2 (F.P.2) and forfeit 17 days pay for this crime. F.P.2  the prisoner was placed in irons or fetters, subjected to hard labour and had to carry out all normal duties. It is during these last few days that William wrote a postcard to his mum.

“Dear Mother The military has sent me over to France to be wilfully murdered as I knew to much for them I gave them the best snye system the world could ever be produced ending up with their ruin writing”

He gave the card to another soldier to send. on the 17th William went to the medical offices at No.3 Rest Camp Earls Avenue Folkestone

Not long after 9 a.m.  on the 17th William went to the medical offices at No.3 Rest Camp, Earls Avenue, Folkestone. Sometime after 9:20 the medical orderly left the room to go into the medical officer’s room next door. The orderly, Lance Corporal Hooke, stated at the inquest “I heard a noise as in a man in a fit. I went back into the room and saw deceased. he was lying down on the bed, his head rather inclined the blankets kicked over part of his face, he was kicking his legs up and throwing his arms about. I saw that he had cut his throat.”IMG_8393

William was given a military funeral at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. His coffin was draped in a Union Jack. The Canadians provided a firing party and played the Last Post, Australian representatives from the Australian Imperial Force in London were in attendance.

William’s parents were informed by letter, that he had committed suicide while temporarily insane and, that they had buried him on the South side of the garrison church.

Source: William Burn Gemmell’s service record.

#Shorncliffe, #Folkestone the South African Connection

Shorncliffe is justifiably proud of its Canadian Connection. Every year on at least one occasion tributes are paid to the Canadians buried there. The cemetery’s First and Second World War graves being extremely well cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The word “Commonwealth” replaced the original “Imperial” to reflect the changing times at the end of Empire. With the change of title people’s views changed and the different nationalities became important. The Imperial part was lost.  Also fading with the loss of the word “Imperial” was the idea of an Imperial Army. It was this “Imperial ” Army that went to war in August 1914. An Empire at war. Now we think of Brits in the Royal Air Force, Canadians in the Royal Canadian Air Force, South Africans in the South African Air Force. A hundred years ago they were part of an Imperial Family and served regardless of “Nationality”. They were British regardless of where they came from. Now we regard them as national citizens, not imperial subjects. Then all but two of the men named below were British, although they are now regarded as South African or Zimbabwean. the other two both fromm the South African Native Labour Corps, were Native South Africans.

IMG_8378

Cadet Harry Hutton Blake, mentioned in despatches by Lieutenant-General J. L. Van Deventer, K.C.B., Commanding-in-Chief, East Africa Force: — General Headquarters, East Africa Force, 11th October 1917, for meritorious conduct in the field. (London Gazette Supplement dated 7th March 1918) Harry’s parents lived in Roodekop, Transvaal, South Africa.

IMG_8382

Philip Martin Hayes Boardman. His parents lived at Umvuma, Rhodesia. (now Zimbabwe)

IMG_8379Commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour, where he was born. Arthur James Douglas’s parents lived at 4 Glengareff Terrace, Three Anchor Bay, Capetown and he is listed by the South African War Graves Project.

IMG_8381Wilfred Douglas Duke from Oxford House, Douglas St., Bloemfontein, South Africa.

IMG_8387Raymond was born in Boksburg in the Transvaal. His parents lived in  Maraisburg.

IMG_8389John James Forrest-Dunlop born in Sydney, Australia, and is commemorated on the AustralianNational War Memorial. He married Violet of East Rand, Transvaal, and is listed by the South African War Graves Project as a South African.

IMG_8384

Piet Malinge of the South African Native Labour Corps. In April 1917 a tented camp was pitched east of Hill Road, Cherry Garden Avenue in Folkestone. Designated the Labour Concentration Camp, it was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel F. Hopley and could accommodate 2,000 Chinese (Chinese Labour Corps CLC) or South African Native Labourers. (South African Native Labour Corps, SANLC) Opposite on theWest side of the road another tented camp was erected. This camp could contain another 2,000 Asian or African Labourers. During the summer of 1917, the CLC built hutments of reinforced concrete and the camp became known as the Cherry Garden Camp. This was really two separate camps with Kitchens and Hospitals. 1,500 men could be housed here. It is likely that Piet was part of the SANLC housed in one of these aforementioned camps. Busalk Mvinjelwa would also have been there.

IMG_8385Busalk Mvinjelwa, SANLC. (See under Piet Malinge above)

IMG_8383

David Victor Spain from Johannesburg, South Africa.

IMG_8386John Eric Thomson of 54, Garden St., Rosettenville, Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa,

IMG_8380

Augustus Henry Wells from Geoville, Johannesburg, Transvaal, The inscription on his gravestone reads ” Whosoever liveth and believe in me shall never die. john XI. 29″

The RAF men were here being trained, they were “Cadets”.  Most died of illness, Details of them, and the two men from the SANLC are from the CWGC site and in the South African War Graves Project on the Web. Further details can be found on both sites.