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Four in April. Folkestone Embarkations. #FWW.

All of the four men in this blog embarked from Folkestone during the First World War. Each little biography dates from a different year. There is one from each year soldiers embarked from Folkestone. The only other connection is the month of April.

William Holland may have been the first soldier who embarked from Folkestone to die on the Western Front.

No. 2245 Private William Holland
Killed in Action 8th April 1915

The entry for the 8th April 1915 in the 1st Buckinghamshire, Battalion Oxford shire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, gives the location of it’s companies undergoing training by 12th Brigade 4th Division. A company is undergoing instruction, that night, by the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. B Company, by the 2nd Battalion the Monmouthshire Regiment. C Company by the 2nd Battalion the Essex Regiment. D Company by the 1st Battalion the King’s Own (Lancashire) Regiment in billets and the Royal Engineers in the rear trenches. One man, in D Company, is recorded as being wounded and dying later of his wounds.
There is only one man from the 1st/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as dying that day. He is Private William Holland. William Holland is also thought to be the first soldier who crossed from Folkestone to die on the Western Front in the Great War.. He was the son of Charles and Ann Jemima Holland of 13 Chicheley Street Newport Pagnell Buckinghamshire. Private William Holland is buried in strand Military Cemetery, south of Leper (Ypres), and commemorated on the Newport Pagnell War Memorial. He was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

Embarked at Folkestone on the 10th April 1916.

Private 27752 James Grant, Royal Scots. James was born at 13 South Street, Grantown-on-Spey, on the 17th June 1886. He worked as a mason. He enlisted on the 7th January 1916. James was part of 15th Reinforcements for the 11th Battalion Royal Scots. While at 9 Infantry Base Depot he is awarded 14 days Field Punishment No.1 and forfeits two days pay for being absent from draft. Joins the (11th?) battalion in the field on the 20th May. Under arrest from the 16th September to the 1st October. He is sentence to two years Hard Labour for using insubordinate language to a superior officer and striking a person in whose custody he was. placed. Sentence suspended by General Officer Commanding 4th Army on the 13th October.. Admitted to 45 casualty Clearing Station on the 18th October with pyrexia of unknown origin. Because of this he is transferred back to England in November. He returns to France in April 1917 as part of the 67th Reinforcement draft to the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots. 3rd May he is wounded in action. Under arrest from 25th August to the 3rd September. On the 4th, he is tried by Field General Courts Martial for a Civil Offence. “That is to say, shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm feloniously unlawfully discharging a loaded rifle.” He is sentenced to two years Hard Labour. Taken to Prison on the 30th. On the 24th September 1918 he is released and rejoins his battalion. The balance of his sentence suspended. Wounded in action a few days later on the 28th. James the son of William and Jane Grant died of wounds on the 18th October 1918. He is buried at Les Baraques Military Cemetery, Sangatte, Pas de Calais, France. His death was reported in the Strathspey Herald on the 24th October 1918. (as reproduced in Poppies from the Heart of Strathspey)
“Died of Wounds”
“ Mr Wm Grant, mason, South Street, is mourning the loss of another member of his family, his eldest son James, who was in the Royal Scots, having succumbed to wounds. A brother was previously killed in action, another was recently discharged from the Army and the youngest son serving in the Navy. Mr Grant’s son-in-law, Private W. Little, Canadians is reportedly killed in action.”


Embarked on April 5th 1917

Private 2893 Robert Alexander Gamble, Australian Imperial Force. Part of 7th Reinforcements 60th Battalion. Joined 5th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples on the 7th. Taken on strength 60 Battalion in the Field on the 15th, Born in Washington, USA. Roberts parents are Alexander John and Margaret Jane Gamble, of “Ellersley,” Queen St., Concord West, Sydney, Australia. He is regarded as a Native of Inverell in New South Wales. He enlists on the 25th September 1916. Robert embarks from Sydney on the A19 “Afric” on the 3rd November 1916. Arriving at Plymouth England on the 9th January 1917 and joins the 15th Training Battalion at Hurdcott. While on board ship he is charged with stealing bread and given 7 Days detention. Shortly after joining the 15th Training Battalion he hesitates to obey an order from a NCO and forfeits 4 days pay. After joining the 60th Battalion in July 1917, Robert attend a Pigeon Course for three days. He is wounded in the left leg and right arm on the 25th September and dies of wounds on the 26th. Robert Alexander Gamble is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. The epitaph on his gravestone reads.

Embarked 5th April 1918.

Charles Edward Ibbetson
West Yorkshire Regiment

Charles Edward Ibbetson attested just before his 18th birthday on the 7th August 1917. At first he is posted to the reserves and not mobilised until the 13th September 1917. arriving at the 6th Young soldier Battalion at Rugely. On his Army Form B 103 this is recorded as “Posted to 6th T.R.B. Rugely” At Brocton he is transferred to the 51st Graduated Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, on the 11th February 1918. He is posted to France and embarks from Folkestone on the 5th April 1918. His first week in France is at “E” Infantry Brigade Depot, Etaples. Posted to the 8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment he joins them in the Field on the 13th. On the 28th July Charles is wounded in action, a Shot Gun Wound to the right thigh. At first he is admitted to 48 Casualty Clearing Station From there he is sent to 8 General Hospital and on the 17th August back to England. Charles Edward Ibbetson is discharged as “No Longer Physically Fit for War Service” on the 28th February 1919.


Memorial Day Weekend 2019

This is a rough guide to just a few of the Americans who embarked from Folkestone in the First World War.

7th October 1914

Clarence V. Mitchell an American who went to France to be a volunteer Ambulance Driver. He wrote, “With a Military Ambulance in France,” which is a collection of letters he sent to his parents. Crossed to France on the SS Sussex.

20th October 1914

Richard Norton1 Founder of the American Volunteer Motor-Ambulance Corps, also known as the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps

Monday 9th November 1914

Glenna Lindsey Bigelow, an American who was living near Liege Belgium. Embarking for Calais. Glenna worked as a nurse throughout the war.1

27th November 1914

Doctor Rose, Colin Heerle and, Ernest Percy Bicknell of the Rockerfeller Foundation War Relief Commission.

31st May 1915

Private G/609 James Norman Hall, 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, The French, Escadrille Lafayette, U.S. 103rd Aero Pursuit Squadron., 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron United States Air Service, and US Aviation Head Quarters, Paris.
Died 6th July 1951

12th November 1916

Private 3329 Eric Frances Walker, 29th Battalion Australian Infantry, 7th Reinforcements. Australian Imperial Force. Crossed on the SS Onward. Eric is a “Natural Born British Subject” born in the British territory of Hong Kong. His father lives in Seatle, Washington State USA. Eric enlisted on the 3rd March 1916. He is killed in action on the 29th August 1918. He is buried at Eterpigny Communal Cemetery Extension. His father was informed by letter of Eric’s death by the United States Consul in Melbourn

19th November 1916

Private 5606 Alexander Kinnaird, ex-7th Training Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. Alexander is part of 15th Reinforcements/27th Battalion. He crosses to France on the SS Onward. Alexander arrives at the 2nd Australian Division Base Depot on the 20th and is taken on the strength of 27th Battalion on the 3rd December. Alexander was born in Junction City, Kansas, USA and was 43 years and 2 months old when he enlisted on the 1st March 1916. Wounded in action in November 1917 he returned to Australia in March 1918 suffering from premature Senility.

12th December 1916

Private 5792 George Frost, Australian Imperial Force, 18th Reinforcements 15th Battalion. Crossed from Folkestone on the SS Arundel. George was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA in 1876. A sailor he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on the 15th November 1915 at the Rifle Range, Queensland. Tried by Field General Courts Martial for Desertion on the 6th October 1917. He went absent while on active service on the 21st June 1917 until the 17th July 1917 and going AWOL while under arrest 17th August until the 20th August 1917. Found Not Guilty of Desertion, but Guilty of being Absent Without Leave. He is sentenced to 9 months Imprisonment with Hard Labour in the Military Prison at Rouen. George returns to duty on the remission of the remainder of his sentence on the 12th June 1918 and returns to the 15th Battalion on the 17th June 1918. Reported absent on the 21st July, rearrested 16th August, absent 28th August, traced 15th September, absent 30th September, and again reported absent 15th October. On the 14th January 1919 he is sentenced to 15 months Hard Labour. Some of the sentence is served at No.10 Military Prison Dunkirk. On the 23rd July 1919, he is transferred to prison in Oxford. He embarks at Calais on the “Maid of Orleans” and disembarks at Folkestone, under escort. The remainder of his sentence is remitted from the date of his departure for Australia, 22nd September 1919

6th March 1917

Private 277330 Emile Cyr, Manchester Regiment. Emile Cyr was a sailor who enlisted at Birkenhead on the 7th August 1916. The first eight months of his army service was spent at home before he was posted to the British Expeditionary Force. Embarking from Folkestone with the 2/7th Battalion on the 6th March 1917. On the 9th October, he is at the 2/7th Field Ambulance “Sick”. Moved through the casualty evacuation chain he is transferred by hospital ship back to England on the 20th October. The next four months are spent back in the United Kingdom until on the 20th March 1918 he again embarks from Folkestone to Boulogne. After three days at “H” infantry brigade depot in Etaples, he is posted to the 2/5th Battalion Manchester Regiment and serves with them in the Field from the 6th April. Cyr is attached to 66th Division Head Quarters for a short while from the 15th May possibly followed by a stint at 199 Infantry Brigade Head Quarters, Posted to 1/5th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the 30th September he does not join them in the Field until after the Armistice on the 22nd November. Between the 30th September and the 22nd November, he spends 23 days at “H” Infantry Brigade Depot and 30 days at “K” Infantry Brigade Depot. On Christmas day 1918 he is granted 14 days leave in the United Kingdom. Shortly after his return, he is ordered to proceed to the United Kingdom for reparation to the USA. He embarks for England from Dunkirk on the 2nd February 1919. .He was transferred to “Z” class reserves on the 21st June 1919. Emile did not qualify for a pension or gratuity. After his discharge from the army, he moved to Maine in the USA where his mother resided.1 Emile Cyr was awarded the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.

25th April 1917

Private 7075 Frederick McCabe, Australian Imperial Forces, ex 23rd Reinforcements/2nd Battalion. Arrived at 1st Australian Base Depot the next day. Taken on Strength by the 2nd Battalion on the 11th May 1917. Frederick is killed in action on the 22nd September 1917. Private McCABE, FREDERICK 7075. Born in Sofalla, USA. The son of Son of James Warwick McCabe and Emily Maria McCabe, of Hudson St., Granville, New South Wales. Is buried at Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood. the inscription on his grave reads:

30th May 1917

No.5 Base Hospital US Army. Marched down Slopes Road, now known as the Road of Remembrance. They “crossed the Channel in a crowded packet in a dense fog, surrounded by growling destroyers we could not see,” Crossed to Boulogne on the Princess Victoria. They take over the British Expeditionary Force General Hospital No.11, situated between Dannes and Camiers. Serving with the No5. Base Hospital is Lieutenant William Fitzsimmons, who on the 4th September 1917, will become the first American, in the American Expeditionary Force, to be killed by enemy action, in an air raid, during  the Great War.

13th June 1917

U.S. General “Black” Jack Pershing. He crossed on the SS Invicta. Shortly after their arrival General Pershing’s aide, Colonel Charles Stanton, on the 4th July 1917 made the following remark, “Nous voila, Lafayette” (Lafayette, we are here!“) at Lafayette’s tomb.

11th June 1917

No.12 Base Hospital U.S Army, after arrival No 12 Base Hospital operated British General Hospital No. 18. This unit did march down Slopes Road1 On the 20th May 1917, the day following the units departure for England, a gunnery accident killed Nurses Helen Wood and Edith Ayres injuring a third nurse. The bodies of Wood and Ayres were returned to the US and given military funerals. They were the first United States Army Casualties of the First World War.

8th August 1917.

11th Engineers Regiment, (Railway), an American regiment raised from railway workers. They were sent over to France to help maintain the railways in Northern France. Sergeant Matthew Calderwood and Private William Branigan were wounded when the Unit came under shell fire on the 5th September 1917. They were the first United States Army casualties on the Western Front from German shell fire.

17th September 1917

Private M/322950.Victor Holman, Army Service Corps. Posted to 974 Motor Transport Company, 5th Heavy Repair Shop. Victor stated he was born near Colorado in the USA. Attested on the 1st September 1914 and gave his age as 19yrs and 345 days. He had served in France before. Embarked from Southampton when serving with the Kings Royal Rifles as Private Y861, in October 1915. Then he was sent back to England, on the 28th March 1917, for being “Under Age”

2nd June 1918

Company B, 311th US Infantry. The 311th had crossed from the USA on the “Nestor”. After arriving at Liverpool they entrained for Folkestone arriving at 2 a.m. on the 1st June. The history of Company B, 311 Infantry records they spent the night in an Embarkation Camp at Folkestone in “a large empty stone house in a row of similar ones” Sixty men from the 311th had left for France from Folkestone on the 1st June 1918

8th August 1918

Private 7378 Ernest Thompson, Australian Imperial Force, ex 12th Training Battalion. He arrived at the Australian Infantry Base Depot the next day. Taken on Strength by 51st Battalion on the 16th August. Ernest was born in Omaha, USA. An American subject he enlisted in Narrogin, Western Australia, on the 18th December 1917. He survived the war.

There were many, meny more Americans who also embarked from Folkestone. These are just a very few.





Update on research. #Folkestone #FWW

The Singapore Mutiny/revolt in Kelantan the birth of British Counter-Insurgency has ground to a halt.  The reason, A) not sure where to find documents.

B) No idea what documents

C)    Cost. Don’t have the means to take a gamble.

Embarkations from Folkestone

Surprised at the number of Americans who embarked at Folkestone before America entered the War. They served in Australian, British, as well as Canadian Units.

Surprised an Indian Army unit embarked at Folkestone.

Surprised that Germans embarked at Folkestone.

Have found the dates a few units crossed by looking at Army Forms B103 that I could not find anywhere else.

Amazed that Winston, Tull and Sassoon were all at the harbour on the same day.

Find a few Units I did not know existed, The Army Gym Staff,  to name but one.

Need to find out why there are more than a few days where I can find no trace of embarkations.

Surprised that Ramsgate was also a port from which soldiers embarked for France. As was Dover, Avonmouth, Southampton and other places.

Would like to find out the weather on days where they appear to have been no embarkations.

Get a hold of a Govt/military Canadian Document on Embarkations from Folkestone.

Find a few more Diaries, War and Personal.

Why? because I’m curious and enjoy it.


A) The Folk, Myths, Duff, False, and Bad History of the First World War History that floats about Folkestone.

B) Costs. Mind you I did earn £150 last year. Up £150 pounds on the previous year.

C) Prolonged Depression.


More next week.


W Moss, Every Tombstone Tells a Story. #FWW #Folkestone.

Scarce heard among the guns. (Blogs about WW1)

I like talking to the dead, they don’t answer back. I like stories about the dead from the First War War. Sure I like the stock in trade stories of bravery, the tales of valour. The glory as well as the sadness of it all. Some story tellers can make it so real you are there. Close your eyes and be with them. Listen and you can hear about their lives and feel their fears. Every tombstone tells a story.

The Under age boy soldiers their story is there. The Women who died. Their story is there. The Canadians, the Americans, the Germans, the Unknowns also have their stories there all you have to do is listen and see with your eyes closed. Run your hands over the names of the missing feel the stories in the walls. It’s wonderful the soil is enriched with their tales. I love going…

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The 11%, more thoughts.

My last blog generated a lot of interest. I appreciate the responses. All were kind and friendly. The disagreements were friendly, polite, appreciated, the best of Social media.

Thank you to everyone.

Here are a few more thoughts and questions, based on the blog and responses.

There is a view that the percentage of the dead should have been a percentage of those who served in combat, not of the whole Army.

The dead were whole Army dead. Their deaths occurred all around the world. Not all were combat deaths. They were soldiers who died while serving.

If you take deaths from combat, ie, Killed in action, or died of wounds as a percentage of those who served in the combat area/zone/frontline it would be expected to be higher. It might not be for various reasons. Some are mentioned below.

There are questions though.

Where did combat take place?

Was the combat zone static or fluid?

Between what dates did combat in the combat zone occur?

Was Le Havre in the combat zone?

Was Boulogne?


Did a soldier on a troop ship going to India, serve in a combat zone while the ship was in the Mediterranean?

Did Kitchener die in Combat?

If not,

Did the soldiers who died on the Hospital Ship Anglia die in combat?

Did a soldier who died as a result of a bomb dropped from an aircraft in France die in combat?

If he did,

Did a soldier killed by a bomb explosion during the Folkestone bombing die in combat?

Did a soldier shot while in a rear area die “In Combat”?

Then there are the soldiers who died because of illness.

The men who would have died anyway, no matter where they were.

Then there are the men who died on their way to or from the frontline.

I do not have the answers. They are only thoughts.



The Cult of the #FWW’s 11%

To a greater or lesser extent all who are interested in the First World War, myself included, are members of this British cult. Some are fully paid up and will exclude all others.  Looking at posts on social media it is easy to see why more than a few think the war was a war in which most British soldiers were killed and the rest shot at dawn on their fourteenth birthday. If you are going to go on a Munro bagging style of tour to put poppies on the graves of VC holders, Boy Soldiers, Shot at Dawn, remember the idea of the graves is every soldier should be treated the same in death. That is why they look the same. Place a poppy on the graves surrounding your own particular Munro. Perpetuated by companies and their agents to endless tours of cemeteries and memorials along the Western Front in the guise of “Battlefield Tours”

First, who are the 11%?

Some are the Missing, buried in unknown graves.

Some are Resting in Peace in Silent Cities.  They are buried in Cemeteries.

Some are just resting in France. No, they are not.

Some are sleeping. If you think this, wake them up.

Some are Standing easy. Not my favourite phrase.

They are not “Pining for the Fjords “, but they are all DEAD. Most are buried in cemeteries under six feet of soil, none are asleep, resting, or standing. They are all dead. If you believe in Heaven and hell, for you, that is where they are. If not they are just Dead.

A whole wars narrative based on just 11%. Their stories are important and should be told. But not at the expense of the 89% who survived the war. Their stories need to be told too.

The connection with the First World War needs to be made too. The experiences of the war shaped their attitudes.  What they thought of defeat, victory, the future. What happened to them. The leaders who fought the second world war were forged by the first. Churchill just didn’t disappear after Gallipoli and emerge phoenix-like in 1940.

Many of the Generals of the second fought in the first Bernard Law Montgomery did not crawl rat style from the sands of North Africa. The connection needs to be made to the first.

Then there are the ordinary stories. People such as Captain Darling, yes that really is his name. Lived for a while in Folkestone. He was the guide on one of the first tours of Vimy and Arras in January 1919.

People such as Robert Goddard, farmer farmed not far from Folkestone. He knew Ewart Alan Mackintosh. (google him).

George Dore, his regimental number was “1”

Stories, like that of Lewis Gedalovitch, yes Russians did serve in the British Army. Came home and divorced his wife.

Sad stories such as Duncan Mackintosh, died wounds in 1927.

The First World War is not solely the possession of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Royal British Legion (who appointed them the guardians of remembrance anyway?) or the 11%.

It belongs also to the 89% who survived. It is up to us to remember them too.

Folkestone’s #FWW Myths

The Myth the British Army left from Folkestone in 1914.

The Myth, Millions marched down The Road of Remembrance, (the Slope Road)

The Myth, The Harbour Cafe’s visitors book was signed by soldiers going to France.

The Myth, All soldiers left from Folkestone.

The Myth, Ten Million left from Folkestone.

The Myth, you could hear the guns firing in France.

Myth, a Mothers last Kiss, the story of William Francis Poile 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

The Old Contemptables left from Southampton. Folkestone was not a military port until the end of March 1915.

Tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, let alone millions marched UP as well as down the Slope Road, (The Road of Remembrance). Most soldiers arrived at the harbour by train.

By no means did all soldiers embark from Folkestone. Avonmouth, Dover, Ramsgate, as well as other ports were used to embark troops for France.

Ten million is more than there were soldiers in the Army. The true number may never be known, but 2-3 million is a better estimate.

If all the British army’s artillery fired at exactly the same time a slight rumble might have been heard.

William Francis Poile. The 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers embarked from Southampton, not Folkestone (War Diary). If he was part of a draft he would have arrived at the harbour by train. No time to see anyone. Not possible for a civilian to get to the train. No time to go and visit his Mother who lived in Stelling Minnis, not Folkestone. A lovely story but a myth.

A few true odds and sods.

More American Units march down the Slope Road than Canadian Units did. Although more Canadian units embarked from Folkestone than American Units.

Canadian Units marched from Shorncliffe down the Military Road and along the LOWER Sandgate Road.

Churchill, Sassoon and Walter Tull were all at the Harbour on the same day.

One soldier who embarked at Folkestone served in the British, then French, and finally in the American army before the end of the war.


Odd notes about #Shorncliffe

Added the names of Americans, and a few names of Soldiers who died at Shorncliffe Pre, Post, and during the #FWW

Site Title

Odd mutterings really but…

Or perhaps odds and sods about Shorncliffe. In no real order, but before they get lost in the rest of the collection.

This post will be added to from time to time.

July 1792, the Bedfordshire Militia leave Shorncliffe.

1802, The Rifle Corps, (95th) arrived at Shorncliffe.

1803. Redoubt abandon/construction ended? Sir John Moore arrives at Shorncliffe. Moore was at the siege of Saint-Florent and it was under his leadership the tower at Mortella Point was taken.

The training of which was based on a book by Major General Barron de Rottenburg, Regulations for the exercise of Riflemen and Light Infantry

1809, the 42nd of Foot (Black Watch) After the Battle of Corunna the regiment returned to England and were based at Shorncliffe for a few months.

1827, 31st Foot (Huntingdonshire Regiment)

1863, The 19th Hussars, 5th Foot (Northumberland Fusiliers), 9th Brigade Royal Artillery, 23rd Company…

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