“Ain’t you the guy who used to set the paces
Riding up in front of a hundred faces
I don’t suppose you would remember me
But I used to follow you back in ’63” The Who.
Thee ‘Oo never seem to be as loud as they used to be. My old gramophone is nearly as dead as the dog I got with it. Might invest in a new stereo. i remember The Faces too, yep I’ve touched the sky in Itcheycoo Park, it’s in Oxford for those who wish to live a mis-spent youth. I also recall 1963, I lived in two places in Aldershot and one in Scotland, it could have been, three places in Aldershot, no wait, one places in Aldershot, one in Scotland, and two in Singapore. Anyway I vaguely remember ’63-look if you can remember the sixties you weren’t there. Oh yeah the faces of those that crossed. Over 3 million soldiers, mostly returning from a spot of leave, came down on the boat trains from Victoria Station to the Harbour station in Folkestone. From the Harbour station they walked the short distance to the boats and returned to the Western Front. There images survive in group photos, , faded sepia images, nameless portraits on nameless walls, (not quite Vincent, but close)
There is one place where we can see and name some of these faces though. In London at the National portrait Gallery there is an exhibition called The Great War in Portraits. Included are the portraits of some we know crossed from Folkestone. Two are not soldiers, at least in the British Army. Both are female, so they get a mention. Mata Hari, the dancer, Flora Sandes, Owen, Churchill, are known to have cross, Walter Tull’s portrait is there too, as is Haig. Others who may have crossed from Folkestone.
One portrait is of a soldier who didn’t cross from Folkestone, but a hundred years after the start of the great War has a Folkestone connection, it is the portrait of the unidentified Ghurkha soldier. We forget, it was The British Empire, not the “Commonwealth” not just England, that went to war on August 4th 1914.