IWW, Folkestone, soldiers stories.

Folkestone was a busy place during the Great War. Soldiers arriving on leave. soldiers going to the trenches, some were returning from leave others crossing for the first time. Some of their stories are well known. Haig’s story, Filip Konowal the only Ukrainian VC, Sgt Charles Mackenzie the only Soldier of the Great War to have a lament written for him. Others are fairly easy to find out about the names in the books signed in the cafe on the mole for example all have traceable stories. Yet more are unknown, the known unknowns, vanished without trace, or forgotten faces in old sepia non-colourised photographs. A few leave behind a hint of a story, something about them that leaves a wish for more to be found out. Mostly rogues, after all to live a peaceful, dull, boring life is, well, boring. One such character is Kenneth Drysdale Leslie.

What is known about Kenneth is he was in Folkestone on the 7th July 1918, on his way home after being dismissed from the army.

Kenneth was born in London on 15th December 1886 and educated at Uppingham. It is known he enlisted as a Private in September 1914 and promotion was rapid. So it can be assumed he was a good soldier. He applied and got a commission in 1916. Lt Leslie returned to the front in July 1916 shortly after the start of the Battle of the Somme. Invalided home with a hernia he was briefly hospitalised. Posted to Dublin in March 1917 Kenneth found himself again in hospital, this time with syphilis and gonorrhoea. February 1918 he was found fit for general service and back at the front. The 21st June 1918 found him in front of a General Court Martial on a charge of drunkenness. Dismissed from the army he returned home via Boulogne and Folkestone on the 7th July.

Dismissal was not a get out clause for officers. after being dismissed from the army they were liable to conscription, and so it was for Kenneth. He was conscripted to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It is known that he survived the war. What is known about him after that is nothing. Hopefully someone does know what happened to him and his story is now a family tale. He seemed a bit of a rogue, and rogues outlive themselves.


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