Occasionally I get asked about the commemorations taking place concerning the Great War commemorations in Folkestone, and what I would like to see, happen, or commemorated.
It really isn’t up to me. It is up to the people of Folkestone. I do not come from here or regard the town as my home. All I wanted to do was find a cave far away from people near the coast, and I found it. Quite rightly my views on what I regard as “Bad” History, or dodgy research are ignored.
So I’m now going to tell you what I would like to see commemorated here in Folkestone.
I would like to see a commemorative service at the Harbour Railway station where the lament for Sgt Mackenzie is played.
Sgt Mackenzie was a Seaforth Highlander who passed through Folkestone with his battalion in 1915. In April 1917 he was killed at Vimy Ridge. MacKenzie was not awarded any medals for valour, or bravery. In the midst of all the horror and death there is very little that marks him out. If you see his name on a war memorial nothing sets him apart or makes him different from the rest. Yet there is something that makes him unique. Something he and only he out of all the dead of the Great War got. He got a “Lament” written just for him. Out of all the dead, in all the cemeteries all around the globe. The nameless fading sepia photos, the good, the bad, the ugly of the war only he, Sgt Charles Mackenzie, 6th Seaforth Highlanders got a Lament.
The local regiment here is the Gurkha regiment. Never understood why such a kind gentle mountain people are the world’s most feared jungle fighters, but there you go.
On the 10th September 1915 the Indian troopship Ramazan is sunk by the German U-boat U-35 in the Aegean. Some think the Ramazan was captured and the sunk by gunfire. 182 Gurkhas loose their lives. It would seem fitting if we remembered all Gurkha dead this September 10th.
HMS Engadine deserves some sort of commemoration. Before the war the Engadine was a Folkestone-Boulogne ferry. Purchased by the admiralty before the outbreak of hostilities the Engadine was converted into a seaplane carrier. On Christmas day 1914 she took part in the The Cuxhaven Raid which was the first Carrier Air Strike in History. HMS Engadine as she now was also took part in the Battle of Jutland. During the battle a seaplane from the Engadine carried out the first aerial reconnaissance of a naval battle. After the war the Engadine was converted back to a Folkestone Boulogne Ferry. later being sold to a company for service in the Philippines. Ironically for a former carrier she was sunk by the Japanese shortly after Pearl Harbour in December 1941.
Perhaps, no not perhaps, it is about time a tombstone was placed on the grave of Walter Moss. Walter Moss was killed by a bomb the fell on Tontine Street on 25th May 1917. Why single him out? He was only 2 months old when he died, that’s why. We should, nay, need to remember it is not only soldiers who die in wars.