Category Archives: Africa

More from Folkestone Old Cemetery.




Before he enlisted in 1916 Thomas was an errand boy.


Memorial to Major Edward Hale Lewin 46th Punjabis. Killed in action at the Battle of Dujaila. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq



Memorial Inscription to Captain Charles Philip Lysaght Marwood. He was attached to the 1st Battalion Nigerian Regiment, West African Frontier Force. Almost certain he was killed in action in one of the skirmishes towards Yaoundé along the Kribi-Yaoundé Road in the Cameroons. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Zaria Memorial.



#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.


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.


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.


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)


David Victor Spain from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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


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.

Enlisting and Trains “Train Window Death” #FWW #WW1

“Train Window Death” A very recent tragedy. It reminded me of Private 2778 James “Jas” George, 2/6th Seaforth Highlanders death over a hundred years ago. Jas had his head out of the window chatting to friends in another carriage. The train was approaching Grantown-on-Spey when he hit his head on a viaduct. He died shortly afterwards at Ian Charles Hospital in Grantown-on-Spey. Jas was 31 years old with four children. He is buried in Elgin New Cemetery.

Mind you getting a train wasn’t that easy.

Andrew Simpson was killed a few weeks before Jas. He was on his way to enlist and was killed in a railway accident in Bulawayo, Rhodesia. Andrew is not on any memorial that I know of.

Another man who had problems getting to a train was Alexander Cumming.

Alexander was born at Baillieward, Grantown-on-Spey, 11th October 1883. The son of John and Isabella McMillan Cumming of Garth Green, Grantown-on-Spey. He was a student at the Grammar School in Grantown-onSpey. Alexander’s first job was as an apprentice clerk in Lord Elgin’s Estate Office in Dunfermline in Fife. Then he emigrated to Canada. Here he became a rancher in Alberta.  In 1915 Alexander decided to enlist. Easy, walk downtown and sign on the dotted line. Or get a bus or a train to the nearest city. Alexander decided on a train. So he walked. Well, when I say “walked” that was only part of the way to the station. He then boarded a raft. This brought him a bit closer. He still had a way to go. He did what any self-respecting rancher would do. he completed the last part of the 300-mile journey to his nearest railway station by bullock waggon. This was by no means the end of his journey to enlist. That was just to get to the station. Alexander then crossed the Atlantic and made his way to his parents and then on to Elgin. Here he enlisted. His travels were not over. The army sent him to Salonica. Salonica was the end of his journey. Private S/18408 Alexander Cumming died of illness on Christmas day 1916. He is buried in Salonica, at Lambert Road Military Cemetery. He is commemorated on Grantown-on-Spey War Memorial, Grantown-on-Spey’s Grammar School’s War Memorial, and a family gravestone in Cromdale Churchyard.

Jas, Andrew, and Alexander are all included in my book Poppies from the Heart of Strathspey



Merry Christmas

No new blog this week do to events outwith my control, ie Christmas/New Year

I will be researching cholera in Sinai during 1916, the invasion of Palestine in 1917, and the Chinese contribution to the First World War.

Cholera in Sinai because both General Murry and Allenby had to fight two wars, one with men the other with medicine.

The invasion of Palestine, a long running exercise, I now have the two books Allenby used to plan the invasion.

The Chinese contribution, because I promised someone I would. The first First World War site I can remember visiting was Outram Road in Singapore. The Chinese contribution to the First World War is often just ignored, not forgotten, ignored. Sometimes things in front of our eyes are. If you have the time over the holidays visit the Imperial War Museum, it is closed 24th-26 inclusive but open other days. Have a look at the First World War exhibits. You will see something that the Chinese gave to the British Army nearly a hundred years ago. They are still used by the British Army today. I doubt if the vast majority of visitors to the museum know what “they” are, but most visitors will look at “them”.

My better half is working both Christmas and boxing day, so hopefully I will have the time.

Have a Merry, Happy, Peaceful Christmas, and may your God, gods, or source of inspiration, peace and love, be with you.

IWW, WW1 will be continued, but not today.

From tonight 9 September 2014 I will be offline for a fortnight. For those who are not sure what a fortnight is, I am sorry your country decided to leave the Empire when they did, and/or, I am sorry your country did not join the Empire. After all we are so much better together. Which brings me to the reason for my being offline for the next two weeks. I am tied of it and need a break. If you can vote do.

Plenty of research to keep me busy. It is time I wrote something on those deservedly shot at dawn, (SAD). Time to study a bit for an MA/PHd, Book, or just because I enjoy it. Time for me. My research has always been free, i have found lost war graves, researched family histories, forgotten soldiers, and a probable mass grave of German IWW soldiers. Invited to a conference for post graduates. Is it only me who can see the irony here? I need a rest.

Iolaire, SAD, Richborough, Folkestone, and German War Guilt, can all wait-Look upon it as an early Christmas Truce.

I have been offered the chance to study for an MA if I can get Funding.


First donations over the course fees will be spent on books

At the end of the course I will donate a collection of relics, including the Vickers, to a museum in Folkestone

MA in the History of Britain in the First World War
Recommended preliminary reading
* denotes particularly useful texts
NB: You are not expected to have read everything on this list by the time the course starts!
General texts
J.M. Bourne, Britain and the First World War (1989)*
Cyril Falls, The First World War (1960)
Adrian Gregory, A War of Peoples (2014)
John Horne, A Companion to World War I (Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)*
Michael Howard, The First World War (2002)
Lawrence Sondhaus, World War One: The Global Revolution ( 2011)
Gary Sheffield, Forgotten Victory (2001 – e-book August 2014)*
David Stevenson, 1914-18 (2004)*
Hew Strachan (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of the First world War, new edition (2014)
Matthias Strohn, (ed.), World War I Companion (Osprey, 2013).

Specialist studies
Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson, (eds.) An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture Before 1914 (2007)
Stephen Badsey, The British Army in Battle and its Image (2009)
Ian Beckett & Keith Simpson, A Nation in Arms (1985)
Stephen Broadberry and Mark Harrison, The Economics of World War I (2005)
Hugh Cecil and Peter Liddle (eds.), Facing Armageddon (1996)
Roger Chickering and Stig Förster, (eds.), Great War, Total War: Combat and Motivation on the Western Front, 1914–1918 (2000)
Andrew Gordon, The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command (1996)
Susan R. Grayzel, Women and the First World War (2002).
Adrian Gregory, The Last Great War (2008)
Paul G. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I (London: UCL Press, 1994)
Richard F. Hamilton and Herger H. Herwig, Decisions for War, 1914-1917 (2004)
E.R. Hooton, War over the Trenches (2009)
Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction: Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (2007)
Spencer Jones, From Boer War to World War: Tactical Reform of the British Army, 1902-1914 (2012)
Annika Mombauer, The Origins of the First World War: Diplomatic and Military Documents (2013)
John H. Morrow, Jr The Great War in the Air: Military Aviation from 1909 to 1921 (1993)
William Philpott, Bloody Victory (2009)
Robin Prior, Gallipoli: The End of the Myth (2009)
Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson, Command on the Western Front (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992),
David Reynolds, The Long Shadow (2013)
Gary Sheffield, Forgotten Victory (2001 – e-book August 2014)
Gary Sheffield & Dan Todman (eds.) Command and Control on the Western Front (2004)
Gary Sheffield, The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (2011)
Peter Simkins, Kitchener’s Army (1988)
Alan G.V. Simmonds, Britain and World War One (2012),
David Stevenson, With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (2011)
John Terraine, Douglas Haig the Educated Soldier (1963)
Dan Todman in the Great War: Myth and Memory (2005).
Charles Townshend, When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914–1921, (2011)
Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel (2014)
J.M. Winter, The Great War and the British People (1986)

First World War History needs YOUR Donation.

IWW in 3 minutes Alhaji Grunshi, The First and the Last

Don’t know about you but I’m glad the crap on 4th August is over with. It will be a long funeral service, but hey ho, not my circus and they are not my monkeys. It has all been hijacked by groups with an agenda. from the Government, the Royal British Legion, down to various vanity projects. Key events and people will be missed, forgotten about and the same old cliches wheeled out. Turn off your TV, and save a fortune on newspapers. Go to your local one exhibitions, If you are in Folkestone there is a Great Exhibition in the Sassoon, (Not that one, grief it is going to be a long four years.) Room. Sure there are things missing, forgot, and simply not there. But it is put together by locals for locals and if it was a beer would be a Burton’s Double Diamond.

Of course we will all be commemorating Alhaji Grunshi. On the 7th August. what a wonderful British name Alhaji Grunshi, up there with John Smith, Hamish Henderson, Tom Jones, names that conjure up the vast cultural heritage we have from our days as the world’s number one Imperial power, Gosh, I can just see me nose diving in the popularity stakes there, never mind.

Oh yes where was I Alhaji Grunshi on the 7th august 1914 went down in history. Yes, I know, but treat it as a reminder, and remember some will not know. Alhaji Grunshi on the 7th august 1914 went down in history.
People have forgotten, What for? Who? Aihaji Grunshi, he was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army-the first? No there had been plenty of Regimental Sergeant Majors before him. No wait he was the first. Alhaji Grunshi was the first, the very first British soldier to open fire in the First World War. He did so on the 7th of August in West Africa. far from Tipperary, Piccadilly, Leicester Square!, and of course, Mons.

It really was a World War, We really did have the greatest Empire the World had ever Known, It really was the Empire that went to War. Not all solders came from the playing fields of Eton. (oops wrong war) Oxbridge, or were pals of Accrinton. our soldiers came from Australia, Canada, England, Scotland Ireland Wales, India, New Foundland, New Zealand South Africa, every where the globe was Imperial Red, and the first shot fired by us, by a British soldier was in Africa. Not only that, the last German soldiers to surrender to us did so in Africa at Abercorn in Rhodesia on 25th November 1918.

The silent years go drifting by
As clounds, and yet you do not mind,
Lonely, yet not alone, you lie:
You live in hearts of those behind.

from “The lonely Graves” (To those that fell in Africa, 1914-1918) Malcolm Humphery