Category Archives: America

#Folkestone, #FWW. Next stop France, June 1917

 
Notable crossing to France in June 1917 include Harry Lauder. 1   
Harry is one of many artists of the day who journeyed to the Western Front to entertain the troops. He crossed on deck with the troops rather than in the Officers quarters. Very popular with the soldiers and he remained a popular entertainer until his death in 1950. Hw was the first British entertainer to sell a million records. The journey to the Western Front must have been difficult for hi, his only son had been killed in action in December 1916. Harry wrote many songs including “|Keep Right On to the End of The Road”
Ev’ry road thro’ life is a long, long road,
Fill’d with joys and sorrows too,
As you journey on how your heart will yearn
For the things most dear to you.
With wealth and love ’tis so,
But onward we must go.

The American build-up continued, the first unit had already crossed in May. In June. No.12 Base Hospital U.S Army crossed from Folkestone. This unit did march down Slope Road.2 . After arrival in France, No 12 Base Hospital took over British General Hospital No. 18. Probably the first deaths to occur in an American Army Unit in the first World War were two nurses from No. 12 Base Hospital. Shortly after departing from the US for England on the  20th May 1917 a gunnery accident killed Nurses Helen Wood and Edith Ayres injuring a third nurse. The bodies of Wood and Ayres returned to the US and given military funerals.3

The 13th June and U.S. General “Black” Jack Pershing, along with his aid Colonel Charles Stanton came through Folkestone on their way to France.

Source, Yanks, by John S.|D. Eisenhower, http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/arrival.htm

Shortly after their arrival, General Pershing’s aide made the following remark, “Nous voila, Lafayette” (Lafayette, we are here!“) Colonel Charles Stanton 4th July 1917 British soldiers continued to cross fro Folkestone too. Perhaps most notably personnel of the 126th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. 4 The Brigade consisted of:

2/A Honourable Artillery Company

2/B Honourable Artillery Company

2/1 Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery.

They crossed on the S. S. Victoria. The end of the month again saw some very important Americans pass through Folkestone on their way to France.Mr Mowry of the American Bolling’s Aronautical Commission to Europe, and 63 men from the Civilian Motor Mechanics Group. The Group were in Europe to study British and French aircraft production techniques.5  

1) A Minstrel in France, by Harry Lauder, unknown edition, page 45.

2)  http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/adminamerexp/chapter24.html

3)  https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2017/may/northwestern-nurse-among-first-casualties-in-ww1/ accessed 21st May 2017

4) http://wetherbywarmemorial.com/id49.html

 5) Gorrell’s History AEF Air Service Sheet 8 History of Bolling’s Mechanics

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“Lafayette, We Are Here” USA enters #WW1

Well almost, at least on their way, but they were”Here” already.   When Stanton utter those words on 4th July 1917 at Lafayette’s tomb, it was more than telling the French that the America Army had arrived it was confirming the American Special relationship was in 1917 with France,  not the UK.

Americans were already involved in the war.They had been since 4th August 1914. James Gerard was saving British lives before the British Army landed in France. Americans had also been serving and dying in the armed forces of Britain and France in increasing numbers in places as far away as Singapore, as well as on the Western Front. Pete Seeger’s uncle Alan Seeger had been killed on the Somme.

But from the 6th April 1917, they were officially in it for the duration. American troops served in Italy, Russia, during the advance into Germany as well as on theWestern Front. 24,234,021 men were registered for the draft. 4,800,000 men served in the US armed forces. 367,864 were New Yorkers. 4,00,00 in just the army. 1,390,000 fought in France. 1,200,000 in the Meuse Argonne battle.  Out of a total of 112,422 deaths in the army 50,00 were battle deaths. Surprisingly more American soldiers died from the disease (56,00) than were killed in action.  Although up to 11 November 1918 more Americans had been killed in Battle. The war cost the American Taxpayer more than a million dollars an hour.

Both the British and the French sent over specialist instructors to help train the US army. In the list of 261 French Specialist Instructors, only one was an Artillery Specialist. 59 were gas and another 38 were machine gun specialists.

In Defence of the Empire, Americans Volunteer #FWW

On the 6th April 1917, America declares war against Germany.  Two years earlier in May 1915, Americans volunteered to help defend a small corner of the British Empire as long as they could serve “…without prejudice to our allegiance to the United States of America.” This small group of Americans had already served as Armed Civilians, one was almost court-martialed for falling asleep but the British Officer in command thought better of it. These armed American civilians were also Methodist 5 of them clergymen. There was another proviso which reflected this.”…Mr Oechali has a public service to conduct every Tuesday from 5.30 to 6.15. The authorities will, we anticipate, give due consideration to this fact…”

So where was this? Who were these Americans? How do we know?

The places is the Settlement of Singapore.  The Americans were:

William T Cherry, Superintendent Methodist Publishing House.

Earl Hibbard, Principle, Oldham Hall.

Osbourne E Hooley Teacher Anglo-Chinese school, Oldham Hall.

Harry H Mansell, Mission Treasurer,

J Stewart Nagle, Principal Anglo-Chinese School

Leonard Oechali, Paster Wesley Church

and George E McComb, Teacher Anglo-Chinese School

The quoted pieces and the names are from a letter to the Editor of The Straits Times published by the Straits Times on the 10th May 1915.

All the men named had served as Armed Civilians helping to suppress Singapore Mutiny.

 

American Shot by Indians. #FWW #WWI #WW1

I have no idea who the first American to be killed  in the First World War was. Moira Maclean was killed on the 15th February 1915. Those who keep such things can add Moira to the List. Moira is not listed in The Foreign Burials of American War Dead by Chris Dickon, so that would be a good place to start.

Moira was born in Colorado City, Texas in 1885. Schooled in England at Oundle School  Moira joined the Indian Army in 1900 and served in India for 13 years.  In 1913 now Captain Maclean is placed in command of the Mountain Battery, Malay States Guides. A unit that consists of Sikhs, Pathans, and Punjabi Muslims. They are based in Singapore at Tanglin Barracks. The 5th Light Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army arrives in Singapore in October 1914. Half of the 5th had mutinied during the Indian Mutiny. On the 15th February 1915, half of the 5th mutinied again.

Havildar Sohan Singh, Malay States Guides,  is awaked by a shot at around 3 pm. There is another shot heard just as Sohan is getting up and the alarm is soundedSohan sends Gunner Santa Singh, the bicycle orderly to tell Captain Maclean that there is firing from the 5th Lines.  Santa returns with orders from Maclean that the men are to take cover.  Sohan orders his men to get behind cover.  Sohan watched Maclean approach through the jungle and go between a couple of barrack blocks. Then some men of the 5th Light Infantry came out from the direction of Hyderabad Road and attacked Maclean Sohan says he heard them shout “Ali Ali” and fire five or six shots. He saw Captain Maclean fall. In his statement to the enquiry into the mutiny Havildar Singh said.  “Amongst those coming from the opposite direction I saw some of our men; there was a lot of firing and there may have been some of our men but I don’t know. The Captain was very good and kind to us and I don’t think that there was any man who had a grudge against him or would do a thing like that after giving those orders to the men;we went down through the Jungle to the road.”

Corporal Chanda Singh also of the Malay states Guides vouched for Havildar Sohan Singh story. he added that Maclean’s orderly Sham Singh came and gave the same order that Santa Singh had, that the men were to get and stay under cover.  Chanda goes on to say that after 20-25 minutes he too heard the shouting of “Ali Ali” and then he heard Havildar Sohan Singh say, “The 5th Light Infantry have shot my Captain”.

Chandra also escaped through the jungle where he met  Sohan Singh along with two others, place another they met soon after, headed to Singapore. Along the way the did capture two men from the 5th and disarmed them. Followed by over a hundred men of the 5th they decided to let the two men go. From the jungle, they headed by road to Singapore. By chance, they came across two English ladies who were walking towards Singapore and a car  waiting for the two ladies.  They all headed off until they halted at a lorry full of European troops who they surrendered to. After the women had explained that Sohan Singh and the others were decent chaps the men proceeded to the Police Station at Keppel harbour. Here they reported the incident and Captain Maclean’s death to a friend of Maclean. From the Police station, they were sent to the P and O Wharf were the General headquarters were to report on the day’s events there.

Captain Moira Francis Allen Maclean, born in Texas, killed by Indians, is now interred  in Kranji War Cemetery Singapore

 

references

http://www.britainssmallwars.co.uk/the-singapore-mutiny-1915.html – gives Moira’s date of birth as November 1883.

CWGC gives his age as 30

Statements given to the board of enquiry and the military courts convened after the Singapore Mutiny.

 

#Folkestone/Shorncliffe, and the American Connection #FWW

Much has been written about the Canadian connection with Folkestone during the Great War. the connection is still commemorated every year on the 1st of July in a touching ceremony at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. The Shorncliffe Trust is also doing sterling work promoting the links between Shorncliffe and Canada.

The links with Canada’s southern neighbour are rarely mentioned. Indeed it is difficult to find any acknowledgement that there was an American connection.

John, “Black Jack” Pershing the Commander of the American Expeditionary Force, (A.E.F.) traveled through Folkestone on his way to France. Also remembered for not saying “Lafayette we are here”. With him was Charles Stanton, chiefly not remembered for his famous remark,  “Nous voila, Lafayette“.

Americans also stayed at No.3 Rest Camp on the Leas before marching down Slope Road to the harbour and the ships waiting to take them to France. Two soldiers from the United states 11th Engineering Regiment (Railways) who were to become the first casualties from the A.E.F. were at the rest camp on the Leas. There is also another almost forgotten connection with the United States.

The United States is well known for the respect Americans pay to their war dead. American Great War Cemeteries are impressive places. They are very proud of the role their soldiers played. Yet there is a lost almost forgotten army of American dead. Those that fought in other nations uniforms. They are buried in cemeteries all over the world and ignored by Americans. For some the connection to the United States begs the question of, how do we define nationality, and does it matter? Others there is no doubt of their nationality. These are the Folkestone/Shorncliffe dead with an American connection. All are buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, all are listed in The Foreign Burial of American War Dead by Chris Dickon.

James Desmond McNulty                             IMG_8054Born in Valley City, North Dakota. killed in the Air Raid 25th May 1917

 

John Lucius Rumsdell                                                                                                                                       IMG_8051The husband of Letitia M Ramsdell, Brooklyn New York.

George Bates

IMG_8049Son of Norman and Sally Bates of Arkansas. Served in Mexico, presumably with the US Army. Married and lived with his wife in Vancouver. After his enlistment his wife moved to North Wales.

David Gordon, died of wounds received in France.                                                                                                                                                     IMG_8047

Born in Belfast, he was the son of James Gordon of 1 Bunker Hill Court, Charleston, West Virginia.

Ottawa GladmanIMG_8046

Born in Canada, and lived in Chicago. Died of Meningitis.

Charley HansonIMG_8045

Born in Norway, lived in Saskatchewan, married to Caroline Hanson of Fairchild Wisconsin, USA. Dad to six children. Charley had arrived in England on the SS Scandinavian. on the 5th February 1917. He died from illness.

David Gray

IMG_8044

Married to Annie Gray of Detroit, Michigan. Wounded on the Somme, he died at Manor Court Hospital, Folkestone.

Bert Arbuckle                                                                                                                                                     IMG_8043

Born in Indiana. Injured in the air raid on the 25th May 1917, he died of wounds the next day.

George Wheeler Armstrong.IMG_8042An American Eagle of the First World War. lots of references to the Americans who flew in the Lafayette Escadrille, few for those who flew with the RAF during the war. Born in the US Virgin Islands. Died in an accident while flying a Bristol F2b.

All nine were fighting for Britain, and it is only important to remember that, and them. When push comes to shove, and you need a helping hand, where people are from doesn’t matter one iota.

 

 

A Folkestone (ish) In a Perfect World, would have been a Love Story

An American boy meets an English girl. He is a few years older and he sweeps her off her feet. A few weeks after he arrives in England they marry. It is now for them a perfect world. Nothing else matters they are young and so much in love. Love that they hoped would last for their forever.

It is straight out of an Imperial Romance novel, it captures everything belief,love, and romance. A belief in a just cause, love between two people, the romance of a wartime encounter.

He was an American, 25 years old and lived in Cleveland, Ohio. The “Buckeye State”, The British Empire was now at War with Imperial Germany. The British had gone to the aid of plucky little Belgium. The cause was good, just and right. So he left his home and enlisted in Canada. In many ways he was just what the Empire was looking for. Ex-US Army he had seen service, a trained soldier. The Empire, of which he now was a part, was sending troops as fast as they could to Britain. He was sent to Salisbury plain. possible on leave, or an a day pass, he met his English Rose in London.

She sees in him the romance of America, a real American from the West. All American heroes are from the American West. Sent by the Empire to save her from the Hun. He would save her, the King, and the Empire. Together they would sail away to their new home in the sun. A perfect world in the midst of a tragic one. They married in Hampstead in December 1914.(1)

In a book there would be a moment of tragedy, the hero would get killed performing a deed of unquestioning valour and glory. Death in his moment of triumph. Glory for King, Empire and his young English wife. She would spend her days in black. Weeping for the loss of her forever love. They would be immortalized and remembered for ever.

In this story the hero does indeed go to France, and dies in a hail of bullets. But it is not a perfect story in a perfect world. It is at times dark, evil, and sickening time.  First to name the hero and heroine. He is Freddie, she is May Alexandra, together they are the Arnold’s.

Freddie, did live in Cleveland USA with his mom. He did serve in the US Army. He also did enlist in the 1st Battery of the Artillery Brigade of the Canadian (Overseas) Expeditionary Force, as a Gunner/Bombardier in 1914. Being in the first contingent it is known he was on Salisbury Plain. After their marriage in December 1914 their address was 100 Risborough Road, Bayswater, London. Freddie did die in a hail of bullets in Belgium. He was shot by firing squad in Boulogne.(2)  Possibly the only American citizen executed by the British Army in the First World War. Between February 1915 and January 1916 Freddie had been admitted to hospital on two occasions as being sick, and once for shell shock. The third stay in hospital was from the 2nd January until the 22nd of May. On discharge he was posted to the Marlborough Details Camp. From here he went absent on the 5th June 1916. Possibly on the 7th June, or maybe on the 27th June Arnold was caught in civilian clothes. He had deserted. Freddie would be tried by Field General Courts Martial on the 5th July 1916. There never is a good time for a deserter to be recaptured. In a perfect world he would not have been tried four days after the start of the Somme offensive. That and to be captured and tried by the British. Freddie ad May’s perfect world was now disappearing With over 19,000 dead on the first day the British were not going to show any mercy. Freddie was executed on the 27th July 1916 at Le Portel.

Life was to become even more cruel. This was not a perfect world. Freddie’s Mom received a letter from the Canadian Record Office.

Madam:-

With deep regret, I have the honour to inform you that a report has been received to the effect that the soldier marginally noted was tried by Field-Martial at Boulogne, France, on the 5th of July, 1916, on the charge of “When on active service deserting His Majesty’s Service” and was sentenced by the court to suffer death by being shot”. The sentence was duly carried out at 4:37 a.m. on the 25th July 1916.

I have the honour to be…”

May had moved to Folkestone by this time and lived at 4 Radnor Park Crescent. Why did May moved to Folkestone? No idea. It might have been to be closer to her husband. Perhaps she had plans to try and get to Boulogne. May might have come from Folkestone. She, for whatever reason, had decided that Folkestone was the place to be. After Freddie had been discharged from the Army  May moved again. This time to number 19 Bouverie Road East. It seems life might settle down in Folkestone. The war was still going on it was now ten months since her husband was executed. Grief never truly ends, it get slightly easier with the passing of time. Ten months had gone by it was not a perfect world but…

That but was to arrive on the 25th May 1917. A German Gotha bomber had dropped a bomb on Tontine Street in Folkestone dozens had died. Another Gotha had dropped a bomb on 19 Bouverie Road East May was seriously injured by this bomb. The medically people in Folkestone were overwhelmed by the Tontine Street explosion and couldn’t cope. May was rushed to Moore Barracks Hospital Shorncliffe. It was here that May died.

Opposite the War Memorial in Folkestone on the cliff top there is a little sign on the railings. This is what it says:-

“After WW1, Folkestone wanted to record the names of its dead and details were requested from relatives. Mrs Butcher replied, believing her son had been killed in action. She received a Municipal Certificate of Glory and his name was inscribed on Folkestone’s War Memorial. I fact private Frederic Butcher of the East Kent Regiment  refused to go over the top he was tried by Court Martial. On 27th August 1918 he was shot by a firing squad. Probably his mother never realised how he died. It may not have been unique for a disgraced soldier to be included on a War Memorial but it was very rare. Today those wronged men have now been given a full pardon and their names are now recorded alongside those of their comrades.”

Crossing over to the War Memorial there is Private F Butcher’s name with his comrades. His name has been there since the memorial panel was inscribed in the early 1920s.

Freddie’s name, the wife of May of 4 Radnor Park Crescent and, on her death in 1917, of 19 Bouverie Road East Folkestone, is not there.

May is not commemorated by name in Folkestone either

(Freddie) C/40124 Bombardier Frederick Stanley Arnold, Canadian Field Artillery is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.(6)

May Alexandra Arnold is buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery.

Sitting at May’s graveside today, chatting away, as you do. Gazing at the other graves it was tempting to be sad and tearful. Then I realised May and Frederick had, in a world of terror death and destruction, had had their day in the sun. May had died so young, 21 years old. Just though, a hundred years ago, fleetingly,  they had found their perfect world.

 

Sources.

  1. Free BDM UK web site
  2. Service Record
  3. Details from, For Freedom and Honour, by A.B. Godefroy
  4. Shot at Dawn, by Julian, Putkowski and Julian Sykes
  5. May Alexandra Arnold Gravestone Shorncliffe Military Cemetery
  6. CWGC web site

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.