Category Archives: British Empire

#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

#Shorncliffe’s other Air Raid Victims #FWW #Folkestone

The story of the bombing on the 25th May 1917 is well known. The burials of the Canadian Soldiers killed led to the Canadian Day Memorial Service now held annually at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. Not quite as well known is that 13 other Canadian Soldiers all from theCanadian Field Artillery who were killed in an earlier air raid were buried there. I say were because only the remains of 12 still lay buried at Shorncliffe. Sgt 42623 Edward Charles Harris’s remains were repatriated and now rest in St Catherines Cemetery Toronto.

The air raid occurred on the 13th October 1915 at Otterpool Camp. Zepplin L14 dropped four bombs on the camp killing 14. Another soldier 86687 Harry James Rixon died on the 15th, he is buried at Easthamstead. One other soldier 86398 Pringle Borthwick is buried in Wilton Cemetery, Hawick.

The soldiers killed in the air raid on the 13th October 1915 at Otterpool and are buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery  are:

IMG_8547.JPGCharles Boeyckens, a Belgian from Antwerp who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Buried apart from the other soldiers killed, he is buried very close to the Belgium plot in the cemetery in Plot C.123

The others are buried in Plot O numbers O.303-O.313 inclusive. They are:

IMG_853086372 David John Philips. Plot O.303

IMG_853186436 Sydney George Lane who was born in Burgate Hampshire. Plot O.304

IMG_853286503 Ernest William Bayes who hailed from Walthamstow in Essex. Plot O.305.

IMG_853386463 Richard Dyer Simpson. Plot O.306

IMG_853486474 Richard Stewart Truscott. Plot O.307

IMG_853586676 Charles Gordon Peterkin Plot O. 308

IMG_853686658 Wilfred George Harris. Plot O.309.

IMG_853786552 Samuel McKay. Plot O.310.

IMG_853886791 Thomas Dickson. Plot O.311

IMG_853986777 Henry Adrian Horn. Plot O.312. The epitaph reads “Fear not them who can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul.”

IMG_8542400004 Douglas Routledge Johnston. Plot O.313. The epitaph reads “Till the morning breaks and the shadows flee away”.

Sources

Surrey History Forum

Kent History Forum

CommonwealthWar Graves Commission Website

Service Records of Canadian Soldiers WW1

 

Postcard to Mum Down Under From, #Folkestone #FWW #WWI

A dreich morning, it is the only way of describing it. I am cold, wet and miserable standing here by Williams grave. My hands are a ghostly shade of pale. The camera is soaking and I have the shivers. My head is close to the dark place it often haunts. A bad morning and the photo is crap, but the day and I are in paradise compared to William’s last morning ninety-nine years ago today. The morning of the 17th April 1917 was to be William’s last.  An Australian Infantryman he was due to return to France from Folkestone that day.  He had been wounded in action in October 1917. On the 12th April, he had gone A.W.L. from Tattoo for three days. He was to receive 14 days Field Punishment No.2 (F.P.2) and forfeit 17 days pay for this crime. F.P.2  the prisoner was placed in irons or fetters, subjected to hard labour and had to carry out all normal duties. It is during these last few days that William wrote a postcard to his mum.

“Dear Mother The military has sent me over to France to be wilfully murdered as I knew to much for them I gave them the best snye system the world could ever be produced ending up with their ruin writing”

He gave the card to another soldier to send. on the 17th William went to the medical offices at No.3 Rest Camp Earls Avenue Folkestone

Not long after 9 a.m.  on the 17th William went to the medical offices at No.3 Rest Camp, Earls Avenue, Folkestone. Sometime after 9:20 the medical orderly left the room to go into the medical officer’s room next door. The orderly, Lance Corporal Hooke, stated at the inquest “I heard a noise as in a man in a fit. I went back into the room and saw deceased. he was lying down on the bed, his head rather inclined the blankets kicked over part of his face, he was kicking his legs up and throwing his arms about. I saw that he had cut his throat.”IMG_8393

William was given a military funeral at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. His coffin was draped in a Union Jack. The Canadians provided a firing party and played the Last Post, Australian representatives from the Australian Imperial Force in London were in attendance.

William’s parents were informed by letter, that he had committed suicide while temporarily insane and, that they had buried him on the South side of the garrison church.

Source: William Burn Gemmell’s service record.

#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.

IMG_8378

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.

IMG_8382

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.

IMG_8384

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)

IMG_8383

David Victor Spain from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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

IMG_8380

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.

So Who was Leslie Swain? Missing the Connection #FWW #WW1

It is now April 2017 we have just commemorated Vimy and the Battle of Arras. Which happened “Over in France”. Soon we will be commemorating the arrival of the Americans, “Over There.” Every 11th November we commemorate the dead, who died, “Over There.” We look at the names on War Memorials. Tell everyone we will remember them, we don’t, the generation that did has gone too. We are losing the connection. Yet the connections to some are still here. We just ignore them. The CWGC did some sterling work on the local connections this year. People visited the CWGC war graves in their local cemeteries. Ignored the ones without the standard CWGC headstone. Nether the less it was a good start. IMG_8311Sgt William  George Upton DCM MM he was in the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) when he died and is buried a couple of hundred yards from the  Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) Memorial. Ignored because he does not have the standard CWGC Headstone. There are plenty of others in Folkestone Old Cemetery ignored for much the same reason. William is just an example. At least these graves are being taken care of by the CWGC, and if his headstone deteriorates, as it will do, it will be replaced with a CWGC stone. Although I think some of the information will be lost. So there is a connection there. The connections we are in danger of losing, and in some cases have lost are the memorials inscribed on other grave stones and personal family memorials.  Memorials such as, IMG_8317 To Captain R.C. Gilchrist. Robert Crooks attached 59th Scinde Rifles.Can not write about them. The temptation to title it  “Peccavi” would be too much.Burmah Police Medal, buried at Beuvry Communal Cemetery.  The memorial is on a family grave in Folkestone Old Cemetery. His father was Brigadier-General R. A. Gilchrist.  Now there is a local connection which like old soldiers is rapidly fading away.

Walking around Folkestone Old Cemetery there are others.IMG_8318This is the grave of James Brice, died in 1915 age 54. Not a Military death, it’s not a war grave. So we do not bother with it. We should, it is a memorial to his son, James George Brice. He died on the Somme in 1918. His memorial on his father’s grave tells us more than a name on an Offical War Memorial ever will. It tells us who he was. The son of James Brice. It tells us he was loved and missed. It tells us how his much he was missed. How he was remembered. It makes James George Brice a person again.IMG_8320Horace William Reader Killed in Action on the 24th May 1915. commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial to the Missing. But he is not “missing”, we do not know where in the salient around Ypres he is buried. We do know he is here in Folkestone remembered on a gravestone on his father’s grave where he lived on in his families hearts. This is where he was remembered. We would rather go on a jolly to Belgium than a walk around our local cemeteries to find out about him though.IMG_8322W.B Thomas. His mum was called “Nellie”. Mum’s called Nellie always sound like nice mums. Don’t think you will find many graves in France with “Had a Nice Mum” on them Here we find out his mum had not long died. He had brothers. It is just not aCWGC grave so goes unrecognised and eventually, all  the connections will fade away and be gone too.

IMG_8324William George Young. Royal Garrison Artillery, buried in Italy. Remembered here on his father’s grave. He was an only son. Part of a family, we know he was remembered. It says so here. Gone and not forgotten by his dad, his mum. His grave will be though and the connection lost.

This grave is a wonderful look at the history here. Keep going down the tombstone you will find Malcolm, “NeverForgotten” commemorated on the Arras memorial. He had a brother killed in South Africa stories that are just not told on the official memorials. Who would connect Rupert Hall on a South African War memorial with Malcolm Hall on a WW1 memorial?  Here is the connection. Here the families memory.IMG_8338

IMG_8342Cecil Hall, commemorated on his Mum’s grave. Outlived his mum which is what all children should do. The tombstone is slowly falling over. One day it will be flat and no one will know who is buried there, or who was remembered.

The next memorial is to a soldier buried in Aden. Aden is not a place currently on the tourist routes. His grave is not easy to visit. Even if there was a link to Charles being buried there. At least here in Folkestone it is possible to visit his memorialIMG_8370 Charles lived at 33 Sydney Street.

There are many more memorials such as the ones above in Folkestone Old Cemetery. Hundreds and thousands scattered throughout out the land and in local cemeteries in other countries. Each memorial is a local connection, slowly fading.

So who was Leslie Swain? he is on his granny’s gravestone here in Folkestone Old Cemetery. IMG_8161

Leslie’s parents lived at 73 Foord Road in Folkestone. He had served for two years in the territorials before moving to Canada. On the 18th October 1915, he attested into the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Leslie served in the 47th Battalion Canadian Infantry. He died sometime between 5th-7th May 1917 and has no known grave. Leslie is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.  The area has strong links through theShorncliffe Trust to Canada and have just completed a successful trip to Vimy with a large group of Canadians.  These trips and links are important and have to be maintained. Hopefully though,  we will remember that Canadians were not a super race that came from the from the prairies of Canada, they were “Us” they came from here, were remembered here, and we should never forget that again.

Visit your local cemeteries and remember the connections are here.

 

 

Canadian War Graves at Shorncliffe #FWW

Shorncliffe Military Cemetery is a place of pilgrimage. A fascinating place to gather hooks for history to hang onto.  With the focus on Vimy this year it is the Canadian graves that will be getting the most interest.  There is more to Shorncliffe cemetery than Canadians though. There is a memorial to an officer in the Mahratta Light Infantry killed in 1917 as well as numerous other memorials and graves. On a previous a visit I spent some time chatting about Chin Peng and the Chinese War Graves. There is also a South African War Grave, an Old Contemptable, but yesterday was really just about visiting some of the Canadian graves. IMG_8292 This is the gravestone of Cecil Kidd Wilson one of the first to die. Which no doubt seems a strange thing to say about someone killed in April 1918. The 1st April 1918 was the day the RAF was born and the day C K Wilson RAF, died, making him one of the first from the RAF to be killed.

Heading down the hill into the main bit of the cemetery my next stop and where I sit down is May Arnold’s grave. Some people sit by Willie McBride’s grave at Authuille on the Somme. I sit by May’s at Shorncliffe.IMG_8295 May married a Canadian soldier, we shot him at dawn. Not for marrying May, we shot him for desertion. May’s husband was also an American. One of the things about the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War, the men who forged a nation at Vimy is where they came from. A large number were Americans.   Two other graves caught my eye yesterday the first. IMG_8299 Thomas Geddes, from Glasgow in Scotland. Struck off strength on the 5th October 1916. He had died on the 1st October 1916 from appendicitis.

The last grave I stopped at was this oneIMG_8301 The grave of Trooper H J C Prior of Lord Strathcona’s Horse. Difficult to find a more Canadian regiment. Still part of the Canadian Army, now I think it is an armoured regiment. A son following in his father’s footsteps. He died on the 4th August 1918. Harry John Chauvell Prior is a reminder that the Canadians were part of an Imperial Army. He was born in France. His father Major General Prior was in the Madras Staff Corps, Harry had served for eight years in the Ceylon Mounted Rifles. Unfortunately, his service record has not been digitalised a project for the future is to find out if he took part in the cavalry during the Battle of Moreuil Wood in March 1918.

One last grave, I did not stop at,IMG_8304He was Irish. Don’t know much about him. He lived with his wife in Montreal. I just like the epitath “Someday we’ll understand” One day

One day we may know, but I doubt we will ever understand.

Here is a soldier who will be in “The Book” Thomas Kenny. #Folkestone, #Castleford, #FWW.

Like the majority of British Soldiers who fought in the First World War Thomas Kenny returned home and a normal civilian life. In Thomas’s case, this was as a working collier.

13th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry. A K3 Battalion in 68th Brigade, 23rd division. 3 A and B Companies entrained at Liphook at 7:55 pm., C and D Companies at 8:25 pm. On arrival at Folkestone they embarked on transport 2031.4

Private 17424 Thomas Kenny

13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

Thomas Kenny was a collier and lived at 23 Queen St Castleford. He attested on the 25th February 1915 and crossed to France from Folkestone with the 13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He is awarded the Victoria Cross for an action on the 4th November 1915. The Citation reads as follows:

No. 17424 Private Thomas Kenny, 13th (Service) Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry. For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the night of 4th November 1915, near La Houssoie. When on patrol in a thick fog with Lieutenant Brown, 13th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, some Germans, who were lying out in a ditch in front of their parapet, opened fire and shot Lieutenant Brown through both thighs. Private Kenny, although heavily and repeatedly fired upon, crawled about for more than an hour with his wounded officer on his back, trying to find his way through the fog to our trenches. He refused more than once to go on alone, although told by Lieutenant Brown to do so. At last, when utterly exhausted, he came to a ditch which he recognised, placed Lieutenant Brown in it, and went to look for help. He found an officer and a few men of his battalion at a listening post, and after guiding them back, with their assistance Lieutenant Brown was brought in, although the Germans again opened heavy fire with rifles and machine-guns, and threw bombs at 30 yards distance. Private Kenny’s pluck, endurance and devotion to duty were beyond praise.”5

Thomas may have transited through Folkestone to France on one more occasion as he was presented with the VC at Buckingham Palace by King George V. on the 4th March 1916.6 He is the first soldier from the Durham Light infantry to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War.7 During 1917and again in 1918, this time a gunshot wound to the lower back. He returned home on the 30th October 1918 and was discharged from the army on the 26th September 1919. 8

Thomas was also awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.9 Thomas Kenny V.C. Died on 29th November 1948.

3British Regiments 1914-1919 page 101

4 13th DLI Battalion War Diary

5 London Gazette, 7th December 1915, Supplement:29394,Page:12281

8 Pension Record.

9 Medal Card.