Category Archives: Empire

#Folkestone #Canadians #FWW #WW1

Currently in Folkestone at the museum is an exhibit about the Canadians in Folkestone during the First World War. Put together by students from various educational establishments in the town with help from Gateways, University of Kent and others. Well with a visit, despite a few dodgy lines of script on one of the display panels.

Some Eighteen or so, Canadian units(1) crossed directly from Folkestone in the First World War, the rest went mostly via Southampton. Ranging from the Royal Canadian Dragoons through Artillery Batteries to Infantry, no horses or heavy equipment, the men carrying only personal kit which included their rifles.

The first Canadian unit to cross was the Royal Canadian Dragoons on the 4th May 1915. They were to serve mostly unmounted not receiving the last of their horses until March 1916.

One of the soldiers who crossed with the Royal Canadian Dragoons had the service number “1” He was No.1 W.O. (Warrant Officer) (Regimental Sergeant Major Dore. Canada’s most senior soldier, as opposed to “Officer”

George William Dore was born at Dennis Park, Stourbridge Worcestershire, England on the 12th October 1872. On the 21st September 1894, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) as No.633 Private Dore. It is possible that he served with the RCD in the Yukon Territory during the Goldrush and also with them during the wars in South Africa. He rose steadily up through the ranks and re-engaged at three yearly intervals. On the 24th September 1914, he attested into the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force as No.1, Regimental Quarter Master Sargeant George William Dore. He was 42 years and 10 months old. This was also the date he embarked for Europe. The first stop for the RCD was England and they were to remain here until they embarked to France from Folkestone on the 4th May 1915. George was not long in France when he fell and sprained his back. He returned to England on the Hospital Ship “St Andrew” landing at Southampton on the 20th May 1915. From Southampton, he was sent by Ambulance Train to the 1st N (Canadian?) Hospital in Newcastle. He was to remain here until he returned to his unit via Le Havre on the 20th November 1915. On the 18th June 1917 during an authorised leave of absence, he was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1. The next year on the 29th June 1918 he returned to Canada on furlough he was due to return to France but the Army decided he was to remain in Toronto. On Christmas Eve 1924 while carrying two parcels he slips and fell on the steps of his family home, 279 Westmorland Avenue, Toronto. This fall resulted in the fracture of his right leg and ended his military career. On the 30th April 1925, he was discharged from the Canadian Army. The next day, the 1st May 1915 a Board of Officers met to verify the service towards pension and Conduct of No.1 Regimental Sergeant Major George William Dore, Royal Canadian Dragoons. They verified his service as

RCD 21st September 1894 to 20 years 3 Days
23rd September 1914
CEF 24th September 1914 to 4years 216 Days
29th April 1919
RCD 30th April 1919 to 6 years 1 Day
30th April 1925
He was discharged aged 52 years and 6 months. His service record states on discharge that he has;
Good knowledge of horses and horsemanship, accountancy and clerical work. Sober Reliable and Meticulous, a strict disciplinarian.”
He was awarded the !914-1915 Star, the General Service Medal, the Victory Medal, and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. George William Gore died on the 3rd June 1948.(2)

1.Soldiers from other Canadian units also crossed from Folkestone, but the 18 units crossed as a Battalion/Battery/Regiment, not as drafts or individuals.

2.Information gained from the Service Records of George William Dore.

 

 

#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

 

#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.

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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.

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.

 

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.

15/2/15 Singapore #FWW

When the trigger of a rifle is squeezed no one knows how many people will be killed as a result.

Events in Singapore in February 1915 will always be overshadowed by events in Singapore in February 1942. This year being the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore the overshadow is even darker.

Just after 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the 15th February 1915 in Alexander Barracks in Singapore Sepoy Ismail Khan squeezed the trigger of his rifle. This shot signalled the start of the mutiny. Here is a list of people who were killed as a result of that single shot. Not included are the names of an estimated 200 mutineers who were killed during the mutiny or executed in its aftermath.

CF Anscombe, JVR Beagley, P. Boyce, EO Butterworth, BC Cameron, J Clarke, HB Collins, H O’Shaughnessey Collins, H Cullimore, JB Dunn, A Drysdale, CV Dyson, NF Edwards,          HS Elliot, AR Evans, RH Galway, F Geddes, PN Gerrard, JC Harper, Hassan Kechil bin Hassan, AJG Holt, FV Izard, Abdul Jabar, Omar bin Ahmad Kaptin, GO Lawson, Lim Eng Wee, AF Legge, WH Leigh, JH Love-Montgomerie, D McGilvray, MFA Maclean, WJ Marshall, Yacob bin Salleh, EF Senftleben, FH Sexton, Sim Soh, C Smith, G Wald, ED Whittle, Mr and Mrs GB Woolcombe, Chinese man name unknown. 23 of the dead are known to be buried in Kranji  War Cemetery.

One of the mutineers known to have been killed by the forces fighting the mutiny was Sepoy Ismail Khan who fired the original shot.

A contemporary report by the Japanese reproduced in Secret Documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 by SR Sareen, puts the successful suppression of the mutiny down to the deployment of Japanese marines. It would not be the last time Japanese troops landed at Singapore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#FWW Japanese Troops in Singapore

Almost simultaneously with the attacks on the Americans on the 7th December 1941 the Japanese attacked British Malaya. The successful invasion of Malaya led in February 1942 to the fall of Singapore. This was not the first time Japanese troops had been in action in the British colony of Singapore.

27 years earlier the Japanese had helped to quell the Singapore Mutiny. Accounts of how helpful and/or successful the Japanese were vary. There is an account in the book Nasyo Yori, Koji Tsukuda. An extract from this book translated by the Foreign Office appears in Secret Documents on Singapore Mutiny By Dr TR Sareen, parts of which are reproduced below.

The British had asked the Japanese for assistance.

“Up until now slighted both by the British and native and regarded as contemptible in trade, it is now devolved on us to protect the feeble and pitiable British” Around a hundred Japanese volunteers elected to undertake this task.

Two Japanese warships arrived at Singapore. The first the “Otawa” on the 17th February 1915 and the second the “Tshushina” the next day. Two hundred marines disembarked from the two ships. By midday, they had taken over Alexander Barracks.

” At noon on the same day, they were reported to have taken possession of the rebel’s Headquarters i.e. Alexander Barracks. That is to say that our landing party at once broke up the main strength of the enemy and these were able to take possession of their Headquarters”

The British General Staff in Singapore took a not surprisingly different view.  They felt the Japanese volunteers did not do anything and the best thing to do was disband them. The marines according to the GeneralStaff only went to Alexander Barracks after it had been reoccupied by the British.  That all the Japanese did was sit around and indulge in the odd suspected bit of looting. An eyewitness to the handing back of Alexander Barracks by the Japanese to the British recorded in 1927 that when we arrived the Japanese were already drawn up on the parade ground. The British marched on, the Japanese marched off. No words were exchanged. (page 811(1))

A few days later on the 25th February, there was a parade known as the Japanese Parade to thank and honour the Japanese for their assistance. The Governor of Singapore expressed his thanks for the “excellent and valuable work”(2) carried out by the Japanese officers and men. he also mentioned that no Japanese had been killed or wounded. A statement contradicted by the press Bureau in a Reuters Telegram London February 28th that states, “some Japanese were wounded”(1) Reports in the Japanese press do state there were no Japanese wounded.  In closing, the Governor said, “Now, admiral, I again on behalf of this Colony thank you, your officers and men, and I know well that the Colony will always remember the good ships which came to our assistance and will welcome them warmly whenever they may honour us by visiting this port.” (page 830 (1)) What a difference 27 years would make to this feeling.

The Japanese press did report on the mutiny, for example, The Japan Times described the execution of two of the publicly shot mutineers as “A Grim Example” (page 844, (1)

(1) Secret Documents on Singapore Mutiny. Sareen

(2) Strait Settlements Times 26th February, viewed online.