Category Archives: Folkestone

#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

Captain Gilchrist #FWW #Folkestone Old Cemetery

Captain Robert Crooks Gilchrist the youngest son of Brigadier-General Robert Alexander Gilchrist, Indian Army, was born in Aurungabad, Deccau, India on 24 June 1878. Robert educated at Dover College and the Royal Military Acadamy Sandhurst where he passed with honours. Gazzetted to 2nd Lieut Indian Army in 1897 and promoted to Lieutenant in 1897 and Captain in 1906. At first appointed to the 33rd Punjabis and then the 46th Punjabis. He went on to serve five years with the Burmah Military Police and took part in two frontier expeditions. He was awarded the kings Police Medal for his service in the Burmah-Chinese Boundary Limitation Commission.  At the outbreak of the war, he was attached to the 59th Scinde Rifles and was killed in action at la Bassee on the 19th December 191. De Ruvigny’s state ” while leading a storming party up a German Sap under heavy fire.” De Ruvigny’s also quote from a letter sent by Major TL Leeds, who probably wrote the extract from the 59th Scinde Rifles reproduced below the photograph. The letter from TL Leeds reads

“Your son was killed yesterday morning while leading a storming party in a night attack on the German trenches. He was was most gallantly leading a storming party up a German sap under heavy fire when he was hit in the head by a rifle bullet and killed at once.” Roberts former commander also sent a letter of condolence to the family in which he sid, “I have never heard anything but the most kindly mention…” (quoted in De Ruvigny’s)IMG_8317Capt Robert Crooks Gilchrist’s memorial on his father’s grave in Folkestone Old Cemetery.

From the 59th Scinde Rifles WarDiary for the 19th December 1914

“…Capt Gilchrist went forward too and very shortly came back and asked for support which I sent up. later I heard both had been hit and the people up front hard pressed. I went up the communication trench and found Lieut Scolie who was making must plucky efforts to remove Capt Lee who was dead and Capt Gilchrist who was still alive. They were in a bit of German communication trench from the sap to their main trench. The parapet was not bullet proof and they were being fired on from three sides. Hav. Abdul Wahab with some men was plucky holding the head of the communication trench very close to the Germans. Lieut Kisch RB selecting a plan for a sandbag barricade. He showed me the place he considered best, which I told him to prepare. I told Lieut Scolie to get back Capt Gilchrist who I saw was alive, and to have Capt Lee who I saw was dead, and other bodies, I thought it best to risk no further lives. Capt Gilchrist was got behind the barricade with great difficulty but died soon after. …”

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.

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.

The USA Enters the War. #Folkestone

There is a view that the Americans arrived just in time for the victory parades that followed the First World War, and there is no need to commemorate their arrival this side of the pond. This is not so.

On the 7th May 1915, the Lusitania is sunk by the U-20. 1198 passengers including 139 Americans drown. Two days later the New York Times reports President Wilson sees

On the 7th May 1915, the Lusitania is sunk by the U-20. 1198 passengers including 139 Americans drown. Two days later the New York Times reports President Wilson sees the need of firm and deliberate action.  A day after President Wilson announces that “There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by iy force that it is right.” American citizens in increasing numbers join the Canadian army. 24th March 1916 the SS Sussex was crossing the English Channel from Folkestone to Dieppe when she was torpedoed and badly damaged. Some of the Americans on her were injured in the attack. After America protested Germany suspended it’s intensive U-boat campaign.

Americans also volunteered to fly fighter aircraft for France. and on the 20th April 1916, the Escadrille Americaine goes into action. Later on in the war, the squadron changed its name to the Lafayette Escadrille. Their Mess song was

“So stand by your glasses steady.                                                                                                                   The world is a web of lies.                                                                                                                                Then here’s to the dead already,                                                                                                                   And hurrah for the next man that dies.”

Perhaps the most famous American Aces are Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker 26 kills, Second Lieutenant Frank Luke Jnr. 21 Kills, Major Raoul Lufberry 17 kills, First Lieutenant George A Vaughn Jnr 13 Kills, Captain Field E. Kindley 12 kills, First Lieutenant David E Putman   12 kills, Captain Elliot W springs 12 kills, Major Reed G Landis 10 kills and, Captain Jacques Michael Swaab also with 10 kills.

On the 18th December, President Wilson asks the belligerents to agree to a post-war League of Nations.  Almost a month later on the 10th January 1917, the Allies show president Wilson their peace terms. Wilson deems them too harsh. 12 days later Wilson pleads for “Peace Without Victory.”, the Germans reject them. February 1st, 1917 the Kaiser orders the German U-boats to “Sink on sight.”. Two days later America breaks off diplomatic relations with Imperial Germany. On the 25th the RMS Laconia is torpedoed 2 Americans are killed.     The 1st of March see the publication of the Zimmerman Telegram which promised German support for Mexico and an alliance with her if America entered the war and Mexico sided with Germany.

24 days later President Wilson decides on war. The  Steam Ship Aztec is sunk on the 1st April 28 Americans are killed. Wilson calls on congress to declare war on the 3rd April  and a day after America joins the Allies as an “Associate Power.” In June the first American troops arrive in Europe.

11th June No12 US Base Hospital marches down Slope Road in Folkestone and crosses to France. They are one of the few Units from any nation known to have marched down what is now known as The Road of Remembrance in Folkestone. (Source,,http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/adminamerexp/chapter24.html)  They are followed by U.S. General “Black” Jack Pershing on the 13th. Shortly after their arrival in France, on the 4th July, Gen. Pershing’s aide Colonel Charles Stanton made the now famous remark “Nous voila Lafayette”. (Lafayette we are here). At the end of June Mr Mowry of the American Boiling’s Aronautical Commission and 63 men from the Civilian Motor Mechanics Group crossed from Folkestone to France. They are in Europe to study British and French aircraft production techniques. (Source, Gorrell’s History AEF Air Service Sheet 8 History of Bolling’s Mechanics).

On the 8th August the U.S. 11th Engineers Regiment, a regiment raised from railway workers crossed to France from Folkestone. They were sent over to help maintain the railways in northern France. Two soldiers from this regiment, Sergeant Matthew Calderwood and Private William Branigan, became the first American Army casualties on the Western Front in the First World War when they were wounded by shell fire on the 5th September 1917.  (Source,  http://www.webmatters.net/france/ww1_cambrai_us.htm)

The First American Division is established on the western Front on the 21st October 1917. 8th January 1918 president Wilson’s peace terms to Germany include Independence for Poland, restoration of Belgium independence, the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France and the formation of the League of Nations. Theodore H Roosevelt in November 1918 described the League of Nations as “A product of men who want everyone to float to heaven on a sloppy sea of universal mush”.

The American Transport ship Tuscania is sunk on the 5th February 1918 and 210 Americans drown.

The Battle of Belleau Wood took place 6th June-26th June this was the first time the U.S Marine Corps went into action in the war. The 4th Brigade attacked over open ground towards the woods capturing and losing the woods over and over before they finally managed to secure the woods. During one of the German counter attacks it was suggested that the marines should retreat, marine Captain Lloyd Williams replied “Retreat? Hell, we just got here.” The U.S. lost 9.500 dead during the battle and the Germans took another 1,600 American prisoners.  Belleau Wood is now known as Bois de Brigade de Marine in honour of the United State Marine Corps.

From the French paper “le Matin Paris”  13th September 1918 The entry into the line of the magnificent American Army must be considered an essential factor in the operation of tomorrow.”

17th September 1918, “America rejects Austrian Peace proposal”, and “Worry Whitens the hair of the Kaiser” both from the Detroit Free press.

23rd September-3rd October The Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  Fifteen American Divisions alongside twenty-two French divisions, it should be noted that an American Division was far larger than its British or French counterpart, took part.  The Argonne region is not the easiest to campaign through and the American Army lacked experience progress was slow and only fifteen miles were taken. The offensive did tie down thirty-six german divisions. during this offensive Private Alvin York was awarded both the US  Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre for killing twenty Germans and capturing another hundred and thirty-two single-handedly.

While this blog is not or intended to be a history of American involvement in the FWW, There are many events not included, hopefully, it does show there was more to US involvement than the Victory parades.

On the 11th November 1918 at 10:59 am. Henry Gunther an American soldier became the last soldier from all the warring nations to be killed in action on the Western Front during the Great War.

 

 

The US Army in FolkestoneRT #FWW #WWI #WW1

There are many reasons for writing a blog, to show off, to entertain, to inform, to alleviate boredom, to share knowledge, to keep my one and only reader happy, plus many other reasons. The reason for this blog is to fish. I’m fishing for more information. The information I’m looking for is about the United States army in Folkestone during the First World War.

This is most of the sum total of my knowledge.

They were here, as opposed to “Over there.” How do I know this? There is a photograph in Folkestone Library. It has appeared in at least one book but, was incorrectly labelled.

There is also a US Army war diary which records the unit, an American Military Hospital, as staying in the rest camp on the Leas. Then marching down  Slopes Road to the ship which will take them to France. At least one other War Diary records their unit staying on the Leas and proceeding to Calais via Dover. Some of the buildings the US Army stayed in still survive.

Are there other War Diaries which record where a unit stayed between arriving at usually Liverpool and heading to France?

US General Jack “Black Jack” Pershing crossed from Folkestone to Boulogne. There is at least one photograph showing him disembarking at Boulogne. Apart from being the US Commander, he is famous to a few people for saying, “Lafayette,  We are here.” Which he never actually said. Colonel Charles E. Stanton also crossed from Folkestone. Charles E Stanton not as well known as Black Jack did say, ” Lafayette, nous voilà ” 

More details will appear in my next book. If I can find an editor and, a publisher.

I for one would like to know more about the Americans in Folkestone during the First World War. So this is very much a “Fishing” blog.

One last thing there is a photo of the cafe on the harbour mole which shows the interior of the cafe. There is an American flag on the wall. 

This is the last blog before Christmas 2016. Thank you for reading. Thank you for the engagement. Have a good Christmas.  Peter.