Category Archives: France

#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,

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.


3) accessed 21st May 2017


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


David Sutherland’s Sargeant. #Folkestone #Denton

In Memoriam,
Private D. Sutherland
killed in Action in the German Trench 16 May 1916,
and the Others who Died.

So you were David’s father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year got stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David’s father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up that evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight
— O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers’
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
they saw their first born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed, “Don’t leave me Sir,”
For they were only fathers
But I was your officer.

Another account was written by Ewart Mackintosh and published in

War : the liberator, and other pieces : with a memoir by E A Mackintosh, in 1918

This account describes the death of David.
” I believe we have to leave him” Charles said “He’s a dying man” Charles Macrae looked up with his hand on the boys heart  ” No he isn’t”, he said “he’s dead”. They rose and left him lying there on the German parapet; from the right as they ran for the old trench came the clatter of a machine gun.(2)
The account ends(3)  with
“”Whats up Tagg? ” said the Major
“I’m going back to give those swine hell Major” he yelled, and was knocked sideways by a vigorous clout on the head. “You young fool” said the Major “What you want is drink”and led him down to HQ where his men were already assembled. First of all he went to the dressing station and found there men lying and sitting, to hear from one that he had bayonetted two Germans, from another that he had bombed such dugouts, and to realise that the raid had really succeeded although it was a while before they found out how well.
At HQ was Sgt Godstone sitting on the steps with his head in his hands-it was from his section that the dead had come(4) The Co gave them both strong whiskies…”
Sgt Godstone’s real name was Robert William Goddard MM and Bar.
Robert survived the war. He lived in Denton, near Folkestone,  Kent where he was a farmer. Robert lived to be 90 years old and died in 1982. As far as I know the Goddard’s still have a farm there, near where Robert is buried.

Albert Veal #FWW #WW1

Albert Veal one of the not remembered of the First World War. Possibly one of the we would much rather forget any way of the war. Not a hero, or a coward, saint or sinner, a nobody. Although he was married and perhaps there is a faded sepia photo of him somewhere. maybe you, my reader of this blog, can tell me more.

Born near Bath, he worked as a collier before  enlisting in the Royal Garrison Artillery in Bristol, at the age of 23 just before Christmas 1905. The next ten months he spent on home service before being posted to India in October 1906. This was still  Kipling’s  India so  a read of Barrack Room Ballads would give a good idea of what life was like for a British soldier at the height of Empire. Maybe “Bless em all”, originally entitled, “Fuck em all” would give you a better idea of what the soldiers thought. Albert had some the usual selection of ailments that British soldiers caught while serving in the East, Malaria, Tapeworm, Boils. and was slightly wounded in an off duty accident. He also as the song goes, got no promotion that side of the ocean. Bless him.

Albert return to England at the beginning of April 1914. Albert’s son James was born five months later. Albert was at this time in France.  A month in hospital at Netley with Enteric Fever December 1914-January 1915. Means he must have been sent back to England. The when is 9th December-7th January, and for the next six weeks at Addington Park War Hospital, it is not recorded how. Albert did have enteric fever in India on at least three occasions. His service record is incomplete because it mentions that he was now with a trench mortar battery. He must have been a reasonably good soldier he was promoted Bombardier, in the field, on the 25th October 1915. But, his service record does not record his home leave.  Five days later he marries his son’s mother, Agnes at Croydon on the 30th October 1915. Things are looking good for Albert, a son, promotion, and a wife. The start of another love story. I should write a book about the First World War’s Lost Love Stories.

A fortnight later, back in France, he is admitted to hospital. He has a mental breakdown. First stop is 22nd Casualty Clearing station, followed by 11th General Hospital. Home to England on the Hospital Ship St Dennis on the 25th November 1915. He is admitted to Netley hospital suffering from Melancholia. Five days later he is at Napsbury War Hospital. Discharged from the hospital on the 31st March 1916. he suffers with depression, and delusions of a sexual character to orderlies, nurses, and his wife. The army discharges him as being physically fit for further service on the 15th April. The reason given is “Delusional Insanity”

That though is not the end of the story. Albert was awarded a pension for six months. 27 shillings a week. (£1. 35 pence)

For the next eleven months I have no idea of how Agnes coped. I remember reading about Siegfried Sassoon. W H R Rivers, who treated Sassoon in Edinburgh. Reportedly said, he was not interested in the minds of ordinary men. I do not doubt, that at the time, no one else was either.

Albert Veal Died 3rd March 1917. He is not recognised as being a casualty of the Great War.


One of the Survivors

We tend to be embarrassed in the UK about our wounded veterans. Much rather they were dead, or only wheeled out at the relevant anniversary. We remember the dead, those who gave a life, but would rather forget those who gave a limb.  Private 43863 Henry Charles Mabbott.  Wounded in Action

2nd Seaforth Highlanders

Also served in the Cameron Highlanders

Henry Charles Mabbott was born in Inverness but lived at 45 Teviot Street, Poplar, London. He enlisted on the 11th August 1914 and served three years in France. The first time he embarked from Southampton on the 25th August 1914. The ship he crossed to Le Harve on was the S.S. Welshman. Mabbott is in and out of hospital for various reasons until he is posted to H. Q. 1st Army on the 26th July 1915. He also has a few periods of leave. It is not known if he returned home during them. The 9th June 1916 saw Mabbott transferred to the 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders. The next month sees him undergoing training at 15 Infantry Brigade Depot Etaples before being sent to the front on the 27th July. Mabbott is wounded in action for the first time on 13th September 1916. A gunshot wound to the left leg. Treated at first at a casualty clearing station then No.6 General Hospital he is sent home on the 15th September 1916. Mabbot embarks again for France this time on the 23rd May 1917, and from Folkestone. He arrived at 19 Infantry brigade depot Etaples and was posted to 6th Battalion Cameron Highlanders the next day. On the 10th June 1917 he was posted to the 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders. A fortnight later he sprained his ankle. Mabbott was making his way to the trenches at night when he fell into a shell hole. He was sent to No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station, and on the 1st August he was transferred to England. Mabbot was promoted unpaid Lance-corporal on the 27th November and with pay on the 18th january 1918. reverting to private on his posting back to France. Mabbott embarked for the last time to France on the 4th April 1918 It is not known from where. He arrived at “F” Infantry Brigade depot and was posted to 6th Battalion Cameron Highlanders the next day. Mabbott was wounded on the 6th May 1918. A gun shot wound fractured his right knee. He was first treated at 23 Casualty Clearing Station then transferred to 18 General Hospital on to 74 General Hospital were his right leg was amputated and he was invalided home on the “Guildford Castle”. He was discharged as being no longer physically fit for war service on the 26th October 1918.1

Private 43863 Henry Charles Mabbott was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and the Silver War badge.2

1 Private 43863 Henry Charles Mabbott’s Pension Record.

2 Private 43863 Henry Charles Mabbott’s Medal Card.

#FWW, WW1, Dogs in War Time. Life in thirty Seconds

There are books about dogs in WW1. Stories enough to fill every issue of Dogs World, Forgotten dogs and all future copies of Boys Own stories. Messenger Dogs, Guard Dogs, Rescue Dogs, Dogs that pulled machine guns, smelt gas, the American dog Sergeant Stubby with more gongs that a North Korean General. So in less than thirty seconds I will tell you what dogs if left to themselves can teach us about life, the folly of war, and what we all should be doing. It is from a letter sent by Lieutenant Melville Hastings to the Headmaster of Wycliffe College. Reproduced in War Letters of Fallen Englishmen. Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1930.  Melville was writing about  lying out in no man’s land.

“A little German dog trotted up and licked my British Face. I pulled his German ears and stroked his German back. he wagged his German tail. My little friend abolished no man’s land, and so in time can we.”

That is what life should be all about.

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 Connections, Scotland,The Boxer, 11th November, and, What a Wonderful World.

Often, like most people, wondered what the connection between Scotland of,

O flower of Scotland
When will we see your like again
That fought and died for
Your wee bit hill and glen

The Boxer

I am just a poor boy.
Though my story’s seldom told,
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles,
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

by Simon and Garfunkel


I see trees of green,
red roses too.
I see them bloom,
for me and you.
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.

by Louis Armstrong

and the First World War. i decided it was time to solve the mystery.. Scotland was, and still is, a far more tolerant society than the USA or England in the years before 1914. There was then as now a higher degree of religious sectarianism, but few cared what race you were. This did not apply to the USA. racism there was rife  having a darker shade of skin could see you dangle from the end of a rope in many parts of the southern United States in the closing decades of the 19th century and the opening decades of the 20th. it was a way of maintaining white supremacy. the American Civil War was over, but old times there had not been forgotten.  it was to escape the injustice of life in the USA that made Eugene Bullard, the son of a black stevedore and a Creek Indian hide aboard a merchant ship bound for Scotland. Eugene was actually heading for France, as he had heard that blacks were respectably treated there. however, the ship docked at the east coast port of Aberdeen in Scotland. All Eugene had to do now was earn a living.

Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job,
But I get no offers, (Simon and Garfunkel)

He became a prizefighter, a boxer.  He seems to have been able to earn a living at this through out Scotland and England. until war broke out. Eugene Bullard headed to France and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in October 1914. Eugene fought as an infantryman at Artois, Champagne, and Verdun. a brave and courageous soldier, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire, and the Croix de Guerre with star, he was also wounded twice. In November 1916,  he was ordered to join the french air service, the Service Aeronautique, as a gunner. He asked to train as a pilot. In July 1917 he became the first Black American Combat pilot, and the second Black Combat pilot in the world, Ahmet Ali Celikten, an Ottoman was the first. From August 1917 Eugene served in two “Fighter” squadrons first with Spad 93, then with Spad 85. After an altercation with a French adjutant,  on the 11th November 1917, which end when Eugene knocked the adjutant out Eugene was transferred back to the infantry.  Dr Edmund Gros the head of the Lafayette Flying Corps refused to allow Eugene to transfer to the US Air Service on the grounds that knocking out the French adjutant and the illegal wearing of the French Foreign Legion had rendered him as unsuitable to serve in the United States Army. It was a sign of the times that he got 10 days imprisonment for knocking out a French officer, and 20 days imprisonment for wearing the wrong lanyard. For the next two years Eugene Bullard served in the French Infantry being discharged in October 1919.  after the war Bullard remained in France working as a musician and as a boxer. He re-enlisted in the french Army after the outbreak of the Second World War, escaping to America shortly before France capitulated. After the end of this world war Bullard worked in various jobs including as a translater for Louis Armstrong.

I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

(Louis Armstrong)

They you have it, the connections between Scotland, The Boxer, 11th November, and What a Wonderful World.

A hero to the French, back home in America he was not allowed to pilot a plane, and denied the recognition given to white Americans who served in the French Air Services. Eugene Bullard died of cancer on 22nd October 1967.

Additional information on Eugene Bullard and the other American Volunters who served in the French air Service can be found in Dennis Gordon’s excellent book “The Lafayette Flying Corps”, published by Schiffer Military History.