Category Archives: Great War

US Out takes

Due to various reasons, time, dead lappy, cost, etcetera. There is the odd bit of research that has died a death. So this is sort of a what once would have been, and what might be when days of the future are past. They are not enough on their own to blog about individually. Hence the waffle.

Edgar Allan Poe had a brother who is commemorated on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner. John P Poe, Black Watch. The Poe brothers are related to the Edgar Allan Poe who wrote The Raven. They are also American.

Tired of what about the….  This guy covers American, Australian, Chinese, and died in England. Cadet 2695 Charles Frederick, Australian Flying Corps, died 4th February 1919. His parents lived in Peking, China. Charles was born at Spokane, Washington, U.S.A.

Talk of Anniversaries of trips to the Battle Fields, Henry Williams, not an American, neither was Tarka the Otter, but anyway…  He said that when he returned to Ypres there was also someone else there. There was the Henry Williamson now, but also there was the Henry Williamson who was the soldier who fought there.

First Gold Star Mothers visit. 1930  They went to Paris, laid a wreath at the tomb of the French unknown soldier. Visits to the main American Cemeteries followed, along with a sightseeing trip around Paris.

The American unknown soldier was one of four unknown Americans, one each from the Aisne-Marne. Meuse-Argonne, Somme, and St Mihiel Cemeteries. Their grave details were destroyed before one of the coffins was picked, so no one knows which cemetery the soldier came from. The three who were not selected are buried at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. Block “G”, Row 1, graves 1,2,and 3.

One day I might returned to the above, that day is not today.




Stories from the Harbour Arm #Folkestone

Occasionally I get asked what it is I’m doing. “God knows” is the usually reply. However I have been collecting stories of the soldiers who left from Folkestone in the First World War. Stories such as:

Captain John Macgregor V.C., M.C and Bar. D.C.M.
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles

Born in Cawdor, in Nairnshire Scotland, John Macgregor would have made a worthy thane. His mother still lived at Newlands of Murchang, Cawdor.  Prior to the war John had emigrated to Canada where he worked as a carpenter.

Macgregor was awarded the D.C.M. For an action on the 8th April 1917 during the preliminaries to the Battle of Vimy.

The citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal (awarded when John was a Sergeant) reads:

116031 Sjt. J. MacGregor, Mounted Rifles. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He single-handed captured an enemy machine gun and shot the crew, thereby undoubtedly saving his company from many casualties.
(Supplement 30204 to The London Gazette 24 July 1917 page 7663)

John was awarded his Military cross for two reconnaissance missions on the 28th December 1917, and for his part in a trench raid on the 12th January 1918.

The Citation for his Military cross reads:

Lt. John Macgregor, D.C.M., Mtd. Rif. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Whilst he was assembling his men prior to a raid, the enemy bombed the trench. He, however, changing his point of attack, led his men over the wire into the enemy’s trench, and successfully dealt with the garrison of the trench and three concrete dug-outs, himself capturing one prisoner. He then withdrew his party and his prisoner successfully to our trenches. Before the raid he, together with a serjeant, had made several skilful and daring reconnaissances along the enemy wire, which materially assisted in the success of the enterprise.
(Supplement 30845 to The London Gazette, 13 August 1918, page 9569.)

The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross:

T./Capt. John MacGregor, M.C., D.C.M., 2nd C.M.R. Bn., 1st Central Ontario Regiment. For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrificing devotion to duty near Cambrai from 29th September to 3rd October 1918. He led his company under intense fire, and when the advance was checked by machine guns, although wounded, pushed on and located the enemy guns. He then ran forward in broad daylight, in face of heavy fire from all directions, and. with rifle and bayonet, single-handed, put the enemy crews out of action, killing four and taking eight prisoners. His prompt action saved many casualties and enabled the advance to continue. After reorganising his command under heavy fire he rendered most useful support to neighbouring troops. When the enemy were showing stubborn resistance, he went along the line regardless of danger, organised the platoons, took command of the leading waves, and continued the advance. Later, after a personal daylight reconnaissance under heavy fire, he established his company in Neuville St. Remy, thereby greatly assisting the advance into Tilloy. Throughout the operations Capt. MacGregor displayed magnificent bravery and heroic leadership.
(The Edinburgh Gazette .10 January 1919, No. 13384 page 200)

The citation for the bar to his Military Cross reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and leadership from 5th to 8th November, 1918, at Quievrain and Quievrechain. Through his initiative the bridges over the Honnelle River were secured. His personal reconnaissances and the information he derived from them were of great use to his commanding officer. His prompt action in seizing the crossings over the river did much -towards the final rout of the enemy.
(Supplement 31680 to the London Gazette, 9 December 1919, page15312)

John Macgregor died in British Columbia on the 9th June 1952.


Private David Adams 4th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. This is not the first time Private Adams had crossed to France but the first and only date on record of him crossing from Folkestone.
Home Service from the 3rd September 1914 to the 27th July 1915.
3rd September 1914. Enlisted 3rd Battalion Royal Scots.
26th September 1914. Posted 14th Battalion Royal Scots.
21st July 1915. Posted 13th Battalion Royal Scots.
France from the 28th July 1915 to the 30th September 1915.
28th July 1915. France -not known from where he sailed.
29th September 1915. Gun Shot Wound left thigh.
30th September 1915. Returns to UK.
Home Service from the 1st October 1915 to the 1st January 1916.
1st October 1915. Depot Royal Scots.
30th November 1915. Posted to 14th Royal Scots.
1st January 1916. 13th Battalion Royal Scots.
France from the 2nd January 1916 to the 10th April 1917.
2nd January 1916. France, not known from where he sailed.

In March 1916 David was in the Hulluch Sector when he was blown up by a High Explosive Shell he is knocked unconscious and suffers from concussion. On a Medical Report dated 24th April 1918 from Glenlomond War Hospital it is stated that this is when his Neurasthenia started.

Home Service from the 11th April 1916 to the 18th April 1917.
11th April 1916 Posted for record purposes to the Royal Scots Depot, David is recovering in the Duchess of Connaught’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Taplow. He stays at the hospital until the 22nd May 1916.

7th August 1916. Posted to 14th Battalion Royal Scots.
1st September 1916 . Transferred to 3rd Reserve Battalion.
20th October 1916. Posted to the Larnarkshire Yeomanry.
2nd December 1916. 10th (Works) Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.
31st December 1916. Transferred to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
It is known from his Pension Records that David was a patient at the 2nd Scottish General Hospital. Craigleith, Edinburgh from the 9th January until the 24th February 1917.
19th April 1917. Posted to the 10th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
France from the 20th April 1917 to the 14th July 1917. (Pension Medical Record states 19th April.)
20th April 1917. Leaves Folkestone for France.
21st April 1917. Joined 19 Infantry Base Depot.
Home service from 15th July 1917 until the 10th May 1918.
15th July 1917 Taken on Strength Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Base Depot Sterling.
It is known from his Pension Records that David was a patient at Merryflats War Hospital, Glasgow from the 15th July until the 15th August 1917.
27th August 1917. Posted to 4th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
3rd November 1917. Posted to 250 Reserve Company Royal Defence Corps.
From his pensions we know that David was at Glenlomond War Hospital, Kinross in April 1918.
10th May 1918 Discharged as, “No Longer Physically Fit for War Service”.
15th May 1918 Died.

It is not know where David Adams is buried. Hopefully he managed to return to the family home at 12th Nile Street, Greenock.
As well as the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal David received the Silver War Badge (No. 389532). He is commemorated on Broomhill War Memorial.


Private 3290 Charles Ambrose De Leon, Australian Imperial Force marched into the New Zealand Base Depot the following day. He is taken on the strength of 38th Battalion ex 8th Re-enforcements 38th Battalion on the 9th May. Charles was born in New York in 1888, he enlisted at Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in December 1917. Accidentally injured on the 24th July 1918. At the Court of enquiry a witness gave the following statement. Report on No. 3290. Pte De Leon C.A. (Burnt about the face and hands)
“On 24th July last, Pte De Leon was on outpost duty when the company was holding the line in the Hamel sector The enemy was shelling very heavily in the region of his post, and a fragment of one shell hit one phosphorus bomb which was amongst some Mills grenades. The phosphorus bomb burst into flames and Deleon who was standing close to the parapet where it burst was burnt about the face and hands, also his clothing and equipment was burnt. Lieut Baxter were extinguished ordered De Leon to proceed to the Aid Post”
(Sgd) Pte F Binion No. 598.
Charles returned to his unit on the 11th October 1918

Now the question is, “What will I do with the Stories?  the answer is, “God  knows.”


Brandhoek Mil. Cem. No3’s Dark Secret #FWW #WWI #WW1

Guides love to tell stories. Stories about the battles places and the soldiers, especially the soldiers. The punchline is in more than a few cases is, “… and here he is.”

So this is where we are, plot II row N, grave number 1. and the story is about Frank J Clute. You can tell I didn’t go to guiding school. Frank was executed. He was killed by a shot from a revolver to the back of the head. His body was then thrown into a ditch. Frank though wasn’t killed in Belgium, not in France, or anywhere on the Western Front. Frank didn’t die in the war. He was killed in 1913 thousands of miles away.No one goes to Brandhoek Military Cemetery Number 3 to visit his grave. Not even me, so why are we here? This is why,  the motive for Frank’s execution on the 1st April 1913 outside Watervliet, New York state, is thought to be robbery.  He was a chauffeur and on the night he was killed his passenger is thought to have robbed him at gunpoint then shot him. He may have been shot first, it doesn’t really matter. A young man was arrested the son of a millionaire.The evidence against the young man, witnesses who met him after the killing say he had muddy shoes, dishevelled clothes and had lost his gloves. A pair of gloves very like the ones owned by the young man were found at the scene of the crime. Some of Frank’s belongings were found at the young man’s lodgings. The weapon used was pawned by someone with the same name as the young man and an identical signature. Then if you were wealthy in the USA you could stack a jury. That is exactly what the young man’s parents did. The trial was declared a mistrial and thrown out. There was a retrial this time the defence had found witnesses who gave the young man an alibi again the trail was declared a mistrial and thrown out. The prosecution believed the young man was guilty. No one else was ever tried for the crime.With the modern techniques of DNA testing and modern forensics, not being available at the time, the young man remains an alleged murderer.   The young man spent a few more years at college. In February 1917 he along with others attested in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in Montreal Canada. After basic training in Canada and Shorncliffe, he crossed to France, quite possibly from Folkestone. The timings on his service papers indicate that this was the likely route taken. He refused to make a will why is not known.  He was killed in action at Passchendaele,(3rd Ypres).His name is Gunner 1251785 Malcolm Gifford, KIA 8th November 1917, age 21, 8th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He was the son of Malcolm and Marion Wells Gifford, of 345, Allen St., Hudson, New York. Enlisted at Montreal, 7th February 1917. His parents remained as parents do immensely proud of their son and themselves. The inscription on his headstone reads, “Son of Malcolm & Marion Gifford of Hudson, New York, USA.(1)

And here he is, Plot II, row N, grave number 1. Brandhoek Military Cemetary No3.

1)Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Sources and references


Malcolm Gifford’s Service Record

Atlanta Constitution, 3rd may 1914. Washington Post, 20th April and 2nd July on Fold3 website.



Chinese Labour Corps, First and Last #FWW #WW1 #WWI

I keep saying I will never write another blog on the Chinese Labour Corps, so…

The Chinese had been labourers in the British Empire for a while. They were miners in South Africa, railway navies in Canada and worked in other roles throughout the Empire. Prior to the First World War, there was a Chinese Regiment in the British Army There were Chinese civilians on Royal Navy warships in the Falklands War in the eighties. They are often forgotten, as are the British Soldiers who volunteered to serve in the Chinese Labour Corps.

The recruiting area for the Chinese Labour Corps was centred on Weihai, Shandong, China. The first known recruit in my records is Bi Xuzhong. Bi Xuzhong came from a village in Rongcheng, Shandong.  Bi Xuzhong survived the war and almost certainly returned to China.

The last, again in my records is Ch’un Ch’ih Wang. While not the first or the last Chinese man to be executed for murder by the British in France, they are my records and I have put him last. Ch’un Ch’ih Wang was executed in the small square at Poperinghe Town Hall.  His execution site is one of the most visited places in Poperinghe yet few could tell you a Chinese man was executed there. Ch’un Ch’ih Wang is buried in Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, it is a mile down the road from the New Military Cemetery. For at least one reason this is a shame because busloads stop at the New Military Cemetery and place at sometimes seems armfuls of poppies on the graves of those who were shot at dawn there and ignore Ch’un Ch’ih Wang’s grave a mile down the road.

One of the basic premises behind the then  Imperial War Graves Commision, now the Commonwealth War Graves Commision’s treatment of Imperial/Commonwealth war dead is they should all be treated equally. Something we seem to have “Unremembered”, No matter the rank, age, sex, race, what they did or how they died. Death is the great equaliser. We just don’t,  we put armfuls of poppies on some. I tell people go to any of the CWGC cemeteries in the tourist season and walk down the row ends look along the rows. The mounds of poppies mark the grave of a VC holder, Boy Soldier, shot at Dawn, or a poet. We say we treat them all with the same respect. It is time we did.

Merry Christmas.

Frederick Milton


Private Frederick Milton is commemorated on this gravestone in Folkestone Old Cemetery. Killed in action as part of a ration party, while collecting rations.  He was the only soldier from the 8th Battalion the Buffs East Kent Regiment killed on the 12th September 1917. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. This memorial is the large screen at the top of Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium.  Frederick was killed at Jackson’s Dump which was to the best of my knowledge somewhere west of a line from Clapham Junction on the Menin Road to Pappotstaat. His epitaph reads

“Little we thought we he bade us good bye                                                                                       He had left us forever he left us to die                                                                                                When we look at the picture and think how he died                                                                     A faithful British Soldier for all of us he died

His life was full of sunshine                                                                                                                 To all a joy and pride                                                                                                                              Far away in that foreign climate                                                                                                      A hero’s death he died

They miss him most that loved him best.

His service record does not appear to have survived. Relatives of Frederick still live in Folkestone.

Private 61613 William Habberley #Went to France via Folkestone #FWW

Border Regiment

Born in Warrington. He became a plumber before he enlisted in the Army at Liverpool on the 4th February 1913 at the age of 19 years and 2 months. He first joined for duty Joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The same day he is sent to Carlisle. Here he is attached to the Border Regiment at their Depot. 8th February 1913 he is transferred to the Border Regiment at Carlisle. 28th April 1913 he is drunk in barracks this time he is admonished. This is probably due to being posted to the 2nd Battalion at Pembroke Dock the next day.

24th May 1913, Drunk in Barracks he was fined 2/6 and Confined to Barracks for 7 days. It was to be the first of many Confinements to Barracks and fines for drunkenness in his time in the Army. 29th May 1913, Irregular Conduct, 10 Days Confined to Barracks. 6th September 1913 breaking out of barracks after tattoo, being drunk in Water Street at around 10:25 pm, 14 Days Confined to Barracks. 29th November 1913 Posted to 2nd Battalion. Then on the 10th February 1914, he is posted again this time to the 1st Battalion. He embarks on the Troopship Plassy to India. Hebberley arrived in India on the 5th March 1914. Sailing onwards to Rangoon on the Troopship Northbrook. Reaching Rangoon on the 13th March. After Rangoon, the battalion moved to Maymyo where it was based when war broke out. Returning to with the Battalion to Calcutta on the troopship HMT “Novara” on the 21st November 1914 they arrived in Calcutta on the 25th November 1914. Here they spent just over a fortnight before embarking on the Troopship HMT “Corsican” for Rugby via Avonmouth. The 1st battalion arrived at Rugby on the 11th January 1915. While at Rugby, 13th February 1915 Not complying with (an order? Writing on change sheet not clear) and insolence to an NCO, 8 Days Confined to Barracks. 16th February 1915. Drinking in the Globe Public House while on duty.168 hours detention. The battalion was posted to Gallipoli via Egypt and left from England on the 16th March 1915. During his time in the Dardanelles Hebberley continued his low level of insubordination and on the 25th July 1915, he was awarded 7 days FP No.2 for an improper reply to NCO. A month later on the 25th August 1915, he is wounded in action a severe wound in abdomen three weeks later on the 14th September 1915 his father is notified. From Gallipoli, he is sent on the 28th September 1915 to 15th General Hospital Alexandria, and on the 25th October embarked on HMH Mauritania at Alexandria for England. After a stay in hospital he is posted on the 11th November 1915 to the Regimental Depot at Carlisle. 23rd December 1915. he overstayed his furlough from tattoo until 9 pm on the 29th December, (5 days and 23 hours ). He is Confined to Barracks for 7 days.1st January 1916 he is posted to 3rd Battalion. On the 3rd May he embarked from Southampton for France. The first three weeks were spent at 7 Infantry Base Depot Le Havre before being posted to the 2nd Battalion. He joined them in the field on the 25th. On the 1st of July he receives a wound to his left wrist. Evacuated home via 23 Field Ambulance, 38 Casualty Clearing station, 3 Stationary Hospital Rouen, and the Hospital Ship “St Patrick” to England. Reaching on the University Hospital in Gower Street, London on the He will spend 30 days in Hospital before being released on the 3rd August 1916 (posted to Depot) On the 15th September 1916 he is transferred to the 5th Garrison Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. At Beblington on the 7th October 1916 he is Absent from Tattoo, (until 8th October), and he is again Confined to Barracks for 7 days. Then at Leasowe Castle on the 9th December 1916 he is charged with Absence from Police Duty and Insolence to an NCO. As a result, he was sentenced on the 11th December 1916, to 21 days FP No.2 for misconduct. Later at Aintree on the

17th February 1917 he is Absent from Tattoo for two days. Yet again he is Confined to Barracks for 7 days. 7th May 1917 he is transferred to 3rd Battalion Borders Regiment. In October he is posted to France. He embarked from Folkestone 19th October 1917 arrived Boulogne and joined 25 Infantry Brigade depot at Etaples the same day. He joins the 2nd Battalion in the field on the 30th October 1917. 10 days later the battalion moves to Italy. 11th March 1918 he is admitted to 23 Field Ambulance, then 37th Casualty Clearing Station and on 13th March 1918 11 General Hospital Genoa due to sickness. After which he spent a week at the Convalescent Depot in Genoa before being posted back to the Base Depot at Arquata on the 26th April 1918. Posted to 14 Corps Reinforcement camp on the 5th May. He went absent from his billets on the 30th June 1918 for which he was awarded 7 days FP No.1. 4th August 1918 he is posted to 24th Battalion Manchester Regiment (Pioneer Battalion). Another posting follows on the 14 February 1919 this time to the 22nd Battalion Manchester Regiment. Hebberley unsurprisingly never seemed to have been promoted. That was to change on the 22nd April 1919 when he is appointed unpaid Lance Corporal. Being promoted does not last long. The 6th May 1919 sees him in Egypt still with the 22nd Battalion. On the 12 May 1919 he is deprived of his Lance/Corporal stripe for drunkenness, while on active service, and absent until apprehended by the Military Police. There is a break from the routine duties of being a soldier in Egypt when on the 10th June 1919 he embarked from Alexandria for Constantinople on escort duty. Back to his old ways on the 11th November 1919, fined 7/6 for drunkenness in Cairo. 7 days Confined to Camp. 29th November 1919 Absent in town without a pass while on active service. 14 days confined to barracks. After 7 years in the Army, he embarked at Alexandria for the UK to be demobbed on the “Panama” 3rd March 1919. As far as is known William Habberley survived into the 1970s.

He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

#Shorncliffe, #Labour_Corps

Recently the Shorncliffe Trust held their annual Light in the Darkest Hour. Hopefully, this years ceremony will encourage people to visit the graves of the Labour Corp in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. The Closing ceremony was the placing of lanterns at the Chinese Labour Corps graves, (CLC) of which there are six all close together in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. This was also part of the Big Ideas Company’s Unremembered  (An awful name if they mean “Forgotten” they should just say so.) Project.  Apart from the CLC, there are two men from the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) and eleven men from the British Army’s Labour Corps buried in the cemetery.  Photographs of the graves of the SANLC and the Labour Corps men follow.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 the west 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.



Private 331158 H.A. Baker served in the 18th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment before he was transferred to 242nd Works Company Labour Corps.


Private G/78845 J Baker, 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home service Employment Company Labour Corps. The 29th (Works) Battalion was formed as a labour battalion hence the (Works) atMill Hill the entire battalion was transferred to the Labour Corps and retitled the 5th Labour Battalion in April 1917. (2)


Private 76316 R Bedford also served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home Service Employment Company Labour Corps.


Private G/78071 George Henry Bloodworth. Another soldier from the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before he was transferred to the 5th Battalion of the Labour Corps. The son of George Henry and Mary Bloodworth of 18 Banstead St Nunhead, London was killed in the Folkestone Air Raid on the 25th May 1917.


Private 28527 G.W. Graves, the husband of Lilie Gertrude Parkinson (formally Graves) served in the 9th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment before being transferred to the Labour Corps.


Private 267099 Samuel Beckerleg Hall the son of Mrs Evelina Hall of 21 Church Street, Helston, Cornwall. He served in the 2nd/1st Kent Cyclist Battalion before he was transferred to the 426th Company Labour Corps.


Private 293210 T Marshall Served in the 2nd/7th Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) before he was transferred to 342nd Works Company Labour Corps. Marshall died on the 10th November 1918, one day before the war ended.


Henry Gordon Prince the son of Mrs Charlotte Prince of 3 Evergreens, South Bersted, Bognor, served in the 1st Infantry Labour Company Northamptonshire Regiment.


Private 37998 A.H. Slater is another soldier who served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 241st Works Company Labour Corps.


Guardsman 18439 J.W. Taylor served in the Coldstream Guards before being transferred to 437th Company Labour Corps.


Private 5417 Robert Williams served in the 2nd/6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment before he was transferred to 317th Works Company Labour Corps.


(1) Soldiers details from the CWGC website.

(2) Details about the 29th Battalion from the Long Long Trail Web site. A website that can not be recommended too highly. If you are even remotely interested in the British Army in the First World War bookmark and use the LongLong Trail website.