Category Archives: Shorncliffe

Notes on Hooge, #Folkestone #Hythe

31 October 1914

MajGeneral Samual Lomax is mortally wounded by an exploding artillery shell. He died on the 10 April 1915 never having recovered from his wounds. Cremated at Golders Green Crematorium his ashes are buried in a plot at the Military Cemetery in Aldershot.

11th November 1914.

Brigadier-General Norman Reginald McMahon 4th Royal Fusiliers is killed in action just east of Hooge. Prior to the First World War, he was Chief Instructor of the Hythe School of Musketry and is credited with the 15 rounds per minute, known as the “Mad Minute” rate of fire required by the British Army in 1914.

19 July 1915.

A mine was exploded under the Germans at Hooge and the crater was occupied by two companies of the 4th Bn Middlesex Regiment driving the enemy back some 300 yards

30th July 1915

Men of the 7th Kings Royal Rifles (KRR) first felt a fine mist of something that smelt like paraffin. Men carrying something heavy on their backs, crouched down holding what looked liked hose pipe nozzles were trudging towards them. Few would survive to recollect the sight or the smell of their uniforms as they were blinded scorched and incinerated by the new German flamethrowers. Those near would never forget. The Germans captured the KRR positions. A counter-attack in the afternoon was only partially successful.

One of the things that veterans used to tell me was the smell of the trenches.They remembered they smelt like bacon cooking. It was not until a few years later it dawned on me exactly why they remembered the smell of bacon cooking.

Second Lieutenant Jack Fellows Lambert, 9th (Service) Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own).The Eldest son of Ernest and May Lambert, 23 Terlingham Gardens, Folkestone is burned to death by liquid fire just after 3:15p.m. at Hooge. This was the first use of Liquid Fire, (Flame-throwers) by the Germans and Jack was one of the first British soldiers killed by Liquid Fire. His body could not be identified and he was listed as missing until March 1916. Jack has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate. Before the war, Jack managed a coconut estate in Malaya.

Also on the 30th July 1915

It was near here, roughly from the trenches at Kasteelhof ‘t Hooghe to the end of Hooge Crater Cemetery that 2nd Lt Sydney Woodroffe was awarded the new armies first VC  leading a counter attack. Woodroffe has another distinction, this one is unique. He along with others has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin gate, sadly nothing even for VC holders unique in that. What is unique is that when the panels were first carved they carved “VC” before, not after his name.

9th August 1915

First British trial of steel helmets. For those interested, the dyes for the Brodie helmet from the Great war may still survive in Israel.

Also used here for the first time by the British Army in the Great War was the portable radio. Just think your mobile phone had its British Military origins here. Of course, back then you need a horse and cart.

28 October 1917

Hooge Crater, Brigadier-General Cecil Rawling was killed by German shellfire. He was just outside of his Headquarters.


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.



Games at #Shorncliffe, Bomb-Ball Game.

Sports in the Army have always been popular and are a useful training exercise. They discipline, quick thinking, fitness, no wonder I hated sports at school, and break the monotony of routine P.T.

Bomb-Ball was introduced during the FWW and almost certainly been played at Shorncliffe. It is mentioned and recommended in “Notes for Commanding Officers” a publication for those who attended the Senior Officers School in Aldershot.

The game is intended to use the muscles used in a bombing and, helps develop fast and accurate throwing. Throwing quickly and with a high degree of accuracy are skills a bomber needs to have. The game was normally played on a football pitch.

Most games involved two teams of eleven, The book “Notes for Commanding Officers” illustrates the position of the players in the 5 forwards, 3 midfield, 2 backs, position. A small canvas bag filled with sand or shot the weight of a Mills Bomb is used instead of a ball. Much like a beanie bag. In the rest of this narrative, it will be referred to as a ball.

The game seems to need a referee, however, the book doesn’t state whether the referee needs to be blind or make reference to the person’s parentage.

The ball is passed from player to player by throwing. The throw can be in any direction. Two methods can be used to throw the ball. By putting as in Shot putting, or overarm as in Grenade throwing as shown in army training manuals on bombing. The ball can be caught by using both hands but, thrown by only one hand. The throwing hand can be changed by the referee every ten minutes.

There is no running with the ball, as soon as it is caught the ball must be thrown. If the ball is dropped it must be picked up and thrown immediately.

To score a goal the ball must land on the ground in the goal.

The offside rule applies.

If a ball goes behind or into touch and a corner or throw in is awarded the ball must be thrown in or the corner is taken with one hand.  Penalties or fouls result in a free throw of the ball, again with one hand, from where the foul occurred.

Fouls are awarded when rough play takes place, (the grabbing of another player). A player runs with the ball,  the ball is thrown by another method then the two methods previously described, or being off-side.

The game consists of two halves, each half being between 20 to 30 minutes long.

Hopefully a game will once again be played at Shorncliffe in 2018.




Insanity at #Shorncliffe. #FWW

“May they not take it too seriously! Seein’ as ‘ow the training is all washed out as soon as you turn that narrow street corner at Boulogne, where some watcher with a lantern is always up for English troops arriving, with a “Bon courage” for every man. A year ago today-but that way madness lies.”

(Captain Charles Hamilton Sorley from a letter to the Master of Marlbourgh, in War Letters of Fallen Englishmen, edited by Laurance Houseman, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1930)

It somewhat surprises me that I can quote from a War Poet, for whenever I’m asked about the War Poets the default answers is “Not a fan”. It is not that I don’t like them. They wrote some of the finest poetry ever written in English. They wrote a lot of crap too, but we won’t dwell on that today. It is just they are shite historians. They are part of the history of the Great War, but they did not write that history. I remember Mr Millinship, one if not the best teacher I ever had reading Dulce et Decorum Est and asking me what I thought of it. Don’t think he was too impressed with my reply, I said something along the lines of. “It took him three years to come up with war is hell. My dad’s a soldier don’t you think I don’t already know that?” I was 11 at the time, an easy going child in a difficult world. Back to Sorley. Sorley was for a time at Shorncliffe but the madness he was writing about was not the madness at Shorncliffe but the madness of war.

Someone who will never be as famous as Owen or Sorley, basically because he wasn’t a War Poet but who dealt with insanity, his own, at Shorncliffe was Private 513212 William Anderson, Canadian Army Service Corps Training Depot. (CASC TD)

William was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England. After serving in the Inniskilling Fusiliers He emigrated to Canada it was here he enlisted at Petawawa, in No.2 CASC TD. he was 37.

William sailed to England on the SS Olympic arriving in England on the 28th December 1916 and is taken on the strength of the CASC TD at Shorncliffe on the 29th. On the 5th May 1917, William was posted to the 7th Reserve Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, (Eastern Ontario Regiment). (PPCLI (EOR). Six months later he is admitted to 44 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from Trench Feet, a condition caused by standing with unprotected or badly protected feet in unsanitary water.  Sent back through the evacuation train to England and the General Military Hospital in Colchester. January 1918 sees William at the Military Convalescent Hospital Epsom and on the 28th at the Manor War Hospital Epsom. May 16th and William is back at Shorncliffe. This time he is at 11 Canadian General Hospital and diagnosed with Dementia Praecox (Schizophrenia). On the 28th May, his diagnoses is changed to Exhaustion Psychosis, which is an abnormal mental state in which the patient is restless, illusional, and has severe communicational problems. At 11:30 pm on the 14th June 1918, William Anderson’s madness ends.

William is buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery.

A few #FWW Commemorations in #Folkestone Old Cemetery. #Shorncliffe

In the cemeteries in the UK, there is a wealth of memorials to the dead of the First World War. These are just a few from Folkestone’s Old Cemetery. There are many more in this cemetery too.

IMG_8558 Commemorated on this grave stone is Colonel Herbert Stoney Smith. H Stoney Smith commanded the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He crossed to France as a Major with the Battalion From Southampton in  September 1914. By October 1915 he was their Commanding Officer.  On the 22nd October 1915 at 11:10 am he was mortally wounded by a sniper while walking the trenches. He died at 11:30. The Medical Officer said the cause of death was a bullet through the body. The M.O was uncertain but thought it was just the one bullet. H Stoney Smith’s body was conveyed to Vlamertinghe that night and buried in Poperinghe Military Cemetery at 12:30 pm on the 23rd. General Congreve VC and Captain Barrington Boyd from 16th Infantry Brigade attended the funeral. From the 2nd Leicestershire Regiment only three Officers and, one man from each company could be spared from the trenches. 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry Regiment lent their bugles to the 2nd Leicestershire’s for the occasion.

IMG_8562 Sidney Thomas Pittock is commemorated on this stone. Sidney enlisted in Dover on the 24th April 1917. After training, he crossed to France on the 2nd April  1918. Sidney was killed on the opening day of the Third Battle of the Aisne, (27th May 1918) while serving with the 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment.

IMG_8565 Harold Wall was a trooper in the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars. At the beginning of August 1914, the regiment was stationed at Shorncliffe. On the 17th August, they crossed to Rouen from Southampton, probably on the Troopship Minnesota. Harold was almost certainly killed in a counter attack by the 3rd Hussars near Zandvoorde

#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”.


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.