Category Archives: The US

#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

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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.

A Folkestone (ish) In a Perfect World, would have been a Love Story

An American boy meets an English girl. He is a few years older and he sweeps her off her feet. A few weeks after he arrives in England they marry. It is now for them a perfect world. Nothing else matters they are young and so much in love. Love that they hoped would last for their forever.

It is straight out of an Imperial Romance novel, it captures everything belief,love, and romance. A belief in a just cause, love between two people, the romance of a wartime encounter.

He was an American, 25 years old and lived in Cleveland, Ohio. The “Buckeye State”, The British Empire was now at War with Imperial Germany. The British had gone to the aid of plucky little Belgium. The cause was good, just and right. So he left his home and enlisted in Canada. In many ways he was just what the Empire was looking for. Ex-US Army he had seen service, a trained soldier. The Empire, of which he now was a part, was sending troops as fast as they could to Britain. He was sent to Salisbury plain. possible on leave, or an a day pass, he met his English Rose in London.

She sees in him the romance of America, a real American from the West. All American heroes are from the American West. Sent by the Empire to save her from the Hun. He would save her, the King, and the Empire. Together they would sail away to their new home in the sun. A perfect world in the midst of a tragic one. They married in Hampstead in December 1914.(1)

In a book there would be a moment of tragedy, the hero would get killed performing a deed of unquestioning valour and glory. Death in his moment of triumph. Glory for King, Empire and his young English wife. She would spend her days in black. Weeping for the loss of her forever love. They would be immortalized and remembered for ever.

In this story the hero does indeed go to France, and dies in a hail of bullets. But it is not a perfect story in a perfect world. It is at times dark, evil, and sickening time.  First to name the hero and heroine. He is Freddie, she is May Alexandra, together they are the Arnold’s.

Freddie, did live in Cleveland USA with his mom. He did serve in the US Army. He also did enlist in the 1st Battery of the Artillery Brigade of the Canadian (Overseas) Expeditionary Force, as a Gunner/Bombardier in 1914. Being in the first contingent it is known he was on Salisbury Plain. After their marriage in December 1914 their address was 100 Risborough Road, Bayswater, London. Freddie did die in a hail of bullets in Belgium. He was shot by firing squad in Boulogne.(2)  Possibly the only American citizen executed by the British Army in the First World War. Between February 1915 and January 1916 Freddie had been admitted to hospital on two occasions as being sick, and once for shell shock. The third stay in hospital was from the 2nd January until the 22nd of May. On discharge he was posted to the Marlborough Details Camp. From here he went absent on the 5th June 1916. Possibly on the 7th June, or maybe on the 27th June Arnold was caught in civilian clothes. He had deserted. Freddie would be tried by Field General Courts Martial on the 5th July 1916. There never is a good time for a deserter to be recaptured. In a perfect world he would not have been tried four days after the start of the Somme offensive. That and to be captured and tried by the British. Freddie ad May’s perfect world was now disappearing With over 19,000 dead on the first day the British were not going to show any mercy. Freddie was executed on the 27th July 1916 at Le Portel.

Life was to become even more cruel. This was not a perfect world. Freddie’s Mom received a letter from the Canadian Record Office.

Madam:-

With deep regret, I have the honour to inform you that a report has been received to the effect that the soldier marginally noted was tried by Field-Martial at Boulogne, France, on the 5th of July, 1916, on the charge of “When on active service deserting His Majesty’s Service” and was sentenced by the court to suffer death by being shot”. The sentence was duly carried out at 4:37 a.m. on the 25th July 1916.

I have the honour to be…”

May had moved to Folkestone by this time and lived at 4 Radnor Park Crescent. Why did May moved to Folkestone? No idea. It might have been to be closer to her husband. Perhaps she had plans to try and get to Boulogne. May might have come from Folkestone. She, for whatever reason, had decided that Folkestone was the place to be. After Freddie had been discharged from the Army  May moved again. This time to number 19 Bouverie Road East. It seems life might settle down in Folkestone. The war was still going on it was now ten months since her husband was executed. Grief never truly ends, it get slightly easier with the passing of time. Ten months had gone by it was not a perfect world but…

That but was to arrive on the 25th May 1917. A German Gotha bomber had dropped a bomb on Tontine Street in Folkestone dozens had died. Another Gotha had dropped a bomb on 19 Bouverie Road East May was seriously injured by this bomb. The medically people in Folkestone were overwhelmed by the Tontine Street explosion and couldn’t cope. May was rushed to Moore Barracks Hospital Shorncliffe. It was here that May died.

Opposite the War Memorial in Folkestone on the cliff top there is a little sign on the railings. This is what it says:-

“After WW1, Folkestone wanted to record the names of its dead and details were requested from relatives. Mrs Butcher replied, believing her son had been killed in action. She received a Municipal Certificate of Glory and his name was inscribed on Folkestone’s War Memorial. I fact private Frederic Butcher of the East Kent Regiment  refused to go over the top he was tried by Court Martial. On 27th August 1918 he was shot by a firing squad. Probably his mother never realised how he died. It may not have been unique for a disgraced soldier to be included on a War Memorial but it was very rare. Today those wronged men have now been given a full pardon and their names are now recorded alongside those of their comrades.”

Crossing over to the War Memorial there is Private F Butcher’s name with his comrades. His name has been there since the memorial panel was inscribed in the early 1920s.

Freddie’s name, the wife of May of 4 Radnor Park Crescent and, on her death in 1917, of 19 Bouverie Road East Folkestone, is not there.

May is not commemorated by name in Folkestone either

(Freddie) C/40124 Bombardier Frederick Stanley Arnold, Canadian Field Artillery is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.(6)

May Alexandra Arnold is buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery.

Sitting at May’s graveside today, chatting away, as you do. Gazing at the other graves it was tempting to be sad and tearful. Then I realised May and Frederick had, in a world of terror death and destruction, had had their day in the sun. May had died so young, 21 years old. Just though, a hundred years ago, fleetingly,  they had found their perfect world.

 

Sources.

  1. Free BDM UK web site
  2. Service Record
  3. Details from, For Freedom and Honour, by A.B. Godefroy
  4. Shot at Dawn, by Julian, Putkowski and Julian Sykes
  5. May Alexandra Arnold Gravestone Shorncliffe Military Cemetery
  6. CWGC web site

IWW in 3 minutes. Jeanette Rankin. USA enters the #FWW

Ten million soldiers to the war have gone,
Who may never return again.
Ten million mother’s hearts must break
For the ones who died in vain.
Head bowed down in sorrow
In her lonely years,
I heard a mother murmur thru’ her tears
I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier,
(American Pacifist song)

There was a wind of change blowing through the United States in 1916. Not only change from the attitude expressed by President Woodrow Wilson on the 10th May 1915. “There is such thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.” American volunteers had formed the Escadrille Americaine, a fighter squadron in French service. Later in the war The Escadrille Americaine changed the name to the Lafayette Escadrille.

So stand by your glasses steady.

The world is a web of lies.

Then here’s to the dead already,

And hurrah to the next man who dies.”

(Mess song of the Lafayette Escadrille)

Americans were crossing over to Canada to enlist in the British Empire’s Armed Forces, it seemed that Pacifist America was, if not dead, rapidly dying.

There was another wind of change blowing across America, Female Emancipation. By the time the wind it had reached the American Western state of Montana it had reached the level of a typhoon, Jeanette Rankin announced her intention to run for Congress for Montana on 11th July 1916 in Butte, a small Irish American Mining town.The typhoon of change sent Jeanette Rankin to the United States Congress. The U.S first Congresswoman. Jeanette was a well educated gifted speaker. No stranger to politics and not afraid to speak her mind. Jeanette was determined to make her make on American history. Like most people who run for political office, Jeanette wanted a better world. Unlike the increasing majority in Congress, Jeanette did not see the threat to a better life as the Germans or the defeat of the Allies. For her, the threat to a better future was war itself. Jeanette could not possible vote for involvement in the war. She sat listening to the debate in Congress, time after time Congressmen stood up and declared at varying length their support for war. No doubt some thought that the very declaration of American involvement would bring the war to an end, that no American boys would have to fight. The overwhelming view of the House as it was in the Senate, was for war. The resolution came to the vote at 3 a.m. On Good Friday, 6th April 1917. Jeanette just sat still in her seat. The clerk asked twice the second time more loudly than the first, Jeanette just sat there ashen faced. The republican Joe Cannon is reported to have said to her, (P94 Flight of the Dove.)

Little woman, you cannot afford not to vote. You represent the womanhood of the country in the American Congress, I shall not advise you how to vote. But you should vote one way or the other, as your conscience dictates.”

With tears in her eyes, Jeanette Rankin stood up and said,

I want to stand by my country, but I can not vote for war, I vote no.”

The United States House of Congress was stunned into silence. Her political career, at least for the time being, was over. Despite being part of the winds of change sweeping the United states, Jeanette remained true to her convictions. She had been elected on a promise to keep Montana’s sons out of the war, and she was not going to change her mind. Jeanette was now the subject of verbal abuse. The suffragette movement turned their back on her. Montana turned her back on her. It seemed her life campaigning for a fairer better America was at an end.

Jeanette Rankin did stand for election again, and in the elections prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour won a seat in Congress for the second time. Again when a resolution was put to the House of Congress for war, Jeanette voted against America joining WWII. In the sixties Jeanette, for the third time, although not in Congress, campaigned against American involvement in another war. Jeanette died on 18th May 1973, still the rarest of politicians, that of one who keeps their word.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Didn’t_Raise_My_Boy_to_Be_a_Soldier

Flight of the Dove, Kevin S. Giles. Touchstone Press, 1980, ISBN 0-918688

The Lafayette Flying Corps, Gordon.

IWW in 3 Minutes Continued, Joan of Arc,

“Joan Of Arc”

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, “I’m tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite.”
Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,
you know I’ve watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold and lonesome heroine.
“And who are you?” she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.
“Why, I’m fire,” he replied,
“And I love your solitude, I love your pride.”

“Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,”
saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above the wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright? LEONARD COHEN

There are no saints in my belief system. Damn few heroes, and they are all dead. So the idea of a saint for a war is a bit strange to say the least. Joan of Arc was about to enter the fire for the second time. The Battles raged over some of the area she had fought against the English on. The smoke and fire could still be seen generations later. Joan was in the heart of the fiery body. Her ashes would once more be scattered over the battlefields of France. Joan wold be hailed as the saviour of France once more. She would appear on posters in Britain and the USA. After the war Joan would be declared Patron of the Great War. But it was not her who saved France, it was Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain at Verdun, Foch, Haig, the hairy ones-the Poilu at the Meuse, Tommy Atkins on the Somme and at Amiens, the ANZACS at Pozieres and Le Quesnoy, the Canadians the Doughboys in the Argonne. Black Jack, Jack Cornwell at Jutland and millions of others in places long since forgotten who saved France. War you were the fire, but Joan you were not the wood.

Funeral on Monday 4th August 2014, blog will resume after.

It is with much regret I have to announce Truth has passed away. Despite many attempts to resurrect her, Truth passed away with barely a whimper. Truth had been ill for most of her life. A particularly bad bout of illness in the years 1914-1918 heralded her final demise. Her funeral will take place on Monday 4th August 2014. It will take place in your town. You are all invited to attend. Local and National Assholes will be in full attendance. Please bring tea and sandwiches as it will be a long service. There will be an interlude on the 1st July 2016 for the wringing of hands and the collection of crocodile tears from the self righteous. During this time more refreshments will be available from Bloodshit and Poppycock, purveyors of the finest bullshit available. Mourners will be invited to recall Myth, Half Truth, and Lies, who all knew Truth very well. The service will be televised, in your local papers and all over the internet.

RSVP

1WW My Suicide Blog.

http://youtu.be/uHg8-3wr2KU

Through early morning fog I see

Visions of the things to be

The pains that are withheld for me

I realize and I can see…

That suicide is painless

This the long awaited suicide blog. The blogs are about The Great War, not about me. At a rough guess I should be able to write at least another two thousand blogs on the Great War, so I apologise if a) I scared you, or b) You were looking forward to my early demise. Suicide was as it is now not uncommon. I have always believed that if life can not get any worse it must, by definition, get better. Apart from which I want a telegram from someone on my 100th birthday. So for me there is no reason. There follows the story of two suicides. One, the first happened during the war, the other because of the war. The first a soldier is not commemorated on any memorial, apart from his Imperial (now commonwealth) War Graves headstone, the other an American National hero. One ignored, the other feted.

 

Private M1/5741 John “Jack” Johnstone, committed suicide on the 7th July 1916. Why it is hard to even guess a reason. Perhaps it was because of the date, he killed himself soon after the opening of the Battle of the Somme. Jack was only 21 he had his life in front of him. He was born in Grantown-on-Spey, the son of Jessie and the Reverend J Johnstone of St James’s Manse Kirkcaldy. At the time of his enlistment circa 26th October 1914 Jack was a resident of London, I think he had travelled to Rifridlo in Italy to visit his mother and enlisted while there. He was awarded the 1914 Star, British War and the Victory Medal. In 1920 we know his mother applied for the 1914 Star. Therefore we are fairly safe in an assumption that his mum at least was proud of him. Sadly Private M1/5741 John “Jack” Johnstone is not commemorated on any local war memorial. A sign of the times? We don’t know, but when the names are read out as they surely well be over the next four years, he will be ignored. Not for him and others like him, is there a campaign to get the forgotten suicides of the Great War commemorated. He was not shot at dawn, in the Chinese Labour Corps, mixed race, coloured, played football, or a national hero such as Colonel Charles W. Whittlesey.

 

Charles Whittlesey was the commander of the 1st Battalion, 308th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division of the United States Army, the “Lost” Battalion. During the First Meuse Argonne offensive Whittlesey and his battalion had already been isolated and had to be rescued. On the 2nd October 1918 they were going to be cut off again. After successfully breaking through a line of German defenders during an attack across a ravine the 1st Battalion found themselves surrounded. In an area of roughly 75 yards by 350 yards (I work in real money, you can convert it into metric if you wish) they fought off machine guns, shock troops, flamethrowers rifles and mortars. On the 5th October they were shelled by French Artillery. It never crossed Whittleseys mind to surrender, the Lost Battalion fought on. Finally on the evening of the 7th October lead elements of the 77th Division broke through. 191 men of Whittlesey’s Battalion walked out, another 479 were dead or seriously wounded. A legend was born. The reality was that nothing had been achieved by the Battalion and the death toll played on Whittlesey’s mind. He was given a field promotion and awarded the Medal of Honor. At the funeral of the American unknown soldier he was one of the pallbearers. An American hero. Everywhere he went he was asked about the Lost Battalion. Before joining a ship bound for Cuba he confessed to a friend he could no longer bear it. On the 26th November 1921 he jumped overboard. His body was never found.

 

Charles, and the lost battalion, unlike Jack will not be forgotten.