Category Archives: The US

Why some American Troops went to France Via Folkestone in the #FWW

At the end of January beginning of February 1918 a series of conferences and discussions were held with the Americans over the transport from America  and the training of six American divisions by the British.  To serve with the British Army. The letter is from the GHQ. AEF (General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force.)


G-3. GHQ. AEF: Fldr. 685: Letter
Transport of American Divisions
121/Transport/893 (S.R 1.) March 7. 1918.
I am directed to refer to the question of the transportation and arrival in France of American divisions and other troops to be carried in British tonnage. You will be aware that the arrangements made at Versailles is as follows: (a) The British Government are to carry in British tonnage or in tonnage provided by Britain. 12.000 American troops per months destined for the American army direct. (b) The British Government are to carry in British tonnage or in tonnage provided by Britain the personnel of 6 divisions (American) totalling 150.000 men. to France. the infantry of which are for training with the British army. A provisional program of the shipping available has been drawn up. which shows that from march 15 to April 15. there should arrive on this side. vessels with a total carrying capacity of about 42.000 all ranks.

This means that there will be 12,000 men for the American army area, and about 30,000 Americans for the British army area arriving between these dates. This information has been communicated to the authorities in America who have been asked to inform us of the designations of the divisions, the units comprising them, and their order of despatch. As soon as these particulars are received, you will be informed accordingly. The principles being followed in shipment is that as far as possible the men both for (a) and (b) shall be taken direct to France. This is practicable at present only to a limited extent, but it is hoped to increase the numbers carried direct, month to month, Arrangements have been made for such vessels as can go direct to France, up to a total cany1ng capacity of 12,000 men per month, to take American troops for the American army area, and to discharge at Brest. During the period March 15 to April 15 referred to above, two vessels with a total canying capacity of about 3,000 men will be sent direct to Brest, the remainder of the vessels coming first to ports in the United Kingdom. The two vessels should arrive at Brest about the end of March, and as indicated above will cany troops destined to go direct to the American army. With regard to the onward despatch from England of the American troops which are brought first to this country, the numbers destined for the American army direct (in the period referred to above, say 9,000) will be sent as hitherto via Southampton-Le Havre. It is also proposed to use this route as far as possible for the 6 divisions destined for training with the British army, but it is possible that the limitations of this route may render it necessary to send some of these troops via Folkestone-Boulogne in order that their undue detention in England may be avoided. I am therefore to request that you will inform me whether you foresee any difficulty in this arrangement which would, as far as possible, be confined to those formations destined for attachment to the northern line. In this connection I am to ask that as soon as you receive the desIgnations of the formations comprising these 6 divisions you will communicate with this office as to the allocation of the various formations in order that this principle may be followed. A copy of this letter is being sent to Brigadier General C. M. Wagstaff, C. I. E., D. S. 0., R. E., British Mission attached American Expeditionary Force.
Your obedient Servant,
The Field Marshal                                                                     SAM FAY.                                            Commanding-in-Chief,                                                             Director of Movements                    British Armies in France.

(Letter reproduced from Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War Volume 3 “Training and use of  American Units with the British and French”)

As can be scene from the letter, the intention was to use the Folkestone-Boulogne route as a temporary back up to the main movement of American troops through the United Kingdom. With the eventual aim of moving all American troops directly to France from the continental United States.

In the event the following four units are known to have been transported to France via Folkestone, after March 1st 1918, under this arrangement: (1)

The 117th Infantry, part of 30th division U.S. Army.

120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.(2)

311th US Infantry.  (78th Division?)

312th US Infantry. (78th Division?)

Were the French happy with this too? It appears not. The French could not understand why the Americans seemed to be so eager to help the British. At the time.  The American special relationship was with the French not the British. This was vocalised by Colonel Charles Stanton the year before,  “Lafayette, nous voilà”. Petain said on the 28th April 1918, Recorded in a letter sent by Major Paul Clark, AEF. to the Commander in Chief, AEF from the French General Headquarters, Sarcus, Oise.
“With regard to the first if General Pershing or the American Government see fit to send those six divisions to the British Army. it is not my affair. There is no doubt but that those divisions will contribute to the general need of the Allies. As for the second question General Pershing has believed stories that are not true. I know what I am talking about. The British should have a million more men in France now than they have. Why did Gen. Robertson resign? Because his government would not send over the 500.000 men asked for by Gen. Haig and Gen. Haig would have resigned at the same time if he had known …,  … Look at the map. Here is the French front (indicating). here is the British front (indicating). the British have 48.000.000 people in England. Scotland. Wales and Ireland. and the French have 39.000.000 in France. and think of all the British colonies. and yet France can put 1.000.000 more men on the front than Britain. Why? Because we make more effort. because in England a man is excused from service upon slight cause. whereas in France he is not excused for slight cause. ”

“If they are not soldiers they ought to be. The men are there. but Lloyd George and the others are afraid to act. Ask Gen. Pershing if he does not recall the day at the Supreme War Council when Gen. Foch made a comparative statement of the effort made by the two countries. It was illuminating. even Mr. Lloyd George said it was convincing. No “Jamais. jamais. jamais” (with emphasis) England has not made the effort that France has made. She has produced only about 1/2 of the soldiers that France has produced. though she has 10.000.000 more population and her colonies to draw from.
The General spoke with emphasis. even feeling. and while perfectly polite gave the impression of one who is profoundly sure of what he said. He looked in perfect physical and mental condition. I plan to come to Chaumont tomorrow a. m.
PAUL H. ClARK. Major.

By the Armistice nine American Divisions had been trained either entirely or in part by the British, these were

4th, 27th, 28th, 30th, 33rd, 35th, 77th, 78th. and the  80th.

Three American Divisions served operationally in British Armies, these were the:

27th Division which served in the Second, and in the last few weeks of the war, Fourth Army.

30th Division with Second and Fourth Armies

33rd Division with Fourth Army.


(1) Information about other units welcome.

(2) The 120th went into the line on the night of the 17thth-18th August.


#Folkestone, 3rd North Carolina’s and the Chinese Labour Corps

Late May, or early June 1918 the HMT Bohemia arrived at Liverpool with soldiers from the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army, on board. From Liverpool the headed down to a waiting cross channel packet steamer at Folkestone. From there to Calais. The 3rd were initially billeted at a British Rest Camp just outside of Calais. Here they came into contact for the first time with the CLC (Chinese Labour Corps). All the American equipment the men had carried with them from America was handed over for salvage. Salvage was carried out by the CLC inside of a warehouse. Page 9 of the “History of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.” records the men were given an order  “Requesting American soldiers to refrain from shooting Chinamen”. Prior to the arrival of the 3rd Carolina’s it seems American sentries had shot at the Chinese for reasons the 3rd’s history does not divulge.

After the 30th US Division had completed their training the 3rd were ready to go into action. On the night of the 17-18th August the 30th took over from the British 33rd Division out side of Ypres. Roughly from Zillebeke Lake to near Voormezelle. The 1st Battalion were sent to “Belgian Battery Corner” On the night of the 22nd-23rd August the 3rd Carolina’s took over from the 1st Battalion. At last they were at the front. Shortly after their arrival, page 16 of their history states the 3rd captured the 30th Division’s first prisoner of war. A member of the CLC. His English was limited to “Yes” and “Calais” so the history does not record why he was there. The Carolina’s sent him back to the rear along with a note which read, “Here is a Chinaman captured near post 5. He is either on leave or A.W.O.L. In either case he picked a damn bad place to spend it.” the note was signed by the 3rd’s commander.

No other incidents or meetings with the CLC are recorded in the “120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.” published history.

TheWar the USA Forgot? #FWW, #WW1

From April 1917 to April 1919 the war cost the US taxpayer over $1,000,000 an hour.

From 4th August 1914 to 30th April 1919 The war cost the British Empire $38 billion (nearly 5 years)

In just two years April 1917 to April 1919, the US spent $22 billion on the war.


Although American forces did take part in the Cambrai battles they were few in number and mainly medical and engineering units. The American War was the campaigns in 1918.

29 US divisions were engaged in combat, with 1,390,000 men on the front line.

From the German Offensives 21st March to 18th July

On the Somme 21st March to 6th April,                      2,200 Americans engaged

Lys 9th April to 27th April                                                500

Asine 27th May to 5th June                                           27,500

Noyon-Montdidier  9th June to 15th June                  27,000

Champagne-Marne   15th July to  18th July                85,000

Allied Offensives 18th July to 11th November

Aisne-Marne    18th July to 6th August                          270,000 Americans engaged

Somme 8th August to 11 November                                 54,000

Oise-Aisne   18th August to 11th November                 85,000

Ypres-Lys     19th August  to 11th November                 108,000

St Mihiel   20 September to 11th November                  550,000

Meuse-Argonne September 20th to 11th November    1,200,000

In Italy

Vittorio-Veneto 24th October 4th November                  1,200

In the Battle of St Mihiel, 550,000 US soldiers were engaged, 5.5 times as many as fought for the Union at Gettysburg. American Artillery fired a million shells in four hours.

In the  47 days of battle during the Meuse-Argonne campaign, 4,214,000 rounds of Artillery ammunition were fired by American guns. 150 towns and villages were liberated, 10% of American troops became casualties (120,000men)

On the 11th November 1918 1,718,000, British and Portuguese troops were on the ration. The American forces on the ration strength numbered 1,950,000.

The British held 18% of the Frontline, the US,21%

With the Peace to end Peace in 1919, As W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman would say in 1066 and all that, “ America was thus clearly top nation and History came to a.

#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

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.


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.



  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

Lots of talk on the internet about America forgetting the FWW. Many people have “Unremembered” this Lady so I thought I would repost. 
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.


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

The Lafayette Flying Corps, Denis Gordon.