Category Archives: USA

“Lafayette, We Are Here” USA enters #WW1

Well almost, at least on their way, but they were”Here” already.   When Stanton utter those words on 4th July 1917 at Lafayette’s tomb, it was more than telling the French that the America Army had arrived it was confirming the American Special relationship was in 1917 with France,  not the UK.

Americans were already involved in the war.They had been since 4th August 1914. James Gerard was saving British lives before the British Army landed in France. Americans had also been serving and dying in the armed forces of Britain and France in increasing numbers in places as far away as Singapore, as well as on the Western Front. Pete Seeger’s uncle Alan Seeger had been killed on the Somme.

But from the 6th April 1917, they were officially in it for the duration. American troops served in Italy, Russia, during the advance into Germany as well as on theWestern Front. 24,234,021 men were registered for the draft. 4,800,000 men served in the US armed forces. 367,864 were New Yorkers. 4,00,00 in just the army. 1,390,000 fought in France. 1,200,000 in the Meuse Argonne battle.  Out of a total of 112,422 deaths in the army 50,00 were battle deaths. Surprisingly more American soldiers died from the disease (56,00) than were killed in action.  Although up to 11 November 1918 more Americans had been killed in Battle. The war cost the American Taxpayer more than a million dollars an hour.

Both the British and the French sent over specialist instructors to help train the US army. In the list of 261 French Specialist Instructors, only one was an Artillery Specialist. 59 were gas and another 38 were machine gun specialists.

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In Defence of the Empire, Americans Volunteer #FWW

On the 6th April 1917, America declares war against Germany.  Two years earlier in May 1915, Americans volunteered to help defend a small corner of the British Empire as long as they could serve “…without prejudice to our allegiance to the United States of America.” This small group of Americans had already served as Armed Civilians, one was almost court-martialed for falling asleep but the British Officer in command thought better of it. These armed American civilians were also Methodist 5 of them clergymen. There was another proviso which reflected this.”…Mr Oechali has a public service to conduct every Tuesday from 5.30 to 6.15. The authorities will, we anticipate, give due consideration to this fact…”

So where was this? Who were these Americans? How do we know?

The places is the Settlement of Singapore.  The Americans were:

William T Cherry, Superintendent Methodist Publishing House.

Earl Hibbard, Principle, Oldham Hall.

Osbourne E Hooley Teacher Anglo-Chinese school, Oldham Hall.

Harry H Mansell, Mission Treasurer,

J Stewart Nagle, Principal Anglo-Chinese School

Leonard Oechali, Paster Wesley Church

and George E McComb, Teacher Anglo-Chinese School

The quoted pieces and the names are from a letter to the Editor of The Straits Times published by the Straits Times on the 10th May 1915.

All the men named had served as Armed Civilians helping to suppress Singapore Mutiny.

 

The USA Enters the War. #Folkestone

There is a view that the Americans arrived just in time for the victory parades that followed the First World War, and there is no need to commemorate their arrival this side of the pond. This is not so.

On the 7th May 1915, the Lusitania is sunk by the U-20. 1198 passengers including 139 Americans drown. Two days later the New York Times reports President Wilson sees

On the 7th May 1915, the Lusitania is sunk by the U-20. 1198 passengers including 139 Americans drown. Two days later the New York Times reports President Wilson sees the need of firm and deliberate action.  A day after President Wilson announces that “There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by iy force that it is right.” American citizens in increasing numbers join the Canadian army. 24th March 1916 the SS Sussex was crossing the English Channel from Folkestone to Dieppe when she was torpedoed and badly damaged. Some of the Americans on her were injured in the attack. After America protested Germany suspended it’s intensive U-boat campaign.

Americans also volunteered to fly fighter aircraft for France. and on the 20th April 1916, the Escadrille Americaine goes into action. Later on in the war, the squadron changed its name to the Lafayette Escadrille. Their Mess song was

“So stand by your glasses steady.                                                                                                                   The world is a web of lies.                                                                                                                                Then here’s to the dead already,                                                                                                                   And hurrah for the next man that dies.”

Perhaps the most famous American Aces are Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker 26 kills, Second Lieutenant Frank Luke Jnr. 21 Kills, Major Raoul Lufberry 17 kills, First Lieutenant George A Vaughn Jnr 13 Kills, Captain Field E. Kindley 12 kills, First Lieutenant David E Putman   12 kills, Captain Elliot W springs 12 kills, Major Reed G Landis 10 kills and, Captain Jacques Michael Swaab also with 10 kills.

On the 18th December, President Wilson asks the belligerents to agree to a post-war League of Nations.  Almost a month later on the 10th January 1917, the Allies show president Wilson their peace terms. Wilson deems them too harsh. 12 days later Wilson pleads for “Peace Without Victory.”, the Germans reject them. February 1st, 1917 the Kaiser orders the German U-boats to “Sink on sight.”. Two days later America breaks off diplomatic relations with Imperial Germany. On the 25th the RMS Laconia is torpedoed 2 Americans are killed.     The 1st of March see the publication of the Zimmerman Telegram which promised German support for Mexico and an alliance with her if America entered the war and Mexico sided with Germany.

24 days later President Wilson decides on war. The  Steam Ship Aztec is sunk on the 1st April 28 Americans are killed. Wilson calls on congress to declare war on the 3rd April  and a day after America joins the Allies as an “Associate Power.” In June the first American troops arrive in Europe.

11th June No12 US Base Hospital marches down Slope Road in Folkestone and crosses to France. They are one of the few Units from any nation known to have marched down what is now known as The Road of Remembrance in Folkestone. (Source,,http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/adminamerexp/chapter24.html)  They are followed by U.S. General “Black” Jack Pershing on the 13th. Shortly after their arrival in France, on the 4th July, Gen. Pershing’s aide Colonel Charles Stanton made the now famous remark “Nous voila Lafayette”. (Lafayette we are here). At the end of June Mr Mowry of the American Boiling’s Aronautical Commission and 63 men from the Civilian Motor Mechanics Group crossed from Folkestone to France. They are in Europe to study British and French aircraft production techniques. (Source, Gorrell’s History AEF Air Service Sheet 8 History of Bolling’s Mechanics).

On the 8th August the U.S. 11th Engineers Regiment, a regiment raised from railway workers crossed to France from Folkestone. They were sent over to help maintain the railways in northern France. Two soldiers from this regiment, Sergeant Matthew Calderwood and Private William Branigan, became the first American Army casualties on the Western Front in the First World War when they were wounded by shell fire on the 5th September 1917.  (Source,  http://www.webmatters.net/france/ww1_cambrai_us.htm)

The First American Division is established on the western Front on the 21st October 1917. 8th January 1918 president Wilson’s peace terms to Germany include Independence for Poland, restoration of Belgium independence, the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France and the formation of the League of Nations. Theodore H Roosevelt in November 1918 described the League of Nations as “A product of men who want everyone to float to heaven on a sloppy sea of universal mush”.

The American Transport ship Tuscania is sunk on the 5th February 1918 and 210 Americans drown.

The Battle of Belleau Wood took place 6th June-26th June this was the first time the U.S Marine Corps went into action in the war. The 4th Brigade attacked over open ground towards the woods capturing and losing the woods over and over before they finally managed to secure the woods. During one of the German counter attacks it was suggested that the marines should retreat, marine Captain Lloyd Williams replied “Retreat? Hell, we just got here.” The U.S. lost 9.500 dead during the battle and the Germans took another 1,600 American prisoners.  Belleau Wood is now known as Bois de Brigade de Marine in honour of the United State Marine Corps.

From the French paper “le Matin Paris”  13th September 1918 The entry into the line of the magnificent American Army must be considered an essential factor in the operation of tomorrow.”

17th September 1918, “America rejects Austrian Peace proposal”, and “Worry Whitens the hair of the Kaiser” both from the Detroit Free press.

23rd September-3rd October The Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  Fifteen American Divisions alongside twenty-two French divisions, it should be noted that an American Division was far larger than its British or French counterpart, took part.  The Argonne region is not the easiest to campaign through and the American Army lacked experience progress was slow and only fifteen miles were taken. The offensive did tie down thirty-six german divisions. during this offensive Private Alvin York was awarded both the US  Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre for killing twenty Germans and capturing another hundred and thirty-two single-handedly.

While this blog is not or intended to be a history of American involvement in the FWW, There are many events not included, hopefully, it does show there was more to US involvement than the Victory parades.

On the 11th November 1918 at 10:59 am. Henry Gunther an American soldier became the last soldier from all the warring nations to be killed in action on the Western Front during the Great War.

 

 

#Shorncliffe and the Great #Folkestone Air Raid 25th May 1917. #WW1 #FWW

This blog is only concerned with the burials in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. Bombs were dropped in various places. One person was killed in Ashford, two in Hythe. Other places throughout Kent were also bombed on the same day.

Six bombs fell on the Army Camp at Shorncliffe. Eighteen people were killed by these bombs. There are five other victims buried in the cemetery there. Two are civilians. May Arnold and Francis Harry Considine, they are included in the list. The people who died were from America, Belgium, Canada and England. The five victims of the bombings elsewhere are; May Arnold(Folkestone), Francis Considine(Cheriton), George Bloodworth(Folkestone), Constante Houdard(Folkestone) and, Hyppolite Verschueren(Folkestone). Houdard and Verschueren are buried in unmarked graves in the Belgium plot in the cemetery.

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An American citizen he was born in Indiana. His attestation papers record he attested at Windsor Ontario on the 22nd December 1916 Injured in the air raid on the 25th May 1917. he died of wounds at 9pm the next day.

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May Alexandra Arnold age 21, the widow of Freddie Arnold a Canadian soldier who was shot at dawn. May was wounded by the bomb that hit her home, 19 Bouverie Road East. Taken to the hospital at Moore Barracks Shorncliffe, May died of her wounds later that day.

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George Henry Bloodworth was born in Lee in Kent. Injured by one of the bombs that fell on Bouverie Road East he died at West Cliff Hospital with injuries to the Head and Heart.(Details are from http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=7293.0;wap2 25/11/2016)

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William Brown. His service record shows he attested on the 18th October 1916. He was taken on strength at Shorncliffe on the 30th April 1917. there does not appear to be a record of his promotion to Sergeant.

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James Alexander Bruce attested on the 5th December 1916 in the Draft Siege and Heavy Artillery. There is a note on his attestation papers that he was too small for the Heavy Artillery. He was awarded the British War Medal.

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Little Frances was killed by the bomb that fell on Cheriton. Buried in Shorncliffe because his father was in the Canadian Army.

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Jules Benjamin Alfred Desaleux was born in London, England. He lived with his wife Alice in Winnipeg Manitoba. Prior to emigrating to Canada Jules had served for a year in the 24th Battalion City of London Royal West Surrey Regiment. He attested on the 8th January 1917 in Winnipeg and he arrived at Schorncliffe on the 22nd April.

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Arthur Doig the son of Andrew and Maggie Murray of Birtle Manitoba, attested on the 7th March 1916. Hee arrived in England on the 4th May and was taken on strength at Shorncliffe on the 15th.

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The Screen Wall at the Belgian Plot at the Cemetery on which Constante Houdard’s name is inscribed.(see Below)

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Houdard C Belgian Soldier no other details are known.

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Oron Alfred Jenner enlisted in the “Bantams” on the 23rd February 1916. On his attestation papers, it is recorded that he had previously served in the Q.O.R (Queens Own Rifles) for five years. Oron arrived at Liverpool on the 29th April 1917 and taken on strength of  the 3rd Reserve Battalion Canadian Infantry at West Sandling on the 30th. He was still on the strength of the 3rd Reserve Battalion when he was killed at Shorncliffe.

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James McArthur. (As of 24/11/2016 service record not yet available online)

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Robert MacDonald attested on the 5th March 1917 at Winnipeg Manitoba.

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Hugh McNair (Records not available 24/11/16)

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James McNulty born in Valley City, North Dakota. He is listed in The Foreign Burial of American War Dead: A History by Chris Dickon. James lived in Edmonton Alberta. Prior to enlisted on the 1st December 1916, he had served with the 101st Edmonton Fusiliers a Militia Unit. The Militia in Canada were traditionally the Canadian Reserve.

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Charlie Marshall was born in London England in 1894. He attested in Crystal City Manitoba on the 8th April 1916. Initially recorded as killed in action May 25th 1917 his service record was altered to died from wounds May 26th 1917. He bequeathed his real estate and personal estate to Miss Nattie Maybe, Port Rowan, Ontario. He arrived at Shorcliffe  on the 30th April. On the 18th May he attended the West Cliff Canadian Eye  and Ear hospital in Folkestone for an eye test. The Senior Medical officer 2nd Canadian Reserve Brigade confirmed on the 25th May that glasses had not been ordered.

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Albert William Merchant was born in Little Oakley in Essex. He attested in Winnipeg where he lived with his wife Lillian, on the 26th March 1916. He arrived at Shorncliff on the 30th April 1917.

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John Miller, the son of Agnes shaw, attested in the 2/4th BattalionSouth Lancashire Regiment on the 22nd March 1916. Just under eleven moths later on the 16th February 1917, he crossed with the battalion to France from Folkestone. On the 31st March, he is admitted to 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station with Haemorrhage of the Lung. April the 5th and he is on the Hospital Ship “Princess Elizabeth bound for Dover. From Dover, he is transferred to Hospital at Shorncliffe. His discharge papers were signed on the 21st May and he is awarded a Silver War badge. John’s discharge was to be on the 1st of June as being no longer  physically fit for war service.  His British War and  Victory Medals are sent to Mrs Elizabeth Show Lyon Street Warrington on the 1st February 1922.

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Frank Padley was born in Nottingham, England. His parents Harry and Elizabeth Padley, lived in, Carrington, Nottingham, England.  He lived in Antler Saskatchewan where he was a farmer. Frank attested in Winnipeg on the 30th May 1916. He was unmarried.

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Ralph Pelluet was born in London. The family emigrated to Canada as  his father lived in Athabaska in  Alberta. Ralph worked as a bank clerk and lived in North Battleford Saskatchewan. He attested in Winnipeg on the 26th May 1916.

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Jack Sutherland was born in Bradford Ontario and lived at Palmer House Regina in Saskatchewan. He worked as a CPR Checker (Canadian Pacific Railways?) attested in Winnipeg on the 10th April 1916.

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Ernest Tennyson worked as a Lumberman. gave Mansion House Winnipeg as his current address on his attestation papers. Next to “Next of Kin” is the word “None” crossed out J F Davidson is handwritten  “Friend” is also handwritten next to “Relationship to next of kin”. Ernest was 37 when he died.

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Looking across part of the older section of the cemetery to the screen at the Belgian Plot on which Hyppolite Verschueren’s name is inscribed.

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Hyppolite Verschueren resided in sandgate Road. He died as a result of the bombing of Tontine Street, no other details known.

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Lloyd Garfield Yeo was born in St Thomas Ontario in 1898. Prior to being attested into the Canadian Mounted Rifles in October 1915, Lloyd had served a year in the 25th Regiment.

Notes on Sources

Names of Soldiers and some are from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site.

Other details where possible were taken from the soldier’s service records

May Arnold and Little Francis Considine’s information came from their gravestones, th free page on ancestry about the Air Raid

Name checks were carried out by referring to the companion volume to A Glint in the Sky by Martin Easdown with Thomas Genth.

All photographs, no matter how bad, were taken by myself, no one else shares any responsibility for them, what so ever.

 

 

6th July 1951. Death of a Quiet Man. #FWW #WW1

On the 26th October 1788 a small sailing ship dropped anchor at Papeete. Then it  was a tropical paradise. The ship was on a voyage to study and collect breadfruit plants. A soldier from the 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers would one day write a book about that ship. His name was James Norman Hall. Hall was an aspiring writer who in 1914 took a holiday in the UK. It was not his original plan. He did plan to go to Montana and become a shepherd. Being a shepherd in Montana is the ambition of a mad man. It is a cattle state bloody range wars were fought there to keep it that way. So it is perhaps just as well he came to the UK. Hall was cycling through Wales when war broke out. He first heard about the war on about the 8th August 1914. Deciding this was for him he headed for London, and on the 18th August enlisted at Hounslow in the Royal Fusiliers. Hall was one of Kitchener’s first hundred thousand, a Yank in the British Army. He wrote a book about his experience, “Kitchener’s Mob Adventures of an American in the British Army” . He served with the 9th through the Battle of Loos. While in the trenches during November 1915, Hall received a letter telling him his father was seriously ill. He applied for leave to go and visit his father in the USA. Permission was refused, but as an American he could be given an honourable discharge. Then he could go to the US, and reenlist on his return. Hall accepted and returned to the US. He did intend to reenlist and was about to return when he decided to visit Ellery Sedgwick. Ellery Sedgwick the editor of the Atlantic Monthly asked Hall if he would write a few articles on the Escadrille Americaine while he was in France.  Hall made his way to Paris where after a conversation with Dr Edmund Gros he joined aviation section of the French Foreign Legion. Gros was a leading figure in persuading the French to form an American Flying Corps as part of the French Army. After completing his training. Hall joined the Escadrille Lafayette in June 1917. The Escadrille Lafayette. the name of the squadron of Americans in the French Air service. Ten days later Hall was shot down. Badly wounded he did recover and resumed his flying career with the Escadrille Lafayette. on the 1st January 1918 he achieved his first confirmed victory.  Having served in the British Army, now the French Air Service, February 1918 found Hall commissioned into the US Air Service. He was now a Captain in the 103rd Pursuit Squadron. While with them Hall shot down two more German airplanes. At the end of March he became a flight commander in 94th Pursuit Squadron and before the end of April had shot down his fourth victim. A short while later, in May, Hall was shot down and captured by the Germans. After the Armistice he made his way to Paris. In Paris Hall joined the Headquarters of  US flying services. He also made his last flight in US Service, and flew the complete length of the Western Front from the Channel to the Swiss border.  After which Dr Gros ordered him to put together the histories of the pilots of the  Escadrille Lafayette. To help in him in this task was Charles Nordhoff. Nordoff and Hall formed a literature writing partnership that  lasted 28 years.  In 1920 both men sailed to Tahiti.  Nordoff married a local woman. Hall set off to Iceland around 1921 to write a travel book. Not able to complete the book and in debt he returned to Tahiti in 1924. Two events were the saving of Hall, his friendship with Nordoff and he met Sarah Winchester the daughter of an English Sea Captain.  Sarah the love of his life he married. Nordoff convinced Hall that both of them should write another book. The book “Falcons of France” published in 1929,was a fictionalised account of their life in the  Escadrille Lafayette. A year or so later they decided to write about the ship that had dropped anchor in 1788.  increasingly Hall found he was doing most of the writing but the partnership with Nordoff continued although Nordoff’s life was falling apart.  Drink and debauchery would be Nordoff’s downfall and he left Tahiti in 1940.  He died in Santa Barbara on 11 April 1947. Hall and Mrs Nordoff found him in the morning. Nordoff had died while reading a book. Hall returned to Tahiti and carried on writing.  On the 6th July 1951 James Norman Hall died of a heart attack.  He had served in the British, French, and American armies during the Great War. Hall is buried on a hillside overlooking Matavi bay Pateete. where HMS Bounty dropped anchor on the 26th October 1788.

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#Folkestone/Shorncliffe, and the American Connection #FWW

Much has been written about the Canadian connection with Folkestone during the Great War. the connection is still commemorated every year on the 1st of July in a touching ceremony at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. The Shorncliffe Trust is also doing sterling work promoting the links between Shorncliffe and Canada.

The links with Canada’s southern neighbour are rarely mentioned. Indeed it is difficult to find any acknowledgement that there was an American connection.

John, “Black Jack” Pershing the Commander of the American Expeditionary Force, (A.E.F.) traveled through Folkestone on his way to France. Also remembered for not saying “Lafayette we are here”. With him was Charles Stanton, chiefly not remembered for his famous remark,  “Nous voila, Lafayette“.

Americans also stayed at No.3 Rest Camp on the Leas before marching down Slope Road to the harbour and the ships waiting to take them to France. Two soldiers from the United states 11th Engineering Regiment (Railways) who were to become the first casualties from the A.E.F. were at the rest camp on the Leas. There is also another almost forgotten connection with the United States.

The United States is well known for the respect Americans pay to their war dead. American Great War Cemeteries are impressive places. They are very proud of the role their soldiers played. Yet there is a lost almost forgotten army of American dead. Those that fought in other nations uniforms. They are buried in cemeteries all over the world and ignored by Americans. For some the connection to the United States begs the question of, how do we define nationality, and does it matter? Others there is no doubt of their nationality. These are the Folkestone/Shorncliffe dead with an American connection. All are buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, all are listed in The Foreign Burial of American War Dead by Chris Dickon.

James Desmond McNulty                             IMG_8054Born in Valley City, North Dakota. killed in the Air Raid 25th May 1917

 

John Lucius Rumsdell                                                                                                                                       IMG_8051The husband of Letitia M Ramsdell, Brooklyn New York.

George Bates

IMG_8049Son of Norman and Sally Bates of Arkansas. Served in Mexico, presumably with the US Army. Married and lived with his wife in Vancouver. After his enlistment his wife moved to North Wales.

David Gordon, died of wounds received in France.                                                                                                                                                     IMG_8047

Born in Belfast, he was the son of James Gordon of 1 Bunker Hill Court, Charleston, West Virginia.

Ottawa GladmanIMG_8046

Born in Canada, and lived in Chicago. Died of Meningitis.

Charley HansonIMG_8045

Born in Norway, lived in Saskatchewan, married to Caroline Hanson of Fairchild Wisconsin, USA. Dad to six children. Charley had arrived in England on the SS Scandinavian. on the 5th February 1917. He died from illness.

David Gray

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Married to Annie Gray of Detroit, Michigan. Wounded on the Somme, he died at Manor Court Hospital, Folkestone.

Bert Arbuckle                                                                                                                                                     IMG_8043

Born in Indiana. Injured in the air raid on the 25th May 1917, he died of wounds the next day.

George Wheeler Armstrong.IMG_8042An American Eagle of the First World War. lots of references to the Americans who flew in the Lafayette Escadrille, few for those who flew with the RAF during the war. Born in the US Virgin Islands. Died in an accident while flying a Bristol F2b.

All nine were fighting for Britain, and it is only important to remember that, and them. When push comes to shove, and you need a helping hand, where people are from doesn’t matter one iota.

 

 

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