Category Archives: World War 1

US Out takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Stories from the Harbour Arm #Folkestone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Citation for his Military cross reads:

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

The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross:

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

The citation for the bar to his Military Cross reads:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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.

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

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

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

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

1)Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Sources and references


Malcolm Gifford’s Service Record

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas.