Category Archives: World War 1

#Shorncliffe’s other Air Raid Victims #FWW #Folkestone

The story of the bombing on the 25th May 1917 is well known. The burials of the Canadian Soldiers killed led to the Canadian Day Memorial Service now held annually at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. Not quite as well known is that 13 other Canadian Soldiers all from theCanadian Field Artillery who were killed in an earlier air raid were buried there. I say were because only the remains of 12 still lay buried at Shorncliffe. Sgt 42623 Edward Charles Harris’s remains were repatriated and now rest in St Catherines Cemetery Toronto.

The air raid occurred on the 13th October 1915 at Otterpool Camp. Zepplin L14 dropped four bombs on the camp killing 14. Another soldier 86687 Harry James Rixon died on the 15th, he is buried at Easthamstead. One other soldier 86398 Pringle Borthwick is buried in Wilton Cemetery, Hawick.

The soldiers killed in the air raid on the 13th October 1915 at Otterpool and are buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery  are:

IMG_8547.JPGCharles Boeyckens, a Belgian from Antwerp who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Buried apart from the other soldiers killed, he is buried very close to the Belgium plot in the cemetery in Plot C.123

The others are buried in Plot O numbers O.303-O.313 inclusive. They are:

IMG_853086372 David John Philips. Plot O.303

IMG_853186436 Sydney George Lane who was born in Burgate Hampshire. Plot O.304

IMG_853286503 Ernest William Bayes who hailed from Walthamstow in Essex. Plot O.305.

IMG_853386463 Richard Dyer Simpson. Plot O.306

IMG_853486474 Richard Stewart Truscott. Plot O.307

IMG_853586676 Charles Gordon Peterkin Plot O. 308

IMG_853686658 Wilfred George Harris. Plot O.309.

IMG_853786552 Samuel McKay. Plot O.310.

IMG_853886791 Thomas Dickson. Plot O.311

IMG_853986777 Henry Adrian Horn. Plot O.312. The epitaph reads “Fear not them who can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul.”

IMG_8542400004 Douglas Routledge Johnston. Plot O.313. The epitaph reads “Till the morning breaks and the shadows flee away”.

Sources

Surrey History Forum

Kent History Forum

CommonwealthWar Graves Commission Website

Service Records of Canadian Soldiers WW1

 

So Who was Leslie Swain? Missing the Connection #FWW #WW1

It is now April 2017 we have just commemorated Vimy and the Battle of Arras. Which happened “Over in France”. Soon we will be commemorating the arrival of the Americans, “Over There.” Every 11th November we commemorate the dead, who died, “Over There.” We look at the names on War Memorials. Tell everyone we will remember them, we don’t, the generation that did has gone too. We are losing the connection. Yet the connections to some are still here. We just ignore them. The CWGC did some sterling work on the local connections this year. People visited the CWGC war graves in their local cemeteries. Ignored the ones without the standard CWGC headstone. Nether the less it was a good start. IMG_8311Sgt William  George Upton DCM MM he was in the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) when he died and is buried a couple of hundred yards from the  Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) Memorial. Ignored because he does not have the standard CWGC Headstone. There are plenty of others in Folkestone Old Cemetery ignored for much the same reason. William is just an example. At least these graves are being taken care of by the CWGC, and if his headstone deteriorates, as it will do, it will be replaced with a CWGC stone. Although I think some of the information will be lost. So there is a connection there. The connections we are in danger of losing, and in some cases have lost are the memorials inscribed on other grave stones and personal family memorials.  Memorials such as, IMG_8317 To Captain R.C. Gilchrist. Robert Crooks attached 59th Scinde Rifles.Can not write about them. The temptation to title it  “Peccavi” would be too much.Burmah Police Medal, buried at Beuvry Communal Cemetery.  The memorial is on a family grave in Folkestone Old Cemetery. His father was Brigadier-General R. A. Gilchrist.  Now there is a local connection which like old soldiers is rapidly fading away.

Walking around Folkestone Old Cemetery there are others.IMG_8318This is the grave of James Brice, died in 1915 age 54. Not a Military death, it’s not a war grave. So we do not bother with it. We should, it is a memorial to his son, James George Brice. He died on the Somme in 1918. His memorial on his father’s grave tells us more than a name on an Offical War Memorial ever will. It tells us who he was. The son of James Brice. It tells us he was loved and missed. It tells us how his much he was missed. How he was remembered. It makes James George Brice a person again.IMG_8320Horace William Reader Killed in Action on the 24th May 1915. commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial to the Missing. But he is not “missing”, we do not know where in the salient around Ypres he is buried. We do know he is here in Folkestone remembered on a gravestone on his father’s grave where he lived on in his families hearts. This is where he was remembered. We would rather go on a jolly to Belgium than a walk around our local cemeteries to find out about him though.IMG_8322W.B Thomas. His mum was called “Nellie”. Mum’s called Nellie always sound like nice mums. Don’t think you will find many graves in France with “Had a Nice Mum” on them Here we find out his mum had not long died. He had brothers. It is just not aCWGC grave so goes unrecognised and eventually, all  the connections will fade away and be gone too.

IMG_8324William George Young. Royal Garrison Artillery, buried in Italy. Remembered here on his father’s grave. He was an only son. Part of a family, we know he was remembered. It says so here. Gone and not forgotten by his dad, his mum. His grave will be though and the connection lost.

This grave is a wonderful look at the history here. Keep going down the tombstone you will find Malcolm, “NeverForgotten” commemorated on the Arras memorial. He had a brother killed in South Africa stories that are just not told on the official memorials. Who would connect Rupert Hall on a South African War memorial with Malcolm Hall on a WW1 memorial?  Here is the connection. Here the families memory.IMG_8338

IMG_8342Cecil Hall, commemorated on his Mum’s grave. Outlived his mum which is what all children should do. The tombstone is slowly falling over. One day it will be flat and no one will know who is buried there, or who was remembered.

The next memorial is to a soldier buried in Aden. Aden is not a place currently on the tourist routes. His grave is not easy to visit. Even if there was a link to Charles being buried there. At least here in Folkestone it is possible to visit his memorialIMG_8370 Charles lived at 33 Sydney Street.

There are many more memorials such as the ones above in Folkestone Old Cemetery. Hundreds and thousands scattered throughout out the land and in local cemeteries in other countries. Each memorial is a local connection, slowly fading.

So who was Leslie Swain? he is on his granny’s gravestone here in Folkestone Old Cemetery. IMG_8161

Leslie’s parents lived at 73 Foord Road in Folkestone. He had served for two years in the territorials before moving to Canada. On the 18th October 1915, he attested into the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Leslie served in the 47th Battalion Canadian Infantry. He died sometime between 5th-7th May 1917 and has no known grave. Leslie is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.  The area has strong links through theShorncliffe Trust to Canada and have just completed a successful trip to Vimy with a large group of Canadians.  These trips and links are important and have to be maintained. Hopefully though,  we will remember that Canadians were not a super race that came from the from the prairies of Canada, they were “Us” they came from here, were remembered here, and we should never forget that again.

Visit your local cemeteries and remember the connections are here.

 

 

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.

 

Canadian War Graves at Shorncliffe #FWW

Shorncliffe Military Cemetery is a place of pilgrimage. A fascinating place to gather hooks for history to hang onto.  With the focus on Vimy this year it is the Canadian graves that will be getting the most interest.  There is more to Shorncliffe cemetery than Canadians though. There is a memorial to an officer in the Mahratta Light Infantry killed in 1917 as well as numerous other memorials and graves. On a previous a visit I spent some time chatting about Chin Peng and the Chinese War Graves. There is also a South African War Grave, an Old Contemptable, but yesterday was really just about visiting some of the Canadian graves. IMG_8292 This is the gravestone of Cecil Kidd Wilson one of the first to die. Which no doubt seems a strange thing to say about someone killed in April 1918. The 1st April 1918 was the day the RAF was born and the day C K Wilson RAF, died, making him one of the first from the RAF to be killed.

Heading down the hill into the main bit of the cemetery my next stop and where I sit down is May Arnold’s grave. Some people sit by Willie McBride’s grave at Authuille on the Somme. I sit by May’s at Shorncliffe.IMG_8295 May married a Canadian soldier, we shot him at dawn. Not for marrying May, we shot him for desertion. May’s husband was also an American. One of the things about the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War, the men who forged a nation at Vimy is where they came from. A large number were Americans.   Two other graves caught my eye yesterday the first. IMG_8299 Thomas Geddes, from Glasgow in Scotland. Struck off strength on the 5th October 1916. He had died on the 1st October 1916 from appendicitis.

The last grave I stopped at was this oneIMG_8301 The grave of Trooper H J C Prior of Lord Strathcona’s Horse. Difficult to find a more Canadian regiment. Still part of the Canadian Army, now I think it is an armoured regiment. A son following in his father’s footsteps. He died on the 4th August 1918. Harry John Chauvell Prior is a reminder that the Canadians were part of an Imperial Army. He was born in France. His father Major General Prior was in the Madras Staff Corps, Harry had served for eight years in the Ceylon Mounted Rifles. Unfortunately, his service record has not been digitalised a project for the future is to find out if he took part in the cavalry during the Battle of Moreuil Wood in March 1918.

One last grave, I did not stop at,IMG_8304He was Irish. Don’t know much about him. He lived with his wife in Montreal. I just like the epitath “Someday we’ll understand” One day

One day we may know, but I doubt we will ever understand.

Here is a soldier who will be in “The Book” Thomas Kenny. #Folkestone, #Castleford, #FWW.

Like the majority of British Soldiers who fought in the First World War Thomas Kenny returned home and a normal civilian life. In Thomas’s case, this was as a working collier.

13th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry. A K3 Battalion in 68th Brigade, 23rd division. 3 A and B Companies entrained at Liphook at 7:55 pm., C and D Companies at 8:25 pm. On arrival at Folkestone they embarked on transport 2031.4

Private 17424 Thomas Kenny

13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

Thomas Kenny was a collier and lived at 23 Queen St Castleford. He attested on the 25th February 1915 and crossed to France from Folkestone with the 13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He is awarded the Victoria Cross for an action on the 4th November 1915. The Citation reads as follows:

No. 17424 Private Thomas Kenny, 13th (Service) Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry. For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the night of 4th November 1915, near La Houssoie. When on patrol in a thick fog with Lieutenant Brown, 13th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, some Germans, who were lying out in a ditch in front of their parapet, opened fire and shot Lieutenant Brown through both thighs. Private Kenny, although heavily and repeatedly fired upon, crawled about for more than an hour with his wounded officer on his back, trying to find his way through the fog to our trenches. He refused more than once to go on alone, although told by Lieutenant Brown to do so. At last, when utterly exhausted, he came to a ditch which he recognised, placed Lieutenant Brown in it, and went to look for help. He found an officer and a few men of his battalion at a listening post, and after guiding them back, with their assistance Lieutenant Brown was brought in, although the Germans again opened heavy fire with rifles and machine-guns, and threw bombs at 30 yards distance. Private Kenny’s pluck, endurance and devotion to duty were beyond praise.”5

Thomas may have transited through Folkestone to France on one more occasion as he was presented with the VC at Buckingham Palace by King George V. on the 4th March 1916.6 He is the first soldier from the Durham Light infantry to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War.7 During 1917and again in 1918, this time a gunshot wound to the lower back. He returned home on the 30th October 1918 and was discharged from the army on the 26th September 1919. 8

Thomas was also awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.9 Thomas Kenny V.C. Died on 29th November 1948.

3British Regiments 1914-1919 page 101

4 13th DLI Battalion War Diary

5 London Gazette, 7th December 1915, Supplement:29394,Page:12281

8 Pension Record.

9 Medal Card.

15/2/15 Singapore #FWW

When the trigger of a rifle is squeezed no one knows how many people will be killed as a result.

Events in Singapore in February 1915 will always be overshadowed by events in Singapore in February 1942. This year being the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore the overshadow is even darker.

Just after 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the 15th February 1915 in Alexander Barracks in Singapore Sepoy Ismail Khan squeezed the trigger of his rifle. This shot signalled the start of the mutiny. Here is a list of people who were killed as a result of that single shot. Not included are the names of an estimated 200 mutineers who were killed during the mutiny or executed in its aftermath.

CF Anscombe, JVR Beagley, P. Boyce, EO Butterworth, BC Cameron, J Clarke, HB Collins, H O’Shaughnessey Collins, H Cullimore, JB Dunn, A Drysdale, CV Dyson, NF Edwards,          HS Elliot, AR Evans, RH Galway, F Geddes, PN Gerrard, JC Harper, Hassan Kechil bin Hassan, AJG Holt, FV Izard, Abdul Jabar, Omar bin Ahmad Kaptin, GO Lawson, Lim Eng Wee, AF Legge, WH Leigh, JH Love-Montgomerie, D McGilvray, MFA Maclean, WJ Marshall, Yacob bin Salleh, EF Senftleben, FH Sexton, Sim Soh, C Smith, G Wald, ED Whittle, Mr and Mrs GB Woolcombe, Chinese man name unknown. 23 of the dead are known to be buried in Kranji  War Cemetery.

One of the mutineers known to have been killed by the forces fighting the mutiny was Sepoy Ismail Khan who fired the original shot.

A contemporary report by the Japanese reproduced in Secret Documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 by SR Sareen, puts the successful suppression of the mutiny down to the deployment of Japanese marines. It would not be the last time Japanese troops landed at Singapore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malcom/Malcolm Bond Shelley

Malcolm Bond Shelley born 8th July 1879 and educated at Dulwich College and then Cambridge became one of the thousands of able and competent civil servants in the British Empire. He was posted to the Federated Malay states in 1902. Here he became a District Officer,  Acting Governor Straits Settlements 1931, Chief Secretary to the Governor of the Federated Malay States 1933-35. To this day there is a road named after him in Kuala Lumpur the capital of Malaysia. For his services, he was awarded The Order of St Michael and St George, (CMG) also known as Call Me God. Living the normal life of a colonial civil servant, he played cricket and joined the Malay States Volunteer  Rifles  (MSVR). He was with the regiment when he serving as a lieutenant in the MSVR. (1) and others in the MSVR were in Singapore for a months training in 1915.

His being in Singapore coincided with the mutiny by the Indian 5th Light Infantry Regiment. On the 5th March 1915,  Malcolm and his party of theMSVR captured Abdul Razzak one of the mutineers. (1)  This was not to be his only involvement in the events of the mutiny and its aftermath. After the first of the trials of the mutineers, it was announced in General Orders that the MSVR would carry out the first of the executions. Captain Smith, the officer in command turned to  Malcolm and said, “That will be your job.” Malcolm had never convened a firing squad before, nor had most officers in the British Army. He hurriedly read the most appropriate manuals. Those on musketry and King’s Regulations but could find no mention of how to convene a firing squad.  His RSM, who probably did not know either said you need ten men. Ten men were duly chosen and after breakfast, they were given som practice by the RSM. Malcolm rushed to the Europe Hotel where British officers often stayed to try and find out if anyone there knew how to organise a firing squad. No one there knew, but he was told that if the prisoners were not killed outright the officer in charge would have to deliver the coup de grace.  A prospect that Malcolm determined was not going to happen. He decided on three things. The first was there would be no blanks. Secondly, each rifle was going to be loaded with a clip of five rounds. Lastly, the firing squad would be as close as possible, eight paces from the stakes.

That afternoon(23rd February 1915) Two upright wooden stakes were positioned close to the wall. Malcolm marked out eight paces and positioned the firing party.  The Colonel of the Shropshire Battalion then based in Singapore who was the parade’s commander spoke to him and the firing squad was moved a further two paces away from the stakes. The two condemned men, Dunde Khan and Chiste Khan.(3) were then led out and positioned in front of the stakes, they were not blindfolded. The sentences were then read out. Instructed to carry out his duty Malcolm saluted the colonel with his sword and gave the order to load. One soldier was very nervous and dropped his clip. After the order to fire was given one of the condemned men slid to the ground. The other remained standing and staring at the firing squad. It must have seemed like an eternity, but Malcolm quickly gave the order, “Left hand firing party, aim, fire.” and the second Indian soldier fell to the ground. The Medical Officer examed the body. There were ten bullet holes in the chest where the heart was.  The condemned man had died as a result of the first volley after all. There was another bullet would in the neck. One of the right-hand side of the firing party had fired wide.(4)

The Japanese newspaper, The Japan Times on the 19th March 1915,.carried a report on the executions under the headline, “How Singapore Mutineers Died. Two Publically Shot After Court Martial for Murder- A Grim Example.” The report and Malcolm’s memory are in broad agreement. Although the report states it was Scottish Troops who formed the firing party. In the early 1920s when the volunteer units were reorganised there was a Scottish Company. Not known if this company was just formed then or was a descendant of an earlier company in the MSVR

Malcolm Bond Shelley died 27th July 1968 in his home at Littlehampton in Sussex

Notes.                                                                                                                                                                                     Thanks due to Madelaine Kirk for background information about MB Shelley

1.    p798  Secret Documents of the Singap[ore Mutiny 1915 Dr T Sareen.                                        2.p649Secret Documents of the Singap[ore Mutiny 1915 Dr T Sareen.                                    3.Note 25 p237 The Testimonies of Indian Soldiers and the Two World Wars: Between Self and Sepoy. By Gajendra Singh                                                                                                                          4.p798-817 Secret Documents of the Singap[ore Mutiny 1915 Dr T Sareen.                                  5. p844.