The Cult of the #FWW’s 11%

To a greater or lesser extent all who are interested in the First World War, myself included, are members of this British cult. Some are fully paid up and will exclude all others.  Looking at posts on social media it is easy to see why more than a few think the war was a war in which most British soldiers were killed and the rest shot at dawn on their fourteenth birthday. If you are going to go on a Munro bagging style of tour to put poppies on the graves of VC holders, Boy Soldiers, Shot at Dawn, remember the idea of the graves is every soldier should be treated the same in death. That is why they look the same. Place a poppy on the graves surrounding your own particular Munro. Perpetuated by companies and their agents to endless tours of cemeteries and memorials along the Western Front in the guise of “Battlefield Tours”

First, who are the 11%?

Some are the Missing, buried in unknown graves.

Some are Resting in Peace in Silent Cities.  They are buried in Cemeteries.

Some are just resting in France. No, they are not.

Some are sleeping. If you think this, wake them up.

Some are Standing easy. Not my favourite phrase.

They are not “Pining for the Fjords “, but they are all DEAD. Most are buried in cemeteries under six feet of soil, none are asleep, resting, or standing. They are all dead. If you believe in Heaven and hell, for you, that is where they are. If not they are just Dead.

A whole wars narrative based on just 11%. Their stories are important and should be told. But not at the expense of the 89% who survived the war. Their stories need to be told too.

The connection with the First World War needs to be made too. The experiences of the war shaped their attitudes.  What they thought of defeat, victory, the future. What happened to them. The leaders who fought the second world war were forged by the first. Churchill just didn’t disappear after Gallipoli and emerge phoenix-like in 1940.

Many of the Generals of the second fought in the first Bernard Law Montgomery did not crawl rat style from the sands of North Africa. The connection needs to be made to the first.

Then there are the ordinary stories. People such as Captain Darling, yes that really is his name. Lived for a while in Folkestone. He was the guide on one of the first tours of Vimy and Arras in January 1919.

People such as Robert Goddard, farmer farmed not far from Folkestone. He knew Ewart Alan Mackintosh. (google him).

George Dore, his regimental number was “1”

Stories, like that of Lewis Gedalovitch, yes Russians did serve in the British Army. Came home and divorced his wife.

Sad stories such as Duncan Mackintosh, died wounds in 1927.

The First World War is not solely the possession of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Royal British Legion (who appointed them the guardians of remembrance anyway?) or the 11%.

It belongs also to the 89% who survived. It is up to us to remember them too.


Folkestone’s #FWW Myths

The Myth the British Army left from Folkestone in 1914.

The Myth, Millions marched down The Road of Remembrance, (the Slope Road)

The Myth, The Harbour Cafe’s visitors book was signed by soldiers going to France.

The Myth, All soldiers left from Folkestone.

The Myth, Ten Million left from Folkestone.

The Myth, you could hear the guns firing in France.

Myth, a Mothers last Kiss, the story of William Francis Poile 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

The Old Contemptables left from Southampton. Folkestone was not a military port until the end of March 1915.

Tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, let alone millions marched UP as well as down the Slope Road, (The Road of Remembrance). Most soldiers arrived at the harbour by train.

By no means did all soldiers embark from Folkestone. Avonmouth, Dover, Ramsgate, as well as other ports were used to embark troops for France.

Ten million is more than there were soldiers in the Army. The true number may never be known, but 2-3 million is a better estimate.

If all the British army’s artillery fired at exactly the same time a slight rumble might have been heard.

William Francis Poile. The 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers embarked from Southampton, not Folkestone (War Diary). If he was part of a draft he would have arrived at the harbour by train. No time to see anyone. Not possible for a civilian to get to the train. No time to go and visit his Mother who lived in Stelling Minnis, not Folkestone. A lovely story but a myth.

A few true odds and sods.

More American Units march down the Slope Road than Canadian Units did. Although more Canadian units embarked from Folkestone than American Units.

Canadian Units marched from Shorncliffe down the Military Road and along the LOWER Sandgate Road.

Churchill, Sassoon and Walter Tull were all at the Harbour on the same day.

One soldier who embarked at Folkestone served in the British, then French, and finally in the American army before the end of the war.


Odd notes about #Shorncliffe

Added the names of Americans, and a few names of Soldiers who died at Shorncliffe Pre, Post, and during the #FWW

Site Title

Odd mutterings really but…

Or perhaps odds and sods about Shorncliffe. In no real order, but before they get lost in the rest of the collection.

This post will be added to from time to time.

July 1792, the Bedfordshire Militia leave Shorncliffe.

1802, The Rifle Corps, (95th) arrived at Shorncliffe.

1803. Redoubt abandon/construction ended? Sir John Moore arrives at Shorncliffe. Moore was at the siege of Saint-Florent and it was under his leadership the tower at Mortella Point was taken.

The training of which was based on a book by Major General Barron de Rottenburg, Regulations for the exercise of Riflemen and Light Infantry

1809, the 42nd of Foot (Black Watch) After the Battle of Corunna the regiment returned to England and were based at Shorncliffe for a few months.

1827, 31st Foot (Huntingdonshire Regiment)

1863, The 19th Hussars, 5th Foot (Northumberland Fusiliers), 9th Brigade Royal Artillery, 23rd Company…

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So you want to try #FWW food.

During the First World War, Marguerite Fedden was a V.A.D. Cook at 29th and 42nd Military Hospitals.  At the end of the war when the killing came to a halt. There were the invalids to take care of. Sometime in the first half of the 1930s Marguerite was asked to write a short manual of Invalid Cookery for nurses. In the forward to the manual, she wrote,

…Having taught invalid cookery to nurses for many years I may be qualified, perhaps, to know their requirements and difficulties…

While it is not possible for me to prove any of these recipes were used during the war, I assume perhaps wrongly they were based on her experiences.

Usually, I post a recipe in the forlorn hope someone will cook it for me. I realise this is a bit selfish and frightfully un British. It is also bad form for me to cook a recipe, then eat the results of such endeavours and tell you how good it tastes. So while it is late, I have come to what I hope is the right solution. I will cook the recipe and one of you can volunteer to try it out live in front of an audience.

So what do you give a severely disabled invalid?

The answer is Nutrient Enemata.

It is dead easy, and I promise you, I will not feel a thing.

All you need is Pancreatised Milk. Liquor Pancreaticus, Glucose and salt.

Heat the milk to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (just under 49c) add half an ounce of liquor pancreaticus. Keep at the same temperature for 24 hours. add one and a half ounces of Glucose and half a teaspoon of salt.

Administer 5oz every four hours.

Please form an orderly queue.


Canadian War Graves at Shorncliffe #FWW

Scarce heard among the guns. (Blogs about WW1)

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 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…

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Embarkations Folkestone 9th June 1917.

Apart from the different Units that embarked on the 9th. The Grenadier soldiers are evidence that Drafts for Regiments left from England and Drafts for Battalions were organised in France.

Looking at the Regimental Numbers A picture of the size of a draft fom England also starts to emerge.

Surprised that a Soldier from the Grenadier Guards could serve on attachment to Inland Water Transport.

9th June 1917

Private 202224 Edward Abernethy, 4th Battalion (Reserve) Border Regiment. Edward spent two weeks at 25 Infantry Base Depot before being posted to the 1/5th Battalion The King’s Liverpool Regiment.

Private 162555 Albert Edward Adams. He Joined the Labour Corps Base Depot on the same day. Posted to 12th Labour Company on the 12th June 1917.

Private 51085 Arthur George Adams, Manchester Regiment. Arthur enlisted on the 12th December 1915. After training he is posted to France and joins 25 Infantry Based Depot. He is then transferred to 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Wounded in action at Ypres he is sent back to England. He returns to France again via Folkestone on the 4th September 1918.

Private 11558 Thomas Allard, Grenadier Guards. Posted to the 1st Battalion he joins the 7th Entrenching Battalion on the 26th June. Joins the 1st Battalion in the field on the 27th July.

Private 27183 Sidney Boot , Grenadier Guards. He joins 7th Entrenching Battalion on the 26th June. Joins the 1st Battalion in the field on the 27th July. Discharged on the 31st March 1920.

Private 27841 Joseph Henry Finney, Grenadier Guards. He joins 7th Entrenching Battalion on the 24th June. Joins the 3rd Battalion in the field on the 31st July.7

Private 28363 John Thomas Wakeland, Grenadier Guards. Joins 7th Entrenching Battalion on the 26th June and 1st Battalion in the field on the 8th August. Between the 1st January 1918 and the 21st February he is attached to (a?) New Zealand Tunnelling Company.

Private 27857 Walter Bertram Walters, Grenadier Guards. Posted to the 3rd Battalion. On the 24th June he is posted to 7th (Guards) Entrenching Battalion. It is not until the 31st July that Walter joins the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards in the Field.

Private 27625 William James Watkins, Grenadier Guards, posted to the 1st Battalion. He joins the 7th Entrenching Battalion on the 27th and the 1st Battalion in the Field on the 8th August. For a week in January 1918 he is attached to Inland Water Transport. He is attached to Inland Water Transport again from the 2nd February 1918 until the 22nd March 1918.

Private 27844 John William Watson, Grenadier Guards, he is transferred to the 3rd Battalion the following day. On the 24th he is posted to the 7th (Guards) Entrenching Battalion, and on the 31st July he joins 3rd Battalion at the Front.

Private 27981 Albert George Webb, Grenadier Guards. Posted to the 1st Battalion, joined 7th Entrenching Battalion on the 27thand the 1st Battalion in the field on the 8th August.

Private 28146 Walter Welch, Grenadier Guards. Posted to the 3rd Battalion. On the 24th June he is posted to 7th (Guards) Entrenching Battalion. It is not until the 31st July that Walter joins the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards in the Field.

Private 32954 Samuel Bellamy Wells Suffolk Regiment. Samuel had first crossed from Folkestone on the 18th October 1916. Joining the 2nd Battalion on the 12th November 1916 the next day he was admitted to a field Ambulance suffering from Dysentery and was transferred back to England. He is now returning once again to France from Folkestone. He arrives at 15th Infantry Base Depot on the 10th June. Posted to the 12th Battalion Suffolk Regiment he joins them in the field on the 4th(?) July. He is wounded in action on the 26th September, Gun shot wound to the left shoulder and transferred back to England circa 11th October.

Guardsman 27704 Harry White Grenadier Guards. Posted to the 1st Battalion. He joined the 7th Entrenching Battalion on the 26th and the 1st Battalion in the field on the 8th August.

Lance Corporal 19969 John Whittington, Grenadier Guards. Posted to the 1st Battalion. He joined the 7th Battalion on the 26th. John had embarked from Southampton in 1915 but he had been wounded in action. A gun shot wound to the right leg, face and shoulder and transferred back to the United Kingdom in September 1916.

Private A 342842 Albert White, Army Service Corps. Posted to Expeditionary Force Canteen, Calais.

With a Machine Gun To Boulogne.

While no heavy machine guns were embarked at Folkestone in the First World War. Machine Gunners did embark at the harbour. All the following men were in the Guards Machine Gun Regiment. They all arrived at the Harbour by train. While embarking at Folkestone as a Company they were split up at Camiers. All survived the war.


29th March 1918

Private 1971 Joseph Bowerbank, Guards Machine Gun Company. He joined the Machine Gun Corps Base Depot at Camiers on the 30th. Joined a battalion in the field on the 16th April. Twisted both ankles playing football on the 4th October. In hospital and then convalescing 5th October-16th November. Returning to the Base Depot at Camiers on the 17th. He returns to England 4th March 1919.

Private 1000 George Fredrick Warren, No.4 Guards Machine Gun Company. He joined the Machine Gun Corps Base Depot at Camiers on the 30th. Joined his battalion in the Field on the 26th April. This was not the first time George had been to France he had seen service on the Western Front in 1914. This is probably the first time he crossed from Folkestone.

Private 29127 Ewart Bailey Watts, Guards Machine Gun Company. He joined the Base Depot at Camiers on the 30th. Joined a battalion in the field on the 9th of April.

Private 21572 William Weightman, 3 Company, Machine Gun Guards. Joined the Base Depot at Camiers on the 30th. He is qualified as a “1st Class Machine Gunner”. He joined a battalion in the field on the 14th April.

Private 131817 William Henry B Whitney, Machine Gun Corps Infantry. He joins 51 Battalion in the Field on the 4th April. Wounded in action on the 21st July. He is transferred back to England on the 7th of August 1918.