Tag Archives: Africa

#Shorncliffe, #Folkestone the South African Connection

Shorncliffe is justifiably proud of its Canadian Connection. Every year on at least one occasion tributes are paid to the Canadians buried there. The cemetery’s First and Second World War graves being extremely well cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The word “Commonwealth” replaced the original “Imperial” to reflect the changing times at the end of Empire. With the change of title people’s views changed and the different nationalities became important. The Imperial part was lost.  Also fading with the loss of the word “Imperial” was the idea of an Imperial Army. It was this “Imperial ” Army that went to war in August 1914. An Empire at war. Now we think of Brits in the Royal Air Force, Canadians in the Royal Canadian Air Force, South Africans in the South African Air Force. A hundred years ago they were part of an Imperial Family and served regardless of “Nationality”. They were British regardless of where they came from. Now we regard them as national citizens, not imperial subjects. Then all but two of the men named below were British, although they are now regarded as South African or Zimbabwean. the other two both fromm the South African Native Labour Corps, were Native South Africans.

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Cadet Harry Hutton Blake, mentioned in despatches by Lieutenant-General J. L. Van Deventer, K.C.B., Commanding-in-Chief, East Africa Force: — General Headquarters, East Africa Force, 11th October 1917, for meritorious conduct in the field. (London Gazette Supplement dated 7th March 1918) Harry’s parents lived in Roodekop, Transvaal, South Africa.

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Philip Martin Hayes Boardman. His parents lived at Umvuma, Rhodesia. (now Zimbabwe)

IMG_8379Commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour, where he was born. Arthur James Douglas’s parents lived at 4 Glengareff Terrace, Three Anchor Bay, Capetown and he is listed by the South African War Graves Project.

IMG_8381Wilfred Douglas Duke from Oxford House, Douglas St., Bloemfontein, South Africa.

IMG_8387Raymond was born in Boksburg in the Transvaal. His parents lived in  Maraisburg.

IMG_8389John James Forrest-Dunlop born in Sydney, Australia, and is commemorated on the AustralianNational War Memorial. He married Violet of East Rand, Transvaal, and is listed by the South African War Graves Project as a South African.

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Piet Malinge of the South African Native Labour Corps. In April 1917 a tented camp was pitched east of Hill Road, Cherry Garden Avenue in Folkestone. Designated the Labour Concentration Camp, it was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel F. Hopley and could accommodate 2,000 Chinese (Chinese Labour Corps CLC) or South African Native Labourers. (South African Native Labour Corps, SANLC) Opposite on theWest side of the road another tented camp was erected. This camp could contain another 2,000 Asian or African Labourers. During the summer of 1917, the CLC built hutments of reinforced concrete and the camp became known as the Cherry Garden Camp. This was really two separate camps with Kitchens and Hospitals. 1,500 men could be housed here. It is likely that Piet was part of the SANLC housed in one of these aforementioned camps. Busalk Mvinjelwa would also have been there.

IMG_8385Busalk Mvinjelwa, SANLC. (See under Piet Malinge above)

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David Victor Spain from Johannesburg, South Africa.

IMG_8386John Eric Thomson of 54, Garden St., Rosettenville, Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa,

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Augustus Henry Wells from Geoville, Johannesburg, Transvaal, The inscription on his gravestone reads ” Whosoever liveth and believe in me shall never die. john XI. 29″

The RAF men were here being trained, they were “Cadets”.  Most died of illness, Details of them, and the two men from the SANLC are from the CWGC site and in the South African War Graves Project on the Web. Further details can be found on both sites.

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#FWW #1WW #KENT Just Another Village War Memorial

Twenty-one names, not really worth a second glance. Millions pass close by this small Kent village as they travel up and down the A2. Many of them are on their way to the Great War battlefields in Belgium or France. No doubt they will visit some of the memorials on the Somme, or around Leper, Perhaps if they are memorial freaks Vimy Ridge. The Canadian memorial at Vimy can be seen from Kemmel. A very impressive bit of stone erected by a grateful Dominion  The names on the memorials seem endless. Those men died in a very small area. That was where their war was, a small patch of land. On the whole they fought on minor pieces of real estate in a great war.. The monuments though are truly impressive.

Here in this small Kent village the memorial isn’t impressive. It is in the porch of the church. Very small barely noticeable on the left hand side. It only has twenty-one names. Four died at sea, two died on the same day, one died in an accident, . One executed four men during the Easter Rising in 1916. another died in Salonika. It is always worth looking at the names, and so much easier when there are only twenty-one.

There is Percy Baglietto Cottrell, wounded at  the Second Battle of Doiran on the 18th September he died fro his wounds nine days later. Very much a Greek hero, he was decorated by King Constantine. Percy was at first refused a commission so enlisted in the 19th Battalion Royal Fusilers and earned his commission.

Next on the list is Henry Ernest Bennet a Petty Officer on HMS Hogue, and Charles Edward Perkins, a stoker on HMS Aboukir. Both men died on the same day in September 1914 when the ships they were on, were sunk by the German submarine U9. another shipwas also sunk.Over 1,400 Royal Navy personnel died in that action. German losses were zero.

John West, next on the list also died at sea. Not as the result of enemy action but when the ship he was on was rammed by another Royal Navy Warship. The Royal Navy was quite good at sunking her own ships at vary times during and immediately after the Great War island springs to mind.

Still moving on on the list are two soldiers buried in the churchyard DW Barton and Thomas Hope, both were in the local Regiment, “The Buffs” Also listed on the memorial as being in the Buffs is Ernest Goodburn and Edward Prescott, Goodburn appears to have been with the Machine Gun Corps when he died. Not unusual for soldiers seemingly to be in different regiments. Soldiers were transferred or posted and the information not reaching the nearest and dearest before the soldier was killed in action or died. Prescott is also on the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval. Thiepval is to be avoided on the 1st July, go when it is quiet on a dull autumn day. A day when life is pretty miserable and look at the names in silence. Then the realisation that there is not much in life to be miserable about will hit home. Better to look at the names than to be one of the names.

Another of the names on both memorials, Thiepval and in this tiny Kent village is William C. Parker, killed on the 1st July 1916. Much has been written about this day, to much perhaps with little thought. Each death during the Great War is a tragedy, counting the total for each day is playing statisticians and in the end pointless.

Moving on there is Fred Long,  he died of TB in October 1920 and is buried in the Churchyard. Not listed by the Imperial War Graves Commision as he was discharged as being unfit for further military service in July 1920. Therefore his name does not appear on the Commonwealth war Graves Commissions web page. He is buried in the churchyard.

Listed on the memorial as being in the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles, REKMR, Edward Friend was in the Royal Sussex Regiment when he died He is buried in Etaples. Also on the memorial as being in the REKMR, but serving in a different regiment when he died is Philip Willams who was in the Buffs when he died.

Next, or rather in between Edward and Philip is Reginald Weston, who died in Mesopotamia. commemorated on a memorial that Saddam Hussein had dismantled and moved after the first Gulf War American or yet another war in the Gulf if British,

Robert Flood is the next name, he was in the Royal Berkshire regiment when he was killed in Salonika, and in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he ordered four men to be executed,  two officers from the King Edward Horse, and two brewery workers while guarding the Guinness brewery in Dublin. Sometimes Guinness is not good for you. Robert thought the men were Sinn Feiners and the brewery was about to come under attack. Still no harm done, and five months later he was on his way to Salonika were he was killed in action in 1917.

Another name also on the Thiepval Memorial is Edward Goodburn DCM, for such a tiny village there is a high proportion of men who have no known grave. For the statisticians seven or is it eight so far. Not that you are counting.

Cecil Martin from The Queens, (West Surrey Regt) he does have a known grave and is buried in Croisillers British Cemetery Cecil in April 1917. Also with a known grave is Vincent Spriggs, what his connection with Kent is, is not known, but only one Vincent Spriggs died during the Great War. He is buried in Duisans British Cemetery.

Approaching the end of the list is Ernest Osman, Ernest is buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery. Not being familiar with Caberet-Rouge it was googled it. All you need to know is Great War Research is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

the last British Private on the list is George Parker, with checking Caberet-Rouge distraction has set in. George is buried in a known grave, but not at Caberet-Rouge.

Last name on the memorial, and singularly fitting as the first memorial mentioned was the Canadian memorial on Vimy Ridge is Leonard Marsh. Killed on the 9th April 1917. Leonard served in the Canadian Infantry. Sometimes I’m told the colonials were better than we (the British) were. not mentioned is they were “we”. No different, they came from the same cities towns and villages as “we” did.

That’s all folks.

Opps missed one, some guy called Kitchener is on the Memorial, his country needed him too.

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The memorial at Barham in Kent.

IWW in 3 minutes Alhaji Grunshi, The First and the Last

Don’t know about you but I’m glad the crap on 4th August is over with. It will be a long funeral service, but hey ho, not my circus and they are not my monkeys. It has all been hijacked by groups with an agenda. from the Government, the Royal British Legion, down to various vanity projects. Key events and people will be missed, forgotten about and the same old cliches wheeled out. Turn off your TV, and save a fortune on newspapers. Go to your local one exhibitions, If you are in Folkestone there is a Great Exhibition in the Sassoon, (Not that one, grief it is going to be a long four years.) Room. Sure there are things missing, forgot, and simply not there. But it is put together by locals for locals and if it was a beer would be a Burton’s Double Diamond.

Of course we will all be commemorating Alhaji Grunshi. On the 7th August. what a wonderful British name Alhaji Grunshi, up there with John Smith, Hamish Henderson, Tom Jones, names that conjure up the vast cultural heritage we have from our days as the world’s number one Imperial power, Gosh, I can just see me nose diving in the popularity stakes there, never mind.

Oh yes where was I Alhaji Grunshi on the 7th august 1914 went down in history. Yes, I know, but treat it as a reminder, and remember some will not know. Alhaji Grunshi on the 7th august 1914 went down in history.
People have forgotten, What for? Who? Aihaji Grunshi, he was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army-the first? No there had been plenty of Regimental Sergeant Majors before him. No wait he was the first. Alhaji Grunshi was the first, the very first British soldier to open fire in the First World War. He did so on the 7th of August in West Africa. far from Tipperary, Piccadilly, Leicester Square!, and of course, Mons.

It really was a World War, We really did have the greatest Empire the World had ever Known, It really was the Empire that went to War. Not all solders came from the playing fields of Eton. (oops wrong war) Oxbridge, or were pals of Accrinton. our soldiers came from Australia, Canada, England, Scotland Ireland Wales, India, New Foundland, New Zealand South Africa, every where the globe was Imperial Red, and the first shot fired by us, by a British soldier was in Africa. Not only that, the last German soldiers to surrender to us did so in Africa at Abercorn in Rhodesia on 25th November 1918.

The silent years go drifting by
As clounds, and yet you do not mind,
Lonely, yet not alone, you lie:
You live in hearts of those behind.

from “The lonely Graves” (To those that fell in Africa, 1914-1918) Malcolm Humphery