Tag Archives: Folkestone

Sod the Visitor Books, #Folkestone #FWW

I research the embarkations from Folkestone during the First World War. The sources for my information include

War Diaries

Army Forms B103s

Personal Memoirs


Why? Afterall the books contain an estimated 42,000 signatures (Step Short.) Apart from Medal Cards these signatures are the only other reference that a soldier, or other individual actually lived. They also give a date when that individual was in Folkestone. Fascinating books. If you are ever in Folkestone,Kent, England, do go and look at them. They are at Folkestone Museum and also online somewhere.

So again, why do I not use them as a source?

I research EMBARKATIONS from Folkestone, not DISEMBARKATIONS. The visitors books were mostly signed by people returning from France and Flanders, not by people going to France and or Flanders.

Army Embarkations from Folkestone started at the end of March 1915. Not on the 4th August 1914

It is easy to check if you wish. From the 1915 pages find a soldier and look up their Medal Card.

or, Find a soldier in any of the other volumes and see if their Army Form B103 still exists.

Also the cafe was only open during the daylight hours and just look at where the cafe is. Next to the railway platform, which is next to the railway track, which is next to the quayside, then there is the boat. Battalions could arrive at the harbour and embark in ten minutes. Think about how long it would take to queue, get served, drink your tea, go around the train, and embark.

Compare dates. I’m also not impressed by the morons who tell me millions marched down what is now known as the Road of Rememberance. It says so on the cairn at the top.

This is what the plaque says.

Read it slowly word for word.

It states very clearly, TENS OF THOUSENDS… … TO AND FROM, ie in both directions. NOT MMILLIONS, NOT HUNDREDS OF THOUSENDS, IT STATES Tens of thousends.

Yes, I know some units did march down the road. If asked very nicely I will let you see the list.

Amerian units also marched done the road during the war.

Canadian Units did not.

How do we know?

We have their war diaries and other sources. It is well known how soldiers marched from Shorncliffe to the Harbour. Down the Military Road and along the Lower Sandgate Road thats how.

There are daft buggers who tell me soldiers marched from Folkestone Central Railway station down to thhe harbour. Hate well actually delighted to tell you. like hell they did.

More than a few Soldiers would have taken their chance and deserted on the way. There was no point in stopping at Folkestone Station, the next, last and only stop was the harbour.

ah but they “Stopped and remembered their fallen comrades on the way down the Road of Rememerance.”

Then why is it not called The Road of Premonitions?

Yes we do know exactly where the soldiers stopped on the way up. Going up it is about ten to fifteen yards (ok metres) from the top on the left hamd side. You have to push your way through the bushes first. Usually if you walk up on the pavement on the right you can see some glazed brown tiles. They mark the site.

Every entery on my list is referenced. Sometimes there are additional details, sometimes not. The list is over 190,000 words and about 850 pages long. People are welome to visit. Although don’t even think about it during the covid Lock down.

Please do not tell me to refer to the visitors book, or tell me Step Short or anyone else told you millions marched down the Road of Rememberance. I will tell you where and how you can off.

Rant over,

21st April 1915 Embarkations from #Folkestone

On the 20th of April, the following embarked at Folkestone

Tuesday 20th April 1915

Head Quarters 149th Infantry Brigade. Left Folkestone 8:15 pm. They arrived in Boulogne at 9:40 pm. 1

1/4th Northumberland Fusiliers, part of the Northumberland Brigade, 50th Division.2

1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers, part of the Northumberland Brigade, 50th Division. At 8:45 pm the battalion embarked on the S.S. Victoria. They arrived at Boulogne at 10:30 pm..3

1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers, part of the Northumberland Brigade, 50th Division after a train journey of nearly 12 hours from Blyth the battalion arrived in Folkestone at 10 pm and 10:45pm. They embarked on to the S.S. Onward and arrived at Boulogne at 12:45 on the 21st April .4

1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers, part of the Northumberland Brigade, 50th Division. Embarked at 11 pm, on the S.S. Invicta arrived in Boulogne at 2 am on the 21st. The crossing was very calm.5

11th (Service) Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment, (Pioneers). A K1 battalion in 14th Division. The Battalion entrained at the Government sidings in Aldershot on two trains they arrived in Folkestone at 12 mid night and 12:20 am. The Battalion then embarked on the Princess Victoria which sailed at 1 am.6

1149th Inf Brigade War Diary

2 1/4th Battalion War Diary.

3 1/5th Battalion War Diary

4 1/6th Battalion War Diary.

51/7th War Diary.

611th Battalion war Diary.

Due to the timing of embarkations and sailings, the Army Pension records  record some of the men embarking on the 21st.

This is what happened to just a few of the men from the 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers.

21st April 1915

Lance Corporal 205 Walter Gair, 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers. He is wounded in action on the 26th of April. Promoted Sergeant in July 1915. Returns to England Time expired on the 7th April 1916.1

Private 2277 James Hogg, 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers. He is wounded in action on the 26th of April. Transferred back to England on the Hospital Ship Valdivia, 3rd May 1915.2

Private 2743 Thomas Gray Palmer, 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers. Accendently wounded on the 3rd (?) August. This probably when he was wounded by a gunshot to the right foot, on the 3rd (?) August. He transferred back to England on the 12th of August 1915. He will embark again for France on the 27th of October from Southampton. Appointed paid Lance Corporal 24th November 1916. Allotted a new Regimental number, 290719 in March 1917. Promoted to Corporal on the 20th of March. Appointed paid Lance Sergeant, 27th November. Accendently wounded in the field on the 6th April 1918, scald left ankle and gassed, Mustered Poisoning. Transferred back to England on the 18th of April. Discharged on the 18th October 1918 as Time Expired.3

Private 2029 Michael Quinn, 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers. 26th April he is admitted to 10 Casualty Clearing Station, Hazebrouck, with a gunshot wound to a hand. A day later he is admitted to No.9 Stationary Hospital Harve. On the 30th he is transferred back to England on the Hospital Ship, Carisbrooke Castle.4

Private 2747 Adam Scott, 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers. He is wounded in action on the 26th  of April. The following day 26th he is admitted to (10 Casualty Clearing Station?), Hazebrouck, with a gunshot wound to his left hand. Scott is transferred back to England on the 5th of May.5

Corporal 809 Ralph Watson, 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers. Time expired 1st April 1916. He is discharged from the Army on the 26th April 1916.6

1 Walter Gair’s Army Pension Record.

2 James Hogg’s Army Pension Record.

3 Thomas Gray Palmer’s Army Pension Record.

4 Michael Quinn’s Army Pension Record.

5 Adam Scott’s Army Pension Record.

6 Ralph Watson Army Pension Record.

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.

Charles Hamilton Sorley #FolkestoneRT #FWW

Charles Hamilton Sorley, born 19th May 1895

In May 1915 the 7th (Service) Battalion the Suffolk Regiment. A K1 battalion, in 35th Brigade, 12th Division. Embarked on the S.S. Invicta and the S.S. Queen.

Charles Hamilton Sorley was a soldier with the 7th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment. Charles would be killed in action on the 13th October 1915.

Cast away regret and rue,
Think what you are marching to,
Little give, great pass.
Jesus Christ and Barabbas
Were found the same day.
This died, that, and went his way
So sing with joyful breath.
For why you are going to death.
Teeming earth will surely store
all the gladness that you pour.
(From, Over the Hills and Vales Along, by Charles Hamilton Sorley, June 1915)

Charles did mention the Folkestone-Boulogne crossing. Not in a poem but in prose,

“May they not take it too seriously! Seein’ as ‘ow the training is all washed out as soon as you turn that narrow street corner at Boulogne, where some watcher with a lantern is always up for English troops arriving, with a “Bon courage” for every man.
A year ago today-but that way madness lies.”
(Captain Charles Hamilton Sorley from a letter to the Master of Marlbourgh, in War Letters of Fallen Englishmen, edited by Laurance Houseman, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1930)

“I hate the growing tendency to think that every man drops overboard his individuality between Folkestone and Boulogne, and becomes on landing either ‘Tommy’ with a character like a nice big fighting pet bear and an incurable yearning and whining for mouth-organs and cheap cigarettes: or the Young Officer with a face like a hero and a silly habit of giggling in the face of death.”
(Charles Hamilton Sorley)

Robert Graves in “Goodbye To All That”, describes Charles Sorley as, “one of the three poets of importance killed during the war. (the other two were Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen.)


#Shorncliffe, #Labour_Corps

Recently the Shorncliffe Trust held their annual Light in the Darkest Hour. Hopefully, this years ceremony will encourage people to visit the graves of the Labour Corp in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. The Closing ceremony was the placing of lanterns at the Chinese Labour Corps graves, (CLC) of which there are six all close together in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. This was also part of the Big Ideas Company’s Unremembered  (An awful name if they mean “Forgotten” they should just say so.) Project.  Apart from the CLC, there are two men from the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) and eleven men from the British Army’s Labour Corps buried in the cemetery.  Photographs of the graves of the SANLC and the Labour Corps men follow.IMG_8384

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 the west 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.



Private 331158 H.A. Baker served in the 18th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment before he was transferred to 242nd Works Company Labour Corps.


Private G/78845 J Baker, 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home service Employment Company Labour Corps. The 29th (Works) Battalion was formed as a labour battalion hence the (Works) atMill Hill the entire battalion was transferred to the Labour Corps and retitled the 5th Labour Battalion in April 1917. (2)


Private 76316 R Bedford also served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home Service Employment Company Labour Corps.


Private G/78071 George Henry Bloodworth. Another soldier from the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before he was transferred to the 5th Battalion of the Labour Corps. The son of George Henry and Mary Bloodworth of 18 Banstead St Nunhead, London was killed in the Folkestone Air Raid on the 25th May 1917.


Private 28527 G.W. Graves, the husband of Lilie Gertrude Parkinson (formally Graves) served in the 9th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment before being transferred to the Labour Corps.


Private 267099 Samuel Beckerleg Hall the son of Mrs Evelina Hall of 21 Church Street, Helston, Cornwall. He served in the 2nd/1st Kent Cyclist Battalion before he was transferred to the 426th Company Labour Corps.


Private 293210 T Marshall Served in the 2nd/7th Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) before he was transferred to 342nd Works Company Labour Corps. Marshall died on the 10th November 1918, one day before the war ended.


Henry Gordon Prince the son of Mrs Charlotte Prince of 3 Evergreens, South Bersted, Bognor, served in the 1st Infantry Labour Company Northamptonshire Regiment.


Private 37998 A.H. Slater is another soldier who served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 241st Works Company Labour Corps.


Guardsman 18439 J.W. Taylor served in the Coldstream Guards before being transferred to 437th Company Labour Corps.


Private 5417 Robert Williams served in the 2nd/6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment before he was transferred to 317th Works Company Labour Corps.


(1) Soldiers details from the CWGC website.

(2) Details about the 29th Battalion from the Long Long Trail Web site. A website that can not be recommended too highly. If you are even remotely interested in the British Army in the First World War bookmark and use the LongLong Trail website.


The US Army in FolkestoneRT #FWW #WWI #WW1

There are many reasons for writing a blog, to show off, to entertain, to inform, to alleviate boredom, to share knowledge, to keep my one and only reader happy, plus many other reasons. The reason for this blog is to fish. I’m fishing for more information. The information I’m looking for is about the United States army in Folkestone during the First World War.

This is most of the sum total of my knowledge.

They were here, as opposed to “Over there.” How do I know this? There is a photograph in Folkestone Library. It has appeared in at least one book but, was incorrectly labelled.

There is also a US Army war diary which records the unit, an American Military Hospital, as staying in the rest camp on the Leas. Then marching down  Slopes Road to the ship which will take them to France. At least one other War Diary records their unit staying on the Leas and proceeding to Calais via Dover. Some of the buildings the US Army stayed in still survive.

Are there other War Diaries which record where a unit stayed between arriving at usually Liverpool and heading to France?

US General Jack “Black Jack” Pershing crossed from Folkestone to Boulogne. There is at least one photograph showing him disembarking at Boulogne. Apart from being the US Commander, he is famous to a few people for saying, “Lafayette,  We are here.” Which he never actually said. Colonel Charles E. Stanton also crossed from Folkestone. Charles E Stanton not as well known as Black Jack did say, ” Lafayette, nous voilà ” 

More details will appear in my next book. If I can find an editor and, a publisher.

I for one would like to know more about the Americans in Folkestone during the First World War. So this is very much a “Fishing” blog.

One last thing there is a photo of the cafe on the harbour mole which shows the interior of the cafe. There is an American flag on the wall. 

This is the last blog before Christmas 2016. Thank you for reading. Thank you for the engagement. Have a good Christmas.  Peter.

David Sutherland’s Sargeant. #Folkestone #Denton

E.A. Mackintosh, born 4 March 1893


In Memoriam,
Private D. Sutherland
killed in Action in the German Trench 16 May 1916,
and the Others who Died.

So you were David’s father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year got stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David’s father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up that evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight
— O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers’
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
they saw their first born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed, “Don’t leave me Sir,”
For they were only fathers
But I was your officer.

Another account was written by Ewart Mackintosh and published in

War : the liberator, and other pieces : with a memoir by E A Mackintosh, in 1918

This account describes the death of David.
” I believe we have to leave him” Charles said “He’s a dying man” Charles Macrae looked up with his hand on the boys heart  ” No he isn’t”, he said “he’s dead”. They rose and left him lying there on the German parapet; from the right as they ran for the old trench came the clatter of a machine gun.(2)
The account ends(3)  with
“”Whats up Tagg? ” said the Major
“I’m going back to give those swine hell Major” he yelled, and was knocked sideways by a vigorous clout on the head. “You young fool” said the Major “What you want is drink”and led him down to HQ where his men were already assembled. First of all he went to the dressing station and found there men lying and sitting, to hear from one that he had bayonetted two Germans, from another that he had bombed such dugouts, and to realise that the raid had really succeeded although it was a while before they found out how well.
At HQ was Sgt Godstone sitting on the steps with his head in his hands-it was from his section that the dead had come(4) The Co gave them both strong whiskies…”
Sgt Godstone’s real name was Robert William Goddard MM and Bar.
Robert survived the war. He lived in Denton, near Folkestone,  Kent where he was a farmer. Robert lived to be 90 years old and died in 1982. As far as I know the Goddard’s still have a farm there, near where Robert is buried.