Tag Archives: ww1

#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.

Religious, Racial Profiling and S.A.D #FWW #WW1 #WWI

This blog has its origins in a book. Death sentences passed by military courts of the British Army 1914-1924, revised edition edited by Julian Putkowski with a forward by Andrew Mackinlay MP.  2005, ISBN 1 903427 26 6. If you are interested in the men Shot at Dawn, it is a must read. Along with its companion book, British Army Mutineers 1914-1922, also by Julian Putkowski. They are should have books for anyone with more than a passing interest in the soldiers executed. Combined they not only give a good comparison between Sentences passed, and Sentences carried out.  They contain a guide to other sentences the Military Courts passed and where.

“There has always been public disquiet about the fate of the men who were sentenced to death during the First World War”  Andrew Mackinlay MP, the opening sentence of his forward in  Death sentences passed by military courts of the British Army 1914-1924

The closing sentence of his forward reads “It would also be to the credit of those given to sustaining the officers’ version of military justice if, as a consequence of studying this book, they were to advance a more generous measure of compassion to the condemned, and to acknowledge the misery and grief simultaneously inflicted on the innocent families and dependents of the men whose names are recorded herein.”

It gives the impression that the book represents a complete list of those executed by the British Army. A plea of compassion for the men and recognition that their families were innocent victims of the war. Which they were.

However, not all Commonwealth Soldiers who were executed are listed in the book, at the memorial, or on the Commonwealth War Graves Registers. Which purports to list all those soldiers who died in the first World War regardless of how they died. It is as though they never existed. The books list only one man sentenced to death in Singapore. Private Chadwick, 1st Battalion King’s Own YorkshireLight Infantry. sentenced to death for cowardice on the22nd September 1914. His sentence was quashed. There is also a list of the number of executions by each offence.  55 Soldiers convicted of mutiny, 15 of whom were executed. At the back of the book, Appendix 2 p122, there  are the number of condemnations executions by Division. The final group of entries on the page is headed Dominion Forces and other Formations. The last entry is ” Indian Army  54 (Condemnations) 5 (Executions)” It is by no means complete. It does establish that at least in some cases Capital sentences in Singapore were recorded by the Army and also by the Indian Army. Further evidence is contained in the book British Army Mutineers 1914-1922 that sentences for Mutiny were recorded in Singapore in March 1915. Malay SG (States Guides) Bty Gnr Ahmad Sultan Singapore 11/03/15 3 years Penal Servitude for Mutiny, Commuted to 18 months imprisonment. He is one of four listed on p120.

So the others, the soldiers sentenced to death and executed? It is difficult to acknowledge their deaths, or the misery, grief and shame imposed on their families if we do not know who they are. It seems if you want to erase history, first delete their names.

Two Shot on the 23rd February. Notice by his excellency Brigadier General DH Ridout, These men were found guilty in the act of shooting at peaceful citizens and has been tried by a properly constituted Court Martial (1) These two men were executed in public at the rear of Banda Prison. They were executed by a firing squad of Scots soldiers. Two volleys were required to kill one of the men. After the execution  and the removal of the bodies,  some of the crowd rushed forward to search the blood soaked ground for  the bullets. (3) The nationality of the crowd, Singapore was as it is now a cosmopolitan country is not known. It is known that there was not a lot of disquiet amongst them on that day.

Two unknown were shot on the 28th February,  (2)

Now it is possible to name some of the others.

Dunde Khan, Chiste Khan, Rahmat Ali, Hakim Ali, and Abdul Ghani. Sentenced on 22nd March 1915.  The men along with others were marched out of Outram  Prison that afternoon. Just before 5:10 pm. The five condemned men were tied to posts and the verdict of the Court Martial was read out. in front of a well behaved crowd estimated at around 6,000 of mostly Asians by Major Hawkins. “These five men, Subadar Dunde Khan, Jemadar Chisti Khan, 1890 Havildar Rahmat Ali, 2311 Sepoy Hakim Ali, and 2184 Havildar Abdul Ghani have been found guilty of stirring up and joining a mutiny and are sentenced to death”

Moments  later Lieutenant Vyner of the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) gave the command. The firing squad of 25 men from the RGA commanded by Vyner and a sergeant fired. All five men executed slumped to the ground. From being marched to their execution posts  the whole proceedings had taken just a couple of minutes.(4)

On the 25th March 1915, 22 were executed. 2112 Naick Munshi Khan, 1933 Naick Zaffar Ali, 2463 Sepoy Mahomed Baksh, 2715 Sepoy Rahim Dad, 2462 Sepoy Suliman Khan, 1886 sepoy Nawab Khan, 2406 Sepoy Suliman, 2457 Sepoy Jamal, 2457 Sepoy Jamel, 2574 SepoyBahar Ali, 2819 Sepoy Shafi Mahomed, 2544 Sepoy Faiz Mahomed, 2770 sepoy Umrad Ali, 2885 Sepoy Suleiman, 3048 Sepoy Lai Khan, 2824 Sepoy Shamsuddin, 2997 Sepoy Said Mahomed, 2652 Abdul Ghani, 2649 Bashart, 2982 Sepoy Rafi Mohamed, 2904 Sepoy inayat. 2856 Sepoy Moman, and 3113 Sepoy Nur Mohamed.(5) As with the executions on the 22nd March,  the men were marched out of Outram Prison and tied to posts. The time was 5.25pm the order to fire was given at 5.30. This time the crowd numbered around 15,000 and consisted of Europeans as well as Asians. The firing part were 110 men from the Singapore Volunteer Corps. While the firing party was moving off Captain Fraser Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) examined each body. Several had to be finished off by a shot from a revolver. it is not known who fired the revolver. No other person was reported as accompanying Captain Fraser. There is at least one photograph of this execution. none of the men are wearing blindfolds. It is almost certain that no blindfolds were offered.

The Straits Times 3 April 1915 (6) list another six, 1905 Sepoy Ismail Khan, 1499, Sepoy Nathe Khan, 3051 Sepoy Nishan Ali Khan, 1754 Havildar Ibrahim Khan, 1352 Havildar Murid Khan, 2058 Sepoy Taj Mohamed Khan. All as in the previous cases tried in open court and executed in public in front of 1,000s.

Taj Mohamed was identified by a German prisoner of war detained at Tanglin Barracks. (6)

On the 19th April the Straits Times (7) gives the names of three more men executed. This time on the 17th April, Havildar Samand Khan, 2637 Lance Naick Feroz, and 2102 Lance Naick Fazel Ali.

Fazel Ali was badly wounded and he was shot inside the walls of Outram Prison. the other two men were executed outside in public. The two firing squads fired at the same time. No verbal order was given the executions were carried out on the lowering of a flag.(7)

In all 39 men were executed for their part in the Singapore mutiny, 38 shot and one hanged. The Imperial narrative describes the causes of the mutiny as dissatisfaction with their officers. Discontent over a promotion/rations, or a riot (8).  Anything but a rebellion. All soldiers deserve to be named on the Commonwealth War Graves Register regardless of how or why they died. it is a gross error of admission for the men of the 5th Light Infantry who died as a result of the mutiny not to be included. Regardless of whose side in the mutiny they were on.

These men were not suffering from Post Traumatic Stress when they mutinied.  Some but not all committed terrible crimes including murder, but so did some of the men pardoned and commemorated by the Shot At Dawn Memorial.  This article is not about righting wrongs or part of a lost debate over should those  executed be pardoned or not.  It is about fairness. If others are commemorated so should they. Religion or race should not be a factor. They were part of the British Indian Army. It is time to prove we commemorate all regardless of race or religion and do it.

If you think that it was a rebellion, remember this. They died for freedom-this I know those that bade them fight told them so.(apologies and thanks to WN Ewer  and his poem Five Souls)

(1) page 827 Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

(2) page 826 Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

(3) Japan Times 19th march 1915. Translation of which p 844.

(4) Straits Times, 23rd March 1915, p7 viewed on the web.

(5) Straits Times, 26th March 1915, p7 viewed on the web.

(6) Straits Times 3rd April 1915 page 10, viewed on the web

(7) Straits Times 19th April 1915 page 10, viewed on the web

(8) Introduction Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

A Little Campaign Lost in A Great war.

In April 1915 an old man with a beard went to pay his land tax. Tired of waiting he went home and urged the peasants who looked up to him and admired him by following suit and doing the same. The event started a rebellion.

The place was Kelantan in Malaya. A new tax had been introduced in the Unfederated Malay States by the British. It was a “Land” Tax Land ownership would now be taxed. The tax was to replace the tax on produce. What the land produced and the quantity now no longer mattered. The new tax was not explained it was just imposed. On page 27 0f (7) Kheng, Cheah Boon points out  that John Maxwell the acting Colonial Secretary blamed  the Kelantan Government for not pointing out the differences and the benefits of Land registration. The Malay peasants around Pasir Puteh seemed to think it was an addition, not a replacement. Like people everywhere they were probably not happy about taxation but paid anyway. When a local worthy said basically, I’ve had enough, not waiting any longer to pay tax. I’m going home. People followed. On the 29th of April.(1)  A police serjeant Che Wan, was dispatched to arrest To’Janggut-the man with the beard and investigate reports of a planned attack on government buildings in Pasir Puteh.  To’Janggut then allegedly killed the police serjeant by stabbing him in  the neck with his dagger.(2) The attack on Pasir Puteh led by To’Janggut and Ungku Besar, a local feudal lord went ahead the next day.(3) The police station was raided and prisoners released. Some of the prisoners joined the rebels. Perhaps they were forced. Others just went home. Other government buildings were touched. someone then requested help from Singapore. the “Who” is not clear. So far we have looked at a brief overview of the initial events. Cheah Boon Kheng’s book, To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. does exactly what it says on the tin. We are left to make up our own minds. To’Janggut was a Muslim who had been to Mecca. Going to Mecca is one of the obligations of a Muslim. so the first question that arises is,”Was he radicalised?” Doubtful there seems to be no record of him being anything. he was wealthy. We know that because he went to Mecca. There were no cheap flights or boats back then. He  was though a landowner. For the first time, he now had to pay tax. Killing or at least being involved in the killing of the police serjeant would have put him on the wrong side of the law. Almost certainly he would have been hanged for this.  The next question that arises is, “Why did he kill the police serjeant?” The answer is how knows? Kheng’s book indicates it may have been for revenge. To’Jangget’s father had apparently run off with one of the Sultan’s concubines and, the Sultan had him killed. In all probability, To’Janggert had wanted to pay the land tax. It seems strange to have gone with the intention of not paying, and the police serjeant was killed during the arrest attempt.  So the next question is was this a riot or a rebellion? the involvement of Ungku Besar who was a feudal lord suggests it was a rebellion.

So why then? The attack was a few months after the Singapore mutiny which was quelled with the help of non-empire troops. Ungku Besar may have thought there were not enough British Troops in Singapore to spare and the 29th April was an opportune moment.

Who asked for help and why. The simple answer is only the Sultan could have asked for help. He could ask because the District Officer asked. The British Adviser “Asked” that would be tantamount to an order. Or the Sultan asked off his own bat. The next question is why? The Sultan would have had enough levies under his command to deal with a riot or minor rebellion. Perhaps the answer is the Sultan was hedging his bets. With the new land Tax the Sultan for the first time had to pay tax too. If there was the slightest chance of the rebellion succeeding he had more than anyone something to gain. With this in mind, he would have been quite happy for the Malays to think he had to ask for help. Farrer the political Office doest think the Sultan was implicated. ( Page 27 of (7) )

The British Response.

Ten planters (4) Messrs Templer, McPherson, Haughton, Stephens, Green, Belton, Gardner, Bone, Osbourne, and Dobson, joined together. along with the labourers from the Taku estate marched to hunt down some of the rebels. The group were armed with 4 guns, rifles, revolvers and parangs (a machete like, long knife) That night they marched fifty miles over one night and three mornings to intercept rebels they thought were heading to Kamuning. Returning disappointed that no one had had the chance to use their parangs.(4)Meanwhile, the wifes of the British officers were evacuated to Siam. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915 printed an article probably written by the Acting Colonial Secretary for the Straits Settlements John Maxwell on the 29th May 1915. 22 Malays and Sikhs had taken the earth road to Gunong from Kota Bahru to intercept rebels heading to Pasir Puteh but were recalled shortly after their arrival.This must have happened on or about the 30th April. The same article mentions the Tinggi estate bungalow owned by a Mr Marks had been looted. the only recorded wounding of a European was when a certain Mr Morrison stumbled on a beach and shot himself. This is also mentioned in the article.

The SS Calypso arrived with 250 Malay States Guides at Kota Bahru on the 5th May. The same day HMS Cadmas arrived off the coast and nearly 239 Officers and men from the RGA, RE and the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) (6) plus 20 Malay policemen landed from her(5) and occupied Pasir Puteh.  The KSLI waited at Pasir Puteh for nearly two weeks before returning to Singapore,  waiting for the rebels to attack. It was an attack that never came. Page 71 of To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions (1)  mentions a Royal Navy Warship fired 4 inch shells over Pasir Puteh, circa  after anchoring off the coast near the mouth of the Semerak River. It is not known if this was HMS Cadman or exactly what date, or why,  this incident occurred.The rebels fought a series of Hit and Run engagements mostly with the Malay States Guides but no large-scale actions. On the 27th May the Malay States Guides attacked about 50 rebels and killed them all, including To’Janggut included. To’Janggut’s body was hauled to the banks of the Kelantan River and strung up by the ankles for the local people to see.(5) This battle is described in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (6) as occurring on the 24th. Major Borton and a force of 60 Sikhs and 7 Europeans pursued 50-60 men to a village about 4 miles from Pasir Puteh. The men were able to take cover behind trees and fences. Major Borton’s force fought in the open from the padi-fields. The Major’s forced charged the Malays fled. Three bodies were picked up plus one wounded Malay. To’Janggut’s body was later buried just across the river from the site of where it was hung. Photographs still exist of the hanging and are easily found on the web.  The Campaign in Kelantan was over.

The Campaign was an Imperial sideshow. Largely ignored in the narratives of the Great War. Its significance is it was a successful counter-insurgency campaign in the jungles of South East Asia. The British Army was to spend over a third of the next hundred years fighting other counter-insurgency campaigns and wars in other parts of those jungles. 1928  Terengganu, 1942-45 WW2, 45-46 Vietnam, 45-46 Indonesia, 47-49 Sarawak, and 48-77 Malaya, to name a few.

More details of the politics of the rebellion can be found in. (7)

Notes, Sources, References.

(1) To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. from page 110,  By Cheah Boon Kheng (Web, https://books.google.com.my/books?id=2n6LhfSDVnwC&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=tok+janggut+The+attack+on+Pasir+Puteh+police+station+(1915)&source=bl&ots=F5FfIR2qYk&sig=wtyn9tpqa_FfRxNHkJ7N1X4GQ88&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bdljUo_xOYWJrQeXuYGwCg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=tok%20janggut%20The%20attack%20on%20Pasir%20Puteh%20police%20station%20(1915)&f=false.)

(2) other accounts claim the fatal wound was caused by a spear.  The dagger would have been a keris.This weapon is more likely as it was a weapon normally carried.

(3)page 110 To’Jangget :Legends…

(4) C M Hawksley phd Thesis, Administrative Colonialism Chapter 6. University of Wollongong 2001.

(5) http://www.christopherhalemedia.org/2012/06/some-early-rebels-against-british-rule/

(6) The Kelantan Outbreak The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915, page 10

(7)   Kheng, Cheah Boon. “Hunting Down the Rebels in Kelantan, 1915: The Sultan’s ‘Double Game'” Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 68, no. 2 (269) (1995): 9-32. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41493643.

Saying Goodbye to Joseph’s Dad and Ireland 1916.

Joseph Mallin was two and a half when he said goodbye to his dad in 1916. Joseph’s mum, granny, brothers, uncle, they were all there. His granny told Joseph’s dad she was proud of him. It takes a lot for a mother not to be proud of her son. Like many farewells, it was a tearful event. All knew they would not see Joseph’s dad again. Holding your loved ones and knowing it is for the last time must have been heartwrenching. It was the 7th May 1916/

Joseph’s dad was not going off to war. Nor was he dying of wounds. Joseph’s dad was not a soldier. He had been in the Army. He had served for twelve years in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Joined up as a Boy Bandsman. After 12 years spent mostly in India. During which there was a spell in South Africa fighting the Boer.  Joseph’s dad had left the army as a serjeant.

Joseph’s dad had been tried by a British Army Court Martial two days earlier, on the 5th May.  There were three judges. Colonel E.W.S.K. Maconchy, Lieutenant Colonel A.M. Bent, and Major F. W. Woodward. Joseph’s dad was prisoner number Seventy-eight. He was charged with: 1) Did an act to wit did take part in armed rebellion and in waging of war against His Majesty the King, such an act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be Prejudicial to the Defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy. 2) Did attempt to cause disaffection among the civilian population of His Majesty.

Found not guilty of the second charge. He was found guilty of the first charge and sentenced to death.  He was executed by firing squad sometime between 3.45 and 4.05 am on Monday 8th May 1916

Today we would call Joseph’s dad a terrorist, and a very important one at that. (1)

He was second in command of the Citizen Army, along with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, one of the predecessors of the IRA.

Prisoner 78 was one of 15 men executed as being leaders of the 1916 Rising in Dublin.

Up until the executions of the leaders, there seems to have been very little support for the rebellion in Ireland. -It was suppressed very quickly.

The executions changed all that. It turned the men into Martyrs. Martyrs become heroes in the popular psyche.  Frozen in time they are regarded much in the same way as the Rebel Alliance is in the Star War Films.  Underdogs fighting the technologically superior evil  empire.

The ideas behind the rising got turned into stone and stopped evolving.  you can’t have a conversation with, Marx  because Marx is dead. death is the point the individual’s ideas stop, but the words and actions live on.

When the leadership of an organisation is taken out you have no idea who is going to take over.  It is the middle that runs a war. The Top Directs. Without the middle, direction is lost. Without the Top the middle just promotes itself. Then the war just goes on.

In 1916 Britain won the 1916 Irish insurrection but ultimately lost the Republic, and the war continued for generations in the North.

References and notes

Joseph is Joseph Mallin, who is still alive and will be 103 years old tomorrow 13th September 2016

Joseph’s Dad was Michael Mallin

(1) In the Irish Republic, he is remembered as a “Freedom” Fighter. The difference between “Terrorist” and “Freedom” Fighter is down to are they shooting, or throwing bombs at you, or are they shooting or throwing bombs away from you.-If you are with them they are “Freedom” Fighters, if you are against them, they are terrorists.

(2) Charges and judges are from “The Secret Court Martial Records of the Easter Rising, by Brian Barton

(3) Information about Joseph and his dad is from various Web Sites

Isobel Esson #FWW #WWI

William Philip Esson is a dream to research. There is a Medal Card. He died, killed in action. A look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Webpage gives yet more detail. Although he has no known grave. He was buried behind the lines. William is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. The Commission’s website also reveals he was the father of Isobel M Esson. William married her mother,  Helen Stephen Rennie, in 1909. Sadly a typical story of the times. Young man, when you are sixty they are all “Young Men”, goes to war. Killed so close to the end. Another child grows up without their dad. Isobel was not yet 7 years old when her dad died. She lived near Strathdon in Aberdeenshire. A beautiful part of the world. William went to war at the beginning of January 1917. Isobel would have been 5 years old. Around February 1918 William managed to get home leave so he, hopefully, would have spent some time with his daughter.  There was another daughter, Helen Stephen. No mention of her on the Commission’s webpage, which is sad. Helen would have been 3 when their dad went off to France to fight in the Great War. Helen is mentioned in William’s service record, which also survives. There is also mention of Helen in de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-18.  As yet I have been unable to find any more information about Helen.  Apart from Helen was named after her mother. Can not imagine how the family coped. Or what could be worse? That is where the stories of those killed in action usually end. we are left to imagine and contemplate.  For Isobel, it could not have got any more tragic. On the 19th September 1918 her dad was killed. Least we forget, although soldiers are never forgotten. Just two years and six days after her mother had died.

Helen Stephen Rennie died 13th September 1916. RIP.SDC10118Helen’s grave at Strathdon  (photo Peter Anderson)

Enlisting and Trains “Train Window Death” #FWW #WW1

“Train Window Death” A very recent tragedy. It reminded me of Private 2778 James “Jas” George, 2/6th Seaforth Highlanders death over a hundred years ago. Jas had his head out of the window chatting to friends in another carriage. The train was approaching Grantown-on-Spey when he hit his head on a viaduct. He died shortly afterwards at Ian Charles Hospital in Grantown-on-Spey. Jas was 31 years old with four children. He is buried in Elgin New Cemetery.

Mind you getting a train wasn’t that easy.

Andrew Simpson was killed a few weeks before Jas. He was on his way to enlist and was killed in a railway accident in Bulawayo, Rhodesia. Andrew is not on any memorial that I know of.

Another man who had problems getting to a train was Alexander Cumming.

Alexander was born at Baillieward, Grantown-on-Spey, 11th October 1883. The son of John and Isabella McMillan Cumming of Garth Green, Grantown-on-Spey. He was a student at the Grammar School in Grantown-onSpey. Alexander’s first job was as an apprentice clerk in Lord Elgin’s Estate Office in Dunfermline in Fife. Then he emigrated to Canada. Here he became a rancher in Alberta.  In 1915 Alexander decided to enlist. Easy, walk downtown and sign on the dotted line. Or get a bus or a train to the nearest city. Alexander decided on a train. So he walked. Well, when I say “walked” that was only part of the way to the station. He then boarded a raft. This brought him a bit closer. He still had a way to go. He did what any self-respecting rancher would do. he completed the last part of the 300-mile journey to his nearest railway station by bullock waggon. This was by no means the end of his journey to enlist. That was just to get to the station. Alexander then crossed the Atlantic and made his way to his parents and then on to Elgin. Here he enlisted. His travels were not over. The army sent him to Salonica. Salonica was the end of his journey. Private S/18408 Alexander Cumming died of illness on Christmas day 1916. He is buried in Salonica, at Lambert Road Military Cemetery. He is commemorated on Grantown-on-Spey War Memorial, Grantown-on-Spey’s Grammar School’s War Memorial, and a family gravestone in Cromdale Churchyard.

Jas, Andrew, and Alexander are all included in my book Poppies from the Heart of Strathspey

 

 

Folkestone’s “Few” #FWW #WWI

It is a rarely told, not unknown, nor forgotten, part of Folkestone’s First World War history.  Untold and overlooked.  Theses are just some of the few who took part in the air war. The first is from Folkestone’s Old Cemetery and is named on the War Memorial. Not all are on the War Memorial. This is Folkestone and they do things differently here.

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This is the grave of Leslie Cecil Wraight. I went up to the cemetery yesterday to  have a chat with him. A task I found impossible, they are tree clearing and you can’t really shout in a graveyard. I like the inscription on his grave,

“Now peace reigns over the countryside.

Our thanks are to the lads that died.

Clever, and noble, loving and kind.

A beautiful memory left behind.”

This is from the  Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald – Saturday 22 June 1918. Lieut. Leslie Cecil Wraight, R.A.F., second son of Mr. and Mrs. C. G. Wraight, of 31, Albion-road, Folkestone, formerly of Ashford, has been killed in an aeroplane accident at Lincolnshire. He was the younger brother of Mr. Clarence Wraight, who is well-known in the district as a professional roller skater. In an earlier stage of the war Lieut. Wraight was in the Kent Fortress Royal Engineers. The funeral took place yesterday, the deceased being buried with military honours at Folkestone Cemetery. (As reproduced on the  Sussex History Forum at , http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/) As far as I have been able to ascertain there was only one aircraft accident in Lincolnshire on the 17th June 1918. A Sopwith Camel suffered engine failure on take off at RAF Scampton, and crashed killing one.(http://www.bcar.org.uk/world-war-one-incident-logs) This must therefore have been Leslie Wraight.

There is another grave close by where Leslie Barron is buried. Leslie the son of Sydney and Mercy E. Barron, of 12, Beachborough Villas, Folkestone. Served in France, the Dardanelles, and Palestine, before returning to the UK. He died on the 28th July 1918.The inquest into his death was held in Lincoln. Possibly this was near where his flying accident occurred. If so he must have been flying an Avro 504. Two crashed on the same day, but it is not possible to narrow it down to a particular aircraft. Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald – Saturday 03 August 1918  (As reproduced on the  Sussex History Forum at , http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/)

“Second Lieutenant Leslie Barron, R.A.F., son of Mr. S. Barron, of High-street, Folkestone, and 1, High-street, Hythe, was killed whilst flying a new type of machine at an English aerodrome on Sunday. He was 22 years of age… …Lieutenant Barron was buried with full military honours at the Cemetery on Thursday, the first part of the service being held at All Souls’ Church, the Rev. J. W. Davisson officiating. The body, conveyed on a float drawn by a motor, draped with the R.A.F. colours, was followed by a detachment of the Corps to which deceased belonged, including eight pilots. A large number of Canadian soldiers followed also. The chief mourners were deceased’s father and mother, Mrs. Floyd, Mrs. Rowlands, and Miss Rowlands. A party of Canadians fired three volleys over the grave, and the buglers sounded the “Last Post.” There were many wreaths.”

Not buried in Folkestone, but someone who would have known the Old Cemetery is Allen Sandby Coombe. He was the Son of Dr. and Mrs. Sandby Coombe, of “Brownswood,” Cherry Gardens, Folkestone. He was killed in a flying accident possible while flying an Avro 504. He was a probationary Flight Officer, and 504’s were the aircraft they trained on. Coombe died when the plane  he was flying crashed into Chingford Reservoir. Allen Coombe is buried in Chingford Mount Cemetery (from the find a grave web site) He does not appear to be named on the War Memorial.

Another whose name is not on the War Memorial is Folkestone’s “Ace” Dennis Henry Stacey Gilbertson. The son of Albert Stacey and Ethel Hoole Gilbertson,  62 Shorncliffe Rd., Folkestone. Gilbertson was killed in action on the 4th September 1918, and is buried in Villers-Aau-Tertre Communal Cemetery.He was just 21.

Gilbertson scored his first victory on the 30th May 1918 when he shot down an Albatros DV south-east of Albert., a month later he shot down his next, followed by two on the 1st July 1918. His last was a Fokker DVII on the 4th September 1918. Gilbertson was also killed in the same dogfight, although not by the pilot he shot down.

Another pilot, also not named on the War Memorial is Captain Durham Donald George Hall MC. The son of Mrs Hall ( possibly remarried and known as Gaskell), White House, Broadfield Road Folkestone Captain Hall’s MC was gazetted 11th December 1916

” For conspicuous gallantry in  action. He has flown in the worst of weather and often at very low altitudes On one occasion he flew very low and under heavy fire to range our artillery.”

Hall was wounded during a ground attack mission on the 26th March 1918 and died the next day. His death was reported in Flight Magazine 11th April 1918.

Eustace Bertram Low R.F.C., the third son of the Rev. A. E. and Mrs. Low, of St. John’s Vicarage, Folkestone, killed on active service on March, 24th, 1917, aged 18.  His death was reported in Flight Magazine 5th April 1917 as being ” accidently killed on active service”. Eustace Bertram Low doesn’t appear to be on the town’s War Memorial either.

Note on War Memorials.

There was no hard and fast rule about War Memorials-nothing was written in stone, so to speak. Each community decided who and why a name was listed. Some of the reasons included, – there was no one left to put a person’s name forward, no one knew until after a memorial was dedicated that they had died, no one liked the person and therefore saw no reason to put a name forward. 

In Folkestone, if a person was named on a memorial elsewhere in the town, their name was not on the town War Memorial. Not sure if all of the pilots mentioned are named on other memorials in the town.