All posts by trench47foot

About trench47foot

Ramsgate author and local historian interested in period 1880 to 1920.

Ten Ramsgate Communities and counting!

There are now ten Ramsgate communities on the IWM LivesoftheFirstWorldWar website. They are not complete yet. I have just added the Old Augustinians and the Old Laurentians and will be adding the Chatham House OBs and church honours boards too over the next few months. My guided cemetery tours are now finished for 2015 but nearly every time I learn something new. In August the grandson of a Ramsgate Buff who survived the Great War showed me where his grandfather is buried. An interesting twist is that Fred Elliss was a beach photographer before the war. My next quest is to find out if the honours board for the Ramsgate branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters still exists as I have a list from a local newspaper of a number of names which appeared on it.

St Lawrence College opened their doors for the first time last weekend as part of the national Heritage Open Days – a great opportunity to see their WW1 honours board in the chapel, which was itself built as a war memorial.

Women employed for the war effort

In March 1915 the Labour Exchange in Turner Street, Ramsgate, claimed that no able-bodied person need be unemployed. Women were wanted as farm and dairy hands, for leather stitching, brush making, machining clothing and for light machining for parts for the armaments industry.

By April 1915 there were already signs in the Thanet Advertiser that women were starting to take on the jobs of the men who had left for the front:-

It is all to the good, therefore, that women should take up the lighter duties of distribution, and there are many duties in the railway, postal, police, and administrative services that might well be done by women, thus releasing many fit men for the greater and heavier employments.

Continue reading Women employed for the war effort

Bob the gardener

On my last trip to Ramsgate cemetery I bumped into Bob, the man responsible for making sure that all the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s memorial gardens in East Kent are immaculate. He also worked for many years in France and Belgium and anyone who visits any of the cemeteries on the Western Front or in Flanders will know how beautifully these cemeteries are kept. We owe Bob and his colleagues a big thank you for all their hard work.

Ramsgate’s saddest week

On Sunday 19th March 1916 five enemy seaplanes raided Dover, Deal, Ramsgate &

Margate. In Ramsgate townsfolk heard heavy firing in the distance but it was

too misty to see much out at sea that afternoon. Suddenly the rapid firing of

shrapnel was heard then the sound of bombs exploding. Damage was done in King

Street and Chatham Street. Continue reading Ramsgate’s saddest week

Ramsgate added to IWM database

For the last two years I have been re-creating the Ramsgate Roll of Honour from the First World War. I am now starting to add the names very gradually to the IWM’s website

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/

I am starting with the smaller groups such as those men who emigrated from Ramsgate, mainly to Canada or Australia. I have also added some men who served in the RFC/RAF. Have a look at my entries in the community ” RamsgateRemembers14-18″ and please let me know if you find any mistakes!

Jack Silverthorne

Jack Silverthorne, the uncle of Broadstairs Mayor Rosalind Binks, was born in Abertillery in Wales in September 1897, but grew up in Ramsgate, Kent.

When war broke out, he rushed to enlist – at 16 – and was promptly taken home again by his mother. Nevertheless, he went back some time later – still underage – and was accepted by the Royal East Kent Yeomanry (later the Buffs).

His regiment was moved to the Dardanelles and saw action at the Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.  After being evacuated from Gallipoli in October 1915 he was in Egypt and possibly other Middle Eastern countries.

He hated the heat and the flies and thought no fighting could be worse than Gallipoli. He begged his superiors for a transfer to France. He got his wish, saw plenty of action, was wounded at Cambrai and was finally shipped back to England with severe injuries.

He underwent 12 operations in the aftermath of the war but still had a silver tube in his body and a hole in his shoulder when he returned to his home in Ramsgate.

Jack was engaged to be married but on 4th August 1926, whilst on the main sands at Ramsgate, he saw two bathers in difficulties in the water. He and another man rushed in fully clothed to rescue them. He rescued one bather but drowned beneath the old jetty trying to save another. He was 28.

He received a posthumous Certificate of Heroism from the Carnegie Heroism Trust and the Trust paid for his gravestone, in the cemetery off Cecilia Road on the right hand side of the main path through the new part of the cemetery.

Sad to think he survived two war arenas but died a young man in his home town.

Rosalind’s  grandfather Alderman Daniel Barnett,  who lived about 2 doors along from the Royal Oak Hotel, arranged a contract between his family’s company and the Ministry to supply the soldiers of the Great Army with soup in WW1.

St Lawrence College Chapel

Good news for Ramsgate! The St Lawrence College chapel will be open to the public during the Heritage Open House weekend in September.

This will be a rare opportunity to see inside the Grade II listed Chapel at St Lawrence College which was built in 1926 by Sir Aston Webb as a war memorial to former pupils who lost their lives in the First World War.The original marble memorial plaque, unveiled in 1920, is at the heart of the Chapel and has subsequently been added to, bringing the total loss of pupils to 143.The chapel will be open on Saturday 12th September from 11am to 1pm. Visitors will be able to hear the Chapel organ being played and the Chaplain, Head of History and Senior School pupils will be on hand to  tell visitors more about the Chapel. This event will not be suitable for children under the age of 7.

http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/directory/st-lawrence-college-chapel

 

Robert Wickenden

WickendenYoung soldiers at camp. Robert is reclining at the front

Robert was born in Folkestone in July 1890. His parents were Charles and Kate Wickenden. He had many brothers and sisters. His grand-daughter Fiona was only nine years old when he died in 1964 but has very fond memories of him, and his memory always lived on through her grandmother, mother and uncle.

Robert served in the 1st Battalion of the Buffs, the East Kent Regiment from 1914, having originally enlisted in February 1910,  and was transferred to the army reserve in March 1919. He hardly ever spoke about the war to his family but they knew that he had suffered shrapnel injuries and had ongoing health issues due to several gas attacks in the trenches.

Robert married Charlotte Eliza Anne Drake in Folkestone in 1921. Fiona’s mother Phyllis and her uncle Bob were born in Folkestone in 1922 and 1924. The family moved to Ramsgate in the 1920s as Robert worked as a platelayer for the railways. He was transferred to Ramsgate when the new railway lines, the viaduct and the new Ramsgate Railway Station were constructed. The family lived in Coleman Crescent.

Fiona still lives in Ramsgate and still has her grandfather’s medals, which will be handed down to her son Louis.

Guided tours in Ramsgate Cemetery

There is still time this summer for anyone who wants to join one of the guided tours of the WW1 graves in Ramsgate Cemetery.

The next tour is on Wednesday 15th July meeting at 2pm by the cemetery chapel near the Cecilia Road entrance.

The final tours for 2015 are on Saturday August 22nd at 3pm and Thursday September 3rd at 2pm.

There is limited parking at the cemetery approach road. The Thanet Loop bus service stops nearby in Hereson Road and Dumpton Park station is a ten minute walk away. Tours take about an hour and it is possible for visitors with pushchairs and mobility scooters to visit most parts of the cemetery.

Remembered in Arras

Travelled last week to Arras in Northern France, a very attractive little town which had to be largely rebuilt after the First World War. The following local men that I am aware of are listed on the Arras Memorial:-

ANDREWS Arthur James Pte 7th Buffs died 3/5/17 aged 20. Mother at 12 Montefiore Cottages
BADDERLY Arthur Leslie Pte 5th Dragoon Guards died 10/4/17 aged 22 Liived at 1 Guildford Lawn
BEER Wilfrid Reuben Pte 1st Buffs died 21/3/18 aged 25. St George’s plaque
(worked at Ramsgate Sands Station)
BISHOP Archibald Thomas Rifleman 1st/8th London Regt (PO Rifles) died 21/5/16 aged 22
BROCK John Paddon Pte 12th Middlesex Regt died 03/05/17. Chatham House
COX Elgar Aylesbury Corp 6th Buffs died 11/4/17 aged 21. Parents 28 Vale Rd
DOLMAN Philip Walter W Pte 1st/5th Sherwood Foresters died 01/07/17 aged 40
FAGG Arthur Henry Pte 1st Essex Regt died 24/04/17 aged 39
GRIGGS Charles William Pte 8th East Surrey Regt died 03/05/17
HARRIS Stephen Henry Pte RAMC 42nd Field Ambulance died 04/05/17 aged 30
HODGES John Pte 6th Buffs died 11/07/17 aged 46
LAMBERT Christopher Rifleman 1st/9th London Regt died 14/04/17 aged 30
NUNNELEY John Cyril Lnc Corp 2nd Highland Light Infantry died 28/04/17
ORDERS Archibald Lnc Corp 22nd Royal Fusiliers died 29/04/17
POWNEY Alfred Frederick Pte 23rd Royal Fusiliers(London Regt) died 25/03/18
SADLER Frank Pte A Coy 7th Buffs died 03/05/17 aged 29
SIMPSON Stanley Pte 6th Buffs died 09/04/17 aged 27
WARMAN Ernest Petley Lnc Corp W Coy 2nd Royal Fusiliers died 24/04/17 aged 29

Many of these local men died in the Second Battle of Arras, which was a major British offensive from 9th April to 16th May 1917. After the Chantilly Conference of 16 November 1916, where the military leaders decided Allied strategy for the following year, General Nivelle, newly promoted to the post of commander-in-chief of the French Army, and his British counterpart, General Haig, drew up plans for a combined action to breach the German line.
The town of Arras was picked as the theatre of a diversionary offensive. This operation, combined with a large-scale attack in the French sector, was to draw in German reserve troops several days before the start of the French assault, to facilitate the hoped for breakthrough at the Chemin des Dames Ridge. Anxious to avoid a repeat of the slaughter inflicted on Allied troops in the battles of Verdun and the Somme the previous year, the British general staff instructed New Zealand engineers to create a vast underground network of tunnels through which the troops could pass to come up directly in front of the German front line.
By the end of March the tunnelling works were complete and the caves under the town contained more than 24,000 soldiers. The soldiers had to spend prolonged periods in the tunnels so they were equipped with kitchens, water supplies from the mains or wells, and electric lighting throughout.. The Wellington Quarry in Arras is now open to the public and well worth a visit.
The Commonwealth section of the FAUBOURG D’AMIENS CEMETERY near the citadel in Arras was begun in March 1916, behind the French military cemetery established earlier. It continued to be used by field ambulances and fighting units until November 1918. The cemetery was enlarged after the Armistice and contains over 2,650 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 10 of which are unidentified. There are also a few Indian and even some German graves. The adjacent ARRAS MEMORIAL, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, and have no known grave.

The ARRAS FLYING SERVICES MEMORIAL commemorates about 1,000 airmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force who were killed on the whole Western Front and who have no known grave. They include Major Edward (Mick) Mannock, one of the most successful war air aces of World War I, who was shot down over France behind enemy lines in July 1918 but received a posthumous VC. He spent a large part of his childhood in Canterbury and there is a memorial plaque to him on the south wall of the cathedral nave.

Just one local man that I am aware of is listed on the Flying Services memorial. He is also mentioned on St George’s Roll of Honour board.

PENTECOST Charles Gordon 2nd Lt RFC 25th Squadron who died 27/03/18