Category Archives: Civilians

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

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.

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.

HM Auxiliary Ship Princess Irene

In May 1915 the loss through an explosion of HM Auxiliary Ship Princess Irene in Sheerness Harbour on Thursday brought grief, sudden and overwhelming, into many Ramsgate homes. Several shipwrights from the port who had left Ramsgate recently to undertake Government work were on board the vessel, which was undergoing re-fitting.
Telegrams received at their homes on Thursday prepared the families for the terrible news, advising them to travel to Sheerness at once, and the list of dead posted outside the dockyard gates at night confirmed the tragic facts. Continue reading HM Auxiliary Ship Princess Irene

Fund raising in Ramsgate

Despite losing one of her sons, Captain Robert Montefiore, earlier in the year in August 1915 Mrs Sebag-Montefiore held the annual sale in her garden on the Eastcliff at Ramsgate. Money was raised for the Thanet Women’s Aid Association in support of poor people and young girls who found themselves destitute through no fault of their own. In the sixteen years of its existence it had never been more needed than when the men were away fighting at the Front.Others raised funds for Christmas gifts, books and newspapers to send to the troops. Many organizations distributed food, clothing and gifts to the families of soldiers and sailors, as well as to women displaced from their homes by wartime service. Continue reading Fund raising in Ramsgate

Socks for the boys

Women and young girls set to work knitting hundreds of useful items for the soldiers and sailors such as khaki socks, balaclava helmets, gloves, and mufflers or scarves. At Hereson School, they started collecting money for a Wool Fund to enable the girls to knit socks, belts and helmets for the soldiers, and arranged concerts to raise money. The girls worked very hard and in December 1914 they sent off 105 knitted garments. The next year the girls also made sandbags. Continue reading Socks for the boys

Thanet’s women doing their bit

In September 1915 Mothercraft clubs to promote the health and welfare of babies were being started all over the country. Two opened up in Margate and Ramsgate opened theirs in September 1915 followed by Broadstairs and St Peter’s in November 1915. The welfare of infants was a question of great national importance and every encouragement was given to organisations which sought to help and educate the mother to bring up healthy children. Continue reading Thanet’s women doing their bit

Spectacular air battle in skies over Thanet

On 22nd August 1917 Thanet witnessed one of the most spectacular air battles of the war above English soil. About a dozen planes in fan formation appeared from the direction of Ramsgate and the North Foreland at about half past ten in the morning. For nearly half an hour thousands of people watched the German planes struggling to escape from the trap into which they had blundered. A remorseless shrapnel barrage from the land guns greeted the invaders. A squadron of British planes was already up in the air ready to receive the unwelcome visitors and the smoke from the gunfire momentarily obscured the planes from sight. Continue reading Spectacular air battle in skies over Thanet