Category Archives: Army

The siege of Kut 1916

Al-Kūt is a city in eastern Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris River, about 160 kilometres south east of Baghdad. British troops including the Buffs were serving in Iraq as part of the Mesopotamia Expeditonary Force. This fertile area with important trade routes was fought over in biblical times and one hundred years after the siege of Kut this territory is still being bitterly fought over.

In autumn 1915, Turkish troops besieged Major-General Charles Townshend’s forces in Kut-al-Amara before the Allied troops could withdraw further down the Tigris to the port of Basra. The siege of Kut-al-Amara lasted 147 days, before the British and Indian troops inside the garrison town finally surrendered on 29 April 1916. Conditions were appalling. In bitterly cold weather, with inadequate supplies, poor communications and with little medical treatment, many soldiers did not survive the winter. Of the 11,800 men who left Kut-al-Amara on 6 May 1916, 4,250 died either on their way to captivity or in the PoW camps at Aleppo. Continue reading The siege of Kut 1916

A quiet corner of Ramsgate

On a recent visit to Ramsgate’s Jewish Cemetery to see the grave of a civilian who died in a WW1 air raid my attention was drawn to two other graves on which WW1 soldiers are remembered.

The civilian who died was Kate Cleopatra Bonny who was killed on the Eve of the Day of Atonement 5676 on 17th September 1915 aged 32.

The first soldier was Alfred Abraham Silver, a Lance Corporal in the 2nd Garrison Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment who died in India from influenza aged 22 on 25th October 1918, and whose parents lived in Augusta Road. He was buried in India and remembered on the Kirklee Memorial. There was an obituary in the Thanet Advertiser of 9th November 1918.

The other soldier was Morris Julius van Thal, a Rifleman in the 24th Battalion Royal Fusiliers who died in France on 29/04/1917. His body was not found so he is remembered on the Arras Memorial.

 

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.

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

Left, right, left right!

Throughout the summer of 1914 the local Ramsgate branches of the Territorial Army continued to meet for their weekly training and drill practice. According to the announcements in the Thanet Advertiser of 6th June 1914 the Left Section 3rd Kent Battery 3rd Home Counties Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery commanded by Second Lieutenant Chard met on Monday evenings for a lecture, Tuesdays for NCOs re-drilling and harness fitting, Wednesdays for signaller’s practice, Thursdays for section gun drill and harness instruction and Friday for Semaphore signalling and gun laying. No meetings on Saturdays but early Sunday morning there was drill order. Continue reading Left, right, left right!

Old Lawrentians

Cyril and Norman Siddeley

Three Old Lawrentians who survived the war were Cyril, Ernest and Norman Siddeley, sons of the motor car manufacturer John Siddeley, whose company Siddeley-Deasy produced ambulances and aircraft engines during WW1. Their parents paid for the choir stalls in the memorial chapel. The dedication reads:-

These stalls are presented by Mr and Mrs J D Siddeley as a thanksoffering for the preservation in the Great War (1914-1918) of their sons Cyril, Ernest and Norman, old boys of the Junior School and College.”

Cyril Davenport Siddeley, born in 1894, became 2nd Baron Kenilworth following his father’s death in 1953. He joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1914 later becoming a captain in the Army Service Corps. Continue reading Old Lawrentians

The Taylor Family

The Taylor family lived in St David’s Road in Ramsgate. Three brothers Frank, Percy and Charles all saw active service during WW1. Frank was born in 1895 and died in 1980. At the age of nineteen he had been working as an apprentice butcher in the London Central Meat Company in Broadstairs High Street when he joined the Royal Artillery in 1914.

Frank saw active service during the Gallipoli campaign (also known as the Dardanelles campaign) against the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and in Mesopotamia. He recalled incidents of the Ghurka soldiers sneaking up during the night to cut the ligaments of the Turks’ horses to hamper their progress.

All three brothers thankfully returned home after the war. Frank raised three children and became manager of the butcher’s shop where he had worked before the war. He was later able to open his own shop in St. Peter’s in 1934.

His wife Irene worked as a dressmaker in Margate, and aged fifteen, remembered Zeppelins coming in over the town.

Their son Ken Taylor still lives in St Peter’s today.