The Girl Guides movement was founded in 1910, so was still a relatively young organisation in 1914, with around 300,000 members registered when war broke out. Nevertheless, the Guides achieved a lot and earned new respect for girls and what they were capable of, and the calm and competent attitude with which they worked. Their practical training in first aid, life-saving, rescue work, crisis management and practical home nursing enabled them to cope smartly and efficiently in dealing with difficult situations. Continue reading Ramsgate’s Girl Guides in WW1
Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills
Following the early death of her father Janet Stancomb and her sister were adopted by their uncle, Sir William Henry Wills. The Wills family amassed their vast fortune in the 18th century in the tobacco trade when slave produced tobacco was imported to Bristol from the American Republic. It was not until the Crimean War that cigarettes were smoked in any great quantity by the British, and they generally became popular in 1870. This was the age when it was not considered “the done thing” to smoke in front of ladies, and there was no smoking on trains. The Wills factory started producing “Bristol” cigarettes in 1871.
When World War I began, Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg as part of the Schlieffen Plan, in an attempt to capture Paris quickly by catching the French off guard by invading through neutral countries. The British were still bound by the 1839 agreement to protect Belgium in the event of a war. On 2nd August 1914, the German government demanded free passage through Belgian territory. The Belgian government refused so on 4th August German troops invaded Belgium and Britain declared war on Germany. Continue reading Those poor Belgians
You came to me with your eyes ashine
With a soldierly, careless tread.
In a khaki uniform so trim
And a new peaked cap on your head.
“I’m off to the Front, dear comrade mine;
And I’m jolly well glad to go!”
But your lips were set in a line so grim
That boded ill for the foe.
My fighting blood leaped up in pride –
You looked so British, so grand;
But my woman’s heart was vaguely stirred
As you heartily shook my hand –
Stirred with a pain I struggled to hide,
You were marching to glory – or death;
And ‘twas only God that night who heard
The tears that were choking my breath.
To-day, in letters that scorched like flame,
As I read of the toll we have paid-
The reeking horrors, the awful strife,
The crimes that will ne’er from history fade –
There leaped to my anxious eyes your name;
Died, fighting hard, as a soldier should;
Killed as a valiant deed you assayed.
I wept – but I gloried. I understood.
You called me once “Your comrade brave,”
And never, I trust, I’ll belie your thought;
But to-day far away in your nameless grave
Lies all the love that you never sought.
I know that you died for England’s sake.
Maybe – I know not – ‘tis better so.
I do not murmur; but should there break
A heart to-night – only God will know.
Miriam E Gladwell
Thanet Advertiser October 1914
Miriam E Gladwell was a Ramsgate poet, well-known to the concert-going public in the town and district, who had made many successful appearances on the platform as an elocutionist of merit, and was always available for the organisers of charity events. In October 1916 the Thanet Advertiser published a book of her poems called “In War Time,” which was followed by another volume in December 1917.