Monthly Archives: April 2015


Ramsgate’s Roll of Honour from WW1 was lost during the Second World War so I am re-creating it in memory of my paternal grandfather who died in France in October 1918. If you go to St George’s Church in Ramsgate you will see the town’s war memorial in front of the main entrance but there are no names listed on it.There are, however, a number of plaques inside the church and other Roll of Honour boards still exist in local schools and churches. Not all the names listed have been found on the CWGC website so I have used local newspapers and street directories to find out more about the families. Stories about survivors are just as interesting. People move around a lot more these days so I have been surprised how many families still live locally a hundred years later. Continue reading LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Plucky Ramsgate lads

Richard AbbottRichard Abbott

There were four brothers in the Abbott family who lived in St Luke’s Avenue.  William, Richard and Alfred were in the army and another brother was in the Navy.The following article appeared in the local paper at the end of September 1916.

Mr and Mrs W Abbott of 21 St Luke’s Avenue , Ramsgate are anxious regarding the safety of their boy, Pte Richard Abbott, of a service Battalion of the Buffs, who has been reported wounded and missing since August 18th. Coincident with the news of his disappearance is revealed a family war service record of an unusually interesting character. The missing soldier enlisted on November 5th, 1914, when he was only 17 years of age. Another son, Shoeing Smith A Abbott, of the RFA enlisted at the same age, but not to be outdone another son driver W Abbott, joined the forces at the age of 15. He is now sixteen years old, but has seen close upon 12 months service at the Front with his battery. At the beginning of August of this year, a surprise meeting at the Front took place between this plucky young Ramsgatonian and the brother who is now missing.The latter brother was unaware that his brother had enlisted, and was astounded at seeing him, under such conditions. Realising that he must have enlisted by giving his age as at least 19, he made efforts to ensure that he would be sent home, and the result is that the lad is now detained for home service.

Continue reading Plucky Ramsgate lads

Ramsgate’s Girl Guides in WW1

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

Two years in the Western Desert

The Western frontier of Egypt is over 700 miles long. Most of this is desert, with only a narrow habitable coastal strip heading away towards Tripoli. To the west of British-controlled Egypt, Arab and Berber tribes in 1916 were being agitated by German and Turkish propaganda, and fuelled by German money and they began to attack the British frontier posts. The Western Frontier Force or WFF was formed out of battalions from different countries to protect Egypt.

Not again Continue reading Two years in the Western Desert

New memorial to honour men lost on HMS Hampshire

The Orkney Heritage Society is raising funds to restore the Kitchener Memorial tower in Birsay, Orkney, which was erected in 1926, and to add a commemorative wall to the hundreds of crewmen who died aboard HMS Hampshire in 1916.
HMS Hampshire, a Royal Navy cruiser, was carrying Lord Kitchener on a diplomatic mission to Russia when it hit German mines off the coast of Birsay during gale-force conditions. Only 12 men survived the sinking, and the Orkney Heritage Society wants to ensure that those who lost their lives alongside the War Minister are remembered on the memorial.
There is some disagreement over exactly how many men were lost when the HMS Hampshire sank but it is currently believed to be about 735. The exact number may never be known. Local men lost included Ldg Stoker Fred Bean 24 mentioned on St Laurence war memorial, Ldg Telegraphist John Victor Bear 22 from Queen Bertha Road and Harry Maxted from St Peters. Lord Kitchener himself was also a local man as in 1911 he had bought Broome Park near Canterbury and was there on leave when he was called on to form Britain’s army in August 1914.
The memorial is due to be unveiled on the centenary of the sinking on the June 5th 2016.

2nd Lieutenant Michael Thunder

Second Lieutenant Michael Thunder, of the Royal Flying Corps, who died at Norwich on 24th September 1916 from burns received in a flying accident, was buried at Ramsgate on September 29th 1916 with full military honours. He was the son of the late Major George Thunder, and grandson, on his mother’s side, of Augustus Welby Pugin, the well-known Ramsgate architect. Michael was educated at St. Augustine’s College, Ramsgate. Six officers of the Flying Corps acted as bearers at his funeral, and the officer in command arrived by aeroplane. Continue reading 2nd Lieutenant Michael Thunder

Trench Feet


The Army Handbook in 1914 has a useful paragraph telling soldiers how to care for their feet:-

To prevent sore feet cleanliness and strict attention to the fitting of boots and socks are necessary. Before marching the feet should be washed with soap and water and carefully dried. The inside of the socks should be well rubbed with soft or yellow soap. After the march the feet must be again washed and clean dry socks put on. Soaking the feet in salt or alum and water hardens the skin. The nails should be cut straight across and not too close. A blister will probably be occasioned by an unevenness or hole in the sock, or an unevenness in the lining of the boot; the cause therefore should be ascertained and removed. The edge of a blister should be pricked with a needle and the fluid drained away by gently pressing the blister; a small pad of cotton wool or soft rag should be applied, and kept in place by a small piece of sticking plaster. Men are cautioned against getting boots too small for them. Continue reading Trench Feet

The Sebag Montefiore family

The King’s message appeared in the local Thanet papers in August 1914. In those early euphoric days, when everyone thought the war would be over by Christmas, local lads marched to the recruiting rallies singing the national anthem. Within days local policemen and a local bank manager were already called up, as were the well-known Ramsgate men, Lord Weigall of Southwood and Lieutenant Robert Sebag-Montefiore from Eastcliff Lodge, the great, great nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore. Robert was married by this time and had a home in London and was elected as a London County Councillor for Battersea and Clapham in March 1913. He served in the Royal East Kent Yeomanry and is buried in the Alexandria (Chatby) Jewish Cemetery No 3. Continue reading The Sebag Montefiore family

What happened to it?

In the Thanet Advertiser and Echo of 13th July 1918 an article tells of the opportunity for townsfolk to visit the Ramsgate School of Art for a private view of the Roll of Honour, designed and made at the school out of oak by Mr G C Duxbury.

Above the names of two hundred and seventy men (up to that date) who died in the war was a circular picture of “St George standing high upon the shore, ridding the world of its scourge.” Mr Duxbury also had a sense of humour as if people looked carefully at the defeated dragon he was seen to be wearing a Pickelhaube, the spiked helmets worn by German officers. In the halo around the head of the town’s patron saint were the words of St George’s motto, “To defend the weak”.

Continue reading What happened to it?