Monthly Archives: July 2015

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

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.


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.