As the Centenary unfolds, a range of newspaper and other records will appear here to give an idea of how the war was revealed at home primarily focused on Kent for our purposes .... fairly random. If you have other snippets to share, please let us know using the dedicated email account:
The Western Front continued largely "stabilised" from January 1915 to the end of 1916. The continuing mood surrounding events in the Gallipoli Peninsula is revealed by General Ian Hamilton in his Despatch of 26th August 1915:-
"Finally, if my despatch is in any way to reflect the feelings of the force, I must refer to the shadow cast over the whole of our adventure by the loss of so many of our gallant and true-hearted comrades. Some of them we shall never see again; some have had the mark of the Dardanelles set upon them for life, but others, and, thank God, by far the greater proportion, will be back in due course at the front."
Italy engaged more fully with German and Austro-Hungarian forces.
Newspaper reporting on the Russian experience on the Eastern Front and the addition of Italy on the Western Front gains more column-inches.
The Dardanelles engagement
Allied aerial bombing raids on Germany
Newspapers were continuing to report under censorship - so Zeppelin raids were recorded as "East coast" rather than confirm key locations to German spies for future raids....
The "Munitions of War Act, 1915," was leading to a transformation of British War machine as they played 'catch up' to meet the threat that was now spreading more widely in the world. This included the shifting from 'cotton powder' to T.N.T. (of which more will be revealed in the 1915/1916 account of the tragic loss of Alice Post of Greenstreet/Teynham).
The Times - 2nd September: ANNAND:EVANS.- At Norton Parish Church, Kent, by Canon Horsley, if Detling, assisted by the Rev. J. Tracey, Vicar of the Parish. Roy Comyn, second son of Mr. R.C. ANNAND, J.P., Harton Lea, South Shields, to BEATRICE EMMELINE, fourth daughter of Mr. T.H. EVANS, F.R.G.S., The Newlands, Teynham, Kent.
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 4th September - "A stringent military order has been issued that no cameras are to be carried or used anywhere within a mile of the coast or in the neighbourhood of military or naval defences.
At Dover on Friday, under this order, a Canadian lady, Miss S.M. Murphy, of Toronto, staying at Clifton Gardens, Folkestone, was proceeded against. Evidence was given by a soldier that he was the defendant - who was with two other ladies - take a photo in the direction of the Castle from the bottom of Castle Street. he reported the matter to the police. The ladies told him they would write to Lord Kitchener and that he (the soldier) "ought to have the Victoria Cross" for what he had done. Defendant pleased that she knew nothing about the order, and as she was on a visit to Dover she took what appeared the prettiest view. She was fined 5s. The Chief constable said he should like the press to make known that no one it allowed to carry a camera in Dover at present."
CHAPMAN - SATTIN: Arthur Charles Chapman (b 1876; parents Thomas Chapman) married Mabel May Sattin (b 1893) in Lynsted (parents John Sattin)
Private James Wilson Barnett LUCAS (of Greenstreet, Teynham), Killed in swimming accident, aged 19 years
Reported in the Dover Express. SOLDIER DROWNED WHILST BATHING. An inquest was held the Esplanade Hotel Monday afternoon before the Borough Coroner, Mr. Sydenham into the death of James Wilson Barnet Lucas, 19, private of the 3rd Buffs, .... read the Remembrance page for James Lucas.....
IN THE TRENCHES – AN ORDINARY DAY’S EXPERIENCE. Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on 11th September.
We are indebted to Mr C. Ernest Smith for the following interesting extract from a letter he has received from an officer at the Front:- “In the trenches – particularly where we are now – one is always more or less in action. The average distance of the German trenches from ours is perhaps a couple of hundred yards; in some places the lines are not more than twenty or thirty yards apart, in other 800 to 1000 yards, it varies, but anyhow we are always letting off things at them and they retort after their fashion with any old hardware which happens to be handy, rifle bullets, bombs, “sausages,” big bombs, and artillery. Sometimes things are slack’ in fact more generally so, the guns keep on popping off at each other and there is an intermittent firing of rifles day and night and sometimes (as was the case two days ago) things are lively – very lively.
Two days ago the gunners began it by putting about 10 high explosive shells into a farm opposite our little holding, making the aforesaid farm look exceedingly silly. Hans, Otto, and Fritz got quite annoyed and cross about it so they began to throw things across the road at the trenches we occupied, and for an hour and a half we had an exceedingly brisk and strenuous duel, kicking up the most hideous noise and dust with trench mortars and howitzers, rifle grenades and so on. At the start we had it pretty much to ourselves, but we created so much dust and disturbance that the artillery on both sides thought it was time to ship in and did so until one of our heavies dropped three shells crump into or nearly into the German trench which stopped firing. Our battery fired another three or four more and then by tacit agreement all the combatants stood down, went and took tea, leaving the snipers only to carry on. At the end of it all our total casualties were nil and the material damage did not require an hour’s work to put it straight. Of course things are not always so happy as this – in fact as far as we were concerned it was rather a red letter performance. I hope we did rather better against the Bosches and am inclined to think we cause them some loss as the voice opposite which periodically shouts “You Engelisch – fools!” and other complimentary phrases, was singularly fervent in his imprecations that evening and next day. Perhaps we had only upset his tea arrangements, but I prefer to hope that he had been detailed on a grave digging fatigue for several of his colleagues at least.”
The Times reported (14th September): "A hostile aeroplane visited the Kent coast yesterday afternoon. It dropped bombs, injuring four persons. It was chased off by two navalaeroplans.
German airships were again over the East Coast on Sunday night. Again their bobms hurt no one and did no damage, except in broken glass and cut telegraph wires. This is the fourth raid in six days.
Admiral Sir Percy Scott has been place in command of the artillery defending London against hostile aircraft."
§ Mr. HOGGE asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is able to give the casualties for the first complete year of the War; and whether the War Office have yet determined any means by which further casualties shall be announced at regular intervals instead of being elicited at irregular intervals by question and answer?
§ Mr. TENNANT The practice which has been indicated as desirable in regard to statements of total casualties has been to give them from time to time when the exigencies of the military situation permit, and not at regular intervals. There are still objections to making periodical announcements of the aggregate casualties; and my Noble Friend considers it desirable that discretion should be reserved to the Government as to when such statements may be made. Subject to the above remark, I may inform the House that the total casualties for the first year of the War—i.e., up to 21st August—are as follows:—
|Killed; Died of Wounds, etc.||4,965||70,992|
The Women's Institute movement in Britain started in 1915 to encourage countrywomen to get involved in growing and preserving food to help to increase the supplies to the war-torn nation. Also at the heart of this movement was the ambition to improve women's overall education. Starting under the auspices of the Agricultural Organisation Society (AOS). AOS Secretary, John Nugent Harris, appointed Canadian Madge Watt to set up WIs across the UK and raised local awareness. The first WI was at Llanfair PG, on Anglesey, North Wales on September 16th. The first WI in England was Singleton WI in Sussex.
The message from John Nugent was quickly spread. "Western Gazette" of 17th September, reports on the Swanage Agricultural Organisation - "The Committee also submitted a letter from Mr. J. Nugent Harris, general secretary of the Agricultural Organisation Society, on the urgent necessity for straining every effort towards making the country as self-contained as possible from the food-producing point of view. As to the sources of supply of the agricultural and horticultural produce consumed in Swanage during the holiday season, as a result of enquiries he had been making he found that at least three-fourths of the produce, except milk, came from other parts of the country. To me (he continued) this does not appear to be sound economics in view of the fact that a good deal of the land in the surrounding district is capable of growing all the produce required even in such a busy season as the present, and your climate seems particularly well suited for such production. Then there is the pressing necessity which the continuance of the war creates for urgency in adding to our present production in fruit and market garden produce, by cultivating land that might be made immediately available, in a town like Swanage. I refer to the gardens attached to unlet houses, also to vacant plots of land that at present are not producing anything of food value. I suggest respectfully to the Council that they might consider how far it would be possible to arrange for this cultivation in Swanage, on an organised plan. If your Council consider these matters worthy of further consideration my services are at their disposal during my stay here."
Later, in Sussex, the drive to engage local women in food production was the subject of a Lady Wolseley letter to The Times, reproduced in the "Sussex Agricultural Express" of 17th December. "The following letter from Lady Wolseley, of the College of Gardening, Glynde, appears in "The Times" - In connection with Sir Rider Haggard's letter of December 7th, about 'Women's Work on the Land,' may I be allowed to draw attention to two most interesting reports upon this subject which have quite recently appeared, and may not be known to the general reader: One is a report written by Mrs. Roland Wilkins upon 'The Work of Educated Women in Horticulture and Agriculture,' which appeared in the 'Journal of the Board of Agriculture' in September and October last, and the other is the report of the Agriculture Education Conference, dealing with the same subject, only giving more especially valuable suggestions for women of the future 'peasant' class which Sir Rider Haggard alludes to.
"Mrs Wilkin's work is striking, because in an absolutely unbiased, detailed summary she gives an account of all that has hitherto been successfully carried out in farming and gardening by educated women; she shows, too, how many colleges and schools are in existence, owing to the work and perseverance of private individuals, but in no way assisted by Government. The number of women who are shown as making successful careers in these professions is considerable, and will astonish whose who have hitherto not given careful consideration to this matter.
"As regards the Agricultural Education Conference report, it is only necessary to give one or two extracts, which will show that so far the proper education for village women and girls, those who we hope later on will marry ex-soldiers returning wounded from the War and desirous of settling on the land, is non-existent. The summary says:- 'We are now in a position to review the question as a whole, and to indicate the general policy which we recommend for adoption. Before doing so, however, we would repeat that, broadly speaking, there is no definite instruction in agriculture for girls and women. The question has not been thought out from the woman's point of view.' And, again, under the heading, 'Farm Schools':- 'One may say, therefore, that except in the case of indoor dairy work there is practically no instruction in agricultural work offered to young women of the tenant farmer or small holder class at any fixed institution.' Surely these remarks call for prompt action on the part of the Government, so that attached to one at least of the many established training centres could be a branch for village women upon the model of the Danish one that Sir Rider Haggard suggests. Then, too, if 'women's institutions' were more actively encouraged in England, as they are in Canada, and if they received not only financial aid from Government, but also had paid as well as voluntary workers, it would be possible to train women in practical details of farm work as well as to increase the attraction of country life.
"Success in Canada has been largely due to men and women working side by side for one united object, assisted by a Government which realises that the life of such an organisation depends upon its adaptability to local conditions. Thus, as Mrs Watt (secretary to the Advisory Board of Women to the Department of Agriculture of British Columbia) expresses it, the women's institutes are allowed to 'work out their own plans, provided the money is spent in line with aims and objects.'
"Educated women are waiting anxiously for a lead to start these the moment our Government is able to take the initiative is a strong way."
DEAF AND DUMB SOLDIER’S REMARKABLE RECOVERY. Both items reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on 18th September. A remarkable case of the recovery of a deaf and dumb soldier, cause by the explosion of a Jack Johnson, has recently been reported from Sittingbourne.
The soldier in question, Driver Albert Mullins, R.F.A., of Leeds, is a patient in St. John’s V.A.D. Hospital, Sittingbourne. He lost his hearing and speech four months ago and after treatment in several hospitals in France, he came to Sittingbourne, where rest effected a cure.
One day he had a buzzing sensation in his ears, and he heard sounds of the piano being played in the hospital. He was greatly excited and exclaimed: “Thank God I can hear!” After a day’s rest in bed his speech returned to him, and gradually he has regained the full power of speech.”
TAKING MATCHES ON TO EXPLOSIVE WORKS. “At the Faversham County Police Court on Friday morning, before E. Chambers and C.E. Cheetham, Esqs., George Belsey, who is lodging in Abbey Street, was charged with taking matches on to the premises of the Cotton Powder Company, Ltd., contrary to the regulations. Prisoner pleaded guilty.
W.H. French, searcher, stated that at 5.10 on the previous evening he saw prisoner crouching by a culvert along the tramway and suspecting him of smoking he told him he should search him. He then handed witness the box of matches produced. He had been searched in the morning.
Prisoner said he had the matches in an old hut and they were not on him when he was searched.
Mr. Stanley Fox, the manager, said prisoner was one of a gang of men enlarging the dock at the factory. He knew perfectly well that a deal of smoking did go on there, but it was very difficult to catch the offenders.
The Bench imposed a fine of 30s. or 11 days’ but allowed a week for payment.”
BOWDEN - POULTNEY: John Bowden (b. 1886) married Mabel Emma Poultney (b. 1890) in Lynsted (parents Robert Poultney)
Reported in the Kent Messenger, September 25th, 1915 – page5. “Life with the Mediterranean Forces.
The following extracts from a letter from Private E. Jeffrey, of “B” Company, 2nd-5th Buffs (attached to the Queen’s Own, 2nd-4th Royal West Kent Regiment), son of Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Jeffrey, of Meadowside, Kennington, tell graphically of life with the British Expeditionary Force.
Acknowledging a letter from home, he says:
“In your letter you mention the sending out of chocolate, etc. I only wish I had written home for some foodstuff of any sort long ago. The food we get out here is not like they have in France, where things are more settled. We have had scarcely any bread since we landed, and none at all for the first fifteen days. Coupled with this nearly all of us had stomach trouble, dysentery, etc., owing to sleeping on damp ground and getting wet to the skin with white mists (cold nights and hot days). Most of us are as weak as rats. Besides this we have dug a large part of our own trenches, and have to work day and night at them. We signallers are attached to our Company Signalling Station in the fire trench, and we have so many hours of duty on the telephone (day and night). Besides this, we have look-out duty to do. Often we have only had two hours’ sleep for the night, and we rarely get more than four hours. Nevertheless, I’m in good health and contented, and have never shirked any work that has come along so far. Send any foodstuff you like, anything nourishing. Chocolate would be a God-send. A book, magazine, or paper would be very acceptable. You could never find a crust of stale bread or bad bread lying about our here.
We landed here on August 10th; sent into the trenches August 13th; sent down to base August 31st; returned to trenches September 4th. You will see by the foregoing that we had three days at the base after we landed, then eighteen days in the trenches, four more days at the base, and now we are in the firing line again. There seems to be very little going on along this part of our front, and we are only troubled with a few snipers and occasional shell fire.
Out of the Battalion, 1,000 strong, we have had about 13 killed an anything from about 50 to 100 wounded. The signallers have had a larger proportion of casualties than the rest of the Battalion if you take the percentages of each. A considerable number of signallers have been hit by snipers while laying out wire. Besides the actual casualties, a large number of men have gone sick, the climate having knocked them up.
When we are at the base we get bathing in the sea every day, but unfortunately during the last four days we were down there I was so knocked up for the first three days, that I couldn’t appreciate a bathe and only went in to get one or two layers of dirt off. I think what knocked me up was the march down to the base (a heavy march over sand with equipment) on an empty stomach. I am all right again now. We were given out greatcoats water proof sheets and our change of clothing while we were at the base, so we are better off now than we were before, and can sleep warmer at night. The flied are a shocking pest out here, and we have the greatest difficulty in not eating them together with our food. They have an absolute disregard for life or death, and consequently you have to pick them off you food with your fingers, a thing you would never have to do in England. It is a great treat to have letters in the trenches and I am most grateful for them.
I’m glad I’ve come out here as it is giving me the education of my life, just as I always told you it would. It will teach me to appreciate my home for one thing, although I don’t know how long I shall be content to settle down to a hum-drum life, as I believe it will be difficult to, after so much knocking about and rough living.
In a postscript the writer adds: “I guess I shall be like Scott, the South Pole explorer, and have chocolate and buns under my pillow at night when I come home again, in fact, I shouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t manage to get down two or three beef steak puddings during the hours of slumber. They would make a good substitute for four hours’ trenching at midnight anyhow.”