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. But assaults continued to take their toll on our local men; mostly on the Western Front. However, there were no military casualties for Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster between April and June (inclusive).
But April saw the most catastrophic explosion in the explosives industry on 2nd April. The Explosion happened at Uplees and saw a tragic loss of 109 dead. There were a further 100 or so injured by the blast. These are best estimates, as Company Records were patchy and there were many sightseeing bystanders killed and injured. For our Parishes, the losses were borne by Teynham and Oare and we have recorded those deaths together on a page dedicated to the event.
The most notable event for the British forces overseas during April 1916 began with a third attempt to relieve Kut-al-Amara (3rd April) and ended on 29th April, when 13,000 British troops under the command of Sir Charles Townsend surrendered to the German and Turkish forces. At home, on 25th April, Lowestoft (Suffolk) and Yarmouth (Norfolk) were raided by a German battle cruiser squadron; an event repeated on Lowestoft on 26th November 1916.
Fighting continued for the Russians at Trebizond (6th), which fell on 17th April. On 17th, in German East Africa, a British attack on Kondon Irangi which they carried on 19th. Earlier, on 11th April, the Portuguese occupied Kiongi.
A Rebellion - the "Easter Rising" - broke out in Ireland on 24th April, only for its leaders to surrender on 1st May. On 20th April, the disguised German transport "Aud" scuttled itself when captured while transporting arms to the Irish coast. On the same day, Roger Casement landed in Ireland from a German submarine only to be arrested. Martial Law was proclaimed in Dublin on 27th. An official account is recorded under at the end of the month. The Manifesto is transcribed under "Artefacts".
On 16th April, treaty events included the signing of the secret British, French and Russian "Sykes-Picot" agreement for the eventual partition of Asia Minor. This imposed a 'peacetime' construction of authority across the entire region that lives with us through to today. Political boundaries did not acknowledge or reflect profound cultural and religious divisions on the ground. Separately on 29th, the "Havre Declaration" was signed by France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Russia guaranteeing integrity of Belgian Congo.
On 26th April, an agreement was signed in Berlin for transfer of British and German wounded and sick prisoners of war to Switzerland.
It was fully realised that this war was going to grind on for some time to come. None of the combatants was able to deliver a decisive victory across this wide-ranging conflict. However, the German forces continued to try and break through at Verdun where the French forces experience intense and costly fighting. This desperate battle was the the longest of the First World War at 300 days total. The German Army also suffered great losses until they were forced to redeploy to combat the Somme Offensive three months later.
Changed role for Australian troops. After the withdrawal from Gallipoli in April, 1916, the bulk of the Australian Infantry and Engineers were sent to France, where they were soon vigorously engaged in the campaign on the Somme, and the capture of the Hindenburg line in that region. Other Australian troops were deeply engaged in the Operations across the Sinai, Gaza, Palestine, Jordan, and Syria.
Airship and aeroplane attacks. April was regarded by the authorities (in a Report of 1922) as the month that German ascendency in the air was neutralised by the Allies. On 14th April, Constantinople and Adrianople were attacked by aeroplanes of the Royal Naval Air Service from Mudros. Further actions were usefully summarised in The Times from a report on 25th April (below).
The machinery for the detailed monthly compilation of Military Statistics did not take place until later in 1916 (October) after the intervention of Lloyd George (then Secretary of State for War). Statistics up until then were somewhat haphazardly recorded. However, the War Office bound together those War Statistics in March 1922 adding available data for earlier months. April 1916 was the first month showing numbers in non-combatant corps that stood at 203, quickly rising and stabilising above 3,000 through 1916-17. The number of horses purchased in the UK for service overseas rose to a total of 106,402 by the end of March 1916 (the total for the whole war was 174,665).
Henry ANDERSON (Oare) chr. 5th April 1891
This Remembrance has been developed on its own page that can be read here....
THREE RAIDS BY ZEPPELINS. VAUX VILLAGE CAPTURED. UNREST IN HOLLAND. THE KING'S GIFT TO THE NATION. Another raid by Zeppelins took place last night. The districts visited included the Scottish coast and the northern and southern counties of England.
We give in other columns accounts of the Zeppelin raids of Friday and Saturday nights. The main facts about these raids are that on Friday night two squadrons of enemy airships raided the Eastern Counties, while a detached ship attacked the north-Eastern coastal districts. On Saturday night two airships approached the North-East Coast. One crossed the coastline. The other turned back.
One Zeppelin, the L15, was brought down. She fell in the sea off the coast of Kent. Her crew surrendered to our patrol vessels. She was taken in tow, but broke up and sank.
Our aeroplanes attacked the raiders. Lieutenant Brandon, R.F.C., succeeded in dropping a number of bombs on one of them. "This may have been the Zeppelin which dropped the machine-gun, ammunition, petrol tank, and machinery, or possibly that which came down off the Thames Estuary."
The week-end communiqués from Paris show that the German attacks are still being driven against one point or another in the Verdun defences. Two attacks on Friday night had unequal success. One failed. The other drove the French, after heavy fighting, from the western part of the village of Vaux. The enemy had secured the eastern part on March 11.
On Saturday afternoon the enemy tried to follow up this advantage. he directed an assault up the ravine between the Fort of Douaumont and Vaux village, but it could not maintain itself against the French artillery. Yesterday he succeeded in gaining a slight footing in the Caillette Wood.
A Franco-Russian hospital ship has been torpedoed by a German submarine in the Black Sea. A number of Sisters of Mercy were drowned. The attack was made in broad daylight and was deliberate.
There is a good deal of unrest in Holland. The news as to what is happening is indefinite, but it is reported that all leave in the Army and Navy has been stopped.
Our Correspondent at Solonika quotes a letter from Constantinople which shows that food is exceedingly scarce and that deaths from starvation are becoming frequent.
The King has presented £100,000 to the nation by giving instructions that this sum shall be placed at the disposal of the Treasury.
The King's wish is that the money, "which he gives in consequence of the war," should be applied as the Government deem best.
Mr. Asquith's visit to Rome has been made the occasion of a warm pro-British demonstration. On Saturday morning he visited the Pope, and in the afternoon attended a brilliant reception given in his honour by the Mayor of Rome.
Reported in the House of Commons on 7th April 1916: "Admiralty. The King has been graciously pleased to give orders for the appointment of the undermentioned Officers to be Companions of the Distinguished Service Order:- Lieutenant Reginald John Bone, R.N., Flight Commander, R.N.A.S. ""In recognition of his services on the 19th March, 1916, when, flying a land machine and unaccompanied by an observer, he chased out to sea, and after bold and skilful manoeuvring disabled and brought down by gunfire a German seaplane, which had been engaged in a raid on the coast of Kent."
Reported on 7th April 1916: "OBSCENE LANGUAGE. James Baker, no fixed abode, who had four convictions against him, was fined £1 or ten day's for using obscene language at Lynsted, on October 1st."
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on 8th April. DEATH OF ANOTHER RAID VICTIM.- Yet another death has resulted from the air raid on Dover on Sunday, March 19th, making the seventh. A soldier's widow, the mother of several children, was in the same room as the widow who was killed on the spot, and was terribly injured, one arm being nearly blown off. She expired in the local hospital. It appears that both women were well back in the room when the house was struck by a bomb.
The East Kent Gazette reported on 8th April: "TEYNHAM. A SAILOR’S MISHAP. On Monday, at the Faversham Borough Police Court, before Mr. E. Chambers, Harry Millen and Percy Smith, both of Teynham, pleaded guilty to being drunk and incapable in Park-road, Faversham, on Sunday night. They had nothing to say, except that Millen, a navy man, remarked that it was a “mishap” of his. The Magistrate let them off with the payment of 4/0 costs each."
South Eastern Gazette 1916-04-18 BISHOP OF DOVER'S VISIT. The new Bishop of Dover paid his first official visit to Faversham on Thursday (13th April). In the afternoon he held a confirmation at the Parish Church, when 87 candidates (41 males and 46 females) were presented from the parishes of Faversham, Luddenham, Oare, Teynham, Ospringe, Otterden, Norton, Newnham, Davington, and the Brents. After this service his Lordship met the clergy and churchwardens of the Deanery at the Queen's Hall, and spoke on the subject of the coming National Mission.
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on 15th April. ESCAPED PRISONER SENTENCED. Frederick James Lennard, of Oare, was charged on remand with stealing a shaft coupling, value 10s., the property of Messrs. Horsford and Co., at Oare, on December 3rd.
The evidence given at the previous hearing having been read over, prisoner pleaded guilty and stated on oath that on the date in question he called at his sister-in-law's for some rags and bottles. On his way to Faversham across the Powder Mill path to Davington he met a man who gave him the iron for a piece of bacca. He (prisoner) asked him where he got it from, and he said "At Cremer's engine house where there was some rubbish shot."
In rely to the Superintendent prisoner said it was a lie when he told him that it had been on his rabbit hutch for two years. He had never seen the man before, but he should know him again.
Olive Lennard, mother of prisoner stated that on December 3rd, her son left the house at 7.30 a.m. He was wearing a brown coat and vest, and not blue as one of the witnesses stated.
The Superintendent proved three previous convictions, and stated that on December 6th, when prisoner was being taken to gaol he escaped, and was not re-arrested until the 18th, in London.
The Bench sentenced the prisoner to a month's hard labour.
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald. FENCIBLES' BATTALION DRILL.- The Canterbury, Sittingbourne, and Whitstable companies of the St. Augustine's Battalion of the Kent Fencible held a battalion drill at Chestfield, near Whitstable, on East Monday [24th April]. Captain Tattersall was in command and the number of Volunteers present was about 150. A good day's work was done and the weather being favourable for the event the Volunteers thoroughly enjoyed the outing.
The Times of 26th April published a report made on 25th April. LATE WAR NEWS. BOMBS ON THE COAST. COMING OF THE RAIDER DESCRIBED. A TOWN ON THE KENT COAST, APRIL 25. This evening a Zeppelin approached this part of the coast coming from a south easterly direction. At the time the town was in absolute darkness.
As the airship passed over the sea a short distance from the coastline a terrific explosion occurred, and it is believed that at least one bomb was dropped. Immediately the guns in the neighbourhood opened fire and searchlights played upon the raider.
The night was dark but starry, and the airship could be plainly seen passing rapidly over the water steering northward. The noise of the engines, which could be heard from a distance inland, gave the alarm to the inhabitants of the town, who rushed from their houses on the sea front. The explosion of the first bomb which fell over the sea shook many of the houses here. no bombs appear to have been dropped on the town itself.
The airship passed in a northerly direction, apparently steering inland.
The Zeppelin, states another report, was seen coming towards the coast from a southeasterly direction. It skirted the coast line. Searchlights wee tuned on and fire opened on the enemy, and after a time the airship was observed to make off rapidly inland in a north-westerly direction. no bombs were dropped in this neighbourhood.
RAIDER HEAVILY SHELLED. A correspondent in one of the inland districts visited says that soon after 11 o'clock a Zeppelin was seen flying low and circling over the neighbourhood. No bombs seem to have been dropped here. The airship was heavily fired upon. It was in sight for a quarter of an hour. It then departed rapidly and a few minutes later was picked up by the searchlights in an eastern suburb. Here again the raider was heavily fired upon, and with good effect, for it was seen to rise to a greater altitude and turn to a more southerly direction.
An eye-witness of the raid states :- "I first sighted the airship at five minutes past 11, and I saw her myself for a full quarter of an hour. She was travelling in a south-westerly direction, and presented a wonderful sight in the glare of many searchlights. She was being fired at from all quarters, and shells were bursting all round her, but she seemed to escape untouched. As I watched the airship suddenly rose rapidly in the air, turned around, and went off in the direction of the sea. As far as I could ascertain no bombs were dropped."
The raid is described by another observe as follows:- "On hearing the booming of distant guns I ran into the street and saw the form of an airship perhaps three miles off at a great altitude. Searchlights were playing on the raider, which I had in view for nearly a quarter of an hour. Shells were bursting around it and some apparently close beneath it. Suddenly, as if scared by the close proximity of the shells, it rose higher, changed from a southerly to a north-westerly course, and made off at high speed. At no time was there any report of dropping bombs. The raider's movements suggested that it was on a reconnoitring expedition."
Reports from Essex state that shrapnel burst all round the Zeppelin, but it did not appear to be hit. It seemed to hover in one spot for about 10 minutes and then proceed eastward. Apparently no incendiary bombs were dropped.
ALLIED AIR ACTIVITY. ZEPPELINS AND SHIPS ATTACKED. Activity in the air during the last few days is described in the following official statement, issued by the Admiralty at 12.20 this morning:-
On the morning of the 23rd inst., in spite of most inclement weather, a bombing attack was carried out by naval aeroplanes upon the enemy aerodrome at Mariakerke. The machines were heavily fired upon, but succeeded in returning safely. As far as could be observed, good results were obtained.
One of our fighting machines attacked an enemy aeroplane and drove it down. The hostile machine when last seen was close to the ground and out of control.
On the morning of the 24th inst. a further attack was carried out on the same objective in co-operation with our Belgian Allies; and a large number of bombs were dropped. Heavy fire was encountered by all machines, but there were no British casualties. The results obtained appear to have been very good.
During the course of the same day (24th inst.) a British aeroplane attacked an enemy seaplane about five miles of Zeebrugge. The enemy pilot was killed, and the machine dropped, the enemy observer falling out while the machine was still at a height of 3,000ft. The hostile seaplane crashed into the sea and sank.
ATTACKS ON ZEPPELINS. During the operations against the German Battle Cruiser Squadron which appeared off the East Coast on the morning of the 25th inst. two Zeppelins were pursued by Naval land machines over 60 miles out to sea. Bombs and darts were dropped, but apparently without serious effect.
An aeroplane and a seaplane attacked the German ships off Lowestoft, dropping heavy bombs.
One seaplane came under heavy fire from the hostile Fleet, but the pilot, although seriously wounded, succeeded in bringing his machine safely back to land.
It is regretted that one pilot is reported missing. he ascended during the course of the Zeppelin raider earlier in the morning and appears from reports to have attacked a Zeppelin off Lowestoft at about 1.5 a.m. He has not been heard of since.
Herne Bay Press reported on 29th April 1916: THE KENT EXPLOSION. STATEMENT AS TO CASUALTIES. The latest estimate of the casualties arising from the explosion at a powder factory in Kent on April 2nd was given by Mr. Herbert Samuel, the Home Secretary, on Wednesday [26th April], in a written answer to a question by Mr. Neville.
Mr. Samuel said: The number of casualties, though large, was happily not so great as the first estimate. One hundred and six men were killed and sixty-six injured. No women were killed or injured. With the exception of five men belonging to the military guard all the killed were employed in the works affected by the explosions. The majority of them were rendering assistance when killed, and the rest were present as spectators. No one was killed or injured while engaged in his ordinary work. Those who were present as spectators were warned to leave, and would have had ample time to do so.
Kent Messenger reported on 6th May 1916: ACCIDENT - Richard Chandler, an elderly man, living at Sittingbourne, was on Friday [28th April] riding on the front of a wagon drawn by a locomotive up Radfield Hill, Greenstreet, when he was jerked from his seat and the wheels of the waggon passed over him, crushing his right shoulder and arm. He received surgical attention and was then removed to St. Bartholemew's Hospital, Rochester, where he is making capital progress.
Reported in the Dover Express on 5th May 1916 commenting on the evening of the ""COLLAPSE OF IRISH REVOLT. The following communiqué was issued by the Field-Marshall Commanding-in-Chief, Home Forces, at seven o’clock on Monday night:-
“1. All rebels in Dublin have surrendered, and the city is reported to be quite safe.
Rebels in country districts are surrendering to mobile columns. There were 1,000 prisoners in Dublin yesterday, of whom 489 were sent to England last night.
2. It is reported from Queenstown that hopes were entertained that arms would be handed in to-day in the city of Cork.
3. During the night of April 30-May 1 the rebels at Enniscorthy made an offer to surrender their leaders and arms on condition that the rank and file were allowed to return to their homes.
They were informed that the only terms that could be entertained were unconditional, and these terms were accepted by them at 6 a.m.
It has been reported at a later date that the rebels are now surrendering to-day on these terms.
4. A column composed of soldiers and Royal Irish Constabulary captured seven prisoners in the neighbourhood of Ferns to-day.
5. Wicklow, Arklow, Dunlavin, Bagenalstown, Wexford, New Ross, counties Cork, Clare, Limerick, and Kerry are generally quiet.
6. The whole of Ulster is reported quiet.
Earlier in the day – at 1 p.m. – the following was issued:-“The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Irish Command, reports that all Dublin commandoes have surrendered."
REBEL LEADERS SHOT.
The Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons on Wednesday that three of the rebel leaders had been tried by court-martial in Dublin, had been found guilty and sentenced to death by being shot. The execution had been duly carried out that morning. The names are:
Thomas J. Clarke.
All three were signatories to the Republican proclamation.
Patrick H. Pearce, the “Commandant-General of the Army of the Irish Republic” and “President of the Provisional Government,” though of English descent, was a member of the Irish Bar and headmaster of St. Edna’s College, a secondary school for boys in Dublin. When only seventeen years of age he founded the New Ireland Society in Dublin, and all his life has been associated with the literary side of extreme Nationalism.
Thomas Macdonagh, a M.A. of the National University of Ireland and a tutor in English Literature at University College, St. Stephen’s Green, was associated with Pearse in conducting St. Edna’s College. He was the poet of the rebellion among his compositions being verses beginning “Let Erin remember the heroes brave.”
Thomas J. Clarke had been sentenced to penal servitude in England in connection with the dynamite outrages in England in the eighties. On his release he resumed his activities as a speaker at Fenian celebrations in Ireland, earning his living by his tobacco an newspaper business in Dublin..
The following prisoners were sentenced to three years’ penal servitude:
EDMUND J. DUGGAN
The following proclamation was issued by the insurgents in Dublin on the outbreak of the revolt:
POBIACHT NA H EIREANN.
THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT
OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC
TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND
Irishmen and Irishwomen: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old traditions of nationhood. Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely wait for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and her gallant Allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory. We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereign and indefeasible.
The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and Government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years have they asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a sovereign independent state, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declared its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.
We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worth of the august destiny to which it is called.
Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government:
Thomas J. Clarke
Sean Mac Diarmada