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:
March saw the loss of three men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster. Two from Lynsted (Ernest Cecil Kemp on 1st March and William Charles Drayson on 18th March) and one from Doddington (Wilfred Henry Caryer on 6th March).
The main events for March 1916 included the beginning of the German extended submarine campaign following an official note from the Germans to the Americans (29th Feb). Russian actions included taking Bitlis (Armenia) and attacks on Trebizond. Continued battles and changes in leadership in Persia, including the second failed British attempt to relieve Kut-al-Amara (8th). Germany (8th) and Austria-Hungary (15th) declared war on Portugal. East Africa saw a series of actions to overturn local German forces. On 24th March, S.S. "Sussex" was torpedoed by a submarine in the English Channel and on 30th March the Russian hospital ship "Portugal" was sunk by a submarine in the Black Sea. Another German airship raided the east coast of England, inflicting 112 casualties (mostly military). German airship "L.15" was brought down by gunfire near the mouth of the Thames.
Confirming the battle lines that had been drawn by this time, the Inter-Allied Conference (Paris, 26th-28th) saw the drawing up of the "Declaration of Unity" between Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Russia, and Serbia regarding military, economic, and diplomatic affairs.
The Battle of Verdun that had begun on 21st February continues throughout March and proves very costly to the French forces being assaulted. After initially reeling under the ferocity of this attack, the French forces stood firm, but the severity of this test should not be underestimated as it lasted 300 days.
By now, it was fully realised that this war was not going to be over any time soon. Perhaps it was less clear at this time that none of the combatants was able to deliver a decisive victory across such a wide-ranging conflict.
Airship and aeroplane attacks became an increasingly common occurence, often happening over Kent.
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.
Able Seaman, Ernest Cecil KEMP, J/16643, (of Greenstreet, Lynsted side)
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on 4th March 1916. "FLYING FATALITY. TWO OFFICERS KILLED AT STROOD. An inquest was held on Thursday [2nd March 1916] on the bodies of Wing Commander Neville Florian Usborne, 33, and Squadron Commander de Courcey Wynder Plunkett Ireland, 31, R.N.A.S., who were killed through a fall from an airship. It appears that the two officers were together and fell from a considerable height. Squadron Commander Ireland fell into some water, sustaining fractures of the skull, lower jaw and both thighs, and Wing Commander Usborne into a goods yard. The latter's injuries included a fractured skull and fractures of the left arm and thigh. A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned and sympathy expressed by the Coroner and jury."
Certificated as an aviator with the Royal Aero Club on 1st April, 1913, at The Ewen School, Hendon. Wing Commander Usborne, an Irishman (Queenstown) by birth (27th February 1883), was buried at Gillingham.
Certificated as an aviator with the Royal Aero Club on 1st November, 1913, at Eastchurch Naval School, Isle of Sheppey. Squadron Commander Ireland, an Irishman (Clonmel, Co. Tipperary) by birth (18th January 1885).
Reported in the East Kent Gazette of 11th March 1916: "A GREENSTREET SAILOR DROWNED. The sad news has been received of the death of Able Seaman Ernest C. Kemp, of HMS Primula, a minesweeper, that was carrying out patrol duties in the Eastern Mediterranean last week. The whole of the officers and men were saved and landed at Port Said, with the exception of three – and one of the three men reported by the Admiralty as “missing, believed to be dead” is Ernest C. Kemp. The young man who was in his 20th year, was the oldest child of Mr and Mrs Ernest Kemp, of Greenstreet. He was a finely built young fellow, and was making rapid strides in the Navy, and his death while serving his country is deeply regretted.
The deceased was very popular in the village, and much sympathy is felt for the parents and members of the bereaved family."
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 11th March: THE ZEPPELIN RAID. THREE AIRSHIPS VISIT EIGHT COUNTIES. The Secretary
of the War Office made the following announcement on Monday afternoon:
The number of Zeppelins which took part in Sunday night's raid is now believed to have been three.
After crossing the coast the airships took various courses, and from the devious nature of their flight were apparently uncertain as to their bearings.
The area visited included Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Essex, and Kent.
As far as is known about 40 bombs were dropped altogether.
The casualties so far ascertained amount to:
Killed - 3 men, 4 women, 5 children.
Injured - 33.
The material damage was:- Two terraces of houses practically destroyed; one office, on public-house, a cafe, and several shops partly destroyed and a block of almshouses badly damaged.
The enemy's version of the raid states that the airships heavily bombarded the naval base of Hull on the Humber and the dock buildings there. Good results were observed.
From various sources it is learned that practically the whole of the damage was done in a North East coast town, where there were as man as 45 casualties. It is denied that any military damage was done anywhere.
The raid will rank amongst the most startling that has occurred since the air war began, as the three Zeppelins engaged in it arrived during a heavy and almost blinding snowstorm.
A Zeppelin appeared over East Kent shortly before 2a.m. One report states that it dropped no bombs, and finally disappeared in the direction of the coast. Another report, however, states that the airship dropped three bombs, which fell in a marsh and did no damage, except to make three holes, 200 to 300 yards distant from each other. Another correspondent says.-The airship which visited the Kent coast approached direct from the sea. Thee pilot evidently had no accurate idea as to his whereabouts, for the three bombs which he dropped also fell on pasture land a considerable distance from dwellings or points of military importance. Three large holes were made in the marshes, all within a distance of a mile, but beyond this there was no damage whatever, and nobody was injured.
Private, Wilfred Henry CARYER, G/768, (of Doddington)
10th March 1916, Dover Express.
The following have been appointed the Appeal Tribunal for Kent:- Lord Harris, G.C.S.I., Belmont, Faversham; Lord Northbourne, Betteshanger, Eastry; Sir J.B. Matthews, K.C., J.P., Holmhust, Tunbridge Wells; his Honour Judge E.A. Parry, Clarendon, Sevenoaks; Mr. R.Allen, LL.B., J.P., Camden hill, Sissinghurst; Mr. G.K. Anderson, D.L., J.P., Bridge Hill House, near Canterbury; Mr. G. Andres, J.P., Hereward, Albany Road, Sittingbourne; Mr. J. Barker, J.P., Hill House, Loose; Mr. R.E. Bumstead, 264, New Town, Ashford; Mr. C.J. Burgess, J.P., Waterloo House, The Beach, Walmer; Mr. H.F. Plumptre, J.P., Goodnestone Park, Canterbury; Mr C.W. Powell, D.L., J.P., The Manor House, Speldhurst, Tunbridge Wells; Mr. G.W. Rivaz, J.P., Dropmore, St. Martin's, Canterbury; Mr. T.E. Smith, 183, Old Road West, Gravesend; Mr. A.W. Tapp, 104, Windmill Road, Gillingham; Mr. C Tuff, J.P., of West Field, Singlewell, near Gravesend.
The Times picks up this recurring thread on 14th March 1916: "POLITICAL NOTES. WOMEN AND THE LABOUR SUPPLY. A movement is on foot for co-ordinating the various movements directed to increasing the labour supply by the further employment of women. A committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Cecil Harmsworth is already investigating the matter, and there are various independent departmental organizations, notably that for supplying women labour on the land which is associated with the name of Miss Talbot. It is strongly felt that the steps taken by the Board of Agriculture should be extended to the whole sphere of women's war work in other words, that the the problem should be solved on broad lines and not piecemeal." Read more about the unfolding demand for women to work the land and in industry.
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on 18th March. KENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL. The first sitting of the Kent Appeal Tribunal was held at the Sessions House, Longport, Canterbury, on Wednesday [15th March]. Lord Harris presided and there were also present Lord Northbourne, Mr. H. Fitzwalter Plumptyre, Mr. G. W. Rivaz, Mr. C.J. Burgess, Mr. G.K. Anderson, Mr. G. Andrews, and Mr. R.E Bumstead.
A large number of appeals were heard, but in the majority of the cases the decisions of the local tribunals were upheld.
FAVERSHAM. William Ralph appealed on the ground that he was the sole support of his widowed mother.
Applicant's mother attended and when asked where her son was she said he was in the Army. He asked for postponement as late as possible.
The Chairman - When did your son get into the Army? - Applicant's mother - On December 5th he attested.
The Chairman - How did he get in the Army?
Colonel Atkinson (the County Military Representative) - Has he got into khaki? - Applicant's mother - Yes, he was in uniform the same day.
Colonel Atkinson - What regiment is he in? - G Company, 3rd Battalion The Buffs, at Dover.
Colonel Atkinson informed the Tribunal that there was a neew Army regulation under which a man could be demobilised if he could prove he was the sole support of his widwoed mother and if it was a hard case.
The Chairman - Do you know how this man got into the Army?
Colonel Atkinson - I have not the faintest idea.
The Chairman - He was a voluntarily attested man in December and if so he appears to have been refused the right of appeal which he is entitled to under the Act.
Colonel Atkinson said there were so many loop-holes that accidents would happen in the best regulated families.
The Chairman - Perhaps you will tell us next time how this many was got hold of, having appealed against enlistment. Did he of his own free-will offer himself? - Applicant's mother - No, he did not.
The Chairman - Was he summonsed to appear? - Applicant's mother - He did write and I have only just had an answer.
The Chairman - We should like to know how he got in.
Colonel Atkinson - I will try to get the information, but at the moment I know nothing about it at all.
The Chairman - In some way this man seems to have been deprived of the legal right given him by Parliament. Perhaps you will present our compliments to the Commandant or the Recruiting Officer and say we shall be very grateful if he can tell us how a thing of this kind occurred.
Colonel Atkinson said he would so so.
The Military Representative for Faversham said it was felt by the local Tribunal that by this man joining it would not mean the breaking up of the home.
Applicant's mother said she only had the one son. All her other children had died from consumption. She could not do anything, but she had had soldiers billeted with her. Her son used to give her 18s. a week besides paying the rent. He was a painter. Other painters had been exempted who had no one dependent on them.
The Military Representative - Do you take in washing? Applicant's mother - No, not now.
The Tribunal instructed the Local Tribunal to grant three months' exemption.
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 18th March 1916: AGED MAN KNOCKED DOWN BY A MOTOR. - About 7.20 on Friday evening (17th March 1916) a resident of Cellar Hill, Lynsted, named Sutton, who is 82 years of age, left the Co-operative Stores at Greenstreet and stepped into the centre of the road just as a motor car from Sittingbourne containing Colonel and Mrs. J. F. Honeyball came along. The driver swerved to avoid a collision, but the mud-guard caught the old man and knocked him down. Fortunately no bones were fractured, but Sutton was badly shaken and bruised and cut about the face. After being attended to be was removed in a motor ambulance to the Faversham Workhouse Infirmary.
Corporal, William Charles DRAYSON, G/3969, (of Lynsted)
The Times reported on 20th March 1916: "AIR RAID ON KENT.- 9 KILLED AND 31 INJURED. – PURSUIT AND FIGHT. ENEMY SEAPLANE SHOT DOWN.
The Secretary of the War Office last night [19th March 1916] made the following announcement:-
Four German seaplanes flew over East Kent to-day.
The first pair appeared over Dover flying at a height of 5,000-6,000ft., one at 1.57 p.m. and the second at 2.2p.m. The first dropped six bombs in the harbour and then went north-west, dropping bombs on the town.
The other raider, after passing over Dover, appeared over Deal at 2.13p.m., and dropped several bombs.
The second pair appeared over Ramsgate at 2.10p.m. and dropped bombs on the town.
One of this pair went west, and other north, pursued by a British aeroplane. One bomb is reported to have been dropped on Margate.
The second machine appeared over Westgate at 2.20p.m. Here several of our aeroplanes went up in pursuit. No bombs were dropped on Westgate.
The total casualties so far reported are:-
|3 men||17 men|
|1 woman||5 women|
|5 children||9 children|
As far as can be ascertained, 48 bombs were dropped altogether.
One bomb fell in the Canadian Hospital at Ramsgate, causing damage but no casualties.
Material damage was done to several houses, and some artisans’ cottages were wrecked.
Flight-Commander Bone, R.N.A.S., in a single-seater aeroplane, pursued one of the German seaplanes 30 miles out to sea, where after an action lasting a quarter of an hour he forced it to descend.
The German machine was hit many times and the observer killed."
[Note: In April, this action led the King to the award the "Companion of the Distinguished Service Order" to Lieutenant Reginald John Bone, R.N.]