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 and attrition continued to take their toll on our local men; mostly on the Western Front. Of course, we are now in the full swing of the Allied Offensive on the Somme that came to an end on 18th November when the only casualty across Kingsdown and Creekside was killed - Walter David Cole of Oare.
The Battle of The Somme continued to drag on with significant casualties but without significant change to the front line by the close in November! Primary actions as the Somme drew to a close - Battle of Acre Heights ends (11th November); Battle of Ancre (from 11th to 18th November); Monastir (Serbia) captured by Allied forces but German forces took Craiova (Rumania); Orsova (Hungary) fell to Austro-German forces. However, there followed "the Somme winter" from October 1916 to February 1917.
The nature of the war was changing again. Other theatres were more 'dynamic' or changeable. Air and sea became more important.
Fighting in the air was marked by the German air forces being established as a separate branch of the German army (25th November). On 27th, there was a German airship raid on the East coast of England: airship "L.34" destroyed by aeroplane off Hartlepool, and "L.21" destroyed by aeroplane off Yarmouth during the night of 27th/28th. Following these attacks, on 28th, there was the first German daylight aeroplane raid on London (by a single aeroplane).
Fighting at sea included the sinking (21st November) of the British hospital ship "Britannic" and the beaching of the British hospital ship "Braemar Castle" on 23rd November, probably after hitting a mine. On 22nd November, the German commerce raider "Seeadler" left Germany, while the German raider "Moewe" sailed from Kiel on its second cruise. On 26th, the second naval raid was made on Lowestoft.
The Battle of Verdun continued with the "First Offensive Battle" of Verdun on 24th October (to 18th December). This period saw the French recapture of Fort Vaux (Verdun). In December, Fort Douaumont was recaptured.
The machinery for the detailed monthly compilation of Military Statistics began in 1916 (October) following the intervention of Lloyd George (then Secretary of State for War). Earlier statistics were somewhat haphazardly recorded. The War Office bound together its War Statistics in March 1922 adding random available data for earlier months.
We have selected statistics quite randomly to shed light on particular aspects of warfare each month.
This Corps was created by Royal Warrant in November, 1914. The training centre started life at Hounslow, then transferred to Chisledon in Wiltshire before it was abolished in September 1917 and the personnel transferred to the Cyclist Division.
There were originally 51 Yeomanry Cyclist Regiments and 23 Territorial Force Cyclist Battalions; of these 16 Yeomanry Cyclist Regiments and 16 Territorial Force Cyclist Battalions were demobilized or disbanded; all of the remaining Yeomanry Cyclist Regiments and Territorial Force Cyclist Battalions have been disbanded, the non-demobilizable personnel being transferred to Infantry or Cavalry (regular soldiers with colour service to complete and army reservists being retransferred to regiments to which they formerly belonged).
The "Tanks," mainly with the object of keeping their existence a secret, originally formed part of the Machine-Gun Corps, under the title of "Machine-Gun Corps, Heavy Section." They remained in the Machine-Gun Corps until a Royal Warrant (27th July, 1917) created the Tank Corps.
There is no specific date on which the formation took definite shape, but it was about 6th March, 1916. The first four Tank companies went to France in August, 1916, and were first used in action on the Somme on 15th September, 1916.
When it was realized that more Tank units would be required in France in 1917, more accommodation than was available at Elveden became necessary, and eventually the large Infantry camp at Bovington, Wool, in the county of Dorset, was selected as the future home of the Tanks in England. To this camp, in November, 1916, came the remaining one and a half companies of Tanks, one half company having been sent out to Egypt to assist in the operations in Palestine.
Intensive training commenced and five battalions and a Depôt Battalion were formed.
In France the accommodation in hospitals on 25th November, 1916, was 42,894 beds, of which 10,604 were vacant, and in convalescent depôt 20,851 beds, of which 9,905 were vacant. On 27th November, 1916, there were in hospitals and on ambulance trains 54,550 patients, and in transit 614 patients.
Reported in The Faversham and North East News of November 11th:
Private H Smith, Canadian Expeditionary Force. His mother resides at Teynham. He was killed on September 26th in the course of a successful attack upon a German trench.
Frederick Thomas Hollands – A son of Mr. and Mrs. Hollands, of Greenstreet. He was killed in action on September 15th and is the second son Mr. and Mrs. Hollands have lost at the front this year. Two more sons are serving.
On 16th November 1916, a service was held in memory of Captain Gerard Prideaux Selby and the dedication by the Archdeacon of Canterbury of the Teynham Cross, which had been restored in his sons name by his father, Dr Prideaux Selby of Brusons, Greenstreet.
A second article carried by The Faversham and North East Kent News on 17th November also recorded the losses to Teynham Parish. "Another dedication by the Bishop was that of a Roll of Honour commemorating all of Teynham's men who have fallen in the war.
The list at present comprises the names of 17 men, in the chronological order of their death, viz:- Charles Edward Higgins, William John Pile, George Abraham Hall, Ernest Ridley, Stephen Champ, James Lucas, Gerard Prideaux Selby, Henry Smith, Albert Tumber, William Henry Hodge, Daniel Edward Eason, Frederick Back, George Thomas Swan, Percy Wildish, John Henry Gladwell, Frank Russell, William McGarry.
The cost of the Roll was collected by the girls of Mrs. Purton's class, and the beautiful illumination of it is the work of Mrs. Whitmore Ford, wife of the Vicar of Selling. It is enclosed in a frame made by Mr. G. George of centuries-old oak from Lynsted Church. "
[Note: variations between this chronological list and the actual dates of death must be understood in light of available news at that time]
Report from the South Eastern Gazette of 21st November: "COUNTY POLICE COURT. At this court on Thursday [16th November] (Mr. W.W. Berry presiding), George Hollands, of Greenstreet in the occupation of Mrs. Vallance, in search of conies, on October 29th. He was fined 10s."
Private, Walter David COLE, GS/34744, (of Oare)
Report from South Eastern Gazette of 21st November: "DEATH OF MR G.A. FILMER, LYNSTED. Mr. G.A. Filmer, of the Grange, Lynsted, has just died in his 80th year. Mr. Filmer had lived in the district for 60 years. He founded a successful butchery and contracting business, and had also been a farmer and fruit grower. He was well known and much respected. The funeral took place on Thursday afternoon, amid many manifestations of respect."
Reported by the South Eastern Gazette on 28th November 1916 "The Right Hon. Harriet Anne Lovell Baroness Teynham, of 11, Granville Road, Sidcup, who died intestate on the 15th September, aged 86, was the widow of the 17th Baron Teynham, and left estate valued at £164 14s 10d. Letters of Administration have been granted to Hon. Elinth Georgian Isabel de Beauchamp Watson, of Bullingarrane, Clonmel, Tipperary, Ireland, wife of Mr. Solomon Watson, daughter."
Reported in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on 2nd December 1916: "DOVER BURGLAR CAUGHT.- At the Kent Assizes on Thursday [30th November] a soldier belonging to The Buffs named Richards, was sent to prison for twenty-one months for burglary at Sittingbourne. This man, some months ago, committed a good many burglaries in the Harold Street district, and was convicted at the Dover Quarter Sessions. On his release he was discharged from The Buffs; but sometime later he re-enlisted in The Buffs, and was at Dover again when the Belgrave Gardens and other robberies took place some weeks ago. Just after they ceased he deserted, and was arrested at Hastings and brought back to Dover. At Dover he broke out of the guard room where he was confined, and the next heard of him was at Sittingbourne, where he was arrested for burglary. There seems very little doubt that he is the man who committed the robberies in Dover a month ago."