First World War Project
Home News - January 1916
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.
January brought the changing role of women into sharp focus in our local communities. The story of Alice Post (Greenstreet-Teynham) is a deeply personal tragedy for her, her child, family and community. Her story also provides a sobering reminder of how women (and children) found themselves caught in the eye of the storm on the Home Front. We have added to Alice's story a selection of pages to place her life and death into a wider perspective.
During January, the Western European Theatre was very quiet.
As 1916 opened on the Home Front news was dominated by reports about events in Mesopotamia and the Siege of Kut-al-Amara. This siege trapped about 8,500 Anglo-Indian troops who took refuge in the town after retreating from a disastrously flawed attack (December 1915) on Ctesiphon. The Anglo-Indian troops made a rapid retreat pursued by the wholly under-estimated Turkish forces. Between 4th and 21st January, an attempt was made to relieve the siege but failed. On the Gallipoli front, the evacuation completed on 8th January and, on 9th January, General Sir Charles Monro vacated command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and General Sir William Birdwood vacated command of the Dardanelles army. The 'old leadership' stepped aside as General Sir A.J. Murray also took over command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 10th January. Winston Churchill was also a political casualty of this episode in the First World War.
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. Headline figures were available monthly for the whole war period. For example, at the advent of the First World War (August 1914) the regular army strength was given as 232,763. By the 1st January 1916, that figure stood at 1,786,483. As more recruits flowed into the Army, in January 1916 alone, 3,925 died, 11,172 were discharged (reasons varied from having completed their service, to misconduct and invalided out). 3,167 men were lost to desertion that month (the peak in desertions ran from around May/June 1915 and declined again after January 1916). By this time, local newspapers began to list "absentees" to discover their whereabouts to make good the losses.
Local Doctor has three officer sons serving the Colours
|Herne Bay Press of 1st January 1916|
|FAVERSHAM. Three Officer Sons.- The three sons of Dr. R.G. Selby Medical Officer of Health for the Faversham District, are now all serving as officers in H.M. Services. The youngest, 2nd-Lieut. C.W.P. Selby, has recently gone to the Front as an observer in the Royal Flying Corps. Of the elder two, one is in the Navy (H.M.S. Lion, which was in one of the North Sea engagements), and the other is in the R.A.M.C. Dr. Selby himself is Assistant County Director of the V.A.D. (Kent).|
Church Scandal - the Absentee Vicar of Buckland Parish (that houses the isolation hospital)
|Kent Messenger of 1st January 1916|
|The Faversham Rural District Council has decided to call the attention of the Bishop of Dover, as Archdeacon of Canterbury, to the case of a non-resident Rector in the district taking the tithes of the parish but performing no work. The parish concerned is Buckland, which has an acreage of 336 and a population of 103, but it has no church (the old one being in ruins), mission room not school. It is here that the Rural Council's Isolation Hospital is situated, and the Rev. W.A. Purton, Vicar of Teynham, has offered his services as chaplain without remuneration, which have been accepted. The Council resolved to inquire of the Archdeacon whether, in the circumstances, a portion of the tithes cannot be diverted to the clergymen who does the work. Formerly, the Rector conducted a service once a year at the old ruins, but even this has not been done for some years.
The Rector of Buckland is the Rev. J. Mayo, who resides at Cambridge, and he has held the Rectory since 1874, the patron being Mr. J. Druitt. The value of the tithe is returned at £125 gross and £100 net. Mr. Mayo was ordained by the Bishop of Winchester, in 1865, and he held the curacies of Romsey, Bircham Newton and Olny. He retired from the last-named in 1871 - 44 years ago, and has apparently held no benefice since beyond the sinecure of Buckland. Forty-four years at £100 per annum gives a total of £4,400, or at a compound interest very much more.
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 1st January 1916|
|A CHURCH SCANDAL. The Council accepted the offer of the Vicar of Teynham (the Rev. W.A. Purton) to act as honorary chaplain at Beacon Hill hospital.
It was also decided to write to the Archdeacon of Canterbury drawing attention to the fact that the Vicar of Buckland, who lived at Cambridge, and did not do any work still drew tithes, and asking that a portion of them might be devoted to the chaplain who was doing the work.
In reply to Mr. Amos, the Chairman said he believed the Vicar of Buckland was receiving £160 a year.
Mr. Amos - A very good pension. It was also stated that he had no church as it was in ruins, but that formerly he used to come down once a year and hold a service, a practice he had now discontinued.
Mr. Amos said that was no doubt the Vicar remembered his parishioners in his prayers.
The Vice Chairman - I hope it is effective.
News of Local Postman Killed at the Front
|Kent Messenger of 4th January 1916|
|SITTINGBOURNE. KILLED AT THE FRONT. News has reached Sittingbourne that Private Frederick Charles Mead, of the 1st Buffs, who belonged to Sittingbourne, has been killed at the Front. Pte. Mead, who was 26 years of age, prior to the war was a postman attached to the Sittingbourne postal staff. For three years he did duty in the Lynsted and Newnham districts, where he was much liked. Mead was also a well-known footballer, and had played for Sittingbourne Wednesday F.C. and the Post Office teams. Of 18 men of the Sittingbourne postal staff who are serving the Colours, Mead is the first to lose his life.|
Lord Derby's Scheme statistics sought
House of Commons of 5th January 1916 - [cf 8th January; also "MILITARY SERVICE BILL" debate] LORD DERBY'S SCHEME (REPORT). Vol 77 c939: Mr. PRINGLE asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the figures under the Derby scheme have been given to the Press over the signature of a member of the Joint Labour Recruiting Committee, and, if so, will he say what action he proposes to take?
The PRIME MINISTER (Mr Asquith) My attention has been called to the incident to which my Hon. Friend refers. It was, I am informed, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding, and I do not propose to take any action in the matter."
Prosecuted for driving a motor bus too fast
|Kent Messenger of 8th January 1916|
|DEPUTY CHIEF CONSTABLE AND THE MOTOR BUS.- At Sittingbourne Police Court on Monday [6th January], Frederick Stephens Marsh, a motor bus driver, of Faversham, in the employ of the Maidstone and District Motor Services, Ltd., was summoned for driving a motor bus at a greater speed than 12 miles an hour, at Bapchild, on December 14th. He pleaded not guilty.- Captain S. Clark, Acting Chief Constable for Kent, said he followed the motor bus in his police motor car, and checked the speed, and from Greenstreet to Sittingbourne the speed of the bus averaged from 15 to 20 miles an hour. Considering the darkness (it was nearly 7 pm), and the state of the roads, he considered that the bus was travelling at a pace that was dangerous to the public.- The driver of the police car corroborated.- Defendant said his firm did not provide him with a speedometer, and he did not know he was going so fast.- The Magistrates imposed a penalty of £5.|
Military Service Bill - First Reading Passed (on the road to conscription)
|The Times of 7th January 1916|
|LABOUR AND THE BILL. The First Reading of MR. ASQUITH'S Military Service Bill was carried last night [6th January] in a crowded House of Commons by the overwhelming majority of 403 votes to 105, which included the Irish Nationalists. That is the most important fact to be recorded in a day which was full of incident. The second fact is that the Labour members of the Government – MR.HENDERSON, MR.BRACE, and MR.ROBERTS – have felt bound to resign their offices – not because they object to the Bill, but because they support it. There will be other opportunities hereafter to discuss the theory of representative government on which these resignations are based. For the moment the essential point is to understand the proceedings of the Labour Conference held earlier in the day; for it was the vote of that body which unquestionably influenced a subsequent meeting of the Labour members of Parliament, and it was the decision of the Labour Party which left no alternative to MR.HENDERSON and his colleagues.|
More local men called up under Lord Derby's Scheme
|Kent Messenger of 8th January 1916|
MORE GROUPS CALLED UP. Four more groups of men attested under Lord Derby's Scheme are being called up for service on February 8th. These are Groups 6 to 9 inclusive, and consist of single men between 23 and 26."
This leaves 1,029,2311 single and 1,152,947 married men unaccounted for. Of the single men, 378,071 have been starred, thus reducing the total available who have not come forward to 651,160.
Local Postman is first casualty from Sittingbourne Post Office
|Kent Messenger of 8th January 1916|
|Private Frederick Charles Mead, 1st Buffs, who before the war was a postman in the Lynsted and Newnham district, has been killed by a shell at the Front. The youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Mead, of Sittingbourne, he was 26 years of age, and has two brothers in the Navy. Deceased was a well-known footballer. He had been in Flanders over a year, and was home two months ago in the best of health. Out of the staff at Sittingbourne Post Office there are eighteen on naval or military service, and Private Mead's death creates the first blank in this roll of honour.|
Lord Teynham's son is gazetted - Christopher John Henry Roper-Curzon
|Kent and Sussex Courier of 14th January 1916|
|The Hon. Christopher John Henry Roper-Curzon, who has been gazetted acting Sub-Lieutenant to the Waveney, is the son and heir of Lord Teynham, and entered the Navy as a Midshipman in 1913. Lord Teynham will be remembered as a Kentish peer with estates in the Sittingbourne district, and as an officer in the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles. The Hon. C.J. Roper-Curzon is only 19 years of age.|
14th January, German Zeppelin raid over Tyne. Added here only because it would chime locally as Kent saw several raids by airship and aeroplane.
Theft from a Motor Car from Doddington
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 15th January 1916|
|THEFT FROM A MOTOR CAR. Albert Rogers, of Frogs Bottom, Boughton, was charged on remand with stealing two rugs and a waterproof coat, value £6 10s., the property of George Sargent, landlord of the Chequers Inn, Doddington, at Boughton, on December 26th. It will be remembered that the things were stolen from the car whilst it was in the yard of the Queen's Head, at Boughton.
Prisoner pleaded guilty, and said he was beery.
There were seven previous convictions, the last being in 1911.
The Bench sentenced prisoner to two months hard labour.
The Chairman told P.C. Harlow, who arrested prisoner, that he made a smart capture, and the Bench were glad he did his business so well.
Lynsted Wedding: Sgt E.J.T. Court - Lilian Sattin
|East Kent Gazette of 22nd January 1916|
|WAR WEDDING AT LYNSTED. SERGEANT E.J.T. COURT D.C.M., AND MISS LILIAN SATTIN.
Saturday last [15th January] was an eventful day in the life of Sergeant Edward John Thomas Court, of the 2nd Buffs, the only son of Mr. Thomas Court, of Greenstreet, Lynsted, for on that day he took unto himself a Lynsted young lady as his wife, and concurrently the gallant sergeant's name appeared in the list of recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, for distinguished service at the Front – one of the ambitions of a soldier's career.
The bride was Miss Lilian Violet Sattin, the youngest daughter of Mr. John Sattin, of Hill House, Greenstreet.
The wedding ceremony took place at Lynsted Church, the Vicar, the Rev. T.J. Sewell, officiating. The marriage was by license.
The bride was given away by her father. There was no bridesmaid, but Mr. F. Gulvin, of Buckland, was "best man".
There was a reception afterwards at the residence of the Bride's parents, and a large company of relatives and friends were entertained the festivities lasting until midnight. Among the party were Mr. George Sattin, of the East Kent Yeomanry, a brother of the bride, and Corporal Richard McCarthy, Rifle Brigade, a friend of the bridegroom.
Several handsome presents have been received by the happy couple.
Sergeant Court was married in his D.C.M. colours. He gained the distinction on the 14th of last May at Ypres. He was in charge of a platoon, in the trenches, when a big enemy shell pitched in that section, blowing in the trench, and burying the Sergeant under 4ft of debris. He was dug out, and although exposed to artillery fire, he stuck to his post for three or four hours, until he was relieved. During that time another big shell came over and buried seven men, killing two of them. For this gallant example of devotion to duty Sergeant Court was recommended, and he has been awarded the D.C.M. He has served more than seven years in the Buffs, four of which have been passed in Singapore and India. He has recently been serving on the recruiting staff at Sittingbourne.
Our portrait of Sergeant Court is from a photograph taken by Mr. A.E. Ferris, Greenstreet.
† - Twenty-third Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 16th January; Munitions Worker Alice Post poisoned by TNT.
Alice Post (of Greenstreet, Teynham side), Died of TNT poisoning, aged 22 years
Drunken Munitions Worker at Faversham is site prosecuted
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 22nd January 1916|
|MUNITION WORKER GETS DRUNK AND ASSAULTS AN EMPLOYEE.- On Tuesday [21st January] at the Faversham Country Police Court, before Dr. S.R. Alexander (Mayor), and E. Chambers, Esq., John Richard Reader was charged with being discovered in a state of intoxication on a licensed area, the Cotton Powder Works, and with assaulting Richard Emery, on the 17th inst. - Prisoner pleaded guilty to the first charge and not guilty to the second.
P.C. Brooks stated that at 5 p.m. on 17th inst. he was on duty at the Cotton Powder Works when his attention was called to prisoner, who was trying to enter the main works through the gate where the vehicles went. On examination prisoner he found he was the worse for drink. He refused him permission to enter the works and advised him to go home and return to work the next night. He went away but returned shortly afterwards, and witness again advised him to go away. The charge man on the night patrol, Richard Emery, also advised him to go home, and after a few words prisoner deliberately struck him. Witness closed with prisoner, who became very violent, and he had to handcuff him.
In reply to prisoner witness said Emery did not knock him to the ground first.
Richard Emrey, of 6, Plantation Road, Faversham, stated that he told prisoner he was not allowed to go through the gate as he was the worse for drink, but he said he was determined to go. Witness told him to go up the road, and he did so, but returned, and again tried to get through the same gate. Witness then told him he would not be admitted to the factory at all and to come the following night sober. He again argued, saying he was not drunk, and while witness was back to him he struck him a blow at the side of the face.
In reply to prisoner witness denied that he knocked him flat on the ground.
John Stevens, an ex-police-sergeant, living at Boughton and employed at the Works, stated that he heard the constable and Emery advising prisoner, who was drunk, to go away, but he became very violent, used threatening language, and hit Emrey.
Prisoner said he was sorry to find himself in this position. He had been working for the Explosive Loading Company for six weeks, and on the day in question he had had trouble about getting his furniture removed from Broadstairs to Faversham. He did not have any proper food and he had a glass of beer at Broadstairs and a pint in Faversham, and this no doubt upset him.
Mr. F. Cooper, of Station Road, Faversham, said that prisoner had been lodging with him and had always been a gentleman in his home and never been the worse for drink.
Superintendent Lawrence said that prisoner bore an excellent character at Broadstairs. he knew him when he was there and he was surprised to find him in this position.
The Mayor told prisoner that to go to a munitions work drunk was a serious matter, but to assault one of the men in charge was a still graver offence, and they will impose a fine of 10s. in each case of seven days.
Prisoner asked for time to find the money and the Bench gave him a fortnight.
East Coast of Kent Attacked from the Air
|Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette (and in many other newspapers) of 24th January 1916|
|AIR ATTACKS – ON COAST OF KENT – TWO AEROPLANE VISITS – Fires Caused and One Man Killed.
The Secretary of the War Office yesterday made the following announcement:-
Taking advantage of the bright moonlight a hostile aeroplane visited the East Coast of Kent at one o'clock this morning (January 23rd), and after dropping nine bombs in rapid succession made off seawards.
No naval or military damage was done, but some damage was caused to private property, and an incendiary bomb caused fired, which, however, were extinguished by 2a.m.
It is regretted that, according to reports received, the following civilian casualties occurred:-
One man killed.
Two men, one woman and three children slightly injured.
The following was announced last night:
Following upon the serial attack upon the East Coast of Kent in the early hours of the morning two hostile sea-planes made a second attack upon the same locality shortly after noon to-day.
After coming under heavy fire the raiders disappeared, pursued by our naval and military machines.
The enemy effected no damage. No casualties have been reported.
First Military Service Bill, paving the way for conscription
|Editorial in The Times on 25th January 1916|
24th January was passed by the House of Commons (later enacted on 10th February).
Labour at the Cross-ways.
AIR FIGHTING AT THE FRONT. COMPARATIVE FIGURES
|The Times of 25th January 1916|
Mr. TENNANT, replying to Colonel Greig (Renfrewshire, W., Labour) said:- I have received the following telegram:- The following is the information with regard to the working of the Royal Flying Corps during the last four weeks:-
The last figure is determined by reducing actual anti-aircraft observations to probably number of individual machines. It is pointed out that practically all aircraft fighting takes place over or behind the German lines, and owing to the prevailing strong west wind German machines hit can plane homewards while ours often cannot. For this reason it is not possible to give an accurate comparison of the relative loss.
FAVERSHAM COUNTY PETTY SESSIONS.
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 29th January 1916|
[Thursday 27th January] Before W.W. Berry Esq. (in the chair), General Jeffreys and E. Chambers and T.G. Gillett Esqs.
THEFT OF COAL.
Debts to employee - Lynsted Lodge
|East Kent Gazette of 19th January 1916|
|SEQUEL TO AN ACCIDENT. - "At the Faversham County Court on Friday in last week, before his Honour Judge Shortt, Mr. A.K. Mowll applied for leave to issue an execution against Mr. Shirley Falcke, of Lynsted Lodge, to recover an award and costs, amounting to £12/12/8, obtained at the Court in July last, by Violet Hamilton, a domestic servant, who had an accident while employed at the Lodge. Mrs Falcke wrote saying that her husband was on active service. His Honour, under these circumstances, adjourned the case.|
Belgian Refugees - displaced refugees and the Kent County Fund
From the outset of the First World War, the Belgians bore the brunt of the German assault on the rest of Europe. The Belgian reliance on neutrality counted for nothing against a German realisation that adirect attack to their West would meet stiffer resistance against the prepared defences of France. Kent saw a steady flow of Belgians fleeing the war as it engulfed their country. Others remained but faced starvation as their needs were ignored by the German army as it drew on all available resources to support their assault.
One response was the creation of the Kent County Fund that was tracked in local newspapers. One example is reproduced here:-
|Kent Messenger of 19th January 1916|
"We are informed that the Kent Country Fund opened by Lord Harris, G.C.S.I., Acting Lord Lieutenant of the County, in co-operation with the National Fund now being raised by the National Committee for Relief in Belgium, has reached a total of over £7,737.
In answer to the appeal of the Lord Lieutenant and of the County Committee, local funds in connection with that of the county have been opened by the Mayors of Chatham, Canterbury, Folkestone, Gillingham, Hythe, Maidstone, Margate, Ramsgate and Tunbridge Wells, and the Chairmen of the District Councils of Broadstairs, Dartford, Elham, Eastry, Footscray, Herne Bay, Hoo, Malling, Penge, Sheerness, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, and Wrotham. Collections have also been organised by the employees of Foster Clark, Ltd., Springfield Paper Mills, and the Church of England Men's Society in Maidstone, and the employees at the Dockyard, Chatham. A similar fund has also been opened in the parish of Sutton Valence.
In addition to the above mentioned funds, special parish collections have been made in many of the parishes of the county, including All Hallows, Alkham, Bonnington, Bredhurst, Crayford, Crofton, Detling, Doddington, Edenbridge, Emstead, Guston, Garyne, Hawkinge, High Halden, Hartlip, Higham, Kingston, Kemsing, Kenardington, Leybourne, Lynsted, Little Chart, Minster, Newington, Northay, Ospringe, Preston, Shipbourne, Southfleet, Speldhurst, St. Peters in Thanet, Swanley, West Peckham, Westbere, West Malling."
"... Faversham £59; Lynsted £12; Ospringe £20; Sheerness £220; and Sittingbourne £50."
Marriage of Major-General MacDonogh
|The Faversham and North East Kent News of 19th February|
|Another local officer who has been the recipient of war honours is Major-General G.N.W. Macdonogh, who is in the Intelligence Department. Major-General Macdonogh married Miss Borgstrom, daughter of the late Mrs Borgstrom, of Provender, Norton.|
The Grave Charge against a Lancashire - Injured Lad's Evidence
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald reported of 5th February 1916|
At the Faversham Borough Police Court on Saturday [30th January], before F. Austin, T.G. Gillett, and H.R. Child, Esqs., William Pye, a gunner in the 3rd Lancs., was charged on remand with inflicting grievous bodily harm on Percy Sidney Parnell, of Ospringe, by kicking him on the 8th inst.
[Note: You can read the outcome of this case including sentencing in the Home Front, February 1916]
Passing of The Military Service Bill
|The Times of 25th January 1916|
Labour at the Cross-ways.
The question of military service will be raised in a direct form at the Labour Party's Conference, and no one can tell what will happen except that the sharpest division of opinion will be shown. In effect it will be a division between the two elements which compose the Labour Party and come together in it, but which have never coalesced. This body, we may remind the reader, is a political organization formed of trade unions and Socialist societies. The former supply the numerical and financial strength, but the latter have generally controlled the policy and carried the sway. There has always been a latent antagonism between them, though a considerable number of men belong to both. It is a deep-seated antagonism, arising from the fact that they rest at bottom on two mutually contradictory principles, but it only comes to the surface occasionally, when those principles are touched. The war has brought out this antagonism into sharp relief, as it has many other latent differences. The Labour Party has not stood the strain in Parliament, where it split almost immediately into two actions. The larger, or trade union section, has throughout given the most active and energetic support to the Government in the prosecution of the war, as have most of the trade union leaders outside. The line of cleavage does not exactly divide Socialists and non-Socialists, for some of the former have been as patriotic as anyone else. The real difference lies between the Independent Labour Party and the rest. This mis-named body is the largest Socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party, but it has exercised an influence out of all proportion to its numbers, partly through its own direct representatives and partly through trade union delegates who belong to it and manage the business of their unions or branches. The difference between the Independent Labour Party and the trade unions, which has split the Labour Party in Parliament, will now be submitted to a formal trial of strength at the forthcoming conference. The question between them is nothing less than the war – the victory or defeat of our arms and those of our Allies. The particular issue of compulsory military service, which is apparently to form the chief subject of debate, is merely an occasion. Whatever the intentions of the Independent Labour Party may be, the policy and conduct of its most active members have consistently served one object, which is the interests of the enemy. They have served his morally and materially to the best of their ability. They began by finding excuses from the first for Germany's declaration of war and violation of Belgian neutrality, and by befouling their own country. They have blessed by faint blame or pretended doubts or silence all the German outrages in turn – the Belgian horrors, the sinking of passenger liners, the slaughter of civilians by the shelling and bombing of watering places, the execution of EDITH CAVELL, the ill-treatment of prisoners. They have sought to help him and hurt the Allies materially by encouraging strikes and urging the maintenance of trade union restrictions on output, by opposing the Munitions Act and hindering its operations, by influencing the prejudices and the grievances of workmen, by discouraging recruiting, by opposing the Military Service Bill and urging them to resist its operations by force when it has become law. It is to these people that M. GUSTAVE HERVE, the most extreme and uncompromising Socialist in France, recently referred in his scathing remark:-