First World War Project
Home News - February 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.
Thankfully, during February the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster did not lose any men or women to the War effort.
The main events for February 1916 included reports on the foundering of Zeppelin "L-19" in the North Sea. (see account below).
Political overtures were made to Japan for help from her navy (8th Feb.). The Serbian Government in exile was set up at Corfu (9th Feb.) followed the next day by the remains of the Serbian Army.
The Military Service Act came into operation in Great Britain (10th Feb.) as a step towards conscription.
H.M.S. "Arethusa" was sunk by a mine (11th Feb.)
The Fifth Battle of the Isonzo (Austro-Hungarian vs Italy) began (15th Feb.) and Erzerum (Eastern Turkey) was taken by the Russian Forces (16th Feb.).
The War Office continued to consolidate its control over the war machine as they took over the anti-aircraft guns around London from the Admiralty (16th) and took over operation in Mesopotamia from the India Office (16th).
British finally took control of the Cameroons (18th) and made further progress in Persia and Western Egypt.
More significantly for the Allies, the Battle of Verdun began on 21st February with a massive concentration of German firepower and manpower on an underprepared French position that occupied a ring of powerful forts around the city. The German Army overran Fort Douaumont (Verdun) four days later (25th). However, the battle over this city soon followed a pattern of 'attrition' that was hugely costly to both French and German forces (roughly 400,000 casualties on both sides). Only with the opening up of British an Allied attacks on the Somme (1st July 1916) did the Germans have to accept that their gambit to grind the French resistance down had failed and the Germans removed forces from Verdun to the defence of the Somme. The Battle of Verdun was the longest battle of the war ... 300 days!
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.
Attacks from the air on England in the news
|Manchester Evening News (widely covered from time to time) of 1st February 1916|
PREVIOUS RAIDS ON ENGLAND. The following is a list of previous raids on England by enemy craft, including both Zeppelins and aeroplanes:-
According to the official information the total loss of life through Zeppelin and aeroplane raids in this country has been 200. In addition, 435 persons have been injured.
Lynsted and Teynham Carol Singers remittance to Faversham Hospital
|Kent Messenger of 1st February 1916|
|TEYNHAM AND LYNSTED CAROL SINGERS. As a result of their collection this season the Teynham and Lynsted Carol Singers have remitted £20 2s. 4d. to the Faversham Cottage Hospital.|
|Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette of 4th February 1916|
|A Zeppelin's Fate. Singing in North Sea. Crew's Appeal to Trawler. "Save Us: Plenty Money". Men left on the Wrecked airship. The Secretary of the Admiralty makes the following announcement:- A fishing trawler has reported today to the naval authorities that she had seen a German Zeppelin in the North Sea in a sinking condition.
GRIMSBY CREW'S REPORT.
The Grimsby trawler King Stephen (commanded by Skipper William Martin) put in there yesterday and reported that on Wednesday [2nd February] at daybreak the vessel found the Zeppelin L19 disabled in the North Sea.
The story told by the crew of the King Stephen was that just before daybreak on Wednesday morning, when fishing in the North Sea, their attention was attracted by flashing lights, apparently from a ship's signal lamp. As signalling in this manner is forbidden the trawler proceeded to investigate, and upon reaching the spot saw a huge mass of wreckage lying on the water. The vessel stood by until the light improved, when it was seen that the wreckage was that of a German dirigible, bearing the identification mark L19. The Zeppelin was partly submerged, her cabins and part of the envelope were below water, but the major portion of the envelope was floating upon the surface. Upon the platform at the top of the envelope were seen seven or eight men, who hailed the trawler in English, and asked to be taken off, saying. "Save us; save us. We give you plenty money."
The men on the platform were augmented by a number of others who came up a companion apparently from the interior of the envelope, and 30 men were counted. The fishermen could also hear the sound of hammering proceeding from inside the envelope, which led them to the conclusion that there were other Germans below endeavouring to effect repairs.
As the trawler carried but nine hands, and the Germans numbered between 20 and 30. Skipper Martin decided that it would not be safe to take so many enemies on board his craft, particularly as the trawler was quite unarmed. He feared that had he done so his crew might have been overpowered, and that the Germans would succeed in making their escape with the vessel. Moreover, as the envelope was floating with a good deal of buoyancy the Germans, though helpless, were apparently in no immediate danger. He therefore decided to proceed home and report to the proper authorities. The fishermen had been at sea for several days,, and had, of course, no knowledge of Monday's air attack.
The Hull tug Frenchman on arrival at Hull yesterday reported having received a message from another tug, the Hollsman, at the Humber mouth, of having seen a disabled Zeppelin in the North Sea flying distress signals.
A Reuter's telegram from Amsterdam on Wednesday stated that the L19 was shot and hit by Dutch soldiers while passing over the island of Ameland on Tuesday.
The War and the Countryside - Vicar of Teynham's view
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 5th February 1916|
|VICAR OF TEYNHAM ON "THE WAR AND THE COUNTRYSIDE."
The Rev. W.A. Purton, Vicar of Teynham, gave the address last Sunday afternoon at the men's service at Faversham Parish Church, his topic being "The War and the Countryside." Dealing with some effects of the War in the rural districts, he said that one of the most regrettable things the war had brought was the interruption of education caused by the exemption of children from school in order that they might work in the fields.
He was not in a position to say how far the calls of agricultural labour rendered this necessary. No doubt the Kent Education Committee gave it anxious thought, but in any case it was a sad consequence of the war. He also referred to the fact that in some cases young married women with few children, whose lives were centred on their husband's now that they had gone did not trouble to get up in the morning and tidy up in the evening, and strayed to the nearest public house in order to forget their cares and occupy their minds. What sort of a home would the husband find when he came back and what sort of a wife: It was strange war solved some problems. More had been done to promote temperance in general than had ever been advocated by legislation before, and acquiesced in readily and even cheerfully, but with these lonely wives a new difficulty had been produced. Still in the country these cases were few. Alluding to the effect war had upon the heart of a nation the preacher said he must confess to a feeling of mild surprise that the weekly intercession services held so largely in the country had not been better attended. He did not complain of it, because no doubt there were explanations, and they were known to the Almighty. He did find however, that there was a very great revival and in many cases quite a new creation of interest in deep religious questions. He believed there was less trusting in the material and a deeper understanding of the importance of the spiritual. These things were of insuperable value to the national life, and he thought they were alive in our midst.
Air Raids on Kent - 9th February 1916
|The Times of 11th February 1916|
AIR MENACE – DETAILS OF KENT RAID.
[Note: The geographic details were withheld from the public - to avoid offering data to the Germans]
The Times Fund - fund raising subscriptions (including Lynsted)
|The Times of 10th February 1916|
|THE TIMES FUND: GENEROUS DOMINIONS: THE VALUE OF THE GENERAL FUND: "The excellent list of general subscriptions to The Times Fund on behalf of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John which we publish to-day includes five gifts of more than £100 (the largest is the sum of 200 guineas from the Mortgage Company of the River Plate, Limited) .... Church collections acknowledged to-day amount to £2,725. 5s. 8d., including those for the London District, which reached £2,057 19s......Lynsted £2.0s.3d.|
Vimy Ridge Fighting Summary
Included here as an example of regular general reporting as the Western Front lay generally quiet.
|The Times News Summary of 10th February 1916|
VIMY RIDGE FIGHTING. NEW COMMAND FOR GENERAL SMUTS.
Where the French lines run below the Vimy Ridge just east of Neuville St. Vaast, the Germans have made another of their periodic attacks. They made a good deal of it in their communiqué yesterday, declaring that they had stormed the French front trenches over a front of more than 800 yards and had taken over 100 prisoners and five machine-guns.
D.C.M. earned by Lynsted man
|East Kent Gazette of 10th February 1916|
|LYNSTED D.C.M. FOR LYNSTED SOLDIER. We have much pleasure in announcing that Lance-Corporal Ernest George Champion, of the East Surrey Regiment, the only son of Mr. E. Champion, of Lynsted, has been awarded the D.C.M., his name appearing in the New Year list of honours. He and a comrade put out barbed wire in No Man's Land in France, under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, and both obtained the distinction. Lance-Corporal George Champion, who was formerly a member of Lynsted Church Choir, and was amongst the first to join up after the outbreak of War, is to be heartily congratulated on gaining the coveted D.C.M.|
The Military Service Act 1916 - local notices
We have transcribed (below) the text found locally in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 19th February 1916 concerning the new Act, passed on 10th February.
Fire at Lynsted - chimney fire
|East Kent Gazette of 15th February 1916|
|FIRE AT LYNSTED. The Sittingbourne Fire Brigade were summoned to a fire in an old and interesting building at Lynsted on Sunday afternoon, caused by a beam running into the chimney. Four families occupied the building, the greater part of which was saved. But a portion of the furniture belonging to one tenant was destroyed.|
|Kent Messenger of 19th February 1916|
|SITTINGBOURNE. A REGRETABLE FIRE. A fire took place on Sunday afternoon [13th February] in the fine old timbered house of the Elizabethan period at Lynsted, through a smouldering beam in a chimney. The damage is estimated at £250.|
|East Kent Gazette of 19th February 1916|
|FIRE AT LYNSTED. THE OLD "ANCHOR" TAVERN DAMAGED. On Sunday afternoon a fire broke out in an old and interesting building at Lynsted, known years ago as the "Anchor" Tavern, belonging to Mr. G.A.H. Smith, and situated next to the village Post Office, opposite the church. The building, which is one of the finest timbered houses in the district, is let in four tenements to Mrs. Barker, and Messrs. Day, Hall, and Jordan. Mrs Barker is an aged widow and her place was shut up, as she was staying with a relative at Sheerness. It was in Mrs Barker's part of the building where the fire originated – caused by a beam running in the chimney. The beam had evidently been smouldering for some time, and it became ignited, and spread to surrounding parts of the building……
…..On arrival the building was ablaze, and a portion of the roof of the tenement occupied by Mrs Barker had fallen in. An adjoining room, with cellar below, was occupied by Mr. Porter as a grocery store. The contents had been cleared out, and the other tenants had removed their furniture out of the building.
Kaiser charged with "Wilful Murder"
|The Times of 16th February 1916|
|A VERDICT OF ""WILLFUL MURDER". An inquest on a victim of the recent Zeppelin raid over the Midland counties was held yesterday [15th February]. A domestic servant was walking with her sweetheart, when a bomb dropped near them, killing the man and severely injuring the girl, who has died in hospital.
The jury found that death resulted from a bomb thrown from an enemy airship, and returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against the Kaiser and Crown Prince as accessories before the fact."
Local Fire Brigade to be set up in Greenstreet
|South Eastern Gazette of 22nd February 1916|
|At a public meeting at Greenstreet on Thursday evening [17th February], it was decided to form a Fire Brigade for the joint parishes of Teynham and Lynsted.|
Editorial Note: You can read the Fire Reports from the formation of this Fire Brigade - dating from 6th August 1916 when it was first established in a shed behind The George public house. The first 'shout' was to Ludgate Farm, Lynsted. The Society thanks Eddie Read for sharing that important social document]
Rose Beerhouse redundancy issue - owner serving in the Navy
|South Eastern Gazette of 22nd February 1916|
REFERRED FOR COMPENSATION. At the County Petty Sessions on Thursday [17th February] (Mr. W.W. Berry presiding), the Bench decided to refer to the Compensation Authority the license of the Rose beerhouse, Greenstreet, Teynham, on the ground of redundancy. The Rose is an anti-1869 house, and has been closed since last November, the tenant, E.E. Thorpe, a Navy pensioner, having rejoined the Navy.
[Editorial Note: You can read an extended article about the Rose Beerhouse on Greenstreet (London Road) using this link]
Local Crime continues
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 26th February 1916.
"EAST KENT CASES AT THE ASSIZES. The following East Kent cases have been tried at the Kent Assizes at Maidstone.
PATRIXBOURNE – THE ASSAULT UPON A YOUNG GIRL.
ALLEGED THEFT OF SHEEP
LOSS OF AN EYE.
Passing of The Military Service Bill
NOTES COMPILED BY W.L.F. - Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 19 February 1916
The Act is divided into four sections:-
- Obligation of unmarried men to serve
- Certificates of exemption
- Supplemental provisions as to certificates of exemption
- Short title and commencement and two Schedules.
The Act applies to all male British subjects who
(a) were ordinarily resident in Great Britain on the 15th August, 1915, or have become since that date or have become ordinarily resident in Great Britain.
(b) had attained the age of 18 years on the 15th August, 1915, and have not attained the age of 41 before the appointed date (2nd March, 1916); and
(c) were, on the 2nd November, 1915, single or were widowers without children dependent on them; subject to the following exceptions, which are set out in the First Schedule to the Act:-
- Men ordinarily resident in His Majesty's Dominions abroad and resident in Great Britain for the purpose only of their education or for some other special purpose.
- Members of His Majesty's regular or reserve forces, or of the forces raised by the Governments of his Majesty's Dominions, and members of the Territorial Force who are liable for foreign service or who are, in the opinion of the Army Council, not suited for foreign service.
- Men serving in the Navy, or the Royal Marines, or who, though not serving in the Navy or Royal Marines, are recommended for exception by the Admiralty.
- Men in holy orders or regular ministers of any religious denomination.
- Men who have left or been discharged form the naval or military service of the Crown in consequence of disablement or ill-health (including officers how have ceased to hold a commission in consequence of disablement or ill-health), and, subject to any provision which may hereafter be made discharged from the naval or military service of the Crown on the termination of their period of service.
- Men who hold a certificate of exemption under this Act for the time being in force (other than a certificate of exemption from combatant service only), or who have offered themselves for enlistment and been rejected since the 14th August, 1915.
The effect of the Act is that every man to whom the Act applies and who is not included in the foregoing list of exceptions will as from the appointed date (March 2nd, 1916), be deemed to have been enlisted and to have been passed to the reserve. A man who has made an application for exemption within the time fixed (March 2nd, 1916), will not be called up until his application has been finally disposed of, and, if granted a certificate, will be exempted accordingly from the provisions of the Act.
A man who holds a certificate of exemption will not be deemed to have been enlisted while his certificate is in force, and, if it ceases to be in force, he is allowed a period of two months in which, if he is entitled to be re-exemptioned he can obtain a renewal of the certificate.
The men will be called up in alike manner to those who have voluntarily attested under Lord Derby's scheme but in the case of the compulsory men they will be in "Classes" and the attested men in "groups."
The men in the first 12 Classes - i.e. born between the years 1897 and 1886 inclusive - will be called up at once to correspond with the Derby groups already called up and those born between 1885 and 1875 inclusive - classes 13 to 23 - concurrently with the remaining Derby groups.
The Tribunals under the Derby scheme are to be re-appointed by the District Councils and will consist of from five to not more than twenty-five members which need not be members of the Council. It is of the utmost importance that the Tribunals should be so constituted as to command public confidence, and that therefore the various interest of the districts should be fairly represented. The labour classes should, if desirable, as in large industrial districts, be represented. The labour classes should, if desirable, as in large industrial districts, be represented on these Tribunals, but regard must be paid to the nature and requirements of each particular districts.
Small Urban and Rural Districts may combine and have joint Tribunals and it may also be found convenient that cases from some localities should not go before the Local Tribunal of the district in which the localities are situated, but before some other neighbouring Tribunal.
The names of the members of the Tribunal for the district of Whitstable are as follows:- Messrs A.W.Daniels, J.P., Charles Goodwin, F.N. Headicar, G.Kirkby, F.Carson, E.J.Hopkins (Oddfellows), and a member to be appointed by the Local Lodge of Ancient Order of Foresters, and the Hon. Secretary to the Tribunal is Mr. J.F. Whichcord, solicitor and Clerk to the Urban Council, Whitstable.
The procedure of the local tribunals under the new Act will generally be the same as that under the Derby scheme. The younger men will be heard first and the parties may be represented by counsel or by a solicitor and the proceedings will be conducted in public, but power is reserved to the tribunals to hear a case (or part of a case) in private should they so decide. The party to any case may request the case to be heard in private as matters of a business or domestic nature may arise.
Applications for certificates of exemption from the provisions of the Act may be made to a Local Tribunal on any of the following grounds:-
(a) On the ground that is is expedient in the national interests that the man should, instead of being employed in military service, be employed in other work in which he is habitually engaged.
(b) On the ground that it is expedient in the national interest that the man should, instead of being employed in the military service, be engaged in other work in which he wishes to be engaged.
(c) If the man is being educated or trained for any work, on the ground that it is expedient in the national interests that, instead of being employed in military service, he should continue to be so educated or trained.
(d) On the ground that serious hardships would ensue if the man were called up for Army service, owing to obligations or domestic position.
(e) On the ground of illness or infirmity.
(f) On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service.
It is for the Tribunal to decide in each case whether the grounds of the application have been established and, if they have been established, what exemption should be granted.
The certificates of exemption which the Local Tribunal are empowered to grant may be absolute, conditional, or temporary.
Furthermore, in the case of exemption granted on conscientious grounds the exemption may be from combatant service only, or may be given on the condition that the applicant is, or will be engaged in some work which is, in the opinion of the Local Tribunal of national importance.
All council officials may be exempted providing the military representative agrees as also are:-
All classes of workmen engaged in electric generating stations, gas works, water works, tramways and members of Police Forces, providing their chief officers declare they are necessary in their civil employment and members of the public Fire Brigades and Salvage Corps who are employed solely in that work.
Medical and veterinary students are wanted for the war and so temporary certificates will probably be granted these so that they may continue their education.
The local Tribunals will have to deal with cases of serious hardships which will occur here and their, meriting special considerations on personal, as distinguished from national grounds.
The power given to Tribunals must be used with discretion for to justify exemption under the Act, the hardship must be "serious" and the financial or business obligations or domestic position "exceptional."
The Local tribunal should be fully satisfied on cases of ill health or infirmity before granting certificates as these certificates will probably be absolute. In doubtful cases the Tribunals will probably consider it expedient to leave questions of medical fitness to be determined by the military authorities for the military have recently revised their standards and are now certifying recruits in different classes according to the work for which they are physically fit.
In deciding cases Tribunals will bear in mind that the primary principle of the Act is that every man who comes within its provision and who is available for military service should undertake military service. Exceptions can be granted only in cases expressly provided for in the Act, and instructions are clearly laid down that in deciding each case Local Tribunals must consider if each man's duties cannot be performed by available men not of military age or otherwise not fit for military service, or by women.
The military representative for the district will be present at each hearing to safeguard the military interests.
Applications can be made to the Tribunals in the district in which a man resides or the district in which he works, but not both, and the grounds upon which the application is made must be clearly stated, but a certificate of exemption cannot be granted unless the exemption has been established on one or other of the required grounds.
Applications must be made on special forms (R.41 and R.42), to be obtained from the hon. Secretary to the Tribunal.
It is necessary for all men previously "starred" to make fresh applications for exemption before March 2nd, 1916, and this should not be overlooked.
There are two appeal Tribunals and any person aggrieved by the decision of a Local Tribunal may appeal against the decision to the Appeal Tribunal of the area, and any person aggrieved by the decision of the Appeal Tribunal may (by leave only of the Appeal Tribunal) appeal to the Central Tribunal. These Appeal Tribunals are appointed by the Crown.
KENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL
|Dover Expressof 10th March 1916|
|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.|