First World War Project

Home News - December 1916

The Western Front arrangements of fighting strength 1916 to 1917A change of theatre map (right), even if no great change in front lines! This map shows the major formations confronting each other over the Western Front in the run up to April 1917 (click map for enlarged image). Assaults and attrition continued to take their toll on our local men; mostly on the Western Front. The Allied Offensive on the Somme had ended on 18th November without much to show for the awful price paid. There followed "the Somme winter" from October 1916 to February 1917. Both sides were exhausted and depleted by the Battle of the Somme; both sides had to live in the partially destroyed trenches in the bitter cold and (when thawed) knee-deep mud. What followed was a period of relative quiet but for a few limited actions. The suffering would have been known about at home simply through the return of soldiers on leave.

The French successfully held on to Verdun after a long and bloody siege - relieved in some measure by the Somme action. The Battle of Verdun ended on 18th December.

Primary actions during December fell elsewhere. The month opened with the five-day Battle of the Arges (Rumania). Bucharest capitulated (6th) to the German forces. 14/15th December saw the Entente Powers make and the Greek Government accept a withdrawal from Thessaly.

Political sands shifted. Admiral Sir Henry Jackson, First Sea Lord resigned on 3rd December; replaced by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe the next day. On 12th, Sir Edward Carson succeeded Mr. Balfour as First Lord of the Admiralty. The 3rd also saw the British and French Governments concluded the "Clementel Agreement": (1) to unite British ships in French service to those already employed; (2) to co-ordinate Allied tonnage; (3) to create inter-allied bureau to centralise charter of neutral shipping. On 7th, Mr. Lloyd George succeeds Mr. Asquith as British Premier who went on to form the Coalition War Cabinet on 9th December, followed by restructuring of key Ministries.

"Peace Notes": During 26th to 28th, an Anglo-French Conference met in London to discuss the German and United States "Peace Notes". General Joffre was created Marshal of France. On 30th December, the Entente Governments rejected German peace proposals.

On 31st, Rasputin was murdered in Petrograd.

Fighting in the air was marked by

Fighting at sea included the German raider "Wolff" leaving Germany on 1st December. The Italian battleship "Regina Margherita" sunk on an Italian minefield (11th); The French battleship "Gaulois" was sunk by a submarine in the Mediterranean (27th).

The Battle of Verdun continued with the "First Offensive Battle" of Verdun on 24th October closed on 18th December.


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). The War Office bound together its War Statistics in March 1922 adding random available data from earlier months.

We have selected statistics quite randomly to shed light on particular aspects of warfare each month.

Comparative strength of Regular and Territorial Forces in France in December 1916.

Arm Percentage of total strength Number of sick sent home in December Percentage of total sick sent home Percentage of strength of arm
Cavalry 2.5 268 1.1 1.0
Royal Artillery 18.7 3,121 12.4 1.4
Royal Engineers 9.4 1,175 4.7 1.1
Royal Flying Corps 1.0 118 0.5 1.0
Infantry 44.7 17,899 71.2 3.4
Royal Army Service Corps 10.2 1,248 5.0 1.0
Royal Army Corps 3.8 493 2.0 1.1
Others 9.7 804 3.1 0.7
  100 25,126 100  

Horses, mules, camels, bullocks and donkeys

The number of horses and mules in the Army at different dates were as follows:-

On mobilization 25,000
On completion of mobilization 165,000
On 31st December, 1915 660,000
On 31st December, 1916 797,174
On 31st December, 1917 809,248
On 31st December, 1918 735,409

On 30th November, 1918, there were also 56,287 camels, bullocks and donkeys in the various theatres.

Casualty Notice

Faversham and north East Kent News of 2nd December 1916
Recent Casualties - Private F. Wood, Doddington

Appeals against serving in the Forces

East Kent Gazette of 2nd December 1916
LYNSTED. YOUNG MAN HELD TO SERVICE. - At the East Kent Appeal Tribunal, Canterbury, last week, the case of a young man, 19, single, horse feeder carter and stockman, in the employ of his father, of Lynsted lane, came on for hearing. The Military Representative appealed against exemption to January 31st, which, considering the man's age, was thought unreasonable. The local tribunal themselves thought the man should be in the Army, but considered that labour on the farm was down to bed-rock, and were satisfied that if he were taken the production of the farm would be seriously reduced. They therefore granted him till January 31st with the object of allowing the substitution scheme to become operative. The father said he was aged 70, and had one son at the Front. He had bought two carts of mould, but he usually bought six. The Military Representative's appeal was allowed, the local tribunal to grant conditional exemption unless and until substituted.

Note: Tribunal Hearings and Appeals were common-place and widely reported

Out of control chickens

East Kent Gazette of 2nd December 1916
TEYNHAM. CHICKENS IN THE GARDEN. Before his Honour Judge Shortt, at the Faversham County Court, on Friday in last week, William Mills, of Teynham, sued Richard Savage, also of Teynham, for 16/8, damage to cabbage and lettuce plants stated to have been done by the defendant's chicken. Plaintiff's estimate of the damage was unsupported by other evidence, and his Honour ultimately gave judgment for 10/0."

† - Fiftieth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 9th December 1916.

Private, Frank KNIGHT (of Newnham), Killed in Action aged 20 years
Theatre: France and Flanders
Memorial: Etaples Military Cemetery, Plot 20, Row F, Grave 10A
Serving in: 7th Battalion, East Kent (The Buffs) Regiment
Died of Wounds (probably wounded during Relief operations for his Battalion)

Fruit Farming

Dover Express of 15th December 1916
FRUIT FARMS at UPLEES, near Faversham, and at NAILBOURNE, Lynsted. FRUIT large arrivals for Xmas. The Right Quality; The Right Price. Order of 2.6 and upwards, delivered free. One delivery daily only, at 10 am.

"Put Those Lights Out!"

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 16th December 1916
V.A.D. MOTOR DRIVER AND HIS LIGHTS. Henry John Victor Wildash, of Greenstreet, was summoned for using head lights on a motor car that had not be obscured according to the regulations at Teynham on November 16th. Defendant pleaded guilty.
Mr W.R. Elgar, J.P., who is also a special constable, stated that at five minutes past six on November 16th he saw a motor car with bright head lights coming out of Greenstreet. As they were like a searchlight he stopped defendant and told him he ought not to go about in that way. Defendant replied that he was driving an ambulance, and witness understood him to say he had permission from the police. Witness subsequently informed the Sittingbourne Police about the matter.
Defendant said that Dr. Henderson told him that under a new order he could use head lights, but he afterwards found this was wrong
A letter was read from Dr. Henderson that defendant had done most excellent work for the V.A.D. without remuneration.
The Chairman said the Bench realised that those who advised him made a genuine mistake though the Order ought not to have been misunderstood, and under the circumstances the case would be dismissed.
Addressing Mr. Elgar the Chairman said the Bench were much indebted to him for the action he took.
Mr. Elgar said he only asked for defendant to be warned.

Obscene Language

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 16th December 1916
OBSENE LANGUAGE. James Baker, no fixed abode, who had four convictions against him, was fined £1 or ten days' for using obscene language at Lynsted on October 1st.

Fire Brigades

Kent Messenger of 16th December 1916
KENT FIRE BRIGADES, ANNUAL MEETING.....We have now 73 Brigades on the roll, two having been disbanded, viz., Keston and Longfield, and the newly-formed Brigade of Teynham and Lynsted has joined, making the total 73, or one Brigade less than last year. The two Brigades above mentioned will probably be reorganised after the war, when we shall hope to have them affiliated again with our District.....
The Teynham and Lynsted Brigade applied for admission to the Union. Captain Hedley Peters welcomed Captain Ferris, who, he said, was previously Chief Officer at Farnborough. Now he had lopped off part of his own district and formed a Brigade, but he hoped he would do some good work there, and with pleasure he moved the election of the new Brigade to membership.
Captain Bradley having seconded, Teynham and Lynsted were duly admitted to membership."

† - Fifty First Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 16th December 1916.

Sergeant, Albert TUMBER (of Teynham), Killed in Action aged 22 years
Theatre: France and Flanders
Memorial: Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm), Zillebeke, Belgium - Plot 6, Row Q, Grave 7
Serving in: 1/19th (County of London) Battalion (St Pancras)
Killed in Action (In trenches on Hill 60)

Deaths confirmed one year after first report

East Kent Gazette of 23rd December 1916
DODDINGTON.- FOR THEIR COUNTRY. Harry Victor Higgins, The Buffs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Higgins, of Chequers Hill, Doddington, and Percy Foster also a Doddington man, are now assumed to have been killed, no news having been received of them since they were reported missing more than a year ago.

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