First World War Project

Home News - April 1917

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). Immediately following the Close of The Somme, military formations were reorganised, men entered into training in more flexible formations. However, assaults and attrition continued to take their toll on our local men; mostly on the Western Front. There followed "the Somme winter" from October 1916 to February 1917. 1917 proved very costly to our communities; more so than the Somme. 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 and losses. The suffering would have been known about at home simply through the return of soldiers injured or on leave.

The German retreat from the Somme to the Hindenberg Line" began during March (from 14th through to 5th April).

The 'game changer' waiting in the wings was the declining reliability and effectiveness of the impoverished and ill-equiped Russian Army as well as the groundswell of popular opposition to the instruments of the Russian state. The upheaval of March gave expression to disaffection in the armed forces who had suffered significant privation. With that decline in Russian structure and forces, through to June 1917, Germany was increasingly able to move some of its own military machine to its Western Front. As this story-line unfolded, the Allies also prepared themselves for an 'end game' to the War. Not entirely out of the picture, Russia did retake Khanaqin (north-east of Baghdad) on 4th April.

During 1917, the desire to disrupt and strangle supplies to British forces on the battlefield and to home populations who suffered food shortages. Consequently, 1917 saw losses of shipping that included civilian and hospital shipping following the German implementation of "unrestricted submarine warfare". The month opened with H.M.S. "Jason" striking a mine and sinking on 3rd April. Enemy mines also saw the destruction of British hospital ship "Salta" off Havre. On 17th April, Japanese flotillas join the Allies in the Mediterranean. British ambulance transports "Lanfrane" and "Donegal" were torpedoed and sunk in the English Channel. A few days later the Germans mounted their second raid on the Straits of Dover (overnight on 20th/21st), and an action involved the "Swift" and "Broke". On 26th, a German destroyer raided Ramsgate over the night of 26th/27th April.

America declares war on Germany. The USA had, in February, severed diplomatic relations with Germany and the "final straw" came that same month with the German sinking of the British S.S. "Laconia". Merchant shipping added armaments to protect themselves. However, the Declaration of War did not happen until 6th April 1917. U.S. Navy's General Simms arrived in England on 9th April. On 28th April, the United States Congress passes a Bill to raise 500,000 men.

For our Creekside Parishes, the First Battle of Arras (9th April - 16th May 1917) was costly - five deaths in April associated with Canadian-led successful attack on Vimy Ridge and First Battle of the Scarpe (9th - 14th April). Two deaths came from "the Teynham Pals" - local men who returned serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.).

NOTE: On this web site, the phrase, "Teynham Pals", includes a smaller number from other Parishes of the Creekside Cluster.

The French 1917 Offensive began on 16th April with the Second Battle of the Aisne and closed on 20th April. The second Battle of the Scarpe opened on 23rd/24th April.

Statistics - Men in Reserved and Other Occupations as at 30th April 1917

Tribunal Exemptions
Age Granted Absolutely Conditional Temporary Total
Reserved Occupations Domestic grounds, &c.
Single men aged 25 and under 5,057 45,473 18,990 22,024 91,544
Married men aged 25 and under 603 8,538 3,029 15,217 15,217
Single men aged 30 and under 10,045 72,466 29,759 143,096 143,096
Married men aged 30 and under 3,753 53,014 22,423 100,864 100,864
Married and single men aged 41 and under 40,146 372,979 206,191 779,936 779,936


Protected Trades and Occupations
Age Men in controlled firms, Government Establishments, &c. Exempted by Colliery Courts Railway Employees Government Departments Employees Exempted by W.O. letters and telegrams, Army Council Instructions &c.* Total
Single men aged 25 and under 213,128 154,104 47,667 6,511 32,566 453,976
Married men aged 25 and under 34,809 26,973 8,155 794 1,988 72,719
Single men aged 30 and under 289,929 188,831 65,066 9,613 40,919 594,376
Married men aged 30 and under 160,199 97,482 40,677 4,696 9,536 312,590
Married and single men aged 41 and under 914,298 516,838 239,652 35,476 90,464 1,796,728

* These are nearly all men of very low category engaged in special war work, e.g., Red Cross, canteen work, special constables, also teachers, students, medical men, &c.

Age Appeals dismissed - men awaiting substitutes. Applications to Tribunals outstanding or adjourned. Miscellaneous exemptions Total Grand total
Single men aged 25 and under 6,967 18,965 8,526 34,458 579,978
Married men aged 25 and under 622 2,256 975 3,853 91,789
Single men aged 30 and under 8,559 24,815 11,489 44,863 782,335
Married men aged 30 and under 2,604 14,492 5,051 22,147 435,601
Married and single men aged 41 and under 15,719 111,019 38,586 165,324 2,741,988

† - Fifty Eighth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 4th April 1917.

Rifleman, Sidney James PULLEN (of Doddington). Killed in Action: aged 22 years
Memorial: Thiepval Memorial
Theatre: France and Flanders
Serving in: 11th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps (of Doddington). Possibly killed under "friendly fire" of slow British lifting artillery barrage.

Air Raid on Kent Coast

Whitstable and Herne Bay Herald of 14th April 1917

The following communiqué was issued on Good Friday by the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, Home Forces:-
A hostile aeroplane passed over certain Kentish coast towns at about 10.45 o'clock last night [5th April].
Eight bombs were dropped, most of which fell in the open. No casualties were caused, and no damage resulted beyond the breaking of some glass.
A correspondent, writing from a coast town, says:-
The night was beautifully clear, with bright moonshine and a light westerly wind. I was walking with a friend along the sea front, when our attention was arrested by the sound of an aeroplane, which could be heard approaching from the sea. We looked up, but could not see any machine. We continued our walk a little farther, and from the sound the machine was then apparently over our heads. We walked for another 100 yards and heard the noise of two bombs falling. The raid occupied a very few minutes, and a good many people were unaware until the morning that it had occurred."


Amsterdam, April 7th. A Berlin official telegram says:- "During Thursday night a German waterplane squadron lavishly and successfully bombed vessels, lying in the Downs and searchlights and fortifications north-west of Ramsgate."(Signed) Chief of Admiralty Staff.

New Magistrate appointed from Greenstreet

Kent Messenger of 7th April 1917
"The following took the oath on their appointment as Justices for Peace for the County: W.R.Dixon, Greenstreet, Sittingbourne"

† - Fifty Ninth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 10th April 1917.

Private, Frank MILLS (of Doddington and Wychling). Killed in Action aged 33 years
Memorial: Bois-Carre British Cemetery, Thelus.
Theatre: France and Flanders
Serving in: 1st Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment
Killed while attacking Vimy Ridge under Canadian leadership (First Battle of Arras)

† - Sixtieth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 10th April 1917.

Private, William Henry HODGE (of Teynham). Killed in Action aged 32 years.
Memorial: Canadian National Vimy Memorial
Theatre: France and Flanders
Serving in: 50th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Alberta Regiment). Killed during attack on Vimy Ridge (First Battle of Arras)

† - Sixty First Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 13th April 1917.

Private, John Lovett SATTIN (of Lynsted), Killed in Action aged 32 years, Killed in Action Aged 32 years
Memorial: Canadian National Vimy Memorial
Theatre: France and Flanders
Served in: 63rd Battalion, 7th Canadian Infantry (1st British Columbian Regiment). Died attacking Vimy Ridge (First Battle of Arras)

The Price of a Pint

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 14th April 1917

WHY THE PRICE OF BEER HAS BEEN INCREASED. Many people are asking why the price of beer has recently been further increased, and seem quiet unaware of the extraordinary conditions and restrictions under which the brewing licensed trades are being carried on.
The pre-war price of mild ale and porter was 2d. per pint in London and most parts of the country. It is now 7d., and the trade claim that it cannot be supplied for less. They point out that for every 3½ pints purchased by the public before the War, and for every 2½ pints purchased up to last month, 1 pint only can now be supplied, so that, quite apart from all other reasons for raising the price, there is the absolute necessity to reduce consumption to that extent.
The other reasons include: (1) The increase since the War of the beer duty from 7s. 9d. to 25s. per barrel; (2) The greatly enhanced cost and scarcity of all materials, labour, horse-keep, transport, coal, etc., etc. (e.g. the price of English malt, round about 40s. per quarter before the war, now stands at 92s. to 94s; and (3) The prohibition of all malting.
The Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Commons on February 23rd last, said that:-

"In 1914 there were 36,000,000 standard barrels brewed in this country.
In 1916 that was reduced to 26,000,000.
It is absolutely impossible for us to guarantee the food of this country without making a very much deeper cut into the barrelage of the country, and we must reduce it to 10,000,000 barrels.
The Government are bound to recognise that patriotic spirit in which those who are engaged in this business have faced all the restrictions which have hampered them.
Although it undoubtedly involves a heavy sacrifice upon a large and important branch of the community, there is no question that it is one of the most effective contributions that could be made at the present time towards a victorious ending of this war."

† - Sixty Second Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 14th April 1917.

Rifleman, James FRENCH (of Lynsted), Killed in Action: Aged 23 years
Memorial: Arras Memorial, Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery
Bay 10
Theatre: France and Flanders
Served in: 1/16th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment. Killed in Action, during the 1st Battle of the Scarpe, Vimy (First Battle of Arras)

Promotion earned by Lynsted man - Ernest White

Faversham and North East Kent News of 21st April 1917
LOCAL WAR ITEMSDriver Ernest White, R.G.A., the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs W. White, of Lynsted, has, we are pleased to learn, been granted a commission. Driver White, who has seen six months' service in France, performed a dangerous piece of duty by taking a message from his battery commander along a road that was swept by German shell fire. For this and much excellent work as observer he was recommended for a commission. Accordingly he returned to England for a course of training, and now has been gazetted 2nd-Lieutenant, R.G.A. The young officer is to be congratulated on his success. He was married recently to Miss Ella Madeline Pulford, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs W.E. Pulford, of Stroud Green.

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