First World War Project

Home News - June 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).

Both sides weathered the winter of 1916/17 and both faced increased jeopardy with political upheavals in Russia allowing the redirection of German resources toward the European theatre. All was not lost on that front, however, when the Russian Summer Offensive began on 29th June, that led to the German counter-offensive on the Eastern Front on 18th July.

The month of May had caused considerable anguish for our communities. June opened with two deaths with the outbreak of a new battle - the Battle of Messines, that ran from 7th to 14th June. Additionally, our communities lost a man serving in the Navy.

Reported (A&N Gazette) immediately after the battle: "AN EARNEST OF FINAL VICTORY. In the message of congratulation addressed to the General Officer Commanding the Second Army on the capture of the positions which for so long the Germans have held on the ridges looking down upon and dominating what remains of the City in the Salient, Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig has permitted himself to say that "the complete success of the attack is an earnest of the eventual final victory of the Allied cause"; and so far, with unusual and praiseworth self-control, no single Member of Parliament has questioned this expression of opinion by the man best qualified to judge of the result of the efforts made by his submordinates. Orders and letters which have come into our hands - which have been found on prisoners or captured in the charnel-houses where for so long the Germans had held their habitation - have made it clear that the very utmost importance was attached by the enemy Command to the continued possession of the high ground above Messines and Wytschaete; from the ridges the Germans held absolute observation of the great tract of country occupied by the British; and standing now on the high ground and looking back, one may well marvel not alone that for nearly three years we have held this dominated territory, but that we were able to move about in it at all. The Ypres salient holds many of our dead; some men question whether its retention during all the long months that Germany stood over us, having our lines and their approaches at all times under fire from every direction, was really worth the sacrifice the mere "holding on" entailed; and of the surviviors of the Old Army and among those men of the New who have been told at first hand of all that of suffering the salient stood for, there will be none who will not render thanks that the salient has been blotted out, the angles rubbed off, and that the ridges dominating it are now in our hands."

At Sea

During 1917, through the competing navies, there continued the desire to disrupt and strangle supplies to fighting forces and demoralise home populations. 1917 saw losses of shipping that included civilian and hospital shipping following the German implementation of "unrestricted submarine warfare".

To give a sense of the challenge facing the navy and the merchant navy at this time, we have reproduced a summary of four weeks losses:


This week's returns {30th June, Army and Navy Gazette} of shipping arrivals, sailings, war losses and unsuccessful attacks was issued by the Press Bureau on Wednesday nights. It covers the period ending at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon. We have added the figures for the previous three weeks and corrected them by the official notes. A footnote to the return states that it invariably includes all merchantile tonnage known to have been sunk by mine or submarine, whether employed on Government service or otherwise.

Week ending June 24 Week ending June 17 Week ending June 10 Week ending June 3
Arrivals of merchant vessels of all nationalities (over 100 tons net) at united Kingdom ports (exclusive of fishing and local craft.) 2,876 2,897 2,767 2,693
Sailings 2,923 2,993 2,822 2,642
British merchant vessels of 1,600 tons gross or over sunk by mine or submarine 20 25 24 15
Vessels of under 1,600 tons sunk 6 5 10 3
British merchant vessels unsuccessfully attacked by submarines 15 34 20 15
British fishing vessels sunk 0 0 6 5

On 14th June, the British Admiralty approved a scheme for convoy of merchant ships.

The naval position in Russia hit a new low when, on 21st June, a mutiny breaks out in the Russian Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

In the air,

5th June, saw a German daylight aeroplane raid on Sheerness and the Naval establishments on the Medway. On 13th June, there was a great German daylight aeroplane raid on London; 157 killed and 432 injured. The following day (14th June) saw the German airship "L.-43" was destroyed in the North Sea. On 17th June, the German ariship "L.-48" destroyed by aeroplane at Theberton in Suffolk.

American Engagement

Faversham and North East Kent News of 16th November 1916
Mr and Mrs Higgins, of Chequers Hill, Doddington, have received a communication from the War Office, stating that the Army Council are regretfully constrained to conclude that their son, Harry Victor Higgins, of the Buffs, who was reported missing over a year ago, is dead.

Army and Navy Gazette, 9th June 1917What America has done to assist the Allies.
A brief resume of what the United States have accomplished during the seven weeks which have elapsed since they entered the war may not be without interest as demonstrating America's complete participation in the war and her ability to give immediate and powerful aid.
A selective Draft Bill which will ultimately give an Army of 2,000,000 men has passed Congress, and will be put into operation forthwith. The loan legislation has passed Congress, and the law is already in operation with prospects of the greatest success; $750,000,000 has already been advanced to the Allies.
Flotillas of American destroyers have been sent to the submarine-zone, where they are now effectively co-operating with the Allied Navies.
One Army Division, a force of Marines, and nine regiments of Engineers have been ordered to France.
Ten thousand doctors, in addition to many nurses, have been ordered to England and France, and hundreds have already gone.
Together with the Americans who are already serving in the British and French Armies these additional units will shortly give a total of 100,000 Americans in France, equalling five German Divisions.
By August next the United States National Guard will be at full strength of 400,000 men, an increase e of 250,000. The Regular Army has been increased by nearly 180,000 men by ordinary enlistment, while the personnel of the Navy has been doubled by the same means. Forty thousand young American of the best type are now assembled in 16 camps to receive intensive training with a view to their becoming officers in the new armies.
The conferences with the British and French Commissions arragning for the essentials of co-operation have been completed, and comprehensive plans have been arranged for industrial mobilization, including that of 262, 000 miles of railways.
Arrangements have been made for the construction of 3,500 war aeroplanes and for the training of 6,000 airmen this year.
Industrial firms in all parts of the nation have expressed their willingness to undertake war work, while an inventory of the nation's national resources has been made and placed at the disposal of the United States and her Allies."

On 25th June, the first contingent of US troops arrived in France.


British Prisoners of War.- Mr. J.F. Hope, replying to question on June 12, said:- According to returns made up to the end of May, the number of British combatant prisoners of war of the Regular and Territorial Forces, Royal navy, Royal Naval Division, and Indian Forces is as follows:- Germany, 1,354 officers, 34,304 other ranks; Turkey, 556 officers, 8,355 other ranks; Austria, 5 officers, 12 other ranks; Bulgaria, 22 officers, 523 other ranks; total, 1937 officers and 43,194 other ranks. The German figures include a certain number of prisoners taken in East Africa.
In reply to a supplementary question, Mr. Hope added that he thought that he was right in saying that the great majority of prisoners in Turkish camps were native Indians.

British and Enemy Casualties in 1917 Battles

1917 Battles - Casualties
Name of Battle Dates Number of days' fighting Prisoners taken Guns taken Area captured British Casualties Estimated enemy casualties
Battle of Arras 9th April - 16th May, 1917 38 20,834 252 61 sq. miles 146,586 132,000
Battle of Messines 7th June - 13th June, 1917 7 7,257 67 10 sq. miles 25,997 39,000
Third Battle of Ypres, up to 5th October, 1917 31st July - 5th October, 1917 67 20,564 55 36 sq. miles 162,769 255,000
Totals   110 48,655 374 107 sq. miles 335,352 426,000

NOTE: The enemy's losses are estimated on the fighting strengths of the troops actually engaged and on the time these troops are known to have been on the front. A calculation on a similar basis was made for the Battle of the Somme, and the result arrived at was announced in the French press. The enemy immediately altered his system of publishing casualties and prohibited the export of casualty lists. This is a good indication that the basis of calculation was sound.

Reported in 4th August 1917 edition of the Army and Navy Gazette
The following German casualties are reported in German official casualty lists:-

  June Total
Killed and died of wounds 28,819 1,032,800
Died of sickness 3,215 72,960
Prisoners 1,835 316,506
Missing 36,772 275,460
Severely wounded 21,315 590,889
Wounded 5,354 315,233
Slightly wounded 56,160 1,655,685
Wounded remaining with units 13,547 263,774
  166,077 4,523,307

Treatment of Shellshock evolves

Army and Navy Gazette of 2nd June 1917

The Treatment of Invalided Soldiers suffering from Neurasthenia, Shell Shock, &c. The development of institution treatment in England has been characterised by voluntary charitable effort, followed by the acceptance by the State of the responsibility for treatment, the need of which has thus been proved.

This is exemplified in the history of the treatment of fevers, mental disorders, tuberculosis, and, in the latest example, venereal diseases.....The Hospital for Epilepsy and Paralysis and Other Deseases of the Nervous System, Maida Vale, was founded fifty years ago for the treatment of a class of patient whose needs up to the present time have not been recognised by the State. In its growth the Maida Vale Hospital has accepted the responsibility for the treatment of functional nervous disorders arising in civil and industrial life, and since 1896 has attempted with success to act as third party between employer and employee under the working of the Workmen's Compensation Acts.

Similarly, the present war has called for new measures, and the Maida Vale hospital again accepts the responsibility by establishing at "Highfield," Golder's Green, a new branch for the reception of selected cases of invalided soldiers suffering from functional nervous disorders. .... The Institution is accommodated in what was formerly a well-known girls' school situated about half a mile from the Golder's Green Tube Station, along the Golder's Green Road. It contains accommodation for 150 people, including thirty-five single bed wards. A large dining hall and gymnasium are features of the Institution, and the extensive, well-wooded grounds with delightful lawns should be found most useful.

The advantages offered comprise, amongst others, the following:-

  1. Isolation beds with provision for local and general massage, together with an electrical department equipped for administering all the most modern forms of electrotherapeutic treatment.
  2. A completely equipped gymnasium, with facilities for physical drill and Swedish exercise.
  3. A range of workshops.
  4. Organised games with instructors.
  5. Personal contact with healthy-minded staff.
  6. An employment bureau and after care in conjunction with the local pension committees.

Military Honour

East Kent Gazette of 2nd June1917
GREENSTREET: Temporary 2nd Lieutenant (acting Captain) E.B. Wheatley, Royal Sussex Regiment, who recently married Miss Filmer, of the Grange, Lynsted, has been mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's dispatches.

Multiple appeals against enlistment overturned

East Kent Gazette of 2nd June 1917
GREENSTREET: POSTMASTER CALLED UP: At the Faversham Rural Tribunal, the results of the appeals before the East Kent Appeal Tribunal were reported, and when the case of John Stanley Read, sub-postmaster, grocer, etc., of Greenstreet, was mentioned. Mr Mann said he thought it was outrageous to take a man like him in the circumstances in which he was placed, especially when there were younger and less important men who ought to go. Mr. Cornfoot said that any comments on the case were now entirely out or order. If there was anything to say for Mr. Read it should have been said at the Tribunal. Mr Mann said he thought as a protest this Tribunal should refuse to deal with any more married men until the single men were gone. The Chairman (Mr. H.T. Bensted) remarked that Mr. Read was not medically fit for military service. The Hon. H.A. Milles-Lade asked if Mr Mann could give the names of the young men he referred to. The Chairman said that he could give the names of several, Mr. Cornfoot said that if the names were supplied he would bring the cases before the Tribunal for review.

† - Seventy Fifth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 7th June 1917.

Private, Harry PHILPOTT (of Doddington), Killed in Action aged 19 years.
Theatre: France and Flanders
Memorial: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Serving in: 11th Battalion Queens Own, Royal West Kent Regiment. Killed in Action in a successful attack on the Wytschaete-Messines Ridge

† - Seventy Sixth loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 8th June 1917.

Lance Corporal, John Millgate - served as Crump (of Wychling), Killed in Action aged 28 years
Theatre: France and Flanders
Memorial: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Serving in: 12th Light Trench Mortar Battery - 11th Infantry Battalion - Australian Imperial Force. Died from Shrapnel wound to the head. Buried where he fell, near Messines

Review of actions to "straighten the line"

Army and Navy Gazette of 9th June 1917

The War on Land by "a Military Officer""When Sir Douglas Haig's bulletin of last Sunday morning came to hand, telling us that the Canadians on the Souchez River were stirring up the Germans who stand over against them, we began to expect with eagerness the evening message. What we looked for, or at least hoped for, was the next report would signal a wide extension of this little attack, and that the next great phase of our battle had begun; but Sunday night's bulleting held out no hope of this being yet in hand. The Canadian work seemed at once to take on the character of a purely local affair, fierce and for a most useful and even necessary purpose, but essentially an operation of a consolidating or preparatory kind. The enemy, of course, hail their fairly successful offensive return as a grand victory, and it is only fair to credit them with a stubborn tenacity.

....The line is now straight from Nieuport to St. Quentin, except for the little undulations of purely local interest, which have mostly arisen from accidents in the contours of the ground. But a substantial shortening would come in for the Germans if they abandoned St. Quentin and Cambrai, and drew their line from Lens or thereabouts to the northern edge of the plain Champagne. This they would have had to do ere this, if the condition of things in Russia had been normal. It is not, perhaps, that the enemy has been able to draw many units from his Eastern Front, but what we had a right to look for at this stage of the war was the von Hindenburg should find himself compelled to be using in Russia a substantial part of the reserves that Germany accumulated during the winter. By his not having had to do so, our task becomes all the more weighty, and the length of the present pause may be a measure of the increase of our burden, but it is by no means a sign, as the German people would like to believe, of our exhaustion."

41 to 50 year-old recruitment

Army and Navy Gazette of 16th June 1917
MEN FROM 41 TO 50 - Mr. Ian Macpherson, Under-Secretary for War states that, though the Government were not adhering to the proposal to form two groups for the enrolment of men up to 50 years of age, facilities were still being afforded to men between 41 and 50 to enlist for service at once. These men would be welcomed, and arrangements would be made so that a convenient day could be fixed for settling up their business affairs.

War Weddings

East Kent News of 30th June 1917
LYNSTED: A WAR WEDDING. An interesting wedding took place at Lynsted Church, on June 24th, when Bombadier Stanley Potts, Royal Garrison Artillery, the youngest son of Mr. F. Potts, builder and contractor, of Lynsted, was married to Miss Alice Furnes, the eldest daughter of Mr. Thomas Daniel Furnes, of Lewes, Sussex. The ceremony was performed by the Vicar, the Rev. T.J. Sewell. The bride was given away by the bridegroom's father. The bride was attended by Mrs. F. Baker, of Lynsted, and Mr. Norman Morten-Smith, of Berkley House, Lynsted, was "best man."

Auction of Properties of G.A. Filmer, deceased

South Eastern Gazette of 12th June 1917

The auction of the assets of G.A. Filmer, Deceased. EAST KENT. "TEYNHAM, LYNSTED, DODDINGTON and FAVERSHAM, in the famous fruit district. Messrs. HONEYBALL & FINN have received instructions to SELL by AUCTION, ath the SHIP HOTEL, FAVERSHAM, on Wednesday, 27th June, 1917, at Three o'clock in the afternoon, the following FREEHOLD PROPERTIES:

  • Bogle Farm, Lynsted, 13a. 3r. 28p., with 4 Cottages and Farm Buildings.
  • Three good arable fields, known as Old Park and School Fields, Lynsted, Norton Field, Teynham.
  • Vigo and Bogle Pond Orchards, Lynsted, Church's and School Orchards, Teynham, all in full bearing.
  • Freehold Family Residence, The Grange, Greenstreet.
  • The Business Premises, Butchers' Shops with Orchards, Greenstreet and Doddington, and 6, West Street, Faversham.

Particulars and Conditions of Sale to be obtained of Messrs. Honeyball and Finn. Auctioneers and Valuers, Deal and of Messrs. Tassell and Son, Solicitors, Faversham.

† - Seventy Seventh Fourth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 30th June 1917.

Stoker 1st Class, Daniel Edward EASON (of Teynham), Killed in Action aged 27
Theatre: Northern Patrol
Memorial: Chatham Naval Memorial
Serving in: H.M.S. "Cheerful" Torpedo Destroyer. Died after his ship hit a mine off Cunningsburgh, Shetland Isles.

Lynsted Church Restoration Fund bequest

Kent Messenger of 30th June 1917
Under the will of the late Miss C.D. Osborne the Vicar and Churchwardens of Lynsted, near Sittingbourne, become possessed of £100 for the Church Restoration Fund. As it is felt undesireable to spend money on Church restoration during the war, the legacy and the sum already standing to the credit of the Fund, amounting to £270, have been invested in the War Loan.

Latest report on the Western Front.

Army and Navy Gazette of 30th June 1917
The British scored successes on June 11 and 12 north and south of Neuve Chapelle, east of Armentieres, and north of Ypres; and made a slight advance east and north-east of Messines on a front of nearly two miles. The British also slightly advanced their line astride the Souchez River. At night the enemy made a counter-attack in order to regain this position, but failed. The British carried out successful raids east of le Verguier, north-east of Lagnicourt, west of La Bassee, and north-east of Neuve Chapelle, and repulsed a hostile raiding party north-east of Richebourg l'Avoue. On June 13 and enemy raiding party north-west of Lens was driven off with loss. Owing to the British advance east of Messines, the enemy abandoned important positions of his first line defensive system in the area between the River Lys and St. Yves, with the result the British have made considerable progress east of Ploegsteert Wood. The British successfully raided the enemy trenches north of Bullecourt and south of Hooge. The high ground known as Infantry Hill was successfully stormed on June 14 by British troops on a front of over two miles, resulting in the capture of 175 prisoners, including three officers. In the evening the British launched an attack south and east of Messines and astride the Ypres-Comines Canal. The enemy, who made a feeble resistance, lost over 150 men in prisoners, one howitzer, and seven machine guns. The British, who now occupy the German front trenches from the river Lys to the River Warnave, have advanced their line from 500 to 1,000 yards on a front of seven miles – from the latter river to Klein Zillebeke. A further portion of the sector of the Hindenburg line north-west of Bullecourt was captured, after stubborn resistance by the enemy, by the British on June 15. In the afternoon the enemy made a desperate attempt to regain the positions he lost on June 14, south of the Ypres-Comines Canal. The attack was completely repulsed at all points. On June 16 fighting took place north-west of Bullecourt in the sector of the Hindenburg line, which resulted in the British making progress and capturing prisoners.
Since June 7 the British have captured 7,342 German prisoners, including 145 officers, 47 guns, 242 machine guns, and 60 trench mortars. The British casualties amount to about 10,000, of which 60 percent are light cases.
British aeroplanes continue to carry out useful work. During last week 15 enemy machines were brought down, two of which fell within the British lines; 11 were driven down out of control, and one was shot down by British anti-aircraft guns. Of British machines five are missing.
The German Government has announced that all British prisoners of war have been withdrawn at least 30 kilometres (about 19 miles) behind the fighting front.
During June Portuguese troops have repelled several German raids on the Western Front.

IWM Partnership Programm  iconWorld War 1 Pages