As the Centenary unfolds, a range of newspaper and other records will appear here to give an idea of how the war was revealed at home primarily focused on Kent for our purposes .... fairly random. If you have other snippets to share, please let us know using the dedicated email account:
The Western Front continued largely "stabilised" from January 1915 to the end of 1916. Perhaps the mood surrounding events in the Gallipoli Peninsula is revealed by General Ian Hamilton in his Despatch of 26th August 1915:-
"Finally, if my despatch is in any way to reflect the feelings of the force, I must refer to the shadow cast over the whole of our adventure by the loss of so many of our gallant and true-hearted comrades. Some of them we shall never see again; some have had the mark of the Dardanelles set upon them for life, but others, and, thank God, by far the greater proportion, will be back in due course at the front."
Events during July in France and Flanders continued to show how the War was made up of gains and losses measured in hundreds of yards in isolated pockets. Increasingly this pattern of warfare became "siege warfare". Poison gas was now supplemented by the German introduction 'flame projectors'. On 30th July, an attack was made on the trenches of the Second Army at Hooge, on the Menin Road, driving burning liquid into the trenches with a strong jet. Confused troops withdrew and lost ground, although there was little damage; unable to recover the ground immediately, the 6th Division later recovered the lost trenches (9th August).
Battles and skirmishes continued elsewhere. The importance of naval forces was thrown into high relief as Germany sought to blockade the British Isles and disrupt overseas territories. For example, the German light cruiser "Konigsberg" was destroyed in German East Africa; Tangistani tribesmen attacked the British Residency at Bushire (South Persia); the Austro-German Offensive began on the Eastern front. German South-West Africa capitulated to General Botha. At Home, the National Registration Act became law on 15th (which argued for the creation of a National Register of all adults between 15 and 65. This was working towards a policy of conscription in January 1916).
Casualties within the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice continued in July with the loss of two men commemorated in Oare.
Importantly, there was a concentration of control and direction of munitions at Home when the "Munitions of War Act, 1915," became law in Great Britain and the Ministry of Munitions was formed. Locally, these organisational changes had an impact on the manufacture of explosives - shifting from 'cotton powder' to T.N.T. (of which more will be revealed in the 1915/1916 account of Alice Post of Greenstreet/Teynham).
Reported by the South Eastern Gazette on 6th July 1915: CHARGE OF HOUSEBREAKING. At the County Petty Sessions on Thursday [1st July 1915] (Mr. W.W.Berry in the chair), Robert George Seager Croft, were charged with breaking and entering the Vicarage Cottage, Lynsted, on Wednesday, with intent to steal the goods and chattels of Mabel Mitchell, a school teacher, residing there. It appeared that the male prisoner was seen in the front room, and Mrs. Mitchell afterwards found a work-box turned out, but she did not miss anything. When arrested the man said he went to ask for some water, but getting no answer he opened the door (which was not locked) and walked in; he did not break in. There was no evidence of the woman having entered the house, and she was discharge, while the Bench gave the man the benefit of the doubt. He was then re-arrested, however, and charged on his own confession with being an absentee from the R.G.A. at Dover. He was ordered to be detained until an escort arrived.
Herne Bay Press reports on 3rd July 1915: "WARNING TO PLEASURE CRAFT - STRINGENT REGULATIONS. The "London Gazette" of Friday night contained some stringent regulations with regard to yachts and excursion steamers on the South Coast and in the Thames. ... With regard to the Thames, no yachts or pleasure boats are allowed in the estuary east of a line drawn between the Grain spit and West Shoebury buoys. The estuary includes the north coast of Kent from North Foreland to Sheerness, and the coast of Essex from Shoeburyness to the Naze. In the Medway no pleasure boats are allowed to the east of Rochester Bridge."
At the same time of overseas news, home news was seeing many reports on the trials relating to wives dying in baths - here is just one short extract to give a sense of reporting ... p3, Herne Bay Press of 3rd July 1915: "THE HERNE BAY BATH MYSTERY. PROCEEDINGS AT THE OLD BAILEY. PRISONER SENTENCED TO DEATH. After an absence from Court of about half an hour, the jury at the Old Bailey on Thursday found George Joseph Smith guilty of the murder of Elizabeth Constance Annie Munday at Herne Bay - one of the three women with whom he went through a form of marriage, and who died in baths and he was sentenced to death." - the execution was to take place in Maidstone.
On 5th July 1915: HOLDSTOCK - LE FEAVER: Fred Holstock (b 1890; parents Stephen Holdstock) married Winifred Clara Le Feaver (b 1891; parents Charles Le Feaver) in Lynsted
Reported by the South Eastern Gazette on 13th July 1915: CHARGE AGAINST A GREENSTREET GIRL. At the Faversham County Police Court on Friday [9th July 1915], Elizabeth Frances Tumber, 19, residing at Greenstreet, was charged with breaking and entering the house of John Robert Goodwin, residing next door, and stealing one shilling. It appeared that in consequence of having missed money the prosecutor marked two separate shillings. On Thursday last he and his wife were out during the day, and when they returned in the evening one of the marked coins was missing from a drawer. The police were informed and it was subsequently found that a marked shilling (identified by prosecutor as the missing one) had been tendered by prisoner at a shop in Greenstreet for the hire of a bicycle. Prisoner was arrested, and on the way to Faversham said she unlocked prosecutor's back door with her mother's back door key, and went upstairs and took the money. The Magistrate reduced the charge to one of felony, and prisoner was remanded in custody.
Bandsman Thomas GOODWIN(of Oare), Died of Illness, aged 31 years
On the 13th July, the Great Austro-German offensive on Eastern Front began.
- Battle of the Narew and Bobr begins
- 2nd Battle of Przasnysz begins
- Battles of Maslomeneze and Grabowiec begin
One review of the position by June/July 1915 argued that the German capacity to wage war had just about hit is maximum in terms of men available to recruit into their army. On the other hand, the Allies could muster increasing numbers of men to deliver the instruments of war (extracted from Vol.8, Nelson’s History of the War. p.39/40, & p67).
“A few figures were certain. According to the British Prime Minister, the British casualties up to the middle of July, excluding the operation in German South-West Africa, were 330,995, of which some 70,000 were killed.* France published no statement, but an unofficial estimate (by The Committee of the French Relief Fund) up to the end of June gave 400,000 killed, 700,000 disabled, and 300,000 prisoners, a total of 1,400,000. The Russian casualty list was very large, and if we are to credit German figures, after making all allowance for their notoriously swollen estimates of prisoners, we should probably put it at well over 3,000,000. The personal losses of the Allies for the year would seem to have reached a figure greater than 4,500,000 bit less than 5,000,000. The German losses, according the calculation of the French Staff, would in the same period have been something over 3,000,000. But the figure only allowed for the normal rate of wastage – 260,000 a month – and in May and June this must have been more than doubled, what with the fighting in the Artois and the great Galician advance. We should probably not be far wrong in putting Germany’s permanent loss as between 3,500,000 and 4,000,000. The Austrian casualties were only guesswork, but we know that Russia and Serbia had 700,000 prisoners, and a cautious estimate gave the dead loss in killed and wounded as 1,500,000. Leaving out Turkey, we should probably have been justified in putting the losses – the irreplaceable losses – of the Teutonic League up to 28th June at well over 5,000,000, and those of the Allies at something less than 5,000,000.
But the real question was not how many had fallen, but how many remained? France, on the admission of her General Staff, was able to fight for another year, allowing for her normal wastage, without weakening any of her field units. Britain could in the next year at least double her forces in the field, and supply all necessary drafts. It was announced that Russia at the beginning of July had, apart from her field armies, a reserve for new formations and drafts of over 6,000,000 untrained and partially trained men. If we allow Italy to balance Turkey – an allowance which scarcely does justice to our ally – we reach the conclusion that after a year of war the Teutonic League, in spite of all its artillery preparation, had lost absolutely more men than the Allies, and had nothing like the vast Allied reservoirs from which they could be replace. The few people who in the end of June cared to work out the calculations found a reasoned justification for their confidence in the Allies’ future. [The naval position was seen as strongly favouring the Allies despite the operation of U-boats].
[p.67] “Trench fighting was now approaching the rank of a special science. The armies had evolved in nine months a code of defensive warfare which implied a multitude of strange apparatus. There were more than a dozen varieties of bombs, which experience had shown were the only weapons for clearing out a trench network. There were machines for hurling these not unlike the Roman ballista. The different species of shells in use would have puzzled an artillery expert a year before. Provisions had been made to counteract poison gas and liquid fire, and respirator drill was now a recognized part of the army’s routine. Every kind of entanglement which human ingenuity could suggest appeared in the ground before the trenches.”
*The details were – (1) Military: Killed, 61, 384; wounded, 196,620; missing, 63,885. (2) Naval: Killed, 7,929; wounded, 874; missing, 303. The Dardanelles accounted for 8,134 killed, 30,014 wounded, and 11,090 missing.
Herne Bay Press reported on 19th July 1915: "at a meeting of the members of the Herne Bay Company of the East Kent Regiment of the Kent volunteer Fencibles, held at the Pier Theatre on Monday evening [14th July 1915]." "The Volunteer Battalion. Captain Turner said there was another question he had to bring before them, and that was in regard to linking up and grouping up with other companies into a battalion. If they remembered they tried to get Whitstable and the Stour Valley to join them with the Herne Platoon to make a battalion with four units, and they had got so far that they had their 400 men. But it seemed that the feeling at Whitstable had somewhat changed, and there was a section there in favour of linking up with Faversham and Sittingbourne, and they had approached the Herne Bay Company to see if they were willing to join with Faversham and Sittingbourne. They had discussed it in committee, and the committee had decided that it was not to their best interests to join up with such a large body as Faversham and Sittingbourne, for they would be a negligible company in such an area as that. It seemed more natural to go out through Herne, where they had a platoon, through the Stour Valley area and the Canterbury area. The Chairman, Captain Coulson and himself had called on General Sir Charles Warren in the matter, and he seemed to be in favour of their scheme that they should be linked up in that way. If that came off Canterbury would have two battalions, a city battalion and a country battalion, including Herne Bay Company, the Herne platoon and the Stour Valley Company. It was thought that would be workable, and Sir Charles Warren promised to write Brigadier-General Jefferys on the matter, and that was how it was left."
Reported by the Dover Express on 16 July 1915. SERGEANT D. SHERRIN, 4TH BUFFS. 567 RECRUITS TO HIS CREDIT. Dan Sherrin, the artist, who resides at Whitstable, has just been promoted from the rank of Corporal in the 4th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) to that of Sergeant. He is now carrying on his recruiting campaign at Sittingbourne and is meeting with much success. The total number of recruits secured by him since he joined The Buffs last autumn is 567. To do this single-handed as Sherrin has done is surely a performance to be proud of.
Herne Bay Press reported on 17th July: "FAVERSHAM. Street Lighting Discontinued.- At a meeting of the Faversham Town Council it was decided to discontinue all street lighting for the present."
Kent Messenger and Gravesend Telegraph reported on 17th July 1915: "The Rev. L.W.V. Goodenough, Rector of Norton, near Faversham, who went out with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force as Chaplain to the Warwickshire Yeomanry, is in hospital at Alexandria, suffering from a slight attack of para-typhoid."
Recorded by the Faversham and North East Kent News on 17th July: "The Lynsted list of men serving in H.M. Forces now numbers close upon a hundred men, representing about 9 per cent of the population of the parish – a very creditable record."
"Sidney Ackerman, son of Mr. T.L. Ackerman, headmaster of Lynsted School, is in the Army Accountant’s Department in France. He was formerly in the Civil Service in South Africa."
Followed by the 2nd Action of 30th July and 3rd Action on 9th August 1915.
Private Percy William CROWHURST(of Oare), Killed in Action, aged 19 years
Reported in the South Eastern Gazette on 20th July 1915: EAST KENT COMPENSATION AUTORITY. SIXTEEN LICENSE QUASHED. At the principal meeting of the East Kent Compensation Authority, the licenses of the following nine houses referred by the Licensing Justices were quashed without opposition: ... beer house, Barrow Green, Teynham (Charles Percy French, licensee and owner) ..." several license applications were rejected in East Kent. Only two approved.
South Easter Gazette report: Tuesday 20th July: KENT AND WAR MUNITIONS. COUNTRY CONFERENCE AT MAIDSTONE. THE ORGANISATION OF MACHINERY. A COMMITTEE APPOINTED. Yesterday (Monday 19th July) an important conference convened at the request of the Government by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of the County, Lord Harris, took place at the Sessions House, Maidstone, with reference to the formation of a committee for the purpose of assisting in the output of munitions of war. Lord Harris presided, and amongst those also present were Viscount Falmouth, Lord Arthur Butler, the Right hon. Laurance Hardy, M.P., Colonel C.E. Warde, M.P.,Mr. F. Bennett Goldney .... the Mayor of Sittingbourne (Mr. F. Filmer), ... Mr. H. Green ... Mr. R.D. Bell ... Mr. G. Andrews Mr. E. Packham (Sittingbourne).
The authority for calling this meeting was found in a letter received from the Munitions Ministers:
"My Lord, It has become necessary to organise the county of Kent for the production of munitions of war. With a view to the election of a representative Committee in the country to carry out the necessary steps for such organisation, Mr. Lloyd George trusts that you will be able to call a meeting of all in the county who are interested at such centre as is most suitable and as soon as is convenient to your Lordship.- I am, your Lordship's obedient servant, Christopher Addison.
31st July 1915: BILSBY - COOMBER: Henry Bilsby (b 1888) married Annie Coomber (b 1887) in Lynsted (parents Charles Allgood)(possible brother Richard Bilsby)