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RemembranceCommemoration of Casualties from the Parochial Parish of Kingsdown and Creekside.

 

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Unknown soldiers - photos of soldiers without known names.

< 1917 October >
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Artefacts ...

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Despatches from the Front ...

- 27th December 1917 - Account of the "long front" actions by the Allies.

All Despatches transcribed by the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society

[Updated 15th October 2017]

Imperial War Museum War Partnership logoFirst World War - Home Front News & Snippets.....
October 1917

World War 1 soldier at rest

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:
Parish Records Contact Address


Passchendaele - YpresAnother change of theatre map (right), laying out the area to the east of Ypres below Passchendaele - trenches corrected to 1st October 1917 (click map for enlarged image - 15Mb).

The war remained largely at stalemate across the Western Front. The Allies, spend months attempting to the German hold over Passchedaele (Passendale) and the ridge overlooking the beleaguered Ypres (Ieper). This phase of the war proved enormously costly to the Allies and their soldiers drawn from across the globe. The Battle of Passchendaele (or Third Battle of Ypres) spanned the period from 31st July to 10th November 1917.

The largest losses borne by Creekside parishes fell initially not to Lynsted Parish - thankfully spared - but to all the other parts of the Creekside Cluster across the period. The losses for October 1917 were borne by Teynham alone (although McGarry of Lewson Street is Remembered in Norton too). For the most part, unseasonable rain created a nightmare of impenetrable depth of mud that drowned men and horses. The contested ridge above Ypres finally fell to Allied forces through The Battle of Polygon Wood (26th September to 3rd October), swiftly followed by the Battle of Broodseinde (Ypres) on 4th October.

Issues of "The Army and Navy Gazette" summarised events on the British (Western) Front. On October 1st the enemy launched an attack on a front of over a mile against the British new positions north of the Ypres-Menin road and east of Polygon Wood and was driven back in disorder. The enemy later renewed his attacks four times on the same front and was repulsed at all points, except opposite the south-east corner of Polygon Wood, where the enemy succeeded in occupying two British advanced posts. The number of German prisoners taken by the British in September, 1917, is 5,296, including 146 officers. Eleven guns (including three heavy guns), 57 trench mortars and 377 machine-guns were also captured. On October 3rd the enemy bombarded the British positions between Tower Hamlets and Polygon Wood and later attempted to advance. The British artillery opened vigorously, and on the greater part of the front of assault the enemy’s attack broke down before reaching the British lines. In the area immediately north of the Menin road, where a few of the enemy’s troops succeeded in passing through the British infantry. On October 4th the British again attacked on a front of over eight miles from south of Tower Hamlets to the Ypres-Standen railway, north of Langemarck. All objectives were gained. Notwithstanding the adverse conditions of the weather, British aircraft performed valuable work and afforded useful information from time to time, both regarding the positions of our own troops and the assembly of the enemy for counter-attack. The British attack anticipated by a few minutes an attack in force by five German divisions against the British front from Polygon Wood to Zonnebeke. Our artillery barrage descended upon the enemy’s troops as they were assembling and the hostile attack never took place. Those of the enemy’s infantry who escaped the fire of our artillery were overwhelmed by the advance of the British infantry. Two counter-attacks attempted east of Gravenstafel were broken up before reaching the British positions. Another counter-attack north-east of Langemarck resulted in severe fighting, but was unable to drive our troops from the positions gained by them. Later three other unsuccessful counter-attacks were made by the enemy south-east of Polygon Wood. The enemy’s losses throughout the whole of the fighting were exceedingly heavy, being greatly increased by the unusual number of German troops on the battle front at the opening of our attack. The British casualties were light. The weather was almost impossible for flying, but in spite of an exceptionally strong wind British artillery machines watched the advancing British troops and reported their positions and the movements of the enemy. On October 5th enemy aerodromes in the Lille area were attacked with bombs. Railway stations at Westroosebeke, Iseghem and Courtrai were attached during the day’ the latter two were also attacked at night and over two tons of explosive were dropped. Enemy aircraft were active in the battle area. Four of his machines were brought down and three driven down out of control. Five British machines are missing. The number of prisoners taken on October 4th and 5th is 4,826, including 114 officers.

Early on the morning of October 9th British forces made a new thrust on a wide front north-east and east of Ypres, in Conjunction with the French on the British left. Notwithstanding the stormy weather and the waterlogged condition of the ground the objects of the advance were successfully achieved. The front attacked extended from a point south-east of Broodseinde to St. Jansbeek, one mile north-east of Bixschoote. In a strong gale and thick clouds British airmen kept touch with the infantry throughout the battle and harassed the enemy with machine-gun fire. In the evening the enemy delivered several counter-attacks, and owing to the darkness and mud the British troops between Poelcappelle and Wallemolen were not able to hold all the ground which they had taken earlier in the day, and so fell back slightly. The number of prisoners taken during the day numbered 2,038, including 29 officers. This number includes 400 taken by the French. Notwithstanding heavy rain which fell during the night British troops launched an attack in the early morning of October 12th. The front extended from the Ypres-Roulers railway on the south to the British junction with the French on the southern ridge of the Houthoulst Forest. Fighting was especially severe on the slope of the main ridge west of Passchendaele and on the main ridge itself, south of that village. In consequence of the heavy rain which set in after a brief spell of fine weather, the progress of the attack was impeded and it was decided not to continue further effort in reaching the final objectives. The total number of prisoners taken by the British during the day numbered 934, including 41 officers. In some instances the aerial fighting was of so close a nature that the number of hostile machines lost could not be determined by the British pilots. The enemy is known to have lost 35 machines on this front from October 8th to 14th, while during the same period 30 British machines were missing.

On October 14th Eastern County troops successfully raided the enemy’s trenches south-east of Monchy-le-Preux and captured 64 prisoners and two machine-guns. They killed about 200 of the enemy and destroyed seven dug-outs with explosives. On the same date a successful raid was carried out north-east of Roeux by South Midland Territorials. A number of the enemy were killed, his dug-outs destroyed, and some prisoners were taken. On October 20th Irish troops carried out a successful raid north-east of Croiselles and captured a few prisoners. The Irish troops returned without loss. In aerial fighting from October 15th to 22nd forty hostile machines were brought down and 18 were driven down, while 18 British machines were missing. On October 15th two tons of bombs were dropped by British machines on an enemy ammunition dump near Courtrai and on hostile billets and hutments in the battle area. On October 17th British airmen attacked a factory west of Saarbrucken, some forty miles beyond the German frontier. On October 18th two and a half tons of bombs were dropped by British airmen on Courtrai Station and the German aerodrome in that vicinity. On October 21st a foundry and railway junction ten miles northwest of Saarbrucken were bombed, over a ton of bombs being dropped. Many hostile scouts attacked the bombing squadrons over the objectives, and four were driven down out of control. One British machine did not return. During October 20th vigorous bombing operations were carried out by British airmen, who dropped 238 bombs on the enemy’s aerodromes at Gontrode and Roulers, on Cortemarck Station and on hostile billets and hutments.

Successful minor operations were carried out by British troops on October 22nd in the neighbourhood of Poelcappelle, and in conjunction with the French south of Houthulst Forest. East of Poelcappelle battalions of the Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and Berkshire Regiments and Northumberland Fusiliers attacked on a front of about one and a half miles and captured a number of strongly-fortified buildings and concreted redoubts on the hill east of the village. British troops south-east of Poelcappelle carried other valuable positions beyond the line of their objectives. Further north the Gloucester, Cheshire, Lancashire Fusiliers, Manchester and Royal Scots Battalions, in co-operation with the French, attacked on a front of over two miles from the Ypres-Standen railway to a point north of Mangelaere. The southern defences of Houthulst Forest were captured, with a further series of fortified farms and strong points. Heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy and 200 prisoners were captured. The enemy made on October 23 seven counter attacks on the new French and British positions gained the previous day, without achieving material results. Operations were undertaken by the British and French Armies on October 26 on the Ypres battle front. Notwithstanding the great difficulties arising from the wet weather the Allied troops made considerable progress and took valuable positions on the greater parts of the front attacked, together with 800 prisoners. On October 27 the French attacked on both sides of the Ypres-Dixmude road and carried the German lines on a front of two and a half miles to a depth of about one and a quarter miles. They took the villages of Verbrandesmis, Aschoop, Merckem and Kippe. British aircraft has been busy with artillery observation work. Bombs have been dropped on Courtrai, Roulers and Lichtervelde railway stations. A raid into Germany was carried out on October 24-25, when a ton of bombs was dropped on the Burbach Works, west of Saarbrücken. In the course of the night’s operations a total of six tons of bombs were dropped on military objectives.

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 significant losses of shipping that included civilian and hospital shipping following the earlier German implementation of a policy of "unrestricted submarine warfare". The German strategy made significant hardship for the civilian population at home.

In the air

Aircraft were increasingly in use but split between the existing services - Army (RFC) and Navy (RNAS) - although the proposed unification announced this month.

Attacks on Britain. On October 1st, London was again attacked by German aeroplanes. Four groups of machines came over the coast, three over Essex and one over Kent. Most of the raiders were turned back but a few got through the defences and dropped bombs in the South-Western district. The casualties were 10 killed and 38 injured.
Two groups of enemy aeroplanes crossed the coast on September 30th and made for London. Only four or five got through. Bombs were dropped in Kent, Essex, and London. The casualties in all districts were: Killed 9, injured 42.
An attack was made on London on September 29th by three groups of enemy aeroplanes. Only two, or at most three, machines penetrated the defences. A fourth group was driven off. The whole of the casualties amounted to eleven killed and eighty-two injured.
On September 28th a raid was made by about twenty enemy machines, but the outer defences were not penetrated. Bombs were dropped in a number of places, but only insignificant damage was done. No casualties were reported.
On September 29th a bombing raid was carried out by British naval aircraft on St. Denis Westrem aerodrome. Many bombs were dropped, on exploding amongst five machines lined up on the aerodrome. All machines returned safely.
During the night September 27th-28th bombing raids by British naval aircraft were made on the lock gates at Zeebrugge, St. Denis Westrem Aerodrome, Controde airship shed, and the Houttave aerodrome. In all seven tons of explosives were dropped. All machines returned safely.

A bombing raid was carried out by British naval aircraft on September 27th on St. Denis Westrem Aerodrome. Bombs were dropped on sheds and on 15 Gothas lined up on the aerodrome. All our machines returned safely.
During the night of September 25th-26th the Royal Naval Air Service carried out bombing raids on Thourout, Lichtervelde, and Cortemarck. Many tons of bombs were dropped. All our machines returned safely.
A bombing raid was carried out by the Royal Naval Air Service at noon on September 25th on Sparappelhoek. During the day British fighter patrols over the Fleet encountered six hostile seaplanes, two of which were driven down. A bombardment of the naval establishments at Ostend was carried out by British naval forces during the afternoon.

Bombing raids were carried out on October 3rd by British naval aircraft on the following objectives:- St. Denis Westrem, Zeebrugge lock gates, Bruges dock and other targets, and Thourout railway junction. All British machines returned safely.
During the night of September 29th bombing raids were carried out by British naval aircraft over the following objectives:- The lockgates at Zeebrugge, St. Denis Westrem aerodrome, Thourout aerodrome, and Brugeoise works and trains. Several tons of bombs were dropped with good results, a large fire being caused at St. Denis Westrem aerodrome. During patrol several aerial combats occurred, with the result that two enemy machines were destroyed and one was driven down completely out of control. A Gotha was also driven down, and it is thought to have been damaged. All British machines retuned safely.
During the night of October 1st and 2nd was made on St. Denis Westrem aerodrome, where a quantity of explosives was dropped on sheds and machines. During the usual fights between patrols two enemy aircraft were shot down out of control. All British machines returned safely.

Royal Naval Air Service Actions - 9th to 14th October: Patrols were carried out by the Royal Naval Air Service on October 9th and 10th, when enemy trenches were attacked by machine-gun fire. One pilot, on being heavily shelled by anti-aircraft guns, descended and attacked the guns’ crews, scattering them and silencing the guns. On October 10th bombing raids were made on the railway junctions of Thourout and Lichtervelde. Hostile aircraft bombarded the Dunkirk region on October 14th. There were several victims among the civil population.
British naval aircraft bombed an aerodrome near Ostend on October 11th in spite of heavy clouds and rain.
(Reported in issues of The Army and Navy Gazette)

About noon on October 21 raids were carried out by British naval aircraft on Vlisseghem and Houttave aerodromes. During the raids and on the return British bombing machines were attacked by enemy aircraft, two of which were shot down completely out of control. The British bombers all returned safely. During offensive and reconnaissance patrols five British scouts engaged about 20 hostile scouts, two of the latter being destroyed and two driven down completely out of control. One British pilot is missing. On the night of October 21-22 British naval aircraft carried out a bombing raid on Melle railway sidings near Ghent. During the afternoon of October 28 a bombing raid was attempted on St. Denis Westrem aerodrome, but owing to very thick clouds British machines dropped their bombs on Zeebrugge Mole. Two small vessels alongside were hit, and bombs burst close to seaplane base and buildings on mole. The British machines returned safely.
During the night of October 26-27 bombs were dropped by the Royal Naval Air Service on Lichtervelde railway junction, direct hits causing a heavy explosion, followed by numberous smaller ones. Thourout railway junction was also attacked, the bombs falling close to a moving train, which stopped at once, a large explosion being observed. Cortemarck railway junction also was bombed.
During the afternoon of October 27 bombing raids were carried out on Sparappelhoek aerodrome, on Engel aerodrome, and on the Ostend-Thourout railway line south of Engel. A great number of patrols were carried out. Two enemy aircraft were driven down out of control, one of which fell in the sea. The British machines returned safely.

On the night of October 29 the Royal Naval Air Service carried out raids on Sparappelhoek and Varsenare aerodromes. Visibility was excellent and accurate shooting was made. All the British machines returned safely.
Determined and repeated attacks were made upon London on October 30 by seven groups of hostile aircraft, numbering in all about thirty machines. Only about three machines succeeded in actually penetrating into the heart of London. The raiders were harassed by gunfire during the whole of their flight, and were also attacked by British aircraft. The facility with which they were able to escape observation by taking advantage of cloud prevented any decisive engagement. The total casualties caused in all districts were:- Killed, 8; injured, 21. Material damage was very slight, and no injury was done to any naval, military, or munitions establishment.
During October 31 a bombing raid was carried out by naval aircraft on Sparappelhoek Aerodrome. Targets were partially obscured by clouds, making results difficult to observe. Many offensive patrols have been carried out, during which one hostile machine was shot down out of control. All the British machines returned safely.

Americans arrive at the fighting front line

AMERICANS IN THE TRENCHES – FIRST SHOT FIRED.
U.S.E.F., France, Saturday.
Some battalions of our first contingent completing their training with a view to serving as a nucleus for the instruction of future contingents, are now occupying first-line trenches on the French front side by side with battalions of seasoned French troops.
Our troops are supported by batteries of our own artillery, together with hardened French batteries,
The condition of the sector remains normal.
Our men are adapting themselves most admirably to the life of the trenches.
FIRST SHOT FIRED.
New York. October 27.- The correspondent of the Associated Press with the United States Army in France telegraphs that the American troops are in the first-line trenches on the French front and that the American artillery has fired its first shot.There has since been intermittent artillery fighting.- Reuter.”
[Gloucestershire Echo - 29th October 1917]

America in Action. It is not easy to picture the excitement which will arise, or the satisfaction which will be expressed, all over the United States of America at the news which has within the last few days been flashed across the Atlantic that several battalions of the first American contingent are now occupying first line trenches on the Western Front, and that the first shell from an American batter of Artillery has been fired against the enemy. The challenge of the German nation and ruler to the American people has been taken up and answered by iron lips in terms which admit of no mistake. We learn, and we are not surprised at the tidings, that the news of America’s active entry into the war has been received with enormous enthusiasm and has greatly stimulated the triumphant conclusion of the campaign for subscriptions to the Liberty loan. We know now what we have suspected all along, that the sympathies of the American nation have almost throughout been with the Allies, and that many Americans have chafed at the thought that , while they would eventually come into line with us, much valuable time must necessarily elapse before they could afford us any really material aid. But the time of preparation has not actually been especially prolonged; it was as recently as April 6 of this year that both the American Houses passed the resolution declaring the existence of a state of war between America and Germany; and within the short space of seven months the United States have despatched a force across the seas which Germany claimed to have barred, and American soldiers are today fighting on the Western Front side by side with the troops of the nation which helped America to her independence. All this is of good augury for the future, and we look forward confidently to an early concentrations, where it can best be utilised, of all the resources for war of the Great Republic. [Source: Army and Navy Gazette of 3rd November]

Statistics

STATEMENT showing the numbers serving on 25 October 1917, who had been wounded more than once.

Arm Twice wounded Three times or more wounded. Grand
Total
At Home In France Elsewhere
abroad
Total At home In France Elsewhere
abroad
Total
Cavalry
125
123
33
281
4
4
1
9
290
Royal Artillery
797
950
59
1,806
42
48
6
96
1,902
Royal Engineers
486
976
39
1,501
38
106
1
145
1,646
Royal Flying Corps
42
13
2
57
1
3
0
4
61
Infantry and Foot Guards
29,321
30,535
5,583
65,439
4,934
4,797
713
10,444
75,883
Machine Gun Corps
796
606
76
1,478
51
22
60
133
1,611
Army Service Corps
28
34
5
67
6
5
0
11
78
Royal Army Medical Corps
39
224
23
286
4
10
2
16
302
Labour
4
1,156
59
1,219
0
99
0
99
1,318
Miscellaneous
61
34
10
105
3
3
1
7
112
Total
31,699
34,651
5,889
72,239
5,083
5,097
784
10,964
83,203

 

GERMAN CASUALTIES REPORTED UP UNTIL OCTOBER, 1917

Nature of casualty Totals
Killed and died of wounds
1,138,768
Died of sickness
85,088
Prisoners
387,979
Missing
263,043
Severely wounded
652,021
Wounded
328,431
Slightly wounded
1,829,820
Wounded remaining with units
315,263
Grand total
5,000,413

Why must soldiers carry their kit-bag home on leave?

"The Trench Kit.
We are not surprised to learn that the soldier home for a few days from the Front can see no good reason why he should be compelled to burden himself during his journey from and back to France with his full trench kit. We are now told that the reason men coming home on leave from the Front bring their full trench kit with them, is that in case of invasion, or even threatened invasion, those men would be at once called upon to help to resist it. Surely this is rather absurd; the number of these men at any one time present in England is hardly sufficient to exert any real influence in the direction mentioned, or to make up for the inevitable confusion that would arise from the attempt to draft them off individually to home-serving units with which they have no connection whatever. But this seems no sufficient reason why a man should bring the whole of his kit over to England at all when coming on short leave, or why arrangements cannot be made for him to leave it in store on the other side, picking it up again on return to his unit." [Source: Army and Navy Gazette of 6th October 1917]


† - Eighty Seventh Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 7th October 1917.

Able Seaman & Chef, George Thomas SWAN, 190869 (CH), R.N., H.M.S. "Pembroke 1" (of Teynham)
Killed in Action: Aged 37
Memorial: Great Yarmouth (Caister on Sea Cemetery) Memorial
Theatre: Home
Died: Died from Disease. Serving overseas, he experienced a serious attack of sunstroke, upon which mental trouble followed.


† - Eighty Eighth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 8th October 1917.

Lance Corporal, Frank RUSSELL, 200204, 1/4th The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) (of Teynham)
Killed in Action: Aged 20
Memorial: Madras 1914-1918 War Memorial (Face 8), Chennai (Madras). Buried at Bareilly Cemetery, Janakpuri Nehru Park Colony, India
Theatre: Indian sub-continent
Died: From Disease - enteric fever (a form of typhoid)


Appeal against Conscription - a Greenstreet grocer, draper, &c

GREENSTREET – A GROCER’S APPEAL: At a sitting of the East Kent Appeal Tribunal at Canterbury, on Monday [8th October], a Greenstreet grocer, draper, hardware, and corn dealer’s manager, aged 33, single, appealed against the withdrawal of his conditional exemption, not to be called before August 1st. In the interim, upon the instructions of the Appeal Tribunal, the man has appeared before the Special Medical Board, and his previous classification of B1 has been reduced to C2. Mr A.K. Mowll appeared for the appellant, who is managing the business for his mother. He is already a member of the St. John Ambulance Association, and an active member of the V.A.D. In reply to the Military Representative (Lieut-Colonel Atkinson), it was stated that an endeavour to replace this man had had no result. The appeal was allowed, the Local Tribunal to grant exemption till April 8th, conditionally upon the man continuing as a member of the V.A.D., and Lord Harris mentioned to appellant that Dr. Selby was forming a Kent Volunteer Medical Corps, and he would suggest that he might join this when formed. [Source: East Kent Gazette, 13th October 1917]


† - Eighty Ninth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 11th October 1917.

Lance Corporal, William McGARRY, 5/3398, 7th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps (of Teynham)
Killed in Action: Aged 33
Memorial: Hooge Crater Cemetery
Theatre: France and Flanders
Died: Killed in Action, probably during a relief operation under heavy shell-fire.


† - Ninetieth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 14th October 1917.

Second Lieutenant, John Henry GLADWELL, 80533, Royal Army Medical Corps - 7th Battalion Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment (of Teynham - also Remembered at Norton)
Killed in Action: Aged 25
Memorial: Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery, Belgium
Theatre: France and Flanders
Died: Killed in Action, by a bomb dropped on his lorry transport retiring from the Front


American Doctors replacing British Doctors in Military Hospitals

"The War Office and the Doctors. There is no sign that the War Office has discovered its mistake in substituting Americans for British doctors in the military hospitals, practically at a moment’s notice. On the contrary, whoever is responsible has added insult to injury by circularising the Commanding Officers of hospitals to the effect that should occasion arise through pressure of work they may bring back the civilian doctors to the hospitals. In other words, no notice is being taken of general dissatisfaction with the action of the War Office in this connection, either because it is unjust to our sick and wounded or because it is unjust to a body of men whose services since the outbreak of the war have been incalculable. As to the first they are not being given the best treatment to which they have a right; as to the second they feel that, after being suddenly dispensed with, they may just as suddenly be invited to return. But it would only be until more American doctors arrive, so our doctors feel that the War Office is trying to make a convenience of the, and not even taking the trouble to cover it with courtesy. It is, however, doubtful if they will consent thus to be played with. In the meantime our sick and wounded are deprived of medical skill and experience which have been ripening for the past three years under war conditions. This is no reflection on the American doctors, who would be the first to admit that as their training has been acquired under normal civilian conditions it cannot be so valuable as the training of English doctors who have had vast and continuous war experience. Unkind folk might say that the War Office is allowing the American military doctors to learn their business at the expense of our sick and wounded. [Source: Army and Navy Gazette, 20th October]


British Airmen force airship to ground still intact - construction revealed

IMPROVED CONSTRUCTION OF RIGID ARISHIPS.
The Zeppelin fiasco in October [20th October - 4 airships 'downed' that day, 3 destroyed by crews], leading to the capture of an airship on French soil, enabled our gallant allies to examine the construction of what are supposed to be the latest models of these aircraft and to note certain differences in them as compared with those brought down in England in 1916. As an offensive weapon the Zeppelin airship is decidedly a thing of the past, not because it cannot be a means of doing great damage with the very powerful bombs which it can carry, but because of its extraordinary vulnerability to attack by heavier-than-air craft. It must have required some very strong reason to account for the despatch of the fleet of Zeppelin airships over England on the night of October 19-20, for in view of our enormously improved system of anti-aircraft defence, it is a reasonable assumption that if once our aeroplane patrols can locate an enemy airship and get to grips, the result is a foregone conclusion. We may presume, therefore, the raiding airships were the latest and most efficient of the type. The Zeppelin which landed at Dammartin is understood to measure 643 feet in length with a diameter of about one-sixth of its length, the lifting power being 55,000 cubic metres of hydrogen, contained in 18 gasbags enclosed within the metal framework of the skeleton, which is estimated to weigh 12 tons. To this deadweight are to be added five motors, a varying quantity of oil fuel for the latter, according to the length of each voyage in prospect, a crew of about 20, more or less, according to the requirements of the journey, water ballast, machine-guns, or automatic guns of large calibre, with ammunition, for purposes of defence against aeroplanes, a certain amount of provisions, while the remainder of the lifting power is available for bombs. A thousand cubic metres of gas at moderate temperature may be reckoned to be fully capable of sustaining a dead weight of one ton, so that when all is said the cargo og bombs which such an airship can carry will not be heavy, say two to three tons, especially if in order to keep more or less out of range of anti-aircraft artillery, the vessel is expected to rise to a considerable height when over enemy territory. It is not so long ago since 6,000 to 10,000 feet was the Zeppelin’s “roof,” but the latest type is capable of accomplishing an altitude of 15,000 to 20,000 feet. The number of engines carried enables two out of the five to be kept as spare motors for use in emergency only – a considerable advantage as far as it goes, though of course, if not required – during a short voyage, for instance, or on naval coast patrol – they represent a notable amount of deadweight, which could otherwise be utilised for bombs. As, however, the main use of the large rigid airships is for naval reconnaissance, and their extreme vulnerability renders them little suitable for raids over defended areas, the question of the weight of bombs carried is of minor consequence, and the spare engines are likely to be the more useful cargo. The engines are now provided with silencers, which is much in favour of the airship by night, and the standing danger of conflagration owing to leakage of gas from the containers, which formed an explosive mixture between the latter and the outer envelope over the framework, has been minimised. It is said that recourse has been had to the method originally employed in British military captive spherical balloons of using goldbeater’s skin for the gasbags, in conjunction with cotton cloth, as being the most impermeable material obtainable, and a special system of ventilation has been contrived to carry off the small quantity of leakage gas which escapes into the outer envelope. The attainment of greater heights than before has necessitated the mixture of alcohol in some form with the water-ballast to prevent its freezing, and the crew of a Zeppelin cruising at this time of year must be exposed to severe cold, though it should be possible to utilise the heat from the exhausts to modify this condition, as is presumably done.
There is no doubt that the present-day Zeppelin is a long way ahead of the models which Germany possessed at the beginning of the war, and although as a military weapon the rigid airship is a failure, it offers greater possibilities than ever for utilisation as an auxiliary means for naval reconnaissance. [Source: Army and Navy Gazette, 3rd November; supplemented by brief note in Birmingham Daily Gazette of 22nd October 1917]


† - Ninety First Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 26th October 1917.

Regimental Sergeant Major, Thomas Warwick KITE, G/8798, 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment); attached to "Howe" Battalion, Royal Naval Division (of Teynham)
Killed in Action: Aged 34
Memorial: The Arras Memorial in the Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery, Arras
Theatre: France and Flanders
Died: Killed in Action, by shell-burst during a planned short attack by the Naval Division.

 


Artificial Limbs in need of an upgrade

Reported by the Army and Navy Gazette of 27th October: Mr. Hodge, Minister of Pensions, recently received a private deputation from the Roehamption Hospital Committee regarding the proposal to establish as National Experimental Laboratory for the purpose of designing and controlling the manufacture of artificial limbs for disabled soldiers. By experiments, and by making full use of the experience of men who had been fitted with artificial limbs, it was hoped, the deputation suggested, to improve greatly the types of limbs supplied at present.
Mr. Hodge said he would take steps to seek the necessary funds for the establishment of a National Experimental Laboratory, which might ultimately become a national factory for manufacturing limbs. For the present, however, he was opposed to the establishment of a national factory. It was, in his view, essential that the Committee of Management of the National laboratory should be small, representative of surgeons and mechanical experts, and distinct from any committee managing hospitals for limbless men. The Laboratory Committee would be directly responsible to the Ministry of Pensions, and would be empowered to ensure that the improvements which they recommended should at once be introduced into the manufacture of artificial limbs.


Unified Royal Air Force (R.F.A. & R.N.A.S.) set in motion

This text, from the Army and Navy Gazette of 27th October was written following a War Cabinet decision on 24 August 1917 that set the scene for the establishment of a separate Ministry and unified air service. The Air Force (Constitution) Act of 29 November 1917 set up an Air Council to organise and plan the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Any fears that the airforce might fall into the hands of civilians were misplaced.

THE MINISTRY OF AIR.
After open and subterranean tactics diligently pursued for years past the critics of our present system with regard to aviation have got their way. A Ministry is to be established for the purpose of assuming supreme control of the Air Services. Why? As it cannot be supposed that the War Cabinet, at the most critical stage of the war, have yielded to public clamour, however subtly directed, they can have no other reason than the will to increase the offensive power of the Allies through aviation. But until one knows in detail what the powers of the new body are to be one can only wonder on what grounds it is to be called into existence. Certainly the Ministry of Munitions is not a precedent, nor is there even a pretence that it is. Munitions are on an entirely different footing from aviation to the Services, and, while it was proved that the first under War Office control could never meet the requirements of the Army in the field, no good evidence is produced by the most bitter opponents of the present system that the naval and military authorities have not success fully adapted themselves to every air problem as it arose. If to them is not due the credit for the wonderful progress, absolute as well as relative, this country has bade in the development of the new arm, to whom is it due? There is not then any real call for a change on the ground that the Admiralty and War Office are not equal to their job.
But, it is argued, the War Cabinet have determined on a change of policy, which necessitates the creation of an Air Ministry. This change of policy may be summed up in that blessed word "reprisals," on whose meaning popular opinion has been grievously misled by cant and ignorance. Hitherto reprisals have been conducted by the Air Services with remarkable success solely from the military point of view. But the Government wants them to serve a political end as well by acting as a deterrent to the enemy from attempting air raids. That is to say, besides attacking his offensive power where it is only vulnerable from the air, the R.F.C. and the R.N.A.S. are to attack his towns. But, surely an Air Ministry was not required for such operations unless (1) the Service Departments do not agree with this extension of policy, (2) or it will involve such immense developments that neither or both could hope to cope with them. If the latter is the case the War Cabinet is showing foresight in one direction at least. For the type of machine which is being employed with the Armies in France and Belgium is not the type of machine which could with advantage undertake long-distance raiding flights. But has it been well considered whether or not we can produce enough of both types to enable us to carry out a successful policy on the dual lines which it appears have been laid down for the new Air Ministry when it materialises? If the fighting Front suffers it is obvious we shall lose rather than gain by the change. That is not the only doubtful point. The most determined criticisms of the Army and Navy with reference to the Air Service assume that the Board will be independent of them. If so there will be divided control of the new arm which is so vital to the success of both naval and military operations, and divided control often leads to disaster, but never to efficiency. But if soldiers and sailors are to direct the new policy, it is difficult to see why an Air Ministry is required at all. They are doing their work very well as they are. Unfortunately, the danger is that the initiative in design and the conduct of aerial warfare will be taken from the soldiers and sailors and placed in the hands of politicians, because, as the Manchester Guardian informs us, the Army and Navy took so long to perceive the "larger uses" of the aeroplane, though they have "now tumbled to these larger used, but it is the fourth year of the war." It is possible that the Army and Navy "tumbled to these larger uses" as soon as the confident intellectuals, who never conceal their contempt for the disciplined national forces. As they were hopelessly wrong on every issue involving preparation for the war and on nearly every issue since the outbreak of hostilities, are they likely to be right in leading ignorant public opinion to demand an Air Board "emancipated" from naval and military control? Such a leap in the dark may have serious consequences, which only a wise selection of members for the new body can avert. If they are soldiers or sailors the dislocation to the machinery of administration need not have been incurred. If they solely are civilians, then heaven help us!"