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Home News - December 1918

The Aftermath

Aftermath of the end of hostilitiesWith the closure of the war, the situation for the German nation was desperate. The collapse of the German military was met with demands for punative reparation. The position of civilians on all sides was also stretched to breaking-point. Starvation in Germany, disease (Spanish Flu) across Europe. Return of soldiers to Britain and the Empire was slowed by the importance of occupation, reconstruction, recovering of bodies, recovery of armament and dismantling of the war machine across Europe and elsewhere, mine clearance on land and sea - all required major commitment of resources for months to come. The fear of a Soviet-like revolutionary spread meant that occupation of the whole of Germany was important as a strategic objective. Employment at home began to be disrupted as women were pressed to stand down so men could return to employment.

Within the Creekside cluster of parishes, deaths continued as a result of damage to the health of men, incurred during service. Causes were often repiratory/tubercular, gas damage and disease contracted while serving.

"The Army and Navy Gazette" summarised events on the British (Western) Front together with joint Allied actions.

Western (British) Front reported on 7th December 1918

Under the Armistice - British Line
The forward march of the British has been continued without incident. On November 26 British troops had reached the general line Beho, Werbomont, Aywaille, south of Liege. British advanced troops on November 28 reached the German frontier between the neighbourhood of Beho and St. Avelot. The number of German guns which has passed into British possession since November 11 now exceeds 1,400. On November 28 the British had reached the German frontier on the whole front from just north of the Duchy of Luxemburg to the neighbourhood of Eupen, about 20 miles east of Liege. Advanced troops of the British Second Army under command of General Sir H. Plumer crossed the German frontier between Beho and Eupen, and advanced towards the Rhine on December 1. In the evening the British had reached the general line Burg Reuland-Bullingeu-Montjoie.
The King on November 30 visited the sector occupied by the First Army. His Majesty, who was accompanied by the Prince of Wales, Prince Albert, and the Earl of Cromer, left Paris in the morning and arrived at Arras at 2.15 p.m. There the King was met by a Brigadier-General, who had been sent by General Horne to represent the First Army. The Royal party proceeded later through Douai to Valenciennes, where they took tea. His Majesty stayed the night at the quaint little village of Sebourg, which barely three weeks ago was still in German hands.
The following Special Order of the Day has been issued by General Sir H. Rawlinson, G.O.C. Fourth Army:-
The Fourth Army has been ordered to form part of the Army of Occupation on the Rhine in accordance with the terms of the armistice. The march to the Rhine will shortly commence and, although carried out with the usual military precautions, will be undertaken generally as a peace march.
The British Army, through over four years of almost continuous and bitter fighting, has proved that it has lost none of that fighting spirit and dogged determination which have characterised British Armies in the past, and has won a place in history of which every soldier of the British Empire has just reason to be proud. It has maintained the highest standard of discipline both in advance and retreat. It has proved that British discipline, based on mutual confidence between officers and men, can stand the hard test of war far better than Prussian discipline, based on fear of punishment.
This is not all. The British Army has, during the last four years, on foreign soil, by its behaviour in billets, by its courtesy to women, by its ever-ready help to the old and weak, and by its kindness to children, earned a reputation in France that no Army serving in a foreign land torn by the horrors of war has ever gained before.
Till you reach the frontier of Germany you will be marching through a country that has suffered grievously from the depredations and exactions of a brutal enemy. Do all that lies in your power by courtesy and consideration to mitigate the hardships of these poor people, who will welcome you as deliverers and as friends. I would further ask you, when you cross the German frontier, to show the world that British soldiers, unlike those of Germany, do not wage war against women and children and against the old and weak.
The Allied Governments have guaranteed that private property will be respected by the Army of Occupation, and I rely on you to see that this engagement is carried out in the spirit as well as in the letter.
In conclusion, I ask you, one and all, men from all parts of the British Empire, to ensure that the fair name of the British Army, enhanced by your exertions in long years of trial and hardship, shall be fully maintained during the less exacting months that lie before you.
I ask you to show the world that, as in war, so in peace, British discipline is the highest form of discipline, based on loyalty to our King, respect for authority, care for the well-being of subordinates, courtesy and consideration for non-combatants, and a true soldierly bearing in carrying out whatever duty we may be called upon to perform.

21st December 1918 – Army and Navy Gazette.
Occupation Army. British Line. British cavalry – the advance guard of the troops of occupation – entered Bonn on Dec. 8 and occupied the bridge over the Rhine. British advanced troops on Dec. 12 crossed the Rhine and commenced the occupation of the Cologne bridgehead. By the evening they had reached the general line Oberkassel-Siegburg-Oberkassel, Seelscheid, east of Hohkeppel, Olpe, Solingen, north of Hilden.
The 2nd Canadian Division is at Bonn.

At Sea

14th December 1918 - Army and Navy Gazette - Leave for the Fleet
The Admiralty cannot be accused of tardiness in redeeming their promise to give the officers and men of the Navy a spell on shore as a reward for their arduous labours and untiring devotion to duty. With half the German Fleet and all its submarines locked up in British harbours there could really be no excuse for delay in this matter. Twelve days' leave is to be given by watches in such a way, it may be supposed, that those who do not spend Christmas Day at home will be with their families at the beginning of the New Year. This, moreover, is to be but a foretaste of liberty, for next year it is understood that when the ships return to their home ports a longer spell of leave will be given. The minesweepers, who are shortly to begin the task of sweeping clean the North Sea, have already been given ten days' leave by watches, and will be ready to start work early in January. It is difficult to conceive a much more disagreeable and perilous job in what will be virtually peace time than clearing the North Sea of the huge minefields which have been placed there, and it is understood that the execution of this business will be entrusted to volunteers, who receive extra pay on a generous scale. The naval authorities must be quite alive to the fact that just now pay and leave are the two subjects uppermost in the minds of that deserving body of men by whose efforts "the safety of the country" has been assured.

In the air

14th December Army and Navy Gazette - BRITISH AIRSHIPS by "Aeronautics"
In 1909 the Admiralty decided to experiment with rigid airships, the outcome of this decision being Naval Airship No.1, which showed by its failure to rise that it was not a simple matter to construct these vessels, and when lightened by alteration of construction, it broke in two in 1911. It was given out the following year that the prospects of using this type of airship were not sufficient to justify the great cost. The nation that was to be our main enemy in the greatest war of all time thought otherwise, and backed their opinion, continuing to construct and improve on the Zeppelin model, with the result that on many occasions, and notably in their dire need at the Battle of Jutland Bank, they reaped the reward of their consistent policy of enterprise and at relatively infinitesimal cost. At the outbreak of hostilities Great Britain had only seven airships, all of the non-rigid type, four of which had been taken over by the Admiralty on Dec. 31, 1913, and of the remaining three, No. 2 was the model on which all the S.S. (submarine scout) class of vessel have since been based; No.3 was an Astra-Torres, of trefoil section with internal rigging, and No.4 was a Parseval bought from Germany. It was the irony of fate that this particular vessel should have been used to patrol the Channel on the night of Aug. 5 and 6, 1914, following up the declaration of war with that country.
Since then, four types of non-rigid airships have been constructed for naval account in Great Britain – Parseval, Submarine Scout, Coastal, and North Sea. The second of these is rigged externally to "Eta" patches on the envelopes, these patches deriving their name from one of the four Army airships alluded to above, on which they were first used. The two last-named are constructed on the Astra system. The year 1915 saw the first building of small "S.S." airships, and they repaid their cost many times over; the original model consisted of an aeroplane body with super-imposed more or less stream-lined envelope; this was followed by "S.S. Zero," a vessel of 70,000 cubic feet capacity, with a blunt-nosed envelope 145 feet in length, and a main diameter of 29 feet. The longest flight of one of these vessels was just under 51 hours. In 1917 the "S.S. Twin" made its appearance; its length is 164½ feet, main diameter about 32 feet, cubic capacity 100,000 feet, the car carries a crew of three, and this class of airship has been found so eminently satisfactory that no more of the previous "S.S." models will be built. The motive power is supplied by twin engines, two 75-h.p. Hawks. The "Coastal" type has a capacity of 200,000 cubic feet, and the car will hold five men. Airships of this type did most of the long-distance patrols during the last two years, and were largely employed in convoying ships from beyond the Scilly Isles up the Channel. An improved model of this class known as "Coastal Star" was brought out in January, 1918; it is somewhat larger, and the envelope better stream-lined. The motive power is provided by a 110-h.p. Fiat aft. The "North Sea" type was designed to act as a scout with the Fleet, o to carry out patrols of 20 hours. Its envelope has a cubic capacity of 360,000 feet, and the normal crew is ten men, but the car will carry 20. Since the signing of the armistice, one of these vessels has made a record voyage for a non-rigid airship of 61 hours 21 minutes, and is understood to have been surpassed on two occasions only by Zeppelins. This class are 262 feet in length, main diameter 55 feet, and they are fitted with two 275-h.p. Eagle or two 260-h.p. Fiat engines. Since 1911 no rigid airship was built in Great Britain till 1916; by Jan. 1, 1918, four of these vessels were in commission. The largest of the four has a capacity of 1,500,000 cubic feet, but larger vessels are under construction. As the rigid vessel has proved its great value for long distance naval reconnaissances, and as the best scout with a Fleet, we may expect to see serious attention paid to the development of the type.

† - Hundred and Thirty Fourth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 8th December 1918.

Stoker 1st Class, Benjamin Dan BLACK (of Teynham), Killed in Action aged 22
Theatre: Home Waters, North Sea
Memorial: Teynham (St Mary) Churchyard
Serving In: H.M.S. "Botha". Died from Sickness, pneumonia.

† - Hundred and Thirty Fifth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 13th December 1918.

Private/Signaller, John DALTON (of Teynham), Killed in Action aged 20
Theatre: France and Flanders
Memorial: Étaples Military Cemetery
Serving in: 9th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own). Died from Bronco Pneumonia.

Teynham Sailor's Death - Ernest Black

East Kent Gazette of 21st December 1918
TEYNHAM SAILOR's DEATH. The death has occurred in France of Seaman Ernest Black, H.M. Transport Services, who contracted illness while on active service. He was buried in France. 

[Society Note: See above, his brother Benjamin Dan Black also died].

P.O.W. flier returns safely

East Kent Kazette of 21st December 1918
HOME FROM GERMANY. Lieut. V.G. Austen, RAF, son of Mr. George Austen, of Nichol Farm Teynham, arrived home last week, after sixteen months' captivity in Germany. At the time of his capture he was badly burned and wounded, and had a miraculous escape from death. He has been in six different camps, and has cause to regard the Germans as inhuman brutes.

Sittingbourne Enlistment Tribunals called to an end

East Kent Gazette reported of 28th December 1918
The business of the Sittingbourne Local Tribunal was wound up at a meeting held at the Town Hall, Sittingbourne, on Friday morning in last week,…..
…On the day following the Armistice, the work of recruiting was suspended, and by the direction of the Local Government Board the work of Tribunals was also suspended.
….The Chairman explained that at the time the work of the Tribunal was suspended there were 57 cases awaiting decision. These were now to be regarded as withdrawn.

Roll of Honour for December deaths

East Kent Gazette of 4th January 1919


BLACK: In loving memory of Benjamin Black, the dearly beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Black, of Conyer, Teynham, who passed away December, 8th, on the Hospital Ship, "Berbice", Rosyth, aged 22 years. – Peace perfect peace. From his sorrowing Mother, Father, Sisters and Brothers.

DALTON: On December 13th, at Étaples, France, from broncho-pneumonia, John, the dearly loved second son of Mrs. Dalton, Barrow Green, Teynham, in his 21st year. From his sorrowing Mother, Sister, and Brother.

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