Introduction

This is the second of five posts – one for each year of the Great War – 1914 to 1918/19 – revealing something of life on the ‘home-front’. The material is drawn from newspapers of the time.

The following is really my notebook of stories I discovered as I trawled through hundreds of newspapers to gain a sense of what civilian life was  like for the inhabitants of the City of Rochester during the Great War. The reports I discovered and have collated in this book, not only gave an indication of the hardships at home but also the emotional pressures that families had to face. Is a loved one dead? Is he laying on a battlefield wounded and alone? Is he ‘lost’ in a field hospital? Is he being held as a prisoner of war? When will a husband or son be called to the Colours?

Other blogs in the series

Life in Rochester – 1914

Life in Rochester – 1916

Life in Rochester – 1917

Life in Rochester – 1918

Explainer

The challenge was how best to present a lot of material. It was necessary to take a chronological approach as over time situations evolved and the resilience of the folk of Rochester would have ebbed & flowed. However, there also seemed to be themes that may be of particular interest to different readers. The sections of the book therefore flow in a month-by-month chronology, but within each month stories are grouped – where possible – under consistent headings.

There are three sections:

  1. Headlines – that indicates that the report is about. Search on the headlines be taken to
  2. Summary of the article. Each ends with a number corresponding to the source in Section 3.
  3. Source

The ‘headlines’ are largely my creation. I chose wording that I hope gives a sense of what the news report contains. The news reports – reproduced or abridged – are in italics. All other words, unless otherwise attributed, in green font, are mine. The dates included in the footnotes are those that a report was published or a web source was visited.

The text proceeding a news report in the body of the book aims to provide some background information that may have been available to the reader at that time. Again, the aim is just set the context and not to detail the historical antecedents of the matters being reported.

Sources

Stories from the Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News and the Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer, were found on the microfilms held by Medway Archives Centre. Stories from the Kent Messenger were found on the KM Group digital archive. All other stories were found on the British Newspaper Archive.

Images used on the cover are not necessarily from Rochester but they are of a type that could very well have been seen around the City during the Great War.

Acknowledgement

I’m grateful, again, to the ‘H.R.Pratt Boorman Family Foundation’ for proving the funding to get this book printed. This means all the money paid/donated for this book will go to support the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. If you are finding this online source helpful do consider giving a donation to the Poppy Appeal.

Geoff Ettridge aka Geoff Rambler

August 2018 / April 2022.

I can be booked to give a talk (within Kent) or lead a tour of Rochester on which some of these stories will be recounted, in return for an agreed donation to charity. Visit my Facebook or blog for more information and how to contact me.

www.facebook.com/geofframbler, or www.geofframbler.blog.

Map of Rochester around the time of the Great War

old-rochester

JANUARY 1915

Military and War Reports

  • The Front comes to Rochester during the Christmas dinner
  • The first aerial battle that ever took place over British soil was fought on Christmas Day
  • Cartoons were used to encourage men to enlist
  • Great respect was shown to those in uniform
  • Soldier was discovered hiding beneath mattress on his wedding day

Reports from the Front

  • Private H. Ranger, a Rochester man, rescued Prince Maurice of Battenberg

Roll of Honour

  • The Medway Towns are suffering terrible losses as a consequence of the war
  • HMS Formidable was sunk with the loss of some Rochester men
  • Mrs. Graves received a letter advising that her husband, Alfred Graves, is presumed dead

Health & Hospitals

  • Christmas at Strood VAD Hospital
  • Christmas at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital
  • Christmas at St. William’s Hospital
  • St. Bartholomew’s is struggling to meet the cost of the additional demands

Home News

  • Rochester is acting as an attentive host to billeted soldiers
  • “Rochester’s women and children are calling” on the men to protect them
  • The Rochester Volunteer Training Corp has been established
  • Upwards of 200 men enrolled into the Rochester Voluntary Training Corp
  • The Volunteer training Corp has 500 members and drills & route marches are well attended
  • All post was delivered by 11am on Christmas Day
  • A motor accident occurred in Rochester High Street on the afternoon of Christmas Day

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • ‘Unsound meat’ is being sold
  • A War Tax has been placed on tea – that can be sold in short measure
  • A milkman accused of selling ‘adulterated’ milk claimed he sold it as sold to him

Civic Business

  • Tramlines have been relayed on the bridge
  • The new joint drainage system with Chatham may be delayed by the war
  • Rochester was criticised for still using a manual firefighting appliance
  • Electric lighting has been installed in the Corn Exchange
  • The size of the bowling green in the Castle grounds is to be increased

Community Support

  • Gifts are provided for the crew of HMS Chatham

Court Cases

  • Medway Guardians are accused of paying a meagre allowance to a widow and six children
  • Probation for a widowed mother found guilty of fraudulently claiming charity
  • Geo Davis from Rochester was accused of a burglary at the nurses’ quarters

Women’s Experiences

  • Ladies of Strood laid on a Christmas tea for all soldiers in the area
  • The women and children in the towns are “overloaded with grief”

Church & Cathedral

The Nave service for children was unnecessarily cancelled as the weather improved

Life Goes On

  • Leonards department store is to close early on Saturdays
  • A boy was accidently shot in the Castle Gardens by the Castle Keeper
  • Featherstones promote their ‘tallyman’ club
  • Meeting was held to explain the Featherstones’ clothing club
  • Featherstones opened a new shopping centre

FEBRUARY 1915

Military and War Reports

  • No uniforms – but volunteers complete a 10-mile march in their civilian clothes
  • Four ambulance stations have been set up to serve Rochester
  • A young Strood lad called Horace helped to capture a German spy – fact or fantasy?
  • Short Brothers’ works manager was turned down for military service
  • Over 300 Old Williamsonians are serving in the forces
  • Train timetables are being regularly revised to accommodate government needs

Reports from the Front

  • Arthur Jones, a heroic and injured sailor finally writes home

Health & Hospitals

  • Patients of Strood VAD can no longer be taken out to socialise
  • St. Bartholomew’s is short of funds and doctors
  • Sixty patients are now being cared for in some discomfort at the Strood VAD hospital

Home News

  • “Rochester is not a holy city but it is very respectable and sedate”
  • Mayor and Mayoress held an ‘at home’ at the Guildhall

Civic Business

  • Items from the minutes of a Council meeting
    • Price of coal increases
    • Cllr. J. Howard Jackson gifts the recreation ground to Rochester
    • The Councils’ steamroller is to be repaired
    • Nag’s Head Lane is being cleared of poor houses
    • A Health Visitor has been appointed

School / Education News

  • An extra 85 places have been created at St. Peter’s school

Court Cases

  • Three Rochester pubs closed, but there’s still one licenced premises for every 333 persons

Women’s Experiences

  • Shops could close earlier as ladies object to coming out after dark

Church & Cathedral

  • Rochester Cathedral made donations to Kent Voluntary Detachments
  • The church choirs of St. Peter’s and St. Andrew’s held their annual supper

MARCH 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Shorts Brothers are seeking to appoint more draughtsmen

Reports from the Front

  • Dean of Rochester appeals on behalf of the sick, wounded and suffering of Serbia
  • Latest war news issued by the Press Bureau

Roll of Honour

  • The last journey of Pte. Lewis Hopkins from Rochester to Gloucester

Health & Hospitals

  • St. Bartholomew’s hospital needs to raise more money to meet the cost of additional demands
  • Miss Skinner is acting as commandant of Strood VAD Hospital

Home News

  • Relocating Belgian refugees back from Newton Abbot to Rochester would be a mistake
  • The separation allowance paid to wives makes it unnecessary for them to work
  • The conscientious objector, George Ward, was not a student of the Technical Institute
  • The price of gas is increasing across the county

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • There is a growing suspicion that some people are profiteering from the war
  • A record price was set, at Rochester, for a pig

Civic Business

  • Complaint made that Rochester Town Council was still spending

Community Support

  • Clothing was given out at the Bargemen’s lodgerooms Rochester

Home Tragedies

  • William George Peak drowned from a boat

School / Education News

  • King’s School’s Officer Training Corp was congratulated on their smartness and efficiency
  • Schools closed in Gillingham due to a coal famine
  • Teachers agree it would be inopportune to seek a pay increase at this time

Court Cases

  • The Rochester & District Laundry Company fined for allowing girls to work on Sundays
  • Andrew Richards, from Queens Street, committed to trial for stealing three overcoats
  • Stephen Muggeridge fined 20s for purchasing a regimental mackintosh
  • Johann and Emma Gertrude Kuss failed to register as ‘alien enemy residents’

Women’s Experiences

  • A man who tried to protect a woman from her husband ended up crucially injured

Church & Cathedral

  • Rev. W. Smythe, a Quaker from Rochester, celebrated this 100th birthday

Life Goes On

  • A branch of the Royal Society of St. George has been formed in Kent
  • Cafe Mecca in the Gordon Hotel provides the largest tea lounge in the district

APRIL 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Butchers and bakers are urgently required for the Army Service Corp
  • A pub landlord with expertise in munitions was called up
  • Kent Royal Garrison is seeking more recruits at Fort Clarence
  • Rifle ranges are being established in the ‘Crown and Quarry’ cement works
  • Adjutant of the Rochester Volunteer Corp made a statement that he is not German
  • Mr. J. L. Spoor organised a system to get letters & parcels to PoW camps

Reports from the Front

  • Three Rochester men are known to being held as Prisoners of War
  • Lieut. H. Moore, a Rochester surgeon has been awarded the Distinguished Service Order

Roll of Honour

  • Lieut. Henry Nesbit has been killed in action
  • John Stokes (28) died of his wounds at No.7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne
  • Two more bodies from the Bulwark were found this week – bringing the total to 100
  • Horrific fall from 500ft., of James Standford who became entangled in a balloon rope
  • Capt. Cecil T. Tuff has been killed in action

Health & Hospitals

  • Strood VAD requests five chickens and corn, and turf to create a sitting area
  • St. Bartholomew’s hospital continues to experience financial problems
  • Gross neglect of midwife, Harriet Herne, for failing to summon a doctor

Home News

  • The river east of Rochester Bridge is closed
  • Temperance Society called on all to follow the example of the King
  • The Mayor advocated the return to original pub hours

Civic Business

  • Rochester declared a ‘war on flies’

Home Tragedies

  • A fatal accident that occurred on Rochester Bridge was blamed on the absence of lights
  • William Wells, a bus conductor, is seriously ill after being thrown from his bus

School / Education News

  • King’s School’s Officers Training Corps was inspected by Brigadier General Combe

Court Cases

  • A War Bonus is to be paid to Rochester police – instead of a pay rise
  • William Davies a coal merchant is fined for working an unfit pony
  • The case against three young soldiers was dismissed because of a clerical error

Women’s Experiences

  • An infant was found abandoned in a garden in Balfour Road
  • Frank Sperring fined for not sending his daughter to school when laundry classes were held

Church & Cathedral

  • Memorial services were held for those who had fallen in the War
  • Vicar says “let’s beat the Kaiser before beating the bounds!

Life Goes On

  • He married his chum’s pretty sister

MAY 1915

Military and War Reports

  • A Zeppelin was spotted passing over Rochester
  • British PoWs are being badly treated
  • The Association of Men of Kent & Kentish Men start a fund for PoWs
  • In the absence of uniforms brassards are to be issued to Rochester’s VTC
  • Rifle ranges are to be constructed for the Rochester VTC
  • Members of the Rochester VTC undertake a two-day training exercise
  • Mr. F. J. Goodwin, of Luddesdown, near Rochester, has nine sons serving in the services
  • Two Medway people that were on the Lusitania were saved

Reports from the Front

  • Cpl. S Harvey has safely arrived at St. Bartholomew’s for treatment

Home News

  • Tremendous explosion of the Princess Irene

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • To control the spread of ‘Swine Fever’ a ban is imposed on the movement of pigs
  • The Swine Fever Order reduces the number of pigs brought to Rochester market

Roll of Honour

  • Second Lieut. Lancelot Aveling has died of his wounds
  • Mr. Cecil Fearnley, an extremely popular Cathedral lay clerk, has been killed in action

Health & Hospitals

  • Compensation is payable to households if a billeted solider develops Spotted Fever
  • The admission rate to St. William’s Hospital for infectious diseases is about average
  • Gifts from Rochester people for soldiers in St. Bartholomew’s were acknowledged
  • The Council sold land for the erection of a slaughterhouse for Rochester
  • Rochester pledged to give employment preference to those who served

Community Support

  • Appeal made for more donations for Kentish Prisoners of War
  • Fundraising concert to be held to provide equipment for Rochester’s VTC

School / Education News

  • Rochester Education Committee issued air raid advice for head teachers

Court Cases

  • Percy Norman in court for being absent without leave and burglary
  • A Rochester man, known as Spence, is being sought for desertion and theft
  • Girl sacked for smiling gets her job back, but could have been sacked for lateness
  • Police withdrew their case when the defendant, Ann Lucas, fails to attend Court
  • James Bush, lodging house keeper, fined for not keeping records of his lodgers
  • Daisy Holande and Elizabeth Bennet fined for failing to obscure light

Women’s Experiences

  • Housewives could help the war effort by not having their bread delivered
  • Women conductors are now working on the trams from Star Hill

Church & Cathedral

  • An impressive funeral was held for the late Archdeacon Rowe

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Capt. W. Eric Bingham Gadd& Miss Elizabeth Haddon
  • Marriage between Walter Ernest Wyver and Ica Henrietta Wren

JUNE 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Deaths occurred in zeppelin raids on Kent’s North-East coast
  • The fire service could not cope if there was an outbreak of numerous fires
  • Urgent appeal made on behalf of some 600 Kentish Prisoners of War
  • A search was instigated for debris from the Princess Irene explosion
  • Gravesend Volunteer Corps is to march to Rochester

Roll of Honour

  • Frank Smith has been killed in action
  • Lieut. Meyrick Bingham Whistler Smith-Rewse was killed in action
  • Cpl. S. G. Harvey died whilst undergoing another operation in a Rochester hospital

Health & Hospitals

  • Roses were sold in Rochester to raise money for the hospitals

Home News

  • The first anti-German riot occurred in Chatham
  • The cruising of yachts and pleasure craft east of Rochester Bridge is prohibited

Civic Business

  • No further Police retirements will be allowed unless on health grounds
  • Due to a shortage of uniforms for special constables arm bands & headgear are to be worn
  • There is a shortage of materials to repair roads

Community Support

  • Cathedral organist and two choristers joined a concert for soldiers

Home Tragedies

A man declined to assist a drowning boy as he didn’t want to get his best suit wet

School / Education News

  • Schools recruiting new pupils

Court Cases

  • David Richards sentenced to a fine or hard labour for obstructing traffic
  • John Ford was NOT fined for failing to obscure light
  • Landlord and mother in Court for allowing beer to be sold to a child under the age of 14
  • Compensation sought for the closure of pubs
  • Three men were prosecuted for being absent from work of national importance
  • Several men were prosecuted for delaying government work because of drink

Women’s Experiences

  • A pension is to be paid to the dependents of men killed in the Princess Irene explosion
  • Mrs. Henry Fawcett gave a talk on “What Women can do during the war”
  • Mrs. Henry Fawcett gave a talk on “Thank God, I am a Woman”
  • Drunkenness by women has been checked

Church & Cathedral

  • The State is responsible for controlling alcohol – the Church for self-sacrifice
  • Church collections to go to St. Bartholomew’s hospital
  • The Bishop of Rochester sees Slackers as Renegades

Life Goes On

  • The largest muster of Kentish Freemasons ever known met in Rochester
  • The Theatre Royal is running the ‘Swiss Maid’ – a musical comedy
  • Mammoth remains have been found at Upnor

JULY 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Dean of Rochester accuse young men of not getting behind the war effort

Reports from the Front

  • Mission of Seamen receive a talk on the siege and relief of Antwerp

Roll of Honour

  • The death rate for Old Roffensians in the war is 7%
  • 2nd Lieut. Frederick Hammonds was killed in action near Ypres

Health & Hospitals

St. Bartholomew’s is in urgent need for additional support – £8,000 needed for 1915

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • The prohibition of fishing in the Medway has implications for incomes and the food supply
  • Sheep must be dipped before being brought to market

Civic Business

  • Urgent sanitary work needs to be undertaken in Morden Street and Queen Street
  • The contract for the removal of night soil was extended for another year
  • It has been decided that the new drainage scheme should follow Corporation Street
  • Rochester council is considering taking out air-raid insurance
  • Castle garden peacocks are to be disposed of and their house pulled down
  • Opening times of the library and reading room are to be extended
  • Council workman are to forego their annual outing – but still want a day off

Court Cases

  • Cpl. Rose-Inness, Royal Engineers, was find 5s for causing an obstruction in the High Street
  • The Army will ensure a solider repays money stolen from his girlfriend’s mother
  • The Seamen’s Institute was fined for failing to obscure light

Women’s Experiences

  • 50 wounded soldiers join summer meeting of the Old Girls of Rochester Grammar school
  • The Women’s Unionist Association is making garments for orphans
  • There is an urgent need for a maternity centre in Rochester
  • The ‘Chatham House of Refuge’ held a service at the Cathedral

Church & Cathedral

No additional Rochester reports discovered.

Life Goes On

  • Maths School advertised for pupils
  • King’s School is recruiting staff
  • Annual meeting of the Rochester Building Society was held at the offices of Messrs Prall’s

AUGUST 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Aid is to be sent to help relieve Belgium and Serbian farmers
  • Sites in Kent are being sought for the manufacture of munitions
  • The rifle range for the Volunteer Training Corp has been opened
  • Reports from the Front
  • Lieut. William Edmondson – injured whilst fighting alongside two fellow school mates

Roll of Honour

  • George Kill has been reported as being killed by shrapnel

Health & Hospitals

  • A Scotsman who won the VC was cared for in Fort Pitt
  • Tenders invited to provide furniture for additional administrative areas at St. William’s

Home News

  • Several thousand marched through Rochester as part of a local recruitment campaign59
  • Wounded soldiers were entertained at the Conservative’s bowling club
  • Ploughing match abandoned due to the lateness of the harvest and the scarcity of men

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Two men fined under the Swine Fever Order for bringing unlicensed pigs to market

Home Tragedies

  • Law relating to suicide and attempted suicide
  • Woman committed for trial for attempting suicide at Rochester Esplanade Pier
  • Community Support
  • Kentish Flag day raises £162 in Rochester
  • Miss Storrs is about to give up the position of scoutmaster to enter hospital

School / Education News

  • Schoolboys help with the harvest

Court Cases

  • Frederick Buley imprisoned for being absent from work
  • Ester Grace Watson’s disgraceful neglect of her children
  • Joseph Giles, publican, received a heavy fine for selling liquor from a private residence

Women’s Experiences

  • Flags were sold in Rochester to raise funds for the Kentish Prisoners of War Fund

Church & Cathedral

  • Mr. J. G. Jeffrey is to retire as the organist at Strood’s parish church
  • The Dean and Mrs. Storrs entertained members of the voluntary choir at the Deanery

Life Goes On

  • Engagement announced between Miss Elsie Douglas & Mr. William Pierce Butler Cormac
  • Marriage between John Acheson & Florence Phyllis Darling
  • Marriage between William Sears & Miss Mary Philips
  • Vacancy for a blacksmith for bottle-house work to undertake pipe-making
  • Grand cricket match to be held – Kent Fortress v Chatham Garrison

SEPTEMBER 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Volunteer gunners required at various anti-aircraft stations on Grain
  • Dr. A. W. Courtney Drake is leaving for the Front
  • Captain Sebag-Montefiore prospective MP for Rochester is about to go on active service
  • Appeal for warm clothing for non-commissioned officers and men of the East Kent Rifles
  • Conference held at Chatham to arrange supplies for Kent Prisoners of War

Reports from the Front

  • Capt. R. Montefiore is reported as being wounded in action

Roll of Honour

  • No Rochester reports discovered

Health & Hospitals

  • Remarkable cures are being achieved at the Strood VAD Hospital.
  • A Red Cross car knocks down a solider in Rochester High Street
  • Cecil Harrison, a young man, died under anaesthetic at St. Bartholomew’s

Home News

  • Compensation to be paid for loss of fees due to a Court ‘return’ no longer being required
  • Conflagration at Mr. Spoor’s barn was confined by Rochester Fire Brigade

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Edward Quarrington fined for bringing an unlicensed pig to market

Civic Business

  • Two railway arches are being converted into a fire engine station in Corporation Street
  • A ‘Whittington Cat’ is wanted to control rats at Temple Farm refuse heap
  • Colonel H. d’Arch Breton agrees to be reappointed as Mayor
  • Poor Law demand precepts are announced

Community Support

  • Street collectors were required by St. Bartholomew’s
  • Motor-trip arranged to take about 100 wounded ‘Tommies’ to Knole, Sevenoaks

Home Tragedies

  • Ivy White fell 150ft to her death during a visit to Kingsnorth aerodrome
  • Frank Wassail/Wassell a railway employee crushed between two engines
  • Thomas Kitney committed suicide through worry about his sons

Court Cases

  • Charles Buckingham fined 40s for travelling without a valid train ticket
  • Rochester councillor fined for failing to obscure light

Women’s Experiences

  • Police concerned about the amount of drunkenness amongst women
  • Alice Box and Mabel Barkway in court for quarrelling
  • Ann Raynor and Annie Whiffen in court for fisticuffs
  • Mary Stewart was summoned for Illegal childminding

Church & Cathedral

  • Dean and Mrs. Storrs returned from a short break
  • A wounded soldier was confirmed at St. Peter’s church by the Bishop of Rochester

Life Goes On

  • High class cars for sale at Robins & Day

OCTOBER 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Great recruitment rallies were held across the country
  • Thousands lined the streets of Rochester and Strood to watch the Great Recruiting Rally
  • Military to rent Strood recreation ground and erect accommodation for 1,500 men

Reports from the Front

  • Conditions experienced by Kentish Prisoners of War are dreadful

Roll of Honour

  • Capt. Robert Montefiore died of his wounds in hospital in Alexandria

Health & Hospitals

  • Knight’s Place convalescence home
  • Allhallows VAD is to relocate to the Great Hermitage, Higham

Home News

  • Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein visited Strood to open the new YMCA centre
  • A green tented village stretches for miles and miles beyond Strood and Rochester

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Supplies were low at both the corn and cattle markets in Rochester

Civic Business

  • Albert Colley (15) receives a civil award for bravery for trying to save a drowning man

Community Support

  • St. Bartholomew’s hospital is £3,000 in debt
  • Matinee performance held at the Chatham Empire to raise funds for St. Bartholomew’s
  • A collection was held at Gillingham football ground
  • A fundraising concert was given at the Victoria Hall for the Strood VAD
  • Donations made to Strood VAD were itemised and reported
  • A swimming gala was held at the Watts’ baths to raise funds for wounded soldiers
  • Rochester Flag-Day raises £150

Home Tragedies

  • John Henry Bartlett committed suicide while of unsound mind
  • Mysterious death of Lance-Sergeant Henry Fokes at Fort Clarence

School / Education News

  • The school ‘Hopping Holiday’ extended owing to the lateness of the hop picking
  • School hours set: 1 to 3:30pm for boys and girls, 1 to 3pm for infants

Court Cases

  • Sidney Man was fined 5s for causing unnecessary suffering to three ducks
  • Alfred Henry Beadle deliberately made an aeroplane propeller too short
  • William Thomas Boucher was £5 fine for wrongly wearing a military uniform
  • Three youths to be birched for breaking into an office

Women’s Experiences

  • Lilly Thomas was summoned for using obscene language
  • Ethel Mary Eastell (32) charged with bigamy
  • Alice Flynn a drunken mother was taken to the police station in a handcart
  • Staff immediately needed for a small hostel for two girls

Church & Cathedral

  • Situations vacant for priests in Strood and Rochester.
  • The annual Men’s Service was held at Rochester Cathedral
  • Rev. S. W. Wheatley is to take up the incumbency of St. Margaret’s

Life Goes On

  • Female servant wanted for household work
  • A canon ball, a relic of the Boer War, was presented to Rochester museum

NOVEMBER 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Some school enlistment statistics
  • Gas composition to change as the process is changed to make compounds for explosives

Reports from the Front

  • Mother of Sapper Thomas Young turns to the press for help in finding her missing son
  • Lieut. C. A. Bridgland is promoted to Captain at the age of 191/2

Roll of Honour

  • Lieut. James Moriarty (22) killed in action in France
  • Sgt. Major J. H. Carter has been reported as drowned at Gallipoli.
  • 2nd Lieut. F. N. Tuff died on Malta from the wounds sustained in the Dardanelles
  • A collection has been started for a memorial to Edith Cavell the martyred nurse

Health & Hospitals

  • Two would-be suicides were brought before the Court
  • The Technical Institutes are to be used to manufacture hospital munitions

Home News

  • The Mayor reflected on the many strange things that Rochester has witnessed
  • Rochester and Chatham Corporations made arrangements to sell coal
  • An austere Christmas is planned for the inmates of the Strood Union

Community Support

  • ‘Our Day’ – Flag Day raised upwards of £500
  • A matinee was held at the Empire to raise funds for St. Bartholomew’s Hospital
  • Disappointing support for the Red Cross’s Star & Garter sale held in the Castle Hall
  • A War Gift Sale was held to raise money for the purchase of the Star and Garter

School / Education News

  • Schools are to close earlier due to light restrictions
  • Schools are to be insured against bomb damage
  • Teachers were concerned about the impact on education with so many teachers enlisting

Court Cases

  • Farmers are still bringing unlicensed pigs to market
  • Compensation paid for loss of public house licences

Women’s Experiences

  • Mrs. Mary Page celebrated her 100th birthday
  • Three months’ imprisonment for a mother who neglected her children
  • Mayor explained why it would be impractical to set up maternity centres in Rochester

Church & Cathedral

  • A very impressive memorial service was held in the nave of the Cathedral for the fallen

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Bernard St. John Storrs & Miss Marjorie Dyson
  • Mr. J. T. J. Hill received a lifelong service award from the Rochester Oyster Fishery
  • Situation wanted by a widow.
  • Vacancy for a resident lady-help and companion to a girl of 15
  • Historical report on stirring times in Kent 700 years ago

DECEMBER 1915

Military and War Reports

  • Recruitment into the military is falling off
  • It is estimated that 2,000 Rochester men enlisted under the Derby Scheme
  • Noel Lees, a King’s boy, has been given time off from school to work with the Red Cross
  • Report received on the Prisoner of War camp situated in Rochester

Reports from the Front

  • “We are up in the firing line and having a fairly exciting time”

Roll of Honour

  • The Mathematical School published its Roll of Honour

Health & Hospitals

  • A guidebook to Fort Pitt hospital has been published
  • Measles was the cause of 34 deaths in Rochester during 1911
  • Strood and Frindsbury VAD hospital reopened under new and reorganised staff
  • Strood & Frindsbury VAD is full

Home News

  • Tighter lighting restrictions have been imposed on vehicles in urban districts
  • A table is published by date giving the times by which no light must be visible
  • 14 members of Rochester’s Voluntary Fire Brigade passed their proficiency badge

Community Support

A scramble sale was held at the Guildhall for the local ‘League of Pity’ and the NSPCC

Strood Gem Picture Theatre held benefit matinee for Strood & Frindsbury Nursing Assoc

A very successful concert was held at the YMCA in Maidstone Road, Rochester

Home Tragedies

  • Thomas William Cowley was killed by a bullet whilst undertaking machine gun training

Court Cases

  • George Saunders sentenced to 3 months’ hard labour for stealing money from his ‘landlady’
  • Wife summoned her husband for assault

Women’s Experiences

  • Female librarian given leave of absence to join the Red Cross
  • Respite relief was organised for the ‘shell-makers’ so they may have a Sunday off.
  • Miss Grace Edmonds has been appointed as headmistress at Troy Town Girls’ School
  • Post Office took on women in Rochester & Chatham to help with the Christmas postal rush
  • Rescue workers and assistants required for a small preventive home for girls

Church & Cathedral

  • Rev. S. W. Wheatley is staying for a while with the headmaster of King’s School
  • The Cathedral is unable to accommodate all who wish to attend Sunday morning worship

Life Goes On

  • A ‘gadget’ is available to help conserve coal on an open fire.
  • Perfect Christmas gifts can be obtained from Franklin Homan, Home Furnishers
  • Rochester Laundry company doing well despite increases in the price of materials & fuel
  • The posts in Two-Post Alley are to be removed as they are a source of danger

 

+++ The News Reports +++

January 1915

Military and War Reports

The Front comes to Rochester during the Christmas dinner.  Christmas dinner and a wedding in Cliffe was disturbed! It is worth noting that there was probably more risk of being killed or injured by a falling defensive artillery shell than a bomb dropped during the air-raid.

The first aerial battle that ever took place over British soil was fought on Christmas Day, and the fiercest part of what proved to be a bloodless encounter was witnessed over the village of Cliffe-at-Hoo. There had been a thick fog all morning, but this was gradually disappearing as the day advanced, and the sun was beginning to assert its supremacy in the heavens, while the air was beautifully calm. These were the atmospheric conditions prevailing when about 10 minutes to one o’clock an aeroplane suddenly emerged from the mist, coming from an easterly direction and flying westward towards London. It was fairly low in the sky, was seen to be a grey colour, and was recognised by the knowing ones as a German “Taube”. That it was no ordinary aeroplane flight was soon made evident to the casual observer, for as it passed over the centre of the village the boom of a heavy gun was heard as it fired from the direction of Chattenden. Boom, boom, boom followed in quick succession, until there was a perfect fusillade fired from Chattenden, Upnor and Chatham on the one side, and from Hope Point where aerial guns have been established for the protection of Messrs. Curtis and Harvey’s extensive works [explosives factory], situated on the banks of the river on the other side. The villagers, who rushed out of their houses to see what was the matter were alarmed to hear the whistling of shells as they came whizzing through the air, and the Rector of the Parish, Canon H. Boyd who was driving from the church in his motor car realising the danger from falling shells, shouted to those he passed to get indoors or under cover for safety. In a few minutes, the daring aviator had got out of the range of the guns and disappeared in the direction of Gravesend. While the German aircraft was passing over, a wedding was taking place in the parish church, surely the first wedding ever solemnised absolutely under fire. The villagers were beginning to settle down in their homes, intent on Christmas dinner, when half-an-hour after the first experience of war in the air, their serenity was again disturbed by the reappearance of the German aeroplane in the west, shaping its course east, followed by a British aeroplane which was unmistakably in hot pursuit. The German was pursuing a somewhat more southerly track than before, but as it drew near the guns again belched forth their destructive fire from Chattenden, Upnor and Chatham, causing the enemy to alter course and cross the Hundred of Hoo line. This bought the Hope Point (Cliffe) artillery into action, and once more the village of Cliffe appeared to be the centre of a terrible bombardment. Again, the villagers rushed out from their houses in a state of mingled curiosity and alarm. Again, the shells explored behind and in front of the plane but the daring German had a charmed existence and one could not help feeling that after all an aeroplane is a very small target, although everybody devoutly hoped that one fortunate bullet might find its billet. In the midst of the cannonade the English biplane, flying at a lower altitude, seemed to be gaining ground, and shots were exchanged between the two aircraft, apparently without effect. The gallant British biplane was hailed with cheers by the onlookers, as it appeared to be gaining ground, and seemed to be routing the enemy up, but in a few minutes both pursuer and pursued had disappeared from sight and the firing had ceased. Shortly afterwards was heard firing in the distance, probably from the warships and forts at Sheerness. It was subsequently reported that the German had dropped a couple of bombs near Mortimer’s Farm, on the main road to Rochester and just south of Cliffe Railway Station. Investigations showed that a cavity had been made in the middle of the main road in Strood, about 3ft in diameter and 21/2ft. in depth. Although the cavities in the road were attributed to the bombs some felt that the shape was inconsistent with that caused by an aerial bomb and may have been caused by shells fired from Hope Point. Canon Boyd was standing on the lawn of the Rectory when a fragment of shell fell within thirty yards of him. An unexploded shell also fell opposite the Evening Star, in the very centre of the village. At Cliffe church on Sunday evening, thanksgiving prayers were offered up that no-one was hurt or killed, and the Rector strongly advised his parishioners, in the event of a similar raid taking place, to seek shelter in the nearest house.[1]

There was a national drive to encourage men to volunteer to the army. One device used was humour, another the need to protect women.

Cartoons were used to encourage men to enlist. Older man addressing a younger man –  “look here my lad, if you’re old enough to walk out with my daughter, you are old enough to fight for her and your country”.[2]

The community showed great respect to those who enlisted.

Great respect was shown to those in uniform. Mr. Wallace, solicitor, apologised to his Honour Judge Shortt at Rochester County Court, for appearing before him in the uniform of a lieutenant commander of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. The judge responded with “you could not be robed more honourably”.[3]

Equally those who avoided service were not held in high regard:

Soldier was discovered hiding beneath mattress on his wedding day. Pte. Harry Kid who was stationed at Rochester, was found when he failed to return for duty.[4]

Reports from the Front

Private H. Ranger, a Rochester man, rescued Prince Maurice of Battenberg. Private H. Ranger, an athlete from the Delce and member of the Delce Ways & Means Club, and whose parents live at 35 Wickham Street, Delce, has been awarded the DCM for conspicuous gallantry and promptitude on the battlefield. With several comrades and under heavy fire he rescued the late Prince Maurice of Battenberg who had been mortally wounded. He enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corp at the commencement of the war and within weeks he found himself at the Front.[5]

Roll of Honour

The Medway Towns are suffering terrible losses as a consequence of the war. The papers list the names, with pictures if they have them, of men killed or lost in action, and carried reports as to how the “river towns of Kent” (Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester) had suffered terribly through the war … but noting that the only effect seems to be a strengthening of the determination to carry on the war to a successful conclusion.[6]

HMS Formidable was sunk with the loss of some Rochester men. News of the sinking of HMS Formidable on New Year’s Day reached Rochester. It is thought that 200 may have been rescued. Included in many missing men from Medway was Chief Armourer William Snedden (44) Rose Street, Delce. He leaves a wife and three children. ERA, [Engine Room Artificer] John Charlesworth, 127 Rochester Avenue, widower, one child. Leading stoker Jas Early, 13 Ridley Road, Rochester, wife and one child.[7]

Mrs. Graves received a letter advising that her husband, Alfred Graves, is presumed dead. Mrs. Graves, of Gravel Walk, Rochester, received the letter from the Admiralty, on what would have been her husband birthday, advising her that her husband, Marine Alfred Graves, was presumed dead following the sinking of the Formidable. She later received a letter from her husband that he had written the evening before the ship went down.[8]

Health & Hospitals. Christmas celebrations.[9]

Christmas at Strood VAD Hospital. Thanks to the energy of the Commandant, Mrs. Skinner and Dr. Skinner, and the aid of many kind and sympathetic friends in the neighbourhood, Christmas was most enjoyably celebrated by the British and Belgian wounded soldiers, and as many of the nursing staff as could attended, in the commodious and tastily decorated hall of the Cooperative Society. The decorations being the work of nurses and many of the patients. The English and Scottish patients who were able applied to spend Christmas as home. This was not possible for the Belgian soldiers.

Christmas at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. The festive season at St. Bartholomew’s was a quite different matter compared with the past years, for under the same roof were 30 wounded British and Belgium soldiers, and all the other beds for civilians were full. The first event on Christmas Day was the singing of carols by the sisters and nurses, who, with lighted tapers, went from ward to ward, and when day broke each patient found the customary gift lying on his or her locker. There were no decorations except in the soldiers’ two wards where the patients had expressed special wish to see some evergreen.

Christmas at St. William’s Hospital. Here the troublesome times were not allowed to shadow Christmas. There were few adult patients but approximately 50 children. The wards were charmingly and daintily decorated, a giant Christmas tree well laden with toys and stockings filled to over flowing. Nurses arranged games, there was a gramophone and other homemade amusements of infinite variety.

All hospitals were dependent on gifts and donations from individuals, firms and organisations.

St. Bartholomew’s is struggling to meet the cost of the additional demands. Although benefiting from gifts and cash, the hospital is struggling to meet the cost of the additional demands being placed on it. The Matron was pleased to list the gifts she had received for the wounded soldiers; these included cakes and cigarettes from Mrs. Francis and pillows and socks from Mrs. Wilson – both ladies from Rochester. As important as these gifts are to the patients, the hospital remains in urgent need for funds to meet the increased expenditure necessitated by the war. Provisions have increased in price – as has the price of medication – and due to scarcity of good surgeons, higher salaries have needed to be offered.[10],[11]

Home News

Rochester is acting as an attentive host to billeted soldiersa number of social gatherings are being held for the soldiers billeted in the area. Upwards or 120 soldiers were entertained last Sunday in the recreation room of the old post office.[12]

A call for 800 men to establish Voluntary Training Corp (VTC) for Rochester was made, but there appears to concerns that such a Corp could diminish the numbers joining the Army. To understand the strong desire to protect women and children, in the event of an invasion, one needs only to read about the atrocities committed against civilians when the German army invaded Belgium – some of which were reported in the local papers. It is interesting to note the need for the VTC was presented positively – in case our gallant soldiers need to go on an attack – not that the invasion may occur as a consequence of them being defeated.

“Rochester’s women and children are calling” on the men to protect them. L. A. Goldie of 67 High Street, Rochester, wrote to the ‘News’ making the case for the establishment of a Voluntary Training Corp for Rochester. He made the point that men who were not of the standard required to enlist had no means to become involved in protecting the country from a German invasion. To deal with what appears to be doubters he stresses what the VTC is NOT; it’s not to interfere with recruiting for the present fighting forces and is not a hiding place for those who ought to join those gallant troops. It will give every consideration to a man’s employment; it will not be arduous with training modified to be suitable to the Corps ability. 3×1 hour sessions per week will be deemed sufficient. The scheme will provide a trained line of defence in the event of all our gallant soldiers needing to go on the attack. It is a scheme of Home Defence – defending our women and children from outrage and murder. The scheme is only open to Men, with a capital M. The first 100 volunteers for Rochester are in sight, only 700 more are wanted to form the first Battalion. “Rochester’s women and children are calling – is there a man who can resist the call?” [13]

The following report on the setting up a Volunteer Training Corp illustrates the desire to challenge the prevailing class boundaries.

The Rochester Volunteer Training Corp has been established. Despite inclement weather and the pitchy darkness of the streets, a very large meeting of citizens of all classes and opinions attended in force the meeting at the Guildhall, crowding the Guildhall to capacity. The meeting was to consider the formation of a Volunteer Training Corp for the City – an initiative which was started by Mr. L. Goldie. The meeting was very enthusiastic and the Mayor, in his address, said it was not a case of playing at soldiers or swaggering in uniforms. Veterans were not going to play being boys and boys were not going to pretend to be grown-ups. This was a very serious business. When it was stated that every man was to be on equal footing there were loud cheers of “hear hear”. The meeting agreed to the forming of a Volunteer Training Corp to be known as the Rochester Volunteer Training Corp and it was resolved that officers would be appointed by a show of hands by the whole Corp. It was suggested it should adopt a greenish-grey uniform. The meeting concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.[14], [15]

To deal with the concern that that the Corp should not become a “hiding place for those who ought to join those gallant troops”, strict eligibility criteria were adopted.

Upwards of 200 men enrolled into the Rochester Voluntary Training Corp at a session at the Guildhall. Only men who are not of military age or have some other genuine reason for not enlisting can register to join the Corp. The question is what constitutes a genuine reason. The War Office does not accept marriage is a genuine reason. There are only three genuine reasons – 1). government contracts – men working on contracts which include boots and clothing as well as arms and ammunition. 2). government employment and 3). Physical disability. Although this troubled the local committee Mr. Percy Harris said it was not for him to defend of challenge the War Office as the matter had been decided by Lord Kitchener himself. To assist with the enrolment many willing workers took records of height, chest measurement, age, occupation and so forth, and at 9 o’clock the first business meeting was held and honorary positions filled and a committee appointed.[16]

However, doubts persisted that men were joining the VTC to avoid joining the army.

The Volunteer training Corp has 500 members and drills & route marches are well attended. The now Captain L. A. Goldie, Rochester VTC, wrote to explain the position of men under the age of 38 joining the VTC. He stated they all had genuine reasons for not joining the Forces and still keen to do their bit. He outlined the regulations and pointed out that the Army Recruitment Officer can attend at any time and recruit any members found eligible for service who do not have some good and sufficient reason. He stated that the War Office was being asked to provide clarification on the meaning of these terms. In conclusion, he stated the Corp was doing splendidly and had 500 members and drills and route marches were well attended.[17]

Tribute was paid to the selfless work of the Rochester postal staff – they even undertook deliveries on Christmas morning to ensure all post and parcels were delivered. The report also gives an insight into the number of troops stationed in the City.

All post was delivered by 11am on Christmas Day. Rochester post office experienced exceptional activity – at a time when there was a great scarcity of staff as a large number of staff were absent on active service, and perhaps because they were engaged elsewhere, there were not the usual number of temporary workers. The staff realised the position and with a commendable zeal and a disregard of long hours and hard work achieved a very successful result. The many thousands of troops who are stationed in the City and the districts added to the increased demands this season. On Christmas morning the delivery was a very heavy one, but notwithstanding this fact every letter and parcel which reached the post office by 7am was delivered mostly before 11am.[18]

Those living in or near Theobald Square, now La Providence, on Rochester High Street, had their Christmas Day disturbed. The report also gives an indication of the road surface along the high street and the ‘healing powers’ of brandy!

A motor accident occurred in Rochester High Street on the afternoon of Christmas Day. The motorbus driver spotting danger to a young child running along the side of the road used the steering gear to avoid the child. However, as the road was muddy the motorbus skidded across the road and ran into one of the tramway standards by Messrs. Leonards’ shop, the top of the standard falling to the ground with a terrible crash. Then the bus went across the pavement and ran into the window of Messrs Lipton’s establishment. The iron railings running across the front of the shop was twisted and broken as was the window and some goods on display. The bus was not heavily loaded but passengers were alarmed as were some pedestrians. Assistance was quickly rendered to one or two ladies in the bus, and residents close at hand provided water and brandy. Dr Skinner also provided assistance.[19]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Before the building of a central slaughterhouse butchers undertook their own slaughtering. Although there may have been economies of scale in having a central slaughter house, there was also the challenge of the removal and safe disposal of the blood and entrails. Failure to manage this ‘waste’ would have created breeding grounds for flies and bacteria and would have posed a serious public health problem. This probably explains the concerns of the sanitary inspector in the following report.

‘Unsound meat’ is being sold. The Sanitary inspector is concerned about the number of instances of ‘unsound meat’ and suggested this supported the necessity for a public abattoir. He believed the position of some of the slaughterhouses was objectionable, more particularly the one close to public buildings of the City.[20]

With profits margins being tight or perhaps some traders being greedy, a number of scams were tried. These included adulterating foods with cheaper ingredients, dilution and short measures.

A War Tax has been placed on tea – that can be sold in short measure. In a notice placed in the paper by Horniman’s there appears to have been a weight issue as the notice called on people to “refuse short weight”.[21]

The following report raises the possibility that not all substandard milk could be attributed to the distributor. The fine itself was a small proportion of the penalty that needed to be paid.

A milkman accused of selling ‘adulterated’ milk claimed he sold it as sold to him. Walter Butler, Rose Street, Delce, pleaded not guilty to the charge of selling adulterated milk. His defence that he sold the milk as it was sold to him was not accepted as a defence by the bench. As this was his first offence he was fined 20s which included 19s 6d costs.[22]

Civic Business

Between 1910 and 1914 the Victorian cast iron bridge over the river, constructed in the 1850s, was reconstructed. The work involved removing the arches from below the bridge and replacing them with the bowstring structure we see today. This provided more clearance for ships to pass under the bridge.

Tramlines have been relayed on the bridge. As the Bridge wardens and Council agreed to share the cost of relaying the tramlines the bridge wardens billed the Council £1,305 2s 5d – being half the cost of relaying the tramlines in connection with the reconstruction of Rochester Bridge.[23]

The new joint drainage system with Chatham may be delayed by the war. Rochester and Chatham having agreed to a joint drainage scheme agreed its start may be delayed by the war.[24]

Rochester was criticised for still using a manual firefighting appliance. A letter was published criticising the City Father’s delay in deciding to spend a comparatively trivial amount on a motor fire engine. The writer drew an unfavourable comparison with Gillingham that had a steam powered appliance. The writer pointing out that the manual appliance used by the City’s voluntary firemen doesn’t even belong to the City.[25]

With the Mayor’s casting vote, it was agreed to purchase a motor fire engine.[26] The Town Council though subsequently attracted criticism for not showing financial restraint in deciding to purchase land to build a new fire station.[27]

In May, Rochester Town Council accepted the tender of Messrs Merryweather and Sons for the supply of a motor fire engine for use of the City Volunteer Fire Brigade, at £1,048.[28]

Inflation put up the cost of installing electric lighting in the Corn Exchange.

Electric lighting has been installed in the Corn Exchange at a cost £91 12s 6d. Owing to the war there was an extra charge of £9 for the glass bowls for the large lights.[29]

The size of the bowling green in the Castle grounds is to be increased. The Council resolved to increase the size of the Bowling Green in the castle grounds which is currently being used for the cattle market.[30]

Community Support

Gifts are provided for the crew of HMS Chatham. The Council of the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish (21 & 23 High Street, Rochester) have decided to publish a list of their members who are or have taken part in active service, and to provide gifts to the crew of HMS Chatham. The ship’s captain, in response to an enquiry from the association, advised that the crew would appreciate gifts of pipes, socks and books whilst in warms climates, and scarves and glovers if deployed in home waters.[31] [23 High Street, Pizza Express.]

Court Cases

Based on the following account the provision of welfare by the Parish appears to have been a very public affair – and became a ‘battle’ between two ‘agencies’. The issues therefore seem ‘very modern’ – despite them occurring over 100 years ago.

Medway Guardians are accused of paying a meagre allowance to a widow and six children. The [Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham] Observer was concerned about the meagre allowance of 12s / week made by the Medway Guardians to Mrs. Edwards – a widow with six children now living at 41 Temple Street, Strood. It’s a mystery to many how Mrs. Edwards manages with children ranging in ages from 16 months and 11 years. Following representations from the Observer the Strood Board of Guardians awarded Mrs. Edwards an extra 3s / week.[32]

The award of 3s by the Strood Guardians to Mrs. Edwards created tension between the two boards. The Medway Guardians believe that Mrs. Edwards could make more efforts to find work. She says she wants work but expects others to find it for her. When asked why she doesn’t seek work Mrs. Edwards explained that if she found work her out-relief would be reduced.[33]

Approximately one month later …

Mrs. Edwards interviewed. She confirmed that she had not asked anyone for work since she was before the Board at Chatham, and that she had not tried to get another house. She also said she didn’t think it would be right to try and get work all the while she got plenty of help. “I only have 12s in money now and I can manage on that”. Her evidence was taken as proof that a person who is given plenty of help does not want to look for work. It was agreed that support was to continue at 12s / week for 13 weeks.[34]

Support for the poor was also provided by charities and the war enabled the unscrupulous or perhaps the desperate, to exploit the public’s sympathy or gratitude towards those associated with the military.

Probation for a widowed mother found guilty of fraudulently claiming charity. Using another woman’s Marriage Certificate, Elizabeth Whiffen (39), of 15 John Street, impersonated a soldier’s wife and induced various ladies to give her money. Carrying a 4-week-old babe at the breast, she appeared before magistrates. She pleaded guilty to using false pretence to obtain 15s from Ada Boucher (Clerk of the Peace for Rochester) with intent to cheat and defraud. She claimed her husband was at the Front. The bench, not liking to send to prison a woman with a baby in her arms, put Whiffen on probation for a year.[35],[36]

Sadly, there are those who by temperament or circumstances who took advantage of the crisis

Geo Davis from Rochester was accused of a burglary at the nurses’ quarters. Geo Davis was committed for trial for hoodwinking a sentry at the gate of Fort Pitt Military Hospital and then going on to steal from the nursing sisters’ quarters.[37]

It is said that nationally there was an increase in prosecutions for bigamy with the start of the war. Certainly the circumstances that could lead to a bigamous marriage abounded. Wives left behind who heard nothing from their husbands, men coming into the area and lying about their marital status, pregnancies arising from affairs etc. ‘In trouble’ in the following report is a euphemism for being pregnant.

Flora Kingsford was remanded on a charge of bigamy. Flora Kingsford of 96 Morden Street, Rochester, was committed to the Kent Assizes on a charge of bigamy. She was accused of marrying Archibald Morton in October last, while her husband Richard Kingsford was still alive. Morton is currently serving his country and is not believed to have been a party in the bigamous marriage. Her defence was that she was ‘in trouble’ and had not heard anything of her husband for the last eight years. The prisoner was offered bail but no sureties were forthcoming.[38]

Women’s Experiences

The area was awash at Christmas with thousands of young soldiers who were camped or billeted in the district and away from their families – probably for the first time.

Ladies of Strood laid on a Christmas tea for all soldiers in the area at the Frindsbury Road recreation room established at the beginning of September in the long-disused Methodist Chapel near the corner of the Vicarage Road, Strood. It is managed by a committee of ladies with Mrs. Warwick Stunt at their head. The once dingy chapel has been transformed into a bright cheerful clubroom – equipped with donations from friends. The room was attractively decorated with evergreens, flowers and Chinese lanterns for the Christmas season, and was opened at 3pm. A sumptuous tea was served to all who were able to come. A Christmas present was provided for every solider, comprising of one warm woollen article such as a scarf, pair of mittens or socks, together with tobacco, handkerchiefs, or some other useful thing. Parcels were taken out to other frequent attenders of the room who were unable to attend as they were on guard duty. Altogether over 100 packages were distributed.[39]

The women and children in the towns are “overloaded with grief”. Col. H. D’Arch Breton, Mayor of Rochester, praised the patriotic spirit of the people of Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham following loss of the ships Cressy, Aboukir, Hogue, Pathfinder, and Formidable, along with hundreds of brave husbands, fathers and sons; women and children in the towns are “overloaded with grief”. Col. Breton reported that Gillingham was most severely affected with 43 women being widowed in one street and 28 in another.[40] [See ‘Roll of Honour’, September 1914.]

Church & Cathedral

The Nave service for children was unnecessarily cancelled as the weather improved. Cue to the pitiful weather the Dean decided to abandon the united children’s service in the Nave that he instigated last year. He was concerned that the children coming from some distance would be drenched. As it turned out the weather in the afternoon was good. Generally, the services at the cathedral are “unusually well attended”.[41]

Life Goes On

Leonards department store is to close early on Saturdays. Leonards’ placed a notice stating that they believe that “a progressive Modern Store like ours, which does a busy and popular trade should do without the “late Saturday Night”. All departments will therefore close at 8 o’clock on Saturdays”.[42]

Delivering milk to the Castle grounds could be hazardous!

A boy was accidently shot in the Castle Gardens by the Castle Keeper. Robert Brown (10) living in Union Street and employed by Mr. W. Hillier was on his milk round taking his daily supply to the cottage in the Castle Gardens. It was at 7:30. The milkman had just entered the gate when he was shot in the knee. The explanation is that the Castle Keeper was shooting some birds.[43]

The following news reports relating to Featherstones, span January and February but presented together to follow through on the department store’s initiative to introduce a new way for people to save or to purchase items. It involved selling on credit for which no interest was charged. A collector would call once a week to collect the money. The early reports suggest this was a new initiative but a later report suggests that the store had a clothing club in 1900.

Featherstones promote their ‘tallyman’ clubmembers make a payment of a certain sum per week in the same way as you pay the rent. This enables you to secure clothing and other necessities to the value of several pounds at any time you want them. Featherstones’ will happily refund money if it is found the ordered goods are not what you expect them to be.[44]

It seems that having a tallyman calling weekly could be regarded as demeaning – perhaps because it suggests a level of poverty that necessitates purchasing clothing on credit?

Meeting was held to explain the Featherstones’ clothing club. Notices were placed in the newspaper explaining the scheme and offering assurances that to participate in it is not degrading. A meeting will be held in the Fountains Head to explain it.[45] [If this became the Fountain, it was situated at 248 High Street, Chatham.]

Despite continuing criticism the Featherstones’ Clothing Club proved very good for business. Although it was set up before the war it seems that its more recent promotion is being seen as taking advantage of the poor at a time when they are particularly vulnerable.

Featherstones opened a new shopping centre in Chatham Intra. Featherstones’ club criticised for really being a tallyman. Since its formation its turnover in goods has increased by £48,000 – at the expense of its members being that much poorer. The club was formed in 1900.[46]

February 1915

Military and War Reports

No uniforms – but volunteers complete a 10-mile march in their civilian clothes. “It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go” rings out under the same grey city walls which once sheltered soldiers of earlier battles. Crowds rush to see them pass. There were no khaki uniforms but showerproofs and soft felt hats, overcoats and caps. Their faces and figures have been familiar in our streets for years – these are the local volunteers swinging high with heads high and shoulders erect from their 10-mile route march.[47]

Four ambulance stations have been set up to serve Rochester. Excellent progress has also been made in the organisation and training of the City of Rochester Ambulance Corp that was formed shortly after war was declared. Four stations have been established – Guildhall, Conservative Club Star Hill, Borstal Cottage, Borstal Road and Strood Work House.[48]

Action on our doorstep – or the product of the active imagination of a young lad? Difficult to tell – it is quite possible that the authorities would not have wanted to reveal to much local information, but it’s surprising that the anonymised story did not first appear in the local or national press….

A young Strood lad called Horace helped to capture a German spy – fact or fantasy? A rich and interesting story appeared in a Melbourne paper. A Melbourne resident received a letter from her sister in Strood recounting the story of how her son Horace helped to capture a German spy. Making his way home he saw a man acting suspiciously so followed him and saw him go under the railway arch, put up a rope ladder and climb up. Horace rushed on and fetched a solider. They both ran back and the soldier gave him a lantern and told him how to signal for help. The other soldiers came along the line and told Horace to crawl about quietly and look for the man. Horace spotted the man crouching in a corner near the railway line. He informed the two soldiers who told him to shine the light on the man when they whistled. They then crept towards the man and when they whistled Horace shone the light on him. The man jumped up and fired two shots, and before he could fire again the soldiers rushed at him and killed him with their bayonets. They found the man had plenty of money, a piece of steel over his left side, a rubber waistcoat about two inches thick, knuckle-dusters on his hands, two belts of cartridges and two loaded pistols. The soldiers gave Horace 6d and told him not to tell anyone about the event.[49]

The following report demonstrates the contribution that civilians were making to the war effort – and the rapid progress being made in aeronautics.

Short Brothers’ works manager was turned down for military service. The first annual dinner and social gathering of the employees of Messrs Short Bros. was held at the Castle Hall. Mr. Oswald Short in addressing his staff reminded them they were serving their country in a most unique way. He pointed out that Mr. Fairey, the works manager, who wished to join the Flying Corps was turned down by the Admiralty as his services as a destructor could not possibly match his skills as a constructor. Mr. Oswald recalled his earlier flights that were measure in feet, now every machine turned out now has to be given a 60 to 70-mile test.[50]

Over 300 Old Williamsonians are serving in the forces – [Maths School] a list of names was published of over 300 Old Williamsonians serving in HM’s forces.[51]

Train timetables are being regularly revised to accommodate government needs. Owing to the demands being placed on the rail network by the military authorities the South-Eastern & Chatham railway has published a revised timetable,[52],[53]

Reports from the Front

The Battle of Qurnah/Qurna, referred to in the following report, took place from the 3 to 9 December 1914, and was between British and Ottoman forces in Qurna, a small town north of Basra in Iraq.

Arthur Jones, a heroic and injured sailor finally writes home. Mrs. Jones, 20 Station Road, Strood, who has not seen her husband for 18 months has at last heard from him. Her husband Arthur Jones is a first class stoke Petty Officer on HMS Ocean. The last she had heard was in an official letter that said he was severely wounded. In his letter, he said he was doing nicely and hoped soon to be home as the doctor had ordered him to England. Describing his injuries Arthur stated “A shell came right through the ship’s side into the engine room and burst. It laid me out but I managed to get up. We were up to our waist in water. The injured were taken 40 miles to the nearest hospital. One man was killed and eight wounded, death happening to one fellow as soon as he reached hospital.” Arthur Jones was operated upon straight away and a piece of shell from extracted from his head. His life was despaired of for some time. However, he recovered after a marvellous escape. In a letter to his sister the Captain wrote that her brother was undergoing treatment in a military hospital in Basra on the Persian Gulf. “At the Battle of Qurnah on 7 December, where your brother was wounded he behaved in a very fine manner keeping the engines of the armoured launch going after she had been badly hit in the engine room, and in danger of sinking. This he did after he had been very badly wounded in the head and back, thereby saving the vessel”.[54]

Health & Hospitals

The following report indicates that influenza was prevalent in the Medway area at this time.

Patients of Strood VAD can no longer be taken out to socialise. A. Ireland, 1 Brompton Lane, Strood, wrote to the editor concerning an order recently issued to the effect that for the future, no patient of the VAD Hospital at Strood will be allowed to be taken out by friends to entertainments of a public or private character, nor be taken home to dinners or teas, as done in the past by appreciative and sympathetic friends of the soldiers. The correspondent pointed out that if the concern was about whether the soldier was fit enough the medical officer has always needed to give permission. The writer also speculated about whether the measure was to try and prevent influenza – which is prevalent in the area – being brought back to the hospital.[55]

There is a shortage of money and medical skills at St. Bartholomew’s hospital occasioned by the war.

St. Bartholomew’s is short of funds and doctorsprovisions have considerably increased in price, as has drugs and dressings, and further in consequence of the scarcity of sufficient qualified doctors to fill the post of House Surgeon, the hospital has been obliged to offer a much larger salary than heretofore, and it is even now doubtful whether suitable candidates for the office will come forward. During the past six months the hospital has had only one resident medical officer – it being found impossible to find another officer for the salary previously offered.[56]

The following report suggests that the capacity and facilities of the Strood VAD had been compromised by a fire.

Sixty patients are now being cared for in some discomfort at the Strood VAD hospital. The report noted some considerable discomfort arising from damage caused by a recent fire – and some annoyance about delays to the repairs due to the slow response of the Fire Insurance Company.[57]

Home News

Rochester’s report to the Temperance Congress at Chatham raises concerns about the amount of drinking taking place at home as a consequence of the restrictions placed on the times pubs can open.

“Rochester is not a holy city but it is very respectable and sedate”. Rochester believes it compares favourably with any other town of a similar size. It is not a holy city but it was a very respectable and sedate city. In Rochester the policy of restriction had been enforced and in its outward life the City was no worse for having its licensed houses closed at 8pm. But here was the point – Mr. Kingdom was not quite sure in his own mind that the policy of lessening pub hours hadn’t given a stimulus to a phase of the drink traffic which to his mind was most objectionable and most undesirable. He referred to the crate business. This was something that needed to be taken into serious consideration not only by the authorities, but by the temperance reformers. The belief that the restrictions had lessened drunkenness was challenged by those who felt the number of convictions for drunkenness had increased since the policy came in. From 4/8/1913 to 31/12/1913, 16 males and 1 female were proceeded against for drunkenness, whilst from 4/8/14 to 31/12/14 the numbers were 30 males and 15 females. It was observed that the Christian Church could do more temperance work than it had done in the past.[58]

Mayor and Mayoress held an ‘at home’ at the Guildhall. The old Guildhall at Rochester presented a bright and beautiful appearance yesterday afternoon, at an “At Home” to the citizens and residents of the neighbourhood generally, given by the Mayor and Mayoress. The hall was splendidly finished by the firm of Messrs. Franklin Holman Ltd. and the choice of plants used in the adornment were from the establishment of Mrs. Smith, Eastgate, while light refreshments were supplied by Mr. W. Passmore of the “Tea Table”. The Mayor and Mayoress welcomed at least 200 guests. A delightful programme of ten items of music was played.[59] [See ‘Community Support’, January 1919 for a possible indication was to how the Guildhall was ‘furnished’ for a mayoral ‘at home’.]

Civic Business

Items from the minutes of a Council meeting [60]

  • Price of coal increases. Rochester Town Council agreed to pay more for coal – increasing from 25s / ton to 30s / ton.
  • J. Howard Jackson gifts the recreation ground to Rochester. It was resolved that some means should be taken, as early as possible, to record in a suitable and permanent manner the gift to the City by the late Mayor (Cllr. J. Howard Jackson) of the New Road Recreation ground.
  • The Councils’ steamroller is to be repaired. The estimate of £148 by Aveling and Porter to repair the Council’s steamroller was accepted on the understanding that unknown defects may be found when the engine is dismantled.
  • Nag’s Head Lane is being cleared of poor houses. Houses numbered 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 Nag’s Head Lane are now in the process of being demolished; houses 13 to 27 have already been demolished.

The Notification of Births Act 1907 required all births to be reported to the local Medical Officer for Health as soon as possible. He then had to arrange for a trained health visitor to call on the mother at her home and teach her how to protect the baby’s health.[61]

A Health Visitor has been appointed. Under the Notification of Births Act it was agreed that Nurse Jump should transfer to the Education Committee and that subject to terms being agreed Nurse Woodward of 81 High Street, St. Nicholas, cover the duties previously covered by Nurse Jump.[62] [81 is currently Peggotty’s Parlour).

School / Education News

It is unknown what necessitated St. Peter’s school being extended.

An extra 85 places have been created at St. Peter’s school. Rev. H. Hicken is praised for extending his school by 85 places at a cost of £242. In these days when a school place may cost somewhere between £10 and £20 he must be regarded as a magician to have been able to do it at £3 / head. However, it is hoped that the citizens of Rochester will come forward and help fund this extension which will provide for the religious education of the young in the principles of our common faith, and also enables the requirements of the Education Committee to be met with the minimum of outlay.[63]

Court Cases

The following report makes a distinction between beer-houses and ale-houses. Ale houses had been around since the middle ages. Ale was brewed by individuals in their own homes and in the early days was sold as a ‘take-away’ product. Premises that sold ale slowly evolved into places where ale was drunk. Beer Houses were introduced in the Beerhouse Act, 1830. This act allowed any householder, on payment of a licence fee, to brew and / or sell beer from their own premises.

Three Rochester pubs closed, but there’s still one licenced premises for every 333 persons. At the Licensing Session three licences were unrenewed on the grounds of Redundancy. The Chief Constable reported there were 94 ‘on’ licences in the City for the sale of intoxicating liquor viz. 71 ale-houses and 23 beer-houses which gave a ratio of one to every 333 persons. Compared to last year this represented a decrease of three, the Old Bridge Tavern, High-street Strood; The Lord Nelson, High Street Rochester, and the New Inn, St. Margaret’s Banks, having been referred to the Compensation Authority. 82 persons were proceeded against for drunkenness during the year, 57 males and 25 females; 36 resident and 46 non-resident. This represented an increase of 16 as compared to last year. This increase was very noticeable at the commencement of the war and the Chief Constable was very sorry to say that it was on the female side.[64]

Women’s Experiences

Shops could close earlier as ladies object to coming out after dark. Louis Cobb, 73 High Street, Rochester, wrote to the paper saying he had started a petition to secure earlier closing as the restricted lighting has altered the time for shopping and that there is certainly no necessity to keep open as late as usual. Although some traders are reluctant to sign the petition all those approached agree we might easily close at 7 o’clock or earlier as ladies object to coming out after dark. Also, many traders are short-handed having parted with young men to the army. Earlier closing would also allow more men to undergo training and young ladies to do needlework. A great many towns have been enjoying the earlier closing for some months now.[65]

Lady Jellicoe was the wife of Admiral John Jellicoe who was appointed the Commander of the Fleet the war was declared on Germany in 1914. He was in command of the fleet during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

The Temperance Congress hears about the need for Women’s Clubs in war time. Lady Jellicoe, along with many eminent medical and service men, Bishops and Ministers, addressed the Temperance Congress held at Chatham. In her address Lady Jellicoe made the case for more Women’s Clubs in war time.[66]

Church & Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral made donations to Kent Voluntary Detachments. The Cathedral made two donations of £17 2s 10d and £13 17s 2d following an urgent appeal for funds to support the Kent Voluntary Detachments.[67] [VADs.]

The church choirs of St. Peter’s and St. Andrew’s held their annual supper at the Gordon Hotel. A pleasant social gathering took place at the Gordon Hotel on Saturday when the choirs of St. Peter’s Church and St. Andrew’s Delce united for their annual supper.[68]

March 1915

Military and War Reports

As the field of aeronautics was so new Shorts Brothers needed to recruit people with transferrable skills.

Shorts Brothers are seeking to appoint more draughtsmen. Shorts Brothers advertising for ‘thoroughly competent and capable draughtsmen for the aeroplane work at Rochester’. Shorts Brothers advertising for draughtsmen with experience in the design of high class motor car chassis. Applicants to write to Shorts Brothers, Rochester, stating age, previous experience and salary required.[69]

Reports from the Front

The following appeal on behalf of the distressed residents of Serbia would have registered in the minds of those who were fearful of an invasion of Britain.

Dean of Rochester appeals on behalf of the sick, wounded and suffering of Serbia. The Dean offered to receive donations that he would forward to the Archbishop of Belgrave. Help was required by poor Serbian soldiers and sufferers. He said whole crowds of our best and noblest have been killed with a cruelty of which even savages would be ashamed, Churches, schools and houses have been robbed and destroyed. The University and the National Library have been destroyed Those who have suffered and the orphans of the fallen are in urgent need of help.[70]

Press reports appear to have been produced daily and may well have been used as propaganda, but the following account has appeared in histories.

Latest war news issued by the Press Bureau. The Forth and the Indian Corps advanced yesterday on a front of 4,000 yards for roughly 3/4 mile and captured all intervening hostile positions and trenches. More than 700 prisoners were taken. The British aircraft were active and succeeded in destroying the railway junctions of Courtria and Menin [Menen].[71]

Roll of Honour

The last journey of Pte. Lewis Hopkins from Rochester to Gloucester. Private Lewis Hopkins (34) died in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He was wounded in the head at the Battle of Aisne on Oct. 24. For a month he was in Boulogne Hospital before being sent then to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Rochester, where he has lain since, and despite unremitting care of doctors and nurses he passed peacefully away on March 12 in the presence of his friend Frank Malings of Condicote. He was conveyed by motor-hearse to Condicote, Gloucester, for burial in his home parish. It had been hoped that a military funeral could have been arranged but this was not possible. Hymns included “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Fight the Good Fight”.[72]

Health & Hospitals

See report of the death of Pte. Lewis Hopkins – Roll of Honour, above.

St. Bartholomew’s hospital needs to raise more money to meet the cost of additional demands. In response for additional contributions to meet additional costs Miss Hurley of Rochester increased her Annual Subscription to £2 2s. In addition, Mrs. Burreh of Strood and Miss Baker of Rochester donated books.[73]

There were a number of reports that suggest that the Strood VAD hospital was not being managed well. Could that be connected with Mrs. Skinner no longer being the Commandant and her 20-year-old daughter being in an acting role? The reasons behind this ‘transfer’ of responsibilities have not been discovered.

Miss Skinner is acting as commandant of Strood VAD Hospital. The coming of age of Miss Skinner, the only daughter of Dr. & Mrs. G. A. Skinner of Strood, was made the occasion of some interesting presentations last week at the Strood Voluntary Hospital, where Miss Skinner is acting as commandant.[74] [In January 1915, ‘Health & Hospitals’, it was reported that Mrs. Skinner was the Commandant.]

Home news

Relocating Belgian refugees back from Newton Abbot to Rochester would be a mistake. The Commission for providing occupations for Belgium Refugees says it would be a mistake to relocate Belgium fishermen from Newton Abbot to Rochester as they were all fully employed locally. It was later confirmed that the fishermen’s boats were at Rochester and were being looked after by a watchman appointed by the Belgian marines.[75]

The separation allowance paid to wives makes it unnecessary for them to work. During a Court case in Rochester it was stated that some employees at a laundry had left because the separation allowance they now received from their husbands at the Front rendered it unnecessary for them to work.[76]

It would seem that being associated with a conscientious objector could be regarded as stigmatising.

The conscientious objector, George Ward, was not a student of the Technical Institute. The Technical Institute, Rochester, took the opportunity to write to the paper to clarify that the conscientious objector [George Ward] who came before the Strood Tribunal was not an art student of the local art college. Further the letter went on to say that all the eligible students of the art school had long signed up.[77]

The price of gas is increasing across the county. The price of gas in Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham is to increase by 3d / 1,000cu ft. The increase was attributed to the higher price of coal or “black diamond”. The increased price might be due to the war but it is possible that some people are making huge profits at the expense of the consumer.[78]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

There is a growing suspicion that some people are profiteering from the war. Reuben Davies a dairyman from Chatham, and another dairyman, Alfred Reeves, were found guilty at the Rochester Police Court for selling milk adulterated by the addition of 35% of water. They were fined £2 12s 6d – including costs.[79]

A record price was set, at Rochester, for a pig it was sold for £21, establishing a record at the local cattle market.[80]

Civic Business

The following complaint may have had an affect – see ‘Civic Business’, September 1915.

Complaint made that Rochester Town Council was still spendingof particular concern was the purchase of land to build a fire station.[81]

Community Support

Clothing was given out at the Bargemen’s lodgerooms Rochester. Rev. S. D. Scamell, who represents the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society in the Towns, visited the Bargemen’s Mutual Aid Society at their “lodgerooms” in High Street, Rochester, to distribute a large number of scarves, body belts, socks, mittens, gloves, helmets, flannel shirts etc. Also, warm overcoats and other clothing was given to permanent invalids on being discharged from hospitals in Chatham and Rochester.[82]

Home Tragedies

The source for the following report was silent as to what action the adults took when told that a boy was in trouble on the river.

William George Peak drowned from a boat. An inquest was held into the death of a 14-year-old boy, William Peak,who lived with his parents at Pleasant Row, Rochester. He had been missing since February; his body was found on the mud at Limehouse Reach. The evidence was given by a small boy, William Springate, who stated that he went to play with the deceased at Blue Boar Pier. Peak entered a boat which drifted out into the river. Springate went home and told his parents that “Willie” was on the mud. A verdict of ‘Accidental Death’ was returned.[83]

School / Education News

King’s School’s Officer Training Corp was congratulated on their smartness and efficiency. Brigadier-General Combe inspected at the Kings School, Rochester, a contingent of the Officers Training Corp. He congratulated them upon their smartness and efficiency.[84]

Although no reports have been discovered concerning a coal famine in Rochester it is unlikely that Rochester would not have been affected if there was a shortage of coal in Gillingham. It would seem that the pressure placed on the railway, probably by the military, was making it difficult to distribute goods.

Schools closed in Gillingham due to a coal famine caused by coal trucks being held up by congestion on the railway.[85] 

Teachers agree it would be inopportune to seek a pay increase at this time. At a meeting of the Chatham, Rochester and District association of NUT, [National Union of Teachers] held in the Masonic Hall to discuss teacher’s wages, agreed it would be inopportune to seek a pay increase. It was acknowledged that the teachers had experienced hardship but nothing like that experienced by teachers in Germany, Belgium and France.[86]

Court Cases

The Rochester & District Laundry Company fined for allowing girls to work on Sundays. The company was brought before Rochester Police Court charged with ten offences under the Factory Act. It was accused of allowing two girls to work on Sundays in January and also late at night on three days in the second week of January. Five of the offences were in respect of Amy Florence Bishop and the remainder in regard to Nellie Frances Pope. The firm claimed that the girls were willing work the extra hours for which they were paid, in order that they could comply with inflexible requirements of a contract it had with the Home Office. The firm was fined a nominal 1s and half the court costs – £3 in all.[87]

The following report gives an indication of ‘housing arrangements’ that existed at the time.

Andrew Richards, from Queens Street, committed to trial for stealing three overcoats. Andrew Benedict Richards, a youth, was accused of stealing three overcoats from the corridor of the University School, Rochester. It is alleged that he sold one coat to a pawnbroker in the Brook. He was stopped by another pawnbroker when he tried to sell the second coat. The third coat was found up the chimney of the cellar at the defendant’s home at Queen Street.[88]

Stephen Muggeridge fined 20s for purchasing a regimental mackintosh. Stephen Henry Muggeridge from Strood was before the Court in Rochester accused of purchasing a regimental mackintosh. He admitted the purchase but claimed ignorance of the law. In the light of his previous good character he was fined 20s, including costs. The magistrate pointed out that the full penalty could have been £20 plus three times the value of the goods.[89]

Johann and Emma Gertrude Kuss failed to register as ‘alien enemy residents’. The couple pleaded guilty before Tamworth Court to failing to register as soon as possible as an ‘alien enemy resident’ in the County under the provisions of “Alien’s Restriction and Consolidation Order, 1914”. They claimed to have registered in Rochester but could not produce a registration certificate. Rochester Police though were able to confirm that they registered in Rochester – Mr. Kuss’ registration number was 10 and his wife, 24. Mr. Kuss was fined £2 an Mrs. Kuss £1. Mr. Wehrle, their employer, was asked to pay £10 surety.[90]

Women’s Experiences

No mention was made in the source for the following report as to the condition of the woman or indeed whether her husband was to be charged with any offence against her.

A man who tried to protect a woman from her husband ended up crucially injured in St. Bartholomew’s hospital. Harry Hatch, mate on a barge, was remanded on a charge in connection with the serious injury to Jesse Hunt, well-known local property owner. It is alleged that Hatch had been ill-treating his wife, and that on Mr. Hunt interfering for her protection, he was struck and rendered unconscious. He is in St. Bartholomew’s in a critical condition.[91]

Church & Cathedral

Rev. W. Smythe, a Quaker from Rochester, celebrated this 100th birthday. For over 40 years The Rev. W. Smythe travelled Europe preaching the Gospel at his own expense. He was a native of Welling and was employed for many years with the Reading firm of Huntley and Palmer, biscuit manufactures.[92]

Life Goes On

A branch of the Royal Society of St. George has been formed in Kent and is based at 21 & 23, High Street, Rochester. “The object of this loyal and patriotic English society” is “to encourage and strengthen the spirit of patriotism amongst all of English birth or origin throughout the world irrespective of creed or party. “To revive the recognition and celebration throughout the world of St. George’s Day and the anniversary of the birth and death of Shakespeare.… “.[93] [This address was also that of the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men.]

Cafe Mecca in the Gordon Hotel provides the largest tea lounge in the district and a most suitable place to meet friends for afternoon tea. [Advertisement].[94]

April 1915

Military and War Reports

Before conscription came into force it appears the government were calling up people with knowledge and skills that would support the war effort. Over time the recruitment of skilled people into the army had an impact on the sustainability of local businesses that provided essential services.

Butchers and bakers are urgently required for the Army Service Corpenlistment is for the duration of the war. Pay 8/6 per week, all found. Separation Allowance will be paid to the families of married men. Apply the Recruiting Officer, Dock Road.[95]

A pub landlord with expertise in munitions was called up. Rochester City Justices sitting at the Guildhall were presented with a dilemma. The licences of The Phoenix Beer house [176 High Street / dry cleaners] in the high street, owned by the Dean & Chapter and leased to Messers. Woodhams, Brewers, was held by Henry Goldsmith. However due to his knowledge of munitions he had been called up by the government. As he would not resident in the Beer House he would be in contravention of his licence so wanted to temporarily transfer his licence to Garibaldi Martindale. A temporary order was made so the Chief Constable could inquire into the suitability of Martindale.[96]

The Kent Royal Garrison Artillery was a unit of the Territorial Force with its HQ at Sheerness. In 1914, it was made up of three companies, No 1 (Fort Clarence, Rochester and Sheerness), No 2 (Gravesend and Northfleet) and No 3 (Dover and Folkestone).[97]

Kent Royal Garrison is seeking more recruits at Fort Clarence.[98]

Rifle ranges are being established in the ‘Crown and Quarry’ cement works, Frindsbury, for the Rochester Volunteer Training Corps – the site having been granted by the Associated Portland Cement Manufactures.[99]

Concerns and suspicions abound regarding the presence of German influences in the community.

Adjutant of the Rochester Volunteer Corp made a statement that he is not German. Mr. L. A. Goldie, Adjutant of the Rochester Volunteer Corp, has deemed it advisable to meet with members of the Corp to explain that he is not German and that his name is not Goldstein or Goldberg, and that although his mother was German there was no German influence in his upbringing.[100]

Support for Prisoners of War from Kent is getting organised. Donations, letters and parcels needed to be collected and then transported to the various Prisoner of War (PoW) camps.

Mr. J. L. Spoor organised a system to get letters & parcels to PoW camps.[101] It was later reported that the arrangements made by Mr. J. L. Spoor, of Rede Court near Rochester, where proceeding satisfactorily. Subscriptions are coming in and the Mayor of Chatham has opened a depot at the Town Hall to receive gifts of tinned food stuffs and underclothing.[102] The mayors of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham have undertaken to send provisions and other necessities to men from their towns who are being held as prisoners of war.[103]

Reports from the Front

Three Rochester men are known to being held as Prisoners of War. Amongst the men from Rochester known to be being held as a PoW are – Rifleman Bennett of the Rifle Brigade; Byson of the Rifle Brigade and Pte. Farrer, Royal Scots Fusiliers.[104]

Lieut. H. Moore, a Rochester surgeon has been awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Lieut. H. Moore, RAMC, who spent nine months at St. Bartholomew’s was awarded the medal for conspicuous bravery with another officer. Under fire they went within 150 yards of the enemy line to attend to a wounded man. On the second occasion of undertaking a similar rescue Moore was injured himself. He is now recovering from his wounds in a nursing home at Margate.[105] Whilst employed at St. Bartholomew’s it was noted that several times Lieut. Moore had been commended by Coroner Juries for the trouble and interest he had taken, and the help he had given in cases under investigation.[106]

Roll of Honour

Lieut. Henry Nesbit has been killed in action. The parents of Lieut. Henry George Nesbit of the 1st Battalion of Buffs, live in Rochester. He was hit in the face by a shell during fighting at Radingham, near Armentieres, in France, on March 23. His death must have been instantaneous. Notice of his death was posted on the same day as the notice advising that he had been promoted to a lieutenancy because of his gallantry and excellent service.[107]

John Stokes (28) died of his wounds at No.7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne. John Hill Stokes was the only son of Dr. & Mrs. Stokes of Rochester. [108]

Two more bodies from the Bulwark were found this week – bringing the total to 100.[109]

The following account of a horrific fall offers some insights into the management of airships.

Horrific fall from 500ft., of James Standford who became entangled in a balloon rope. An inquest at Chatham was shown that the airship accident at Hoo [Kingsnorth] was primarily due to the effects of wind and sun, which caused the airship to break away from the landing party of 150 bluejackets who were hauling her down by means of a long trailing rope which snatched away. All men let go except James Standford, 23, who were carried up 500 feet. Falling exhausted, every bone in his body was broken.[110]

The Royal West Kent Regiment distinguished themselves in battles to capture Hill 60 – but in doing so suffered heavy losses. The Battle of Hill 60 (17 April – 7 May 1915) took place in Flanders, south of Ypres. Mining and gas were used for the first time in this battle.

Capt. Cecil T. Tuff has been killed in action. Tribute was paid at the Rochester Police Court to Captain Cecil T. Tuffwho was shot in the forehead leading his men at the attacks on Hill 60. The only consolation that his father Mr. Charles Tuff, one time MP for the City of Rochester, could have was that his son “met his death in what was one of the most glorious victories that ever the British Army had achieved.”[111],[112] The Chairman of the Kent Education Committee proposed a vote of sympathy and condolences should be sent to Mr. C. Tuff following the death of his son on the front line.[113]

Health & Hospitals

Strood VAD requests five chickens and corn, and turf to create a sitting area so wounded men can enjoy sitting out when the sun shines.[114] [The chickens and corn was probably so the hospital had access to fresh eggs.]

St. Bartholomew’s hospital continues to experience financial problems. The hospital is currently £3,000 in debt and fundraising initiatives have commenced with house-to-house collects in Queenborough.[115] The situation is expected to worsen with it being estimated that the hospital will need £9,000 next year.[116]

One has to wonder whether the family’s ability to pay the doctor’s fee could have been behind the decision not to call the doctor. ‘The Central Midwives Board’ was established by the Midwives Act 1902. The board was responsible for the registration of midwives, securing better training of midwives and the regulation of their practice. Midwives joining the register had to be certified for practice by an organisation such as the Obstetrical Society of London or have had at least one year’s professional experience on the passing of the Act and proof of ‘good character’. The Central Midwives Board was replaced in 1983 by the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting.” [117]

Gross neglect of midwife, Harriet Herne, for failing to summon a doctor. Theresa Lucy Willmott (24) wife of a well-known greengrocer 94 High Street, Rochester, died within a few days of her first confinement. Harriet Herne, nurse and certified midwife, was aware of the mother’s deterioration but did not summon a doctor. The cause of death was put down to septicaemia but the nurse was strongly censured for not advising the family to call a doctor. The jury stressed that they did not mean this as a verdict of manslaughter but recommended that the evidence should be placed before the Central Midwife Board.[118] [94 was previously near the site of the St. Barnardo’s charity shop.]

Home News

The river east of Rochester Bridge is closedincluding the docks of Chatham and Sheerness in closed.[119]

The ‘League of Honour’ (see ‘Women’s Experiences’, November 1914) required people to abstain from all alcohol for the duration of the war. King George V signalled his approval by forbidding the consumption of alcohol in his royal households for as long as the war lasted. He clearly wasn’t prepared to make a total commitment to a life of abstinence! The inference in the following report is that those who continued to drink alcohol were unpatriotic.

Temperance Society called on all to follow the example of the King. A public meeting was held at the Corn Exchange on 10 May to rally all local patriots to the standard of War Abstinence, Economy and Self Denial which HM The King has adopted.[120]

Drunkenness does not seem to have been a problem for Rochester at this time.

The Mayor advocated the return to original pub hours. At the Rochester Police Court the Justice’s Clerk reported that this was the fifth consecutive Court in which there had not been a single charge of drunkenness, and remembering the large number of men in the district engaged in war work, that was very commendable. The Mayor (Colonel H. Breton) agreed and said it was plain that drunkenness was not caused by war. The Mayor thought that although pubs are closing earlier he speculated that people were now drinking at home. The Mayor said he understood that early closing might be beneficial for the troops but was not altogether beneficial to the civilian population.[121]

Civic Business

The disposal of horse manure in the city would have been a major challenge when the majority of transport and deliveries in the City would have been dependent on horses. Apparently, the average horse produces between 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day, and two pints of urine. This needed to be cleared from the streets and contained, if flies – that can spread diseases – did not multiply to biblical proportions.

Rochester declared a ‘war on flies’. In order to deal with the fly problem, the Rochester Town Council have appointed an ex-police inspector to supervise the removal of stable manure in the City.[122] The medical officer also recommended that manure pits about the City should be regularly inspected between 1st May and 30th September.[123]

Home Tragedies

Perhaps as a consequence of the infrequency of air-raids there seems to have been a lot of discontent with the light restrictions. Equally the lighting restrictions may well have been the reason for why there were not that many air-raids?

A fatal accident that occurred on Rochester Bridge was blamed on the absence of lights. The prohibition of all lights on Rochester Bridge was responsible at 12:45 on Monday morning for a disastrous collision between the motor mail coach running from London to Dover, and a single horse mail coach proceeding from Rochester to Strood railway station to fetch mail. “The two vehicles came together in a terrific crash at the Rochester end of the bridge.” Edward Hodge, driver of the horsed van, was thrown from his seat. “He landed on his head in the road, and fractured his skull”.[124] [Nothing reported about the condition of the horse.]

William Wells, a bus conductor, is seriously ill after being thrown from his bus. He was a conductor on one of the motor buses running between Chatham and Rochester, is laying critically ill in St. Bartholomew’s hospital suffering from a fractured skull. He sustained the injury when he was jerked off his bus at Rochester. The driver had pulled up suddenly to avoid a collision with a motorcyclist with the result that Wells was pitched onto the street.[125]

School / Education News

The Country’s public schools ‘provided’ many of the junior officers who heroically served the country. As a rule of thumb 20% of public school boys who fought in the war died, against 13% of those overall who served.[126] Officer Training Corps (OTC) fulfilled a very important function in ensuring the Army could ‘replace’ the many junior officers it was losing

King’s School’s Officers Training Corps was inspected by Brigadier General Combe.[127]

Court Cases

Boroughs were required under the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835, to establish Watch Committees to oversee policing. This Act also required Boroughs to appoint constables to ‘preserve the peace’.

To help people in public services cope with inflation the practice of paying war bonuses was adopted. Presumably this was because they could be withdrawn when the war ended – something that may not have been possible if the increase was added to the basic wage.

A War Bonus is to be paid to Rochester police – instead of a pay rise. The Rochester police force having memorialised the Watch Committee for an increase of pay of 3s per week, the Watch Committee decided not to alter the scale but to give a bonus during the war; 10% where wages are under 25s, 71/2% where they are between 25s and 30s, and 5% where they are above 30s.[128]

William Davies a coal merchant is fined for working an unfit pony. Davis from Borstal, was charged with working a pony in an unfit stare in St. Nicholas. It was pulling a cart with 10cwt of coal and was slipping and falling on the cobbles in the high street. The magistrates viewed the pony and concluded it would have been unfit to work and advised Davies to plead guilty to save costs. He refused so the case was adjourned. The following week Davies was fined £2 10s including costs.[129]

Robert Gunter was accused of falsely represented himself as an Officer. At Rochester Police Court yesterday, Gunter of a gentlemanly and military bearing was remanded on a charge of having falsely represented himself to be a captain in the Royal Horse Artillery. The accused made himself very agreeable to naval and military officers at the Bull Hotel. He claimed to have seen action at Ypres and to have been award the DSO. When arrested the accused had his arm in a sling but the police surgeon who examined him could find no injury. He claimed to be Sir James Duggan.[130] On hearing the evidence – Gunter, of Drayton Gardens, London, was acquitted yesterday, at Rochester, of a charge of having falsely represented himself to be a military officer.[131] [The reason for the acquittal was not explained.]

It is perhaps surprising that there was not more petty crime in the area perpetrated by exuberant young men away from home and heading for war. The following three young soldiers were ‘lucky’.

The case against three young soldiers was dismissed because of a clerical error. Three young soldiers had a lucky escape:  Silverston Lawrence Lee, Alfred Johnson and Thomas Packham were up before the City Police Court for stealing bicycles from outside the King’s School. They were found guilty and fines set – however as the court papers accused each of stealing the wrong bicycles the cases were dismissed.[132]

Women’s Experiences

At this time the lives of an unsupported women with an illegitimate child would have been hard. The National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child (now Gingerbread) was formed in 1918, in response to a concern about higher death rates among illegitimate children compared with legitimate children, particularly during the First World War.

An infant was found abandoned in a garden in Balfour Road. It is estimated to be about five weeks old.[133]

The following report highlights something of the school curriculum at the time and the harsh penalties that could be handed out to parents who failed to ensure their children attend school. It seems that schools could also suffer a financial penalty for not ensuing all children followed the required curriculum. The names in the following report are is reported in the source report.

Frank Sperring fined for not sending his daughter to school when laundry classes were held. Frank Sperringof Langley Road was summoned under the Education Act in respect of a child Irene Jury who failed to attend school when laundry classes were held. Laundry being part of the ordinary curriculum – the school consequently lost some grant. Bench imposed £1 fine, and if not paid within a week 7 days imprisonment.[134]

Church & Cathedral

Memorial services were held for those who had fallen in the War. Large congregations assembled at both St. Mary’s Parish Church, Chatham, and at St. Peter’s Church, Rochester, on Good Friday evening, on the occasion of memorial services for those who have fallen in the war.  At St. Peter’s “two of the numbers played were Sullivan’s sublime work ‘In Memoriam’ and Schubert’s beautiful ‘unfinished symphony’.” In addition, Miss Agnew sang “I know my redeemer liveth’ and Miss Ella Newcomb ‘There is a Green Hill’ and ‘Ave Maria’.[135]

Vicar says “let’s beat the Kaiser before beating the bounds!A parishioner of St. Nicholas, Rochester suggested at a Vestry Meeting that those present should beat the bounds of the parish. Rev. A. Briggs, Vicar, observed “I think we must beat the Kaiser  first.” [136]

Life Goes On

He married his chum’s pretty sisterRifleman Alfred Law met Pte. Edward Hardy whilst undergoing treatment in St. Bartholomew’s for frostbite. On their discharge and as Law had no relatives in England, his chum invited him to visit his home in Oldham where Law fell in love with his chum’s pretty sister.[137]

May 1915

Military and War Reports

A Zeppelin was spotted passing over Rochester. The risk of air raids remains omnipresence with a Zeppelin spotted passing over Rochester heading for the Thames.[138]

It would appear that the British prisoners of war were being treated harshly. Parliament debated the matter on 20 April and resolved to request “Her Majesty’s Government should use all available means in their power to ensure better treatment in the future”.

British PoWs are being badly treated. Lord Harris, Vice Lieutenant of Kent, has arranged with Mr. J. Spoor, of Rede Court, to establish a fund to assist the men of the Buffs and West Kent Regiments, and men from Kent who are members of other regiments, who are being held as prisoners of war “We need not, perhaps, say more of the Men of Kent and Kentish Men than that they are in distress in mind and body, half starved, and badly treated, and consequently in urgent need of our well-deserved help”.[139]

The Association of Men of Kent & Kentish Men start a fund for PoWs. The fund will be administered as an auxiliary to that established by Lord Harris. Particulars can be obtained from, and cheques sent to the secretary, 21, High Street, Rochester.[140] [Currently Pizza Express.]

In the absence of uniforms brassards are to be issued to Rochester’s VTC. The Mayor of Rochester presented the members of the Volunteer Training Corps with their War Office Brassards, i.e., red armlet bands with “G.R.” on them.[141]

Rifle ranges are to be constructed for the Rochester VTC. An indoor and outdoor range is to be constructed in the old quarry works at Frindsbury for use by the Rochester Volunteer Training Corp.[142]

Members of the Rochester VTC undertake a two-day training exercise. Members of the Rochester Volunteer Training Corps had two days training at Cobham on Sunday and Monday. They marched out of the City Sunday morning accompanied by their bugle band. En-route they undertook an exercise to encounter an enemy approaching from Gravesend. They attended church in Cobham and after their exercises they were inspected by the Earl Darnley.[143]

The following report makes no mention of Mr. F. J. Goodwin’s occupation but if it was farming the absence of nine sons would have had severe consequences for his business.

Mr. F. J. Goodwin, of Luddesdown, near Rochester, has nine sons serving in the services.[144]

The Lusitania Cunard, a cruise ship, was torpedoed on 7 May 1915 off the coast of Ireland, by a German U-boat. Whether it was a legitimate target is still questioned as it was a civilian ship carrying armaments. 1,198 were killed, 761 survived. 120 Americans were lost. The sinking of the Lusitania brought about a change in the attitude in the American people towards the Germany. As will be seen ‘next month’ this attack fuelled further anti-German feelings in the Towns.

Two Medway people that were on the Lusitania were saved. Mr. Norman Ratcliff, of Danbury, First Avenue, Gillingham, and Mrs. Farrier, daughter of Mrs. Bingham of Fort Clarence House, Rochester, were amongst those saved from the Lusitania disaster. Mrs. Farrier’s husband and their ten-month-old baby were unfortunately lost.[145]

Reports from the Front

Although the following story is not about a Rochester man – he was treated at Rochester and illustrates the severity of the wounds that many men sustained.

Cpl. S Harvey has safely arrived at St. Bartholomew’s for treatment. “We are pleased to let Mrs. Harvey from Bracknell know that her husband, Cpl. S Harvey has safely arrived at St. Bartholomew’s, Rochester, and is progressing satisfactory from an injury to his head caused by shrapnel. It is hoped that with “careful nursing and quiet, he will regain full use of his eyesight. He told his wife that he does not recall the event although he has some recollection of being on a boat. He was first taken to Harley Street for treatment to a severe wound to the back of his head.[146]

Home News

On 27 May the Princess Irene, a newly converted passenger liner, exploded and disintegrated. The ship was moored in Saltpan Reach, on the Medway between Port Victoria and Sheerness. At the time of the explosion it was being loaded with mines in preparation for deployment on a minelaying mission. The explosion was larger than that which had destroyed HMS Bulwark. A total of 352 people were killed including 273 officers and men, and 76 dockyard workers who were on the ship. Wreckage and body parts was flung up to 20 miles. Victims, whose bodies were recovered, were interned in Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham. The cause of the explosion was put down to the mines being rapidly assembled by untrained personnel.

Tremendous explosion of the Princess Irene. Six months and one day since the explosion of HMS Bulwark another ship exploded in the Medway. The Princess Irene had been taken over by the Navy as an auxiliary ship. The explosion that was described as being greater than that of the Bulwark totally destroyed the Princess Irene and killed all but one of her crew and dockyard workers that were on board. The official notice stated that HM auxiliary ship Princess Irene was accidentally blown up in Sheerness Harbour. The only know survivor was Stoker David Wills who was picked from the water with severe burns. An eyewitness stated that the explosion was so large debris was thrown a mile into the air, in 100,000 fragments. He stated that he could distinctly make out the form of men amidst the flying wreckage. The ship did not go down – it was fragmented. Amongst the floating wreckage could be seen bits of human bodies. The fatalities were not restricted to those on the ship. Ida Garden (9) was found dead in the garden near Port Victoria on the Isle of Grain. She had severe injuries to her face and had evidently been struck by a piece of iron found on the ground nearby. She was on holiday with a family named Doust. George Benchley (47) in the employ of John Dickens of Home Farm, was found collapsed and died from the shock of the explosion. In the higher parts of Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester the inhabitants were greatly alarmed and many of them obtained a clear view of the pillar of smoke which ascended from the doomed vessel. And not a few declared that they saw dark substances mingled with the smoke.[147]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

The loss of the Country’s pig herd could have dire consequences for the supply of meat.

To control the spread of ‘Swine Fever’ a ban is imposed on the movement of pigs. Swine Fever Order made – until further notice swine must not be moved within or out of the City of Rochester and surrounding parishes.[148]

The Swine Fever Order reduces the number of pigs brought to Rochester market. Restrictions under the new Swine Fever Order has had a disastrous effect upon the trade for pigs at Tuesday’s Rochester market. Numbers were down and those at the market went for a low price of 6d a stone.[149] [1 stone = 14lbs.]

Roll of Honour

Second Lieut. Lancelot Aveling has died of his wounds. Lieut. Lancelot N. Aveling of the Connaught Rangers, died of his wounds received near Ypres last week; he was the son of Mr. Neville Aveling and the grandson of Mr.Stephen Aveling of Restoration House. He was aged 23. He had previously been wounded in September and November last, and in the latter month was mentioned in dispatches.[150]

Mr. Cecil Fearnley, an extremely popular Cathedral lay clerk, has been killed in action during heavy fighting last week. Cecil Fearnley was educated at the Mathematical School and was an accomplished violinist who played with the Rochester Conservative Orchestral Society.[151]

Health & Hospitals

The overcrowded conditions in which people lived – worsened by soldiers being billeted with families – meant that epidemics were almost inevitable. To try a limit the spread of spotted fever / cerebrospinal-spinal fever, known today as meningitis, sufferers and their contacts were placed in quarantine. This had serious implications for a family’s income if the breadwinner was unable to work. Compensation was therefore available from the War Office if the disease was brought into the household by a billeted solider.

Compensation is payable to households if a billeted solider develops Spotted Fever. The Health Committee had two claims before them for the ‘loss of time’ from the families having to be placed in isolation as a consequence of soldiers being billeted with them having cerebrospinal-spinal fever.[152]

The following conditions have largely been eradicated today or there are now effective treatments. However 100 years ago these conditions could prove fatal. Interestingly the authors of the annual report on St. Williams hospital were aware of the importance of evidence based practice for reducing the duration of a hospital stay. The Wisdom Hospice in St. Williams Way, Rochester, is on the site of St. Williams hospital. The prevalence of meningitis appears to be justifying the opening of a specialist hospital.

The admission rate to St. William’s Hospital for infectious diseases is about average. The hospital had 309 admissions in past year of people with an infectious disease. The average over the past 10 years being 309. The hospital received patients with scarlet fever, typhoid fever and diphtheria. Concern was raised about the failure to administer anti-diphtheria serum correctly. Mostly it’s given orally and this renders it useless. This results in more deaths, increased suffering and longer hospital stays. The proposal to open a meningitis hospital in Wigmore raised concerns about whether there will be sufficient nurses but a number of Senior Probationers have volunteered.[153]

Gifts from Rochester people for soldiers in St. Bartholomew’s were acknowledged. Miss Base, St. Margaret’s School, bed socks; Miss Williams, papers; Mrs. Mason, lilac; Miss Davis, tea & stationary; Mrs. Merrony, oranges. The matron most gratefully acknowledged these gifts and said she would be glad to receive further gifts of cake, tea, fruit and jam.[154] 

The Council sold land for the erection of a slaughterhouse for Rochester. Rochester Town Council sold surplus land on the corner of Corporation Street and Blue Boar Lane to Messrs. E. J. Payne and Co., for the erection of a slaughter house.[155]

The ‘reticence’ demonstrated by Cllr. Dale in the following report may be based on a fairly widely held view that many young men were avoiding military service by obtaining work in munition factories.

Rochester pledged to give employment preference to those who served. The Estates Committee of the Council considered a letter from the editor of the Daily Telegraph asking for a commitment to give preference to filling positions after the war with those who served their country under arms or in making munitions. It was resolved to give the pledge. Cllr. Dale was unhappy about this decision and wanted it reversed as he believed these people were not necessarily patriotic. A heated debate followed. His amendment was not accepted.[156]

Community Support

Appeal made for more donations for Kentish Prisoners of War. A further call for assistance was made to readers of the Kent Messenger for gifts for Kentish Prisoners of War who are in need of assistance to help them cope with the privations and discomfort of their circumstances. Gifts of almost anything that will not perish in transit is required and may be send to the Central Depot, 28 High Street, Maidstone. Relatives who have been sending parcels at their own expense may also use the depot to send parcels to their relatives.[157] To help relatives discover if a man is being held as a PoW a list of Kentish Prisoner of Wars is published.[158] This list is supposed to be incomplete so if anyone has a list of prisoners please forward it AT ONCE to Mr. J. L. Spoor, Rede Court, Rochester.[159] The South Eastern Gazette is confident that this formidable task can be completed if every mayor, council and parish chairman responds to Lord Harris’s appeal to cooperate with Mr. Spoor in compiling the list.[160]

The Rochester Volunteer Training Corps are getting better equipped and trained – but it was largely down to local effort.

Fundraising concert to be held to provide equipment for Rochester’s VTC. A concert is to be held on June 6 at the Empire Theatre, Chatham, to raise funds to purchase equipment for the Volunteer Training Corps.[161]

School / Education News

Rochester Education Committee issued air raid advice for head teachers. The Rochester Education Committee decided on Thursday to instruct all head teachers to at once dismiss the children from school in case of an enemy air raid.[162]

Court Cases

The war brought problems to the area but also provided Courts with new options – such as threatening to sentence a man unless he is deployed to the Front. This practice was not well thought of as in some cases the crime was of such a nature that to send the offender to the Front could be seen as dishonouring those who had volunteered to serve their Country. In the following report it is unclear as to the order of events but it would seem that the solider was before the Court for being absent without leave. The Court looks to have been mindful not to convict the man so long as he was sent to the Front in the next draft. However, it was then discovered he was wanted by Rochester police.

Percy Norman in court for being absent without leave and burglary. Percy Norman, described as an artist, was before the Gravesend Court charged with being absent without leave from the Royal West Kent regiment. The Recorder bound him over on the understanding that he would return to his regiment and that he is sent to the Front in the next draft. However, on learning the prisoner was wanted by the Rochester Police he was handed over to them.He then appeared before Rochester Police Court charged with breaking and entering Prebendal House, Precincts, the home of Canon Wood. After the first break in he went to the Bull before returning to the house where he was spotted by a servant. He was identified by his regimental cane that he dropped in the garden. The prisoner who had been helpful in trying to assist in the recovery of the stolen items, was remanded for a week.[163],[164]

Percy Norman Jones, Private, [deserter] pleaded guilty to breaking into the home of Rev. Canon Joseph Wood at Rochester and stealing various items. He had been previously found guilty of another offence in Gravesend but was let off as he said he desired to go to the Front Line. Arrangements were made for him to leave within a week but he committed further offences. The magistrates felt that the prisoner was totally unsuited to serve alongside soldiers who had volunteered to serve their country therefore sentenced him to three years imprisonment.[165]

A Rochester man, known as Spence, is being sought for desertion and theft. Bristol Police are looking out for young solider known as Spence who is said to be a native of Rochester who is thought to have stolen a cashbox containing £250. He is 6ft. in height and has a dragon and snake tattooed on his arm.[166]

The young lady in the following story doesn’t seem to have been to upset about being sacked – just about not receiving pay in lieu of notice. The report though does give an indication for why workers’ rights need to be protected.

Girl sacked for smiling gets her job back, but could have been sacked for lateness. Elsie Townsend of 54 Catherine Street, was turned away [dismissed] from work at the Rochester Laundry Company because the manager claimed she laughed at him and was insolent. She took the matter to court claiming 10s in lieu of notice. In the course of the hearing it was found that she had stayed away from work for 11/2 hours the previous evening – which had implications for the contracts the firm had with the government. The judge said had she been dismissed for being absent he would not have found in the plaintiffs favour but as she was dismissed for smiling he found in her favour.[167]

Court allows Chief Constable to withdraw a case because the defendant may have found it difficult to attend Court!

Police withdrew their case when the defendant, Ann Lucas, fails to attend Court. Ann Lucas a widow of no-fixed-abode was to appear before the magistrates charged with being drunk and incapable in the high street. When she failed to attend court the chief constable withdrew the case saying she was old and “I suppose she’s unable to get here”.[168]

Orders passed under the Defence of the Realm Regulations appear to arrive at a fast and furious rate – perhaps explaining why the magistrates often showed compassion or leniency? Equally they may have been aware that a heavy fine could not be paid.

James Bush, lodging house keeper, fined for not keeping records of his lodgers. Before Rochester Police Court – James Bush of Bernard’s Farm, Stoke, the keeper of a lodging house, was fined for failing to require guests to furnish information to determine if they were aliens. The clerk advised the fine could be £100. The defendant’s wife said “oh dear, I don’t know where you would get that from.” The bench imposed a fine of 9s and gave a week to pay.[169]

Daisy Holande and Elizabeth Bennet fined for failing to obscure light. Before Rochester Police Court: Daisy Holande, wife of a bargeman from Lower Upnor fined 23s; Elizabeth Bennet of 11 Dickens Terrace, Wainscott, fined 20s.[170]

Women’s Experiences

In the following report a woman identifies a way more men could be released for the military. Rather than suggesting that women could take on responsibility for delivering bread she suggests home deliveries should stop.

Housewives could help the war effort by not having their bread delivered. A Chatham woman wrote to the editor saying that across the three towns there was a very large number of young men engaged in the delivery of bread, and there were many women desiring to do their bit. Unless there were exceptional circumstances she suggested that women could do their bit by collecting their own bread. She recognised that this would leave bakers with redundant horses so she suggested they be sold to the military for a fair price.[171]

Women conductors are now working on the trams from Star Hill.The appearance of the fair sex on the cars aroused some interest but it soon wore off.” [172]

Church & Cathedral

An impressive funeral was held for the late Archdeacon Rowe who was brought from London on Thursday last week and lay in the Archdeaconry until time for his internment. Muffled peals are rung on the Cathedral bells, and the City flag on the castle keep floated at half-mast. Businesses in the High Street partially closed.[173] The Ven. John Titley Rowe, died on 29 April aged 54.[174]

Life Goes On

The following marriage was expedited as the groom expected deployment.

Marriage between Capt. W. Eric Bingham Gadd & Miss Elizabeth Haddon. A pretty war wedding was held at St. Peter’s when Miss Elizabeth Haddon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Haddon of Roebuck Road married Capt. W. Eric Bingham Gadd. They met whilst the groom was stationed in the district. The marriage was expedited as the groom expected deployment. The groom wore khaki. Mrs. Gadd wore the uniform of the Commandant of the V.A.D hospital at Rosherville, Gravesend. The bride was gowned in Ivory satin with a court train. As the couple left the church they passed under an archway of swords.[175]

Marriage between Walter Ernest Wyver and Ica Henrietta Wren. The pretty wedding between Walter Wyver of 27 Union Street, Rochester, and Ica Henrietta Wren, the youngest daughter of Mr. Thomas Wren of the Watts Almshouses, Maidstone Road, took place at the Rochester Baptist Church. The bride wore a dress of cream satin with lace tunic. She carried a beautiful shower bouquet of white flowers and was attended by four [named] bridesmaids. The bridesmaids wore dainty dresses of white embroidered silk and white silk hats. The reception was held at the home of the groom’s parents. Later that day the couple left for London.[176]

June 1915

Military and War Reports

Deaths occurred in zeppelin raids on Kent’s North-East coast. The Secretary of the Admiralty stated that a Zeppelin raid took place on the North-east coast of Kent. There were 15 deaths and 15 wounded. Some fires started.[177]

Early 1915 saw an intensification of zeppelin raids and necessitated improvements in home defence – with particular reference to fire-fighting and obscuring light that may assist zeppelin pilots to identify targets.

The fire service could not cope if there was an outbreak of numerous fires. Businesses and premises need to develop their own arrangements. Staff – male and female – should regularly practice drill and there should be ample buckets of water kept filled at all times.[178]

Urgent appeal made on behalf of some 600 Kentish Prisoners of War (letter to editors): “Sir, I have numerous letters from the various camps in Germany where there are some 600 Kentish men held as prisoners of war. A large number of these are wounded and in hospital, and others are recovering from wounds”.  They are in urgent need for bread and other foods, something to smoke, socks and underclothing. This set out the basis of an appeal for money and goods made by J. L. Spoor of Rede Court, Rochester.[179]

A search was instigated for debris from the Princess Irene explosion. Members of the Cadet Corp of the Mathematical School joined with other scouts looking for debris from the explosion of Princess Irene which blew up on the Medway the previous Thursday. The search that lasted 51/2 hours and covered ground between Rainham and Wigmore. Papers and a charred photo were found in the fields. Approximately a fortnight later a request was made in the press for assistance in identifying bodies from recovered laundry and clothing marks.[180]

Gravesend Volunteer Corps is to march to Rochester6th June. The company will parade in Dashwood Meadow at 4:30pm for a route march to Rochester. Tea will be arranged in Rochester for 1s 3d / head. The company will then parade on the Esplanade at 7:30pm and then march to the Empire Theatre for a concert at 8pm. Dress – dark suit, cloth caps and brassards.[181]  

Roll of Honour

The list of casualties is growing with a wide range of causes – torpedo, gas, killed at the front and missing.[182]

Frank Smith has been killed in action. Mr. Henry Smith, head of the firm of drapers in Chatham and Strood received a letter informing him that his youngest son Frank Smith, a private in the Civil Service Rifles, was killed in action. It was Private Smith who had written earlier to Mr. J. B. Fearnley of Rochester of the death of his son Cecil of the same Battalion. Only one of that section now remains.[183]  [See Roll of Honour – May 1915.]

Lieut. Meyrick Bingham Whistler Smith-Rewse was killed in actionhe was the grandson of the late General G. W. Powlett Bingham, CB, DL, of The Vines, Rochester, was killed in action on 22 May 1915.[184]

Cpl. S. G. Harvey died whilst undergoing another operation in a Rochester hospital. Despite recent reports that Corporal S. G. Harvey was doing well following a head wound, we regret to note that he died whist undergoing another operation at the Rochester Hospital [unspecified]. He was a post man in Bracknell in civil life, and was ever courteous and smart at his duties. He leaves a widow with six young children.[185]

Health & Hospitals

Roses were sold in Rochester to raise money for the hospitals. The collection raised £128; £20 more than last year. A similar activity was also held in Chatham and Gillingham. The money is to be divided between St. Bartholomew’s, Strood VAD and the local nursing association.[186]

Home News

The first anti-German riot occurred in Chatham following the sinking of the Lusitania businesses were raided and windows broken. The naval and military were called out. It appears that some drunken soldiers left the pub and took it into their mind that there were businesses run in the town by Germans; they were though run by patriotic British traders who happened to have foreign sounding names.[187]

The cruising of yachts and pleasure craft east of Rochester Bridge is prohibitedpublished in London Gazette [188]

Civic Business

The increase in the local population brought about by the war, and an increasing number of regulations that needed to be enforced, required the retention and expansion of the civilian police force.

No further Police retirements will be allowed unless on health grounds. The Rochester Watch Committee under the Police Emergency Superannuation Act, has suspended, for the duration of the war, the right of a police constable to retire on a pension without a medical certificate. It also instructed the Chief Constable not to grant transfers from or to other forces during this time.[189]

Due to a shortage of uniforms for special constables arm bands & headgear are to be worn. When a uniform cannot be supplied it was suggested that in addition to arm bands officers should be supplied with head gear which would make them visible and conspicuous. The Watch Committee resolved that caps would be supplied with a crown on it for all special constables.[190]

Reducing the availability of the river for civilian shipping had knock-on consequences – some of which affected other war time activities. The roads around Rochester suffered considerable ‘wear & tear’ as a consequence of the heavy transport used by the military and the local munition industries.

There is a shortage of materials to repair roads. The shortage of tar & stone to repair roads due to the scarcity of craft able to bring materials into Rochester.[191]

Community Support

Cathedral organist and two choristers joined a concert for soldiers. A concert was held in a large YMCA tent in the Chatham District. It was supported by Mr. Selby, organist from Rochester Cathedral who also brought two choristers with him whose songs brought great pleasure.[192]

Home Tragedies

The historic weather records of the Met Office show that between 4 & 10 June the temperature in south-eastern England was reached 88/89of (31oc). This could explain why people were swimming in the Medway – with, in two reported cases, tragic consequences.

A man declined to assist a drowning boy as he didn’t want to get his best suit wet. A nine year-old boy drowned in the Medway just off the cricket field. He was playing with two other boys who asked a man on the bank for help – but he declined saying he didn’t want to best suit wet.[193]

James Ambrose drowns at Safety Bay in the River Medway. James Ambrose (37) a government contractor was drowned whilst bathing near Rochester in a part of the river know as Safety Bay. He leaves a widow and five young children.[194]

School / Education News

These advertisements regularly appeared. This is no particular significance in reporting them at this time.

Schools recruiting new pupils. The Maths school was advertising itself as a large secondary school of a modern type which aims at providing sound practical education, and which is so well endowed that the average fee charged is half the cost per head. The school’s facilities include chemical and physical laboratories, art rooms and workshops. It has also just had a swimming bath added – and in the summer term swimming is taught at no extra charge. The fees for boys under 10 is £1 11s 8d. The fee for older boys is £2 13s 4d. There are cheap train and tram facilities. The Kings School is holding an examination for four scholarships of £20 for four years. Scholarships are first offered to the sons of the Clergy or of Officers in the Army or Navy. Rochester Grammar School for Girls has a kindergarten to which little boys are admitted. Boarders are received at Ashley House, Maidstone Road, Rochester. The University School, 5 & 6 New Road Rochester, is offering day and boarding places for boys and boarding for boys.[195]

Court Cases

Court sentences – at a time when many could not afford to pay fines there was no option other than serve a short prison sentence that could include hard labour. Hard labour involved a lot of tiring and often pointless physical work. The use of the crank and treadmill had been abandoned in 1902. As an aside, the treadmill used in prisons was designed by Sir William Cubitt who designed the cast-iron replacement for Rochester’s medieval bridge.

David Richards sentenced to a fine or hard labour for obstructing traffic. Richards was charged with being drunk & disorderly in Rochester High Street – obstructing trams and buses. Fined 20s and in default seven days hard labour.[196]

In the following report it is stated that this summons was the first for failing to obscure light. Based on a previous report in May 1915, this was not the case. John Ford was therefore lucky to have the case against him dismissed – or was he? Roebuck Road was a ‘good’ address – could it be at this time, that all were not equal before the law?

John Ford was NOT fined for failing to obscure light. Ford of 14 Roebuck Road was summoned under DoRA for failing to obscure a light in his house at 10:50pm on 8 June. Evidence was given that that he used indecent language to the constable until he was called into the street to see the light shining through an upstairs venetian blind. The defendant admitted he use the word d—— [dam?] for which he was sorry. The Mayor stated as this was the first of this case to be brought before either court the Bench decided not to convict – but pointed out that the safety of the neighbourhood depended on darkness so endorsed the actions of the constable.[197]

The detail associated with the following case suggests an offence would not have been committed had the child been sent to the pub with a bottle to purchase beer. As it was the purchased beer was sold in an open jug.

Landlord and mother in Court for allowing beer to be sold to a child under the age of 14. George Holmes the landlord of the Three Gardeners in North street, Strood, was summoned for selling a pint of porter in a jug to Ann Shutter who was under the age of 14. Holmes said he did not like to ask the age of girls sent to purchase beer because of the diminutive stature of some young women. He did though ask Ann her age and she said she was 14. Ann was seen leaving the pub with the beer and was stopped by PC Cox. When asked her age she said she was 12. The police officer took the girl home and her mother admitted that she knew her daughter was too young to buy beer unless it was bottled and sealed. The case against the landlord was dismissed as there had been no other complaints against him. Anne Shutter, 26 Edward Street, was summoned for sending her daughter to buy beer. She was found guilty of sending a child to purchase the beer and was fined 5s but given a fortnight to pay.[198]

Licensing Sessions were held once a year to determine whether premises could continue to be licenced to sell liquor. In reaching a decision magistrates would consider all the premises in a locality and the trade that was undertaken. Compensation could be sought if a licence was not renewed. The Licensing (Consolidation Act) 1910, and its predecessor the 1904 Act, were based on the view of the Temperance Movement that there were too many public houses compared with the need of the public.

Compensation sought for the closure of pubsDruids Arms, Mordon Street, (Beerhouse, Henry John Broomfield); Walnut Tree, Bortsal Street, (Publican Frederick James Day); Good Intent, Borstal Street (Beerhouse, Henry Alfred Higgins), under the Licensing (Consolidation Act) 1910.[199]

Lack of discipline in the munition works that were essential to the war effort, carried severe penalties. Section 4 of the Employers and workmen’s Act 1875 was used my employers to prosecute a worker who was absent from work and to seek damages. This Act though made the absence a ‘civil offence’ whereas previous to the Act the absence was criminal.

Three men were prosecuted for being absent from work of national importance. Mr. F. C. Boucher, solicitors, applied to Rochester City Police Court for summons, [under the Employers and workmen’s Act 1875] against three men for absenting themselves from work at the Medway Steel Works – some for a week. Mr. Boucher explained that their absence meant that government contracts had been delayed.[200]

It is unclear if the following two reports relate to the men above who were summoned by Mr. Boucher.

Several men were prosecuted for delaying government work because of drink. The men, employed at the Medway Steel Works, Rochester, caused considerable delay to government work by drinking for several days. One named Edward Cromarty was on Saturday ordered by magistrates to pay £5 6s 6d.[201]

Frederick Buley, a young slacker, fined for neglecting war work. Buley (18) was ordered by Rochester Magistrates to pay £5 compensation and 6s 6d costs for having absenting himself from work at the Medway Steel Works where admiralty and War Office work was being undertaken. Failure to pay the fine could result in one months’ imprisonment.[202] [See ‘Court Cases’, August 1915.]

Women’s Experiences

A pension is to be paid to the dependents of men killed in the Princess Irene explosion. The Lords of the Admiralty have decided that a pension should be paid, under the War Compensation Scheme, to the dependents of the dockyard workers killed in the explosion. The pension will be – one third of the pay for widows, with a minimum of £26/annum, and 1/24th with a minimum of £6 10s for each child, making the maximum payment with widows’ pension to one-half pay.[203]

Lobbying by the two main organisations seeking the vote for women ceased at the commencement of the war and both got behind supporting the war effort. Mrs. Henry Fawcett (Millicent Garrett Fawcett 1847-1929) set up the National Union of Women’s Suffrage. Members of this group were called suffragists. Frustrated by the slowness of progress the Pankhursts set up the Women’s Social and Political Union – the campaigning of this organisation tended to be more militant. There is now a statue of Dame Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, standing alongside Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.[204]

Mrs. Henry Fawcett gave a talk on “What Women can do during the war”. The Countess of Darnley presided at an assembly of women at the Victoria Hall, Rochester, on Friday when a lecture was given by Mrs. Henry Fawcett on “What Women can do during the war”. A collection raised £4 for Kentish Prisoners of War.[205]

Another report, presumably of the same meeting, reported that Mrs. Fawcett’s talk was titled “Thank God, I am a Woman”.

Mrs. Henry Fawcett gave a talk on “Thank God, I am a Woman”. An enthusiastic meeting was held at the Victoria Hall Rochester of the Rochester Branch of the National Union of Woman’s Suffrage Societies. Speeches were given by Lady Darnley and Mrs. Henry Fawcett (president of the society). “In welcoming the address Lady Darnley said that the meeting might almost be called a unique one in Rochester, insomuch as there were already women laden with work yet had come to hear how they might shoulder still greater burdens.”[206]

In February 1915 it was reported that the increase in the number of prosecutions for drunkenness could be attributed to more women being arrested for this offence; the following report suggests this was no longer a problem.

Drunkenness by women has been checked. The Rev. Tonks in his address to the Rochester Diocesan Conference on the Citizen’s Temperance Movement said he believed the intemperance prevalent among women last autumn had been checked”.[207]

Church & Cathedral

The State is responsible for controlling alcohol – the Church for self-sacrifice. The Rev. Tonks gave an address to the Rochester Diocesan Conference on the Citizen’s Temperance Movement. He admitted that only a small minority of the men in our army could be said to be intemperate, but said that these few often retard the efficiency of the regiment. Rev. Tonks pointed out that although control of the supply of intoxicating liquor was for the State, self-sacrifice was for the Church.[208]

Church collections to go to St. Bartholomew’s hospital. Sunday gone was observed as Hospital Sunday across Rochester and Chatham where all offertories went to St. Bartholomew’s.[209]

The tone in many news reports suggests criticism of men who had not enlisted – and worse, many did not appear to be getting behind the war effort. This was articulated by the Bishop of Rochester.

The Bishop of Rochester sees Slackers as Renegades. Speaking at Penge the Bishop made a stirring call to national service. He felt that the preservation of civilisation could not just be left to our sailors and soldiers – the burden must fall to all.[210]

Life Goes On

The largest muster of Kentish Freemasons ever known met in Rochester. For the first time since 1881, the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Kent Freemasons was held at the Mathematical School in the High Street. Mr. F. Cornwallis, the Provincial Grand Master presided at the meeting which was held under the banner of Gundulph Lodge, No. 1,050, Rochester. The banquet was held in the Corn Exchange. The first Masonic Lodge in Rochester, of which there is any record, was formed on 17 March 1763. It was known by the number 294. The first meeting was held at the Crown, a noted hostelry dating back to the 16th Century and where Queen Mary stayed in 1573.[211]

The Theatre Royal is running the ‘Swiss Maid’ – a musical comedy.[212]

Mammoth remains have been found at Upnor. Dr Andrews of the British Museum and his team is busy excavating from the Upnor Hills the completest set of mammoth remains unearthed in England. The remains were discovered by accident. The professor is still to determine whether the bones belong to a mammoth elepas antiquus. The animal was 13ft in height and had tusks measuring 9ft in length.[213] [Recent enquiries made of the Natural History Museum in London found the bones were of a small elephant.]

July 1915

Military and War Reports

Dean of Rochester accuse young men of not getting behind the war effort. Speaking at Lower Halstow, the Dean of Rochester said he was not afraid of what the women of this country would do, but was afraid that young unmarried men were not showing the spirit which young Englishmen ought to show during this war.[214]

Reports from the Front

Mission of Seamen receive a talk on the siege and relief of Antwerp. A meeting was held of the local branch of the Mission of Seamen at the Guildhall during which an actual account of the siege and relief of Antwerp was given.[215] [The German attack on the Belgian fortifications of Antwerp began with heavy and super-heavy artillery on 28 September 1914. The Belgian garrison had no hope of victory without relief and despite the arrival of the Royal Naval Division beginning on 3 October. On October 7, 1914, Belgian and British troops struggled to resist the advancing German troops.]

Roll of Honour

The following report gives an indication of the courage shown and risks taken by young officers who led their men from their trench. These young men would have been the first to be spotted and targeted by snipers as they led their men from the trench.

The death rate for Old Roffensians in the war is 7%. The King’s School Commemoration Day was shorter on festivities compared with previous years due to the war. The headmaster reported that 115 Old Roffensians had served since the war began; eight had been killed in action or died of their wounds. Two had received the DSO, one the Military Cross and six had been mentioned in dispatches.[216]

2nd Lieut. Frederick Hammonds was killed in action near Ypres. Lieut. Hammonds was the only son of the vicar of Allhallows. He was an actor of some promise.[217]

Health & Hospitals

St. Bartholomew’s is in urgent need for additional support – £8,000 needed for 1915.[218]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

The provision of adulterated milk to a hospital is doubly troubling as many of the solider patients were probably in need of maximum nutrition to aid the healing of their wounds.

Alfred Reeves was convicted for a third time for selling adulterated milk. Rochester Magistrates fined Reeves, milk vendor of 314 Luton Road, £15 for selling milk which contained 25.9% added water. It was stated that Reeves had supplied six quarts daily to the Fort Pitt military hospital. It was found this was his third conviction. The magistrates reported that they were going to do all that was within their power to prevent the adulteration of milk.[219]

Another DoRA regulation was passed that had an impact on the local economy – and later needed to be relaxed to help address the shortage of food which became severe in early 1917.

The prohibition of fishing in the Medway has implications for incomes and the food supply. Probably for the first time in history the Rochester Admiralty Court did not meet on a vessel on the river – instead it met in the Guildhall. Of concern was the order by the Board of Agriculture and Fishery that prohibited fishing on the Medway which would have significant implications for the income of Medway fishermen. An approach is to made to the authorities to see if there could be some exemptions.[220] In another report it was stated that the Board of Agriculture & Fisheries have deemed that no fishing from boats will be conducted within 100 yards of the docks.[221]

The following decision was probably taken to curtail the spread of disease that could have a serious impact on the availability of food. Sheep used to be driven and dipped through a trough / dip-bath of water to which an insecticide and fungicide had been added, to kill external parasites.

Sheep must be dipped before being brought to market. Sheep that have not been dipped cannot be offered for sale in the Cattle Market situate on the common, St Nicholas, between15 July and 31 August.[222]

Civic Business

The following gives an indication of the living conditions of the working classes from which men were drawn to serve at the Front. It partly explains the passing of the 1919 Housing Act that promised government subsidies to help finance the construction of 500,000 houses within three years.

Urgent sanitary work needs to be undertaken in Morden Street and Queen Street.[223]

The contract for the removal of night soil was extended for another year. The Council resolved that the current contractor responsible for the removal of night soil be asked to continue for another year on the same terms.[224]

It has been decided that the new drainage scheme should follow Corporation Street. Rochester Town Council have decided that the new drainage scheme should follow the route of Corporation Street although it will cost £1,200 more than had it gone along the High Street. In this way trams will be able to continue into Rochester.[225]

The coastal towns were most vulnerable to air attacks. Aside from the loss of life, these towns suffered considerable damage to property. To assist these towns the government set up an insurance scheme.

Rochester council is considering taking out air-raid insurance. The Council is to consider the desirability of insuring corporation property under the government’s aircraft and bombardment scheme.[226]

The following decision may have been taken to save money but also to preserve grain for bread making. The postcard opposite was posted in 1930. An old picture or the peacocks made a return?

Castle garden peacocks are to be disposed of and their house pulled down.[227]

Reading rooms were developed from the mid 18th century, mainly by the church and local landowners. Their establishment reflected the middle/upper class’s view of the poor who they believe would be improved by education and by reading, and spending less time in the pub. The following decision was probably taken on account of the very large number of soldiers billeted in the area who may have had nowhere to spend their evenings than in a pub.

Opening times of the library and reading room are to be extended. Rochester Council agreed to extend the opening hours of the Free Library and Reading Room.[228]

Council workman are to forego their annual outing – but still want a day off. The City Surveyor reported that the Workmen will not be taking an outing this year but would like to take a day’s holiday. One day’s paid holiday on 28 July was agreed.[229]

Court Cases

Cpl. Rose-Inness, Royal Engineers, was find 5s for causing an obstruction in the High Street Rose-Inness left his car parked outside the Guildhall for 20 minutes.[230]

The Army will ensure a solider repays money stolen from his girlfriend’s mother. Albert James Daltonappeared in court charged with stealing a watch belonging to Rosalie Leany of Princes Street, Rochester, whose daughter he was courting. An Officer appearing in Court with Dalton undertook to ensure the prisoner refund the money to Mrs. Leany and to the man whose watch he took.[231]

Rochester Seamen’s Institute opened a new building in 1908, on corner of High Street and Furrells Road – 209/213 High Street. Until recently (2017) it was the showroom for a Peugeot dealership.

The Seamen’s Institute was fined for failing to obscure light. Too much light from Rochester Seamen’s Institute led to Mr. Samuel Osbourne of 33 Roebuck Road, and Mr. George James Smith, the manager, being summoned for contravening the order as to lighting under the DoRA. The magistrates pointed out that darkness in the street was in everyone’s interest. Although the maximum fine was £100 they were fined £1 for each offence.[232]

Women’s Experiences

50 wounded soldiers join summer meeting of the Old Girls of Rochester Grammar school. The wounded soldiers from St. Bartholomew’s, Fort Pitt and local VADs, were invited to join the summer meeting of the old girls Association of Rochester Grammar School. The Association decided to adopt three Kentish Prisoners and to send them fortnightly parcels for as long as necessary.[233]

The Women’s Unionist Association is making garments for orphans. The executive committee of the Rochester & Strood Women’s Unionist Association met on Monday evening. In October working parties were set up “for the purpose of making garments for little children who had lost their fathers in the war.” To date 250 garments had been made. Miss Dorothy Willis was presented with a silver muffler and toast rack as a wedding present from members of the committee.[234]

There is an urgent need for a maternity centre in Rochester. Mrs. Johnson secretary of the Women’s Cooperative Guild and Mrs. Browning secretary of Women’s Liberal Association, wrote to the Council asking that a maternity centre be provided without delay. The Health Committee resolved that they do not see their way at present to establish a maternity centre. It was particularly noted that in the present circumstances they would not be able to recruit a doctor to run the centre.[235]

There was a growing concern for the welfare of young women coming into the area to work in the war industries. Hostels and refuges were therefore created for women across Medway. Perhaps the talk given by the Bishop of Rochester [236] (see ‘Military & War Reports’ above) was making more of a comment on the morality of young unmarried men than their reluctance to enlist?

The ‘Chatham House of Refuge’ held a service at the Cathedral – the refuge is also known as the Girls’ House.[237]

Church & Cathedral

No additional Rochester reports discovered.

Life Goes On

Maths School advertised for pupils. Sir Joseph William’s Mathematical School – Large and well equipped secondary school of a modern type. Thorough preparation for Universities, Civil Service and professions. Fees £1-11s-8d to £2-13s-4d / term.[238]

King’s School is recruiting staff.  Required, good cook (£25), kitchenmaid (£10-£12), parlourmaid, £16-£18, under house parlourmaid (£12 – £14), Housemaid (£14 – £16) under Housemaid (£10-£12). Apply Mrs. Parker, King’s School House, Rochester.[239]

In 1918, 77% of households in England and Wales were rented.[240]

Annual meeting of the Rochester Building Society was held at the offices of Messrs Prall’s. The annual meeting of the Rochester and General Benefit Building Society was held at Messrs Prall’s offices in the High Street. Profits amounted to £90 11s 6p and added to that brought forward left an available sum of £879 3s 10d.[241]

August 1915

Military and War Reports

Our perception of the WW1 is greatly affected by the images from the Front Line. But back from the Front Lines the civilian populations needed to get on with life the best they could. The following report needs some questioning. Presumably the proposal was to provide equipment to farmers in occupied countries. Could this have been done without the ‘occupiers’ acquiescence or perhaps via a deal brokered by America? And surely, with the perilous food shortages in Germany, isn’t most likely that any harvest would have gone first to the feeding the occupying forces and the German population?

Aid is to be sent to help relieve Belgium and Serbian farmers. Mr. T. Aveling who represents West Kent on the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society addressed a meeting of the Kent National Union and Royal Society at the Bull, Maidstone, on a scheme to relieve the great distress among the farmers of Belgium and later those of Serbia. The issue was that their corn was ripening but with only women labour how was it to be harvested? Twenty-four binders have been sent to Belgium, and £3,500 cash to Serbia. Through these means the society hoped to assist the farmers of the Allies. The scheme now needed the support of more farmers. After discussion, it was agreed to inaugurate a County fund.[242]

A lack of shells for the artillery was a major problem that had been developing since the declaration of war but came to a head in May 1915 when the failure of the Battle of Aubers Ridge was put down, by the Times war correspondent, to the lack of shells. In July 1915 the Munitions of War Act was passed. It was designed to maximize munitions output and brought private companies supplying the armed forces under the tight control of a newly created Ministry of Munitions under Lloyd George.

Sites in Kent are being sought for the manufacture of munitions. Mr. Thomas Aveling of Messrs. Aveling & Porter, has been appointed to the Employers Branch of the Kent Munitions Committee. Lieut. Knowles (RN) is currently undertaking a tour of factories in Kent in a search to identifying suitable plant for the manufacture of munitions.[243]

The rifle range for the Volunteer Training Corp has been opened. Mayor Col. H. D’Arch Breton of Rochester, fired the first shot at a new rifle range provided by the Town Council for the Volunteer Training Corp at the quarry in Frindsbury.[244]

Reports from the Front

Lieut. William Edmondson – injured whilst fighting alongside two fellow school mates. Edmondson (28) of the 8th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, a Rochester Solicitor, was injured at the Dardanelles.[245]

Roll of Honour

George Kill has been reported as being killed by shrapnel. George Kill (21) was a well-known footballer in Rochester and winner of a number of swimming competitions.[246] [Angela Watson, George Kill’s great niece provided additional information. George Frederick Kill was killed in action on the 1 June 1915. He was one of five brothers from an Army family all of whom were serving soldiers in the First World War; their father, Samuel James Kill re-enlisted into the Royal West Kent Regiment and was based in Maidstone. George’s four brothers returned safely home – his youngest brother, Albert Jubilee, enlisted on the day that George was killed.]

Health & Hospitals

A Scotsman who won the VC was cared for in Fort Pitt.  Lance Corporal William Angus who was awarded the VC for carrying a wounded officer out of danger from within a few yards of a German trench, was cared for at Fort Pitt hospital. He has lost sight in his left eye and received 30 other wounds but has made a rapid recovery under the care of a [pictured, but unnamed] nursing sister at the hospital.[247]

Tenders invited to provide furniture for additional administrative areas at St. William’s. The Rochester and Chatham Joint Hospital Board are seeking sealed tenders from Tradesmen carrying out business in the Urban Sanitary District of Rochester and Chatham. Details can be obtained from the Board at 44 High Street Chatham. The Board does not bind itself to accepting the lowest or any tender.[248]

Home News

Several thousand marched through Rochester as part of a local recruitment campaign. Several thousand recruits marched through the main thoroughfares of Chatham and Rochester as part of a local recruiting campaign. Each battalion was headed by a band. The troops had previously been inspected by General Mullaby, the Commandant at Chatham.[249]

Wounded soldiers were entertained at the Conservative’s bowling club. Wounded soldiers from the Strood VAD were entertained by members of the Rochester and Strood Conservative Bowling Club. After a few games, tea and refreshments were enjoyed by all.[250]

Ploughing match abandoned due to the lateness of the harvest and the scarcity of men and horses to take part in the ploughing competition. The Gravesend and Rochester Agricultural Association decided at its general meeting at the Bull Hotel Rochester not to hold the ploughing match and horse, sheep and root show this year.[251]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

An epidemic within farm animals would have posed a serious threat to our food-security.

Two men fined under the Swine Fever Order for bringing unlicensed pigs to market – they were fined 20s each.[252]

Home Tragedies

Law relating to suicide and attempted suicide. Up until 1961 those who failed in an attempt to kill themselves (referred to as self-murder) could be prosecuted, but juries and magistrates for a long time before, preferred to return verdicts of ‘insanity’ or ‘temporary insanity’, to avoid the criminal and religious consequences for someone attempting or succeeding in taking their own life.

Woman committed for trial for attempting suicide at Rochester Esplanade Pier. Mary Phelan (41) a married woman of Harrison Square, Chatham, was committed for trial on a charge of throwing herself in the river Medway. The woman screamed on entering the water and when rescued by a boatman pleaded “I wish you had let me go.” The woman made a previous attempt from Sun Pier, Chatham, some years ago, and on that occasion she was rescued by a constable of the Rochester City Police.[253]

Community Support

Kentish Flag day raises £162 in Rochester.[254]

Women seem to have taken on the role of leading the Scouts.

Miss Storrs is about to give up the position of scoutmaster to enter hospital. Miss Storrs is daughter of the Dean of Rochester and is about to give up the position of scoutmaster of a local troop of Boy Scouts and enter hospital.[255]

School / Education News

Schoolboys help with the harvest. Senior boys of Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School and of the Rochester Technical School are devoting their holidays to assisting local farmers in the gathering of the harvest.[256]

Court Cases

Failure to present for work or in a fit state to work, could lead to prosecution and their employer claiming compensation. Presumably the young man in the following reports failed to pay the fine and was consequently imprisoned.

Frederick Buley imprisoned for being absent from workFrederick Buley (18) described as “a Slacker” from North Street Strood, was ordered to pay £5 and 6s 6d costs for being absent from Medway Steel Works where military and War Office work was in hand. government work was delayed through his absence.[257] He was subsequently sentenced to one months’ imprisonment for repeatedly absenting himself from work as a steel fettler and neglecting to pay compensation as ordered by the magistrate.[258] [See previous report, Court Cases, June 1915.]

The following report of a child neglect case provides information on the type of payments a wife of a man at the Front could have received – a payment from her husband’s employer was in addition to the separation allowance.

Ester Grace Watson’s disgraceful neglect of her children. Ester Grace Watson of Bramble Tree Cottages, Borstal, was brought before the City magistrates charged with neglecting her five children aged between 3 and 10. Her husband was serving on the Front and was in receipt of 8s / week from the Corporation – for which her husband had worked – and 27s / week separation allowance from the War Office. The family had been under the supervision of the School Attendance Authorities and the NSPCC. The defendant pleaded for another chance but the Mayor told her that she had had her chance during which she had disgracefully neglected her children.[259]

The Temperance Movement was fairly powerful in the years leading up to the war and even more so during the war. The Licensing (Consolidation) Act, 1910, determined the opening times for public houses. These were further complicated/restricted by military regulations passed under the provisions of DoRA.

Joseph Giles, publican, received a heavy fine for selling liquor from a private residence. Giles, of the Ordnance Arms, High Street, Rochester [now the Britannia, 376 High Street] was fined £10 for selling liquor from an unlicensed premise – his residence being on the opposite side of the road to his pub. Those who were found drinking were fined 10s each. The proceedings were taken under sections 65 and 62 of the Licensing (Consolidation) Act.[260] Giles’ story was that it was hospitality and not business on his part.[261]

Women’s Experiences

Fundraising was a feature throughout the First World War, although the heyday of street collections was during 1914-1915. There were flag-day appeals to support prisoners of war, refugees (especially Belgian), the wounded (especially the blinded or ‘crippled’), and for organisations such as the Red Cross & St John’s. However, these collections were unregulated and afforded the disreputable the opportunity to sell flags that did not benefit anyone other than themselves. This changed in 1915 when local authorities were given the powers to license street collections.

Fundraising was generally undertaken by women or children –often dressed as a soldier or nurse.

Flags were sold in Rochester to raise funds for the Kentish Prisoners of War Fund. Thousands of flags were sold by ladies from the Kent and Kentish Men Association to raise funds for the Kentish Prisoners of War Fund.[262]

Whether the following report relates to the above collection is unclear but it demonstrates how much could be raised in one day selling flags in Rochester. An historic inflation calculator[263] suggests that 100 years on, £1 is equivalent of £100.

Church & Cathedral

Mr. J. G. Jeffrey is to retire as the organist at Strood’s parish church. Mr. J. G. Jeffrey had been at the church for 50 years.[264]

The Dean and Mrs. Storrs entertained members of the voluntary choir at the Deanery.  Tea was partaken on the lawn, and subsequently there were games of tennis, clock golf and bowls. During the interval Mrs. Storrs, on behalf of the choir, presented Mr. Fernley, the choirmaster, with a handsome travelling bag in recognition of his valuable service.[265]

Life Goes On

Engagement announced between Miss Elsie Douglas & Mr. William Pierce Butler Cormac. Miss Elsie Douglasis the only daughter of Col. J. D. Douglas, late of the Royal Artillery, Nashenden House, Borstal.[266]

Marriage, honeymoon and then back to the Front!

Marriage between John Acheson & Florence Phyllis Darling. The Groom finally allowed leave to get married the marriage took place at St. Peter’s church between QMS [Quartermaster sergeant] John Acheson of Rochester and Miss Florence Phyllis Darling, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Darling of the Rising Sun Inn [6 Delce Road]. The marriage had been postponed as QMS Acheson was unable to get leave. After a short honeymoon in London the bridegroom returned to France.[267]

There appears to have been no problem in marrying the sister of his late wife – the situation was not so easy for the wedding of Eric Lowe & Miss Gertrude Wigley in August 1917. It is possible that in the following wedding a Civil ceremony had already taken place.

Marriage between William Sears & Miss Mary Philips took place at Rochester’s Baptist Church despite the groom, William Sears, a hairdresser of 101 Maidstone Road, Rochester, having broken his leg the previous day when he fell attempting to get onto a motor bus to Chatham to get the certificate from the Registrar. The only alteration to the service was that the groom was allowed to be seated during the service. His bride, Miss Mary Philips of 22 King Street, Rochester, was the sister of the bridegroom’s late wife. The Groom’s limb was set by Dr. Ludford Cooper and the Rev. G. Anderson Miller officiated at the marriage.[268]

Vacancy for a blacksmith for bottle-house work to undertake pipe-making and must have knowledge of repairs to all descriptions of tools used. Apply Higham Manufacturing Co Ltd. Higham, Rochester.[269]

Grand cricket match to be held – Kent Fortress v Chatham Garrison. Wickets to be pitched in the Paddock, Vines Lane, Rochester at 11:30am. Admission 6d.[270]

September 1915

Military and War Reports

Local air-raids appear to be a frequent occurrence.

Volunteer gunners required at various anti-aircraft stations on Grain and elsewhere. There are frequent alarms – particularly during the night. If interested please apply at Fort Clarence.[271]

Dr. A. W. Courtney Drake is leaving for the Front.  Dr. Courtney Drake was present at the Rochester Town Council meeting for the last time before leaving for service on the front.[272]

Captain Sebag-Montefiore prospective MP for Rochester is about to go on active service; Sebag-Montefiore represents the Unionist party. The Executive Committees of the Rochester Conservative and Liberal Associations have passed resolutions expressing their sincere wishes to him for a safe and speedy return.[273] [See Reports from the Front below.]

Perhaps the deployed troops were not adequately equipped by the government? Officers were responsible for providing their own kit and uniform.

Appeal for warm clothing for non-commissioned officers and men of the East Kent Rifles. The mayors of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham are making a joint appeal for subscriptions to provide a gift of extra warm underclothing for the non-commissioned officers and men of the Medway Squadron of the East Kent Mounted Rifles who are about to depart as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. The squadron is commanded by Major Granville Winch a member of Rochester Town Council. The captain is Mr. R. Montefiore the perspective Unionist candidate for the city.[274]

Conference held at Chatham to arrange supplies for Kent Prisoners of War. The Mayor of Rochester attended a County Conference at Chatham. It was called for the purpose of discussing and arranging supplies of food and clothing for Kentish soldiers held in German Prison of War Camps. Local committees have been established across Kent. Mr. Sills reporting on behalf of the Rochester committee, stated that Rochester had dispatched 15lbs to 20lbs to half their 32 men one week and to the other half the following week.[275] [The report also detailed what could be included in the parcels.] Mr. Spoor stressed the importance of regular parcels to prevent starvation and associated diseases, and the men knowing when to expect them.[276] [Lists of known PoWs was regularly printed in the press.]

Reports from the Front

Capt. R. Montefiore is reported as being wounded in action. Montefiore was captain of the Rochester troop of the Kent Yeomanry, [at the Dardanelles 23 Oct.]. His wounds, described as serious, consist of bullet wounds in the left shoulder, the left thigh and right knee.[277]

Roll of Honour

No Rochester reports discovered.

Health & Hospitals

The following report is not just a testament to the care wounded soldiers received at the Strood VAD but illustrates the psychological traumas that some soldiers suffered. Recovery undoubtedly meant for many, a return to the Front and to the horrors that precipitated psychosomatic illnesses.

Remarkable cures are being achieved at the Strood VAD Hospital. Some remarkable cures of wounded soldiers have occurred the Strood VAD. Three soldiers rendered deaf and dumb by a large explosion have recovered their facilities and another that developed a palsy that resulted in his head continually rolling has also recovered.[278]

A Red Cross car knocks down a solider in Rochester High Street. Cpl. F. Weatherby was knocked down in the high street by a Red Cross car. He was taken to Fort Pitt hospital where it was found he had a fractured leg and was also suffering from cuts and shock.[279]

Anaesthetics at this time were somewhat ‘hit & miss’. The following report did not specify which anaesthetic was used but it could well have been chloroform – the use of which were unable to agree as to whether its use was dangerous or not. It was later accepted it could be the cause of people dying while undergoing an operation.

Cecil Harrison, a young man, died under anaesthetic at St. Bartholomew’s. Harrison a youth from the Borstal Institution, died under anaesthetic at St. Bartholomew’s hospital. The procedure was nearing completion “when respiration suddenly ceased. The usual treatment was adopted by the surgeons present but without success.”[280]

Home News

The office of the ‘Clerk of the Peace’ existed for centuries and clearly would have changed considerably over that time. It appears that providing statistical returns may not have been a central responsibility for the post-holder and therefore a premium needed to be paid for them to complete the required return.

Compensation to be paid for loss of fees due to a Court ‘return’ no longer being required. By a majority of nine to four the Rochester Town Council declined to adopt a recommendation of the Finance Committee to pay £5/annum to the Clerk of the Peace as compensation for the loss of fees for filling returns of summary convictions which are no longer required. It was felt that as the fees were paid by the County the County should be responsible for any compensation.[281]

‘Colonel the Fire Engine’ earns its keep!

Conflagration at Mr. Spoor’s barn was confined by Rochester Fire Brigade. The brigade attended a fire of a barn belonging to Mr. J. L. Spoor, JP., in Rede Court Lane. With a good supply of water from a pond the Fire Brigade prevented the fire from spreading.[282]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Public radio did not start until the 1920s. The written word or word-of-mouth were the only means to communicate new regulations to the public. The government placed notices in the London Gazette. Presumably it was hoped other publications would report on these – but this was not easily spotted in our local press. It was also expected that local authorities would post notices.

Swine Fever a highly contagious disease, generally leads to the death of the animal within 15 days. The loss of the national herd of pigs would have had a disastrous impact on the county’s food supply.

Edward Quarrington fined for bringing an unlicensed pig to market. Edward Quarrington of Malling Road, Snodland, was fined 20s for contravening the Swine Fever Order by taking pigs to Rochester Market without a licence permitting their movement. He declared ignorance of the order and when told notices had been put up he said he couldn’t read.[283]

Civic Business

Two railway arches are being converted into a fire engine station in Corporation Street. The arches are behind the Guildhall. The accepted tender for the work was £199 10s.[284]

A ‘Whittington Cat’ is wanted to control rats at Temple Farm refuse heap.  Owing to the nuisance caused by rats from the City house refuse heap at Temple Farm, Strood, Rochester Town Council has instructed the City Surveyor to take steps to have the rats caught.[285]

The military background of Colonel H. d’Arch Breton was seen as an asset for Rochester.

Colonel H. d’Arch Breton agrees to be reappointed as Mayor. At the unanimous wish of the Council Col. Bretonconsented to serve another year as Mayor of Rochester. His acceptance was received amid great applause. “no gentleman was better fitted for the position during the present national crisis.”[286]

Poor Law Guardians would bill the parishes for the services provided to people from their parish. The following report gives a proxy indicator of the level of need in the different parishes.

Poor Law demand precepts are announced.  Gillingham, £10,587; Chatham, £9,874, St. Margaret’s, £3,146; St. Nicholas; £1541, The Precincts £49.[287]

Community Support

Street collectors were required by St. Bartholomew’s. The hospital is asking for people prepared to be honorary street collectors to undertake house to house collections during October to raise funds for the hospital.[288]

Motor-trip arranged to take about 100 wounded ‘Tommies’ to Knole, Sevenoaks. Next Wednesday a trip from Rochester, commencing at 1 pm. Many owners of private cars have generously arranged to take the men on a circular trip to Lord Sackville’s palatial residence at Knole, Sevenoaks. His lordship has given permission to view the historic mansion and for the party to ramble in the beautiful park. About 100 ‘Tommies’ are expected to join the trip. The journey will be made by way of Rochester, Bluebell Hill, Maidstone, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and Farningham. At Sevenoaks, the soldiers will be entertained to tea at the Temperance Hotel. Messrs. T. J. Loft and Hayes, High Street, are organising the trip.[289]

Home Tragedies

The jury correctly asks questions about the security of the Kingsnorth air base – particularly bearing in mind the suspicions that existed concerning foreign aliens living in the area.

Ivy White fell 150ft to her death during a visit to Kingsnorth aerodrome.  A terrible accident occurred at the Naval Aerodrome at Kingsnorth on Sunday afternoon. Ivy Myrtle White, (15) a native of the village was being shown around a shed by a sailor friend. They then went onto the roof for the view. On descending to a balcony she lost her grip and fell 150ft. Death was instantaneous. The inquest was held at the Five Bells Inn, Hoo. A juror requested not to have to view the body but the coroner stated it was required by law. After hearing evidence, it was concluded the fall was pure accident and not the consequence of skylarking. The jury though was concerned that people could enter the aerodrome without a pass.[290]

Frank Wassail/Wassell a railway employee crushed between two engines. The inquest on the body of Wassail(16) an engine cleaner at the South Eastern Railway Locomotive sheds, Strood, who was crushed between the buffers of two engines, heard that no one witnessed the accident. Verdict – accidental death.[291]

Thomas Kitney committed suicide through worry about his sons. Thomas Samuel Kitney (63) a wagoner in the employment of Mr. Walter Edmonds, at Rede Court, was found hanged. He had attended to the horses first. He had one son on the Front and another in the Navy and worried as a consequence.[292]

Court Cases

Charles Buckingham fined 40s for travelling without a valid train ticket. Buckingham was fined 40s with an additional 30s for witness expenses, at Rochester Police Court for defrauding the Railway Company by travelling beyond the distance he paid for. It was explained that he purchased a ticket from Cannon Street to London bridge and then continued to Chatham. He then paid the ticket collector 11/2d saying he had come from Strood.[293]

Rochester councillor fined for failing to obscure light. Cllr. R. Wilfred Dale, grocer in the High Street, was fined 20s for failing to obscure light. He complained others were similarly failing in the High Street.[294]

Women’s Experiences

The following three cases probably says more about the stresses that women were needing to cope with than their ‘criminality’.

Police concerned about the amount of drunkenness amongst women. A case of considerable interest to licensed victuallers was before the County bench on Tuesday. The licensee of the Burnt Oak, Gillingham was proceeded against for permitting drunkenness on his premises. On hearing the evidence, the court and police expressed concern about the amount of drunkenness amongst women in Gillingham and Chatham. The defendant was fined £10.[295]

Alice Box and Mabel Barkway in court for quarrelling. Box of Hooper’s Square was summoned for assaulting Barkway of 7 Hooper’s Place – and there was a counter-summons for Mrs. Barkway assaulting Mrs. Box.  There were no witnesses supporting Mrs. Box’s claim of assault and the case was dismissed. Mrs. Box was fined £1.[296]

Ann Raynor and Annie Whiffen in court for fisticuffs Raynor and Whiffen were both married women from Parr’s Head Lane, Rochester. The bench dismissed the case with the Mayor observing “We have had two or three – if not more – cases of Rochester ladies indulging in fisticuffs. I think it’s a very bad thing and the sooner it is put a stop to the better. I hope you will try and get on better with each other.[297] [See ‘Court Cases’, January 1915 – same woman, ‘Whiffen’?]

With more work being available for women there was a greater need for child care. There was an history of appalling child care – including infanticide. To address this problem Parliament passed the Children’s Act, 1908. This introduced the registration of foster parents and regulations for baby-farming and wet-nursing.

Mary Stewart was summoned for Illegal childminding – infringing the Children’s Act [1908]. Stewart a married woman of 15a Five Bells Lane, was summoned for nursing an infant without giving notice to the local authority. The child was born in April last year. The parents separated and Mrs. Clough and the child, moved in with the defendant. Mrs. Clough subsequently obtained work and the defendant looked after the child for 6s / week. The inspector, under the Infant Life Protection Act 1872, only got to hear of the arrangement when Mrs. Clough and the defendant fell out because the mother failed to keep up the payments. Mrs. Stewart was fined 2s 6d and advised that that ignorance of the law was no excuse.[298]

Church & Cathedral

Dean and Mrs. Storrs returned from a short break.[299]

A wounded soldier was confirmed at St. Peter’s church by the Bishop of Rochester. The soldier from Fort Pitt Hospital is currently convalescing and is shortly to return to the Front.[300]

Life Goes On

High class cars for sale at Robins & Day. The Briscoe, high class European car at an American price, is available for £235 from Robins & Day, sole district agent, Rochester.[301] [An advertisement in January 1916, listed a “moderate price” of £290.]

October 1915

Military and War Reports

Recruitment to the army was falling off. The government had given thought to conscription. Many, including the Prime Minister, H. Asquith, were opposed to the idea but by September 1915, they were beginning to waver. In the summer 1915 every man aged 18 to 41 was recorded under the National Registration Act. This gave an indication of the number of men that should be available to join the military. In the hope of avoiding the need to introduce conscription recruitment rallies were held.

Great recruitment rallies were held across the country. London led the way with an imposing demonstration in which five columns of troops, each more that 1,000 strong, took part with 29 military bands, drums beating and banners flying. In Kent’s effort Maidstone, as a county town, took its fitting part, and there were demonstrations at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Gravesend, Bromley, Tunbridge Wells, Canterbury, Faversham, and other places.[302]

Thousands lined the streets of Rochester and Strood to watch the Great Recruiting Rally. A stirring appeal was made to the young manhood of the three towns to join the Colours on Saturday. The streets resounded with the tread of men who had already enlisted. Marshall music was played and eloquent speeches given in Military Road, Chatham. Thousands of people lined the streets of Rochester and Strood to witness the progress of the recruiting march. The procession was led by the band of the Royal Marines and set off from the High Street, Rochester.[303]

More facilities for troops billeted in the area.

Military to rent Strood recreation ground and erect accommodation for 1,500 men. The Rochester Corporation have decided to rent the Strood Recreation Ground for military purposes during the coming winter. Dining rooms, cook-house, latrines, baths etc., are to be erected for the accommodation of about 1,500 men. Rent will be £10 / month.[304]

Reports from the Front

The following report suggests that British PoW were something of curiosity for German civilians who appear to have taken Sunday outings to see them. There also appears to have been a ‘on-going’ exchange programming going.

Conditions experienced by Kentish Prisoners of War are dreadful.  Mr. Spoor, of Rede Court, addressing the East Kent Conference on getting food and comforts to the PoWs, stated he knew exactly how the war prisoners were situated. He had made the point of meeting exchanged prisoners of war on their arrival in England, and getting their experiences as to what the prison camps were really like. He said that if he were to tell all he had heard he was afraid his hearers would have many sleepless nights, as he had had himself. The returning prisoners stated that he food being sent out was preventing starvation. Mr. Spoor also said he had received a letter from a sergeant who was being held prisoner asking whether any warm clothing was coming out as prisoners were being lost through exposure. It took about three weeks to a month for a parcel to arrive – and they arrived intact. It may take six weeks to two months for the sender of a parcel to receive an acknowledgement. Prisoners are only allowed to write one postcard per week and the censor can hold up a card for ten days. The Germans would only allow military clothing to be sent as civilian clothing could aid escapes. If civilian clothes are sent they are daubed with red or yellow paint and the wearer became to object of ridicule to German family parties who visit the camps on Sunday afternoons. Mr. Spoor suggested a special bread be sent out – offering a sample made by a Rochester baker. About 80% of the bread sent out arrives mouldy. If the bread is baked hard and slowly it should keep for a month. After the conference Mr. Spoor wrote to the editor saying that the army is to provide full service dress for the prisoners held in Germany, consequently it was only necessary to send out warm underclothing.[305]

Roll of Honour

Capt. Robert Montefiore died of his wounds in hospital in Alexandria. We regret to learn that Montefiore, of the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles, died of his wounds in hospital in Alexandria last Friday; he was the prospective Conservative candidate for Rochester.[306],[307] Approximately one year later – Mrs. Sebag-Montefiore has unveiled in the Ramsgate Jewish Synagogue a tablet to the memory of her eldest son, Captain Robert Sebag-Montefiore, Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles, Unionist candidate for Rochester, who died in Alexandra nearly a year ago from wounds received at Gallipoli.[308] [The wounding of Capt. Montefiore has been previously reported – see ‘Reports from the Front’, September 1915.]

Health & Hospitals

Knight’s Place convalescence homeSgt. Brittan a very skilled model maker has been transferred to Knights Place Convalescence Home. He has sustained very severe injury to his left arm which it is feared he will never regain the use of.[309]

Health facilities were highly dependent on donations and fundraising to meet their running costs as well as equipping facilities. The fact that reference is made in the following report to the site of the new Gravesend VAD being 300ft above sea-level suggests there could have been a flooding issue for the VAD in Allhallows.

All Hallows VAD is to relocate to the Great Hermitage, Higham. The first hospital opened by the Gravesend Branch of the Kent Voluntary Aid Detachment was at All Hallows [sic]. It has now become necessary to transfer this hospital to the Great Hermitage, Higham.  It will be able to accommodate more men and has the benefit of being in its own extensive grounds – and is 300ft above sea level. Donations are requested to furnish and equip the new facility. The appeal repeated pointed out that government funding will only become available once the hospital is actually established. Donations should be sent to the Commandant Miss. A. O. Caswell at the Hermitage.[310]

Home News

“Jack” was the slang term for a sailor in the Navy. The following article gives a sense of how the Medway towns must have been transfigured by the number of soldiers and sailors that lived in “a green tented village that stretched for miles”.

The opening of this YMCA facility attracted a Royal visit. Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her mother Princess Helena was the fifth child of Victoria and Albert.

Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein visited Strood to open the new YMCA centre. The commodious premises known as “Ye Olde Bridge Tavern” in the High Street will be run by the YMCA on behalf of the troops billeted and encamped in the district and also for munition workers, [and will be known as Marie Louise House. Cityark.] Her Highness was met by the Mayor and Mayoress of Rochester (Col. Breton and Miss Jackson) at the City boundary.[311]

A green tented village stretches for miles and miles beyond Strood and Rochester. The YMCA provides comfort for Jack – “Jack ashore is a merry lad, hungrier than any hunter, keen at his work and play” so writes the Special Correspondent of the Birmingham Gazette who describes Chatham as “a throbbing pulse of the war” that has quadrupled in size with a green tented village stretching for miles and miles beyond Strood and Rochester and Gillingham that accommodates an ever-changing population.[312]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Supplies were low at both the corn and cattle markets in Rochester so little trade was undertaken.[313]

Civic Business

Albert Colley (15) receives a civil award for bravery for trying to save a drowning man. Colley from Chatham, was presented with a certificate from the Royal Humane Society for an act of gallantry, by the Mayor at a meeting of the Rochester Town Council. The award was for trying to save Mr. H. A. Ambrose, a Borstal tradesman who was drowned whilst bathing in the river. The Mayor on presenting the boy with a silver watch given by the widow of the deceased, said the only regret he had was the boy was not from Rochester. The Mayor also presented a silver watch, given by the deceased brother, to Cpl. Cannon who assisted in the rescue and who spent a long period trying to restore life.[314]

Community Support

St. Bartholomew’s hospital is £3,000 in debt.  House to house collections will be undertaken between 18 and 25 October. The volunteers are expected to call at 40,000 houses.[315]

Matinee performance held at the Chatham Empire to raise funds for St. Bartholomew’s. On 24 November a matinee performance will be put on at the Chatham Empire. It is proposed to invite three or four hundred women to the Empire one afternoon during which a band would play on the stage and tea would be served along with a card which would contain a request for a number of tickets which each lady could sell. The Directors of the Empire offered to give £10 to the lady who took the largest sum of money by way of the sale of the tickets.[316]

A collection was held at Gillingham football ground. The money collected was distributed to the West Kent Comfort Fund (£21 12s 10d); St. Bartholomew’s hospital (£5 5s) and the Maidstone Eye Hospital (£4 6s).[317]

A fundraising concert was given at the Victoria Hall for the Strood VAD. A capital concert was given on Wednesday evening in aid of the Strood VAD.[318]

Donations made to Strood VAD were itemised and reported. Amongst the many generous gifts to the VAD Hospital were one dozen tins of tooth powder from Mr. Ogden, Rochester High Street.[319]

A swimming gala was held at the Watts’ baths to raise funds for wounded soldiers. A ladies swimming gala, arranged by Miss Gladys Wright, diplomatist, and other lady members of the Medway Swimming club, took place at the Watts’ Baths on Thursday afternoon to raise funds in aid of funds for wounded soldiers. A demonstration of the art of natation was given by Mrs. Gerald Newcombe and Miss Wright. Their feats included plunging and turning somersaults in the water.[320]

Rochester Flag-Day raises £150. Under the direction of the Mayoress and Deputy Mayoress, Miss Jackson and Miss Knight, a flag day was organised in Rochester. 180 collection boxes were in use and there were 28,500 penny flags and 3,150 threepenny flags. The exact amount raised is not known but it exceeds £150.[321]

Home Tragedies

John Henry Bartlett committed suicide while of unsound mind. The inquest into the death of Bartlett, fish fryer of Cossack Street, heard that after cleaning fish with his wife he went upstairs. He was subsequently found lying dead on the bed with a handkerchief round his neck tied to the bedrail. Dr. Palmer who had been attending him said he had been on the verge of a nervous breakdown.[322]

The press at this time was not coy about giving gory details.

Mysterious death of Lance-Sergeant Henry Fokes at Fort Clarence. The body of Lance-Sergeant Fokes, widower, 53 [or 54] was found on the stairs at Fort Clarence. He had a large wound in his stomach, a wound on his forehead and several fractured ribs. At the inquest, it was reported that no instrument of any kind had been found and his injuries included a 25-inch-long wound extending round his body, the stomach being ripped open. He had nine fractured ribs on the left side, and a fractured pelvis and many bruises and abrasions. His injuries could not have been self-inflicted. An open verdict was recorded.[323] [No further reports have been found solving this case.]

School / Education News

It was to allow children to assist with the harvest that the length of the school summer holiday was set.

The school ‘Hopping Holiday’ extended owing to the lateness of the hop picking. The Rochester Education Committee have had to extend the school holiday by a week owing to the lateness of the hop picking.[324]

School hours set: 1 to 3:30pm for boys and girls, 1 to 3pm for infants.[325]

Court Cases

Sidney Man was fined 5s for causing unnecessary suffering to three ducks that he took to Rochester market in a sack. Inspector Miller of the RSPCA said there was insufficient air and when he released the ducks from the sack they were exhausted. Man was a butcher from Gillingham.[326]

The criminal action reported below was probably an act of revenge by a man whose employer refused to give him a leaving certificate.

Alfred Henry Beadle deliberately made an aeroplane propeller too short. Beadle, a mechanic with Shorts Brothers, was ordered by Rochester Magistrates yesterday to pay £9 10s [£5 fine + £4 10s damages] and in default of payment, two months imprisonment, for wilfully cutting an aeroplane propeller 5/16th of an inch shorter than the standard length. The defendant came to work at Short Brothers in July but soon wanted to leave. He was told that he could not do so under the Munitions Act. He however left but the firm refused to give him his insurance cards so he returned to work and damaged the propeller in order to get discharged. His act would have endangered life had it not been discovered. [327]

William Thomas Boucher was £5 fine for wrongly wearing a military uniform. Boucher of Kirkham House, Cobham, was summoned before Rochester County Magistrates for wearing the uniform of H.M. Army. His defence was that although he had resigned from the West Kent Regiment he thought his transfer to the Royal Engineers had been confirmed as all letters from the War Office addressed him as Major. He was fined on a technicality.[328]

A birch rod (often shortened to “birch”) was a bundle of leafless twigs bound together to form an implement for administering corporal punishment. Birching remained on the statue book as a punishment until 1948.

Three youths to be birched for breaking into an office. The delinquents Robert Albert Phillips (12), St. Mary’s Road, Strood; James Doust (age?) and Edwin Doust (9) of 13 Grange Road, Frindsbury, and Percy Newsome (9) of Grange Road, Frindsbury, were sentenced by the Rochester City Justices to be birched for a Sunday afternoon prank of breaking into the offices of the Rochester Barge Company in Canal Road, Strood. The boys pleaded guilty. Philips was sentenced to four strokes, James Doust to three, Edwin Doust and Percy Newsome two strokes each of the birch rod.[329]

Women’s Experiences

The ‘physical abuse’ by a husband in the following report was described as a “good hiding” – and was regarded as being acceptable ‘conduct’ within a marriage at this time. Seems the Court though may have accepted this as mitigation for the woman being drunk and allowed her time to pay her fine.

Lilly Thomas was summoned for using obscene language. Thomas of Morden Street was summoned for using obscene language. She said she had been drinking and did not recall using bad language. She said her husband had given her a good hiding and that was the cause of the trouble. Fined 11s and allowed a fortnight to pay.[330]

Can one assume the first marriage of Ethel Eastell took place in St. Bartholomew’s chapel rather than the hospital?

Ethel Mary Eastell (32) charged with bigamy. Eastell was brought before Chatham Police Court on Monday charged with bigamy. In 1910 she married Lewis Robert York at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital whilst still married to Robert Eastwell who she married in 1907, who had gone overseas and she had not heard from him. On being arrested she said she was pleased it was all over; she was committed for trial.[331]

No recall of being transported to the police station, that was probably behind the Guildhall, in a handcart from the Delce! Perhaps quite understandable based on her circumstances – the mother in the following story drank more than she was accustomed to.

Alice Flynn a drunken mother was taken to the police station in a handcart. Alice Flynn a married woman of Burritt Street, Delce, was charged, on bail, with being drunk and disorderly in Cossack Street, Delce. She pleaded guilty but said she knew nothing about it. PC Willis reported her as laying in the road and being unable to stand up. He took her to the police station in a handcart. In mitigation the Chief Constable said this was the first time she had been in trouble and that she had lost a son on the Front and had another home wounded. She was fined 5s and given a week to pay.[332]

Staff immediately needed for a small hostel for two girls. An experienced ‘Preventive and Rescue’ outdoor worker is required to live in a small home with Matron. Accommodation for two girls. Rochester and Strood district.[333]

Church & Cathedral

Situations vacant for priests in Strood and Rochester. Priest (£170-£180) and Deacon (£140) wanted immediately. Varied, interesting work. Apply Vicar.[334]

The Church of England Men’s Society was founded in 1899 by Archbishop Frederick Temple to bring men together to socialize in a Christian environment.

The annual Men’s Service was held at Rochester Cathedral. In addition to members of the local branches of the Church of England Men’s Society, the service was attended by many from the military including wounded soldiers from Strood VAD Hospital, some of whom were the previous Sunday fighting in France.[335]

Rev. S. W. Wheatley is to take up the incumbency of St. Margaret’s – a large parish outside the city walls of Rochester and can trace its vicars back to 1270, and after repeated sub-division still has a population of 6,000. He will be move from Four Elms near Edenbridge to take up the incumbency of St. Margaret’s.[336] [The Rev. Wheatley became known for the historical notes he wrote about Rochester.]

Life Goes On

Female servant wanted for household work. A willing girl (15) is wanted for household work; small private family, 76 Maidstone Road, Rochester.[337]

A canon ball, a relic of the Boer War, was presented to Rochester museum. Edmund Luck (71) a veteran of the Army Service Corps, bequeathed to Rochester Town Council, for the Municipal Museum, a cannon ball, a relic of the Boer War of 1881, which landed in a medicine chest in the hospital of which he was in charge.[338]

November 1915

Military and War Reports

Some school enlistment statistics: (See report of Mayor’s speech Hone News below.]

Kings School               117 old boys                 7 masters

Maths School              420 old boys             10 masters

Elementary Schools                                       26 masters

 

Aveling & Porter – Over 300 men have enlisted; more could have joined the army but the firm came under the control of the munition workers’ rules.[339] [See ‘Home News’ below for more enlistment statistics.]

The stepping up of shell manufacture increased the demand for explosives. In order to obtain ‘ingredients’ for the manufacture of explosives, gas companies were required to modify the way they manufactured coal-gas.

Gas composition to change as the process is changed to make compounds for explosives. The Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham Gas Company have been instructed by the Ministry of Munitions to alter the way they manufacture gas so the government can have the benefit of certain by-product chemicals required for the manufacture explosives.  Postcards are to be distributed to households so they can report any loss of pressure that may come about through the changes that need to be made.[340]

Reports from the Front

Mother of Sapper Thomas Young turns to the press for help in finding her missing son. For 12 months the mother of Sapper Young of the 1st Division of the Expeditionary Force, has been seeking information about her son who has been missing since 1st November 1914. Having failed to get news of him his mother turned to the Kent Messenger for help. If any reader has any information about Sapper Young could they please write to Mrs. Packman, 116 Cecil Road.[341]

Lieut. Bridgland may well have been a very able officer but such a promotion in the field at such a young age, suggests that there may well have been some urgency to fill the ranks of junior officers.

Lieut. C. A. Bridgland is promoted to Captain at the age of 191/2. Bridgland was educated at King’s School, Rochester, where he was a member of the OTC. His brother was killed in action in October.[342] [See ‘Roll of Honour’, October 1914.]

Roll of Honour

Lieut. James Moriarty (22) killed in action in France on 12 October. Moriarty was a King’s Scholar at Rochester.[343]

Sgt. Major J. H. Carter has been reported as drowned at Gallipoli. Carter (42) was an exCorporation employeewho for was foreman in the Corporation sanitary department before the war. He and his company were involved in landing at Gallipoli when their ship – the minesweeper Hythe – was struck by another boat. 155 were reported missing.[344]

The Battle of Hill 60 took place between 17 April – 7 May 1915, near Hill 60 south of Ypres on the Western Front.

2nd Lieut. F. N. Tuff died on Malta from the wounds sustained in the Dardanelles. Another tragic loss for the Tuff Family – 2nd Lieut. F. N. Tuff, son of Mr. Charles Tuff, late MP of Rochester, died on Malta [7 November] from the wounds he sustained in the Dardanelles [23 October]. His brother Capt. C. T. Tuff was killed at Hill 60 on April 19th.[345]

Edith Cavell, a British nurse, was found guilty by a German court martial of assisting British, French and Belgium soldiers escape from Brussels, and was shot by a firing squad on October 12th, 1915.

A collection has been started for a memorial to Edith Cavell the martyred nurse. Alderman Davies has sent 100s (being 50s from Mrs. Davies and 50s from himself) “as a contribution towards a fund for the erection of a memorial to one of England’s greatest heroines, the Martyred Nurse Edith Cavell.”[346] [There were 20s to £1.]

Health & Hospitals

Although attempted suicide was illegal the magistrates in the following cases showed considerable understanding of the distresses that can drive people to take their own lives. They recognised the need for help over condemnation – but had to use remand to ensure ‘attempters’ were afforded some protection. Although I’ve included the report in the Health & Hospitals section, suicide was not seen as a health issue at this time.

Two would-be suicides were brought before the Court .Two cases of attempted suicide were before Rochester County Magistrates. Clara Williams [or possibly Wadhams] an elderly widow of 28 Queen Street, was pulled from the River Medway by a bargeman who handed her over to the police. It was explained that she had had a lot of troubles lately. On promising not to repeat the offence she was allowed to go with her daughter from Dover, for a holiday, the magistrate reminded her to take her registration card. The second case involved Christopher Groves who cut his throat ‘on impulse’. Groves (40) claimed not to have been right since a motorcycle smash. The magistrates on seeing he was still not well remanded him for a week allowing him out in the care of his brother. [347]

The term ‘munitions’ is often equated with the manufacture of ammunition / shells but in its fullest definition it relates to equipment required to support the war effort.

The Technical Institutes are to be used to manufacture hospital munitions. At a meeting at the Guildhall it was agreed to use of the workshops of the technical institutes of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham to make ‘hospital munitions’. There were two types made – soft, such as muffs, mittens, jackets etc., and hard, such as bed-rests, cradles, lockers and special fracture and surgical appliances. Rochester City Council donated £10 for materials to make equipment for the Rochester Hospital. People able to help in the manufacture of equipment can visit the work rooms on Saturday afternoons between 2:30 and 4:30.[348]

Home News

The following report gives an indication of the extent of the influence of the military on daily life in Rochester. It also gives an indication as how civil liberties such as freedom of speech were curtailed.

The Mayor reflected on the many strange things that Rochester has witnessed. Col. Breton on being reappointed as Mayor, observed that in the past year Rochester had been more or less under the control of the Naval and Military Authorities. In these circumstances it was believed that Colonel Breton’s military experience had been a great service to the City, and it would be of considerable help in the local Recruiting Committee in the ensuing year. The Mayor, in returning thanks to the Council observed “that we had in the last year seen many strange things. We had to come to see freedom of speech being necessarily obscured as much as the bedroom candle. We had seen Labour newspapers, and what was the most friendly Tory newspapers suppressed. Society had been rubbing shoulders in unaccustomed company, and society was surprised to find how nice that company could be. As to the City’s share in the War, it is good to know that the eight elementary schools of Rochester had given to the Army, as far as could be ascertained, 1,180 old boys. The King’s School had given 117 and the Mathematical School 420.” Seven masters had gone from King’s, 10 from the Maths school and 26 from the Elementary Schools. Over 300 men from Messrs. Aveling & Porter’s works had joined the Army, and that number would have been increased had the firm not come within the Munitions Act.[349]

Rochester and Chatham Corporations made arrangements to sell coal. Having failed to come to an agreement with the local coal merchants to limit the profit on the sale of coal for domestic purposes, the Rochester and Chatham Corporations have made arrangements to buy and retail coal.[350]

An austere Christmas is planned for the inmates of the Strood Union. The Strood Guardians decided to reduce the size of the Christmas plum puddings inmates from 1lb to 3/4 lbs. The other Christmas fare will remain much the same.[351]

Community Support

Our Day was a Red Cross fundraising event organised for the first time in 1915, which then took place annually throughout the war. The origin of the collection was considered to be “Queen Alexandra’s Day”, when people showed support for the Queen by buying flowers. During “Our Day”, street collectors sold flags, which were ordered and supplied centrally. Flags for motor vehicles were also available. Small flags were sold for a penny and silk ones for sixpence. Gifts for “Our Day” were also received from overseas.[352]

‘Our Day’ – Flag Day raised upwards of £500 in the Rochester & Chatham district. Gillingham came first with over £200, Chatham next with £173 and Rochester with £163 0s 3d. The proceeds went to the Red Cross.[353]

A matinee was held at the Empire to raise funds for St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. The matinee held on Wednesday afternoon to raise funds for St. Bartholomew’s was a great success with every seat filled. In presenting the financial problems of St. Bartholomew’s it was pointed out that it serves a population of 130,000 but only had 600 subscribers paying 10s 6d / year.[354] [Less than 0.5% of the hospital’s catchment population subscribed to supporting the hospital.]

With there being so many fundraising events being held, it could be that the public were becoming weary of them. It is also possible that the proposed home for disabled service men may not have been sufficiently local.

As War raged in Europe, Britain’s military hospitals became overwhelmed with wounded troops. When Queen Mary expressed concern for the future of these disabled servicemen, an independent charity was set up and, in 1916, The Royal Star & Garter Home on Richmond Hill opened its doors to 65 residents, providing a “permanent haven for paralysed and severely disabled men of the King’s Forces.” The average age of residents was 22.” The Star & Garter Home in Richmond opened its doors to the first residents on 14 January 1916, under the auspices of the British Red Cross Society. [355]

The following two reports could be about the same fundraising event – but one was reported as being held in the Castle Hall whilst the other in the Cattle Market. One report thought the event was ‘disappointing’ but a another reported it as a ‘great success’. If they were separate events then that could suggest that there could have been an issue about the number of fundraising events being held.

Disappointing support for the Red Cross’s Star & Garter sale held in the Castle Hall. The first sale arranged by the local auctioneers in aid of a fund to purchase the Star & Garter Hotel, Richmond, as a home for disabled soldiers and sailors, was disappointing. Although there was some spirited bidding no sensational prices were fetched. A grand piano was sold for two guineas. Over 200 lots were available but enthusiasm fell away after the first 40. An envelope containing a postal order realised £2 10s – the postal order it contained was for 2s 6d. It is thought £135 may have been raised.[356]

A War Gift Sale was held to raise money for the purchase of the Star and Garter. The sale at Rochester Cattle Market to raise money for the purchase of the Star and Garter was a great success. Bullocks, sheep and pigs made the current price but a suckling calf was sold and resold many times.[357]

School / Education News

Schools are to close earlier due to light restrictions. Owing to lighting restrictions the Rochester Education Committee have decided that the children of all their schools shall be dismissed half an hour earlier each day hitherto, the afternoon session commencing at 1pm.[358]

Schools are to be insured against bomb damage. The Kent Education Committee have decided that all buildings situated in coastal towns up to and including Sittingbourne, and those in Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham should be insured against aircraft and bombardment.[359]

Teachers were concerned about the impact on education with so many teachers enlisting. The annual general meeting of the Chatham, Rochester and District of National Union of Teachers was held at the Gordon Hotel on Saturday afternoon. Concern was expressed about the loss of 8,000 teachers due to enlistment. The Union did not want special treatment but felt the government should give Appeal Tribunals instructions to take evidence from Education Committees on the impact of a teacher leaving from particular schools. The teachers wanted the total abolition of half-time employment, smaller classes and the school leaving age to be raised from 14 to 15 – but secondary education be restricted to those who could benefit from it.[360]

Court Cases

Farmers are still bringing unlicensed pigs to marketin contravention of the Swine Fever order. The sellers are being fined 20s and the buyer 5s.[361]

Compensation paid for loss of public house licences. Three public houses in Rochester received compensation. The Druids Arms, Morden Street, £88 for the tenant, owner £436, brewer as lessees £290; The Walnut Tree, Borstal, owner £1,736, tenant £212 10s; The Good Intent, Borstal Street, owner £817, tenant £78.[362]

Women’s Experiences

In 1900 there were only about a hundred centenarians in Britain[363] – so Mrs. Page would have been quite exceptional.

Mrs. Mary Page celebrated her 100th birthday. One of Mrs. Mary Page’s treasures is a bed quilt in which is worked portions of the gown she wore for her wedding 79 years ago.[364] [She lives in Albany Road and was born in Launceston, Cornwall.]

There were three divisions of civilian prisoners, 1st, 2nd and 3rd – with decreasing levels of comfort. Suffragettes who were imprisoned, wanted to be placed in the 1st Division along with other political prisoners. The government was reluctant to afford them the title of ‘political prisoners’ but made arrangements for them to have the comforts afforded to 1st Division prisoners. 2nd Division prisoners are kept apart, as far as possible, from other classes of prisoners; they received more frequent letters and visits, and they wore clothes of a different colour to those worn by 3rd Division prisoners.

In the following report drink rather than circumstances, was blamed for child neglect. The report is silent on what happened to the children while they were being ‘protected’ by the imprisonment of their mother.

Three months’ imprisonment for a mother who neglected her children. A shocking story of a woman’s downfall because of drink was told to the City Justices. Annie Thompson the wife of a warrant officer in the Navy living at 28 Horsley-road, Rochester, was summoned for neglecting four children aged between 11 and 7. She was in receipt of 47s / week separation allowance and her husband allowed her £4 / month – giving her £3 7s / week. Her rent was 6s 6d / week and 2d a week insurance for her children and £1 6s a quarter for her husband – leaving plenty to support the family. However, the NSPCC’s inspector, represented by Mr. Stigant, found the house cold, and children neglected and their mother claiming drink was her tea. The justices stating their duty was to protect the children sentenced Annie Thompson to 3 months imprisonment in the second division, and stated that the children would be taken away and cleansed. The defendant became distressed and the chairman stated it was a sentence of kindness as she will come out sober. The clerk reassured her that she was not sentenced to hard-labour.[365]

The following report that highlights the impracticalities of setting up maternity centres to tackle infant mortality, needs to be questioned as Chatham did set up such centres. The Notification of Births Act 1907 required the father, if residing in the house of the birth or anyone in attendance within six hours of the birth, to give notice of the birth to the district’s medical officer of health. The legislation was extended in 1915 and this allowed access for Health Visitors to attend a new mother and baby.

Mayor explained why it would be impractical to set up maternity centres in Rochester. In a letter to the editor, the Mayor explained that comparing the mortality rate of Rochester and Chatham with other parts of Kent does not allow for a difference between rural and urban areas. He was also aware that it would be difficult at this time to recruit the necessary doctors and nurses to run the centres.  He therefore believed the most practical way forward was to appoint nurses under the Notification of Births Act and for them to work under the Medical Officer for health.[366]

Church & Cathedral

A very impressive memorial service was held in the nave of the Cathedral for the fallen. The organ was supplemented by the band of the Royal Engineers. The music was of a very solemn and impressive character. The service ended with the “Dead March” and the “Last Post”.[367] Admiral Sir George Callaghan represented the Navy.[368]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Bernard St. John Storrs & Miss Marjorie Dyson. The marriage between 2nd Lieut. Bernard St. John Storrs, son of the Dean of Rochester, and Marjorie Dyson, only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. William Kingham Dyson, took place in Rochester Cathedral on Wednesday afternoon.[369]

Mr. J. T. J. Hill received a lifelong service award from the Rochester Oyster Fishery. A handsome gold watch was presented to Mr. Hill, at the Guildhall, in recognition of his lifelong service to the Fishery with which he has been associated since he was a young boy – and he’s now over 70.[370]

The following small ad may be an indicator of things to come with widows needing to seek employment with accommodation.

Situation wanted by a widow (57) of 9 St. Peter’s Street, Delce, seeking a position as housekeeper.[371]

Vacancy for a resident lady-help and companion to a girl of 15 (gentlewoman about 18). Light household duties, needlewoman. Mrs. German, St. Lawrence, Borstal Road.[372]

Historical report on stirring times in Kent 700 years ago. On November 28, 1215 Tonbridge Castle was taken for King John by Robert de Bethune; Rochester Castle fell two days later.[373]

December 1915

Military and War Reports

Recruitment into the military is falling off. Although there were some still enthusiastic to fight, not enough men were coming forward. “In spring 1915 enlistments had averaged 100,000 men per month, but this could not be sustained. The upper age limit was raised from 38 to 40 in May 1915 in an effort to keep the numbers up, but it had become clear that voluntary recruitment was not going to provide the numbers of men required. The government passed the National Registration Act on 15 July 1915 as a step towards stimulating recruitment and to discover how many men between the ages of 15 and 65 were engaged in each trade. All those in this age range who were not already in the military, were obliged to register, giving details of their employment. The results of this census became available by mid-September 1915; it showed there were almost 5 million males of military age who were not in the forces, of which 1.6 million were in the “starred” (protected, high or scarce skill) jobs.”[374]

The Group Scheme, often referred to as the Derby Scheme, was introduced by Lord Derby in the hope of avoiding the need for conscription. The scheme allowed men to voluntarily attest for service at a later date. An ‘Attested Man’ was placed in an army reserve and released to civilian life until needed by the military. The scheme was originally intended to run only from 16 October 1915 to 30 November 1915, this was later extended to midnight of 11/12 December 1915. As many recruiting offices were overwhelmed by the number of men wishing to Attest, the process was extended to 15 December.

It is estimated that 2,000 Rochester men enlisted under the Derby Scheme. On Saturday the Guildhall had to be utilised to cope with the rush as the offices the other side of the courtyard, where wholly inadequate. Staff worked until midnight and still did not complete the task of enrolling men and the offices had to open again on Sunday.[375]

Noel Lees, a King’s boy, has been given time off from school to work with the Red Cross. Lees, a King’s Scholar fired by enthusiastic patriotism, wished to join the army but was too young to fight in this mammoth war. With the headmaster’s permission, he was given six months leave of absence from school to work with the Red Cross in Serbia where typhus is rife.[376]

Report received on the Prisoner of War camp situated in Rochester. The report highlighted the difference in the way the British and German care for their prisoners. The American press that visited the camp said they were free to talk to the prisoners in German. It reported that 3,400 prisoners were held at Rochester in large barracks, which were used by the cavalry before the war, and in new huts. Among the prisoners were 1,000 captured at Loos. The German PoWs said they were satisfied with their treatment, with their accommodation and quality of food. The German’s manage the internal affairs of the camp themselves. The camp is managed by one commandant, a couple of officers, some sergeants and about 20 soldiers. Every prisoner receives daily 1/2lb of meat with vegetables and bread that was “as good as cake[377] [The publish report contained many more details.]

Reports from the Front

“We are up in the firing line and having a fairly exciting time” writes a member of the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles. We throw bombs when close enough and the enemy are sending ‘whizz-bangs’ to annoy us. They are a kind of shell fired at short range, but we had a cruiser off-shore that was able to give the enemy a blast with her shells. The hill is one mass of dust, sand and crumbling earth. If it were not so serious it would be humorous. We are soliders in every sense of the word now and have learned to hang together.[378]

Roll of Honour

The Mathematical School published its Roll of Honour. The list details the names of those killed in action (13), missing (1), wounded and missing (1), wounded (19), and mentioned in dispatches (5). It was believed that the number of Old Williamsonians serving was 440.[379]

Health & Hospitals

A guidebook to Fort Pitt hospital has been published. A book detailing the work of Fort Pitt hospital has been published – “from cover to cover there’s not a dull word”. It is for sale at 6d with all proceeds going to the Comfort Fund.[380]

Measles was the cause of 34 deaths in Rochester during 1911. [381]

The following report further suggests all may not have been well in the running of the Strood VAD hospital.

Strood and Frindsbury VAD hospital reopened under new and reorganised staff. There is currently a budget shortfall of £150 as the authorities only allow 2s/day/man. The operating theatre and equipment cost over £100. It is planned to make a special appeal to the public at Christmas. [382]

Strood & Frindsbury VAD is full.  Every bed in the three wards of the Strood & Frindsbury VAD are full. There has been a gratify response to the appeal for £150. The debt of the Strood VAD has now been cleared.[383]

Home News

Tighter lighting restrictions have been imposed on vehicles in urban districts including Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham. Whereas car side lights are allowed in the country the lights from a larger number of vehicles in towns makes road makings clearer to enemy aircraft. It is therefore required that lights – electric and acetylene – have a perforated cap placed over the glass of the light. Distinctive signs will be placed on street lamps indicating the boundaries within which the light must be masked.[384]

A table is published by date giving the times by which no light must be visible from the exterior.[385]

14 members of Rochester’s Voluntary Fire Brigade passed their proficiency badge.[386]

Community Support

The Children’s League of Pity was formed in 1891.

A scramble sale was held at the Guildhall for the local ‘League of Pity’ and the NSPCC. Sale visitors were asked to turn up with items up to the value of 2s which they would sell to others.[387]

Strood Gem Picture Theatre held benefit matinee for Strood & Frindsbury Nursing Assoc. With characteristic generosity Messrs. Goodman proprietors of the Strood Gem Picture Theatre gave a special matinee for the benefit of the funds of the Strood and Frindsbury Nursing Association.[388]

A very successful concert was held at the YMCA in Maidstone Road, Rochester.[389]

Home Tragedies

Thomas William Cowley was killed by a bullet whilst undertaking machine gun training in North Street, Strood. Cowley was taken to Fort Pitt Hospital but died three hours later. Lieut. Dennington who was demonstrating the use of the gun was exonerated from blame.[390]

Court Cases

George Saunders sentenced to 3 months’ hard labour for stealing money from his ‘landlady’. Saunders, a soldier, stole money from her purse and savings box of Ellen Capon, 36 Wickham Street, with whom he was billeted. The sentence was the maximum that could be passed.[391]

Wife summoned her husband for assault. Alice Louisa Chapman summoned her husband George Frederick Chapman for assault. The couple resided at 44 John Street. The case was dismissed.[392] [Report gave no details of the case.]

Women’s Experiences

The following report provides early evidence of women serving overseas.

Female librarian given leave of absence to join the Red Cross. The Librarian requested the Library Committee of Rochester Town Council for leave of absence so she may undertake duties with the Motor Ambulance Section of the British Red Cross in France.  Permission was granted.[393]

The demand from the Front for artillery shells was insatiable. This required munition factories to work around the clock, every day of the week. The work was heavy and unpleasant so a break would have been very welcome.

Respite relief was organised for the ‘shell-makers’ so they may have a Sunday off. On Sunday several young ladies from the district travelled to Erith to engage in shell making – continuing the work which the factory hands left on Saturday. Misses Storrs, Miss M. Hicken, Miss K. Graham and Miss Clare Latham each undertook an induction course before undertaking their exacting duties.[394]

Miss Grace Edmonds has been appointed as headmistress at Troy Town Girls’ School. Miss Edmonds was appointed on a salary of £150 rising in £5 annual increments to £170.[395]

Post Office took on women in Rochester & Chatham to help with the Christmas postal rush. Teachers have been taken on as sorters.[396]

Rescue workers and assistants required for a small preventive home for girls. Workers will be required to undertake girls’ clubs. Stoke Cottage, Borstal, and “visit girls in their own lodgings, in the common lodging houses, and houses of ill-repute”.[397]

Church & Cathedral

The appointment of Rev. Wheatley was previously reported in October 1915.

Rev. S. W. Wheatley is staying for a while with the headmaster of King’s School. Rev. S. W. Wheatley the new vicar of St. Margaret’s is staying with Rev. W. Parker, Headmaster of the King’s School, until the vicarage is ready for occupation. Coming from the quiet parish of Four Elms he’s concerned that he will prove to be an apprentice-hand in our large and populous parish.[398]

The Cathedral is unable to accommodate all who wish to attend Sunday morning worship. Because there are more soldiers in Rochester and Strood than the cathedral can accommodate on Sunday mornings, the Queen’s Regiment has been asked to attend St. Peter’s.[399]

Life Goes On

A ‘gadget’ is available to help conserve coal on an open fire. Wm. Day and Co., 230 High Street, Rochester, is selling a device that reduces the grate size thereby enabling a banked fire to be had with less coal. It was described as an ideal coal saver and heat generator.[400] [Was in the region of the Furrells car park – opposite the recently closed Rochester railway station.]

Perfect Christmas gifts can be obtained from Franklin Homan, Home Furnishers – 178-184.[401] [Near Sue Ryder charity shop.]

Rochester Laundry company doing well despite increases in the price of materials & fuel. The annual meeting of the Rochester, Chatham and District Laundry company was held at its premises in the High Street Rochester. Although the cost of materials and fuel had gone up so had turnover thereby allowing a 10% dividend to be paid.[402]

If the posts were removed – they were subsequently returned to Two-post Alley.

The posts in Two-Post Alley are to be removed as they are a source of dangerso decided Rochester Town Council.[403]

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[190] 12 June 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

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[194] 28 June 1915, Birmingham Daily Post.

[195] 5 June 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

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[197] 15 June, South Eastern Gazette, and 19 June 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[198] 5 June 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

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[204] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39471407. Accessed 29 September 2017.

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[210] 17 June 1915, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser.

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[213] 22 June, Liverpool Echo, and 26 June 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[214] 27 July 1915, (Surrey Mirror.)

[215] 10 July 1915, (Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.)

[216] 6 July 1915, South Eastern Gazette

[217] 10 July 1915, Western Daily Press.

[218] 30 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[219] 31 July 1915, Kent Messenger.

[220] 20 July 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[221] 24 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[222] 17 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[223] 17 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[224] 17 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[225] 17 July 1915, Kent Messenger.

[226] 30 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[227] 30 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[228] 17 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[229] 17 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[230] 3 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[231] 20 July 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[232] 10 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[233] 24 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[234] Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[235] 17 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[236] 27 July 1915, Surrey Mirror.

[237] 27 July 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[238] 20 July 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[239] 30 July 1915, Sussex Agricultural Express.

[240]http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census-analysis/a-century-of-home-ownership-and-renting-in-england-and-wales/short-story-on-housing.html . Accessed 8 November 2017.

[241] 30 July 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[242] 20 August 1915, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[243] 6 August 1915, Dover Express.

[244] 7 August 1915, Kent Messenger.

[245] 18 August 1915, Liverpool Daily Post.

[246] 26 June 1915, Kent Messenger

[247] 21 August 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[248] 28 August 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[249] 4 August 1915 Globe.

[250] 14 August 1915, Kent Messenger.

[251] 28 August 1915, Kent Messenger.

[252] 24 August 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[253] 17 August 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[254] 27 August 1915, Manchester Evening News.

[255] 6 August 1915, Surrey Mirror.

[256] 6 August 1915, Globe.

[257] 29 June 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[258] 15 August 1915, Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

[259] 24 August 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[260] 28 August 1915, Kent Messenger.

[261] 25 August 1915, Birmingham Daily Post.

[262] 17 August 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[263] http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-1633409/Historic-inflation-calculator-value-money-changed-1900.html. Accessed 8 November 2017.

[264] 2 August 1915, Coventry Evening Telegraph.

[265] 3 August 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[266] 18 August 1915, The Sketch.

[267] 21 August 1915, Kent Messenger.

[268] 11 August, Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough. 14 August 1915, Kent Messenger.

[269] 18 August 1915, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.

[270] 19 August 1915, Kent Messenger.

[271] 4 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[272] 11 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[273] 25 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[274] 11 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[275] 25 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[276] 25 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[277] 6 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[278] 4 September 1915, Derby Daily Telegraph.

[279] 25 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[280] 28 September 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[281] 11 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[282] 14 September 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[283] 4 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[284] 11 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[285] 11 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[286] 14 September 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[287] 18 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[288] 18 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Observer.

[289] 4 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[290] 25 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[291] 28 September 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[292] 28 September 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[293] 11 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[294] 25 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[295] 4 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[296] 11 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[297] 18 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[298] 7 September 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[299] 4 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[300] 25 September 1915, Kent Messenger.

[301] 25 September 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[302] 9 October 1915, Herne Bay Press.

[303] 9 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[304] 16 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[305] 23 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[306] 27 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[307] 22 November 1915, Dundee Evening Telegraph.

[308] 28 October 1916, Kent Messenger.

[309] 2 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[310] 9 & 16 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[311] 16 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[312] 9 October 1915, Birmingham Gazette.

[313] 23 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[314] 16 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[315] 16 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[316] 23 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[317] 2 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[318] 2 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer. [Programme details given.]

[319] 23 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[320] 2 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[321] 23 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[322] 16 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[323] 18 October, Daily Express and 23 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[324] 2 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[325] 30 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[326] 2 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[327] 6 October, Daily Express, and Hull Daily Mail, and 12 October 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[328] 23 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[329] 30 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[330] 2 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[331] 30 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[332] 9 October 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[333] 15 October 1915, Church Times.

[334] 8 October 1915, Church Times.

[335] 9 October 1915, Herne Bay Press.

[336] 22 October 1915, Church Times.

[337] 9 October 1915, Kent Messenger.

[338] 23 October 1915, Herne Bay Press.

[339] 13 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[340] 27 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[341] 6 & 13 November 1915, Kent Messenger. Photo in 13 Nov. edition.

[342] 13 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[343] 5 November, Church Times, and 6 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[344] 6 November 1915, Kent Messenger. Picture in 13 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer,

[345] 13 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[346] 20 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[347] 13 November, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer and 9 November 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[348] 13 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[349] 13 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[350] 6 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[351] 13 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[352] Fundraising during the First World War: http://www.redcross.org.uk.

[353] 6 November 1915, Herne Bay Press.

[354] 27 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[355] https://starandgarter.org/the-royal-star-garter-homes-place-in-ww1-history. Accessed 21 September 2017.

[356] 20 November 1915, Kent Messenger and Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[357] 30 November 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[358] 6 November 1915, Herne Bay Press.

[359] 6 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[360] 27 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[361] 20 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[362] 27 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[363] www.economist.com/node/28631. Accessed 7 June 2017.

[364] 2 November 1915, Daily Express.

[365] 27 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Observer.

[366] 27 November 1915, Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Observer.

[367] 19 November 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[368] 6 November 1915, Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette.

[369] 9 November 1915, South Eastern Gazette.

[370] 13 November 1915, Herne Bay Press.

[371] 6 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[372] 12 November 1915, Church Times.

[373] 27 November 1915, Kent Messenger.

[374] www.1914-1918.net/derbyscheme.html. Accessed 8 June 2017.

[375] 18 December 1915, Chatham Rochester Gillingham Observer.

[376] 4 December 1915, Kent Messenger.

[377] 24 December 1915, Biggleswade Chronicle.

[378] 4 December 1915, Chatham Rochester Gillingham Observer.

[379] 4 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[380] 11 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[381] 18 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[382] 18 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[383] 25 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[384] 24 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[385] 4 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[386] 4 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[387] 18 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[388] 4 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[389] 11 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[390] 18 December 1915, Kent Messenger.

[391] 11 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[392] 25 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[393] 11 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[394] 4 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[395] 4 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[396] 25 December 1915, Kent Messenger.

[397] 31 December 1915, Church Times.

[398] 4 December 1915, Kent Messenger.

[399] 4 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[400] 4 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[401] 11 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[402] 11 December 1915, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[403] 11 December 1915, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.