Introduction

This is the third of five posts – one for each year of the Great War – 1914 to 1918/19. Each summarises my research for a series of articles / tours that described life on the Home Front in Rochester during the war.

There are three sections:

  1. The Headlines that gives an indication of what the more detailed report contains; if of interest search of the headline to be taken to the news article.
  2. The Articles – in italics. Each ends with a number of the source document
  3. The Source reference.

Text in the green font is contextual information that I have inserted. Text in purple is new information that I’ve added based on information I’ve received from readers of this blog.

Other blogs in the series:

Life in Rochester – 1914

Life in Rochester – 1915

Life in Rochester – 1917

Life in Rochester – 1918

Map of Rochester around the time of the Great War

old-rochester

+++ Headlines +++

JANUARY 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Armlets are issued to signify a man has attested
  • Rochester’s MP votes against conscription
  • Orders of the week issued for the Volunteer Training Corp

Reports from the Front

  • Pte. W. Rowe from Cuxton has been reported as missing
  • Gunner Charles Mills of Cliffe has been awarded the DCM
  • Lieut. B. C. Legge-Wilkinson died from fever at Port Sudan

Roll of Honour

  • Able seaman A. Scrivener was lost in the sinking of the P&O liner SS Persia.
  • There are hundreds of widows & fatherless children in Chatham and the adjoining boroughs

Health & Hospitals

  • Every bed in Strood VAD is full following a fresh convoy of wounded men
  • Education Committee is being pressed to open their minor ailment clinic for 5 days / week
  • The tragic suicide of Thomas Middleton who was suffering from nervous debility.

Home News

  • Rochester fire brigade attended a fire at Chatham barracks

Civic Business

  • The Council suggested, as an economy measure, householders should burn their rubbish
  • Roads are in poor condition and can’t be maintained due to cost and shortage of manpower

Community Support

  • Rochester’s Association of Voluntary Workers is in need of funds

Home Tragedies

  • The dangers of scaffolding – a man falls to his death at the Maths School

School & Education News

  • Married women to be taken on as teachers

Court Cases

  • Edward Hunt makes an unprovoked attack on a wounded soldier
  • Private Herbert Coles, who was charged with stealing from his landlady, was only 15
  • Soldiers found guilty of robbing their billets

Women’s Experiences

  • The teacher shortage necessitated appointing married ladies

Church & Cathedral

  • A special 9am Christmas Day parade service was arranged for the troops
  • Bishop recognised the growing strain of war that was forced upon us by stern necessity

Life Goes On

  • There is a need to obviate the undisciplined conduct of pedestrians in the City.
  • Clearance sale on at Leonards

FEBRUARY 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Approximate Call-Up dates, based on the ages of the men, were published
  • Men were encouraged to enlist now in ‘comfort’ by avoiding the rush
  • The allowances paid to enlisted Corporation employees is to cease
  • The Volunteer Training Corps of the three towns and Gravesend are to amalgamate

Tribunals

  • Cyril Wm. Surman was exempted from call up until 1st June

Reports from the Front

  • Drummer Oakley Bourne writes home describing the action in which he was wounded

Roll of Honour

  • HMS Arethusa mined – 12 crew are missing

Health & Hospitals

  • The finances of the Frindsbury Working Mans’ Club are in better shape
  • A war bonus is to be paid to the nurses employed at the Medway Union

Home News

  • Due to cost and restrictions placed on importing pulp newspapers are to have fewer pages
  • A ‘Bounty’ will be paid to people finding empty houses
  • The entrance to Strood station is to be changed

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Good quality milk is needed by Hilliers Creamery

Civic Business

  • Not all local authorities can afford to pay for Air Raid Insurance
  • The Council is unable to provide coal to the poor
  • A new parliamentary candidate is selected for Rochester

Home Tragedies

  • Poor street lighting is the cause of many fatal street accidents in Rochester
  • The death of soldiers on Strood Hill was attributed to the severe lighting restrictions
  • Private John Browett was knocked down in Rochester High Street by a motor bus

School & Education News

  • Schools are experiencing severe staffing difficulties
  • School economies are implemented with a freeze on items such as books and pianos
  • Teachers agree the public needs to be better informed on educational matters

Court Cases

  • Chatham men told to get drunk in Chatham not Rochester
  • 2nd. Lieut. Alfred Bisley felt his fine of 5s was “Rather Stiff”
  • Fred Couchman & Fred Ellmer fined for turning up at work drunk
  • There’s been an unexpected decrease in drunkenness

Women’s Experiences

  • A Wouldham woman was rescued from the mud but fined for being drunk.

Church & Cathedral

  • A Commemoration Service was held in the Cathedral for General Gordon
  • The Bishop confirmed a young soldier before he was deployed to the Front
  • Kent’s War-Time Temperance Crusade held its inaugural meeting
  • Out of 212 applicants Mr. C. H. Stewart, Mus.B. has been appointed as Cathedral organist

Life Goes On

  • Smart assistant wanted, male or female, for Gent’s Hosiery Dept
  • Invicta amateur dramatic society put on a performance at the Bethel Institute
  • Mr. S. Lee-Smith has been appointed as a Bridge Warden to replace Sir Robert Filmer

MARCH 1916

Military and War Reports

  • No reports

Tribunals

  • Edwin K. Simmonds made the first application for exemption to the Rochester Tribunal.
  • Horace Bentley’s appeal was successful as women could not move milk from the railway
  • Mr. Finch the indispensable bottle filler was given three months’ deferment
  • Dockyard workers and the Military Services Act
  • The Press can be excluded from appeals
  • The Tribunal orders a medical examination for Frederick Simmonds
  • A wife accuses some single men of telling ‘fairy tales’ in order to avoid call-up
  • John Goodhew given a three-month postponement
  • Henry Horsenail, given exemption from combative service
  • George Page’s appeal deferred pending butchers looking to pooling slaughtermen
  • The issue of the pooling slaughtermen returns to the Tribunal
  • Mr. F. L. Woolfe, a sole trader, allowed six months exemption
  • Shorts Brothers made a number of unsuccessful applications for exemption
  • Benjamin Arthur George Boys fined for failing to report for military service

Reports from the Front

  • Sgt. A. E. Whattler was wounded in the chest on the Tigris
  • Pte. J. V. Rowe, who is a PoW, manages to get a message to his wife

Roll of Honour

  • The death of Mr. Jesse Bottle a Crimean veteran, is announced

Health & Hospitals

  • The Alexandra isolation hospital acknowledged the anonymous donation of blankets
  • Patients at Fort Pitt have been liberally entertained since Christmas
  • Since opening 1,457 men have passed through Strood VAD with only one death
  • St. Bartholomew’s urgently needs additional funding
  • A bottle recycling scheme raises money for Fort Pitt Hospital

Home News

  • Times by which lights have to be ‘out’ are published each week in the press
  • Strood Union is unable to obtain coal
  • A woman desperate for coals walks two miles to Rochester with a pram
  • Rochester fire brigade have appointed a new captain
  • The paper supply has been reduced so newspaper runs will be reduced
  • Rochester Council proposes to purchase land to provide accommodation for workmen

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • The snow made it difficult to get stock to Rochester’s Cattle Market
  • Three churns of milk per day were wanted immediately by Hillier’s at Rochester

Community Support

  • 16,000 free cups of teas have been served at the Soldier’s Institute in Strood
  • A fundraising event was held in the Castle Hall for the Blind & Cripple Guild
  • An army canteen is in need of a second-hand piano in any condition

Home Tragedies

  • The London barge, Gertrude, laden with cement foundered near Rochester Bridge

School & Education News

  • School economies extended for another year

Court Cases

  • Albert Dabner a bargeman was too busy to attend court so left his fine with the police
  • Sidney James Munn was fined £1 for taking matches into an explosive works
  • William Ranger sought compensation for an industrial injury
  • Probation for a woman who had no recall of her offence
  • John Bates was summoned for causing a gelding pony to be worked in an unfit state.

Women’s Experiences

  • Guidance provided on the pay women should receive when taking on a man’s job
  • A teacher resigns as she’s getting married

Church & Cathedral

  • No more memorial brasses can be placed in the Cathedral
  • The Roman Catholic church lessens its Lenten requirements due to economic difficulties
  • The Bishop pays a special visit to the Cathedral to confirm wounded soldiers and sailors

Life Goes On

  • In 1915 Rochester’s museum received 33,201 visit
  • Important items were added to the museum’s collection

APRIL 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Easter Rising in Ireland

Tribunals

  • Frederick Ashby had his exemption for ‘special domestic circumstances’ cancelled
  • Married men protest about being called-up before all single men have been enlisted
  • A motor carman with the Rochester Yeast Company was granted exceptional exemption
  • The Upnor loam firm lost its appeal against the call-up of a labourer
  • The appeal of a conscientious objector was not accepted
  • Rochester Town Council is to appeal against the call up of their Sanitary Inspector
  • Women and children are not strong enough to lift milk churns
  • A boy soldier appeared before Rochester Magistrates to make a declaration of his name
  • An employee of Messrs. Short Bros., rejects his exemption

Reports from the Front

  • The press are prevented from providing the precise location of the events they report

Roll of Honour

  • 2nd Lieut. John Winckworth Bailey, Flying Corp, was killed on service on 31st March

Health & Hospitals

  • Steps were taken to prevent the spread of Spotted Fever
  • The School Medical Officer reported on the health of Rochester’s children
  • Porter and Porteress wanted at St. William’s Hospital

Home News

  • How the poor suffered as a consequence of the coal shortage
  • Mr. J. H. Jackson was added to the Commission of the Peace for Rochester.
  • Restrictions on the use of the river are be eased

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Eggs are being collected for wounded soldiers and sailors
  • George Walter was accused of deliberated watering milk by 15.7%

Community Support

  • Rochester Grammar School for girls entertained children from the Medway Cottage Homes
  • Children from the Gordon Road Infant School collected between 200 and 300 eggs

Home Tragedies

  • A boy named Arnold, from Gravel-walk, was knocked down by a car in King Street

School & Education News

  • The Education budget was reduced as there were no new special needs pupils
  • The reintroduction of slates into the classroom could be a threat to public health

Court Cases

  • Annie Simmons received three months’ hard labour for fraudulently obtaining groceries
  • Jury fees for inquests are withdrawn
  • Edith Norris receives one months’ hard labour for harbouring an Army deserter
  • Corporation paid compensation to the milk-boy who was accidentally shot
  • Chairman of Burham parish council and Arthur Ward of the Bull, charged with light offences
  • A wedding celebration led to several naval men being charged with the theft of a sugar sifter

Women’s Experiences

  • Women employed to attend dockyard machinery
  • Help requested to identify a Founding discovered in a garden at Balfour Road
  • Workers needed for Social Purity

Church & Cathedral

  • The Druids Arms (PH) to become St. Margaret’s Church House
  • The Bishop confirmed in the Cathedral a number of wounded soldiers from Chatham
  • Crowded congregations attended the services at the Cathedral on Easter Sunday

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Thomas Alfred Fowle & Faith Louisa Hayes
  • Firemen wanted by the City of Rochester
  • Experienced Outdoor Rescue worker urgently required
  • Ireland put under Martial Law

MAY 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Rochester’s MP voted against the Military Services Bill
  • The King’s message explained the need for Conscription

Tribunals

  • Six months’ exemption given to a dentist
  • William Attwood granted exemption at the expense of a colleague
  • The City’s only undertaker was granted conditional exemption

Reports from the Front

  • Telegrams from the Front – published updates on battles

Roll of Honour

  • The well know steamer, the “City of Rochester”, a screw collier, was torpedoed
  • James Campbell Stone died of wounds sustained whilst in action in France
  • 2nd Lieut. Bernard Pitt – officially reported as missing – possibly killed in a mine explosion

Health & Hospitals

  • The King sent several scores of pheasant eggs to Fort Pitt for men broken by the war
  • Rochester declared ‘War on Flies’
  • Spotted Fever compensation refused to billeting families who were quarantined
  • Limited housing, poor housing conditions and obstreperous landlords
  • The increase in pulmonary TB is attributed to poor housing
  • The birth rate in Rochester is the lowest on record – 20.8 /1000
  • St. Bartholomew’s debt was reduced through generous public support
  • Report on St. William’s Hospital – anti-diphtheria serum not being administered correctly

Home News

  • Damage caused by enemy aircraft should be a national charge
  • Daylight Savings Bill comes into force on 20 May to save energy7
  • Houses to be built at Wainscott for Government workers

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Loss of agricultural workers to the military led to diminishing crop yields
  • Temperance Movement justified its cause on the need to conserve grain for food

Civic Business

  • The Government ordered the flying of he Union Jack on Empire Day
  • Rochester sought tenders for the collection of waste paper

Community Support

  • A capital concert was given in aid of the YMCA Hut

Home Tragedies

  • A runaway tram-car injured three at Rochester
  • Air mechanic George Nivin Smart run down and killed by a motorcycle

School & Education News

  • Empire Day made for many bright celebrations in the schools around Rochester

Court Cases

  • James Little, a conscientious objector was fined £5 and handed to the authorities
  • John Eckert, conscientious objector, was fined £2 and told to report to the military
  • Frederick Atkins fined £5 for neglecting to fill out a national registration form
  • Fred Elmer imprisoned for one month for not paying the fine for not reporting for work

Women’s Experiences

  • Ladies were out from dawn to dusk collecting on St. Georges Flag Day – England’s Day
  • A public demonstration of women’s work on the farm was held at Coombe Farm, Tovil
  • Mrs. R. Graham appointed to the local committee for the Admin of Disability Pensions

Church & Cathedral

  • Lady workers in the Diocese are planning a ‘Pilgrimage of Prayer’
  • A Rogation Service for a blessing on the crops was held in Rochester Corn Market

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Capt. W. E. Bingham Gadd & Miss E. V. Hadden

JUNE 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Rochester unhappy with their MP voting against the Military Service Bill

Tribunals

  • Mr. John Sharpe, a master-baker, was granted conditional exemption
  • Edward Richard Chambers, laundry worker, granted conditional exemption
  • Jesse Tinker was not in an exempted trade so there’s no basis for an appeal
  • Sidney Johncock – exemption refused, immediate call-up
  • Alfred Richmond had his appeal refused –  employer needs to find a replacement
  • Harry Grinsted, exempted, so long as he continued as a volunteer munitions worker
  • Edward Leonard, of Leonards department store, granted six months’ exemption
  • Butchers, William Barrett 2 months’ exemption & Thomas Mitchell conditional exemption
  • A grave digger was granted temporary exemption
  • Hairdresser Alfred Onslow granted conditional exemption

Reports from the Front

  • William Lawrence, bomb-thrower, awarded the DCM
  • 2nd Lieut. Cecil Francis injured after being thrown from a strange horse

Roll of Honour

  • HMS Invincible sunk during the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916
  • Acting Sub-Lieut. T. H. Cobb lost in the Battle of Jutland
  • The Mayor pays tribute to Lord Kitchener

Health & Hospitals

  • St. Bartholomew’s budget in deficit – again
  • Sunday’s church offerings largely went to St. Bartholomew’s
  • Strood VAD gift day raised over £150 in cash and goods of a similar value
  • Frindsbury/Strood VAD is underfunded by the Government

Home News

  • The Medway Guardians support the call for the Government to regulate food prices

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Work in the fields kept many from Rochester Cattle Market
  • John Bates fined for selling milk adulterated with water and boric acid
  • The Gardener’s Society held their monthly meeting at the Bull Hotel

Civic Business

  • The Guardians of the Strood Union applied again for the exemption of John Croomer
  • The City police received an increase in pay on account of the increased cost of living
  • The Corporation sells land on Corporation Street for a slaughter house
  • Rochester’s new petrol motor fire engine arrived

Community Support

  • There was been a generous response to the appeal for eggs for wounded soldiers

Home Tragedies

  • A cyclist was badly injured in Parsonage Lane, Frindsbury

School & Education News

  • The Empire Day event held at Rochester Parish Church was attended by 300 children
  • Payments received by enlisted teachers exceeds the salary they would have received

Court Cases

  • Wife secures maintenance and is no longer bound to co-habit with her husband
  • Negligence was not the cause of barges colliding on the Medway

Women’s Experiences

  • The future welfare of England depends upon babies
  • Women are not allowed to work at nights or on Sundays

Church & Cathedral

  • A Rogation Service was held in the Corn Exchange for a blessing of the crops.
  • The Church was accused of being out of touch with workers
  • The Church must brighten itself up for the returning boys
  • Rochester Cathedral was filled to overflowing at a service to commemorate Lord Kitchener
  • A window in the Lady Chapel is to become a memorial to the ‘old boys’ of the King’s School
  • A Confirmation Service was held in the Cathedral for men heading for the Front

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Walter Lewington & Evelyn Hughes
  • Marriage between A. S. Mark & Miss G. Knott
  • Leonards Dept. Store lowered the price of black material suitable for mourning clothes
  • Gordon Hotel provides “an ideal rendezvous for ladies to meet”
  • Feature on historic and prehistoric Medway
  • Violent election held at Rochester one hundred years ago
  • Better service is provided by staff who can take and enjoy a midday meal

JULY 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Help requested in locating men who have not reported to the Recruiting Office

Tribunals

  • Manager of the Rochester bottling department of Style & Winch is conditionally exempted
  • Frederick Smeed had his certificate of ‘conditional exemption’ cancelled

Reports from the Front

  • Capt. C. Tuff, has been invalided to Karachi
  • Kent Civilian Prisoners of War at Ruhleben say they are receiving insufficient food

Roll of Honour

  • The published list of casualties is very extensive and too large to be reported here
  • Henry Vernon During aged 19 killed

Health & Hospitals

  • The War Office has agreed to pay cerebro-spinal fever compensation
  • Richard Watts Charity lends a nurse to Strood VAD
  • Venereal disease treatment centres are to be established

Home News

  • The Rochester & Chatham Gas Company are to construct a new plant
  • The posts of postmasters for Rochester and Chatham were merged into one post

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • All vacant Corporation land was to be let as allotment plots

Civic Business

  • The Local Government Board inquiry met to consider the proposed joint sewage scheme
  • The City’s new motor fire engine was ‘christened’
  • Firemen treated to a cream tea – ‘sweetened’ by donated sugar
  • Charges set for the use of the fire engine outside the City boundary
  • Due to the coal shortage the Medway Guardians sought to buy coal ‘off-contract’
  • Four new special constables were sworn in
  • Borstal escape required more special constables to be sworn in
  • Rochester set up a Committee to promote War Savings
  • Chatham considering erecting a statue to Lord Kitchener

Community Support

  • Two fundraising concerts were “interfered with considerably by thunderstorms”
  • Free travel proposed for wounded soldiers

Home Tragedies

  • A fireman was badly injured after a mishap with the Corporation’s new fire engine

School & Education News

  • Troy Town children raise money for the relief of Belgium children

Court Cases

  • Ernest Lock fined £10 for failing to register lodgers
  • Ada Pierce sentenced to 3 months’ hard-labour for supplying drink to a convalescing solider
  • Rochester brought under the Liquor Control Regulations
  • The licence of the Brickmakers’ Arms in Cuxton Road, Strood, was not renewed

Women’s Experiences

  • Another successful fundraising effort was undertaken by Rochester ladies
  • For the third week running there was a case of two fighting woman summoning each other

Church & Cathedral

  • The Parochial Choir festival went ahead
  • St. Peter’s orchestra performed a programme for the wounded soldiers in Fort Pitt hospital.

Life Goes On

  • A strong girl wanted for the kitchen in the Kings Head
  • A dog collects its own licence
  • Kent Archaeological Society shocked by sight of the new bridge
  • Gillingham Council tackles the problem of gaming machines in shops

AUGUST 1916

Military and War Reports

  • The British offensive is a month old
  • 500 old boys of the Rochester Mathematical School are serving in HM Forces

Tribunals

  • Dissatisfaction has been expressed that local Tribunals now require service in the VTC
  • Exemptions from military service were granted to a number of pub licensees

Reports from the Front

  • Bothers Frederick and Ernest Beany distinguished themselves under fire
  • Rifleman E. Upton of Boundary Wharf, Rochester, has been reported as missing

Roll of Honour

  • Lieut. Terence Brabazon died of his wounds

Health & Hospitals

  • More VAD nurses were needed due to the high demands being placed on the hospitals
  • A wounded Canadian recovered well in the Strood & Frindsbury VAD

Home News

  • Strood Union trustees fear a winter fuel shortage and hold an unminuted meeting
  • A supply of coal was secured by the Medway Union
  • Coal is available for the public but it is expensive
  • The gas supply was holding up and prices are to be reduced
  • Water economy needed due to the high demand being made by Government industries
  • Welfare supervisors have been introduced by the Munitions Committee

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Almost every district of the County had had cases of adulterated of milk

Community Support

  • St. Bartholomew’s Hospital recorded its appreciation for various donations

Home Tragedies

  • A female munition worker dies from atrophy of the liver
  • Captain Bernard Cadie, a patient at Fort Pitt, commits suicide

School & Education News

Fined 5s for poor school attendance

Court Cases

  • The war may have reduced the volume of cases coming before the Courts
  • Albert Skinner was summoned for discharging a catapult
  • Mrs. Lilian Wilson was summoned for failing to control a ferocious dog

Women’s Experiences

  • Kent Central District of the English Church Union voted against the ordination of women

Church & Cathedral

  • How Sundays should be observed
  • A Thanksgiving Service was held to mark the second anniversary of the war

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Harold Smith & Miss Minnie Hamar

SEPTEMBER 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Workers are to be allowed to take their deferred bank holidays
  • Many thousands visited the captured submarine anchored at Sun Pier
  • Sixteen men from Rochester have not reported to the Recruiting Office
  • A boy claimed to be a German spy

Tribunals

  • Arthur William Dale’s mother requested exemption as she had two sons serving –refused

Reports from the Front

  • The Battle of the Somme newsreel film was shown at the National Electric Theatre
  • Company Sgt. Major A. F. Smith was awarded the Military Cross

Roll of Honour

  • Many lists published of those killed, missing, wounded, or who had failed to enlist
  • Lieut. Tom Packman – killed in action

Health & Hospitals

  • 318 patients from the Medway Union are in the Barming Asylum
  • Young solider commits suicide ten days after enlisting
  • Pte. G. Bishop, a Rochester solider, is listed as suffering from shell-shock
  • St. Bartholomew’s Nursing League held its first AGM
  • Inspectors press Rochester council to extend its maternity and children’s welfare work
  • James Hatt was taken into protective custody by the police

Home News

  • Leonard’s Dept. store to hold a “Great ‘before the holiday’ shopping week”
  • Towns thronged with pleasure seekers during the belated Bank Holidays

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Hillier dairy seeking suppliers of milk
  • Mary Daykin was prosecuted for selling milk with 9.5% added water

Civic Business

  • Council’s waste paper collection service did well
  • Huts have been erected on Strood Esplanade
  • The City’s new fire engine performed well
  • Closing orders placed on drapers & milliners, furniture dealers, pawnbrokers, tailors

Community Support

  • Wounded soldiers were entertained at Conservatives’ bowling clubs
  • The Castle Garden’s fete was opened by Lady Darnley
  • Strood VAD registered as a war charity

Home Tragedies

  • Stewart Buchanan was killed on an exercise involving bomb throwing practice
  • Young woman [Maria Twigg] found murdered in woods off the Rochester / Maidstone Road

School & Education News

  • Payment of a War Bonus for uncertified teachers was agreed

Court Cases

  • Florrie Swain was the first woman fined for taking cigarettes into a munitions works
  • John Ferguson fined 4s for smoking in a munitions works
  • A drayman was fined £2 for “Sucking the monkey”

Women’s Experiences

  • The Medway Swimming Club’s annual long distance swim was won by Miss Gladys Wright
  • A successful ladies swimming gala was held at the Mathematical School’s baths.
  • “Nine women out of ten are bloodless” according to an advertising feature

Church & Cathedral

  • Memorial window placed in Rochester Cathedral for Cecil Fearnley who was killed in action

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between George Grieveson & Miss Elizabeth Alice Arnold

OCTOBER 1916

Military and War Reports

  • Many hundreds of people lined the roads to see Field Marshal Viscount French
  • The Aliens Restriction Order was been extended
  • Air-raid insurance made available to the public

Tribunals

  • The call-up of agricultural worker was been put on hold

Reports from the Front

  • Pte. A. Bloomfield has been reported as missing
  • Capt. Cecil Cloake was been awarded the Military Cross
  • Pte. George Barrett has been wounded in the shoulder
  • Rifleman Harrod Brand has been reported as being wounded in action
  • Pte. Brooks from Strood, has been missing since going into battle in France on 8 August

Roll of Honour

  • 2nd Lieut. Stanley Hopkiss Mason has been killed in action
  • Pte. Robert Fancett died of wounds received in the Battle of Loos
  • Sgt. D. W. White was killed by a sniper
  • Cpl. Fred Weeks died of wounds in a Clearing Station in France
  • Sgt. Alfred George Hoad died of his wound

Health & Hospitals

  • During air raids Rochester’s four ambulance stations are manned
  • In the past two years 1,937 men have passed through Strood & Frindsbury VAD.
  • Patent medicine advert – “there is an alternative to habit-forming tonics”

Home News

  • Major Metcalfe was appointed as the Chief Recruiting Officer at Rochester
  • Shops at Rochester & Strood will close for the two-day Bank Holiday
  • Staff in southern dockyards, including Chatham dockyard, is to be reduced
  • Permission to build a slaughterhouse in Rochester was refused by the Ministry of Munitions

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • A record potato price was set of £80 / acre for King Edward potatoes
  • The lack of confidence in the quality of milk continued to be of concern
  • Should coffee be substituted for beer at Christmas for the inmates of the Strood Union?

Civic Business

  • Miss Jackson agreed to be the Mayoress of Rochester again

Community Support

  • 42,000 soldiers & sailors have visited Strood’s Soldiers & Sailors Institute since it opened
  • A very successful fundraising concert was given at the Victoria Hall, Rochester

Home Tragedies

  • A seaplane accident kills PO. William Hodgson and injures Fgt. Sub-Lieut. Mostyn Lewis
  • James Butcher was knocked down and killed by a motorbus in Strood

School & Education News

  • A craft school is to be established in Rochester for boys and disabled sailors & soldiers

Court Cases

  • Rochester Licensing Stats
  • A number of people were prosecuted for failing to prevent the escape of light
  • Court accepts poor husbandry can impact on the quality of milk that cattle produce

Women’s Experiences

  • 50 female workers were injured in a Chattenden train smash
  • Poem – The Woman’s Part
  • Patent medicine advertising feature – “The tragedy of womanhood”

Church & Cathedral

  • The Bishop criticises easy-going religion that makes few demands on our time & purse
  • The Cathedral has probably never been fuller for a Harvest Festival

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between William King & Alice Wilmore Hancock

NOVEMBER 1916

Military and War Reports

  • New Temperance proposal to convert all public houses into house of refreshment
  • Rochester Recruiting Office has moved from the old post office Rochester
  • More agricultural workers are to be enlisted
  • An extra holiday was granted for Dockyard and Munition workers
  • A Rochester engineering Company with German links is to be closed

Tribunals

  • James Charles Henry Little, a conscientious objector, “comes good”
  • George Ernest Syms had his student status questioned
  • Concern raised about the Military overriding Tribunal decisions
  • There is to be an immediate call-up of all men who had been deferred until 1 Jan. 1917

Reports from the Front

  • Cpl. William Charles Henry Clements has been awarded the Military Medal

Roll of Honour

  • Pte. Jesse Dean has been killed in action
  • Pte.  William Charles Arscott killed in action
  • Arch Deacon Weaire died of wounds whilst being held as a prisoner of war
  • The death of Gunner Gordon Randall has been reported

Health & Hospitals

  • Praise for Strood VAD for bringing a “dear husband” back to convalesce
  • A venereal disease treatment centre is to be established at Rochester

Home News

  • Meeting held to discuss juvenile offending in Chatham and the need for a home for boys
  • Housing shortage meant an evicted wife was unable to find alternative accommodation

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Shortage of farm labour blamed for food shortages
  • The high cost of food and fuel is putting pressure on the finances of the Strood Union

Civic Business

  • The war bonus paid to Corporation workers is to be increased
  • The London, Chatham & Dover Railway offers the Council £10 for the old fire station
  • The City flag flew on the castle to celebrate Mayor’s Day
  • Inquiry continues into the joint main drainage scheme for Rochester and Chatham

Community Support

  • Strood VAD requests Christmas gifts
  • Strood VAD requests a turkey for Christmas
  • Lord Darnley works as a hoer and auctioneer in support of the war effort
  • A sensational patriotic sale at Rochester raised nearly £2,000 for the Red Cross
  • Frindsbury Chapel to be made into a place of entertainment for service men
  • Madame Nellie Newlyn gave a performance at the Medway Union and Infirmary
  • A scramble sale for the League of Pity was held in the Guildhall

Home Tragedies

  • Pte. Whitmore’s who had been severally wounded committed suicide

School / Education News

  • Swimming lesson successes – thanks to the Trustees of the Watts’ Bath

Court Cases

  • Henry Tucker fined 9s for being in charge of a brewer’s dray without lights
  • More crime is committed by outsiders than inhabitants of Rochester
  • Henry Moore, naval pensioner, fined in Rochester for being drunk and disorderly
  • Frederick Hissey, waterman, fined £1 at Rochester for contravening DoRA river regulations

Women’s Experiences

  • “Women’s responsibility for Child Welfare” was the theme of a child welfare meeting
  • Women don’t need to work because of the amount of benefits they receive

Church & Cathedral

  • Mr. Hylton-Stewart gave his first organ recital at Rochester Cathedral

Life Goes On

  • Buy early for Christmas says Charles Leonards & Sons

DECEMBER 1916

Military and War Reports

  • J Newnham has been satisfactorily accounted for by the Recruiting Office

Tribunals

  • Percy Solomon Moss’s exemption was challenged by the military
  • Rules concerning conditional exemptions changed

Reports from the Front

  • 2nd Lieut. E. P. Wood is laying in Havre dangerously wounded
  • PC Eve may have been killed by a German shell as he left the trenches for Christmas leave

Roll of Honour

  • “Kent and the War” – a distressingly long list of lost, wounded and missing men
  • Sgt. A. J. Little died of his wounds in France

Health & Hospitals

  • Around 2,600 wounded soldiers were received at Chatham during the year
  • Australians cared for at Strood VAD
  • Five men have been admitted to the lunatic ward of the Medway Workhouse
  • There has been a falloff in donations for St. Bartholomew’s – particularly from Rochester

Home News

  • Christmas at the Six Poor Travellers
  • The third Christmas in the local hospitals

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Inflation is making food very expensive
  • Gillingham unhappy that Medway Union inmates are to receive beer at Christmas
  • Entrants to the 9th annual Rochester Fat Stock show was below that of previous years

Civic Business

  • Street lighting is to be increased in Rochester and Strood
  • A decision on the New Road bowling green was been deferred until after the war

Community Support

  • The ‘old girls’ of Rochester Grammar arranged a Café chantant
  • Rochester Maths School Scout Troop put on a splendid display
  • Children of the Gordon Road Infant School made plum puddings for wounded soldiers

Home Tragedies

  • Pte. Pellatt was crushed by a car that was being moved in Rochester High Street
  • Pte. Page was seriously injured after being thrown from the top deck of a motor bus

School / Education News

  • School attendance needs to be improved
  • Permission was refused for a swimming contest involving girls from the Medway Union

Court Cases

  • Absence of crime – no cases before Rochester magistrates
  • William Lester was fined £1 for trading ‘out of hours’
  • Oscar Potts was fined £3 for failing to screen the windows at the Port Victoria Station

Women’s Experiences

  • Ladies to be asked to undertake a door-to-door collection for St. Bartholomew’s
  • A woman was assaulted by a “scoundrel” on Fort Pitt fields
  • A Hut has been opened in New Road, Chatham
  • Ald. Charles Willis has given rent free a house in Borstal-road to be used as a girl’s hostel

Church & Cathedral

  • Four soldiers were confirmed before going to the Front
  • Experimental weekday services are to be held in the Cathedral for soldiers
  • A new war shine was opened in Jesus Chapel at Rochester Cathedral
  • Bishop calls for a substantive peace – anything less he says would be a betrayal

Life Goes On

  • The engagement was announced of Lieut. John Durling and Jessie Hamilton Cobb

 +++ The Reports +++

 

January 1916

During 1916 food shortages began to develop with consequential inflation. “Start the year with Thrift” urged the Bishop of Rochester.

Military and War Reports

Because of the public strength of feelings against men who were not serving, it was necessary for a man to some emblem to show they were serving or had served their country. Badges or armlets were issued. It was later necessary to pass laws preventing men from wearing such emblems to which they were not entitled! No reports have been found of women distributing ‘white feathers’ (symbol of cowardice) in Rochester.

Armlets are issued to signify a man has attested. Sir Ernest Lamb was the first to be seen in the House of Commons wearing an armlet signifying attestation under the Derby scheme. Lamb sits as a Radical [Liberal] for Rochester.[1]

The Military Service Act that introduced conscription was passed in January 1916. The Act specified that men from 18 to 41 years were liable to be called up for service in the army unless they were married, widowed with children, serving in the Royal Navy, a minister of religion, or was working in one of a number of reserved occupations. A second Act in May 1916 extended liability for military service to married men, and a third Act in 1918 extended the upper age limit to 51.

Rochester’s MP votes against conscription. Sir Ernest Lamb, MP for Rochester, voted with the minority of 36 in the House of Commons against the Military Service Bill. The bill passed with a huge majority – For 383, against 36.[2]

Orders for the VTC were published in the press every week.

Orders of the week issued for the Volunteer Training Corp – the orders included drum practice at Arkcoll’s Brewery on Tuesday and Thursday.[3] [The brewery may well have been in Hulks Lane, Chatham.]

Reports from the Front

Pte. W. Rowe from Cuxton has been reported as missing. W. Rowe is serving in the 6th Royal West Kent Regiment. If any comrades in France have any information can they please write to Mr. & Mrs. Rowe, Dean Farm, Cuxton.[4]

Gunner Charles Mills of Cliffe has been awarded the DCM. Mills received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry in the field and devotion to duty.[5]

Lieut. B. C. Legge-Wilkinson died from fever at Port Sudan. Legge-Wilkinson (21) was from Allington and had been educated at King’s School, Rochester. Mr. Chegwyn, the late headmaster of the school spoke very warmly of a past pupil.[6]

Roll of Honour

The P&O passenger ship Persia was on her way to India with 500 passengers when it was attacked and sunk. The high death toll was due to it sinking so fast and it only being possible to launch four of the lifeboats. The sinking was highly controversial as it was argued that it was in contravention of naval international law which stated that merchant ships carrying a neutral flag could only be stopped and searched for contraband, and the U-boat that fired the torpedo made no effort to rescue survivors.

Able seaman A. Scrivener was lost in the sinking of the P&O liner SS Persia. Scrivener of 24 Gravel Walk, Rochester, was one of the 345 of the 519 on board, who were lost in the sinking. She was torpedoed [on 30thDecember 1915] in the Mediterranean [off Crete]. [7]

The loss of so many Chatham ships traumatised families across the Medway towns.

There are hundreds of widows & fatherless children in Chatham and the adjoining boroughs of Rochester and Gillingham. The loss of HMS Natal joins the list of Hogue, Cressy, Aboukir, Hermione, Amphion, Triumph, Laertes, Princess Irene – to name the most prominent; all these ships had a Chatham connection.[8]

Health & Hospitals

Every bed in Strood VAD is full following a fresh convoy of wounded men. The management would be grateful for a supply of new laid eggs as a good diet is of absolute necessity in some cases. The gift or loan of a gramophone would confer great enjoyment for the wounded men. A bagatelle table would also be a most acceptable gift. The management pointed out the financial difficulties they face. The London Hospital received 4s/day/man and is in financial difficulties – Strood VAD only receives 2s/man/day.[9]

The Education (Administrative Provisions) Act required LEAs to provide for the medical inspection of children in public elementary schools and the power (which became a duty in 1918) to attend to their health and physical condition. This was effectively the start of the school health service. It would appear that Rochester had at this time opened a ‘part-time’ clinic to meet this requirement – the following report suggests that it could have also been a ‘treatment facility’.

Education Committee is being pressed to open their minor ailment clinic for 5 days / week. Owing to the compulsory notification of measles, and the fact that the Education Committee are being pressed by the Board of Education to open their minor ailment clinic five day a week, the Rochester Corporation has, in lieu of opening a clinic, is to appoint a second Health Nurse for the City at a salary of £60/year, plus £5 for uniform.[10]

In the following account of a probable suicide, the mental health aspect was recognised and a doctor had been consulted.

The tragic suicide of Thomas Middleton who was suffering from nervous debility. Middleton, cashier to Messrs. Aveling and Porter Ltd., was found lying dead in the bathroom of his residence 58, Goddington Road, Strood. He had a terrible gash in his throat and a broken razor by his side. He had lately been very depressed and had been attended by a doctor for nervous debility.[11]

Home News

Rochester fire brigade attended a fire at Chatham barracks. Fire parties, both naval and military were called out together with the Fire Brigades of Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester to tackle a fire in the whole of the buildings comprising the North Square at Brompton Barracks. By the time of their arrival the fire had taken hold. Many lengths of hose were run out, and steps were taken by the naval men to demolish parts of the buildings in order to stop the spread of the flames, but for some time without result as the force of the water being probably weakened by the use of too many jets from one supply. The fire was discovered at 8:30pm and it was not brought under control until 4am Sunday morning. The damaged is estimated at many thousands of pounds.[12]

Civic Business

The Council suggested, as an economy measure, householders should burn their rubbish. A number of measures were considered by a special committee of Rochester Corporate to economise on expenditure. One measure was to require households to burn their rubbish therefore reducing the need for collecting and carting rubbish. The committee also thought that the better system for the collection of rates was needed.[13]

Roads are in poor condition and can’t be maintained due to cost and shortage of manpower. W. Banks(Surveyor, Rochester) and representatives from other councils across the towns, met to discuss road maintenance problems brought about by the high cost of materials and shortage of manpower to undertake work on roads that had suffered extra wear and tear due to military traffic.[14]

Community Support

Without regulation it was possible for people and organisations to dishonestly raise funds. The War Office therefore set up a registration systems. Bona fide organisations were entitled to use the words “Approved by the War Office” in connection with their work. The following appeal is for funds to purchase materials for use by the hospital munitions service. It suggests that the government did not provide funds for these materials.

Rochester’s Association of Voluntary Workers is in need of funds. Lucie H. Jackson, Mayoress of Rochester, wrote a letter seeking donations for the Recognised Association of Voluntary Workers at Rochester as it was in need of funds. She reported that the very large order sent by the War Office for supplying the needs of four hospitals hds used up all money in hand.[15]

Home Tragedies

The dangers of scaffolding – a man falls to his death at the Maths School. An inquest was held into the death of Arthur Webber (44) a bricklayer lodging at 23 Military Road, Chatham. He was killed in a fall from scaffold at Rochester Mathematical School. In evidence it was heard that Webber had once before had a warning fit on scaffolding but had declined work on the ground. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, adding the rider that in future guardrails should be used on scaffolding as well as guard board.[16]

School & Education news

Married women to be taken on as teachers  – see ‘Women’s Experiences’, January 1916.

Court Cases

Edward Hunt makes an unprovoked attack on a wounded soldier. Edward Hunt from Strood and aged over 70 years, appeared before magistrates for assaulting two soldiers who were patents at the Strood VAD having been wounded at the front. The two were walking along North Street when Hunt pushed into them saying “you asked for it, now you’ve got it”; neither had met Hunt before. The Mayor said the offence was indescribable. Hunt was fined £5 + £8 12s costs, with the alternative of one months’ imprisonment.[17]

As many as 250,000 boys under the age of 18 served in the British Army during World War One.[18]

Private Herbert Coles, who was charged with stealing from his landlady, was only 15.  A special Children’s Court had to be constituted by Rochester Magistrates when it was discovered that the solider, Herbert Coles, who was charged with stealing from his landlady was only 15.[19]

Soldiers found guilty of robbing their billets. James Earl (17) was sentenced to 14 days’ hard labour for stealing 5s 11d from the gas meter at the house where he was billeted in Montford Road, Strood. Another solider was charged with stealing a couple of lady’s rings from a house in which he was billeted in Strood. It was said he was only 15 when he enlisted but gave his age as 18. Edward Victor Pick (23) who was described by the Court Clerk as a “most dreadful lair” received three months’ hard labour for stealing jewellery etc., valued at £3 10s, belonging to George Wells, of Rochester Avenue. Edward Pick locked Mrs. Wells in the kitchen while he went upstairs, stole things, and made off.[20]

Women’s Experiences

The Marriage Bar prevented many women from staying at work after marriage. The civil service did not allow women to work after marriage. By early 1916 it was proving very difficult to keep businesses and schools running with so many men now in uniform. The problem, particularly in schools was that until the Sex Disqualification Removal Act was passed in 1919, married women were not allowed to work as teachers as it was believed “the responsibilities of married life are normally in-compatible with the devotion of a woman’s whole-time and unimpaired energy to the Public Services.[21] The shortage of teachers eventually led to married women being encouraged to return to teaching. In Rochester it seems this may initially have been restricted to married women who had previously been teachers – and then only to supply posts.

The teacher shortage necessitated appointing married ladies. To deal with the shortage of teachers caused by illness and enlistment the Rochester Education Committee has appoint a number of married ladies who had formerly been teachers [before they married] as ‘supply teachers.[22]

Church & Cathedral

The large numbers attending Christmas Communion in the Cathedral required a return to a pre-Reformation practice.

A special 9am Christmas Day parade service was arranged for the troops. The 7am and other Christmas Day services held at the Cathedral were all well attended. A communion table was specially prepared and the Holly Sacraments were administered in the nave for the first time since the Reformation.[23]

Bishops New Year Message:

Bishop recognised the growing strain of war that was forced upon us by stern necessity. The Bishop of Rochester in his New Year Message referred to the growing strain of a war that shows no sign of abatement, and the heroic lives that had been laid down for King and Country. “The war” the bishop said “has been forced upon us by stern necessity; it is our pride that we know how to fight as Christians and as gentleman without cruelty or vindictiveness.”[24]

Life Goes On

There is a need to obviate the undisciplined conduct of pedestrians in the City.  There was much controversy at a meeting of the Rochester Corporation as to the best way to remove the inconvenience occasioned by undisciplined pedestrians. It was eventually decided to fix ‘Keep Right’ signs to the tram poles.[25]

Clearance sale on at Leonards. Charles Leonard & Sons 114-120 High Street, Rochester Tuesday January 18th – Final Remnant Day and clearance of oddments from all departments including Arts & Crafts.[26]

February 1916

Military and War Reports

Approximate Call-Up dates, based on the ages of the men, were published under the Military Services Act. Approximate Call-Up dates [based on age of men.] April 29th – 24 to 33; May 13th – 34 to 36; May 27th – 37 to 39; June 10th – 40 to 42; June 24th – 43 to 45; July 8th -46.[27]

Men were encouraged to enlist now in ‘comfort’ by avoiding the rush. Every eligible unmarried man should familiarise himself with the requirements of the Military Services Act and consider seriously whether he will respond to the appeal to anticipate its provisions either by enlisting at once or by attesting now under the group system. The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee anticipate a rush to colours at the last moment and those who desire to enlist or attest in comfort are urged to do so before the rush of the closing day.

The allowances paid to enlisted Corporation employees is to cease owing to the fact that the pay of serving men now exceeds their former wages which they received whilst employed by the Rochester Corporation.[28]

The Volunteer Training Corps of the three towns and Gravesend are to amalgamate. Members of the Rochester Volunteer Training Corp decided at a general meeting on Friday to cease to exist as a battalion and to amalgamate with the Gillingham, Chatham and Gravesend contingents. Together they will form the 4th Battalion of the Mid-Kent Regiment of the Kent Volunteer Fencibles. Rochester members will become ‘B Company’ of the battalion with Mr. L. A. Goldie in command.[29]  [Fencibles were men who formed a home defence against possible invasion of their homeland.]

Tribunals

The Military Service Act was passed in January 1916 and came into force on 2 March 1916. At first it only applied to single men aged between 18 and 41. In May 1916 further legislation was introduced that extended conscription to married men. There were exemptions for widowers with children, the medically unfit, clergymen, teachers and certain workers engaged in work of National Importance. It was left to local tribunals to determine what was or wasn’t an essential job. This resulted in inequities across the country and across the Medway Towns. Men who objected to fighting on moral grounds were also exempted but they needed to prove to a Tribunal that they were genuine conscientious objectors who had an established commitment to ‘non-violence’. The men who were successful in their appeal to the tribunals were issued with a certificate of exemption.

Cyril Wm. Surman was exempted from call up until 1st June. Surman, single and aged 19, a pupil at Rochester & Chatham Gas works, was given temporary exemption.[30]

Reports from the Front

Drummer Oakley Bourne writes home describing the action in which he was wounded. Bourne (21), son of Mr. & Mrs. C. Bourne, of Manor Farm, Lower Halling, was wounded on 7 January. In a characteristic letter he describes the progress of the Battalion from the Indian Camp at Kamptee, via Bombay, and the Persian Gulf, to the field of action, where they found the Turks and Arabs, numbering around 10,000 and strongly entrenched. Bourne was wounded in the right thigh and right arm, and after laying on the battlefield all night was taken to the field hospital in Calaba. He is now in hospital in Bombay.[31

Roll of Honour

HMS Arethusa mined – 12 crew are missing.[32]

Health & Hospitals

Part of Claremont House formed part of Strood VAD. It would seem the bar takings may have benefited from the military billeted in the area.

The finances of the Frindsbury Working Mans’ Club are in better shape. 18 months ago the club had a £900 overdraft, it is now down to £222 and it’s hoped that in 12 months’ time their new premises, Claremont House [2 Frindsbury Road, Strood] will be debt free. During the past year bar takings were £2,801 13s 5d.[33]

Golden-handcuff payment to nurses employed at the Medway Union – that was on the site of the old All Saints Hospital, Magpie Hall Road.

A war bonus is to be paid to the nurses employed at the Medway Union. At the meeting of the Medway Guardians it was decided to give a war bonus of £12 10s to the three sister assistants and the Matron, and £10 to the other nurses, subject to them giving an undertaking to remain at least 12 months. The board also decided to send a strong letter of protest to the Kent Asylums Committee against a further increase in the charge for lunatics to 13s 81/2d per week. Since the outbreak of war the charge per patient has increase by 3s 3/4d.[34]

Home News

Due to cost and restrictions placed on importing pulp newspapers are to have fewer pages. Government restrictions on the importing of pulp and higher costs required the Chatham Rochester Gillingham Observer to reduce from 12 to 8 pages. It will revert to 12 pages if required by advertising or news.[35]

The housing shortage across the Towns was exacerbated by the number of people moving into the area to work in the military industries. Although there was the 1890 ‘Housing for the Working Classes Act’ which aimed to improve the existing diabolical stock, local authorities did not have the power to build council houses. It was not until the ‘Housing and Town Planning Act’ of 1919 (The Addison Act) that local councils could drive the development of housing.[36] The consequence of clearing slum properties – as previously reported under ‘Civic Business’, February, 1915 – without replacements being built, further depleted the housing stock.

A ‘Bounty’ will be paid to people finding empty houses. So scarce is housing in the dockyard towns of Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham that people are offering rewards for the first intimation of empty houses, and a local paper contained an offer of £5 reward for such information.[37]

The entrance to Strood station is to be changed. The South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company have decided to close the Station Road entrance to Strood station so better control can be exercised over passengers going to and from the platforms.[38]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Good quality milk is needed by Hilliers Creamery. Hilliers Creamery placed an advertisement for a good diary able to provide rich milk delivered to Rochester starting now or April. Prompt payment offered.[39]

Civic Business

Not all local authorities can afford to pay for Air Raid Insurance. Representatives of local authorities on the east coast – including Kent – met at the Mansion House to discuss the Government’s insurance scheme against hostile aircraft and bombardment. It was pointed out that so many of the east coast communities have suffered damage and depression as a consequence of the war, and that they would not be able to afford the premium which was seen as a special war tax on those least able to afford it.[40]

The Council is unable to provide coal to the poor. Because of the number of difficulties encountered [unspecified] the Rochester Town Council have decided to take no further action in the matter of supplying coal to the poor.[41][Proposal detailed in ‘Home News’, November 1915.]

A new parliamentary candidate is selected for Rochester. Capt. Charles Tuff of the Royal West Kent Regiment, eldest son of Mr. Charles Tuff, former Member for Rochester, has provisionally accepted an invitation to become the Unionist candidate for Rochester at the next election in succession of the late Capt. Sebag-Montefiore.[42]

Home Tragedies

Poor street lighting is the cause of many fatal street accidents in Rochester. At the Rochester Town Council concern was raised about the high level of fatal accidents occurring on the City’s streets at night. Whilst the Corporation was required to comply with the lighting regulations it felt it needed to protect those who are using the streets. Consideration was giving to limiting the speed of the traffic but the police pointed out that there was no point taking cases before the magistrates because they let them off. The Mayor felt the regulation about headlights was ‘absurd and ludicrous’ as the problem was when light shinned into the sky.[43]

The death of soldiers on Strood Hill was attributed to the severe lighting restrictions. The two soldiers emerged from Jersey Road and walked into the path of a bus which had just pulled off from a stop.[44]

Private John Browett was knocked down in Rochester High Street by a motor bus. Browett was removed to Fort Pitt Military Hospital.[45]

School & Education News

Schools are experiencing severe staffing difficulties. Owing to the enlistment and illness of teachers the Rochester Education Committee are experiencing great difficulties in staffing the schools. A number of married ladies who had formally been teachers have been appointed “on supply”.[46]

School economies are implemented with a freeze on items such as books and pianos. The Rochester Education committee has resolved not to provide desks, pianos, library books or special requisitions for schools in the ensuing year.[47]

The father of children appears to be the one held accountable if his children do not attend school.

Charles Burrows was summoned for not sending his children to school. Burrows of Princes Street, Delce, was summoned for not sending his children Queenie Burrows (11) and William Burrows regularly to school. The mother appeared and said the children have had glass pox. The court imposed fines with saying the penalty would be higher if her husband is summoned again.[48] [According to Mrs. Beaton, Glass pox was possibly a mild case of smallpox or a term used to describe chicken pox.]

Teachers agree the public needs to be better informed on educational matters. The annual meeting of the Chatham, Rochester and District Association of the N.U.T., held in the Masonic Hall, Rochester, decided to confer with Gillingham as to organising meetings with other bodies in the neighbourhood, with the view of informing the general public in educational matters.[49]

Court Cases

Chatham men told to get drunk in Chatham not Rochester. Two Chatham men brought before Rochester City Police Court were advised by the Mayor (Col. Breton) that if they wanted to get drunk they should do so in Chatham where they lived.[50]

2nd. Lieut. Alfred Bisley felt his fine of 5s was “Rather Stiff”. Bisley was fined by Rochester Magistrates for riding a motorcycle without a licence.[51]

Fred Couchman & Fred Ellmer fined for turning up at work drunk.  Slackers, Couchman and Fred, gasmen employed at the Medway Steel Company, were fined £5 + costs for neglect of work through turning up at work drunk. As a consequence work was delayed as gas was not produced.[52]

Alehouses were licenced under the Alehouse Act 1828, to sell excisable liquor to be drunk on the premises. A beerhouse was licensed under the Beerhouse Act 1830 to brew and sell beer – the aim was to create competition between breweries and in the hope of lowering the price of beer and thereby wean people off of spirits such as gin.

There’s been an unexpected decrease in drunkenness. The Chief Constable reported to the Annual Licensing Sessions for the City of Rochester that in the past year there had been a decrease in drunkenness despite the very large increase in the population bought about by the large number of solider stationed in the district.[53] The report also advised that there were now 91 ‘on’ licenses in the city including 70 ale houses and 21 beerhouses, making one ‘on’ licence for every 344. Three licences had been extinguished with compensation in the last year, and since 1908 there had been closed with compensation, 10 alehouses and 17 beerhouses, a total of 27. The cases of drunkenness during the year numbered 29 – a decrease of three on 1914. Proceedings had been taken against 58 males and 21 females. It was decided that the licence for the Brickmakers Arms, [67] Cuxton Road, should not be renewed on the grounds of redundancy. There were two other neighbouring premises doing much better and within a radius of 250 yards therefore three inns and four beerhouses.[54]

Women’s Experiences

See “School staffing difficulties”, above, for reference to married women who had previously been teachers, being appointed as supply teachers.

A Wouldham woman was rescued from the mud but fined for being drunk. Sarah Elizabeth Bates, the wife of a barge captain, was lucky to have been rescued but subsequently fined 18s for being drunk and disorderly in Ferry Lane, Wouldham. PC. Woodward told the Court that he heard shouts for help at 11pm. He went to the side of the river and saw the prisoner in a ditch with mud and water up to her waist. With the assistance of three men he tied a rope round her waist and pulled her on the bank. Had he not heard her screams she would have been drowned.[55]

Church & Cathedral

General Charles Gordon (1833 – 1885) became a national hero following the putting down the Taiping Rebellion in China, and his unsuccessful defence of Khartoum against Sudanese rebels during which he was killed. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1852. Strong links remain today between Rochester Cathedral and the Royal Engineers.

The “Recessional” poem by Rudyard Kipling that contains the refrain “lest we forget”, taken from Deuteronomy 6,12, was composed for the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

A Commemoration Service was held in the Cathedral for General Gordon. Rudyard Kipling’s “Lest we Forget” was sung in Rochester Cathedral on Sunday evening to music composed by Major Adrian Porter, and performed by the band of the Royal Engineers.[56]

The Bishop confirmed a young soldier before he was deployed to the Front at St. Peter’s church.[57]

Kent’s War-Time Temperance Crusade held its inaugural meeting. The Bishop of Rochester addressed an inaugurating meeting of the Kent County War Time Temperance Crusade in Tunbridge Wells. The call was not anti-alcohol but following the example of the King in using abstinence as a demonstration of solidarity and sacrifice with those fighting to save country from invasion.[58]

Out of 212 applicants Mr. C. H. Stewart, Mus.B. has been appointed as Cathedral organist. Remarkably the last 15 organists of Rochester have held the appointment for an average of 22 years.[59]

Life Goes On

Smart assistant wanted, male or female, for Gent’s Hosiery Dept. Apply H. J. Cobb, 34-36 High Street Rochester.[60] [Currently the Pink Flamingo Boutique.]

Invicta amateur dramatic society put on a performance at the Bethel Institute in New Road, Rochester.[61]

Mr. S. Lee-Smith has been appointed as a Bridge Warden to replace Sir Robert Filmer who had been killed in the field.[62] [The Filmer family owned Sutton Hall in Sutton Valance, Kent. On the death of Sir Robert the house was sold and later become a women’s prison.]

March 1916

Military and War Reports

The Government announces that all single men aged 18-41 are liable for compulsory military service. The demand for munitions is increasing and an investigation was undertaken into ways to improve the productivity of engineering and shipbuilding works. It was concluded that irregular time keeping by individuals was the cause of a great loss of output.[63]

Tribunals

Along with the introduction of conscription was the introduction of an Appeals process. The first meeting of the Kent County Appeal Tribunal was held at Sessions House, Maidstone, on Monday. The Tribunal decided to divide the county into two division – placing Rochester in the West Kent Division. The first sitting of this Tribunal was fixed for Saturday at 10:30.[64]

Applicants could apply for an absolute, conditional or temporary exemption under one or more of the seven ‘grounds for appeal’.

Appeal could be allowed in the following circumstances:[65]

  1. On the ground that it is expedient in the national interests that the man should, instead of being employed in military service, be engaged in other work in which he is habitually engaged.
  2. On the ground that it is expedient in the national interests that the man should, instead of being employed in military service, be engaged in other work in which he wishes to be engaged.
  3. If he is being educated or trained for any work, on the ground that it is expedient in the national interests, that instead of being employed in military service, he should continue to be educated or trained.
  4. On the ground that serious hardship would ensue, if the man were called up for Army service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic situation.
  5. On the ground of ill-health or infirmity.
  6. On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service.
  7. On the ground that the principal and usual occupation of the man is one of those included in a list of occupations certified by Government Departments and that it is expedient in the national interest that he should continue in such occupation.

There is limited information available on appeals. Due to the contentious nature of conscription, and perhaps because of inconsistencies between decisions made by different tribunals, the Government, after the war, issued instructions to the Local Government Boards to destroy tribunal material.[66] At times feelings appear to have run high in Rochester over perceived inequalities, inconsistencies in decisions and the interpretation of the rules.

Essential services did not just relate to business – it could be volunteering – but not always! Exemptions given for involvement in a priority job remained so long as the person remained in that job.

Edwin K. Simmonds made the first application for exemption to the Rochester Tribunal. Simmonds, who with his widowed mother ran a draper store in Strood. As part of the appeal a letter from the late Capt. Charles Link of the Rochester fire brigade was read. It stated that Mr. Simmonds was an efficient fireman in the Rochester Brigade and as such could not be spared as the brigade had already lost for men and was reduced to a crew of 13. It was also mentioned that Mr. Simmonds was also an ambulance transport driver. His call-up was put back six months.[67]

Horace Bentley’s appeal was successful as women could not move milk from the railway. Alfred William Jordan of Rose Street Rochester, applied for exemption in respect of his carman, Horace E. Bentley. Mr. Jordan stated that a man was required for getting milk from the railway, a work which was too heavy for either female or boy labour. The Mayor stated the application had been in the office for some time and he had referred the matter to the Local Government Board pointing out that a carman was in a certified occupation whereas someone who delivered the milk was not. As he expected, the Board replied that it was a decision for the Tribunal. The Tribunal admitted that they were aware, as was the military representative, that two women tried and it was found they not draw milk from the railway station. The Tribunal gave exemption on the condition that Bentley did not change his job and that he must report any change of circumstances – otherwise he could face a £50 fine. YMCA workers not exempt from call-up. The Tribunal determined that YMCA workers engaged in supporting troops billeted in the area were not exempt from call-up but it suggested the matter should be raised with the General commanding the district.[68]

“Walter Dove started his business around 1877, at 172 High Street Rochester in the Eastgate Mineral Water Works. Later, c1886, a factory was built below St. Margaret’s Banks which still stands today (adjacent to the railway bridge crossing the High Street).

In 1902, W. Dove became a limited company as W. Dove & Co Ltd., and in 1905 merged with B.R. Phillips of Chatham to become Dove & Phillips Ltd. In 1909 Thomas Pett of Chatham joined them to form Dove, Phillips & Pett Ltd., and business continued from the Banks factory until 1938 when it was moved into the old Budden & Biggs brewery buildings in Strood. They sold out in 1973 to Taylormade of Sittingbourne.”[69]

Mr. Finch the indispensable bottle filler was given three months’ deferment.  Mr.Dove of Messrs Dove, Phillips and Pett Ltd., claimed that Finch was indispensable to the brewery in respect of using the complicated machinery to bottle water. He claimed the was providing an important public service by helping soldiers remain sober. The case for providing an important public service was further strengthen, he claimed, as the army had not required them to relinquish their horses. The appeal was allowed.[70]

There appears to have been uncertainty about the position of some of the men in the dockyard which led to clarification be published in the press.

Dockyard workers and the Military Services Act. The Act applied generally to every man who on 15 August 1915 had reach the age of 18 and will not have reached the age of 41 before 2 March 1915, was unmarried or was a widower with dependent children. It did not apply to men who voluntarily attested under the Lord Derby scheme before 2 March 1916 or to men who had offered themselves for enlistment and been rejected since 14 August 1915. Badged employees – the Admiralty was empowered subject to certain conditions, to grant certificates of exemption from the operation of the Act. If a certificated person received a call-up notice they were to immediately inform the officer under whom they were employed who would write to the Recruiting Officer who should cancel the notice. Certificates could be withdrawn at any time by a competent authority.[71]

The Press can be excluded from appealsonly three appeals were taken in the presence of the press.[72]

The Tribunal orders a medical examination for Frederick Simmonds. Simmonds (24) a single, grocer’s assistant employed by the Rochester Co-operative Society, said he was quite ready to join the army if he was physically fit. The Tribunal adjourned the case for two months to allow time for a medical examination.[73]

The Tribunal could also determine whether a solider could be exempted from being deployed overseas because of their family circumstances.

A wife accuses some single men of telling ‘fairy tales’ in order to avoid call-up. The Mayor, presiding at the Rochester Tribunal, took the unusual step in giving regard to an anonymous letter which he believed had been written by the wife of a married man who took exception to the exemptions being given to several single men who “had told fairy tales”. The Mayor felt the Tribunal had been chary in all such cases and only allowed exemptions of six months.[74]  

Three serving soldiers appeal against being deployed overseas the tribunal also heard appeals from serving soldiers who did not wish to serve overseas. Two applicants were rejected but Private Grelet was granted exemption from foreign serviceGrelet was exempted as he was the only son of two aged parents.[75]

Business people who were called up were expected to make alternative arrangements for the continuance of their businesses or to dispose of them. Men who conscientiously objected to war needed to make their case to a Tribunal if they wanted total exemption or exemption from a combatant role.

John Goodhew given a three-month postponement. Goodhew of 141 Cecil Road, who paid £60 for his business and was married last November, but attested, showed that he had made several attempts to dispose of his business since September last. He was given a three-month postponement with a hint to reapply again if that did not suffice.[76]

Henry Horsenail, given exemption from combative service. Horsnail, a corn & seed merchant from Strood, was against military action as he was a member of Society of Friends. His request for non-combatant service was upheld. Henry Smith was given full-exemption as he was able to show that he was a Minister of the Gospel at the Delce Mission.[77] [Appears the Delce Mission was located in Cross Street.]

The following appeal provides early evidence, locally, of the efforts made to pool resources that would help achieve economies of scale – and release more men to the military.

George Page’s appeal deferred pending butchers looking to pooling slaughtermen. Mr. G. E. Onslow, butcher from High Street Strood, applied to the tribunal for exemption of his slaughter man George Edward Page who he stated was indispensable as he had already released his son and two roundsmen. The Tribunal adjourned the application pending Mr. Onslow meeting Mr. Longley of the Butcher’s Association to see if an arrangement could be made to pool slaughtermen.[78]

The issue of the pooling slaughtermen returns to the Tribunal. The appeal of George Edward Page returned to the Tribunal. Mr. Longley had written stating that they had looked at pooling slaughtermen but it proved impossible as the pool was so small. Mr. Onslow said he was the only butcher with a slaughtermen in Strood. A deferment of two months was given so the Mayor could meet with Mr. Longley on the matter of pooling slaughtermen.[79]

Mr. F. L. Woolfe, a sole trader, allowed six months exemption. Wolfe was a sole-trading grocer and provisions merchant of North Street, Strood, was one of the first men to apply for exemption. He had a wife and two young children and he was since the war been running the business himself. He claimed if he was called up it would result in the break-up of his home, closure of his business and financial ruin. He was allowed six months exemption.[80]

Shorts Brothers made a number of unsuccessful applications for exemption. When they expressed discontent with the Tribunal not giving an exemption they were told they could appeal to the Ministry of Munitions for the man to be badged.[81]

Benjamin Arthur George Boys fined for failing to report for military service. Boys, a young Rochester labourer was fined £5 for not reporting the Recruiting Officer when called-up, even though he had attested. He said that he would have presented himself but had to look after the horse and land belonging to his brother who was now a Prisoner of War in Germany. Should he have not paid the fine he would have been sentenced to one months’ hard labour.[82]

Reports from the Front

Sgt. A. E. Whattler was wounded in the chest on the Tigris.  Before the war Whattler was the assistant master at Troy Town Council School In a letter home to his wife he wrote “They are only boys but the die like Englishmen and heroes”.[83]

Pte. J. V. Rowe, who is a PoW, manages to get a message to his wife. Mrs. Rowe of Cossack-street, wife of Pte. J. V. Rowe of the Royal West Kent Regt., a Prisoner of War in Germany, was the first Rochester wife of a war prisoner to get a message through from her husband. That was a good many months ago and Mrs. Rowe is becoming alarmed as she’s has had only one message from him this year. He has stated on his postcards that at times he fancies himself at a cinematography show, where he sees events of his past life. Mrs. Rowe fears her husband’s health may be breaking down.[84] [See also Reports from the Front October 1914.]

Roll of Honour

The death of Mr. Jesse Bottle a Crimean veteran, is announced. Another of the rapidly dwindling band of Crimea veterans has passed away – Jesse Bottle of 60 Princess Street, Rochester, was aged 82.[85]

Health & Hospitals

The Alexandra Hospital, Wigmore, was an isolation hospital that would have treated cases of smallpox. It was also used to treat patients with meningitis. Wigmore at the time would have been in the country. Blankets would have been destroyed on a patient’s discharge / death, rather than risk them spreading infection.

The Alexandra isolation hospital acknowledged the anonymous donation of blankets. Col. Breton, Mayor of Rochester, wrote to the local press on behalf of the emergency committee to thank an anonymous donor of blankets to the Alexandra Hospital Wigmore.[86]

Patients at Fort Pitt have been liberally entertained since Christmas with about five entertainments / week.[87]

Local hospitals are busy and in urgent need of funds, equipment and furnishings.

Since opening 1,457 men have passed through Strood VAD with only one death. The hospital also reported that it was in need of a few easy chairs are required and enamelled bowls, dishes and jugs needed for the operating theatre.[88]

St. Bartholomew’s urgently needs additional fundingnotice published in press – St. Bartholomew’s – additional support ungently required. At least £9,000 will be required during 1916.[89]

A bottle recycling scheme raises money for Fort Pitt Hospital. Mrs. W. G. Hurdman of Maidstone Road, Rochester, has initiated a simple scheme of raising money. She collected 1,000 bottles and sold them for £5 in aid of the Comforts Fund.[90]

Home News

There are many reports of prosecutions of people allowing light to escape from domestic and business properties. Perhaps to help remove any doubts as to when light needed to be ‘obscured’ timetables were published.

Times by which lights have to be ‘out’ are published each week in the press. Time by which no lights must be visible from the exterior of your house or other buildings, for the week starting Friday 3rd are 6:11; 6:12; 6:13; 6:15; 16.17; 6:20; 6:24 pm.[91]

The need for coal at this time was probably exacerbated by the cold weather as evidence by snow preventing farmers getting stock to Rochester market. A woman who walked two miles with a pram – presumably through snow – must have been desperate for coal.

Strood Union is unable to obtain coal. The Clerk of the Strood Union reported he had been unable to secure a supply of coal and coke. He had written to five firms and only two replied both pointing out that under the present circumstances they were unable to provide quotes. The one who had previously had the contract stated if the matter was left in his hands he would do the best he could – an offer that was accepted.[92]

A woman desperate for coals walks two miles to Rochester with a pram. Some residents are experiencing great inconvenience in obtaining coal with some merchants being unable to meet the demand due to supply shortages. One merchant in Rochester reported a situation where a woman came from a village some two miles away and begged for a hundredweight of coal which she took away in pram. Some hawkers were selling coal for 2s 6d per hundredweight and people were eking out their coal by means of logs.[93] [One hundredweight (cwt) = 112lbs / 51 kg.]

Appears the crew of the Rochester Fire brigade chose their own captain – perhaps in the same way that the VTC elected their officers.

Rochester fire brigade have appointed a new captain. The officers of the Rochester Volunteer Fire brigade have chosen 1st Lieut. Hartnell Webb to be acting captain in the place of the late Capt. C. G. Link.[94]

There was a shortage of timber that was essential to the war effort. This shortage might may have been one of the reasons for not wanting to pulp it for making paper. Also, if paper was imported it used shipping capacity that could otherwise have been used to import food or support the war effort.

The paper supply has been reduced so newspaper runs will be reduced. Due to the Government deciding to reduce the paper supply by 33% newspaper proprietors in Kent have decided to restrict supplies to newsagents. To be sure of a copy of the Kent Courier readers were advised to place a regular order as it may not be possible to provide for casual sales.[95]

Rochester Council proposes to purchase land to provide accommodation for workmen. Rochester Town Council decided to purchase land in Steele Street, Stood, for the erection of dwelling for workmen. Price £555.[96]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Serious food shortages were beginning to appear – and not just because of the weather.

The snow made it difficult to get stock to Rochester’s Cattle Market. The snow and the difficulty of getting stock over the roads made supplies at Rochester Cattle market very short.[97]

Three churns of milk per day were wanted immediately by Hillier’s at Rochester – prompt payment offered.[98] [ A churn held approx. 17 gallons / 77 lt.]

Community Support

16,000 free cups of teas have been served at the Soldier’s Institute in Strood on Sunday’s from the Soldier’s Institute run by church workers in the High Street, Strood. Since September 1914, 22,800 soldiers and sailors have visited the institute.[99]

A fundraising event was held in the Castle Hall for the Blind & Cripple Guild. The Misses Edmonds of Rede Court, gave their annual entertainment on Thursday evening at the Castle Hall, Rochester, in aid of the Rochester Blind & Cripple Guild. In spite of the snow and slippery nature of the street there was a good attendance.[100]

An army canteen is in need of a second-hand piano in any condition. Request made to send price to Franks, 59 Maidstone Road, Rochester.[101]

Home Tragedies

The London barge, Gertrude, laden with cement foundered near Rochester Bridge. The captain escaped in a boat but a lad named Pearce and the mate were drowned.[102]

School & Education News

Miss Lucie Weaver the headmistress of Troy Town Girl’s School retires. A presentation was made by representatives from the Rochester Education Committee at Troy Town Girl’s School to Miss Weaver, headmistress, who as leaving after many years. Miss Weaver had been part of the school board which built the Troy Town School and was appointed as its headmistress in 1872.[103]

School economies extended for another year. The Rochester Education Committee resolved that no desks, pianos, library books or special requisitions were to be purchased during the year ending 31 March 1917.[104]

Court Cases

Albert Dabner a bargeman was too busy to attend court so left his fine with the police. Dabner a bargeman should have appeared in court for being drunk and disorderly in the High Street. He however did not appear but the captain had written stating he could not release him from his craft to appear in court. The Chief Constable advised the court that Dabner was locked up for his own safety and was apologetic on his release. He had left 10s for the fine – the court imposed a fine of 10s.[105]

Sidney James Munn was fined £1 for taking matches into an explosive works. At the Rochester Police Court Munn of Borstal was fined 20s for taking matches into the explosive works of Curtiss and Harvey, Cliffe, where he was employed. It was mentioned that not only had he taken matches in, against the rules, but he was actually found smoking in the factory. The firm discharged him and he has since joined the Navy.[106]

The Workers Compensation Act, 1897, was expanded to include industrial diseases by the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1906. Neurasthenia appears to be similar to what is known today as chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. The term was first used in 1892.[107]

William Ranger sought compensation for an industrial injury. Ranger, a carpenter from Wainscott, claimed compensation under the Workers Compensation Act for a double hernia that he sustained whilst moving heavy timber while working for Sir John Jackson on the Isle of Grayne (sic). The firm paid compensation until January 1915 but that ceased since he had been cured by an operation. Ranger how claimed to be suffering from neurasthenia that Jackson did not accept was a work-related injury. Medical evidence was taken from both parties. The judge determined that the injury was work related and that compensation should be paid – but that Ranger should seek light work.[108]

Probation for a woman who had no recall of her offence. In great distress and evidently realising her position, Elizabeth Gore (54) of Rose Street, Delce, was charged with the theft of two silver flasks from inside the shop of Mr. E. Basset Willis, jeweller of Eastgate. In her defence Gore pleaded guilty but claimed to have no recall of the events. Further evidence was heard from her employer that she had an abscess on the brain, and two soldiers billeted with her gave evidence that at times she didn’t know what she was doing. She was placed on six months’ probation and the flasks were returned.[109]

John Bates was summoned for causing a gelding pony to be worked in an unfit state. Bates, a dairyman of 66 High Street, Rochester, was fined 20s.[110] [ 66 is currently the Paloma Studio.]

Women’s Experiences

Guidance provided on the pay women should receive when taking on a man’s job. Mr. Lloyd George provided guidance as to the pay women should receive when employed on work hitherto undertaken by a skilled man. The guidance stated a woman would not be entitled to the full man’s pay if she only undertook part of the task previously undertaken by a skilled man. If she undertook the full range of duties she was to receive the same rate as the man as soon as her own work could be regarded as fairly comparable to that of the man she replaced. [111]

A teacher resigns as she’s getting married. Miss E. Brown, certified assistant, Station Road School terminated her engagement with the Rochester Education Committee on 31 March on account of her approaching marriage.[112]

Church & Cathedral

No more memorial brasses can be placed in the Cathedral. The Dean & Chapter have announced that they that they will not allow anymore brasses to be placed in the Cathedral as there is already a great number and there will probably be many more before the war is over.[113]

The Roman Catholic church lessens its Lenten requirements due to economic difficulties brought on by the war. The Roman Catholic church announced great modifications to the Lenten observations – except on Fridays. The customary restrictions for Ash Wednesday were also suspended.[114]

Convalescing soldiers were issued with a special hospital uniform – a blue single-breasted jacket with a white lining, blue trousers, a white shirt and a red tie. They wore their own service cap with its regimental badge. The suits did not have pockets as it was argued that the soldiers were provided with all they needed; but could it be that the authorities wanted to discourage gambling by making it harder to carry money?

The Bishop pays a special visit to the Cathedral to confirm wounded soldiers and sailors. The wounded soldiers attended a most impressive service in their hospital garb. It was a touching sight to see men in their blue uniforms and red neckerchiefs attending a solemn service of laying on of hands.” There were ten wounded soldiers, three navy and five civilians.[115]

Life Goes On

In 1915 Rochester’s museum received 33,201 visits. The Director of Rochester museum reported that in 1915 the museum had 33,201 visitors which is greatly in excess of the previous year. This was attributed to the number of troops in the area – attendance on Sunday afternoons had more than doubled.[116]

Important items were added to the museum’s collection. Rochester Museum has added important well-borings to its collection which provides important information about stratification – important for education and commence.[117]

April 1916

Military and War Reports

Easter Rising in Ireland. The British Government at this time was also faced with Irish nationalists rebelling against British rule. On the 21 April the rebellion that became known at the “Easter Rising”, occurred. Germany agreed to provide weapons and ammunition to the Irish nationalists in the hope that an uprising in Ireland would require the British Government to divert troops from the Front. As it happened a navigational error resulted in the armaments not being delivered.[118]  The Irish question / issues were frequently referred to in the local press.

Tribunals

In the following case it appears that exemption from military service had been granted to avoid causing financial hardship for a mother.

Frederick Ashby had his exemption for ‘special domestic circumstances’ cancelled. Ashby, a postman, was summoned before the Tribunal to show cause why the Exemption Certificate he had been granted should not be cancelled. He had been allowed special domestic circumstances but it had now come to the attention of the Mayor that if he joined the Army the Post Office would have made his army pay up to his ordinary pay so his mother would be no worse off. The Mayor informed him that the Tribunal did not think housework was a thing to keep a man out of the Army at this crisis and his certificate was cancelled.[119]

It appears an assurance was given that married men would not be called up until all eligible single men had been enlisted.

Married men protest about being called-up before all single men have been enlisted.  A meeting of the Medway Branch of the National Union of Attested Men was held in the Town Hall at Chatham. Those attending the meeting affirmed their willingness to serve but protested about being called up before the Government had fulfilled the pledge it had made under the Derby Scheme. Specifically they wanted the removal of the exemption for some single men – requiring them all to serve – and that married men would not being called up until all single men had been called up.[120]

Employers were sometimes given time by the Tribunal to find a replacement for a man who was to be required to enlist. Not sure about the Delce windmill being the last landmark remaining in Rochester – what about the Cathedral and Castle?

A motor carman with the Rochester Yeast Company was granted exceptional exemption as his role was critical in delivering perishable yeast to bakeries and to military and naval depots. Mr. Glover, miller at the Delce, obtained conditional exemption his employee Edward Day. When Mr. Glover of Messrs Glover and Son, was asked if he had sought a replacement he said he thought this was not required for a miller / corn factor. He also described his windmill was being the last landmark remaining in Rochester.[121]

The Upnor loam firm lost its appeal against the call-up of a labourer. It was decided that the skills of a loam labourer were no different to that of a chalk quarryman. The appeal was lost but call up was deferred for two weeks to allow time for a substitute to be found.[122]

The objections of people claiming to be conscientious objectors were rigorously tested by tribunals.

The appeal of a conscientious objector was not accepted. A teacher under the Rochester Education Committee appealed on conscientious grounds. He stated he belonged to the Church of Christ but on questioning admitted to being a member of the Rochester Baptist church. He commenced thinking war was wrong before it broke out claiming to have been strengthened in his view following speeches by Mr. Asquith and Mr. Tennant. However, as he could not recall the dates of these speeches this was doubted and his appeal was dismissed.[123]

Rochester Town Council is to appeal against the call up of their Sanitary Inspector. The Sanitary Inspector reported that he was about to be called up for military service having attested under the Derby Scheme. It was resolved that the Town Clerk should lodge an appeal on the grounds that the services of a Sanitary Inspector were vital having regard to the large number of troops billeted in the City.[124]

Employers were sometimes expected to demonstrate that they had tried to recruit people who were ineligible for military service – children, women, older people, invalids – before seeking exemption for an employee.

Women and children are not strong enough to lift milk churns. Conditional exemption was given to Harry V. Beale (married) and Fred Archer Webb, at the request of Mr. William Hillier of Eastgate. The applicant said he had a number of boys and women working for him but they could not manage the milk churns. He explained it took three men to get a churn onto the cart ready for delivery. He invited members of the tribunal to try if they doubted him. The Mayor said he was satisfied that Mr. Hillier had done his utmost.[125] [A full churn would have weighed in the region of 178 lbs or 80kg.]

A boy soldier appeared before Rochester Magistrates to make a declaration of his name prior to being discharged from the Army. It was explained the youth had enlisted without his parents’ consent giving a false name and age. He was serving at Chattenden. He said he was 19 but he was only 15. His parents had claimed him but in order for him to be discharged it was necessary for him to declare his name and age on oath.[126]

An employee of Messrs. Short Bros., rejects his exemption. The Rochester Tribunal granted Messrs. Short Bros., seaplane manufacturers, a months’ respite for their assistant cashier pending the Admiralty’s decision, but the man himself abruptly cancelled the concession by announcing his determination to join the Army.[127]

Reports from the Front

The press are prevented from providing the precise location of the events they report.  In accordance with new regulations, particular details of the theatre of war in which a casualty occurred was not be mentioned in any obituary notice.[128]

Roll of Honour

2nd Lieut. John Winckworth Bailey, Flying Corp, was killed on service on 31st March. Lieut. Winckworth was the son of Rev. John Bailey of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He was 33 and had held a commission since November last.[129]

Health & Hospitals

The Spotted Fever referred to in the following report was probably Cerebrospinal Meningitis. However there appears to be other diseases that were known as Spotted Fever, it also seems there may have been some question as to whether this was a new disease.

Steps were taken to prevent the spread of Spotted Fever. The outbreak of Spotted Fever was reported as abating and that it may not be a new disease as a reference to a spotted fever outbreak has been found in a ‘History of Strood’ dating back to 1657, when the disease was prevalent amongst naval men.[130] Due to the outbreak of spotted fever indoor entertainments at Fort Pitt hospital were abandoned. A temporary outdoor stage was erected. The stage that was described as ‘comfortable’ was placed opposite the main surgical ward to allow patients who were well enough to hear the entertainment through the windows.[131] Troops were also turned out of billets in Chatham and were moved to under canvas to prevent the spread of the disease into the civil population. As a further precaution soldiers were not permitted to enter places of entertainment and all weekend leave was cancelled. They were also not permitted to travel on public transport.[132]

The School Medical Officer reported on the health of Rochester’s children. Of the 562 children seen by medical inspectors, 138 had enlarged tonsils and adenoids, 162 defective vision, 112 cavernous teeth, 74 were verminous and 24 had diseases of the skin.[133]

Porter and Porteress wanted at St. William’s Hospital. The Rochester & Chatham Joint Hospital Board required a man and his wife, without encumbrance, as Porter and Porteress at St. Williams Hospital for infectious diseases. Also, a Man and Wife without encumbrance, were were required as Porter and Gardener and General Servant at their smallpox hospital. Wages 30s plus 5s war bonus per week. Preference was to be given to candidates who were ineligible for war service.[134]

Home News

The following ‘coal report’ gives an indication of the size of the Medway Union which was based on the site of the now demolished All Saints Hospital, in Magpie Hall Road.

How the poor suffered as a consequence of the coal shortage. The shortage and price of coal was raised in the House of Commons. It was stated that the price was 2s 6d per cwt which was beyond what the poor could afford. On 14 March, there was no coal at the Medway Union where there were 600 aged and infirm patients.[135]

Mr. J. H. Jackson was added to the Commission of the Peace for Rochester. [Appointed as a magistrate.] He was one of a family of five brothers, each of whom has been mayor of an important town in England. Mr. J. H. Jackson was Mayor of Rochester two years ago, and his sister is acting Mayoress this year.[136]

Restrictions on the use of the river are be eased. On and after 1 May 1916, the cruising of yachts and pleasure boats will be permitted [amongst other places] in the Medway east of Rochester Bridge.[137]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

The National Egg Collection was launched in November 1914 following proposals put forward by Frederick Carl, the editor of Poultry World. The aim initially was to provide 20,000 newly-laid eggs a week to the wounded in hospital in Boulogne. When this was achieved a higher target was set. The organisation continued to aim higher and soon had over 2,000 depots run by local groups and churches in place.[138]

Eggs are being collected for wounded soldiers and sailors. A centre was established in Snodland for the collection of eggs for wounded soldiers and sailors. 168 eggs were collected on the first day / 400 in the week. Each egg bore the name and address of the donor and many in addition had phrases such as “Good Luck”. “God Save the King”, “Wishing you Success” imprinted onto the shells.[139]

In the following report – is it possible the employee was acting on the instructions of his employer? It would certainly have been difficult to replace a sacked man but farmers were having a hard time with milk yields being down and animal feed being in short supply or expensive.

George Walter was accused of deliberated watering milk by 15.7%. Walter of Fairfield Farm, Chatham, was bought before Rochester magistrates for selling milk that had been deliberated watered by 15.7%. In evidence it was stated that an employee Edward Levy, was responsible for adding two gallons of water to each churn supplied to a Strood dairyman. Walter stated he could not sack Levy as he would not be able to recruit a replacement. Fined £2.[140]

Community Support

The Medway Cottage Homes were based on the site that is now partly occupied by Robert Bean Lodge in Patterns Lane.

Rochester Grammar School for girls entertained children from the Medway Cottage Homes. After tea, dolls and toys were distributed to the visitors and there was a demonstration of Morris Dancing.[141]

Children from the Gordon Road Infant School collected between 200 and 300 eggs. The children undertook an egg collection over Easter for wounded soldiers. Between two and three hundred eggs were collected and were conveyed by a deputation from the school to the Strood VAD Hospital. Each egg bore the name of the child that gave it, and many had also comic drawings and inscriptions upon them.[142]

Home Tragedies

A boy named Arnold, from Gravel-walk, was knocked down by a car in King Street. The driver took the boy to St. Bartholomew’s where he was found to have cuts and bruises.[143]

School & Education News

The Education budget was reduced as there were no new special needs pupils. Rochester Education Committee have decided to requested a reduced precept of £9,147 against £9,384 last year. This was partly possible as there had been no new deaf, dumb or blind cases and no mental deficiency cases.[144]

The problem with the use of writing slates in schools was that they tended to be ‘cleaned’ with spittle.

The reintroduction of slates into the classroom could be a threat to public health. Rochester Education Committee – a memo had been received from the Board of Education stating that they regard the reintroduction of slates has a threat to hygiene, and that if schools made more economic use of the paper available there should be no need to recourse to slates.[145]

Court Cases

Annie Simmons received three months’ hard labour for fraudulently obtaining groceries. Simmons (43), a widow known as Martha Wiffen of Parr’s Head Lane, was sentenced to three months for obtaining groceries by false pretences from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Family Association through stating that her allowance had not arrived although she had already withdrawn it from the post office.[146]

Would the following austerity savings really have amounted to much – unless there was a significant number of inquests / deaths occurring in the ‘estate’ of the Prison Commissioners.

Jury fees for inquests are withdrawn. As a war economy the Prison Commissioners withdrew the fee of 1s paid to each juryman, and of half-a-crown [2s 6d] to a Police Constables officiating as the coroner’s officer hitherto paid at inquests held at the Borstal Institution.

Edith Norris receives one months’ hard labour for harbouring an Army deserter. Norris (33), 11 Star Hill, the wife of a naval petty officer, was sentenced to one months’ hard labour at Rochester for harbouring an Army deserter who was found in her coal cupboard. The Chief Constable had discovered certain accoutrements belonging to some other man – thus claiming this was not an isolated case. The Mayor reminded the defendant that what she had done was always an offence but at this time of crisis it was a crime. Still crying after sentence had been passed she asked if she could be fined instead; the sentence was not altered.[147]

Corporation paid compensation to the milk-boy who was accidentally shot in the leg by the keeper of Rochester Castle – who claim he was trying to put an injured pigeon out of its suffering – has received £70 compensation from the Corporation.[148] [See ‘Life Goes On’, January 1915.]

Chairman of Burham parish council and Arthur Ward of the Bull, charged with light offences. John Benjaminchairman of the parish council was charged for neglecting to shade lights during a sitting of the council. Benjamin’s defence, which was not accepted by the magistrates, was that a visit from Zeppelins was impossible on such a stormy night. He was fined £5.[149] Arthur Ward, manager of the Bull Hotel, was fined 40s [£2] for failing to obscure light. On investigation he found a French guest who was unfamiliar with the regulations, reading a book by candle light.[150]

A wedding celebration led to several naval men being charged with the theft of a sugar sifter and two pictures from the Crown Inn. The sugar sifter was recovered but the pictures – one with some sentimental meaning – were not recovered. The landlord said that he was bringing the prosecution as a number of small things and gone missing from his establishment and that a number of naval men had behaved objectionably in his establishment and be felt obliged to bring the prosecution as a warning. The men pleaded guilty but presented their actions as a prank. On hearing the evidence the licensee asked the bench to deal leniently with them. The bench agreed to the case being withdrawn on the payment of 19s costs, and the accused doing their utmost to find the pictures. They agreed but could still face action from their commander.[151]

Women’s Experiences

Women employed to attend dockyard machinery. A number of women have entered into Chatham Dockyard to tend machines in the workshops of the Engineering Department. Many women writers have also been taken for work in the clerical departments.[152]

‘Foundling’ is an historic term applied to children, usually babies, that have been abandoned by their parents and were cared for by others.

Help requested to identify a Founding discovered in a garden at Balfour Road. The baby girl was aged about five weeks. The little one is now in the Medway Union Infirmary.[153] [Balfour Road is close where the Medway Cottage Homes were situated.]

In the late 19th century, “social” could be used as a euphemism for “sexual” and the social purity movement tackled the duel standards that applied to the sexual behaviours of men and women. It sought to abolish prostitution and other sexual activities that offended Christian morality. A Deaconess at this time was a non-ordained woman who provided pastoral care especially for other women.

Workers needed for Social Purityan opportunity offered for theoretical and practical insight into work to educated women. Training provided if desired. Usual terms, apply to Deaconess Grace Partridge, Precinct, Rochester.[154]

Church & Cathedral

The Druids Arms (PH) to become St. Margaret’s Church House. The Druids Arms [Mordon Street], which was closed with compensation, was taken over by the church and became known as St. Margaret’s Church House. It will also be used for parochial meetings and to provide accommodation for a Church Army sister.[155] [See ‘Court Cases’ June 1915.]

The Bishop confirmed in the Cathedral a number of wounded soldiers from Chatham. This was the third time this year the Bishop has confirmed soldiers at Rochester – one occasion being for the benefit of one man about to return to the Front.[156]

Crowded congregations attended the services at the Cathedral on Easter Sunday. It was estimated that the Nave service in the evening was attended by over 2,000. A quarter an hour before the service started the cathedral was packed and the hundreds arriving after were unable to gain admission.[157]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Thomas Alfred Fowle & Faith Louisa Hayes. Rochester fireman attending the marriage of one of the comrades – Thomas Alfred Fowle – to Faith Louisa Hayes, at the Rochester Baptist Church. They formed an archway of crossed axes as the couple left the church. It was the first wedding of a fireman for 20 years.[158]

Firemen wanted by the City of Rochester – must be capable of driving a Petrol Motor Fire Engine. Wages 35s / week and uniform.[159]

Experienced Outdoor Rescue worker urgently required. Can anyone recommend? Salary £80, Apply Deaconess, 6 Minor Canon Row.[160]

Ireland put under Martial Law in response to street fighting.[161]

May 1916

Military and War Reports

Rochester’s MP voted against the Military Services Bill. Ernest Lamb – MP Rochester – (the only Kentish member) was one of 35 MPs who voted against the Military Services Bill on Tuesday.[162]

The King’s message explained the need for Conscription. “To enable our country to organise more effectively its military struggle for the cause of civilisation I have acting on the advice of my minister’s, deemed it necessary to enrol every able-bodied man between the ages of 18 and 41. In acknowledging the patriotism and sacrifice already made he mentions that five million men had voluntarily enlisted”.[163]

Tribunals

Although the following report on a dentist’s appeal contained little information, many soldiers suffered horrific facial injuries. In Folkestone, the Canadians opened a hospital which affectionately became known as the ‘Nose Factory’ as the doctors there became very skilled in facial reconstruction. This appeal suggests men with facial injuries were being cared for locally.

Six months’ exemption given to a dentist who produced models of jawbones etc., to demonstrate the work he was doing with wounded soldiers.[164]

The following decision probably created some tension back at work:

William Attwood granted exemption at the expense of a colleague.  Messrs. Boucher and Sons butchers, High Street, Rochester, requested exemption for William Richard Attwood who Mr. G. Boucher claimed was his chief slaughterman. When it was pointed out that conditional exemption had been given to a man called Link – a single man described as a slaughterman, Boucher said Link was Attwood’s assistant. It was agreed that conditional exemption would be granted to Attwood and the certificate of Link should be reviewed.[165]

Tribunal agrees the City can keep its only Undertaker – but not its RSPCA inspector:

The City’s only undertaker was granted conditional exemption. Mr. F. L. Naylor, undertaker, successfully appealed against his call-up. The Tribunal was less convinced by Mark Miller’s appeal, a RSPCA inspector, as the Mayor did not think an inspector was necessary for Rochester where he thought they got two ponies a year; Miller’s appeal was unsuccessful. [166]

Reports from the Front

The only news families received about the war came via bulletins published in the paper, which would have been biased and possibly used as propaganda. It is also possible that families would not have known for certain on which Front their loved ones would have been serving. The following report may therefore not have had any relevance to the inhabitants of Rochester.

Telegrams from the Front – published updates on battles. Italy. Heavy fighting and stubborn attacks by the enemy being repulsed with great slaughter, although between Posina and Astico troops found it advisable to fall back. Fighting during the last 48 hours at Verdum was less fierce. Enemy undoubtedly devoted time to re-grouping of his badly mauled units. Two Bavarian divisions displayed extraordinary violence in their efforts to advance to Douaumont, aided by simultaneous offensive from Chauffour Wood. Both attacks collapse with heavy losses.[167]

Roll of Honour

The well know steamer, the “City of Rochester”, a screw collier, was torpedoed.  The ship, owned by the Rochester City Steamship Co., was sunk off Southwold having been torpedoed or having hit a mine. The vessel was on its way to Rochester with a cargo of around 1,700 tons of coal. The captain and all but one of the crew survived. A fireman named Kelly was lost. The ship was comparatively new having been built in 1910.[168]

James Campbell Stone died of wounds sustained whilst in action in France. Many of the residents of Upnor and Frindsbury assembled in Frindsbury Church yard to attend the funeral of Stone who after leaving the Mathematical School joined Customs & Excise where he could have remained but chose to enlist.[169]

2nd Lieut. Bernard Pitt – officially reported as missing – possibly killed in a mine explosion. Pitt was a former master at Rochester Mathematical School. From information received it appears that he was killed in a mine explosion. He was 34 and left a widow and four children.[170]

Health & Hospitals

The King sent several scores of pheasant eggs to Fort Pitt for men broken by the war. They were thoroughly enjoyed by the men.[171]

Rochester declared ‘War on Flies’. Rochester Town Council on the recommendation of the medical officer instituted a scheme for the regular inspection of manure pits of the City from 1 May to 30 Septmeber as part of its war on flies. The Sanitary Inspector was allowed £10 / annum towards the upkeep of his motorcycle and one gallon of petrol / week. 500 posters were to be displayed warning people of the danger of flies.[172]

The following decision could have had serious consequence for the families involved as being placed in quarantine would have meant a loss of income.

Spotted Fever compensation refused to billeting families who were quarantined. The Regimental Paymaster refused to pay compensation for loss of time to two Rochester families who had to be isolated as a consequence of soldiers being billeted with them developing Spotted Fever. The Rochester Town Council took up the matter up with the War Office.[173]

Housing in the area of Troy Town were clearly slums. The housing may not have been good before the war but the lack of materials, labour and necessity, probably resulted in many houses transitioning from bad to worse. Although some years before the war there was a report in 1860 of a house in Troy Town collapsing while a couple and their six children were asleep. The family were woken by the sound of cracking glass. The husband managed to get to the street his wife and children were buried in the debris. It took two hours to rescue them.[174]

Limited housing, poor housing conditions and obstreperous landlords. 225 complaints were made by tenants concerning the condition of their accommodation – the largest number for many years. Inspections were carried out. It was found that most would have been obvious to the owners without the tenant having to make a complaint to the Sanitary Authority. The scarcity of cottages places the owners in the position of being able to tell tenants who are not satisfied with the condition of the property, to clear out. Thirteen houses in John Street are under order to be demolished.[175] [The report details a number of properties in John Street and King Street that were regarded as insanitary.]

The following report gives an indication of the coordinated effort made by various hospitals and public health officers to contain infectious diseases outbreaks in Medway and to increase facilities to reflect the ‘growth’ of the local population.

The increase in pulmonary TB is attributed to poor housing. The most prominent feature of 1915 was the comparatively large number of deaths due to measles and whooping cough – particularly the latter. The deaths from measles followed the periodicity of four years. For the first time in 10 years there were no deaths from typhoid fever. There were 56 deaths from pulmonary TB – the highest for 10 years. It was noted that the elaborate and expensive steps being taken to counter the disease were not being effective and it was speculated whether this was due to the poor conditions in which people were living. “The housing of the artisan and labour classes has long been recognised as a most, if not the most, important social problem. It is unreasonable to expect positive outcomes in reducing measles and consumption is people are not provided with suitable accommodation in which to live and raise their children.[176]  The war is impacting on the performance of the public health department. Two further members have taken the colours and the clerk has been replaced by a girl clerk who in the circumstances is doing well. The military authorities have been a great service to the health department in the matter of cerebrospinal fever. The pathologists at Fort Pitt are always ready to examine the cerebrospinal fluid in suspected cases and to take and examine swabs from contacts and assist with diagnosis which enables cases to be dealt with without delay which has contributed to arresting the speed of infection. Military cases of diphtheria and scarlet fever are taken to St. Williams Isolation Hospital where the accommodation has been increased by the provision of a military pavilion of 22 beds, now fully equipped and in occupation. Military cases of cerebrospinal fever are received at the Meningitis Hospital at Wigmore. The large influx of the military into the district gives no more than occasional minor troubles. Military camps and Stations receive systematic inspections. The military have taken great advantage of the facilities available at the Watt’s Charity Baths.[177]

The following report – as will be seen later – will have implications for shaping the post-war role for women.

The birth rate in Rochester is the lowest on record – 20.8 /1000.[178]

St. Bartholomew’s debt was reduced through generous public support. The Trustees of St. Bartholomew’s were pleased to report that £2,028 was wiped off the deficit. Not only had income from ordinary sources been maintained or increased, but an additional £855 was contributed by house-to-house collections; a matinee at the Empire theatre realised £276 and a special appeal raised £374. In addition ‘gifts-in-kind’, from various sources, amounted to several hundreds of pounds in value.[179]

Diphtheria antitoxin was developed in the late 1800s. It was made by injecting horses with bacteria that caused diphtheria. The horse’s immune system produced an antitoxin that was separated from the horse’s blood. It was not systematically used to treat humans until the early 1890s.[180]

Report on St. William’s Hospital – anti-diphtheria serum not being administered correctly. 318 patients were admitted in the past year. This compares with the average over the previous 10 years of 309. Admissions from Rochester included – scarlet fever 56, typhoid fever 3 and diphtheria 44. The medical officer reported that only 20.2% of those who had been admitted with diphtheria had been given anti-diphtheria serum. This is known to be effective. However on to many occasions the dose given has been sufficient or it has been administered orally which, although convenient, renders it ineffective. The military pavilion became available in the autumn but due to there not being a pressure on the existing beds it was not at first used. There were concerns that sufficient nurses could be found when the meningitis hospital at Wigmore opened. The medical officers said there was no problems as sufficient senior probationers who publically spiritually volunteered to work at the hospital.[181] [The problem with the administration of the serum was reported previously – See ‘Health & Hospitals’, May 1915.]

Home News

Damage caused by enemy aircraft should be a national charge. The Estates Committee resolved to recommend to Rochester Town Council that the Corporation should agree to join the memorial to the Government, started by the Lord Mayor of York, to this effect.[182]

Daylight Savings Bill comes into force on 20 May to save energy. At two o’clock on Saturday night all the clocks in the country will be advanced one hour for the rest of the summer. This will mean an enormous saving to the country in artificial light – gas or electricity.[183]

Houses to be built at Wainscott for Government workers. The Admiralty having agreed terms, the Strood Rural Council decided to proceed with the erection of 50 houses at Wainscott, to be let to Government workers at a rent of 6s 9d / week. Contracts are being drawn up for the purchase of the land for £900 and the erection of the houses for the sum of £15,025. The builder being Mesers. W. R. Barton & Sons, of Gravesend.[184]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Loss of agricultural workers to the military led to diminishing crop yields. Sir Mark Collet, Chairman of the County War Agricultural Committee, wrote to the Strood Rural Tribunal requesting more sympathetic consideration to be given exemptions for agricultural workers as a further depletion of the agricultural workforce would result in a serious diminution of yield and serious impoverishment of the land through imperfect cultivation.[185]

The following report shows that the Temperance Movement shifting their argument from being moralistic to patriotism – grain used to produce alcohol not being available to make bread or feed animals.

Temperance Movement justified its cause on the need to conserve grain for food. The Temperance movement meeting held in the Corn Exchange, Rochester, passed resolutions similar to those adopted at Gillingham last week. The arguments pursued related to self-sacrifice / abstinence and the need for economy and thrift to support the war effort. A number of speakers made the association between resources consumed in the making of liquor and them not being available to support the war effort.[186]

Civic Business

The Government ordered the flying of the Union Jack on Empire Day last Wednesday. For the first time since the day was inaugurated the Union Jack was flown – by order of the Government – from all public buildings. The day made for many bright celebrations in the schools around Rochester.[187]

The case for recycling in 1916 was probably not ‘environmental’. The shortage of wood for making paper made the case for recycling waste paper.

Rochester sought tenders for the collection of waste paper. The works committee of the Council, resolved that tenders be invited for the purchase of unsoiled waste paper; no charge should be made to tradesman for the collection of sacks or the collection of the paper.[188]

Community Support

A capital concert was given in aid of the YMCA Hut – it was held in the Victoria Hall.[189]

Home Tragedies

A runaway tram-car injured three at Rochester. The tram upset three coal carts, threw two horses down and collided with another tram-car.[190]

Reference to the lamp burning in the following report probably indicates that the motorcycle was fitted with an acetylene or carbide lamp. Water was dripped onto calcium carbide. The reaction generated acetylene that was burnt to generate light.

Air mechanic George Nivin Smart run down and killed by a motorcycle. Smart aged 39, a Perth man, serving as a sapper, was run down and killed by motorcycle in Rochester High Street. His Sergeant giving evidence said the deceased thought he could see OK out of both eyes – but he couldn’t see far at all. The inquest heard that it was a dark night and the motorcycle had a front light that was burning at the time of the accident. Witnesses stated the motorcycle was not travelling fast and was not being ridden in a dangerous way. The post-mortem found Smart died of a fracture to the base of his skull. Verdict accidental death – the driver was exonerated of any blame.[191]

School & Education News

The first ‘Empire Day’ took place on 24 May 1902, Queen Victoria’s birthday. Although not officially recognised as an annual event until 1916, many schools across the British Empire were celebrating it before then.[192]

Empire Day made for many bright celebrations in the schools around Rochester.[193]

Court Cases

Conscientious Objectors could expect a ‘hard time’ should they appear before a Tribunal chaired by the mayor – a retired military man.

James Little, a conscientious objector was fined £5 and handed to the authorities. James Charles Henry Littlewas charged at the Guildhall with being an absentee under the Military Services Act. The accused from of Cecil Road, an assistant master at St. Peter’s School had attested, which he denied but it was shown he had, but when called up he lodged an appeal. He stated he would not even undertake non-combative service. The Mayor, Col. Breton, stated “I have had a pretty well enough of you conscientious objectors. It is extraordinary to me how unscrupulous the conscientious objector can be. He takes a solemn oath to defend the King and abide by orders, and he takes the oath with the distinct intention of breaking it. I have no sympathy with you whatsoever. You will be fined £5 and handed over to the authorities.”[194]

John Eckert, conscientious objector, was fined £2 and told to report to the military. John James Aubrey Eckert a local Wesleyan preacher was brought before the Rochester magistrates charged being an absentee under the Military Services Act. When charged he said he had no choice to plead ‘not guilty’ as he did not recognise the claim of the military. He had appealed to both the local and the West Kent Tribunals and was given non-combative status – which he found unacceptable as he did not accept war was the way to settle disagreements. Eckerd stated that he was not just making a stand for this generation but for all generations yet to come. The Mayor, Col Breton, was not persuaded and directed the defendant to present to the recruiting office and quoted scripture – that stated that each should be obedient to authority because the powers that be are of God. As the defendant had not attested but had been assumed to have done so on 2 March, he had not taken a false oath and was therefore fined the minimum of £2.[195]

In August 1915 every man and woman between 15 and 65 needed to provide information for the National Register. Its purpose was to find out how many men of military age were still civilians, how many could be spared for war work and, more pressingly, how many could join the armed forces. It also provided information on people who could not serve in the military but could be deployed on work of ‘national importance’.

Frederick Atkins fined £5 for neglecting to fill out a national registration form. Atkins a young man from Church Path, Strood, was fined by Rochester magistrates for neglecting to fill out a registration form. It was explained that he lived over a stable and was probably overlooked by the enumerators when they went around. This did not excuse him as he should have applied for a form. The defendant expressed his willingness to join the Army so the case was adjourned to enable him to do so but it was pointed he was still liable for the fine of £5.[196]

Fred Elmer imprisoned for one month for not paying the fine for not reporting for work. Elmer, a steel worker was imprisoned for failing to pay £5 damages for failing to report for work at the Strood Steel Works.[197]

Women’s Experiences

Women actively supported a wide range of fundraising activities to support national causes as well as many local services – many of which they organised and ran.

Ladies were out from dawn to dusk collecting on St. Georges Flag Day – England’s Day. England’s day was celebrated in Rochester on Saturday and for 12 hours daintily-attired ladies paraded the streets and button-holed everybody who was not displaying a St. Georges flag. Some ladies were out as early as 5am and didn’t return to base until dusk. The takings reached close to £130 compared with £162 last year. Money went to the Kent Prisoner of War Fund and the Shipwrecked Sailor’s Society.[198]

There was a view widely held by farmers that women were not capable of undertaking farming duties previously undertaken by men. To try to address this perception ‘demonstrations’ were held.

A public demonstration of women’s work on the farm was held at Coombe Farm, Tovil. Entrance 6d. Women willing to take part in the demonstration were invited to send details – travelling expenses were paid. The skills requiring demonstration included milking, hedge-cutting harnessing & driving horses, use of cultivators ploughing preparing seed beds and planting cabbages; the services of Boy and Girl Scouts were welcomed.[199]

In November 1915 the Naval and Military War Pensions Act passed responsibility for the pensions for disabled men and their dependants to a Statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund. To assist the work of the Statutory Committee, Local Committees were set up in each county, with Special Sub-Committees at district level. The Royal Patriotic Fund was established by Queen Victoria in 1854 for the families of those killed in the Crimea War. It raised money for the relief of widows and orphans of sailors, soldiers and marines who had died on active service.

Mrs. R. Graham appointed to the local committee for the Admin of Disability Pensions. Mrs. Graham who was a member of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, Rochester, was appointed to the local committee for Kent under the Naval and Military Pensions Act.[200]

Church & Cathedral

Lady workers in the Diocese are planning a ‘Pilgrimage of Prayer’. They propose to set out from Rochester and walk from parish to parish through Kent to have ‘heart-to-heart’ talks with villagers and cottagers. The pilgrims only ask for humble lodgings and invitations to the simplest of meals.[201]

The Rogation Days (from the Latin rogare, ‘to ask’) are the three weekdays before Ascension Day. However, in practice, many churches have observed Rogation on the preceding Sunday. The Rogation procession was suppressed at the Reformation but it was restored in 1559.[202]

A Rogation Service for a blessing on the crops was held in Rochester Corn Market on Tuesday by the vicar of St Nicholas (Rev. W. J. Gray). It was the first service of the kind held in Rochester for centuries.[203]

 

Life Goes On

Marriage between Capt. W. E. Bingham Gadd & Miss E. V. Hadden.  A military wedding was held at St. Peters between Capt. W. E. Bingham Gadd of Rosherville and Miss E. V. Hadden, eldest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. T. Haddonof 41 Roebuck Road. The bride wore a dress of white stain with a court train. She worn a wreath of orange blossom and carries a bouquet of lilies and heather. As the couple left the church they passed under an archway of crossed swords. The NCOs dragged the car to 41 Roebuck where the reception was held.[204]

June 1916

Military and War Reports

Rochester unhappy with their MP voting against the Military Service Bill. Alderman Willis, JP, chaired the AGM of the Rochester Conservative and Liberal Unionists Association, held at the Victoria Hall. In his address he remarked with pride that all classes of the community from peer to peasant had united order to do what they could to help in the Great War. The meeting though was unhappy with Sir Ernest Lamb, MP, voting against the Military Service Bill. The observation that this was something that had not gone down well with the people of Rochester, was received with applause.[205]

Tribunals

Mr. John Sharpe, a master-baker, was granted conditional exemption. Sharpe a master-baker of John Street, explained he had released two men and as consequence had sacrificed half his trade. His wife helps him in the bake house and he does his own deliveries.[206]

Edward Richard Chambers, laundry worker, granted conditional exemption. The Rochester Linen Company applied to the Tribunal for Exemption of Chambers who was employed as a wash-house foreman. The Company claimed he washed “practically the whole of the Government work”. This led to the Mayor observing the company was washing the Government’s dirty linen. It transpired that he spent the whole of the week on this work so was granted conditional exemption.[207]

Jesse Tinker was not in an exempted trade so there’s no basis for an appeal. Tinker, 36, who had three children and was employed as “head top man” at Woodham’s Brewery at Rochester, applied for exemption from military service. As he was not in an exempted trade Woodham’s were granted a month to find a replacement. [208]

The Army probably had a great need for skilled mechanics at the Front and this could explain why businesses were not allowed time to find a replacement for a man that was to be called-up.

Sidney Johncock – exemption refused, immediate call-up. Messrs. Barnby and Wiles, agricultural engineers, Frindsbury, were allowed no time to find a replacement for Johncock. In response to being told that Johncock was their only full-fledged filter, the Mayor responded by saying “If he’s fully fledged isn’t it time he left the nest?” [209]

Alfred Richmond had his appeal refused –  employer needs to find a replacement. Richmond, single and confidential clerk to Messrs. Horsnail and Reynolds of Rochester, was appealed by his employers who described him as indispensable. Mr. Brennan supporting the claim stated that the firms annual turnover was £100,000 and it handled 5,000 tons of flour as wharfingers. Mr. Horsnail admitted that he had made no effort to fill their man’s place because he thought it hopeless to try. The chairman asked – if he were called up you would have to do the best you can? Yes. The chairman – And that is what we all have to do in the time of war. The appeal was dismissed.[210] [Wharfinger is an archaic term for a person who keeps of owns a wharf.]

Anyone given ‘conditional exemption’ could be recalled to the Tribunal to explain why their exemption should not be withdrawn.

Harry Grinsted, exempted, so long as he continued as a volunteer munitions worker. Grinsted was employed as an ironmonger’s assistant.[211]

The following hearing suggests that some employers may have been coy about employing women in roles previously filled by men. It also shows that the military representative could be quite challenging of proposed exemptions, as well as the ‘promise’ of a future / further exemptions.

Edward Leonard, of Leonards department store, granted six months’ exemption. Leonard, a director of the Leonards store, asked for his application for exemption to be heard in private. The Mayor stated he saw no reason for this and he had particular reasons for taking this in public. Mr. Leonard, proceeding, said he was one of two partners and he had control of 14 out of 27 departments. The firm now had 101 assistants, only 14 of that number were male. Six of their staff were serving in the army and receiving their full salary. The Mayor here remarked that one of the reasons he wanted the hearing in public was to congratulate Messrs Leonard for the example they set in the City and other places, in the matter of employing women. Mr. Leonard was given six months’ exemption and was advised that he could apply again in six months, but Mr. Craske, (military representative) said “I hope you won’t have to”. [212]

The disparity in the decisions in the following hearing can be attributed to the challenge raised by the military representative attending the Tribunal.

Butchers, William Barrett 2 months’ exemption & Thomas Mitchell conditional exemption. Mr. William Longleyapplied for exemption for Barrett who was in charge of the Pork Shop, 96 High Street, and Thomas Mitchell, slaughterman. Mr. Craske questioned the need for exemption to be given to Mr. Barrett. Eventually two months exemption was given to Barrett and conditional exemption to Mitchell. [213] [96 High Street is currently the Garden House Café.]

A grave digger was granted temporary exemption. The Rochester Tribunal granted a local grave digger [unnamed] temporary exemption. “The cemetery superintendent declared that the difficulty was caused through people not dying as they wanted them to”, and consequently work fluctuated considerably.[214]

Hairdresser Alfred Onslow granted conditional exemption. Onslow, 40, hairdresser of Rochester High Street, was given conditional exemption as he attended St. Bartholomew’s hospital on a daily basis.[215]

Reports from the Front

William Lawrence, bomb-thrower, awarded the DCM. During the Empire Day celebrations special reference was made to Lawrence an old boy of St. Nicholas who had been awarded the DCM.[216]

2nd Lieut. Cecil Francis injured after being thrown from a strange horse. Francis, (24) the only son of Mr. & Mrs. T. W. Francis, Sawston House, Maidstone, was educated at the Mathematical School, Rochester. As a member of the West Kent Yeomanry he was called upon at the outbreak of the war, subsequently transferring to the Inns of Court Officer Training Corp. He obtained his commission last July and proceeded to the Front in September. He was attached to the Advance Horse Transport Depot where he saw service up to three weeks ago, when he met an accident whilst riding a strange horse, causing him to be put on the sick list. He is making satisfactory progress and hopes soon to take up his duties again.[217]

Roll of Honour

HMS Invincible sunk during the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916. Of her complement, 1,026 officers and men were killed, including Rear-Admiral Hood. There were only six survivors.

Acting Sub-Lieut. T. H. Cobb lost in the Battle of Jutland. Amongst a distressingly long list of Kent men lost in the North Sea battle, last week, was Acting Sub-Lieutenant Cobb (19) of the Invincible, the ninth surviving son of Mr. Herbert M. Cobb, of Mockbeggar, Higham, Rochester. He became a midshipman on August 2, 1914.[218]

The following report gives some biographic information about Lord Kitchener provided by the Mayor who had some knowledge of him from his military days. The view that the failure of people to take advantage of opportunities is due to their own faults and defects seems harsh and simplistic by today’s standards.

The Mayor pays tribute to Lord Kitchener. At a meeting of the Rochester Town Council the Mayor (Col. H. D’Arch Breton, late R.E) mentioned that Lord Kitchener was his senior by a year and that they were together both at Woolwich and at Brompton Barracks. In those days there were no outward signs of the potentialities of character that produced such splendid fruit. The Mayor went on to say that he had the superstition that every man had a chance given to him and if he could not profit from it, it was through his own faults or defect. Herbert Kitchener had his chance in being posted to the Palestine Survey which bought him into contact Charles Gordon, another great general of Engineers, and from that small beginning he developed into the giant that we had known and lost.[219]

Health & Hospitals

St. Bartholomew’s budget in deficit – again.  A notice was placed in the press requesting additional urgent support. The notice stated that St. Bartholomew’s will require at least £9,000 during 1916. New and increased subscriptions were earnestly requested.[220]

Sunday’s church offerings largely went to St. Bartholomew’s. On Sunday the collections from the services held in the Cathedral and most churches in Rochester and Chatham, largely went to St. Bartholomew’s where in addition to the sick of the district 750 wounded soldiers had been cared for over the past 18 months.[221]

Strood VAD gift day raised over £150 in cash and goods of a similar value. Many of the contributions were bought by deputations from the local elementary schools. One party from the infant’s Council School in Gordon Road, Strood, was in costume, there being a sailor, a soldier, a Boy Scout and two charming little nurses. There were loud cheers as they handed in their gifts.[222]

The VAD receives a grant per occupied bed from the Government. This creates significant problems when there are a large number of empty beds.

Frindsbury/Strood VAD is underfunded by the Government. The financial difficulties arise as a consequence of the increased cost of food, and when the number of patients are significantly reduced but all the staff costs remain the same. In the winter the cost of heating a ward of five men is the same as if there were 50. The expense of running the hospital was £83 more than the Government grant – but it was vitally important that bed-capacity is retained in order to deal with emergencies.[223]

Home News

The following reports give an indication of the impact of inflation on families – if ‘institutions’ are feeling the impact of inflation it’s almost definite that families will be.

The Medway Guardians support the call for the Government to regulate food prices. The Medway Guardians have passed a resolution in support of an appeal by the Newcastle Board to the Government to regulate the price of food.[224]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Work in the fields kept many from Rochester Cattle Marketit was therefore very short and little business was passing.[225]

As previously expressed it is difficult to know whether farmers / dairy men were deliberately ‘diluting’ milk or whether poor husbandry was the case of lower quality milk. However, the addition of boric acid to remove the sour taste and smell of milk that had gone off, was a deliberate act of deception – an action all the more deplorable when this milk was supplied to a hospital.

John Bates fined for selling milk adulterated with water and boric acid. The milk of Rochester was fined £10 for supplying milk with 15.8% added water on 24 May. He had been convicted of a similar offence only a week before, and it was mentioned that in another test same taken at the hospital there was boric acid to the extent of 27 grains per gallon, which Dr. Pritchard, medical officer, said posed a great danger.[226]

Many gardening groups were set up, particularly amongst allotment owners, with competitions held to encourage productivity.

The Gardener’s Society held their monthly meeting at the Bull Hotel last Wednesday. The exhibits consisted of two savoy cabbages. Mr. A. Dale who had lost a son in Mesopotamia was awarded 3rd prize.[227]

Civic Business

The following report demonstrates some rivalry between the poor law unions in the district, the regard in which they hold the poor that they support.

The Guardians of the Strood Union applied again for the exemption of John Croomer. Croomer was the labour master and general assistant in the union. It was stated that the workhouse had only three male officers and that 100 casuals pass through the workhouse per week. Mr. Craske [military representative and member of the Medway Board]said “you must treat them very much better than we do and we only have half that number.” Mr. Povey for the Strood Union said “You don’t give then gruel, perhaps – we do”. The Mayor, another member of the Medway Board, stated they do in the winter. Two months exemption given.[228] It was later reported that the labour master was given conditional exemption under a new instruction by the Army Council, so long as he continued to perform the duties of a special constable satisfactorily. [229]

The City police received an increase in pay on account of the increased cost of living. The Watch Committee of Rochester acceded to an application by members of the police force of the city for an increase of pay on account of the cost of living. The lowest grade constable will receive 1s per week more, and increases are to be given to the other grades in proportion. The Chief Constable’s war bonus was also to be increased.[230] The increase apparently due to the present cost of living.[231],[232]

The Corporation sells land on Corporation Street for a slaughter house. Council has purchased a Hobb’s Paper Baler for £32. Once it has arrived it will start waste paper collections.[233]

Rochester’s new petrol motor fire engine arrived. Rochester’s new spick and span, up to date motor fire engine, one of Merryweather’s latest, [Merryweather Hatfield] has arrived. It can travel at 40mph, pump 400 gallons per minute and carries 1,000 ft. of hose and has a ladder reach of 58ft – and what’s more important than anything else it can put out fires.[234] The fire engine is capable of 30-40mph on the level and can cope with gradients as steep as 1 in 5. In addition to being equipped with firefighting apparatus the machine is also fitted with a lifesaving appliance in the shape of the Merryweather ‘Sliding Carriage” capable of reaching a height of 50ft.[235] However, the Rochester Town Council did not receive a single application for a driver of their new motor fire engine at 35s / week. It was therefore decided to appoint Mr. Herbert W. Woods, secretary of the volunteer Fire Brigade, and pay him an honorarium of £10 / annum.[236]

Community Support

There was been a generous response to the appeal for eggs for wounded soldiers. Miss Lamb, the local Honorary Secretary, has received a letter from the Chief Organiser at Rochester, Mrs. Rowe, thanking the parishioners for their generous response to the appeal made for eggs for our wounded Tommies. Altogether about 500 eggs have been sent from the parish of Snodland, which heads the list of contributors, with Luton coming second.[237]

Home Tragedies

A cyclist was badly injured in Parsonage Lane, Frindsbury. Lieut.-Colonel Dad, R.G.A, collided with a cyclist named Arthur James Simmonds from Swanscombe, with the result that the cyclist received severe head injuries which necessitated his removal to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.[238]

School & Education News

The first ‘Empire Day’ took place on 24th May 1902, the Queen’s [Victoria’s] birthday. It was not officially recognised as an annual event until 1916. In 1958 Empire Day was rebranded as Commonwealth Day.

The Empire Day event held at Rochester Parish Church was attended by 300 children. The aim of the day was to ensure the children realised the vastness of our world empire and the responsibilities which will devolve to them inviolate. The infants received a rousing cheer for their song ‘Our Flag’. The girls very devoutly sang a war hymn whilst the boys gave a very hearty rendering of “Rule Britannia”.[239]

Frequent changes in the pay and allowance paid to enlisted men made it difficult for employers to know how much needed to be paid to one of their employees on top of their army wage, to maintain their pre-war income.

Payments received by enlisted teachers exceeds the salary they would have received. The Rochester Education Committee is to write to the Local Government Board to request permission to continue paying an allowance to teachers serving in the army despite the fact that the army pay plus allowances, exceeds they pay they would have received as teachers.[240]

Court Cases

At this time adultery was not sufficient grounds for a wife to seek a divorce, she needed to demonstrate other unreasonable behaviours on the part of her husband. Although the following is not the report of a divorce hearing the magistrates appear to have been satisfied that the husband had committed adultery and in withholding ‘housekeeping’ and still expecting to be housed and fed, was also acting unreasonably.

Wife secures maintenance and is no longer bound to co-habit with her husband. At Rochester County Police Court, Daniel John Camp, a schoolmaster from Halling, was summoned by his wife. Mrs. Camp stated that she and the defendant married in 1897 and had two children. His pay was £12 8s 4d / month, but during the past six months he had given her little money, although he expected her to provide the food. He had not paid the rent, and there was £6 owing, for which a distress had been levied, but she was allowed to remove her goods. The complainant admitted that money was owed to tradesmen, and that the butcher had stopped their credit in January, while others did so later on. She explained that up till about a year ago her husband gave her £5 or £6 month. She then kept accounts paid, but he stopped giving her money, and things went wrong. He wasted his money in public houses and clubs. Mrs. Camp said it was true that she once attacked her husband with a stick, and on another occasion threw some warm water over him. The defendant handed in an account with reference to his affairs, and the Clerk observed that he noticed proceedings had been taken by Messrs. Benson, London, to recover £9 for jewellery supplied. Questioned as to whether this was for his wife the defendant replied “no”. The Bench made an order for the defendant to pay his wife 15s / week, pay 8s 6d costs, and directed that Mrs. Camp was no longer bound to co-habit with her husband.[241]

Negligence was not the cause of barges colliding on the Medway. Albert Hutson, barge owner from Maidstone, was the defendant in a case bought by the London & Rochester Barge Co., that was seeking £5 19s 3d for damage caused to a boat which had been crushed between the defendant’s barge, Dorothy, and the plaintiffs’ barge, Tovil, below Rochester Bridge. Judge Shortt concluded that no negligence had been proved by the plaintiff and gave judgement for the defendant.[242]

Women’s Experiences

See Court Case aboveWife no longer bound to co-habit with her husband.

The following was taken from an advert placed by Wm. Day, 256 St. Margaret’s Banks. It perhaps gives an indication that an ‘imperative’ was developing for women to return to their pre-war role as mothers.

The future welfare of England depends upon babies – and essential to their care is an up-to-date baby carriage – that Wm. Day can supply.[243]

Women are not allowed to work at nights or on Sundays. At the Tribunal seeking exemption for Edward Richard Chambers by the Rochester Linen Company, the manager stated that the man often worked nights and Sunday’s because girls and women were not allowed to.[244]

Church & Cathedral

A Rogation Service was held in the Corn Exchange for a blessing of the crops. It was arranged with the approval and cooperation of the farmers and auctioneers of North and North East Kent.[245]

The Church was accused of being out of touch with workers. A large congregation of church workers assembled in the Cathedral to hear the Bishop of London tell them that before the Church can set about reforming the Nation it needs to repent itself for its failing to bring more people into the Sacramental part of the service through being totally out of touch with the world of labour.[246]

The Church must brighten itself up for the returning boys. The Bishop of London addressing a large gathering of clergy and laity in Rochester Cathedral on the National Mission, urged that the Church must be ready to receive the boys when they return from the Front. He recounted a story of a young soldier who on his return from France visited his old parish church to see how things were going on. With recollections of all that he had seen and experienced, he was not much impressed, and afterwards told the Bishop that he had been to his church but found it “as dull as ever”, adding that I’m off to the YMCA”. All praise to the YMCA and the Church Army for what they have done, said the Bishop, but we at home need to brighten up Church Life.[247]

Lord Kitchener was the Secretary of State for War, and unlike many in Government, who did not believe the war would be over quickly, and planned accordingly. He was drowned on 5 June 1916, when his ship, HMS Hampshire, was sunk by a German mine off the Orkneys. Memorial services were held across the country.

Rochester Cathedral was filled to overflowing at a service to commemorate Lord Kitchener. The special service commemorated the memories of Lord Kitchener and all who had perished at sea in the service of their Country.[248]

About 300 officers and men partook in the first ceremonial of the of the Thames and Medway Battalion of the Kent Voluntary Fencibles. The battalion, including drums, signals and cyclists, first paraded on the high ground by Fort Pitt hospital before marching behind the Battalion’s band to the Cathedral. This was the first ceremonial occasion of the new battalion that had been formed by the merging of the Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester and Gravesend battalions – coincidentally coinciding with the memorial service for Lord Kitchener. A Gravesend member of the Fencible wrote: – “R-r-r-oll _crash; r-r-r-oll _crash” went the drums and then the haunting strains of Handle’s Death March floated through the nave and aisles of the ancient Cathedral of Rochester. we, the members of the Thames and Medway Battalion. K.V.F., rose in silent respect to the memory of the late, great chief, Lord Kitchener.”[249]

A window in the Lady Chapel is to become a memorial to the ‘old boys’ of the King’s School. The Dean and Chapter of Rochester Cathedral have decided that the last and only window in the Lady Chapel shall be reserved for providing a memorial to old boys of the King’s School who fell during in war.[250] The window will cost 200 guineas and £40 has already been raised.[251]

A Confirmation Service was held in the Cathedral for men heading for the Front. A party of soldiers about to proceed to the Front were confirmed by the Bishop of Rochester in the Cathedral on Thursday.[252]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Walter Lewington & Evelyn Hughes. A pretty wedding was solemnised at Rochester Baptist Church. Mr. Lewington of Napier Road, Gillingham, married Miss Hughes the only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. H. Hughesof the Black-moor’s Head, King Street, Rochester. The bride looked charming in her dress of crepe-de-chine, trimmed with shadow laced lined with ninon. She wore a tulle veil and orange blossom. and carried a bouquet of white roses and lilies of the valley. After the ceremony a reception for 70 to 80 persons was held at the Tea Table Cafe in Rochester High Street.[253]

Marriage between A. S. Mark & Miss G. Knott. Miss G. Knott of Buckland, Dover. Sergeant A. S. Mark, was the second son of Mr. & Mrs. R. G. Mark of 53, Maidstone Road, Rochester. The service took place in Buckland Church. The bride wore a grey costume of military style, and a grey hat trimmed in with pink roses. The wedding cake was cut with the groom’s bayonet and the couple honeymooned in Rochester.[254]

The advertising of discounted material for mourning perhaps indicates the changes in the way society – particularly women – expected the loss of a loved one to be mourned. There was an etiquette during the Victorian times that became less rigorous in the Edwardian period and rapidly declined during WW1.

Leonards Dept. Store lowered the price of black material suitable for mourning clothes from 17 June. [255]

Gordon Hotel provides “an ideal rendezvous for ladies to meet”. Advertisement – Cafe Mecca and Gordon Hotel for high class luncheons, teas and dinners, with light refreshments served on the lawn. Its location makes it an ideal rendezvous for ladies shopping or to talk business. It has the atmosphere of a Japanese cafe of the best class.[256]

Despite the concerns about the current war the press was still able to show interest in what happened 100 year ago.

Feature on historic and prehistoric Medway. Sydney K. Turner of Nelson Terrace, Luton, Chatham, the discoverer of the now famous ‘Upnor Elephant’ [mammoth] wrote to the editor about things historic and prehistoric which are yet to be found in Medway.[257]

Violent election held at Rochester one hundred years ago. Sir Thos. B. Thompson, having been ousted from his seat in the House of Commons, in consequence of accepting the treasurership of Greenwich Hospital, resulted in a violent contest in Rochester where his selection was opposed by Mr. Barnet. On the 5th day the numbers were Mr. Barnet 397, Sir Thos. B Thompson, 376.[258] [Sir Thos. B Thompson was MP for Rochester between 1807 and 1818 and would appear to have been the Navy’s nomination.]

Better service is provided by staff who can take and enjoy a midday meal. John Featherstone (337 High Street) wrote to the editor, probably in response to concerns about businesses closing for a lunch hour, to advise that since July 1910 their establishment had closed between 12 noon and 1:15 each day for a dinner hour and that it had been an unqualified success. In closing for an hour he stated their employees would get their principle meal of the day in comfort and with regularity, which not only affected them but home (as all their staff lived out) and if he was not mistaken had had an influence on civility and good service. He acknowledged there was a risk in being the sole trader introducing lunchtime closure but they wrote to all the clientele for whom they had an address and the idea was well received. The two or three who had concerns were visited and assured so the firm entered a new era with the unanimous consent of its entire and considerable clientele.[259]

July 1916

Military and War Reports

Naming and shaming appears to have been used to ensure conscripted men presented at the required time. However, based on other reports it is quite possible that the men had enlisted but records had not been updated.

Help requested in locating men who have not reported to the Recruiting Office. A list comprised of 23 names and addresses, was published instructing them to report without delay to the Recruiting Office, 393, High Street, Rochester. The public were invited to assist the Military Authorities in locating the absentees. Information could be sent in an envelope marked confidential and would be treated as strictly confidential.[260]

Tribunals

Manager of the Rochester bottling department of Style & Winch is conditionally exempted. Cllr. G. Tyrwhitt-Drake who is both Mayor of Maidstone and the manager of the Rochester bottling department of Messrs. Style & Winch was given conditional exemption. The Tribunal received a fresh medical certificate within an hour of an adjournment, which stated he was only fit for clerical work. It was also stated it was absurd to call Mr. Drake away from his public duties as a Mayor, and the very large interest he had in other businesses, for the purpose of doing work that could be done by a clerk.[261]

It would appear that the police undertook work to verify the evidence presented to the Tribunal. Presumably the ‘appellant’ was not doing as much ‘caring’ as he had claimed?

Frederick Smeed had his certificate of ‘conditional exemption’ cancelled. Smeed, a Strood fish hawker, had been granted a conditional exemption on the ground that, in addition to keeping his wife and child he was helping his widowed mother, and assisting also a crippled mother. On hearing the evidence of Detective Sgt. Moon the Tribunal decided to cancel the certificate.[262]

Reports from the Front

Capt. C. Tuff, has been invalided to Karachi. Capt. Tuff, son of Mr. Charles Tuff, prospective Unionist candidate for Rochester, who was serving with the Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia, has been seriously ill with fever, and his friends learnt last week that he had been invalided to Karachi India. He is now suffering from jaundice but a recent cable home stated his condition was improving.[263]

Kent Civilian Prisoners of War at Ruhleben say they are receiving insufficient food. A photograph of civilians held in the Prisoners’ Camp at Rehleben, in Germany had been sent to Mrs. Hargreaves of Maidstone who has a near relative interned there. This camp has been of public concern of late owing to the statements that have appeared showing the insufficient amount of food handed out by the Germans at this camp and other Englishmen interned in Germany.[264]

Roll of Honour

  • Cpl Henry Vernon Durling died 28 July 1916, aged 19. He worked for Leonards Dept store. He was the son of Mr & Mr H E During, 167 High Street Chatham. Buried in France. Details on the Commonwealth War Graves site.

The published list of casualties is very extensive and too large to be reported here.

Health & Hospitals

Without a comprehensive welfare system families who would have been quarantined would have experienced considerable hardship. The bringing together of many people in a confined space created the ideal conditions for the development of an epidemic. The War Office had previously refused to pay compensation – see ‘Health & Hospitals’, May 1916.

The War Office has agreed to pay cerebro-spinal fever compensation for loss of work caused by contact with a billeted solider with cerebro-spinal fever [also known as meningitis or spotted fever or Meningococcal Meningitis].[265]

The Richard Watts charity is less well known for its district nursing service. In 1858 the alms-houses in Maidstone Road were “built to accommodate twenty people, ten men and ten women, five of whom were stipulated to be nurses who would care not only for the other residents but also the wider community in Rochester. This was the start of the Watts Nursing Service which lasted over 90 years but ceased in 1950 following the introduction of the National Health Service in 1947”.[266] It is possible that the ‘thanks’ offered in the following report resulted from help offered when a patient at the Strood VAD needed intensive nursing.

Richard Watts Charity lends a nurse to Strood VAD. The VAD was particularly grateful to the Richard Watts Charity that lent nurses during the crisis. It is reported that the seriously injured soldier now had a hopefully outlook. [267]

The management of venereal diseases in military towns has always been contentious. Infected soldiers were regarded as being unfit to fight. In earlier times draconian legislation[268] was passed that required women suspected of working as a prostitute or being infected with a venereal disease (VD), to submit themselves to a medical examination. Those found to be infected or who refused to be examined, could be detained in a Lock Hospital until they there deemed to be non-infectious. This legislation became a contentious feminist issue – hence perhaps the Mayor stressing that regulations aimed at treating / preventing the spread of VD did not contain powers to detain patients – presumably women?

Venereal disease treatment centres are to be established. The Medway Guardians received a communication from the Local Government Board stating the desirability of special consideration being given to the treatment of venereal disease and where these are made the Board would refund 75% of the cost. In response to a question Col. Breton stated the guidance did not give powers to the Guardians to detain patients until they were cured.[269]

Home News

The Rochester & Chatham Gas Company are to construct a new plant. The Rochester & Chatham Gas Company have informed Chatham Town Council that the deterioration in the quality of gas was due to the company having to alter the mode of manufacture at the insistence of the Ministry of Munitions, to enable certain chemicals to be extracted that are essential to the manufacture of explosives. The Company explained that a new plant is being put down to remedy the matter as much as possible.[270]

The posts of postmasters for Rochester and Chatham were merged into one post. As a war economy the Postmaster General proposes to unite the postmaster-ships of Chatham and Rochester into a single appointment.[271]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

To alleviate the shortage of food, and help reduce the impact on the cost of living, the Council let land for use as allotment. A rod is a measurement of length equal to 512 yards. An acre is equal to 160 sq. rods.

All vacant Corporation land was to be let as allotment plots. The Town Council decided to let all vacant land belonging to the Corporation in 20 rod plots as allotments at 1s per annum.[272]

Civic Business

The Local Government Board inquiry met to consider the proposed joint sewage scheme. Representatives of the Corporations of Rochester and Chatham, and many interested parties met to consider the scheme that had been delayed by the war. All noted that the scheme needed to be progressed with some urgency. The inspector noted there were no members of the public present and no one present was able to say whether there were any objections to the scheme.[273]

The City’s acquisition of a motor fire engine attracted considerable press coverage and presented the Town Council with a new source of income. Its acquisition also encouraged improvements in the communications between the police and fire service.

The City’s new motor fire engine was ‘christened’. In the presence of a large assembly Rochester Christened its new fire engine ‘Colonel’ in recognition of the great effort that the Mayor, Col. Breton, had put into getting it for the brigade. After the ceremony, the firemen gave a demonstration before being entertained by the Mayor.[274]

To avoid the possible accusation of the misuse of public funds it was pointed out, in the following report, that the sugar for the fruit had been donated.

Firemen treated to a cream tea – ‘sweetened’ by donated sugar. On Wednesday evening the Fire Brigade – who are also the Strood VAD’s ambulance Corp – were treated to a strawberry tea where sugar and cream was served with fruit. The sugar was given by Mr. George Dow.[275]

Charges set for the use of the fire engine outside the City boundary. The new fire engine performed well and the Town Council approved the payment of £250 that was due on delivery. It was decided that there would be no charge for use of the engine within the City but a charge of £5 5s would be made for calls outside if it was called but not used on arrival. The charge set was £10 10s for three hours or less, with a further charge of £3 3s for each additional hour. The Council felt that the electric call system from the police station should go to the fire stations situated on both sides of the river – rather than requiring two calls to be made.[276]

The purchase of coal was a combined problem of cost and availability. The number of miners had been reduced and the military had first call on any mined coal for the powering of steam ships and steam engines.

Due to the coal shortage the Medway Guardians sought to buy coal ‘off-contract’. Owing to the difficulties in obtaining coal the Medway Guardians decided to apply to the Local Government Board for permission to buy other than by contract.[277]

The increased number of regulations that needed to be enforced required more police. There was however a concern that otherwise fit men were seeking this ‘protected’ role as a means to avoid military service.

Four new special constables were sworn in. All the men had attested and been certified for home service, but wanted to be of service to their City until they were called up. Alderman E. W. Willis thanked the four new ’specials’ for the public spirit they were showing.[278]

Extra constables could be sworn in to deal with special circumstances.

Borstal escape required more special constables to be sworn in. On Friday evening Alderman Charles Willisattended Halling and swore in 29 more special constables to search for William Peverall, making the total 57. Peverall (19) an ex-soldier who served in the Dardanelles, made his escape from the Borstal Institution by swimming across the Medway. Peverall divested himself of his clothes at Woudlham where he swam the river. Totally naked, he presented himself at a cottage in Halling saying he was a soldier and had had his uniform stolen whilst swimming.[279]

War savings certificates were introduced by the Government in June 1916. A £1 certificate cost 15s 6d to buy and could be redeemed, free of income tax, five years later. They were only available to individual buyers or, with special permission, charities and provident societies. Ownership was limited to a maximum of £500. They were sold through local war savings associations, the post office or banks. By the end of the war £207 million of war savings certificates had been sold. After the war they continued to be sold but were renamed national savings certificates, and were used to fund house building and other reconstruction and development projects.[280]

Rochester set up a Committee to promote War Savings. In furtherance of the National War Savings Campaign it was agreed to set up a Rochester Committee – the scheme was seen as providing a fine investment opportunity giving a 5% return.[281]

Chatham considering erecting a statue to Lord Kitchener who was the only freeman of Chatham.[282]

Community Support

Two fundraising concerts were “interfered with considerably by thunderstorms”. Approximately 300 people assembled for a concert at the Gordon Hotel in Rochester to raise funds for the Voluntary Workers Association; the other event was an al fresco concert held at Claremont House, Strood, to benefit the Strood VAD hospital.[283]

Wounded soldiers wore a special blue uniform.

Free travel proposed for wounded soldiers. The Strood VAD noted that the Brighton & Hove Corporation permitted sick and wounded soldiers wearing their blues to travel free on tramcars except during the lunch hour. The committee said it would be appreciated if our local Tramway Company could grant the same small favour.[284]

Home Tragedies

A fireman was badly injured after a mishap with the Corporation’s new fire engine. After the naming ceremony, [detailed above under Civic News] the firemen took the engine out on a practice run – which did not end well! While descending Four Elms Hill in Frindsbury the rear axle snapped throwing some of the crew into the hedge – badly injuring one. A new axle had to be obtained from the maker’s works at Woolwich before the engine could return to its station.[285]

School & Education News

Troy Town children raise money for the relief of Belgium children. The girls of Troy Town Council School held a most successful sale of work in aid of the fund for the National Committee for the Relief of Belgium children. The articles exhibited and sold were without exception the work of the girls themselves.  The sale held over two days raised £4 2s 1d. A collection was made in the boys’ department and upwards of £2 was subscribed.[286]

Court Cases

The following individuals fell foul of DoRA Regulations.

Ernest Lock fined £10 for failing to register lodgers. Lock of the Lord Nelson Inn, Chalk, was fined £10 by Medway magistrates for failing to register lodgers. He was told he should feel lucky as the penalty could have been £100.[287]

Ada Pierce sentenced to 3 months’ hard-labour for supplying drink to a convalescing solider. Pierce of Fort-Pitt street had 27 previous convictions for various offences.[288]

Some held the view that war production was being hampered by drunkenness. This led to the passing of regulations aimed at reducing the consumption of alcohol. Pubs could be closed, and the opening hours and the alcoholic strength of beer were both reduced. The ‘No treating order’ made it an offence to buy drinks for others or to lend money to enable others to buy a drink.

Rochester brought under the Liquor Control Regulations. An order has been made under the Defence of the Realm Regulations 1915, to bring Rochester and Canterbury – and other places in West Sussex – under the liquor control regulations. These enabled authorities to acquire compulsorily or by agreement, licensed or other premises if it appeared necessary or expedient for liquor control in their area. For those spotting a possible loop-hole additional regulations were brought in to prevent the sale of medicinal wines for consumption off the premises. The hours during which intoxicating liquor could be sold or supplied in any licensed premises or club for consumption on the premises, was restricted to 12 noon to 2:30pm., and between 6pm and 9pm on weekdays. Clubs could remain open after the close of licensing hours so long as only non-intoxicating drinks were sold. Similar restriction applied to off-sales except that they could not be made after 8pm, and publicans could only provide off-sales to people who had paid in advance or in person. Amongst other restrictions it was no longer permissible to treat others by buying them a drink, as was lending money to another to buy a round. [289]

The licence of the Brickmakers’ Arms in Cuxton Road, Strood, was not renewed as it was felt to be unnecessary. The population of Rochester was 31,384 and there were 91 ‘on’ licences, or one licence for every 344 inhabitants.[290]

Women’s Experiences

Another successful fundraising effort was undertaken by Rochester ladies. The directors of Voluntary Organisations continue to make heavy demands for ‘comforts’ on the patriotic ladies in Rochester who form part of the ‘Recognised Association for Wounded Soldiers’.  In order to raise funds to purchase the necessary materials to make the required garments, a concert was given at the Gordon Hotel. The programme was long and varied. Due to the rain use was made of the Japanese Tearoom. The concert was notable for two reasons – it introduced to the public little-known performers who live in our midst, and the plenitude of food prepared by the ladies and served in the interval – including strawberries and cream. Three hundred people attended – but many more purchased tickets. After the storm it was possible to stroll on the lawn in the cool of the evening.[291]

The sentence of imprisonment with ‘hard labour’ was as the name describes. The Prison Act 1898 removed harsh hard labour such as labouring or pointless activities on a treadmill. Under revised rules prisoners sentenced to hard labour worked up to 28 days on hard manual labour, separate from other prisoners, and were required to sleep on a hard board without a mattress. During the First World War the separate confinement was abolished and the period without a mattress was reduced to a fortnight.[292]

For the third week running there was a case of two fighting woman summoning each other. Despite the Mayor stating last week that it was scandalous that while the men are fighting on the Front-Line women were fighting each other at home. Rose Gibson wife of a sailor, living in Barton’s Road, Strood, was found guilty of attacking her neighbour, Mary Taylor, so badly she had to go to see a doctor. Rose Gibson was sentenced to seven days’ hard labour – without the option of a fine.[293]

Church & Cathedral

What with normal life being disrupted by the war there was a risk that customs and practices that many were fighting to preserve, could be lost. Special efforts were therefore made by many, including the church, to preserve a familiar way of life.

The Parochial Choir festival went ahead. In order that the custom of holding a festival of parochial choirs at Rochester should not be allowed to lapse a shortened form of service was held. At the present time with so many choirs suffering greatly from the loss of men owing to the war, it was even more praiseworthy that the festival was held.[294]

St. Peter’s orchestra performed a programme for the wounded soldiers in Fort Pitt hospital. Mr. J. C. Whettamtook the baton of parochial orchestra from St. Peter’s.[295]

Life Goes On

A strong girl wanted for the kitchen in the Kings Head, the position is sleep-in. Live-in domestic help was required to assist in the house, living as one of the family and helping with young children at Ermitage, 16 King’s Avenue, Rochester.[296]

In 1867 to try and deter casual dog ownership, the duty paid for owning a dog became an excise duty and was fixed at 5s.

A dog collects its own licence. A gentleman of Rochester was the possessor of a dog, a cross between an Irish Retriever and Irish Terrier, which had been so trained that by means of sounds it goes to the butcher and baker and other tradesmen or errands. Quite recently a note was placed in his mouth and the dog trotted to Rochester Post Office and secured its own licence.[297]

The cast iron road bridge that crosses the Medway at Rochester was built in 1857 to replace the stone bridge. The bridge had cast iron spans below the road deck. This significantly reduced the clearance for boats to pass beneath the bridge – particularly at high tide. As a consequence there were many collisions which damaged the bridge. The bridge was therefore reconstructed so the road deck was supported from the above by the trusses we see today. The bridges and the railway tunnel were strategically important to getting troops and provisions to the continent. As a consequence they were well defended – even before war was declared.

Kent Archaeological Society shocked by sight of the new bridge. Members of the Kent Archaeological Society at their annual meeting had a severe shock when they first saw the new bridge. On being told about its construction it was observed that “the bridge is a real engineering feat, but it is still a thing for the eye to avoid as much as possible.” The only positive observation was that it screened to some extent the ghastly railway bridge that crosses the river beside it, and the present military guarding of the bridge was seen as a hateful necessity of war.[298]

Gillingham Council tackles the problem of gaming machines in shops. The Council resolved to report to the police all shops in the Borough that had gambling machines and ask for them to be removed.[299]

August 1916

“Shells were screaming around us and machine guns kept flickering, but I had to halt the whole column several times on account of the fatigue of the men. Aubrey Wiltshire, describing the Battle of Pozieres.

“Twenty million watch the Battle of the Somme film made by the War Office as a public information film – it featured real footage of the war. The film broke all box office records and in autumn 1916 nearly half the population of the UK had watched it at the cinema.” [300]

Military and War Reports

The British offensive is a month old, causalities total 158,000 plus another 40,000 elsewhere on the Western Front.[301]

500 old boys of the Rochester Mathematical School are serving in HM Forces.[302]

Tribunals

Dissatisfaction has been expressed that local Tribunals now require service in the VTC. This requirement was not placed on earlier appeals to the Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham tribunals. It has now been decided to review all previous decisions with a view to securing equality of treatment in this matter.[303]

What with the military’s voracious need for men and the antipathy shown towards drink, it’s perhaps surprising that the Tribunals exempted so many licensees from military service. Perhaps the local members of the Tribunals recognised that pubs were an essential component of a community where people could meet, share news, celebrate victories and generally support each other.

Exemptions from military service were granted to a number of pub licensees. Messrs George Austen, of the Star Hotel, Rochester, Robert Webb, the Angel Inn, Strood, Frederick Peters, the Britannia, Cuxton Road, Strood, and Charles Evens, The Gardeners’ Arms, Delce, were all granted conditional exemption by the Rochester Tribunal.[304]

Reports from the Front

Bothers Frederick and Ernest Beany distinguished themselves under fire. Mr. & Mrs. J. D. Beany of 38 Station Road, Strood, who have four sons in the war have the satisfaction of knowing that two of them have won distinction for gallant conduct and good service in the field. Corp. Frederick Beany of the Army Cyclist’s Corp was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for carrying messages under heavy gun and rifle fire. Corp. Ernest Beany, in the Royal Garrison Artillery, was awarded the Military Medal. He took charge of his detachment after the officer was killed and three men seriously wounded. When he was relieved he had been without sleep for three days and three nights. The other men of the battalion received a large box of cigarettes from the General.[305]

Boundary Wharf is near the  Rochester / Chatham boundary.

Rifleman E. Upton of Boundary Wharf, Rochester, has been reported as missing.[306]

Roll of Honour

Pte. Francis Joyce was killed in action. Francis ?Frank? Rupert Joyce (19) was part of the 2nd Sportsman Battalion and lived with his parents, Mr. & Mrs. F. Joyce, at 169 Maidstone Road, Rochester. Pte Joyce was a very promising young man. Winning a scholarship from St. Margaret’s Elementary School, he was a scholar for several years at the Mathematical School where he won several notable successes both in his educational attainments and in athletics. Sometime before leaving school he was one of the school prefects. When he left school he took up a clerkship with Messrs. Aveling & Porters Ltd. His parents first learnt of his death from a letter from a chum.[307]

The following report suggests there were private military hospitals – presumably for those who could afford to go there? Private care though could not compensate for the lack of antibiotics.

Lieut. Terence Brabazon died of his wounds. Lieut. Brabazon died at the Countess of Pembroke’s Private Military Hospital Salisbury of septic pneumonia. He was born in Rochester in 1896 and was educated at King’s School. He went to France in November 1914, and returned home wounded the following May. In August last he served with his regiment at Gallipoli and after the evacuation went to Egypt.[308]

Health & Hospitals

The term VAD was more about distinguishing status than determining a specific role. The high demand being placed on the hospitals at this time probably arose from the British offensive that began on the Somme on 1 July 1916 and lasted until 13 July. The offensive was to become known as the Battle of Albert. There were 60,000 British casualties on day one, and a further 25,000 during the remaining days of this offensive.

More VAD nurses were needed due to the high demands being placed on the hospitals. A letter was published from representatives of the Red Cross and St. Johns urgently seeking more VAD nurses (women) and VAD general services members to meet the very heavy demands being made by the military authorities.[309]

A wounded Canadian recovered well in the Strood & Frindsbury VAD. We are gratified to report that the wounded Canadian, named Bouchier, is now recovering well. In civilian life he was the fireman on the greatest and fastest express train in the world – the “Empire Express” of the Canadian Pacific Railway.[310] [Could this have been the patient for whom the Watts Charity provided a nurse – see ‘Health & Hospitals’, July 1916.]

Home News

Coal remains in short supply and it was expected prices could significantly increase – with serious implications for the poor. Although the price of gas was reduced it would not have benefited those who did not cook by gas. See report in ‘Home Front’, September 1914, for information on hiring a gas cooker. The report also suggests a coal cartel could have been in operation.

Strood Union trustees fear a winter fuel shortage and hold an unminuted meeting. The trustees of the Strood Union held a special meeting to consider the probable shortage of fuel during the coming winter, and high price of food and fuel. At the start of the meeting the clerk reminded the trustees that they had no power to purchase and distribute coal and as to do so it would be illegal he didn’t propose to minute the meeting. The trustees were aware that ‘rings’ had been established for the purpose of swelling the price of coal. Since the start of the war the purchasing power of the sovereign had reduced by 33 to 35% and the situation is bound to get worse as the war continues. One local coal merchant speculated that the price of coal could be £3 [60s] / ton before the winter was out.[311]

A supply of coal was secured by the Medway Union. The Medway Board of Guardians having received permission to purchase their own coal invited tender to provide 800 tons of coal but only two tenders were received for the provision of 420 tons – one quoting 32s 6d / ton and the other 37s 9d / ton.[312]

Coal is available for the public but it is expensiveE. Elvy based at 32 Star Hill, Rochester, is offering best coal at 43s / ton and best seconds at 42s.[313]

The performance of the gas company is commendable considering 66 men had enlisted.

The gas supply was holding up and prices are to be reduced. The Ordinary half-yearly meeting of the Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham Gas Company, held in the company’s offices in the High Street, Rochester, heard that despite shortages of manpower and resources that at no time had they needed to reduce supply. Sixty six men had enlisted and with sadness the board noted that three had lost their lives.[314] The meeting agreed to reduce the price of gas by 2d from the quarter ending September 30. [315]

Water economy needed due to the high demand being made by Government industries. The Brompton, Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester Water Company requested the public to conserve water. It was pumping three million gallons / day but this may prove to be inefficient if the Government Departments continue with their high demand for water – not because of a shortage but the company’s pumping power. The new source at Snodhurst was well advanced and when completed the company said it will be able to meet any demand for water.[316]

The following report suggests that the larger, busier factories, necessitated by the war, also needed to employ many ‘strangers’, created the need to put special arrangements in place to protect the workforce. The Munition Act 1915 that was introduced following the Shell Crisis, also forbade industrial action in the war industries and introduced a scheme of compulsory arbitration. The introduction of Welfare Supervisors may have also been required to counter the risk of the unfair treatment of workers who could not leave their position without the permission of their employer, and nor could they take industrial action.

Welfare supervisors have been introduced by the Munitions Committee. B. Seebohm Rowntree wrote for the paper stating that the welfare of the workforce has always been something carried out to a lesser or greater extent. However, as factories became larger the employer did not personally know all his employees and they became factory hands. This has necessitated the appointment of special officers to establish personal relations between them and the worker.[317]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Almost every district of the County had had cases of adulterated of milk. A meeting of KCC noted that in the past quarter almost every district of the County had cases of the adulteration of milk either by adding water or the abstraction of cream. This was a very lucrative fraud which was detrimental to the nation’s health but that the magistrates were treating to leniently.[318]

Community Support

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital recorded its appreciation for various donations. Amongst the various gifts were eggs, flowers and vegetables from the Girl’s Grammar School, Rochester.[319]

Home Tragedies

Women who worked in the manufacture of explosives handled hazardous chemicals with inadequate protection. They became known as ‘canaries’ because the skin of many of these women turned yellow. This may have been caused by liver disease or staining caused by handling nitric acid but as the babies of ‘canary girls’ were born yellow it suggests the women’s livers were affected.[320]

A female munition worker dies from atrophy of the liver. A woman, aged 20, who had been suspended from work at the Kent Munition Factory, for medical reasons, died on 10 August. The inquest found that her death was due to acute atrophy of the liver arising from TNT poisoning contracted during her employment.[321]

It’s not just flesh and bone that’s damaged by war. Trench fever was as infection transmitted by lice.

Captain Bernard Cadie, a patient at Fort Pitt, commits suicide. The inquest into the death at Fort Pitt Army Hospital of Captain Bernard Cadie (22) of the Kent Territorial Artillery, heard that he was depressed after being wounded in France and had suffered from influenza and trench fever. Whilst walking around the parapet he pushed his escort away and leapt over the wall and fell 40 to 50 feet. The jury returned a verdict of ‘suicide during temporary insanity’ and exonerated the escort of any blame.[322]

School & Education News

In the following report the mother’s claim that the wheals on the back of her of her five-year-old child were caused by the teacher’s cane were not refuted. The neglect she was accused of related to irregular school attendance and allowing her child to run the streets. It is perhaps worth noting the concept of childhood didn’t really exist before the late 19th century.

Fined 5s for poor school attendance. Emily Court of Sidney Road, Borstal, whose husband is at the Front, appeared before magistrates for failing to send her son Fred Court, aged 5, regularly to school. At a previous hearing the Attendance Officer alleged the child was neglected, and now the mother bought the child before the Court. She maintained that he had had the mumps and had wheals on his back where the teacher had caned him. The Attendance Office said that his concern was more about the child being left to run the streets. The mother said that Fred was turned away from school on Monday because he kicked up such a fuss. As it was proven the child had not regularly attended school a fine of 5s was imposed.[323]

Court Cases

The reduction in the number of people coming before the Court is all the more surprising having regard for the significant influx of people into the area.

The war may have reduced the volume of cases coming before the Courts. In Rochester during 1915 there were 3,534 cases, down from 4,883, and in 1914.[324]

Albert Skinner was summoned for discharging a catapult. Skinner (16) of 41 Kings Street, was found guilty of discharging a catapult at pigeons sitting on the roof of the Rising Sun Inn. In light of his previous good character and the missile only going a few feet, he was placed on probation for three months and given a fortnight to pay the 4s costs. The Chief Constable stated he felt obliged to bring the case as the firing of catapults was becoming a great nuisance and the matter had been raised with the Education Authority. The Chairman of the bench agreed it had to be stopped as it was dangerous.[325]

Mrs. Lilian Wilson was summoned for failing to control a ferocious dog. Wilson of the High Street, Rochester, pleaded guilty. A witness, Mrs. Elisabeth Kew, 15 Theobald Square, said her little girl had been bitten by the dog and needed the attention of Dr. White. Wilson was fined £1 + the doctor’s bill, and was advised that if the dog was taken out in the street, without a muzzle, it would be destroyed by the police.[326]

Women’s Experiences

Kent Central District of the English Church Union voted against the ordination of women.  Delegates of the Kent Central District of the English Church Union, attending a meeting at Rochester, resolved that it is contrary to Holy Scripture and the tradition of the Church to allow women to receive Holly Orders.[327]

Church & Cathedral

It’s OK to play golf on Sunday so long as you attend church first and carry your own clubs!

How Sundays should be observed. The Dean of Rochester’s last in a series of sermons on “Some Christian Ideas”, was given to crowded congregation. His subject was ‘The observance of Sunday’. When asked if it was wrong to play golf of Sunday he advised that he saw nothing wrong with it so long as the main business of the day – the worship of God – had been met, and that in playing golf others were not tempted not to worship God on that day and that the player must carry their own clubs so as not to tempt others from observing Sunday. The Dean was also concerned about the impact of Sundays caused by late night shopping on Saturdays and wondered whether Sunday trading times should commence at 6pm on Saturday and end at 6pm on Sunday.[328]

A Thanksgiving Service was held to mark the second anniversary of the war.  A great service of thanksgiving and intercession was held in Rochester Cathedral. At Cuxton an open-air service was conducted on the recreation ground. Suitable hymns and prayers were used and the service concluded with the singing of the National Anthem. Thirty three communicants of Cuxton Church are serving in HM Forces.[329]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Harold Smith & Miss Minnie Hamar.  A large company of relatives and friends attended St. Nicholas Church to witness the marriage of Harold Smith, late of 164 High Street Rochester, and Miss Minnie Hamarof 101 High Street. The bride, given away by her father, wore a dress of ivory crepe-de-chine, the pannier skirt of white ninon being gracefully caught up with a spray of orange blossom, and a veil and a wreath of orange blossom. The reception after was held at the bride’s home.[330]  [101 High Street is currently the office of Martin Insurance Services. 164 is currently the ‘Thai Four Two’ restaurant.]

September 1916

The Battle of the Somme continues. Due to losses Germany revises its strategy which includes planning an unrestricted submarine campaign – which will impact on food supplies reaching Britain.

Military and War Reports

Because of the great need for munitions the usual holidays for the King’s Birthday and the August Bank Holiday were postponed. The Times proclaimed back in May that an insufficient supply of munitions was leading to the defeat of Britain.[331]

Workers are to be allowed to take their deferred bank holidays. In lieu of the two postponed bank holidays local traders in Chatham and Gillingham have agreed to close down their establishments for the first two days of this week [last week of September] – but not Rochester and Strood where it is expected the holiday will be observed on the 9th & 10th October.[332]

Many thousands visited the captured submarine anchored at Sun Pier. The £200 that was collected from entry to the pier was shared between local Chatham charities and the Admiralty Charitable fund.[333]

Not only did the Recruiting Office seek the public’s help in locating men who had not reported to the recruiting office, it also sought help in finding men who had enlisted despite being unfit for military service.

Sixteen men from Rochester have not reported to the Recruiting Office. The public’s help was enlisted in locating these men. A list was also published of men who had not been accepted for service on medical grounds – but who may have joined; again, the public were asked for information.[334]

A boy claimed to be a German spy. A remarkable story was told to the Rochester justices when Sinan McInernyage 14, was charged under DoRA with making a false statement to Capt. F. Gardner, Assistant Provost Marshal. It was stated McInerny was found by Mrs. Taylor of Wickham Street, on Rochester Recreation Ground. He stated he was a Belgian boy and she took him in and arranged employment for him at Messrs Style and Winch’s brewery. The police were informed and the Belgian authorities disowned him. He then claimed he was German and his father was serving in the German Army and he had been sent over as a spy. This was also disproved and it was later found he was English and his father was in Ireland. He was remanded for a week.[335] It was later reported – Sinan McInerny was placed on probation for 12 months. It was stated that his parents lived in Fulham, and that a Probation Officer from Chelsea had undertaken to look after the boy.[336]

Tribunals

The case of Rick Paine, below, gives an indication of the class-structure that existed at this time – an enlisted man could find himself deployed as an officers servant.

Arthur William Dale’s mother requested exemption as she had two sons serving –refused. The mother of Arthur Dale (18) of 45 Rochester Avenue, requested exemption for her son on the basis that she already had two sons working in the army and one in the dockyard. Arthur was the only one helping to pay the rent and provide support in the home. The Chairman did not accept this argument required exemption as the allowances paid to the other sons should mean she’s no worse off. Rick Paine was exempted for six months. Paine (38) who was employed as a wagon builder requested exemption as the Medical Board had found him to be fit enough to work as an officer’s servant. The Chairmen felt he would be better employed as a wagon builder and allowed six months’ exemption.[337]

Reports from the Front

News reports from battles seem to have been very upbeat, using words such as ‘glorious’ and ‘thrilling’ to describe accounts of battles.

The Battle of the Somme newsreel film was shown at the National Electric Theatre, 205, High Street, Chatham, four times a day every day for a week. The press recognised that the written word can only convey a limited picture of the war, whilst ‘kinematography’ brings before our eyes the “terrible, saddening yet, glorious realities of war”.[338]

Company Sgt. Major A. F. Smith was awarded the Military Cross. Smith who is currently home on sick leave at 65 Cecil Road had the rare distinction for a warrant officer to be awarded the Military Cross. Before the war he was a most popular Sergeant Instructor at the Maths School. Although the army had no claim on him, he was one of the first to volunteer his services when Lord Kitchener called for old NCOs to enlist.  The action that led to this award involved Smith advancing with his company in an assault in Melville Woods, and killing three of the enemy in a captured trench. He then, after his officers had become casualties, took command and commenced consolidation though being injured himself in three places by a bomb.[339]

Roll of Honour

Many lists published of those killed, missing, wounded, or who had failed to enlist and of those not fit enough to enlist; those who had died with ‘balance of pay’ still to be distributed amongst the next of kin. The list of Kent men – including many from Rochester – who had been killed, wounded or were missing, was extensive. The following is included as the press reported more than a name / regiment.

Lieut. Tom Packman – killed in action. Packman (21) was the elder son of Dr. A. C. A. Packman / Mrs. E. S Packam, Grove House [?54 Maidstone Road], Rochester. He was killed in action on September 10; he was educated at the Mathematical School. At the outset of the war he obtained a commission in the Royal Horse Artillery and had been at the Front since November 6, 1914; he had latterly been involved with trench mortars and had been in the thickest of the fighting. He was well known in Rochester.[340] For more biographical information about Tom Packman and his family, visit the footnote link.[341]

Health & Hospitals

318 patients from the Medway Union are in the Barming Asylum. A deputation from the Medway Union visited the Barming Asylum [became Oakwood Hospital, now closed] and found it in beautiful order. Many of the Union’s patients demanded to be released without delay.[342]

Young solider commits suicide ten days after enlisting. The Rochester Coroner held an inquest at Fort Pitt hospital into the death of a [unnamed] young solider. He had only been enlisted 10 days previous and it was reported that he had a great dread of military action. Verdict – suicide whilst of unsound mind.[343]

The term shell-shock was first published in 1915 in an article by Charles Myers in the Lancet. Recognition that there could be physical and emotional consequences arising from battle was a significant step, but the term effectively restricted its application to a soldier who had experienced a shell explosion. The army determined a soldier who developed the symptoms after experiencing a shell-explosion would be regarded as ‘wounded’. They would then be entitled to wear the ‘wound stripe’ on their arm, and to receive a pension. Those who developed the symptoms without experiencing a shell-explosion were regarded as being ‘sick’ and not entitled to wear the stripe or receive a pension.[344]

Pte. G. Bishop, a Rochester solider, is listed as suffering from shell-shock. Amongst a long list of lost and wounded men from across Kent, Pte. G. Bishop was included in a list separate from those wounded, as suffering from Shell-shock.[345]

St. Bartholomew’s Nursing League held its first AGM. The first general meeting of the St. Bartholomew’s Nursing League was held at the hospital on St. Bartholomew’s Day; it was voted a great success and the sun shone all the time. The meeting started with a service and concluded with a garden party attended by friends from the surrounding hospitals.[346]

Inspectors press Rochester council to extend its maternity and children’s welfare work. The Health Committee considered an inspection report prepared by the Local Government Board into the Council’s maternity and child welfare services. While expressing appreciation of the work already done, the Board pressed the Rochester Town Council for an extension of maternity and child welfare work, by visiting infants up to the age of one and if necessary up to school age. They also asked that there should be ante-natal visiting and that a ‘maternity and child welfare’ centre should be established. The Council resolved that in the present circumstances that the Medical Officer of Health should arrange for two additional visits to infants to be made by a nurse at the end of the 5th and 8th months.[347]

Before an organised health service let alone mental health service, the police were probably the only service that could provide a vulnerable person with some protection.

James Hatt was taken into protective custody by the police. Hatt came before the Rochester City Bench for being drunk and incapable in the High Street. He claimed to be teetotal but that a piece of shrapnel that entered his head at Ypres caused him to have fits. Case dismissed but the police were told they did right in taking care of Hatt.[348]

Home News

Leonard’s Dept. store to hold a “Great ‘before the holiday’ shopping week”, during which there will be special displays of new fashions – in the new shades of Russian Green and Bordeaux.[349]

Towns thronged with pleasure seekers during the belated Bank Holidays. For the loss of the holidays for the King’s Birthday and the August Bank Holiday, Dockyard workers that were not engaged on urgent work were given two days off. The sun shone on the holiday Monday and the towns were thronged with pleasure seekers, while a large number availed themselves of the facilities afford by the railway company for visiting the seaside resorts and London. Extra buses were laid on. Country walks and drives were also popular and Cobham and Darland Banks were overrun by visitors.[350] Between 170 and 180 employees of Messrs. Short Bros., aeronautical engineers of Rochester, who could be spared from important work, including two dozen female employees, had their annual outing to Margate.[351]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

The following report suggests that milk distributors were having problems in securing the amount of milk needed to meet the requirements of their customer. This could indicate that yields were down and it may also explain why some turned to diluting the milk.

Hillier dairy seeking suppliers of milk – about four churns per day for six or 12 months paid for by monthly cheques.[352]

In the following case the crime was to sell adulterated milk, not the adulteration of the milk. Without the means to undertake their own tests dairymen may not be have been aware that they were selling milk deficient in fat.

Mary Daykin was prosecuted for selling milk with 9.5% added water. Daykin from Gillingham, was fined £3 at the Rochester County Police Court for selling milk with 9.5% added water. Her defence was that she sold it exactly as she received it from a West Country dairy farm.[353]

Civic Business

Council’s waste paper collection service did well. The Rochester Town Council have purchased a horse and van from the Rochester Laundry Company for £50 to collect waste paper from the residents of the town. They are able to sell the paper to a Guildford firm for £6 10s / ton.[354]

Not sure what happened to the huts on Strood Esplanade after the land agent refused to pay the agreed rent.

Huts have been erected on Strood Esplanade. The War Department has agreed to pay rent of £2 / month for the part of Strood Esplanade on which huts had been erected – but the War Department land agent subsequently refused to sanction the payment.[355]

The City’s new fire engine performed well at fire in Canal Dock. The Captain of the Fire Brigade wrote to the Town Council about the fire at Canal Dock detailing the good service provided by the new engine in saving property as it was able to pump water from the dock. As hose had been damaged in the fire the Mayor agreed to the purchase of six new lengths.[356]

Closing orders placed on drapers & milliners, furniture dealers, pawnbrokers, tailors & outfitters – requiring them to close at 8pm except Fridays when they need to close by 1pm, and by 10pm on Saturdays.[357]

Community Support

Wounded soldiers were entertained at Conservatives’ bowling clubs. The soldiers from the local hospitals were entertained by members of the Chatham, Rochester and Strood Conservative Bowling Clubs.[358]

The Castle Garden’s fete was opened by Lady Darnley. The fete was held on Wednesday in aid of the Recognised Association of Voluntary Workers for Wounded Soldiers. Numerous attractions had been arranged.[359]

In order to regulate fundraising and probably to control illegal or unscrupulous ‘scammers’, it was necessary for fundraising events to be sanctioned. “The War Charities Act 1916 made registration for public appeals compulsory and gave local authorities the power to decide which organisations would be registered or exempt. This local emphasis meant that there were wide variations in the way the Act was applied, especially in relation to defining a war charity and to what constituted a public appeal.”[360]

Strood VAD registered as a war charity. The Committee of the Strood VAD confirmed it had duly registered under the new law that requires all concerts and collections for war charities to be sanctioned.[361]

Home Tragedies

Stewart Buchanan was killed on an exercise involving bomb throwing practice. An inquest was held at Fort Pitt, Rochester, touching the death of Buchanan (29) of the Royal Engineers, who was killed while at bomb throwing practice in Ambley Wood, Rainham Road, Chatham. It is presumed that he came out from his shelter and was killed by a bomb that exploded sometime after it had been thrown. He was struck by a splinter from the bomb in the head and died from lacerations to the brain.[362]

Young woman [Maria Twigg] found murdered in woods off the Rochester / Maidstone Road. A greengrocer made a gruesome discovery of a body of a young woman that had been reduced to a skeleton, in woods off the Rochester / Maidstone Road. In an attempt to identify her a picture of a woman dressed as the deceased would have been was published.[363] It was later reported that the deceased had been identified as Maria Twigg and that an arrest had been made.[364]

School & Education News

Payment of a War Bonus for uncertified teachers was agreed. The Rochester Education Committee decided to grant a war bonus of £5 per annum to a number of their uncertified teachers.[365]

Court Cases

The risk of explosions in munition works was severe and would have had serious consequences for life and for the war effort. On Sunday, 2 April, 1916, 109 men and boys were killed by an explosion at the explosives works at Uplees, near Faversham. It is therefore not surprising that employers and courts took the matter of staff bringing matches into works so seriously. It may have been the Uplees explosion that resulted in the increased reporting of prosecutions of people taking matches into these works.

Florrie Swain was the first woman fined for taking cigarettes into a munitions works. Swain a young woman from Temple Street, Strood, was fined 9s by Rochester Magistrates for taking cigarettes to work at the explosive factory of Curtiss and Harvey where over 500 women are employed. Although she had been sacked she was prosecuted as a warning to others. Florrie was the first woman to be prosecuted and when she asked for time to pay the fine a solider on escort duties in court, stepped forward and paid it for her.[366]

Gun cotton is a highly flammable / explosive material.

John Ferguson fined 4s for smoking in a munitions works. Ferguson was found smoking a cigarette in the gun cotton boiler house at an explosives’ works in Cliffe.[367]

‘Sucking the Monkey’ was a naval term for the practice of sucking liquor from casks through a straw. It’s said that when the barrel in which Nelson’s body was preserved following his death at Trafalgar, was opened it was found to be empty of spirit – it had all been drunk!

A drayman was fined £2 for “Sucking the monkey”. A Rochester Brewer’s Drayman named Farrer was fined £2 for stealing beer from a barrel by sucking the liquor thorough an india-rubber tube – an operation known as “sucking the monkey”.[368]

Women’s Experiences

In the following report it is worthy to note that Miss Wright, who won the long distance swimming race, was the only female competitor – and she swam the distance at an average speed of just belong 3mph.

The Medway Swimming Club’s annual long distance swim was won by Miss Gladys Wright. The long distance swim from Aylesford to Rochester Bridge was won by Miss Wright, diplomist of the Royal Life Saving Society. Gladys was the only lady competitor and she completed the 10 miles in 3 hours and 30 minutes. Very few of the 16 competitors finished the course.[369]

A successful ladies swimming gala was held at the Mathematical School’s baths. The event was organised by Miss Gladys Wright, an expert swimmer, and Mrs. Gerald Newcombe. It was held in aid of the Strood VAD. The cheers raised for the Mayoress of Rochester and Miss Wright by the servicemen, showed how much they appreciated the event which raised £28.[370]

“Nine women out of ten are bloodless” according to an advertising feature. The girl in her teens, the wife the mother and the middle-aged matron know its miseries. They can correct the fault in their blood by taking Dr. Williams’ pink pills.[371]

Church & Cathedral

Memorial window placed in Rochester Cathedral for Cecil Fearnley who was killed in action. A stained-glass window was placed in the south isle of Rochester Cathedral in memory of Cecil Fearnley, Civil Service Rifles, son of one of the lay clerks, who was killed in action in May 1915. The window contains a figure of a young David playing a harp.[372]

Life Goes On

Marriage between George Grieveson & Miss Elizabeth Alice Arnold. A pretty wedding took place at St. Peters between Miss Arnold of Richard Street, and George Grieveson of Cecil Road. The bride was charmingly attired in white crepe de chine and ninon bodice are wore a wreath of orange blossom and a veil. The bridesmaids wore dresses of pink crepe de chine and n**g*r brown hats. They left for a honeymoon in the Lake District.[373] [Asterisked by author.]

October 1916

Military and War Reports

Despite the use of tanks, the atrocious weather, thick mud and strong German resistance ensured progress on the Somme was slow.

The following report makes it clear that the men that would have been responsible for home defence were not well equipped. Field Marshal Viscount French was the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force during the first 18 months of the war. He did not enjoy a good relationship with Kitchener and perhaps as a consequence leaked information to the press in May 1915 about the shortage of shells at the Front.

Many hundreds of people lined the roads to see Field Marshal Viscount French. The many hundreds of people who lined the road between Strood railway station and Strood recreation ground shared the disappointment of 1,493 members of the Volunteer Training Corps on learning that Field Marshal Viscount French, Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces, would not be visiting Rochester to inspect the troops. The inspection instead was undertaken by General Sir Francis Lloyd who, in his address, expressed his regret that the volunteers could not be armed but priority had to be given to supplying the Front Line.[374]

The suspicions felt towards aliens was not just restricted to Medway. Interestingly new work restrictions brought in for aliens did not apply to working in the munition industries – a most war-sensitive sector which could offer many opportunities for spying and sabotaging the production of weapons and equipment.

The Aliens Restriction Order was been extended. As from 1 October 1916, a person shall not take steps to obtain the services for work, other than munitions work in the UK, of aliens, or any alien not in the UK, except with the permission of the Board of Trade.[375]

Air-raid insurance made available to the public. Notice placed in the press: Anyone concerned about meeting the cost of personal injury caused air raid attacks by Zeppelins can now take out insurance – 5s for six months, 7/6 for 12 months or 10s for the duration of the war.[376]

Tribunals

The following report highlights the problems caused by there being insufficient agricultural labour to maintain food productivity, and the lack of collaboration between the government departments responsible for progressing the war and those responsible for ensuring home services were maintained.

The call-up of agricultural worker was been put on hold. The Strood Rural Tribunal adjourned all Agricultural Cases as advice had been received that no agricultural worker would be called up before 1 January. The military representative wanted to know if agricultural workers would be required after 1 January. Mr. Aveling was in attendance and he advised that his role was to ensure that sufficient labour was maintained for agriculture, but the military representative advised that he had received instructions from the War Office urging the recruitment of more men.[377]

Reports from the Front

Pte. A. Bloomfield has been reported as missing. If anyone has any news of A. Bloomfield, please send it to Mrs. Bloomfield, Church Cottages, Cooling.[378]

Capt. Cecil Cloake was been awarded the Military Cross. Cloake from New Road, Rochester, was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery at the Front Line. Details have yet to be published.[379] [This may be Cecil Stedman Cloake who was educated at the Maths School and who was awarded the MC for reorganising two companies who had lost their officers, and “by his cool pluck restored the confidence among the men at a critical time”.]

Pte. George Barrett has been wounded in the shoulder. Barrett is in the Royal Alexandra Paisley. Mr. & Mrs. G. Barrett of 39 Baker Street, have received news that their son has been wounded in the shoulder and is a patient in hospital.[380]

Rifleman Harrod Brand has been reported as being wounded in action. Mr. & Mrs. J. Brand of 78 High Street, Rochester, are anxiously waiting for news of their son, Harrod Brand (23) who was reported as being wounded in action on 9th September. He had been a cathedral chorister for eight years and became the organist at Newington at the age of 16.[381] [78 is currently Copenhagen Blue.]

Pte. Brooks from Strood, has been missing since going into battle in France on 8 August. Mrs. Hort of 25 Stanhope Road, Strood, is seeking information about her brother, Pte. Brooks, from any comrade who may have information. This is the third brother Mrs. Hort has lost in the war.[382]

Roll of Honour

2nd Lieut. Stanley Hopkiss Mason has been killed in action. Mason lived in New Road, Rochester. [383]

The Battle of Loos took place from 25 September to 8 October 1915 in France on the Western Front.

Pte. Robert Fancett died of wounds received in the Battle of Loos. Mr. & Mrs. Fancett of 53 Rochester Avenue, Rochester, have received the sad news that their son Robert (23) had died of wounds received in the Battle of Loos, France. He joined up at the commencement of the war. Two of his brothers are fighting on the Front Line.[384]

Sgt. D. W. White was killed by a sniper. White, (25) of 143, Maidstone Road, Rochester, leaves a wife and a daughter aged two.[385]

Cpl. Fred Weeks died of wounds in a Clearing Station in France. Mr. & Mrs. George Weeks of 55 Gordon Road, Strood, were notified that their eldest son, Fred, died of wounds in a Clearing Station in France. He enlisted in 1911 and was part of the original British Expeditionary Force that landed in France on 8 September 1914. He served without a scratch until he received these fatal wounds.[386]

Sgt. Alfred George Hoad died of his wound. Hoad (23) was with the Field Ambulance. His father lived at 8 Cromer Road, Strood. Hoad went to France in December 1914, and was in engagements at Ypres. He came home on leave in October 1915 and was sent to the Eastern Front in December 1915. He was wounded in the chest by shrapnel while engaged in dressing wounded men under heavy shell fire, on October 3. The deceased’s brother served in the same engagement and acquitted himself with valour. [387]

Health & Hospitals

During air raids Rochester’s four ambulance stations are manned – The Guildhall, Conservative Club, and Borstal and Strood Unions. Each station is equipped with stretchers, bandages and dressings for the wounded. Weekly drills are undertaken in stretcher and bandaging work. The ambulance service attend a lecture on ‘first aid to the injured’Members of City of Rochester Division of St. John Ambulance Brigade assembled at the Guildhall to hear an opening lecture on ‘first aid to the injured’, delivered by Dr. J. Hall Morton from the Borstal Institute.[388]

The two reports, in the same edition of the same paper, suggest that the Government ‘u-turned’ on the changes it proposed to the way VADs were funded. For many reasons any reduction in the funding of VADs would have been unpopular but equally many organisations were competing for public donations.

In the past two years 1,937 men have passed through Strood & Frindsbury VAD – of which only one has died. Recent rules have been instigated that, unless modified, will have a crippling affect upon the whole of the VAD hospital work and will require greater support from the public. In another piece in the paper: Strood VAD announced that the authorities had withdrawn financial restrictions. The management made special thanks to the Gundulph Lodge of the Freemasons for their generous and constant help.[389]

Before medications were controlled many ‘tonics’ contained substances that were recognised as being habit-forming. The following, taken from an advertisement, also shows that many of the items that we would today regard as essential ‘Front-line kit’ needed to be provided by families. Harrods and Selfridges sold morphine sheets that could be sent out to soldiers at the Front. The morphine content was low hence an addiction problem did not develop in the trenches.[390]

Patent medicine advert – “there is an alternative to habit-forming tonics”. Amongst other suppliers across Medway, G. A. Morris of 24 High Street, Rochester, stocks Bitro-Phosphate an alternative restorative to habit-forming tonics that offers “relief for drug Slaves.” G. A. Morris also stocks useful products such as flasks guaranteed to keep liquids hot for 24 hours, lamps and hot water bottles that can be included in soldiers’ parcels.[391]

Home News

Major Metcalfe was appointed as the Chief Recruiting Officer at Rochester he was the Chief Constable of Somerset.[392]

Shops at Rochester & Strood will close for the two-day Bank Holiday to make up for the two holidays surrendered earlier in the year.[393]

Staff in southern dockyards, including Chatham dockyard, is to be reduced. Rochester Town Council decided not to protest to the Admiralty against the proposal to reduce the staffing of the Southern dockyards. It is believed this action is required because the new dockyard at Rosyth needs to be staffed, and that passing a resolution as requested by the Ship Contractors’ and Ship-wrights’ Association, would serve no useful purpose.[394]

The reason for the Government refusing to sanction the construction of a slaughterhouse in Rochester was not published. The case for having a central slaughterhouse would have included arguments around public health and the release of men to the military. The decision also suggests that the administration of Rochester could have been influenced by the military.

Permission to build a slaughterhouse in Rochester was refused by the Ministry of Munitions. The refusal to sanction the construction of a slaughterhouse in Blue Boar Lane, by Messrs. E. J. Paine & Co., is seen as ‘interference’.[395]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

As good as the news might be for the farmer that a record price was set for potatoes, it has knock-on implications for the poor who could be paying more for poorer quality foods. Larger retailers were in a position to test the quality of the milk they sold. This would have been harder for small independents.

A record potato price was set of £80 / acre for King Edward potatoes. This price was obtained at a produce sale for Earl Darnley at Rochester / Cuxton.[396]

The lack of confidence in the quality of milk continued to be of concern. However, the Co-operative societies of Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester have placed an advert assuring the public that they provide “pure milk”.[397]

The following, perhaps, gives an insight in the moralistic approach taken to providing care / services to the poor/inmates.

Should coffee be substituted for beer at Christmas for the inmates of the Strood Union?  After some discussion the Guardians of the Strood Union have decided against substituting coffee for beer for the inmates of the Union at Christmas. Despite Cannon Roberts telling the committee that coffee was far more exhilarating than beer the committee was of the view that the decision should be based on finance. Christmas is the only time of the year the inmates receive beer.[398]

Civic Business

Miss Jackson agreed to be the Mayoress of Rochester again. Miss Jackson has five brothers who have each been Mayor of an important town in England. Miss Jackson herself has been Mayoress of Rochester three times.[399]Her brother, Cllr. J. H. Jackson, is deputy Mayor this year, and will again be deputy next year.[400]

Community Support

The following story gives a proxy indicator of the number of soldiers /sailors billeted in the area.

42,000 soldiers & sailors have visited Strood’s Soldiers & Sailors Institute since it opened , on 21st September 1914. The institute, situated at 119 High Street, Strood has provided 31,000 teas. It decided to register under the War Charities Act 1916.[401]

A very successful fundraising concert was given at the Victoria Hall, Rochester. Many concerts have been given – although not by any means too many – in aid of the magnificent work being done at the Strood VAD, but none has been so successful as the one recently given at the Victoria Hall, Rochester. There was a large attendance of well-known local people, nurses and Red Cross workers.[402]

Home Tragedies

A seaplane accident kills PO. William Hodgson and injures Fgt. Sub-Lieut. Mostyn Lewis. The inquest held at the Royal Naval Hospital Chatham heard evidence into the death of Hodgson (24) a petty officer mechanic of the Royal Flying Corp who drowned in the River Medway. The evidence was that around 7am the machine rose awkwardly from the water at the Isle of Grain. It started flying at a very steep angle until it reached a height of nearly 100ft before nose-diving into the river near Cockleshell-hard. The pilot, Flight Sub-Lieut. Mostyn Lewis was thrown clear of the seaplane but the observer Hodgson fell with the machine.[403]

The requirement for blackouts to prevent air-raids had safety implications for those going about their everyday business after dark.

James Butcher was knocked down and killed by a motorbus in Strood. An inquest was held at the Guildhall into the death of Butcher (47) who was knocked down in Strood by a motorbus on a very dark night. The bus moved to the right-hand side of the road to avoid the Frindsbury tramcar as the deceased stepped into the road. As the deceased had just left a brightly lit lavatory it is thought this may have intensified the darkness. The motorbus was lit appropriately, and it was concluded the driver could not have avoided the accident. The jury however expressed the opinion that there should always be a police officer on point duty at corners such as those by the Angel.[404]

School & Education News

A craft school is to be established in Rochester for boys and disabled sailors & soldiers. Approval has been given to a scheme for the establishment of Art Trade Schools in Gravesend and Rochester in which specialised training will be given to boys intended for industrial occupations in art and craft work. Kent Education Committee has agreed, subject to funding being found, to establish a Craft School in Rochester for giving short courses of training in certain kinds of work to sailors and soldiers who have been disabled in the war. Funding has been sought from the Board of Education and the War Pensions Statutory Committee.[405]

Court Cases

The slight increase in the number of convictions for drunkenness could be quite modest when compared with the rapid growth in the local population with the declaration of war.

Rochester Licensing Stats353 Public houses. Convictions for drunkenness – 382 in 1915 compared to 354 in 1914.[406]

A number of people were prosecuted for failing to prevent the escape of lightJohn Byrob of 91 John Street, was fined £5 for failing to prevent the escape of light from the Rochester Cooperative Bakery in George Lane. The Bench felt this was a particularly bad case as an air-raid was in progress at the time. Byrob was advised by the Bench that they intended to ensure the City was kept in darkness and warned him that in the north a man had been sentenced to six months hard labour for a similar offence. Charlie Tupper of 15 Five-bells lane was more leniently dealt with for a similar offence in that her fine was only 10s and she was allowed a fortnight to pay. Walter Poynter of 32 Five-bells lane was also before the Court for failing to obscure light and for being abusive to the Special Constable who asked him to put the light out. However, as he explained that he had already lost one son and that morning he learnt that a second son had been killed at the Front, the Bench dismissed the case against him but he was still required to pay the 4s court costs.[407]

The following report points to the loss of manpower and skills having an impact on the quality of the milk, and that not all cases of ‘substandard’ milk could be attributed to a criminal act or an act of deception.

Court accepts poor husbandry can impact on the quality of milk that cattle produce. Felix Bourne a dairy farmer from Borstal and Chatham appeared before Rochester County Police Court for selling milk 16.6% deficient in fat. In his defence he claimed that the milk was sold exactly as it came from the cows. Mr. Bourne said he kept 92 cows on marshy ground and were left out during the wet and chilly nights. Owing to the shortage of labour they had also not been ‘stripped’ in the milking. As all these circumstances might have affected the quality of the milk the magistrates dismissed the case.[408]

Women’s Experiences

50 female workers were injured in a Chattenden train smash. Around 200 women were on a train consisting of four open and two closed carriages. The train left Upnor at 7:20am. At the entrance of Lodge-hill the women disembarked to be examined by female searchers. They then returned to the train to be conveyed to the buildings where they were employed. The train pulled out slowly – gave three short blasts of its whistle and then jumped the points at a branch line. The screams of the women caused men to rush to their assistance and in the excitement of the moment many fainted, however others were more seriously injured and trapped in the overturned carriages. Fortunately there were no fatalities and those needing treatment were taken to homes in Strood, Frindsbury and Snodland. The women involved were told they could go home but a number chose to remain at work.[409]

The implicit message in this poem is that women – mothers and girls – need to encourage men to enlist. It also recognises the anguish a mother will face when her son joins the colours, but also the shame she will experience if her ‘man-child’ doesn’t. 

Poem – The Woman’s Part.[410]

The boys in their khaki, gout out to the Front!

          What are the woman to do?

They say “men must work and women must

          weep.” Is that all that is left to you?

Don’t believe it! The hardest part to play is

          the part of the mothers and wives.

To give your own life is a little thing, we give

          Our men folks’ lives.

The baby you’ve born and suckled, and put

          In his shortened frocks.

The boy that you’ve often scolded, when you

          Washed him and darned his socks.

We’ve bred them and reared them, and loved

          them – and now it’s the woman’s part.

To send them to die for England – with a

          smile and a breaking heart.

And we’ll do it! Our girls might trifle in the

          careless days of peace.

With the boy of the seaside bandstand, his

          flannels without a crease.

We might flirt, and kiss, and flutter – but the

          day the war began.

We women had done with the loafer – what we

          want today is a Man!

The man that will shoulder a rifle, and go

          where the bullets fly.

With his head held high, and a song on his

          lips – and a smile as he bids “Good-bye!”

We’ll bid him God-speed, and wish him good

          luck, and tell him he’s one of the best.

And he’ll soon be back, with his duty done,

          and the hero’s cross on his breast.

There’s no place for the girl in the fighting

          line, but let this be your woman’s plan.

If we can’t enlist for service, we can each of

          us send a man.

If he lags, wake him up with a scornful

          word; let him feel the lash of shame.

Till you fire his soul to ardour, and kindle

          his blood to flame.

Let it be “hands off” for the sluggard for

          the knut and the “flappers joy.”

No smile and kiss for the shirker; keep

          your lips for soldier boy.

Send your boy to the colours, mother, hand him

          belt and gun.

It’s better to lose him nobly,

          than to be ashamed of your son.

When the work of the day is over, you can let

          yourself go and cry.

In the gloom of the desolate fireside – in the

          dark, where there’s no body by.

There isn’t a sock that wants darning; there

          isn’t a boy to scold.

For the cigarette ash on the carpet – for the

          dinner they’re let grow cold.

Their caps still hang on the hat stand, but

          there isn’t a step on the stair.

There’s no gay voice calling “Mother,” no

          sound for the boys aren’t there.

That’s the time you know the anguish of the

          waiting woman’s part.

In the hush of the lonesome home, it’s the

          silence that tears your heart.

Night passes! We’ll welcome the morning

          with a smile and steadfast will.

If we haven’t our boys to work for, we’ll work

          for our country still.

Be glad that your mean are fighters for the

          shame that surely that hurts

Is to have a coward man-child, who hides

          behind women’s skirts.

Just clench your teeth when you read the

          lists of the wounded and dead.

And if the names that you love are there be

          proud and hold up your head.

Don’t cry! For they’ve climbed the pathway

          that heroes and martyrs trod.

They sleep in the rest of Heaven! They stand

          in the glory of God!

                                                         Anon

The following advert could have played to the understandable exhaustion and insecurities that many women could have been experiencing at this time. It also perpetuated the view that woman were more frail than men.

Patent medicine advertising feature – “The tragedy of womanhood”. Women must be healthy for a happy marriage. The feature advert stated there is no need for pale, delicate girls to despair – Dr. Williams’ pink blood enriching pills have proven to be boon to women whose ill health threaten their future.[411]

Church & Cathedral

The Bishop criticises easy-going religion that makes few demands on our time & purse. The Bishop of Rochester has issued a Pastoral that he has directed be read out in all churches in his diocese. In it he expressed the opinion that we have allowed our laws, policies and investments to expand in a way that Christianity is no longer seen as relevant; and the sanctity of marriage has been torn apart by an evil and adulterous generation that sees pleasure as the standard by which our conduct is to be judged. BUT the war has turned us away from this materialism and many may now need to recast their ideas about religion. The easy-going religion that made small claims on our time and purse and service, and that suited us, is very possibly not the religion that God desires or designed.[412]

The Cathedral has probably never been fuller for a Harvest Festival. The Nave and Choir were filled and some of the congregation had to stand.[413]

Life Goes On

Marriage between William King & Alice Wilmore Hancock. A Khaki wedding took place at St. Nicholas, Strood, between Bombardier King from Berkshire and Miss Wilmore Hancock, the eldest daughter of Mr. Charles Hancock of 90 Gordon Road, Strood. The groom who had just received a war wound, wore khaki. The bride wore a smart costume of saxe-blue with a silk hat to match, and carried a beautiful bouquet of white lilies and azaleas. They honeymooned in Berkshire.[414]

November 1916

The Battle of the Somme continued until 19 November when troops dug in. With winter closing in Haig decided the troops had done enough and decided to resume the offensive in February. In the 141 days of battle the British had advanced just seven miles and had failed to break the German defence.[415] “In November citizens banded together to build war shrines to honour the fallen soldiers. They appeared on street corners up and down the country. The shrines consisted of simple, handmade, wooden tablets inscribed with the names of the fallen and decorated with crosses.”[416]

Military and War Reports

New Temperance proposal to convert all public houses into house of refreshment. Rochester’s MP, Sir Ernest Lamb, was one of the signatories to a presentation to be presented to the Government in favour of suspending liquor traffic during the war. The proposal includes converting all public houses into ‘houses of refreshment’. It is believed that by adopting this course the civil and fighting populations will be quickened and that a new fire of resolution will be raised amongst the people. It will also give millions the first opportunity they have ever had to break old habits of weakness and to form new habits of strength.[417]

Rochester Recruiting Office has moved from the old post office Rochester to the Conservative Club [12 Star Hill, Rochester] which is better suited to its work. The change has been made possible by the patriotic spirit and courtesy of the committee of the club. The Rochester Conservatives moved to the Bull Hotel.[418]

The following report shows that the substitution scheme – where firms had time to find a substitute for a man who is to be called-up – was becoming increasingly unviable as the pool of fit and appropriately skilled men, able to substitute, had greatly diminished.

More agricultural workers are to be enlisted. Lieutenant Pickard, Recruiting Officer for the Rochester District, attended a meeting of the District’s Framers’ Union held at the Kings Head, and advised the farmers that the Government between January 1 and February 1 will have all men under 30 years of age for the Army. They would be substituted as far as possible by men under the substitution scheme. They would be fairly decent men, not discharged invalids, but men who although able-bodied, were, through some physical defect not fit for the trenches.[419]

An extra holiday was granted for Dockyard and Munition workers. The Minister of Munitions have approved a five-day holiday for Dockyard and Munition workers.[420]

Trading with the Enemy’ legislation was introduced to prohibit trade with anyone in the German Empire or that may benefit the enemy. An amendment was made to the legislation enabled the winding up of enemy-owned businesses.

A Rochester engineering Company with German links is to be closed. An order has been made under the Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act requiring the winding up of the “Rochester Engineering Company (Rochester)” which makes machinery for cement works. This is the first announcement of this kind relating to a Kent business.[421]

Tribunals

James Charles Henry Little, a conscientious objector, “comes good”. The story of a conscientious objector who made good was told to the meeting of the Rochester education committee. Little, a certificated assistant at St. Peter’s boy school had written to the committee asking that he may be paid the war allowance. Having once been an “Objectionable Conscientious Objector” he joined the army in May and after 11 weeks had reached the rank of sergeant and was a first-class musketry instructor. The committee unanimously agreed that he should be paid the allowance.[422] [See ‘Tribunals’, May 1916.]

George Ernest Syms had his student status questioned. Syms a student civil engineer from Rochester appealed for the renewal of his exemption on the grounds that he is a British subject from Ceylon – solely in this country for education in engineering. His student status was questioned.[423]

Tribunals were responsible for ensuring that local services were protected from the consequences of the largely indiscriminate rules of conscription.

Concern raised about the Military overriding Tribunal decisions. The Rochester Tribunal raised concerns with the military representative that the military was taking executive action against those under the protection of the Tribunal.[424]

The following report illustrates the tension between the demands for military and agricultural manpower. The Tribunal is told not to renew exemptions but also told to ensure that farmers are not denuded of labour.

There is to be an immediate call-up of all men who had been deferred until 1 Jan. 1917. The Strood Tribunal received a letter from Brig. General A Campbell Goddes, Director of Recruiting, stating that all men whose call up has been deferred until 1 January 1917 are to be called up immediately and that no further applications for the renewal of exemptions should be accepted. In following this instruction the letter stated that it was essential that farmers were not denuded of labour.[425]

Reports from the Front

Cpl. William Charles Henry Clements has been awarded the Military Medal. Clements, second son of Mr. & Mrs. A. Clements, 30 Foord Street, Rochester, was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry at the Front. The report of the General Officer Commanding, stated – “Cpl. Clements is awarded the Military Medal for special gallantry in obtaining information from the infantry in the attack on High Wood. Whilst obtaining this he had to crawl through two hostile barrages and return through the same with information required. This man has previously been recommended for good work.” Clements (21) is an old St. Margaret’s School boy. He was employed as a railway clerk and afterwards as a machine hand at Darlington. He joined up shortly after the start of the war, and has been one year and eight months at the Front. As a boy Clements was a keen Scout.[426]

Roll of Honour

Pte. William Charles Arscott died on 18 November aged 28 years. He was an employee of Leonards’ Dept. store. Buried in France. Information on the Commonwealth War Graves site. 

Pte. Jesse Dean has been killed in action. Mr. & Mrs. A. G. Dean, 48 Montfort Road, learnt their second son, Jesse(25) had been killed in action. [427]

Sgt. Monty Daniels has been killed in action. He was the son of Mrs. Daniel of 7 Clive Road.

Arch Deacon Weaire died of wounds whilst being held as a prisoner of war. Arch was the son of Mr. & Mrs. W. Weaire, Bryant Road. Leading seaman Weaire died in hospital back in May while being held as a prisoner of war in Bagdad. Mr. & Mrs. Weaire have two others serving. One was badly injured at the landing at Gallipoli and is currently in hospital in Australia.[428]

The death of Gunner Gordon Randall has been reported. Mr. & Mrs. George Randall of the “Forstall” Patterns Lane, have heard of the death of their only son, Gordon (20). He was educated at Rochester Mathematical school and was a fitter apprentice at Aveling & Porter. He was called up shortly after the start of the war and had been on the Front Line since last Boxing Day.[429]

Health & Hospitals

Praise for Strood VAD for bringing a “dear husband” back to convalesce. Mrs. Henry Boushear from Upper Tooting wrote to the News to thank the staff at the Strood VAD who by their many kind acts and assiduous attention brought her “dear husband” back to convalescence after being very seriously injured whilst fighting for the Empire in France.[430]

Venereal disease was seen as a barometer of public morality but it also presented a serious problem for the military. [It was estimated in 1917 that 3.2% of soldiers were afflicted.[431]] The 1916 Public Health (Venereal Diseases) Regulation Act established a network of clinics offering free confidential diagnosis and treatment.

A venereal disease treatment centre is to be established at Rochester. At a meeting of the Kent County Council it was heard that the Government had approved a proposal to establish treatment centres in connection with local hospitals for the treatment of venereal diseases – one of which will be in Rochester.[432]

Home News

Meeting held to discuss juvenile offending in Chatham and the need for a home for boys. The Mayor of Rochester stated that he no idea that the level of juvenile crime in Chatham was so bad. At Rochester the numbers were 21 in 1914, 15 in 1915 and 19 so far in 1916, therefore he did not believe there was a need for special arrangements to be made in Rochester at this time. It had four boys in Reformatory and Industrial Schools at a cost of £64. He thought that “an ounce of prevention was worth a ton of cure”. He did not believe in the crime of young offenders. Boys would steal apples until the world came to an end. Although juvenile crime was not a problem for Rochester the meeting hoped that “the ancient and illustrious City of Rochester under its illustrious Mayor, would have some pity on its neighbouring towns.”  A committee was formed to investigate the proposition.[433]

Housing shortage meant an evicted wife was unable to find alternative accommodation. Kathleen Botten, wife of a solider against whom an ejection order had been issued a month previous, told Rochester magistrates that she was unable to find alternative accommodation owing the soldiers being billeted in the town. There were absolutely no houses to be had. The Bench allowed her another fortnight.[434]

 

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Shortage of farm labour blamed for food shortages. W. Corbett Barker of Bryant House, Rochester, [Strood] and member of the Kent Agricultural Committee wrote to the editor explaining some of the reasons for food shortages. One most significant reason was the shortage of labour arising through not be able to recruit sufficient women to help with the harvests. Other reasons offered for poor yields was not having sufficient access to manure and machinery.[435]

The high cost of food and fuel is putting pressure on the finances of the Strood Union. Concern was raised at the Board meeting of the Strood Guardians about the decision to increase the out-relief payment by 1s to meet the higher cost of food and fuel. In the light of the uncertainly of being able to secure poultry for the Christmas fare at an acceptable price, it was agreed to leave the matter in the hands of the master and matron. The military agreed to resume paying 17s 6d for the accommodation provided for the military picket at the workhouse. [A picket is a small unit of soldiers placed to provide warning of an enemy’s advance.] The Medway Guardians received notice that at their next meeting a motion would be made to increase out-relief by 1s / week / adult and 8d for a child. It was proposed that the Union should purchase turnips as a substitute for potatoes. The purchase was agreed but not as a substitute for potatoes but as a means to lessen the consumption of potatoes. The invitation from the Headmistress of the Girls Grammar, to the girls from the Medway homes to attend a Christmas party was accepted. [436]

Civic Business

The war bonus paid to Corporation workers is to be increased. The Corporation has agreed to raise the war bonus for its workman from 2s 6d to 5s to reflect the higher cost of living.[437]

The London, Chatham & Dover Railway offers the Council £10 for the old fire station in Station Road, Strood. The Council resolved to seek £20.[438]

The City flag flew on the castle to celebrate Mayor’s Day. The children had the day off from school to celebrate Mayor’s Day and the Municipal New Year.[439]

Inquiry continues into the joint main drainage scheme for Rochester and Chatham. Another meeting of the Local Government Board inquiry was held in Chatham Town Hall. The engineer gave details of the scheme and it was confirmed that no oppositions had been raised against the scheme. The scheme also allowed for its extension. Informally Chatham had reached agreement with the Admiralty and Dockyard but there was no formal agreement. The Medway Conservancy were only concerned with the detail of the scheme. The Rochester part of the proposals does not come within the jurisdiction of the dockyard.  Approval of the railway was still to be obtained.[440]

Community Support

Strood VAD requests Christmas gifts. The Commandant of the Strood VAD requested small gifts for the soldiers – Christmas trees, crackers, mittens, pipes, tobacco pouches, cigarettes etc. Ladies intending to send Christmas puddings, sweets or fruit were asked to give an early indication of their intentions in order that the quartermaster can see what shortfall may need to be made up.[441]

Strood VAD requests a turkey for Christmas. The Commandant of the Strood VAD appealed for a kind friend who could donate a turkey for the wounded men’s Christmas. The Daily Telegraph Fund is sending Christmas puddings but priority will be given to using those donated by the local school children.[442]

The following two reports of auctions show how generous the public were in supporting local causes.

Lord Darnley works as a hoer and auctioneer in support of the war effort. Lord Darnley left one of his war time occupations – the hoeing of turnips – to act as the auctioneer at the Rochester sale that raised over £1,000 for the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund and for Gravesend and Rochester hospitals. £126 was secured for a white heifer calf which was sold 40 times.[443]

A sensational patriotic sale at Rochester raised nearly £2,000 for the Red Cross Society, the general hospitals of Rochester and Gravesend and the VAD hospitals in Strood, Hingham and Gravesend. £129 was raised at the Flag Day in Rochester.[444]

Frindsbury Chapel to be made into a place of entertainment for service men. The City Surveyor was instructed to undertake repairs of the Frindsbury Chapel to make it habitable as a place of entertainment for service men. It is estimated the repairs will cost £30.[445]

Madame Nellie Newlyn gave a performance at the Medway Union and Infirmary. Madame Newlyn and her concert party provided a most enjoyable entertainment at the Medway Union and Infirmary, the dining hall was crowded.[446]

The ‘League of Pity’ was formed in 1891 by the NSPCC as a children’s fundraising organisation.

A scramble sale for the League of Pity was held in the Guildhall to raise funds for the NSPCC.[447]

Home Tragedies

A soldier’s physical wounds can be healed but that did not mean they had recovered. Not only may they have had to cope with the trauma of the battle, in which they were wounded, they may have experienced considerable pain and fear associated with their wounds.

Pte. Whitmore’s who had been severally wounded committed suicide. A verdict of temporary insanity was returned at a Rochester inquest on Whitmore who had been severally wounded. He shot himself while on sentry duty.[448]

School / Education News

Swimming lesson successes – thanks to the Trustees of the Watts’ Bath. The Rochester education committee received a report that during the season 80 boys and 64 girls had been taught to swim. It was said that when HMS Triumph went down there were two who were saved as they had been taught to swim at the Watts Baths. A resolution was passed thanking the Trustees of the Watts’ Bath for the interest they take in this work.[449]

Court Cases

Henry Tucker fined 9s for being in charge of a brewer’s dray without lights. Tucker from Garden-row, Rochester, said in his defence, that the weather was so bad he had used up all his lucifers [matches] The magistrate in fining him pointed out that the streets were dangerous now and he must ensure he takes more lucifers with him when he knows he will be working after dark.[450]

More crime is committed by outsiders than inhabitants of Rochester. The Mayor observed at a recent sitting of the Rochester Police Court that many of the cases presented were due to visitors and not the residents of Rochester.[451]

Henry Moore, naval pensioner, fined in Rochester for being drunk and disorderly. Moore had gone to the garage of Messrs. Robins and Day to hire a car. When he was refused he offered to buy a car for 2d – all the money he had in is possession.[452]

Frederick Hissey, waterman, fined £1 at Rochester for contravening DoRA river regulations. Hissey, a waterman, navigated his craft on the river contrary to the restrictions that were in place.[453]

 

Women’s Experiences

Laura Ormiston Dibbin Chant was a social reformer and writer. She wrote and lectured on social purity, temperance and women’s rights. She worked as a nursing sister in the London Hospital. Nursing at this time was regarded as a ‘rough occupation’ and her father appears to have ‘disowned’ her because of her choice of ‘career’.

“Women’s responsibility for Child Welfare” was the theme of a child welfare meeting. The Mayoress presided over a large Women’s meeting held in the Guildhall that was addressed by Mrs. Ormiston Chant on the subject of “Women’s responsibility for Child Welfare”.[454]

The following has tones of the current debate on benefits but could it be that the employment opportunities for women was extensive with some sectors offering better pay and conditions? In 1918 agricultural workers were on average paid 60s to 70s / week – compared to a munition who could earn upwards from £6 (120s) / week.[455]

Women don’t need to work because of the amount of benefits they receive. W. Corbett Barker of Bryant House, Rochester, in explaining that it was not possible to recruit sufficient women to help with the harvests, put the cause down to the separation allowance paid to women whose husbands are serving, and thereby removing the need for them to work outside of the home. Other reasons for poor yields included not having sufficient access to manure and machinery.[456]

Church & Cathedral

In 1883 ‘The Ladies’ Association for the Care of Friendless Girls’ was founded under the auspices of the Church of England. Its declared objective was to ‘prevent the degradation of women and children’ – or prevent girls and women falling into prostitution because of their social or economic circumstances. In 1894 the Bishop of Rochester, Randall Davidson, and his wife launched the ‘Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls – although the outreach work with unmarried mothers at a local level had started before that date.[457] Clearly there was a need for a local branch of this association in 1916.

Mr. Hylton-Stewart gave his first organ recital at Rochester Cathedral. A collection taken being devoted to the funds of the ‘Rochester Association for Friendless Girls’. [458]

Life Goes On

Buy early for Christmas says Charles Leonards & Sons. Leonards of 114-120 High Street, encouraged customers to buy early for Christmas – to avoid the crowds. As a draw they will be holding a special sale in the lady’s underwear where they will have 80 dozen [960] fine quality Marino combinations.[459]

December 1916

A political crisis developed in December with the breakdown of the coalition Government that had been in place since May 1915. This eventually led to the resignation of Asquith as Prime Minister and the appointment of Lloyd George who in Spring 1917 appointed an Imperial War Cabinet to co-ordinate the British Empire’s military policy.

Military and War Reports

Newnham has been satisfactorily accounted for by the Recruiting Office. Newnham resided at 15 Delce Road.[460]

Tribunals

Percy Solomon Moss’s exemption was challenged by the military. The military representative to the tribunal opposed the conditional exemption granted to Moss (39) licensee of the City Arms [Now 20 Victoria Street]. Mr. Moss was summoned at the insistence of the Recruiting Officer, for making a false statement with a view to gaining exemption from military service. The City Arms is a tied house and it was claimed that he had made no effort to dispose of the licence. Much of the case turned on whether his wife was capable of managing the business. Evidence was taken from Kitty Parker, a general servant, and Mildred Brigand (barmaid) – both confirming that had they had never seen Mrs. Moss in the bar except for a short time in the evening. The appeal was allowed but Mr. Moss was not to be called up before 31 December.[461]

The war at this time was in a state of stalemate and the outlook was not hopeful. In December 1916 Lloyd George replaced Asquith as Prime Minister and a ‘new-broom’ approach was taken to both the ‘home front’ and to the Front Line.

Rules concerning conditional exemptions changed. The Mayor reminded employers in the area who have men with conditional exemption, to contact the Tribunal Office to see where they stand as military ages had changed. The Military Authorities who were reviewing all cases, had been instructed by the War Office to call all men up without a review. Employers were advised to get their men medically examined and to take steps to replace those of military age. Any man coming before the Tribunal without a medical examination is likely to be treated as a general service man.[462]

Reports from the Front

German soldiers assist a wounded British officer.

2nd Lieut. E. P. Wood is laying in Havre dangerously wounded. Wood is the only son of Mr. E. B. Wood of Rochester. He was wounded in both thighs and has a compound fracture of the right thigh. Lieut. Wood managed to crawl into a shell hole where he laid for a day in the rain. He was later rescued by the Germans who took him to their lines, dressed his wounds and left him in a dug out. Following a further battle the British took the German trenches and found Lieut. Wood in the dug-out.[463]

PC Eve may have been killed by a German shell as he left the trenches for Christmas leave.  Although not yet official confirmed it is understood that Police Constable Eve, a member of the Rochester City Police Force, and who was called up from the Reserve early in the war, has been killed by a German shell which burst just as he was leaving the trenches to return home to England on Christmas leave.[464]

Roll of Honour

“Kent and the War” – a distressingly long list of lost, wounded and missing men was printed in the Kent Messenger. The closely printed page, under the heading of “Kent and the War”, listed the names of lost, wounded and missing men. In the light of demand and limited space, the Kent Messenger has decided to place a charge of 2s 6d for the insertion of a photograph of men killed in action or listed as missing.[465]

Sgt. A. J. Little died of his wounds in France. Little (24) of the Royal Fusiliers, lived at 197 High Street, Rochester. He gained a Kent County scholarship to the Maths School and enlisted in November 1914. He married Miss Hillierfrom Rochester in July 1915. He proceeded to the Front in November 1915.[466]

Health & Hospitals

The following headline is only part of the picture. In addition to the wounded soldiers received at Chatham were those who arrived across Medway on the ambulance trains. The number of wounded soldiers received during the year in Medway could have been close to 10,000. With these numbers there is no way that local people would not have been aware of the true horror of the war and what their loved ones were or would be facing when they were called-up.

Around 2,600 wounded soldiers were received at Chatham during the year. Dr. Ind (District Medical Officer) provided what was regarded as a very satisfactory report of the ambulance work of the brigades in the past year – specifically mentioning the unloading and transportation of the wounded at Folkestone, Tonbridge, Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester. Around 2,600 wounded soldiers had been received at Chatham during the year and moved to hospital by motor transport. This was in addition to the VAD hospital work which included between 6,000 and 7,000 men removed from the ambulance trains and Fort Pitt hospital.[467]

The wounded cared for in Medway were not just British soldiers.

Australians cared for at Strood VAD. A letter of appreciation was received from an Australian for the care given to Australian patients on the Frindsbury and Darnley Wards of the Strood VAD.[468]

Five men have been admitted to the lunatic ward of the Medway Workhouse from the Royal Naval hospital – raising the question as to who should pay. The issue was that the men were not naval pensioners but men taken on for the duration of the war.[469]

Could ‘giving fatigue’ be creeping in or was the public’s generosity the same but their donations were being shared between more organisations

There has been a falloff in donations for St. Bartholomew’s – particularly from Rochester. The house to house collection for St. Bartholomew’s raised £606 4s 4d, £63 less than the same period last year. The greatest fall off was in Rochester where £40 less than last year was collected.[470]

Home News

Christmas at the Six Poor Travellers. With work so plentiful there were fewer than normal travellers seeking shelter this Christmas in the Watt’s Poor Travellers Rest in the High Street. For those who were there they had the usual special fare of roast beef, potatoes and plum pudding, and gifts of mittens, cigars and money provided by friends. The gifts were distributed by Mr. Edwin Harris on behalf of the Dickens Fellowship and other interested institutions. [471]They went on their way with 1s 10d.[472]

The third Christmas in the local hospitals. The third Christmas of the war has come and gone. Christmas at St. William’s Hospital was spent quietly but none the less very happily. The wards were most prettily and tastefully decorated and all the usual fare was provided. The stockings that were hung up overnight were found to be overflowing with toys and gifts on Christmas morning. Santa Claus had visited everyone with his usual generosity. On all wards the nurses strove and succeeded in providing the amusement for patients of all conditions. At St. Bartholomew’s nurses at 5am heralded Christmas Day by going from ward to ward singing carols. Thence after events were held so patients, civilian and military alike had a very memorable Christmas. Despite the war, dinner did include turkey and Christmas pudding. All the wards were tastefully decorated but the two military wards that accommodated 58 soldiers were particularly well done out in this respect. There was no brighter or happier spot this Christmas than the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Institute at 119 High Street, Strood. The Strood Union appeared to have been less well decorated due to the shortage of labour and although the food was wholesome it was not up to the usual standard due to high prices. There were 190 inmates in the Strood Union, 35 less than last year. The staff and friends of Fort Pitt and Drill Hall hospitals did everything possible to enable the 500 or more patients enjoy the spirit of Christmas. A particularly fine programme was given at Fort Pitt hospital on the afternoon of Christmas Day.[473]The wounded in the military hospitals and Strood VAD hospital received extra fare and entertainment over the Christmas period.[474]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Inflation is making food very expensive. Milk suppliers are to be allowed to increase the milk price from 1s 2d to 1s 6d. With regards to the Christmas Fare of the officers of the Strood Union, the Guardians decided, owing to the uncertainty of obtaining poultry at reasonable prices, to leave the matter in the hands of the master and matron. Consideration was also given to increasing the out-relief to reflect the increased cost of food but it was left for the Relieving Officer to make any appropriate allowance.[475]

Gillingham unhappy that Medway Union inmates are to receive beer at Christmas. The Guardians of the Medway Union – which provides accommodation for, amongst others, paupers “belonging” to Rochester, have received a letter from the Gillingham Free Church expressing deep regret that the inmates of the Union are to receive some beer at Christmas. Members of the Gillingham Free Church feel some alternative ‘cheer’ should be provided without saying what that could be. The Guardians decided the letter was piffle and that should be ignored.[476]

Entrants to the 9th annual Rochester Fat Stock show was below that of previous yearsthis was attributed to the high cost of feeding stuff and shortage of labour.[477]

Civic Business

Street lighting is to be increased in Rochester and Strood. The Home Office have sanctioned the lighting of sufficient street lamps for the public’s safety on the streets of Rochester and Strood – a privilege that has been enjoyed by Chatham for some months.[478] Permission was sought following a fatal accident at Angel corner, Strood.

A decision on the New Road bowling green was been deferred until after the war. The Estates Committee of the Rochester Corporation received a proposal to lay out a bowling green with a pavilion on the New-road recreation ground. The decision was deferred until after the war.[479]

Community Support

The ‘old girls’ of Rochester Grammar arranged a Café chantant [singing cafe]. The attractions included a procession of children, craft stalls and a concert.[480]

Scouts were seen as being able to perform a useful role on the ‘home front’ as indicated in the following story. Scouts also helped on the land, carried messages and undertook guard and observation duties; their first aid skills would have undoubtedly been called upon.

Rochester Maths School Scout Troop put on a splendid display. With a view to raising public awareness of the indoor work done by Scouts a display was put on in the school hall. It included demonstrations of semaphore, morse, first aid and life-saving drill.[481]

Children of the Gordon Road Infant School made plum puddings for wounded soldiers.  Since the war began the chief delight of the children of the Gordon Road Infant School, Strood, has been the making of plum pudding for wounded soldiers. This year 10 huge puddings were made on the school premises. The ingredients were provided by the parents of the children. The puddings went on display at the annual Parents’ Day after which five were sent to Strood VAD and five to St. Bartholomew’s.[482]

Home Tragedies

Pte. Pellatt was crushed by a car that was being moved in Rochester High Street. A heavy car was being shifted in Rochester High Street on a Sunday evening. Owing to some mishap with the driving gear, the car struck Private Pellatt of the West Kent Regiment. He fell and was badly crushed by one of the wheels passing over him. He is now in hospital in a serious condition.[483]

Pte. Page was seriously injured after being thrown from the top deck of a motor bus. On Christmas Day a motor bus skidded on Strood Hill and collided with a tram-post. Page, of the Royal West Kent Regiment, was thrown from the top deck and was seriously injured. He is now a patient at Fort Pitt Hospital, Rochester.[484]

School / Education News

With the shortage of labour there were many opportunities for children to gain employment and to bring in much needed money – but at the expense of their education. At this time the school leaving age was 12 and the education that was on offer had been degraded by the number of teachers who were serving in the military. Special efforts were therefore made to increase school attendance. The following idea may well have brought peer-pressure to bear on those who may have been intending not to attend school.

School attendance needs to be improved. In order to improve school attendance the headmaster of the Strood school has been given permission to allow the class with the best attendance to leave earlier on Fridays.[485]

Is one to take from the following report that there were concern that the girls in the care of the Medway Union may have won any contest against the girls who attended the elementary schools?

Permission was refused for a swimming contest involving girls from the Medway Union. There was a somewhat unusual discussion at the Rochester Education Committee following a letter from the Clerk of the Medway Union asking if the girls from the Cottage Homes could compete against the girls from the elementary school for the swimming shield. The sub-committee had decided that the age and physique of the girls from the Cottage Homes would make the competition unfair for the girls from the elementary schools so refused permission.[486]

Court Cases

Absence of crime – no cases before Rochester magistrates on Saturday or the previous Tuesday.[487]

‘Blue’ was added to washing to keep whites looking bright. Today washing detergents include ‘optical brighteners’ that have a similar affect.

William Lester was fined £1 for trading ‘out of hours’. Lester, a carman and canvasser to the Rochester Co-operative Society, was fined £1 for selling a bar of soap and two squares of blue, after closing hours. Calling with his van the defendant was seen by a constable to sell the articles at 8:55pm. When approached by the constable the defendant offered him 6d and suggested he should ‘wink and eye’ at the offence. This out of hours trading caused many complaints to be made by shopkeepers – maximum fine £100.[488]

Oscar Potts was fined £3 for failing to screen the windows at the Port Victoria Station. The booking clerk, Potts, for Port Victoria Station at [Grain] was fined by Mr. T. Aveling. Mr. Aveling observed that Port Victoria was in a very dangerous position and the defendant should have known better. [489]

Women’s Experiences

The following reports shows the range of causes that used door-to-door collections to raise funds.

Ladies to be asked to undertake a door-to-door collection for St. Bartholomew’s.  Cliffe Parish Council on receiving a request from the St. Bartholomew’s hospital decided that the ladies who had collected funds for the prisoners of war should be asked to undertake a house-to-house collection for Bartholomew’s.[490]

The language used in the following is as was used in the source report. It is possible that terms such as ‘scoundrel’ were more derogatory then than it is today. The fact that the assailant is identified as a civilian may give an indication of the need to avoid readers assuming the assailant was in the military.

A woman was assaulted by a “scoundrel” on Fort Pitt fields. Young girls were warned not to go onto open spaces alone as recently a civilian interfered with a young woman in a very offensive way whilst passing across Fort Pitt fields in broad daylight. If the young woman hasn’t the pluck to knock a scoundrel down they were advised that it would be best for them to go the long way around.[491]

Huts tended to be a safe place where ‘visitors’ could go to relax and socialise – an alternative to a pub. This was important at a time when there were a large number of young single women coming into an area. 

 

A Hut has been opened in New Road, Chatham. The work of the YWCA is proceeding apace in the district to accommodate the many young women being engaged in occupations brought about by the war. A Hut has been opened in New Road, Chatham, and on the Lines.

Ald. Charles Willis has given rent free a house in Borstal-road to be used as a girl’s hostel.[492] [See ‘Women’s Experiences’, January 1917, “A hostel for girls was opened by the YWCA at 21 Borstal Road.”]

Church & Cathedral

Four soldiers were confirmed before going to the Front. The Bishop of Rochester attended the Cathedral on Friday to confirm four soldiers leaving for the Front.[493]

The reason for undertaking a trial of weekday services for soldiers at the Cathedral was not explained. However, the movement of soldiers through the area to the Front was rapid and for many it would have made it impossible for them to attend a traditional Sunday service. As perhaps evidenced by the numbers of young men seeking to be Confirmed before deployment at the Front the opportunity to attend a service may have been very welcome.

Experimental weekday services are to be held in the Cathedral for soldiers. The Dean has by way of an experiment thrown open the Cathedral on weekday evenings for the benefit of the soldiers billeted in the City. A military band provided music, well known hymns were sung and the Dean gave an address.[494]

A new war shine was opened in Jesus Chapel at Rochester Cathedral. [North transept.] [495],[496]

The stalemate in the war, and British leaders becoming increasingly pessimistic about their ability to win a decisive victory, led to peace initiatives being explored. The Bishop’s New Year message suggests there may have been a feeling that what was being proposed could be a ‘compromise’. The Bishop felt that what was on offer would not lead to a lasting peace and would disrespect those who had thus far given their lives.

Bishop calls for a substantive peace – anything less he says would be a betrayal. The Bishop of Rochester in his New Year Message to his diocese encouraged the Nation not enter into peace discussions offered by Germany and her allies. He said that although instinctively we want an immediate end to the miseries of war a more substantive peace is required than would be offered by a mere suspension of hostilities that would not deliver a guarantee of a continued peace; to achieve anything less he believed would be a betrayal of our heroic dead.[497]

 

Life Goes On

The engagement was announced of Lieut. John Durling and Jessie Hamilton Cobb. Durling was of of 119, Maidstone Road, Rochester, and Jessie Cobb, was the daughter of the late Rev. Hamilton Cobb, Minor Canon and Precentor of Rochester. Durling, who was educated at Kings Rochester, threw in his studies at Cambridge to enlist when war broke out. While on active service he was badly injured and lost his left arm. He has since undergone 10 operations.[498] [The couple married in 1917 and went on to have four children. Durling was at St Augustine’s College, Canterbury, from 1912. He gave up his studies to enlist in 1914, but resumed them in 1918 after resigning his commission. Durling, who was a Choral Exhibitioner at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, graduated in 1919 – the year in which he was ordained in Rochester Cathedral.  He had a long career in the Church in the south and was Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral from 1951. He died in 1963 aged 68.[499]]

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[175] 27 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[176] 13 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[177] 20 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[178] 20 May 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[179] 23 May 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[180] www.historyofvaccines.org/content/blog/early-uses-diphtheria-antitoxin-united-states. Accessed 31 October 2017.

[181] 27 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[182] 13 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[183] 13 May 1916, Kent Messenger.

[184] 23 May 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[185] 23 May 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[186] 13 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[187] 27 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[188] 13 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[189] 20 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[190] 13 May 1916, Sheffield Evening Telegraph.

[191] 19 May 1916, Dundee Evening Telegraph.

[192] www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Empire-Day. Accessed 16 June 2017.

[193] 27 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[194] 6 May 1916, Kent Messenger.

[195] 9 May 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[196] 23 May 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[197] 13 May 1916, Kent Messenger.

[198] 13 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[199] 13 May 1916, Kent Messenger.

[200] 19 May 1916, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[201] 26 May 1916, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[202] www.churchofengland.org/media/41161/tsagyear.pdf. Accessed 8 November 2017.

[203] 31 May 1916, Gloucestershire Echo.

[204] 20 May 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[205] 3 June, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News and 6 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[206] 3 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[207] 3 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[208] 6 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[209] 6 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[210] 3 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[211] 10 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[212] 10 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[213] 10 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[214] 20 June 1916, Daily Express.

[215] 24 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[216] 3 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[217] 27 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette. (Includes photo).

[218] 10 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[219] 20 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[220] 3 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[221] 27 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[222] 6 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[223] 24 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[224] 10 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[225] 3 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[226] 6 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[227] 10 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[228] 17 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[229] 2 September 1916, Kent Messenger.

[230] 17 June 1916, Gloucester Chronicle.

[231] 17 June 1916, Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press.

[232] 24 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[233] 17 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[234] 10 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[235] 17 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[236] 17 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[237] 10 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[238] 24 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[239] 3 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[240] 1 July 1916, Kent Messenger.

[241] 10 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[242] 24 June 1916, Kent Messenger.

[243] 3 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[244] 3 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[245] 3 June 1916, Cheltenham Chronicle.

[246] 6 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[247] 10 June 1916. Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[248] 13 June 1916, Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

[249] 17 June 1916, Kent Messenger, and Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[250] 30 June 1916, Nottingham Evening Post.

[251] 27 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[252] 13 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[253] 3 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[254] 16 June 1916, Dover Express.

[255] 17 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[256] 17 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[257] 27 June 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[258] 27 June 1916, Newcastle Journal.

[259] 24 June 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[260] 7 July 1916, Dover Express.

[261] 1 July 1916, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[262] 18 July 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[263] 1 July 1916, Kent Messenger.

[264] 22 July 1916, Kent Messenger. Phot but no names.

[265] 8 July 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[266] www.richardwatts.org.uk/watts-almshouses. Accessed 8 November 2017.

[267] 22 July 1916, Chatham Rochester Gillingham Observer.

[268] See various Contagious Diseases Acts. The acts were finally repealed in 1886.

[269] 22 July 1916, Chatham Rochester Gillingham Observer.

[270] 15 July 1916, Kent Messenger.

[271] 13 July 1916, Southern Reporter.

[272] 18 July 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[273] 15 July 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[274] 25 July 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[275] 15 July 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[276] 15 July 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[277] 8 July 1916, Kent Messenger.

[278] 8 July 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[279] 29 July 1916, Dundee, Perth, Forfar, and Fife’s People’ Journal and the Kent Messenger.

[280] www.rbsremembers.com/banking-in-wartime/supporting-the-nation/war-savings-certificates.html#GebtI155vsckFZ17.99. Accessed 11 June 2017.

[281] 15 July 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[282] 18 July 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[283] 8 July 1916, Kent Messenger.

[284] 29 July 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[285] 25 July 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[286] 15 July 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[287] 8 July 1916, Kent Messenger.

[288] 15 July 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[289] 15 July, Whitstable Times & Herne Bay Herald and 22 July 1916, Herne Bay Press.

[290] 18 July 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[291] 8 July 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News and the Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[292] Punishment, Prison and the Public. Rupert Cross. 1971.

[293] 22 July 1916, The South-Eastern Gazette.

[294] 1 July 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[295] 8 July 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[296] 15 July 1916, Kent Messenger.

[297] 22 July 1916, Driffield Times.

[298] 25 July 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[299] 29 July 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[300] www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/ztngxsg. Accessed 1 September 2017.

[301] World War 1 Day by Day. Ed. Peter Darman. 1999.

[302] 5 August 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[303] 26 August 1916, Kent Messenger.

[304] 26 August 1916, Kent Messenger.

[305] 12 August 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[306] 19 August 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[307] 26 August 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News, and Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer. (Photo in Observer.]

[308] 19 August 1916, Kent Messenger.

[309] 5 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[310] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[311] 26 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[312] 26 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[313] 5 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[314] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[315] 19 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[316] 5 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[317] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[318] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[319] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[320] http://noglory.org/index.php/articles/592-the-canary-girls-how-the-workers-were-turned-yellow-by-the-war. Accessed 5 October 2017.

[321] 19 August 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[322] 23 August 1916, Newcastle Journal.

[323] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[324] 19 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[325] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[326] 19 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[327] 31 August 1916, Portsmouth Evening News.

[328] 5 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[329] 12 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[330] 26 August 1916, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[331] 14 May 1916, The Times.

[332] 26 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[333] 5 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[334] 5 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[335] 30 September 1916, Kent Messenger.

[336] 10 October 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[337] 23 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[338] 9 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[339] 30 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[340] 19 September, South Eastern Gazette; 23 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[341] https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/rochesterborstalfirstworldwar/2016/11/04/packman-thomas-alfred-tom-1895-1916/Accessed 31 Oct. 2017

[342] 2 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[343] 9 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[344] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_shock.  Accessed 8 November 2017.

[345] 26 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[346] 9 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[347] 16 September, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer; 19 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[348] 26 September 1016, South Eastern Gazette.

[349] 30 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[350] 2 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[351] 2 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[352] 2 September 1916, Kent Messenger. Advert was repeated in many papers.

[353] 5 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[354] 16 September, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News; 19 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[355] 16 September and 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[356] 16 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[357] 19 September 1016, South Eastern Gazette.

[358] 2 September 1916, Kent Messenger.

[359] 30 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[360] www.thirdsector.co.uk/1914-1918-charities-helped-win-ww1/volunteering/article/1299786, accessed 20 July 2017.

[361] 23 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[362] 3 October 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[363] 30 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[364] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[365] 3 October 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[366] 9 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[367] 26 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[368] 21 September 1916, Daily Express and the Daily Mirror.

[369] 2 September 1916, Kent Messenger.

[370] 9 September and 7 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[371] 9 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[372] 26 September 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[373] 9 September 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[374] 7 October 1916, Kent Messenger.

[375] 20 October 1916, Coventry Standard.

[376] 28 October 1916, Kent Messenger.

[377] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[378] 5 October 1916, Daily Mirror.

[379] 7 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[380] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[381] 28 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[382] 7 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[383] 7 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[384] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[385] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[386] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News. (Photo.)

[387] 28 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[388] 7 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[389] 7 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[390] A Heavy Reckoning, Emily Mayhew. 2017.

[391] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[392] 13 October 1916, Shepton Mallet Journal.

[393] 10 October 1916, Manchester Evening News.

[394] 14 October 1916, Kent Messenger.

[395] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[396] 10 October, Coventry Evening Telegraph and 13 October 1916, Northampton Mercury.

[397] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[398] 28 October and 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[399] 30 October 1916, Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail.

[400] 31 October 1916, Newcastle Journal.

[401] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[402] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[403] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer and the News.

[404] 28 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[405] 28 October, Kent Messenger, and 30 October 1916, Portsmouth Evening News.

[406] 31 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[407] 7 October, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer; 10 October 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[408] 31 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[409] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[410] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[411] 7 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[412] 2 October, Dublin Daily Express and 7 October 1916, Kent Messenger.

[413] 21 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[414] 14 October 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[415] www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/ztngxsg. Accessed 2 September 2017.

[416] www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/ztngxsg. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.

[417] 4 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[418] 14 November, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer; 18 November 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[419] 25 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[420] 25 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[421] 28 November 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[422] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[423] 11 November 1916, Dumfries and Galloway Standard.

[424] 18 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[425] 25 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[426] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer. (Photo)

[427] 11 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[428] 11 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[429] 25 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[430] 25 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[431] Blighty – British society in the era of the Great War. G. J. DeGroot. 1996.

[432] 18 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[433] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[434] 4 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[435] 11 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[436] 25 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[437] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[438] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[439] 11 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[440] 11 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[441] 11 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[442] 25 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[443] 2 November, Daily Express and 3 November 1916, Western Times.

[444] 4 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[445] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[446] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[447] 4 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[448] 11 November 1916, Lincolnshire Echo.

[449] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[450] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[451] 14 November 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[452] 25 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[453] 28 November 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[454] 4 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[455] www.europeanbeerguide.net/beer1917.htm. Accessed 3 August 1917.

[456] 11 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[457] http://welcare.org/about-us/our-story. Accessed 2 October 2017.

[458] 18 November 1916, Kent Messenger.

[459] 18 November 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[460] 2 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[461] 12 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[462] 16 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[463] 5 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[464] 30 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[465] 2 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[466] 2 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[467] 16 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette

[468] 16 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[469] 23 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[470] 5 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[471] 30 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[472] 30 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[473] 30 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[474] 30 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[475] 2 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[476] 9 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[477] 19 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[478] 16 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette / Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[479] 16 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[480] 12 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[481] 16 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[482] 30 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[483] 30 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[484] 30 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[485] 2 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[486] 30 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[487] 16 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[488] 26 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[489] 26 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[490] 2 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[491] 16 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[492] 16 December 1916, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[493] 29 December 1916, Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser.

[494] 23 December 1916, South Eastern Gazette.

[495] 23 December 1916, Portsmouth Evening News.

[496] 5 January 1917, Diss Express.

[497] 29 December 1916, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[498] 2 December 1916, Kent Messenger.

[499] Additional information provided by Simon Shreeve of the Old Roffensian Society.