Introduction

This is the forth of five posts – one for each year of the Great War – 1914 to 1918/19. The material is down from newspapers of the time.

There are three sections. The first provides summary headlines, the second the body of the report, and the third the source used.

Text in the green is contextual information that I’ve added.  Text in purple is verifiable information provided by readers of this blog.

As will be seen life was hard, families lost loved ones, the size of the population of Medway grew dramatically, thousands passed through to the front, and hundreds returned injured. There were shortages, the adulteration of milk and bread but the unscrupulous and the risk of bombs being dropped – particularly on the nights around a full moon which enabled bombers to use the River Medway as a navigation aid … but life went on. These blogs describe the highs and lows for those living, working or taking shelter in Rochester.

Other posts in the series:

Life in Rochester – 1914

Life in Rochester – 1915

Life in Rochester – 1916

Life in Rochester – 1918

Sources

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

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

Acknowledgement

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

Geoff Ettridge aka Geoff Rambler

August 2018 / Ma 2022.

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

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

Geoff Ettridge aka Geoff Rambler

August 2018 / May 2022

Map of Rochester around the time of the Great War

old-rochester

+++ Headlines +++

JANUARY 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Public appeal made for confirmation that F. Letchford and S.G Potts have joined the Navy

Tribunals

  • Certificates of exemption given by the Tribunal have been cancelled by the Military
  • No further business exemptions are to be given to men under 31
  • Recruitment of skilled men into the military undermines businesses at home
  • Ernest R Balls appeals against his employer refusing him a Leaving Certificate

Reports from the Front

  • The Army is no longer outnumbered and outclassed in guns observed Mr. J. L. Spoor

Roll of Honour

  • Signaller George Henry Bloomfield (23) was killed in action

Health & Hospitals

  • Seven local hospitals benefit from money from the Rochester Red Cross sale

Home News

  • The challenge of delivering the Christmas post across Rochester was well met
  • Tradesmen request the reopening of Rochester Bridge Station
  • River rules eased but pulling boats were still not allowed to operate east of Rochester Bridge
  • Rochester’s cinema to open on Sundays for the benefit of the troops

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • A mass public meeting held to protest against the exploitation of the food of the people
  • The Government required flower beds to be turned into vegetable plots

Community Support

  • Farmers Red Cross sale at Rochester Market raised £1,600

Home Tragedies

  • An explosion at a munition factory killed two

School / Education News

  • A girl tries to summons a teacher for caning her brother
  • Rochester Education Committee refused to consider salary increases for teachers

Court Cases

  • Alfred Friend prosecuted for letting an assistant work beyond 1:30pm on a Wednesday
  • Ernest Elsgood summoned by his employer for leaving without giving notice

Women’s Experiences

  • A hostel for girls was opened by the YWCA at 21 Borstal Road
  • Three girls sent to borstal
  • Presentation given on the Salvation Army’s Women’s Migration Scheme

Church & Cathedral

  • Say “No” to an illusory peace says the Bishop of Rochester
  • New war shrine placed in the Jesus Chapel, Rochester Cathedral
  • A Freemasons’ memorial in Rochester Cathedral is to be dedicated and unveiled
  • The Cathedral has a ‘counterfeit’ Chapter-house door

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Major Leo O. Trenchman & Esmee Helen Maude Trenchman
  • Upnor butcher fined £3 for killing a dog that came into his shop
  • The Guildhall ship weather-vane is regarded as the finest in the Country

FEBRUARY 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Strood Union invests reserves in the War Loan scheme
  • Field Marshal Lord French visited Rochester
  • Classes to be offered in Rochester for men discharged from the military

Tribunals

  • Tribunals were accused of giving insufficient priority to protecting food production
  • Featherstone’s praised for withdrawing an appeal for an employee
  • Men exempted under the Trade Card scheme refuse to attend the Military Medical Board

Reports from the Front

  • The great national film “The Battle of Ancre” was shown at the Picture House, Chatham

Roll of Honour

  • The collier “Lady Ann” blown up by a mine

Health & Hospitals

  • The renovation of Strood VAD was completed
  • Strood & Frindsbury VAD is now full
  • A joint committee was set up to review the problem of overcrowded trams
  • St. Bartholomew’s to raise money to buy war bonds?
  • A dose of California Syrup of figs might just be the answer for an unhappy child

Home News

  • Clergy petition for the ending of Sunday showings at the cinema
  • The Corn Exchange cinema is to close again on Sundays

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Farmers decide to set up a Parliamentary Fund to sponsor an MP

Civic Business

  • Dwellings for workmen are being developed in Hoo and Gillingham

Community Support

  • Rochester Recognised Association for Voluntary War Workers held a whist drive
  • An enrolment session into the National Volunteer Service took place at the Guildhall

Home Tragedies

  • A police ambulance took a critically injured man to St. Bartholomew’s hospital

School / Education News

  • Rochester & District teachers praised the German education system
  • Teachers awarded an increase in salary and war bonus

Court Cases

  • Women managing pubs, whilst their husbands are at war, managed them well

Women’s Experiences

  • Women urgently required to make linen belts in a large munitions factory
  • Not a single complaint about licensed premises that are in the hands of females

Church & Cathedral

  • Vicar of St. Peter’s believes commercialism is being adopted under the cloak of philanthropy
  • Should clergy enlist?

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Ernest Parrett & Miss Eva West
  • Death of Edward Florey

MARCH 1917

Military and War Reports

  • An urgent call was made for any man who knew how to plough
  • Daylight saving to be reintroduced to increase productivity

Tribunals

  • All exemptions to be reviewed and new requests challenged
  • Inconsistencies remained between the decisions of different Tribunals in Medway

Reports from the Front

No Rochester reports discovered

Roll of Honour

  • Sgt. Arthur White died of wounds sustained at the Western Front

Health & Hospitals

  • Strood VAD occupancy during 1916

Home News

  • Price of gas, paper and beer are to increase
  • Strood’s National Service Committee is to hold a public meeting to advance recruitment

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • There was a good take up of allotments

Civic Business

  • Strood Rural Council agreed a pay increase to retain staff
  • New charges fixed for use of the City’s fire engine outside of the City
  • Town Council agreed to consider improving street lighting

Community Support

  • The Army puts on an entertainment in the Corn Exchange
  • Entertainment was provided for wounded soldiers by schools from Station Road, Strood

Home Tragedies

  • Three months’ hard-labour for parents of a shockingly neglected imbecile girl

School / Education News

  • The school nurse and education clerk are to receive a £10 war bonus

Court Cases

  • Thomas Woodward fined for purchasing under regimental garments
  • Florence Spenceley fined 5s for selling potatoes for more than the fixed price
  • Pte. Charles Davis remanded for stealing from his billeting family

Women’s Experiences

  • Jilted girl summons the putative father of her child for maintenance

Church & Cathedral

  • Travel restrictions led to the postponement of the Rochester Diocesan Conference

Life Goes On

  • House Parlour Maid required at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital
  • A good van horse was offered for sale by the Rochester & Chatham Laundry
  • Details of the Foord bequest was published

APRIL 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Shorts have produced a seaplane with folding wings that can be carried on ships
  • The viewing of a captured German submarine raised £279 19s 3d
  • Rochester’s Volunteer Training Corp is regarded as being understrength

Tribunals

  • Reviews requested of all conditional exemptions that have been given
  • Appeal of George Bridges adjourned pending the receipt of a Labour Exchange Certificate
  • Mr. A. J. Simmonds, headmaster at St. Mary’s School, Strood, was refused exemption

Reports from the Front

  • The Archdeacon expressed thanks that progress is being made towards Victory

Roll of Honour

  • Annual memorial service for the fallen heroes of the Royal Engineers was held
  • Herbert Edward Hedgecock has been killed in action

Health & Hospitals

  • Hospital Munitions Centre is in urgent need of workers

Home News

  • H. Apps undertaker has enlisted but his business will continue
  • Large increase in rates is blamed on rising costs and debts from the previous administration
  • The war bonus paid to the police is to be increased

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • War is to be waged on pests that feed on the crops
  • Information and assistance is to be made available for farmers
  • A campaign is instigated to reduce food consumption
  • The Food Controller takes over mills
  • No business was undertaken at the Corn Market owing to the fixed rates for Wheat
  • Publicans threaten to strike unless the wholesale price of beer was reduced
  • Publicans in Chatham and Rochester boycott the breweries
  • The ‘Beer Famine’ is over

Civic Business

  • No further closing orders will be made under the Shop Act until after the war

Community Support

  • Cathedral choir gave a concert to raise funds for the Boy Scouts’ Fund

Home Tragedies

  • John Cosgrove was killed instantly in a tractor accident

School / Education News

  • Teachers protest against clergymen being used as teachers

Court Cases

  • There have been no Court cases requiring the Recorder to attend Rochester
  • Father of an accused boy suggests birching would be an appropriate punishment
  • Charles Bailey bound-over for stealing five eggs from his employer
  • Mary Ranger was fined 20s for stealing two gallons of seed potatoes from her employer
  • John Henry Franks fined for over charging for potatoes
  • George Alfred Batchelor was fined £10 for selling potatoes above the price fixed

Women’s Experiences

  • Lamentable increase of immorality among married women with husbands at the Front
  • A maternity and child welfare centre opened by Chatham Town Council

Church & Cathedral

  • What are the clergy doing to support the war effort?
  • Easter Day flowers for the Cathedral provided by the officers of a regiment

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Arthur Stewart & Gladys Inglis
  • Death of Mary Paige

MAY 2017

Military and War Reports

  • Workers strike over the withdrawal of the Trade Card scheme

Tribunals

  • Stewart Ferguson – military won its appeal, but call-up deferred to 20th June
  • Newspapers concerned about impact on their ability to report because of loss of journalists
  • Owen Henry Gill Brown – appeal refused
  • Men aged between 41 to 50 – single or married – are to be considered for conscription
  • Rochester needs four plumbers

Reports from the Front

  • No Rochester reports discovered

Roll of Honour

  • Pte. George Hubble has died of his wounds

Health & Hospitals

  • Strood & Frindsbury VAD facing considerable financial difficulties
  • A flag-day was held in Sittingbourne to raise funds for St. Bartholomew’s
  • St. Bartholomew’s hospital’s activity stats for the past 12 months

Home News

  • Beer is in short supply
  • Pubs are running out of beer

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Castle pigeons to be culled in order to save grain
  • Restrictions were placed on the food that can be served in hotels, restaurants etc.
  • Mayor asks inhabitants to pledge to follow the Food Controllers Orders
  • Adulteration of milk is on the increase
  • Pigs can do well in the open and can improve the land

Civic Business

  • Coal has been secured for Medway Union

Community Support

  • Flags of St. George were presented to Rochester Town Council
  • A sale of daisies in the streets of Strood by ladies and girls raised £21 5s 7d
  • The Strood VAD pleas for NO rhubarb on their Gift-Day

Home Tragedies

  • No Rochester reports discovered

School / Education News

  • A boy alters his date of birth from 1905 to 1903 so he can work on the land
  • Empire Day was celebrated in Rochester’s Elementary Schools

Court Cases

  • Frederick Charles Westlake was bound over for stealing coal that belonged to the King

Women’s Experiences

  • Rest & refreshment facilities for women & girls undertaking essential work for the nation

Church & Cathedral

  • A Rogation Service was conducted in Rochester Cattle Market
  • For the second year running there has been a slight decrease in Confirmations

Life Goes On

  • Funeral held of Mr. C. D. Levy, late captain of the Rochester fire Brigade

JUNE 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Public showed no sign of respect during the funeral of two German airmen
  • Air raid warning siren for Gillingham – placards for Rochester

Tribunals

  • Reuben Wilson’s request for exemption on grounds of religious works was refused
  • George Heddle was allowed another two months’ exemption
  • Hamilton Streatfield Woodgate – the military’s appeal was successful
  • Young unskilled men accused of hiding in munitions works to avoid call-up
  • Rochester Town Council given six months to find a new Rating Clerk

Reports from the Front

  • Capt. J. Wilkinson F. Rowe has been awarded the Military Cross

Roll of Honour

  • Pte. B. Manktelow (25) killed by an exploding enemy shell

Health & Hospitals

Strood VAD has treated more than 2,400 gallant lads in khaki since it opened

Conference held to discuss the fight against Venereal Disease

A singing competition for wounded soldiers took place at Fort Pitt hospital

Praise for the bravery of the Red Cross during a diabolical air raid on the City

Strood VAD has 17s 6d / week / man

Home News

  • Depletion of staff in the trading community has reached its extreme limit

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Competition held to encourage home-food production
  • Councils, except Rochester, are spraying allotments against potato blight
  • The Rochester Council is unable to lay on a water supply to allotments
  • Alfred Friend was prosecuted for selling nut lard & butter containing an excess of water
  • Ephraim Gower pleaded guilty to selling milk with 20.8% added water

Civic Business

  • Rochester Police Force has released four constables for military service

Community Support

  • Lady ‘Rose sellers’ were insulted on the street by some ‘so-called’ ladies
  • A grand concert was given in Wouldham in aid of St. Bartholomew’s

Home Tragedies

  • Percy Armstrong and Charles Harris were killed in an explosion at Hoo aerodrome
  • An unnamed solider was killed by shrapnel from a German bomb or an antiaircraft shell
  • A death from anthrax has been attributed to shaving brushes

School / Education News

  • The Maths School’s held an athletics meeting on the Esplanade
  • Billets needed for school boys who are willing to help with the harvest
  • Schools advised on the action to be taken in the event of an air-raid

Court Cases

  • The use of Grand Juries are to end
  • Herbert Hales’ potato price prosecution failed on a technicality

Women’s Experiences

  • Daisy Ruffles lost her appeal against unfair dismissal for insubordination
  • A Baby Week is to be held in the Towns
  • Rochester is failing its mothers says Mrs. E. S. Packman

Church & Cathedral

  • A vast congregation filled the Cathedral for the Whitsunday Service
  • Dean participates in a Nonconformist meeting
  • Rochester & Chatham Sunday School Union contains of 17 schools

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Charles Alfred Crossland & Winifred Trice Reaks
  • Baby week adverts
  • Domestic services vacancies for women at St. Bartholomew’s
  • City Council requires a steam tractor driver
  • Battle of Messines started on the anniversary of the Dutch Raid

JULY 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Moat House, Castle Hill, Rochester, is the new Recruitment HQ

Tribunals

  • Hylton Stewart was allowed two months to train up a lady deputy organist
  • Joseph Frostick, Rochester’s only sweep, had his call-up deferred for three months
  • Frederick Dunk who had previously been classified unfit, is called up
  • Ernest Roberts’ request for a five-month deferment was rejected
  • No substitutes found for the Council’s Sanitary Inspector and Rate Clerk

Reports from the Front

  • Tom Barber advises Aston Villa his football days may be over
  • Geo. Benny and Fred A. Black – old boys of St. Peters – are awarded the Military Medal

Roll of Honour

  • Pte. Harry Vigus killed in action in France
  • HMS Vanguard blew up – six men with a known Rochester connection lost
  • Lance Cpl. R. Woodrow of Morden Street – lost in the Vanguard explosion
  • Frederick Youens VC, and Captain Andrews died in action

Health & Hospitals

  • Kent is the second largest VAD County
  • Red Cross Depot & Hospital Munitions Centre based in Rochester Technical Institute
  • American woman funds the outings for the convalescing men in the Strood VAD

Home News

  • The Rochester Conservative’s club returns to Star Hill
  • War has brought about many changes

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Medway Milk Company fined £20 for selling milk with 4.9% of added water
  • Conference arranged to look at safeguarding the purity of milk
  • Access to the river is increased to enable fishing
  • Crop praying machines are available for hire

Civic Business

  • Proposal made to merge towns into one Parliamentary district

Community Support

  • Successful fundraising concert held in the grounds of Strood Vicarage
  • A fete in the Castle grounds was attended by thousands
  • A Gymkhana was held at the Girl’s Grammar School Rochester

Home Tragedies

  • No Rochester reports discovered

School / Education News

  • Further air-raid advice was provided for schools
  • War Pensions committee agrees to support the Crafts School in Rochester

Court Cases

  • Thomas Shepherd & Emily Fooks fined for not complying with the Alien’s Restriction Order
  • George Ledson of the King’s Head fined for failing to keep a register of meals supplied

Women’s Experiences

  • For 50 years infant mortality in Rochester has not gone down
  • 350 babies were entered into the local Baby Competition
  • Cathedral appoints women to the posts of organist and verger

Church & Cathedral

  • Dean condemns greed and profiteers – no matter their rank of life
  • Evensong at Rochester Cathedral is being sung by boys – with a boy at the organ
  • Miss Melvin from Scarborough appointed as Cathedral Organist

Life Goes On

  • The Strood Guardians unwilling to paying for two little German boys in the Union
  • A number of important gifts were made to the Rochester Museum

AUGUST 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Gas bombs dropped on an unspecified town in Kent
  • Concerns raised about the wretched pay of soldiers and sailors

Tribunals

  • Edward Richard Chambers – the military’s appeal was allowed
  • R. Darren given three months to find work of national importance
  • Bernard – the Tribunal chair seeks assurance the dental mechanic’s skills will be used
  • G. Machin, a dentist, had his deferment reduced from three to two months

Reports from the Front

  • No Rochester reports discovered

Roll of Honour

  • A memorial window for the late Lieut. A. Dooner is to be placed in the Lady Chapel

Health & Hospitals

  • Rochester Town Council agree to improve the ventilation on trams
  • Extra VD treatment centres are to be opened
  • Advertisement feature – Doan’s pills relieve rheumatic pains says Rochester man
  • A United Temperance demonstration was held on the Rochester Recreation Ground
  • Estimate required of the number of working class houses that are needed
  • Strood Guardians agree to purchase Lorne Villa, Bryant Road, Strood for £1,000

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Still no English corn offered at the Rochester Corn Market
  • The beer shortage continues in Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham

Civic Business

  • Campaign to save the name of Rochester as Parliamentary boundaries are reviewed
  • Rochester Town Council have decided to insure members of the Fire Brigade
  • Tender accepted for street watering and scavenging
  • A new abattoir has been opened for Rochester
  • Roads are in an extremely poor condition due to damage caused by heavy lorries
  • Rochester & Chatham Police have rounded up unlicensed dogs

Community Support

  • Yet another flag day in Rochester
  • River trip for men of Strood VAD
  • A bowling event was organised by the Conservative Bowling Club for wounded soldiers

Home Tragedies

Runaway stream tractor in Corporation Street seriously injures the driver’s mate

School / Education News

  • Bread-scurvy was the alleged cause for absence from school
  • Having a part-time Attendance Officer was viewed as very unsatisfactory

Court Cases

  • Samuel Hemmersley avoided arrest for using obscene language by joining the Army
  • Edith Lyons and Edgar Honey pleaded guilty to selling of bread under 1lb in weight

Women’s Experiences

  • Women’s Cooperative Guild claim there is an immediate need for a maternity centre
  • Baby Week is to become a regular event

Church & Cathedral

  • ‘Declaration Day’ anniversary services and meetings were held in the Towns
  • Miss Melvin appointed as Cathedral Organist for when Mr. Hylton is called up

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Eric Lowe & Miss Gertrude Wigley was unexpectedly delayed
  • Valuable gifts presented to the Rochester Museum and Library
  • A fast swimming Reverend starts the race then beats the competitors

SEPTEMBER 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Chatham Dockyard bombed – more than 100 killed
  • 1,200 Kent men are being held as Prisoners of War

Tribunals

  • William Brown’s exemption was overturned on appeal by the military
  • Mrs. Wigley appealed successfully to the Tribunal for her last son not to be conscripted
  • Bevan – exemption overturned on appeal by the military

Reports from the Front

  • Rescued by a good Belgian soul – then arrested for speaking English

Roll of Honour

  • Pte. George Griffin has been reported as killed in action

Health & Hospitals

  • Another death from anthrax
  • City needs an ambulance says Spencer Sills, Commandant of the City of Rochester VAD
  • Electrical treatment massages are offered at very moderate terms on Rochester High Street

Home News

  • Price of milk goes up, and furs can be remodelled

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Inmates of Strood Union refuse to eat maize
  • Warning given of a meat famine that will come because of the Food Controllers pricings
  • The garden of Strood VAD is yielding a good supply of fruit and vegetables

Civic Business

  • Hackney Carriage fares to increase by 50% for the duration of the war
  • The Council is ordered to buy-in a stock of coal in anticipation of a winter emergency
  • Colonel Breton has promised to be the Mayor of Rochester again next year

Community Support

  • Donations enabled the purchase of a Steriliser for Strood VAD
  • Volunteers needed by the Rochester Red Cross Depot and Hospital Munitions Centre

Home Tragedies

  • Chatham dockyard – Drill-hall bombing
  • Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham had their first experience of an air raid
  • Most injuries in the dockyard bombing were caused by falling glass
  • Burial of the victims of the Dockyard bombing
  • Probationary Flying Officer Combe, from Hoo, dies in flying accident
  • Miss Louisa Lynch died through accidentally drinking disinfectant on the night of the air raid
  • A schoolboy named Linett drowned while bathing in the river at Rochester
  • Alfred Fulcher who put his chest pains down to ‘war bread’ died of heart failure
  • Arthur Philips died following the eating of a pappy cucumber

School / Education News

  • Winter hours are to come in on the first Monday in November

Court Cases

  • Medway Steel Company fined £1 for not extinguishing lights during an air raid
  • Mrs. Charlotte Luckhurst fined 10s for using sugar for purposes other than home preserving
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Manser fined £45 for failing to deface or issue cinema tickets
  • Anthony Smith fined for not keeping records of meals served
  • Frederick Fancett was fined 5s for delivering bread that was less than 12 hours old

Women’s Experiences

  • For the first time in history a lady rate collector took proceedings at Rochester Police Court

Church & Cathedral

  • The Dean & Chapter have arranged for the crypt to be opened in the event of an air raid

Life Goes On

  • Marriage between Rev. E. Denby Gilbert & Miss Winifred Wagon
  • Tenders invited for the Corporation’s manure

OCTOBER 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Campaign for total prohibition during the war and the period of demobilisation
  • Alexander Shreider was court-martialled for taking photographs in Rochester
  • Army challenges excessive rent charged by the Corporation for Strood Recreation Ground

Tribunals

  • Joseph Totte granted a leaving certificate in order to move to a new employer
  • Charles Russell allowed a further two months exemption – no further appeal without leave
  • Strood hairdresser, who cuts the hair of soldiers for free, was granted exemption

Reports from the Front

  • No Rochester reports discovered

Roll of Honour

  • Capt. W. Ralph Cobb (21) of Mockbeggar, Higham, died of wounds sustained in action

Health & Hospitals

  • Rochester Division of St. Johns Ambulance Brigade covers more than Rochester
  • A Tuberculous Dispensary is to be opened at 16 High Street, Rochester
  • Recognition of Kent nurses who have rendered valuable services in connection with the war
  • Strood VAD is full and has vacancies for nurses

Home News

  • Shops to close at 6pm during the winter months

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • George Walters fined £50 for two instances of selling milk adulterated with added water

Civic Business

  • Rochester residents are asking why an air raid siren has not been installed in their City
  • City’s Veterinary Inspector instructed to purchase horses
  • Tram route to be extended half way up Frindsbury Hill

Community Support

  • Cadets from the Maths and Technical Schools, and Strood Scouts, undertake a collection

Home Tragedies

James Hobbs, pedestrian, was killed in an accident on the Hoo Road near Four Elms Hill

School / Education News

Emily Taylor could not afford boots to send her boys to school

Scholarship renewed for a well-to-do girl to attend Rochester Mathematical School

Court Cases

  • Criminals should not to be given the choice of Army or prison – it should be prison
  • Alice Godden & Lena Huggins – fined for allowing the escape of the light from a candle
  • Mrs. Gertrude Barford gave a false name when booking into the Gordon Hotel
  • Emma Collier summoned for selling lard that was not lard despite saying it was not lard!

Women’s Experiences

  • There’s a need to train more women to drive tractors

Church & Cathedral

  • Two memorials were unveiled in the Lady Chapel

Life Goes On

  • The late Thomas Hellyar Foord left an estate of the gross value of £343,565
  • The wife of Lieut. W. Pitcairn Kemp, R.N.V.R, (nee Margaret Metcalfe) had a son

NOVEMBER 1917

Military and War Reports

  • The military is planning to plough up and cultivate half of Strood recreation ground
  • Rochester’s MP continues to press for Temperance
  • Cathedral bells rang-out in a victory celebration

Tribunals

  • Appeal of G. Ladd, an agricultural fitter with Messrs. Robin Day was allowed

Reports from the Front

  • Pte. J. T. Masters & Pte. W. J. Theobald have been awarded the Military Medal for bravery

Roll of Honour

  • Albert Howes was killed instantly by a shell

Health & Hospitals

  • The uniforms of wounded soldiers have been redesigned
  • Not enough boys are being born

Home News

  • A wife and children remain in the workhouse as husband can’t afford to rent a house

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • Medway Guardians considered whether inmates should have coffee or beer at Christmas

Civic Business

  • Col. Breton gave a comprehensive view of the war and the state of Rochester’s wellbeing
  • Medway’s constituencies may be renamed in the Representation of People Bill
  • An increase in the War Bonus paid to the police was agreed

Community Support

  • See “Women’s Experiences”, November 1917

Home Tragedies

  • Stack fires have occurred in Strood for three successive nights
  • Shell came through the roof and killed a man as he lay in bed

School / Education News

  • The Mayor is critical of the German and English education systems

Court Cases

  • James Milburn was charged with being an alien in a prohibited area
  • Mary Dalton & Ethel Bristol fined for placing conditions on the sale of matches

Women’s Experiences

  • Fundraiser held for the “Munitions Girls’ Club” and “Care of Friendless Girls”

Church & Cathedral

  • The bells of Rochester Cathedral join the Victory Peal
  • The week of prayer cancelled as moonlight air-raids made evening services dangerous
  • Cathedral crypt will only open during an air raid when a ‘take-cover’ warning has been given
  • Proposed changes to divorce laws destroys the meaning of marriage

Life Goes On

Public condemnation of ‘marital-mischief’ in Allhallows

DECEMBER 1917

Military and War Reports

  • Churchill abolishes leaving certificates
  • The first military funeral accorded to a civilian to take place in Rochester
  • Military funeral for Mrs. Edith Ester Howie and her niece, Edith Elizabeth Calloway (13)
  • Prisoner of War parcels should not include objects that could be used as a weapon

Tribunals

  • Mr. Daniel W. Tuffill exempted for two months to allow time to make business arrangements

Reports from the Front

  • Fred, Henry and Robert Fancett’s war – all three attended St. Margaret’s School for Boys
  • Lieutenant F. T. L. Baker is alive in hospital and not dead

Roll of Honour

  • Lieut. Eric Williams Woodhams has died of his wounds
  • Portraits unveiled of the late Capt. Horace Andrews and 2nd Lieut. F. Youens
  • Bomdr. Arthur Bristow was killed at his gun whilst on active service

Health & Hospitals

  • The work of the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Linen League was put on display
  • Thanks from Strood VAD to employees of Rochester Gas Works and Mrs. Russell E Palmer
  • St. Bartholomew’s hospital is short of funds
  • Heat and massage treatments offered on Rochester High Street

Home News

  • Unspecified districts of Kent were bombed in two waves of air attacks
  • Rochester Town Council set up an air-raid relief committee
  • Guardians, officials and various friends ensured all had an enjoyable Christmas

Food, Queues & Deceptions

  • A new system was introduced for the distribution of sugar
  • Public meeting held at the Guildhall to urge food-economy
  • To reduce queuing, food supplies were redistributed between stores
  • Food economies introduced in the Strood Union
  • The Corporation purchased 10 cases of 1lb tins of Nestlé’s milk for emergency use

Civic Business

  • Road maintenance proved expensive and difficult due to lack of materials and equipment
  • Nurse or maternity centre was the question before Rochester Town Council

Community Support

  • Countess of Darnley acted as the auctioneer at Rochester to raise funds for the Red Cross
  • The Archdeacon of Rochester was concerned for young people selling flags

Home Tragedies

  • Miss Emily Poynter a munition worker of 32 Five Bells Lane died of burns caused at home

School / Education News

  • A two week Christmas holiday was been approved for schools
  • Male teachers are to be paid more than female teachers
  • Vacancies for Choristers

Court Cases

  • Mr. Martin Lewry fined for two offences under the Food Control regulations
  • May Fossy summoned for selling bread that was not 12 hours old
  • The Medway Dairy Company used a dipping measure which had a hole in the bottom
  • Henry Woodcock fined £2 for selling milk containing 15.2% water
  • Five men were brought before the Court for taking matches into an explosives factory

Women’s Experiences

  • Miss Pullen Barry from the YMCA gave a talk on “Life in our Overseas Dominions”
  • Bishop of Rochester attacked the proposed changes to the Marriage Laws
  • An open meeting of the Girls’ Friendly Society was held in St. Peter’s parish room
  • Temporary pensions to be paid to ‘unmarried wives’ of soldiers killed or wounded in action

Church & Cathedral

  • The need for food economy was promoted from the pulpit
  • The first Sunday in the New Year was been fixed as a day of National Prayer
  • Choir boys manage music for services with Percy Whitlock at the organ
  • Obituary to Canon Arthur J. W. Thorndike died suddenly
  • The fall of Jerusalem was marked with a solemn Te Deum sung at evensong

Life Goes On

  • Alderman E. W. Willis is recovering slowly after a severe attack of haemorrhage
  • A Cinderella dance and waltzing competition took place in the Castle Hall
  • Marriage between Mr. J. F. Smith & Nurse Oman
  • High grade boots and shoes make very acceptable Christmas presents

+++ The Reports +++

January 1917

Between 1916 and 1918 the country was running increasingly short of manpower for the Army. Political confusion abounded.

1917 “was dominated by the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, which would release German troops for service elsewhere, and the declaration of war on Germany by the United States. Italy came close to being knocked out of the war and the French Army mutinied, leaving Britain to bear the brunt of the campaign on the Western Front.” [1]

Military and War Reports

Men were expected to report to the relevant Recruitment Office on their allotted date to enlist. Clearly not all men would report, but equally recording systems could not be entirely reliable. The Recruiting Office therefore published in the local press lists of men who it was thought had not presented themselves. As the suggestion that a man had not presented himself could be shameful updates were also published if a man was ‘located’. The following report could either be seen as removing any potential for shame or perhaps seeking verification of the information that the Recruitment Office had been given.

Public appeal made for confirmation that F. Letchford and S.G Potts have joined the Navy. F. Letchford of 27 Kings Street and S. G. Potts of Oast Cottage, Borstal, amongst others, are believed to have joined the Royal Navy; particulars as to their number and where they are stationed would be welcome.[2]

Tribunals

In November 1916 the Allies developed plans to displace the German’s from the area around Ypres and to disrupt their supply lines. The main offensive that became known as the Battle of Passchendaele commenced on 31 July 1917. Maybe the tightening of the rules allowing exemptions from military service was part of the military’s strategy to ensure it had maximum manpower to support this offensive?

Certificates of exemption given by the Tribunal have been cancelled by the Military. The Mayor of Rochester protested against the call up of men who had had their certificate of exemption from the Tribunal, cancelled. He believed that if the Recruitment Office believed an exemption certificate was no longer appropriate they should request that the case be reviewed. It was also stated that all men under 31 who had been exempted on the basis of the work they were doing was of national importance, will be called up as the need is greater for them in the military. All lads attaining the age of 18 will be called up immediately and not 18 years 7 months as at present. There was to be no change in the rule that no lad under 19 will be sent to the Front.[3]

No further business exemptions are to be given to men under 31. From 31 January 1917 no further business exemptions are to be given to men under 31 as they will be of more value to the country in the forces than at home.[4]

The drive to send every able-bodied man to war created serious difficulties for maintaining services at home. There were pages of small ads for positions to be filled by women, men ineligible for service or discharged service men.

Recruitment of skilled men into the military undermines businesses at home. When the Tribunal rescinded the exception certificate of an apprentice with Messrs Hall & Son as he was no longer in a certified occupation, Mr. Hall stated that if all his men and all his apprentices are taken he will have no choice but to close his business.[5]

Employees could only leave jobs of ‘national importance’ with permission from their employer. This enabled employers to exploit their staff and did result in people being trapped in low paid employment – doubly bad when combined with inflation. Later in the year Churchill took action on this matter. When an employer refused to issue a ‘leaving certificate’ the employee could appeal to a Tribunal – but not always successfully.

Ernest R Balls appeals against his employer refusing him a Leaving Certificate. Balls a carpenter & joiner by trade, appealed against not being given a leaving certificate from the munitions factory at Cliffe to take up a post, with a higher wage, at the Royal Naval Airship Station at his own trade. Balls’ request for a leaving certificate was refused as the Chief Engineer at the works stated that Balls had been trained to drive the engine and should he leave it would be very difficult to replace him as there was a dearth of engine drivers. Balls claimed he needed a higher wage as he supported his mother and father. His appeal however was refused but the Tribunal did agree that he could receive expenses for attending the tribunal, in recognition that he had lost a day’s pay, as his appeal was very fair.[6]

Reports from the Front

The Army is no longer outnumbered and outclassed in guns observed Mr. J. L. Spoor when reporting on the arrangements to send supplies to PoWs. He said he was the first to call attention to the starving men held in Germany. He felt there was no room on this planet for Prussian Militarism and hoped that the next great advance would bring peace with loved ones restored. Kent had not lost so many men as prisoners as other counties, and now they were “losing very few for our Army was no longer outnumbered and outclassed in guns.[7]

Roll of Honour

It is worthy to note that men from a similar area served together although they may not have been part of a formal PALS regiment.

Signaller George Henry Bloomfield (23) was killed in action. Mr. & Mrs. H. Bloomfield of 6 Langdon Road, Rochester, have heard of the death of their son – George. This is the second son they have lost in the war; Percival Robert Bloomfield, a rifleman in the Rifle Brigade being killed in action in April 1915. George was an old boy of St. Margaret’s School and was a member of the church choir for eight years. He was a member of the Borstal Institute Cricket Club. After a short time with Mr. Hedgcock, grocer, he entered the employ of the Rochester Gas Company. He enlisted in early 1915. He was killed by a bursting shell. Two of his chums, one from Gillingham was wounded. Capt. T. Aveling [Rochester] in his letter of condolence to Mr. & Mrs. Bloomfield stated” Your son was always cheerful and willing. His work out here has been excellent. We all had a great affection for him. He will be buried in a little cemetery close to the battery he fought and shed for.” Mr. & Mrs. Bloomfield have three other sons serving. Their eldest daughter, Mrs. Holmes, is a nurse in a military hospital.[8]

Health & Hospitals

“The British Farmers Red Cross Fund mainly raised money through agricultural sales. Around 1,600 were organised during the war. The proceeds were earmarked for particular schemes such as providing motor ambulances, cars and lorries to the various battle-fronts. More than 150 ambulances were provided in this way. Hospitals, known as British Farmers Hospitals, were supported.”[9]

Seven local hospitals benefit from money from the Rochester Red Cross sale. The sale held on 1 November raised, after expenses, £1,589 14s. In addition to £794 17s being donated from the proceeds to the British Farmers’ Red Cross fund, the following donations were made to local hospitals that provided care to wounded soldiers.[10]

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital                £150

Gravesend Hospital                            £150

Strood VAD Hospital                          £116

Higham VAD Hospital                         £116

Rosherville VAD Hospital                   £116

Yacht Club, Gravesend, VAD             £116

Cobham VAD Hospital                       £  30 17s

Home News

The challenge of delivering the Christmas post across Rochester was well met. The public responded well to the request to post early for Christmas, as a consequence everything worked smoothly and well. Nearly all the staff of the Rochester post office were on military service and their places were filled by women, who during the Christmas season were assisted by other women. They fully realised what was expected of them and with commendable zeal and total disregard of hard work, achieved a very successful result. The many thousands of troops in the City and the outlining districts, caused an immense increase of traffic and numerous horse-vans were employed to convey the parcel mails to and from the country districts.[11]

Tradesmen request the reopening of Rochester Bridge Station. Strood tradesmen met under the presidency of Mr. H. Smetham, to decide an approach to the authorities with a view to reopening Rochester Bridge Station which was closed on 1 January. It was urged that this was a serious disadvantage to the town as it diverted trade from Meopham and Fawkham districts to Chatham. It was also decided to seek better services for Strood from the motor bus company. It was also decided to canvas traders of the town in order to secure a Universal closing of shops during the dinner hour.[12] [See ‘Life Goes On’, June 1916.]

River rules eased but pulling boats were still not allowed to operate east of Rochester Bridge. The rules though have been eased concerning the use of yachts and pleasure crafts on the river.[13]

The following report on the trial opening of cinemas on Sundays gives an insight into living conditions in Rochester during the war and the lives of the soldiers billeted in the area.

Rochester’s cinema to open on Sundays for the benefit of the troops. The proposal was recognised as being appropriate in the unnatural conditions created by the war. In the district thousands of men had been put in houses insufficient for the number and the men had to wander about the streets. All the men have to be in their billets by 9:30pm which meant they would have to leave the cinema at 9:15. Although many residents accepted billeted soldiers into their homes at an earlier time, many did not and it was thought that if the Mayor issued such an instruction the men would not be wandering the streets and there would be no need for the cinema to open. In the end by a vote of 9 to 6 Rochester Town Council decided for the sake of the soldiers to give permission for a month’s trial. Records were to be kept of attendances.[14]

There was growing discontent – to the extent it was undermining the public morale – about the quality, availability and price of the food that was available. The Government though was reluctant to intervene.

Food, Queues & Deceptions

A mass public meeting held to protest against the exploitation of the food of the people. The Cooperative Societies of Gillingham Chatham and Rochester held a mass public meeting to protest against the exploitation of the food of the people and to urge the Government to take action.[15]

When Government advice was given it was not always welcome – or useful.

The Government required flower beds to be turned into vegetable plots. The Guardians of the Strood Union were very critical of the recommendation of Parliament to turn all flower beds into ones to grow potatoes and other vegetables. The Guardians were of the view that their ground was not suitable for growing potatoes but decided to establish a Garden Committee to decide what should be grown.[16]

Community Support

Farmers Red Cross sale at Rochester Market raised £1,600.[17] [NB: £1 = £100 at today’s value of the pound.]

Home Tragedies

An explosion at a munition factory killed two. An inquest into the death of two men at the Curtis & Harvey Munition factory found the accident was caused by the detonation of nitro-glycerine during the denitration of acids.[18]

School / Education News

The following report not only details the harshness of the punishments administered in school but highlights the responsibilities that older girls may have had to assume in caring for their younger siblings. The Court appears to have had little regard for the situation that both the children found themselves in. It also illustrates the widely held view that men did not equitably share their earnings with their wives who had to run the household. It was for this reason that when the Family Allowance was introduced in 1946 it was paid to the mother.

A girl tries to summons a teacher for caning her brother. A young woman applied for a summons against a Rochester school master in respect of a caning her 13-year-old brother had received at school. She claimed the boy was bought to the front of the class and laid across a desk and caned. When he went back to his desk he felt so cold he couldn’t do his work and was bought to the front of the class and caned again. When the Clerk remarked the parents should have brought the case the young woman said her father was working in the dockyard and that he could not afford the summons as he only earns £1 / week. This caused some laughter when it was observed that was what he told his wife he earned. Magistrates refused to issue the summons and said the parents must apply and pay for it.[19]

Rochester Education Committee refused to consider salary increases for teachers. The Rochester Education Committee refused to reopen the question of teacher’s salaries but was prepared to consider individual applications for war bonus.[20] [This decision didn’t last long – see School & Education News, February 1917.]

Court Cases

The Shops Act 1911 allowed a weekly half-holiday for shop staff – known as “early closing day”. DoRA regulations also required all shops to be closed by 8pm.

Alfred Friend prosecuted for letting an assistant work beyond 1:30pm on a Wednesday. Friend, a grocer in the High Street of Old Brompton, was before magistrates for failing to comply with the War Time and the Shops Act by allowing an assistant to work beyond 1:30pm on a Wednesday – the weekly half-day holiday under the Act. He was ordered to pay 4s costs – the chairman remarking that their leniency was in consequence of war time and the scarcity of labour.[21]

Ernest Elsgood summoned by his employer for leaving without giving notice. Elsgood (18) of Kingsnorth who has been employed at the Faversham munitions works, was summoned to appear in court by his employers for leaving without giving notice.[22]

Women’s Experiences

A hostel for girls was opened by the YWCA at 21 Borstal Road. The premises for this war-time hostel for girls was given rent free for three years by Ald. Charles Willis.[23]

The Borstal ‘punishment’ system, established in 1902 was half-way between a prison and a reformatory school. From 1908, all offenders aged 16-21 who received a prison sentence would have been sent to a Borstal. Borstals were finally abolished in 1982.

Three girls sent to borstal.[24] This probably was not the Borstal in Borstal as there was only one Borstal Institution for girls at this time and that was at Aylesbury.

The Salvation Army was the UK’s largest voluntary migration society. Its migration projects started in 1885 and continued until the early 1980s. In the first half of the twentieth century it helped 250,000 people to emigrate from the British Isles to the British Empire Dominions. The migration of men from Britain was curtailed by the First World War, but in 1916 General Booth’s Scheme for Women was inaugurated, primarily to assist widows and orphans to emigrate.[25] Records of those who used this scheme pre-1942 were lost when the headquarters of the Salvation Army, in London, was bombed during the Second World War.[26] The fact that the Salvation Army presented their ‘credentials’ in arranging a migration scheme suggests that others were offering similar schemes. [See ‘Women’s Experiences’, December 1917.]

Presentation given on the Salvation Army’s Women’s Migration Scheme. A lecture was given at the Salvation Army Hall in Chatham concerning the Women’s Migration Scheme that aims to resettle in overseas dominions widows and other women whose circumstances could be improved through migration. General Booth’s Widow’s Migration Scheme was described as the latest development of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army claimed it had vast practical knowledge and believed that it is the best organisation in the world to deal with such business. Before the war there was an excess of 1.25 million women in England and one of the great ideas of the Army’s founder was to find an outlet for some of the surplus women in our Colonies – particularly Canada. Although the founder could not have envisaged the present situation, the number of widows is increasing day-by-day and after the war when the munition factories close, thousands of women will be left without employment.[27]

Church & Cathedral

In December 1916 President Wilson of the USA put forward peace proposals to Germany. Germany’s Imperial Government in its response stated it would be happy to meet with the belligerent states at a neutral place. The German’s note apparently asserted that the Allies were responsible for the war and that there had been a victory the Central Powers. This was unacceptable to Britain and her Allies. The nature of these peace discussion must have been well known for the Bishop of Rochester to raise concerns about them.

Say “No” to an illusory peace says the Bishop of Rochester. The Bishop claimed he was speaking not for his own diocese but for all diocese in the Empire in his New Year Message in declaring that “an illusory peace would be a crime”.[28]

New war shrine placed in the Jesus Chapel, Rochester Cathedral.[29] [North transept.]

A Freemasons’ memorial in Rochester Cathedral is to be dedicated and unveiled during January by the Bishop.[30]

The Cathedral has a ‘counterfeit’ Chapter-house door. A strange discovery has been made in Rochester Cathedral where the supposed fine example of old time wood-carvers art in the decorative work of the famous Chapter House door, has been found to be counterfeit, being a casting in solid lead, cleverly inserted in the panels.[31]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Major Leo O. Trenchman & Esmee Helen Maude Trenchman. Maude Trenchman was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Adolphus Trenchman of Old Palace, Rochester. Her marriage to Leo O. Trenchman took place in Hartlepool where the groom’s family resides.[32]

Upnor butcher fined £3 for killing a dog that came into his shop. A dog belonging to Henry Fulcher landlord of the Kings Head, Upnor, entered a butchers’ shop. James Hamlen, the manager of the shop was annoyed at the intrusion and threw a steel at it – the dog subsequently died. Fulcher sued for £3 damages. The plea of accidental death was not accepted by the judge who awarded the £3 damages.[33]

The Guildhall ship weather-vane is regarded as the finest in the Country. It is “made of copper, gilded and turning on glass ball-bearings.”[34]

February 1917

America cuts diplomatic ties with Germany following Germany announcing its navy will conduct unrestricted submarine warfare. This change in Germany’s strategy would also have implications for the importation of food into Britain.

Military and War Reports

By 1917 the war was costing £7 million per day.[35] In order to help fund the war the Government sold war bonds and saving certificates. The sale of bonds was later periodically promoted by special patriotic appeals such as ‘Tank Week’ (April 1918) and ‘Weapons Week’ (June 1918).

Strood Union invests reserves in the War Loan scheme  – but the Medway Guardians decided that they had insufficient money to invest in the War Loan scheme as their floating balance matched their liabilities.[36]

Lord French was the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces for 1916 – 1918.

Field Marshal Lord French visited Rochester on a tour of inspection of the troops in the district.[37]

The ‘Soldiers & Sailors Help Society’ was founded in 1899 with Princess Christian, Queen Victoria’s third daughter and a founder of the Red Cross, as its first President. It received its Charter of Incorporation in 1901. Following the creation of the Royal Air Force in 1918 the Society became the Incorporated ‘Soldiers Sailors and Airmen’s Help Society’.

At the start of the war there were no specialist services to provide treatment and rehabilitation for disabled soldiers. It also became clear from the number of soldiers returning with debilitating injuries that no existing government department could meet the needs of these soldiers. A new joint committee – Ministry of Pensions on Institutional Treatment was therefore set up in February 1917. Its purpose was to arrange the provision of suitable treatment for discharged men who had been disabled whilst serving in any branch of His Majesty’s forces.[38] The following scheme was not specifically aimed at disabled soldiers although a man was unlikely to have been discharged if he was not regarded as being unfit for military duties. The training scheme would have benefited younger men who enlisted early at the expense of serving an apprenticeship that would have enabled them to gain post-war employment.

Classes to be offered in Rochester for men discharged from the military. It is proposed to hold classes in Rochester for discharged men in, amongst a number of skills, copper smithery, metal plate work, forge and cast work, wood carving and cabinetmaking. Any man anxious to join these classes should write to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society at the Town Hall, Chatham.[39]

Tribunals

Tribunals were accused of giving insufficient priority to protecting food production. W. Corbett-Barker, from Rochester, and member of the Kent War Agricultural Committee, was highly critical of the decisions taken by the West Kent Appeal Tribunal for blindly following the edict that the military necessities are paramount. “This removed skilled men from the land with the result that land is becoming derelict at a time when every ton of food is necessary. At the start of the war 40% of the labour was lost to the military and other work, and the tribunals are severely cutting into the remaining workforce. The inability to supply the national requirement for food necessitates importing foodstuffs at three or four times the normal prices”.[40]

Featherstone’s praised for withdrawing an appeal for an employee. The Mayor complimented Mr. J. F. Featherstone for withdrawing his appeal against the call-up of a member of staff as he had found a 60-year-old man to cover the work. The Mayor said he knew of no other employer who has done better for the army than Mr. Featherstone. In response Mr. Featherstone said he had lost two more men as a consequence of the age change and now only employed six men in a low category.[41]

The Trade Card scheme allowed certain ‘craft unions’ the right to grant their members exemption from conscription – changes to the scheme were proposed as the military was receiving 50,000 fewer men each month required to maintain its existing strength.[42]A significant number of men employed by Aveling & Porter, who had been exempted by their union, resisted a move to reassess their status.

Men exempted under the Trade Card scheme refuse to attend the Military Medical Board. 130 men at the works of Messrs. Aveling & Porter, refused to be examined by the Military Medical Board on the ground that they were exempted by their Trades Union under the trade card scheme.[43]

Reports from the Front

The ‘Battle of the Ancre’ was fought between 13 and 18 November 1916. The battle was the final large British attack of the Battle of the Somme.  Causalities were enormous – British 420,000 men, French 205,000 and the Germans, 500,000.[44]

The great national film “The Battle of Ancre” was shown at the Picture House, Chatham. The film shows the wonderful tanks.[45] The film is worthy of our splendid troops and pays tribute to the weary munition workers whose supplies have enabled our great army to make this splendid advance.[46]

Roll of Honour

The collier “Lady Ann” blown up by a mine. The ‘Lady Ann’ was a screw collier that regularly did runs between Rochester and Sunderland has been blown up by a mine. Seven of the 11 crew, including the captain, were killed.[47]

Health & Hospitals

The renovation of Strood VAD was completed. The Darnley Ward at the Strood VAD has been reopened after being cleaned and restored and is looking resplendent. The beds that had kindly been donated needed to be replaced as the wire netting attached to the metal frame was breaking. The new coverlets give a bright clean and charming effect, whilst the new 25 spring mattresses that cost 15s 6d each, form a most helpful and comfortable addition. Thanks are due to a very long list of friends and donors.[48]

The reopening of Strood VAD appears well timed but the renovations depleted the hospital’s reserves.

Strood & Frindsbury VAD is now full and very heavy pressure will soon lie on every such institution throughout the land. Special thanks were given to those who presented the spring mattresses. The closing down for renovations greatly depleted the hospital finances through loss of revenue and the necessary expenditure. The public can be assured that the ladies in management exercise every care and economy consistent with the all-important comfort and recovery of the wounded men.[49]

A joint committee was set up to review the problem of overcrowded trams. Rochester Town Council received a letter from the Town Clerk of Chatham requesting Rochester join with them and Gillingham in taking action in respect of the overcrowded trams. The Estate Committee concluded that little could be achieved in the present circumstances.[50] It was eventually agreed by the Councils of Rochester Chatham and Gillingham to set up a joint committee to review the problem of overcrowding on trams.[51]

If St. Bartholomew’s was able to invest money raised by a flag day in war savings could it suggest that income was exceeding outgoings? If this observation is correct to could be claimed that the hospital was taking advantage of the public’s generosity as there were many calls being made on the public to financially support many worthy causes. Investing in war bonds / savings tied up money – it was not a way to invest reserves for a ‘rainy day’.

St. Bartholomew’s to raise money to buy war bonds? It has been suggested that a flag-day is held for St. Bartholomew’s and that the money be invested in a War Loan or War Savings Certificate.[52]

A dose of California Syrup of figs might just be the answer for an unhappy child. Mothers who have an unhappy child who is crossly constipated or feverish were advised in the advert that they may benefit from a dose of syrup of figs.[53]

Home News

Clergy petition for the ending of Sunday showings at the cinema.[54]

The Corn Exchange cinema is to close again on Sundays. During the month’s trial of the opening of the Corn Exchange Cinema on Sunday evenings, the average attendance had been 38 so the Council was now removing their consent. Although men in uniform had been few there had been full attendance of others but the entertainment was intended for soldiers and sailors who it had been said were walking the streets with nowhere to go.[55]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

It could be argued that the Government failed to recognise that it was fighting a total war – a war that involved home civilian populations as much as those who were in the military. Previous wars had been fought ‘overseas’ with, apart from the loss of family members in distant battles, there was a limited impact on the home population. As a consequence the Government seems not to have given the attention required to ensure life and industries at home were also strategically managed. It maybe for this reason that the local farmers decided to set up a political fund.

Farmers decide to set up a Parliamentary Fund to sponsor an MP. At the AGM of the Rochester Branch of the NFU it was agreed to set up a Parliamentary Fund to obtain Parliamentary representation. It was agreed that this could be funded by members making a donation of a half-penny per acre.[56]

Civic Business

Dwellings for workmen are being developed in Hoo and Gillingham. The Estate Committee of Rochester Council reported on their visit to the Amorality cottages being built at Wainscott and requested they be able to visit finished developments in Hoo and Gillingham.[57]

Community Support

Rochester Recognised Association for Voluntary War Workers held a whist drive at the Guildhall.[58]

Mr. Neville Chamberlain speaking to a meeting at the Central Hall, Westminster, said that if the Nation is to win the war the Nation must have more labour to carry on certain essential industries, and that labour can only be supplied by calling up the men and women who are now either unoccupied or engaged in industries which are non-essential. He therefore called upon all men between the ages of eighteen and sixty-one to volunteer. At the same time he stated he was organising a similar appeal to women.[59]

An enrolment session into the National Volunteer Service took place at the Guildhall in Room 8, on Saturdays between 2 and 8 pm.[60]

Home Tragedies

A police ambulance took a critically injured man to St. Bartholomew’s hospital. An unfortunate accident occurred to an elderly man named George Giles of Rose Cottage Cuxton, by the Cattle Market in Corporation Street. Giles (72) was in charge of a horse and waggon containing six pigs. Giles with his waggon was on one side of the road and a stationary motor lorry on the other. A steam motor lorry belonging to the Royal Naval Ordinance, in attempting to pass between the two, collided with the waggon causing the driver to fall from his seat under the vehicle of which he was in charge. He sustained a fractured arm and other injuries, and was conveyed to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital on the police ambulance in a critical condition.[61]

School / Education News

Rochester & District teachers praised the German education system. The annual meeting of the Rochester & District National Union of Teachers heard an address comparing our education system with the German system that was persistently held up for admiration and emulation before the war. In summary, the feeling was that the German system did not inculcate in youth a spirit of freedom but it had been very effective in providing the continuity of education from day schools to polytechnics and universities and preparing young people for commerce, manufacture and agriculture.[62] [See counter view – ‘School/Education News’, November 1917.]

Teachers awarded an increase in salary and war bonus. The Rochester Education Committee received a deputation of head teachers and class teachers requesting an increase in the war bonus they receive to reflect the increased cost of living, and an increase their basic salary. After giving the deputation a sympathetic hearing the committee agreed to concede to both points. It was suggested that the committee should seek an increased grant from the Board of Education to meet the cost of improving the salaries of teachers.[63]

Court Cases

Women managing pubs, whilst their husbands are at war, managed them well. The Chief Constable reported to the Licensing Session that there were 69 ale houses and 21 beer houses in the City making on ‘on’ license per 348 of population. He also reported that only 46 persons had been charged with drunkenness and only 16 were resident, and only 1 was a solider – down by 50% on the previous year. The licensees had complied well with the new regulation. A number of licensed premises were now in the hands of females whose husbands were at war, and against theses there was not a single complaint.[64]

Women’s Experiences

Is it possible the pool of women ‘willing and able’ to work had been exhausted?

Women urgently required to make linen belts in a large munitions factory. Contact your local labour exchange as this most important work is being delayed owing to the absence of sufficient women labour.[65]

Not a single complaint about licensed premises that are in the hands of females whose husbands were at war.[66] See Court Cases above.

Church & Cathedral

It would appear that the vicar of St. Peter’s suspected there were people opportunistically trying to “erode the sanctuary of the Sabbath”.

Vicar of St. Peter’s believes commercialism is being adopted under the cloak of philanthropy.  The vicar in the Parish magazine criticises the civic fathers for giving permission for the cinema to open on Sundays. He believed that this was another example of commercialism being adopted under the cloak of philanthropy.[67]

The clergy were exempt from being conscripted into the military although a number did serve as non-combatants. The Bishop of Rochester in the following piece questions whether this is sustainable. Today no army chaplain is permitted to carry or use weapons.

Should clergy enlist? Such is the demand for men the Bishop of Rochester reflected on the appropriateness of clergy as combatants. While recognising that the ministry of the ‘Word and Sacraments’ along with the pastoral care in these times of stress and bereavement, is of National importance, he felt the call upon the clergy to take their full share in their duty of citizenship must not be lightly set aside.[68]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Ernest Parrett & Miss Eva West took place at the Parish Church of All Saints Frindsbury. The quiet wedding of Ernest Parrett & Eva West was arranged at short notice on account of the bridegroom being ordered back to France. Only close family and a few intimate friends were present. The bride wore a gown of white crepe-de-chine and tulle veil with a wreath of orange blossom, and carried a beautiful bouquet of lilies and white carnations.[69]

Death of Edward Florey, 88 of Rochester. Florey had been a marine and a member of the guard of honour at the Duke of Wellington’s funeral in 1852.[70]

March 1917

The country at this time, was facing a serious food shortage. In February 1917 Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare which seriously reduced the importation of food. Home grown food was also seriously down as a consequence of more than 170,000 farmers being sent to the trenches, and up to half a million farm horses being requisitioned by the War Office to help at the front line. To address the shortage of man and horsepower the Government, in 1917, bought 400 British Saunderson Tractors, and a further $3.2million was invested in US models such as the Fordson.[71] The challenge would be finding enough people to drive them, but before then a desperate call went out for men who knew how to plough.

Military and War Reports

An urgent call was made for any man who knew how to plough. A large notice was placed in the press asking employers and local authorities for any men who knew how to plough be they currently policemen, carters, dustmen, porters and so on, to help the country to confront the grave menace to our food supplies. Temporary release would be sufficient as a skilled ploughman can plough sufficient land in to yield £75 of food in a week. (5 acres / week). 4,000 skilled ploughmen could plough sufficient land in three weeks to yield almost a £1 million of food. The need was so urgent as the ploughing season has started, all employers were told they should call their employees together within 24 hours to ascertain if any were capable of ploughing.[72]

Daylight saving to be reintroduced to increase productivity. The clock-change will increase the amount of work that could be undertaken in daylight. [73]

Tribunals

The following report highlights the army’s continuing need for men, and the need to ensure that those who had been exempted from military service undertook voluntary work. This had serious implications for small businesses / sole traders who probably had great difficulty in covering the ‘day-job’ without having to take on extra duties.

All exemptions to be reviewed and new requests challenged. The Mayor announced that the Tribunal had received instructions that the cases of all men under the age of 31 and who had been exempted from military service are to have their cases reviewed. Men classified as B3 [ fit for sedentary work abroad] and C3 [fit for sedentary service at home camps] would not be reviewed. He also warned that every man who had been exempted but who had volunteered to join the National Voluntary Service would have their exemptions reviewed. 18 year olds should apply for exemption within three months of their birthday, and matters of substitution were now reserved to the Director of National Service. The military representative stated that he had received instructions to appeal against any exemption given to a man under 31 who was not engaged in work associated with national security.[74]

Inconsistencies remained between the decisions of different Tribunals in Medway. It was claimed that the Tribunals of Chatham and Rochester were giving little consideration to firms with multiple shops. The Tribunal at Chatham allowed 14 days for the manager of the Lipton’s store in the high street although he was the only man on the staff, and the Rochester Tribunal withdrew the conditional exemption given to the manager of the Rochester branch who had five assistants under him. It was mentioned that throughout Kent Lipton’s have only one man at each shop. The Rochester Tribunal took a similar course with regards to the manager of the Home and Colonial Stores in Rochester.[75]

 

Reports from the Front

No Rochester reports discovered.

Roll of Honour

Sgt. Arthur White died of wounds sustained at the Western Front. White was the youngest son of Mrs. White, 1 High Street, Upnor. He had served in the Dardanelles before transferring to the West Front where he sustained wounds that led to his death on February 19.[76]

Health & Hospitals

Strood VAD occupancy during 191680 beds were used to provide 21,250 bed-days. 957 men were admitted during the year. The average number of patients / day was 58.[77]

Home News

Price of gas, paper and beer are to increase. Gas prices to increase by 4d / 1000 cu. ft.[78]  The Kent Messenger that had been a ‘Penny Paper’ for 58 years a price that it has held despite others increasing their price to 11/2d or 2d, increased its price to 11/2d. The explanation was that the  Government had made it exceedingly difficult for the journal to obtain paper in the quantity needed for its circulation. The cost of paper had gone up 300%. In order to only print the papers that are required returns would not be accepted from newsagents.[79] [ The copy of Kent Messenger in May 1917 was priced was being offered for 2d in May 1917.] Brewers have fixed their prices so that on Monday next mild beer will be 7d and bitter 1s / pint in the districts of Chatham, Gravesend and Dartford, and 5d and 8d respectively in other parts of Kent.[80] The increases in the price of beer led to what the papers described as the ‘Declaration of a Beer War’.

National Service Committees were set up by local authorities to take forward the National Service Scheme launched in February 1917. Their role was through canvassing and publicity to assign men (later women) to essential occupations – and presumably to ensure those undertaking essential duties remained in them.

Strood’s National Service Committee is to hold a public meeting to advance recruitment. Parishes are to be requested to undertake consultations in their area. The opinion was expressed that those engaged in agriculture should not be canvassed.[81]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

There was a good take up of allotments. The City Surveyor reported that the council had received 99 applications for allotments under the Cultivation of Lands Order, a total of 7.75 acres having been taken up.[82]

Civic Business

Strood Rural Council agreed a pay increase to retain staff. The Council decided to increase the wages of its workman, currently paid 4s 4d / day, by 4s a week. Their surveyor advised the council that should he loose three men he would probably not be able to replace them.[83]

New charges fixed for use of the City’s fire engine outside of the City. The Council fixed revised charges for use of the City’s fire engine. For attending fires in neighbouring boroughs but not used, £2 2s when the fire was within 2 miles of the City boundary with the addition of £1 1s for each additional mile up to a maximum of £5 5s.[84] [These prices seem a little lower or the pricing structure more reasonable than last years. See ‘Civic Business’ July 1916.]

Town Council agreed to consider improving street lighting through lighting more areas and extending the period of lighting in others.[85]

Community Support

The Army puts on an entertainment in the Corn Exchange. By the invitation of the Lieutenant-Colonel and Officers of the 3rd Royal West Kent Regt., a large company was entertained at a concert in the Corn Exchange.[86]

Entertainment was provided for wounded soldiers by schools from Station Road, Strood.  The teachers and scholars of the council schools entertained 50 temporarily wounded soldiers from Fort Pitt hospital military hospital. On arrival they were cordially greeted by Miss Wyborn the genial matron, the young married ladies and dainty misses of her teaching staff – particularly the fair damsel who that very day was passing from the stage of ‘sweet 17’ into the 18th year of her existence. The first part of the programme was provided by the youngsters that included songs, dances and recitals. After the children had been dismissed Mrs. Ray rendered a solo on the one string phono-violin. The performances were followed by a tea – and what a tea that led to the hungry war-worn solider to eat far more than the allowance recommended by the Food Controller.[87]

Home Tragedies

Not all tragedies were the result of accidents – some were, and still are, entirely manmade. The Mental Deficiency Act 1913 made provisions for the institutional treatment of people deemed to be “feeble-minded” or “morally defective”. The intention was to provide a better standard of care to that which they could receive in a workhouse or prison.

Three months’ hard-labour for parents of a shockingly neglected imbecile girl. A case of revolting neglect of an imbecile child engaged the attentions of the Rochester City Justices. The defendants were Herbert Hayward of 9 Pearson Street, Strood, and Amy Hayward his wife. They were summoned under the Mental Deficiency Act 1913 for wilfully neglecting Edith Lilian Hayward aged 17, a defective, on various dates. They pleaded not guilty. The prosecution was brought by KCC. The girl was the child of the male defendant from his first marriage. The female defendant was his second wife. Poverty was not accepted as the cause of the neglect as the male defendant received wages averaging 50s / week. Evidence was provided. The child had been removed to the Strood workhouse but sat at the back of the Court during the hearing. The Mayor found both the defendants guilty of very serious and inhuman neglect and stated that a man earning the amount he was should have made arrangements to place the child in an institution. The Mayor said that this was the first case brought before the bench under the Act and in such cases it was customary to pass a light sentence. But in the circumstances of the case that were particularly dreadful he had no choice to pass the maximum sentence of three months hard labour. When the magistrate asked if the child could walk the nurse replied “a little” and demonstrated – the girl walked as a child starting to learn to walk.[88]

 School / Education News

The school nurse and education clerk are to receive a £10 war bonus, decided the Rochester Education Committee. The bonus will also be paid to a number of supplemental teachers.[89]

Court Cases

The following report suggests it was a crime to purchase – not just steal – army kit.

Thomas Woodward fined for purchasing under regimental garments. Woodward a blacksmith of St. Bartholomew’s Lane, was fined £12, with the alternative of three months’ imprisonment, at Rochester, for purchasing under regimental garments from a soldier. An officer in Court mentioned that there had been a great leakage of Army stores recently.[90]

Florence Spenceley fined 5s for selling potatoes for more than the fixed price. Spenceley, shop assistant, was fined 5s by Rochester County Police Court for selling potatoes at a price exceeding the maximum fixed by the Food Controller. Her employer was ordered to pay £2.[91]

Pte. Charles Davis remanded for stealing from his billeting family. Davis (20) was remanded at Rochester for stealing jewellery and silk blouses from Edith Mary Beck, of Foord Street, with whom he was billeted.[92]

Women’s Experiences

Jilted girl summons the putative father of her child for maintenance. Jas. R. Jones of High Street, Rochester, was summoned by Laura Flossie Baker of 1 Bell Lane, Burham, for maintenance. She said they were engaged to be marriage and “intimacy” took place at the house of the defendant’s father. The defendant had now decided not to go ahead with the marriage. Although he denied paternity of the child he accepted he could not prove otherwise and offered to pay 2s / week out of the 8s 9d that he will be paid when he joins the Colours in January. Miss Baker though had ascertained the defendant who is employed as a telegraphist and sorter with the Post Office, will be allowed 17s / week in addition to his naval pay. The case was adjourned for this to be corroborated.[93]

Church & Cathedral

Travel restrictions led to the postponement of the Rochester Diocesan Conference and other Diocesan gatherings usually held in the early summer.[94]

Life Goes On

House Parlour Maid required at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital to act as a doctor’s maid. £20 – £24 / year.[95]

A good van horse was offered for sale by the Rochester & Chatham Laundry for 50 guineas as they were investing in motor vehicles.[96]

Thomas Foord, when resident in Rochester, resided at Acorn House.[97] The house was in the area near Acorn Wharf in Gas House Road – shown on the City Map above. Thomas died without descendants on 12 March 1917. Whilst living in Rochester he promised £500 guineas towards the complete restoration and reconstruction of the Cathedral’s organ on condition that a further sum of £1,000 would be raised from public subscription.[98] His obituary detailed a number of restoration projects he funded for the Cathedral; it stated that in 1903 he bore the entire cost of reconstructing the tower and spire of the Cathedral, and later funded the restoration of the Chapter Room and north choir aisle. He was also the founder of the Nurses Home in connexion with St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.[99]

Details of the Foord bequest was published. The late Mr. Thomas Hellyar Foord (93) son of the former Mayor of Rochester, left £10,000 to St. Bartholomew’s, £2,000 to Rochester Cathedral ad £10,00 to Rochester Museum. Alms houses are to be built with the residue of his estate.[100]

April 1917

America declares war on Germany.

Military and War Reports

The first aircraft carriers lowered seaplanes into the water.

Shorts have produced a seaplane with folding wings that can be carried on ships in a space no greater than that required for the floats – this has proved very valuable in the war.[101]

The viewing of a captured German submarine raised £279 19s 3d. The submarine was exhibited at Chatham. £50 of the amount raised was been donated to St. Bartholomew’s hospital.[102]

Rochester’s Volunteer Training Corp is regarded as being understrength. Colonel C. E. Warde, MP, inspected some 400 volunteers and delivered a strong request for more men to join the movement. The inspection took place after attending the Royal Engineers memorial service in the Cathedral. Headed by the band of the Royal West Kent Regiment, the volunteers made an impressive spectacle as they marched from the Cathedral by way of the High Street to the Rochester recreation ground. Col. Warde felt that a population as large as that of the towns could muster a larger number of members – particularly as the current membership includes 172 Tribunal men.[103]

Tribunals

Despite the desperate need for food men to be involved in food production, food distribution and agricultural work, such as dairymen and tractor drivers, many had their exemptions withdrawn.

Reviews requested of all conditional exemptions that have been given. The Military representative at the Rochester Tribunal requested a review of the conditional exemptions that had been given. Those who had their exemptions withdrawn were Harry Valentine Beal (30) a married carman employed by Mr. W. Hillier, and Thomas Browning (30) a married carman in the employ of Mr. Felix Bourne.[104]

Appeal of George Bridges adjourned pending the receipt of a Labour Exchange Certificate. Bridges 33, landlord of the Star Hotel, Rochester, had been twice rejected and now classified C1. On the strength of these rejections he invested his savings in this hotel. The military appeal was adjourned for 28 days with a view to the respondent releasing a general service man to work in a munition works. [105]  It was later reported that a man had been released to work as an engineer at Curtis Harvey’s but the Tribunal adjourned to await the receipt of a Labour Exchange Certificate confirming the release of a fit man.[106]

Mr. A. J. Simmonds, headmaster at St. Mary’s School, Strood, was refused exemption. Having been refused further exemptions Simmonds was temporarily replaced by Mr. George Hayter, certified assistant at Troy Town schools – and well above military age.[107]

 

Reports from the Front

The Archdeacon expressed thanks that progress is being made towards Victory. The Archdeacon in his address at the Royal Engineers’ Memorial Service, held in the Cathedral, offered thanks for the progress being made towards a victory. Thanksgiving that we recognised the finger of God in the great movement of the United States of America joining this world-wide war for humanity and freedom, honour and peace. He believed that since Easter morning the sun of victory had shone on our arms and we rejoiced that morning to show what had been done all along by our great silent Navy in this Great War.[108]

Roll of Honour

Annual memorial service for the fallen heroes of the Royal Engineers was held.[109]

Herbert Edward Hedgecock has been killed in action. Alfred Hedgecock of St. Margaret’s Bank, has this week been informed that his youngest son, Herbert, a signaller in the Canadian Artillery in France, was killed in action. He leaves a wife whom he married while on leave a year ago.[110]

Health & Hospitals

Hospital Munitions Centre is in urgent need of workers. The Red Cross Depot & Hospital Munitions Centre at the Technical Institute Rochester is still in urgent need of workers who can spare a few hours / week to support their great work. Visits are welcome to view the valuable assistance their work does to provide comfort and necessities for the wounded in our local hospitals. Demands have grown considerably over the past six months and there has been a great increase in the cost of flannel, wool and timber, etc. Amongst many products made are surgical swabs, socks, mittens boots for treating trench foot, cushions and pillows as well as hard goods such as splints crutches and bed cradles. Donations of money and materials will be gratefully received.[111]

Home News

H. Apps undertaker has enlisted but his business will continue. Apps placed a press announcement stating that although he has joined His Majesty’s Forces he has made arrangements for his business to continue.[112]

There is something very familiar with the following story – 100 years on!

Large increase in rates is blamed on rising costs and debts from the previous administration. A big increase in the Borough Rate was announced by Rochester Town Council as a consequence of the war bonuses paid to teachers and extra repairs to schools. After much debate it was agreed that the rate should be increased by 2s in the £ and efforts should continue to be made in reducing the loans which had been left to them from the past.[113]

The increases paid in War Bonuses give an indication of the prevailing level of inflation.

The war bonus paid to the police is to be increased. The bonus paid to members of Rochester City’s Police Force has been increased from 3s to 6s / week for married men and from 2s to 4s for single men.[114]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

In April 1917 the country was within six weeks of running out of wheat. This mobilised the Government to take action but the following report highlights the importance of national strategies needing to take into account local conditions.

War is to be waged on pests that feed on the crops. Local Farmers’ Unions are being encouraged to tackle losses caused by pests – notably rats and sparrows. The Union felt that the proposals put forward by the Board of Agriculture were impractical. There were insufficient men available to form “Rat & Sparrow Clubs” and the War Department are unlikely to make bird-scaring cartridges available. Instead it was proposed that the Local Government Board be asked to make and Order to allow Boroughs to pay 1d for each head of a rat or sparrow bought in. The Rochester Branch submitted a resolution that the NFU supports the setting of a minimum price for swedes as much of the hop land now available is unsuited to the growing of potatoes, parsnips, carrots etc., but will grow large swedes.[115]

The following report gives an indication of the problems that Kent Farmers were needing to address.

Information and assistance is to be made available for farmers. The Kent War Agricultural Committee is inserting a column in the press providing information to farmers. Recent information pertained to the employment of civilian prisoners of war, control of rooks, obtaining repairs to steam tackle, and the maximum price that can be charged for wheat, barley and oats. The Army Canteen Committee also released seed potatoes for use by hop growers who have grubbed up their hops – the Army Canteen reserved the first option on any crop produced.[116]

It addition to increasing food production there was a national campaign to reduce consumption – which it was hoped would remove the need to introduce rationing. The Food Hoarding Order made it unlawful to hold more food than is necessary. The order passed on 5 April also made it an offence for dealers to sell more than what an individual would be allowed to have. The Food Controller could authorise persons to enter properties to ensure food was not being hoarded.[117]

A campaign is instigated to reduce food consumption. The National campaign to reduce food consumption – particularly of bread and flour – hoped that the common-sense of the people would avoid the need to introduce food rationing which could not be adjusted to meet individual needs.[118] A food hoarding order was also passed.[119]

In April 1917 all mills were put under Government control, so that millers became agents of the Wheat Commission, and a sub-committee controlled the price of grain.

The Food Controller takes over mills. Under the Flour Mill Order, 1917, the Food Controller takes over from April 30 all flour mills in the UK that are used to produce five or more sacks of wheat flour per hour.[120] [It is not known if this included the Delce mill.]

Perhaps the unintended consequences of introducing fixed prices was that farmers delayed bringing produce to market until they could obtain a more favourable price.

No business was undertaken at the Corn Market owing to the fixed rates for Wheat.[121]

The decision to raise the price of beer in the Medway Towns led to what the press referred to as “The Kent Beer War” or the “Dear Beer Revolt”.

Publicans threaten to strike unless the wholesale price of beer was reduced. Publicans across the country threatened to strike unless prices were reduced. Licensees in Chatham and Rochester decided to accept no further supplies of many liquors from brewers until they reduced their rates to the old prices for Kent. In Sheffield a boycott of licensed houses by customers resulted in prices being reduced to the old rates.[122]

Publicans in Chatham and Rochester boycott the breweries. Publicans have decided to buy no more supplies from the brewers till the rates for malt liquids is reduced.[123] They wanted prices reduced to the prices that are prevailing in the greater part of Kent. According to the present arrangements the public is expected to pay 10d / quart of mild and porter, and 1s 6d per quart of bitter ales.[124]

The ‘Beer Famine’ is over. The dispute between the publicans of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham, and the brewers was settled. The brewers made a slight concession from the original price increases. It was agreed that a penny would be added to the price of a pint of mild and the price for bitter would be the same as the licensed victuallers had suggested. For over a week many of the licensed houses had been without beer and some houses only kept open for the sale of minerals.[125] The brewers’ proposals would have increased the price of a pint of mild to 7d / pint and bitter 10d / pint which was above the average for the county. The publicans therefore resolved not to purchase any more stock until the price they believed was reasonable. “Early this week 30 houses had run out of beer and some capitulated and ordered more beer at the brewer’s revised terms”.[126]

Civic Business

The fact the Shop Act was referred to in the following report suggests it was not referring to the closure of pubs.

No further closing orders will be made under the Shop Act until after the war – so decided Rochester Town Council.[127]

Community Support

Cathedral choir gave a concert to raise funds for the Boy Scouts’ Fund.  A capital concert was given to a crowded audience in the Cathedral.[128]

Home Tragedies

Labour corps were formed in January 1917. They were manned by officers and other ranks who had been medically rated below the “A1” condition needed for front line service. Many of them had been wounded. Agricultural companies worked the land where there was a shortage of civilian workers. Farmers were charged for the use of the Corp and benefited from some of the younger men knowing how to drive a tractor – which the older farmers didn’t. The Country benefited as this extra labour was extremely important at a time of an acute shortage of food.

John Cosgrove was killed instantly in a tractor accident. Cosgrove (44) a lance corporal and married Rochester man of 14 Cavendish Road, Rochester, was killed whilst engaged on farm work in Meopham. He died when the motor tractor he was driving tilted and pitched him from it. He was serving with an agricultural labour company of the Royal West Kent Regiment. [129]

School / Education News

The reason teachers were against clergymen filling teaching posts is unclear. Could the concerns have been historical? The National Education League had campaigned in the late 1860s for free, compulsory and non-religiouseducation for all children. The Education Act 1870 established a system of ‘school boards’ to build and manage schools in their area – but unlike voluntary schools, these schools had to provide religious teaching that was ‘non-denominational’.

Teachers protest against clergymen being used as teachers. The Chatham, Rochester and District Teachers’ Association protest against clergymen entering schools as teachers.[130]

Court Cases

There have been no Court cases requiring the Recorder to attend Rochester since the Midsummer Sessions of last year.[131]

Father of an accused boy suggests birching would be an appropriate punishment. Three boys, Archie Herbert, 76 Bryant Road, Strood, George Golding of Mill Cottage, Frindsbury, and Henry Peachey 26 Windmill Road, Frindsbury, were before the court for throwing stones at a neighbour. They were such a nuisance that a plain clothed officer undertook special duties. Letters were sent from others who had been struck by stones thrown by the boys. The father of one of the boys suggested they be birched but the Chairman of the Bench stated they did not have the power to order this.[132]

The rapidly escalating price of food probably motivated the following people to steal from their employer. One way to try and control the price of food was for the Food Control to set maximum prices that could be enforced through the magistrate courts.

Charles Bailey bound-over for stealing five eggs from his employer. Bailey (50) of Cobham, stole the eggs from Miss Stevens for whom he had worked for 16 years. As Miss Stevens did not press charges he was bound over.[133]

Mary Ranger was fined 20s for stealing two gallons of seed potatoes from her employer. The seed potatoes taken by Ranger were valued at 2s 6d; they were the property of Mr. James Hollands for whom she worked.[134]

Not certain if this was the first prosecution for over charging for potatoes – see ‘Court Cases’, March 1917.

John Henry Franks fined for over charging for potatoes. The first prosecution at Rochester for infringing the Order regulating the price of potatoes was dealt with by Rochester Magistrates. Franks was a fruit and potato wholesale salesman of 20 London Road. In evidence, it was stated that he sold 1cwt of potatoes to Charles Day, green grocer, for £13 when this is the rate for one ton. As this was the first case the magistrates levied a fine of £5 but the Chairman stated that in any future case the penalty will be heavier and hoped the case would serve as a warning to others.[135]

George Alfred Batchelor was fined £10 for selling potatoes above the price fixed. Batchelor, a farmer from Cooling and a Wesleyan Methodist local preacher, was summoned for selling potatoes above the price fixed by the Food Controller. The regulations stated that a seller cannot charge more than 10s for delivering a ton of potatoes but Batchelor was charging 1s / bag which was equivalent of 20s / ton. The Court dealt with him leniently fining him £2 10s for each of the four offences. Afterward the defendant said he will be selling his potatoes in other ways.[136]

Women’s Experiences

Lamentable increase of immorality among married women with husbands at the Front – so believed the ‘Rochester Diocesan’s Association for Befriending Women and Girls. Although there had been a decrease in the numbers seeking help this could be because they are able to earn money to support themselves. The Association also thought there had been a lamentable increase of immorality among married women whose husbands were at the Front.[137]

The following report not only shows that Chatham was ahead of Rochester in providing a facility to promote the welfare of children, there was also concern about possible effect of adulterated milk being fed to the babies of poorer mothers.

A maternity and child welfare centre opened by Chatham Town Council and such is the concern about the purity of milk that is available, the Rector of Chatham has requested the Town Council establish a pure milk supply in the Borough for the poorer mothers.[138]

Church & Cathedral

What are the clergy doing to support the war effort? In response to the ‘Call for National Service’ the Bishop of Rochester wrote to the papers. The Bishop confirmed that the clergy had speedily responded to the call of the Director General to undertake extra work. The Bishop stated that he had been able to provide the Central Committee with a list of 24 incumbents or assistant curates who have been appointed to, or are being considered for chaplaincies in the Navy or Army. Five were or will very shortly be, supervising recreation huts under the Church Army or the YMCA. Twelve others were fully occupied in chaplaincies of workhouses or institutions of a definitely national character, or as organising secretaries of philanthropic work in England of supreme importance. Nearly 50 are chaplains of VAD Hospitals in their own parishes or immediate neighbourhood.[139]

Easter Day flowers for the Cathedral provided by the officers of a regiment stationed at Chatham in memory of comrades who have fallen in the war.[140]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Arthur Stewart & Gladys Inglis. Stewart, organist and master of the choristers of Rochester Cathedral, married Miss Inglis – a lady of considerable musical accomplishment – at Scarborough. The marriage was, owing to the war, of a quiet character. The bride’s grown was of satin charmeuse with deep flounce of old Honition lace, long peaked train, and wreath of orange blossom, and a long veil of old Mechlin lace. She wore also a pearl neckless and brooch and carried a lovely bouquet of pink roses.[141]

Death of Mary Paige. Rochester has lost its eldest resident from senile decay. Mrs. Mary Paige, 7 Albany Rd, died at the age of 101 and 6 months. She had been born at a village near Launceston, Cornwall in November 1815.[142]

May 2017

Lloyd George forces the British navy to institute a convoy system to protect merchant ships from enemy submarines. The system had an immediate positive impact in increasing the German losses of submarines, and reducing the losses of merchant ships bringing food to Britain.

Military and War Reports

Dilution, referred to in the following report, was the breaking down of complex tasks into simpler activities that non-skilled women could easily carry out.[143]

Workers strike over the withdrawal of the Trade Card scheme. Members of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers employed at Chatham Dockyard, and by Messrs Short Bros, Curtiss and Harvey, Cliffe and other munition works in the district, came out on strike against the advice of their leaders as a protest against the withdrawal of the Trade Card Scheme under which exemption was granted to them from military service, and also the Government’s Dilution Order.[144]

Tribunals

Stewart Ferguson – military won its appeal, but call-up deferred to 20th June. The military representative appealed in the case of Ferguson (28), married and the collector of the district and poor rates for the City of Rochester. The Town Clerk argued that the job was both difficult and responsible and that it would take a long time to train up a woman to do the work. Col. Atkinson who was chairing the West Kent Appeal Tribunal asked the Town Clerk if he was aware that women were undertaking this work elsewhere. The Tribunal however unanimously allowed the appeal but deferred the calling up until June 30th.[145] It was later reported that the Town Council had appointed Mr. Ferguson’s wife and a Mrs. W. J. R. Ring as lady rate collectors in the absence of Mr. Ferguson in the Army.[146]

Newspapers concerned about impact on their ability to report because of loss of journalists. The county newspapers have written to the Military Tribunals pointing out the work they do in promoting the war effort – aiding recruitment, raising funds etc. They claimed that it was therefore essential that they should be allowed to retain minimal staff that are essential to the preparation and publication of the newspapers.[147]

There seems to have been a strong resentment that there were still a significant number of single men in the community who had not been called up.

Owen Henry Gill Brown – appeal refused. Brown (36) manager of Messrs. Harper and Co., Wine Merchants and Naval contractors, made, in the view of the military representative, a rather half-hearted appeal. When the appeal was dismissed Mr. Brown snr. complained that there were many single men left in some businesses and of his five sons four joined the army and one had been killed, and he hoped the tribunal might spare him.[148]

Men aged between 41 to 50 – single or married – are to be considered for conscription. Before attesting they will be required to undertake a medical and those found to be unfit will not be required to attest. Those who attest will have the right of appeal to the Tribunal but it’s expected that they will be ready and willing as soon as they are called upon.[149]

The context of the following conversation is not reported but it suggests an attempt was being made to set quotas to ensure a balance is struck between maintaining local services and sending more men to the Front.

Rochester needs four plumbers. The Mayor was overheard saying that Rochester needed four plumbers. If Rochester with 9,000 houses need four plumbers how many does London need with its hundreds of thousands of dwellings?[150]

Reports from the Front

No Rochester reports discovered.

Roll of Honour

The following account is harrowing – how much had this solider really recovered before he was returned to the Front?

Pte. George Hubble has died of his wounds. Hubble (20) who was employed by Messrs S. J. Bryce & Sons of Rochester, before enlisting, died of his wounds in a French Casualty Clearing station. He had previously been blown up and wounded by a shell in the Battle of the Somme after which he lost his voice for seven weeks. Some months after his recovery he was sent back to the Front where he sustained the wounds in both thighs and his right arm which proved fatal.[151]

Health & Hospitals

Strood & Frindsbury VAD facing considerable financial difficulties. The recent cost of care is coming out at 4s/man/day whereas the allowance paid is only 3s/man/day; the difference would have been far greater had it not been for the generous donations from the public. Savings could be made on the food budget but the management desires to maintain a generous diet for the men to whom the Nation owes so much. It is hoped that savings will be made on the expenditure on heating and lighting with the arrival of the summer.[152]

A flag-day was held in Sittingbourne to raise funds for St. Bartholomew’s which, because of the motor ambulance belonging to the town, furnishes the bulk of the hospital accommodation needed by this district – however contributions from the area are less than half the cost of the accommodation provided. More effort is to be made in the collection of waste paper to raise funds.[153] It was later reported that a flag-day instead of the usual street collection in Sittingbourne raised £200 as opposed to £50.[154]

St. Bartholomew’s hospital’s activity stats for the past 12 months. Inpatient admissions – 1,051 civilians and 457 military. Daily average of occupied beds – 104. Out Patients 6,082, Out Patients attendances 24,151. Operations under general anaesthetic 1,598, examinations under X-rays 592, massage cases 166.[155]

Home News

In order to preserve grain for the production of food, reductions were made in the production of beer. In a report contained in parliamentary papers it appears that the Government had limited beer production to 10 million barrels /year.[156] A barrel of beer contained 36 imperial gallons.]

Beer is in short supply. During a tribunal review hearing it was stated that the beer trade was only a third of what it used to be.[157]

Pubs are running out of beer. There is a marked shortage of beer again in Chatham and the surrounding district and it is becoming frequently more common to see public houses close before the regulation time as they had run out of beer – with some being closed for days.[158]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

In May 1917 the Ministry of Food attempted to influence bread consumption, as well as production, by introducing the Bread Order. The Food Controller ordered that the sale of newly baked bread should be banned and that bread should be at least 12 hours old when it was sold. Not only is cold/stale bread more easily cut thinly, overnight baking required fuel to be used on lighting. Could it also have been something about the smell of warm bread being extremely tempting!?

With grain being in short supply it would have been inappropriate to continue feeding the pigeons that resided in the castle.

Castle pigeons to be culled in order to save grain. The Town Council decided to dispose of all but 50 pigeons from the Castle Gardens. There are currently between 400 and 500 pigeons in the gardens and although they provide a great attraction for children and visitors they consume a considerable quantity of corn.[159]The pigeons killed will be sold.[160]

Regulations were passed to control the amount and type of foods that could be provided by hotels and restaurants. Meat-free days were introduced. The regulations also set a benchmark for the pricing of milk.

Restrictions were placed on the food that can be served in hotels, restaurants etc. The regulations placed restrictions on the amount of bulk food that can be ordered by hotels, restaurants etc. The regulations also contained the stipulation that Wednesdays – outside London – are to be meat-free days and potatoes are only be served on meat-free days and Fridays. The regulations also stipulated the maximum price that could be charged for certain items – 3d/oz for chocolate and milk only 1d above the price charged in the corresponding month in 1914.[161]

As part of the voluntary strategy to reduce food consumption the public was asked to pledge they would comply with the orders of the Food Controller.

Mayor asks inhabitants to pledge to follow the Food Controllers Orders. Empire Day was largely celebrated in the elementary schools although an interesting little ceremony was held outside the Guildhall at 12 noon. A small platform was erected with a flag staff at one end. The Royal Ensign was raised and the Mayor mounted the platform and read the Royal Proclamation as to economy in foodstuffs, particularly in bread and flour. At the close his Worship said that the Royal Proclamation would never have been issued unless there was a dire necessity, and he hoped the citizens would economise in the strictest way possible. A card was then sent round asking people to pledge that they would follow the Food Controllers Orders. He hoped the majority of cards would be signed and displayed in the window. School children broke half-day early for the Whitsun holiday.[162]

Adulteration of milk is on the increase. The Animal, Weights & Measures, and the Food & Drug Committees of KCC regretted to notice an increase in adulterated milk but it was pleased to note that magistrates are now taking a more serious attitude towards this crime.[163]

The following report points to a number benefits that arise from grazing pigs on open land.

Pigs can do well in the open and can improve the land. Mr. W. Corbett-Barker of Bryant House, Rochester, reported on his success of keeping pigs in the open – perhaps the first in Kent. He owns some poor hilly grassland studded with thorns and scrub and has successfully kept sow on this land – supplementing their feed with peas and beans when available. The sows have large litters and the pigs are improving the poor land. This approach could increase the pig stock at a time when the cost of feeding stuffs is increasing.[164]

Civic Business

Coal has been secured for Medway Union. The Guardians of the Medway Union have secured a supply of coal from a local provider – 400 tons of steam coal at 39s 6d / ton and 100 tons of house coal at 35s 6d / ton.[165] [Steam coal was suitable for use in boilers’]

Community Support

Flags of St. George were presented to Rochester Town Council. The local branch of Men of Kent and Kentish Men presented the flags to the Council so that they may be to be flown from the Guildhall on St. George’s day and other festival days – one had already been presented to Rochester for the castle.[166]

A sale of daisies in the streets of Strood by ladies and girls raised £21 5s 7d for Dr. Stephenson’s Orphanage Homes.[167] [This organisation became National Children’s Home, and in 2008 became “Action for Children’.]

The Strood VAD pleas for NO rhubarb on their Gift-Day.[168]

Home Tragedies

No Rochester reports discovered.

School / Education News

A boy alters his date of birth from 1905 to 1903 so he can work on the land. A boy aged 12 was brought before the magistrates for non-attendance at school. It was found that he had altered his date of birth from 1905 to 1903 because he had read in the newspapers that boys were needed to work on the land.[169]

Empire Day was celebrated in Rochester’s Elementary Schools although on a somewhat modified scale. Alderman Willis addressed the boys at the Troy Town Council School on their duty to the Empire and to do their share in winning the war.[170]

Court Cases

Frederick Charles Westlake was bound over for stealing coal that belonged to the King. The coal valued at 2s and belonging to the King, was taken from the Hoo Village Institute that had been taken over by the Admiralty as accommodation for service men. Westlake, previously of good character, stated he was a second grade mechanic with the RNAS at Kingsnorth he only earned 1s 3d / day and didn’t know how to make ends meet.[171] [The RNAS was the Royal Navy Air Station for airships.]

Women’s Experiences

Rest & refreshment facilities for women & girls undertaking essential work for the nation. YWCA Day was held on 1 May to raise funds to provide accommodation for rest and refreshment for the women and girls whose work is so strenuous a nature yet of such vital necessity to the Nation. Edith L. Selby-Bigge, chairman of the YWCA, said she was sure that all who had generously given their money and time will consider they have done so in a cause worthy of support. She went on to express her appreciation to the women who made the YWCA day in Chatham and Rochester a success. Thanks were specially due to Miss Paine for her exertions in Chatham, Miss Lowry who presided over Rochester, and to Miss Moor and Miss Maycock for similar efforts in Strood and Luton, and quite particularly to Miss Ketchen and the ladies who gave such efficient aid in selling.[172]

Church & Cathedral

A Rogation Service was conducted in Rochester Cattle Market. The Rev. W. J. Gray, Vicar of St. Nicholas, following the precedent set by himself last year, and in accordance with the old-time custom, conducted a service in Rochester Cattle Market in the presence of farmers, butchers and cattlemen. He offered prays and blessings on the crops, flocks and labourers of the land.[173]

It is perhaps not surprising that there was an increase in the number of male candidates for Conformation.

For the second year running there has been a slight decrease in Confirmations in the Rochester Diocese. There was an increase in male candidates but a decrease among the females.[174]

Life Goes On

Funeral held of Mr. C. D. Levy, late captain of the Rochester fire Brigade. Levy who was the Chief Officer of the Rochester City Fire Brigade and the late Chairman of the National Fire Brigade Union, was laid to rest at Strood. There were representatives from brigades across the south east. The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, and bearing the deceased’s axe and helmet, was conveyed on the old Rochester manual, and borne to the grave by picked men from the Rochester Brigade. The uniformed police, special constables and firemen headed the procession, and among those following were many Freemasons, members of Strood Parish Trustees, the Rochester Town Council, and other public bodies with which the deceased had been connected.[175]

June 1917

A new chapter opened in the strategic bombing of Britain. Sixteen long range German Gotha bombers attacked London from bases in Belgium.

Military and War Reports

Although the public may not have shown any respect for the German airman who lost their lives on a local raid, the military demonstrated a professional respect – which they would no doubt have expect to be reciprocated if the Germans were burying one of theirs.

Public showed no sign of respect during the funeral of two German airmen who had lost their lives in an air raid on an unspecified town on the Medway. Although the public showed no sign of respect as the cortege progressed the military were more respectful. Six flight lieutenants acted as pall-bearers to the pilot and a similar number of mechanics carried the coffin of the mechanic. The coffins were covered with the German Ensign and an aerial escort followed the cortege and circled around during the service. The last post was sounded by a naval bugler.[176]

Rochester’s Mayor was against the use of sirens as there could be to many false alarms that would in turn disrupt life and productivity in Rochester. [See ‘Civic Business’, November 1917.]

Air raid warning siren for Gillingham – placards for Rochester. Gillingham council agreed to fund up to £25, the installation of an electric siren to be used to warn of air raids.[177] Rochester’s Watch Committee instructed the police to give notice of all aircraft raid warnings on the day by means of placards to be displayed in various parts of the City.[178]

Tribunals

Reuben Wilson’s request for exemption on grounds of religious works was refused. Rev. J. P. David, Vicar of Strood applied to the Tribunal for exemption of Wilson (26) single lay reader in training for Holy Orders. The Mayor (Breton) pointed out that the Army Council had withdrawn exemptions for religious works and it was down to the local tribunals to consider each on its merits. The Tribunal allowed a one month exemption.[179]

George Heddle was allowed another two months’ exemption. Heddle (31) (Category B1), draper from Rochester, whose exemption had been reduced to three months was allowed on appeal a further two months, however at any future appeal he must demonstrate the efforts he’s made to free himself for service.[180]

It has not been determined whether provision was ever put into the regulations to exempt the last surviving son of a widow from military service.

Hamilton Streatfield Woodgate – the military’s appeal was successful. The military appealed against the exemption given to Woodgate (35). He was the sole surviving son of a widow who had already lost two of her son’s in action. Although a promise had been made in Parliament that a widow’s sole surviving son should be left at home, this had not been embedded into any Local Government Board Regulation and there had been no ruling on a similar situation by the Central Appeal Tribunal. The Tribunal therefore allowed the appeal but deferred call up for 28 days.[181]

Young unskilled men accused of hiding in munitions works to avoid call-up. At the conclusion of the Strood Tribunal which had considered a number of requests for variations and revocations of exemptions, the chairman enquired whether they were to get a chance to deal with Messrs. Curtis and Harvey’s works as he found it perfectly sickening to see hundreds and hundreds of young men going there every day. Another member of the Tribunal observed that one only has to walk over Rochester Bridge at midday to see scores of young men, many of them unskilled, who were hiding in works in the locality.[182]

Rochester Town Council given six months to find a new Rating Clerk, if possible, above military age, to substitute for their Rating Clerk so he may be released for military service.[183]

Reports from the Front

The fact that a 19-year-old could be a Captain could indicate the high mortality amongst junior officers.

Capt. J. Wilkinson F. Rowe has been awarded the Military Cross. Rowe a Captain, in the Guards Divisional Signal Company, and son of the late Archdeacon of Rochester and Mrs. Tetley Rowe, was awarded the Military Cross. He is only 19 years of age.[184]

Roll of Honour

Pte. B. Manktelow (25) killed by an exploding enemy shell. Much sympathy is felt for Mrs. Manktelow of 3 Primrose Cottages, Borstal, in the loss she sustained by the death of her third son, B. Manktelow. He was killed on 29 May. He enlisted in September 1914 and went to the Front in September 1915. He took part in many engagements including Trones Wood and the Battle of the Somme.[185]

 Health & Hospitals

Strood VAD has treated more than 2,400 gallant lads in khaki since it opened in September 1914. For its Gift Day held on 13 June the VAD specifically requested ‘Gifts in Kind’ of eggs, smokes and stationary – but no rhubarb or flowers.[186]

The following report shows that the problem of finding ‘constructive things’ for young people to do has been a long-standing challenge. It is interesting to note that the term ‘flapper’ was being used before the 1920’s to describe girls who did not act ‘conventionally’.

Conference held to discuss the fight against Venereal Disease. (VD) An important conference, chaired by the Mayor of Rochester, was held in the Town Hall, Chatham, to discuss the fight against VD that, according the medical professional, accounts 50% of pre & post-natal infantile mortality. A number of social and morality issues were discussed. It was recognised that it was important that young people had constructive things to do between the age of 13 and marriage – the contribution made by the Scouts and Guides was recognised. However more needed to be done for the “amateur flapper” who was a real danger and they had not looked after her. It was recognised that young girls liked admiration and some counter attraction was required. There was no agreement that dancing provided an alternative attraction unless the ladies dance by themselves and the gentlemen dance by themselves. Dr. Greenwood, who had proposed setting up VD clinics across Kent, was disappointed that the clinic at St. Bartholomew’s had not been set up and he expressed the hope that the Mayor of Rochester may be able to expedite matters. There was agreement that the problem needed to be faced without delay so when the men return from war they would find those at home had done something to make the country worthy of their efforts. [187]

 

A singing competition for wounded soldiers took place at Fort Pitt hospital. The 1st prize winners of the various sections received £1, and all the unsuccessful competitors were delighted to receive a consolation prize of 2s 6d.[188]

Praise for the bravery of the Red Cross during a diabolical air raid on the City. Dean Storrs in his sermon stated alms offered doing the service will go to St. Bartholomew’s that had treated 31,700 patients in the past year. He also praised the bravery of members of the Red Cross who were attending the service who risk life and limb in ministering to the needs of those stricken down in the City by one of the diabolical air raids.[189] [No reports of bombs or resulting injuries have been discovered for Rochester at this time there were a significant number of bombing raids on Kent – particularly Thanet – in which many were killed. See Home Tragedies below for a report that further supports an air raid did take place on north Kent towns.]

Strood VAD has 17s 6d / week / man.[190]

Home News

The following report of the meeting held in Chatham needs to be read alongside the report of the meeting held in Rochester to discuss the making of arrangements to sustain businesses should the proprietor be called-up. – see ‘Home News’, July 1918.

Depletion of staff in the trading community has reached its extreme limit.  An extremely well attended meeting of the Medway Chamber of Trade was held in Chatham to consider the calling-up of tradesmen from their businesses for military service. A resolution was passed expressing the opinion that the depletion of staffs of the trading community had reached its extreme limit. The meeting further declared that it is most deplorable that a man called to fight for his country should go to his military duties burdened by the conviction of a broken future and full of anxiety for those dear to him, and who are dependent on him. Special reference was made to one-man businesses.[191]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Competition held to encourage home-food production. A wartime food production competition was held for gardeners from Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham and district. Prizes of £3, £2 and £1 were offered for the best collection of vegetables grown from 1cwt of RITO No. 2, – the humosin food for Soil Bacteria. Entry forms are given with the purchase of 1 cwt, cost 14s.[192]

Although self-sufficiency would have helped the less well off in communities, Rochester does not appear to have been as proactive as Chatham and Gillingham Councils in supporting their allotment holders.

Councils, except Rochester, are spraying allotments against potato blight. A large meeting was held in the Nag’s Head, Rochester, of the Rochester Branch of the National Farmers Union to hear about the spraying of potatoes against blight. The Chatham and Gillingham Town Councils are spraying potatoes for their allotment holds at 2d / per square rod [about 5 sq. metres] in a single spraying.[193]

The Rochester Council is unable to lay on a water supply to allotments. Owing to the large number of sites – 41 – Rochester Town Council stated it was unable to meet the request of the allotment holders to lay on water to the various sites. It was also stated that it was impossible to obtain the necessary materials.[194]

Alfred Friend was prosecuted for selling nut lard & butter containing an excess of water. Friend a grocer from New Brompton was brought before the Rochester Police Court for selling nut lard and butter containing an excess of water. Butter should contain no more than 16% water but what was sold contained 19.04% water. Fines totally £7 10s were imposed. [195]

Ephraim Gower pleaded guilty to selling milk with 20.8% added water. Gower, a milk seller from Wigmore, was before the Rochester Police Court on the charge of selling adulterated milk. The police explained that Gower purchased the milk off of another supplier but had left water in the bottom of the churn. He was fined £5. [196]

Civic Business

Rochester Police Force has released four constables for military service. All were single men in Class A. The Watch Committee undertook to pay them 8s / week from the time they join the colours.[197]

Community Support

Fundraising through the sale of roses may have started before WW1 and provided the basis for the annual Poppy Appeal. A Rose Day was held on 26 June 1912 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival in Britain of Princess Alexandra of Denmark to marry Edward, Prince of Wales and later Edward VII. The plan was for 10,000 women to be stationed around London dressed in red and white, the colours of Denmark, and wearing a hat adorned with roses. They gave out artificial roses in return for a donation that would go to one of the charities supported by Princess Alexandra. The roses were made by cripples and blind men.[198] In 1922 the British Legion set up a Poppy Factory that employed disabled ex-service men.[199]

The following report is an indication of the antipathy that was developing over the use of children in street fundraising events. Action was eventually taken – see below in “Community Support”, December 1917.

Lady ‘Rose sellers’ were insulted on the street by some ‘so-called’ ladies. Rose Day had never been more enthusiastically carried out than it was at Rochester. From early morning till early evening ladies were about with their baskets of flowers in every thoroughfare and at every street corner. Some ladies were out at dawn selling roses to men going to work. Miss Phyllis Jones, only four years of age, made a very pretty picture dressed as a Red Cross Nurse. On the whole gentlemen were courteous and kind to the Rose sellers but some so-called ladies were positively insulting.[200]

The Jubilee Hall in Wouldham once stood in what is now the village car park in Knowle Road. It was originally built by the villagers.[201]

A grand concert was given in Wouldham in aid of St. Bartholomew’s – the Jubilee Hall was packed to overflowing.[202]

Home Tragedies

The airships were inflated with hydrogen a highly inflammable gas.

Percy Armstrong and Charles Harris were killed in an explosion at Hoo aerodrome. The inquest into the deaths of Lieut. Armstrong (31) and Leading Mechanic Harris (38) heard details of an explosion that occurred at the aerodrome at Hoo. A fire broke out in a gas holder. It was thought it had been successfully extinguished but about 20 minutes later the holder blew up killing the two men and injuring two more.[203]

Press reports did not include details as to where air raids occurred as this could be helpful to the enemy. However, during May & June there were a number of Gotha air raids during the day. There was an air raid that targeted Sheerness docks on 5 June 1917 – mainly hitting military targets.[204] There was a reluctance to defensively use artillery over land because of the damage that could be done by the shrapnel that fell to the ground from exploding shells.

An unnamed solider was killed by shrapnel from a German bomb or an antiaircraft shell. The inquest into the death of an unnamed solider at Fort Pitt Hospital concluded that his death was due to inflammation of the brain following shrapnel wounds received during the Medway air-raid. The inquest heard he was struck in the head by a piece of shrapnel which may have come from a German bomb or antiaircraft shells that were falling all over the place. Verdict – died from injuries caused by a raid of enemy aircraft.[205]

There was military interest in using anthrax as a weapon in WW1 – but there is no evidence that it was used against troops although the Germans may have used it to contaminate animal feed.[206] It is speculated that during the war shaving brushes may have been made out of the hair of horses that had died of anthrax as opposed to usual badger hair.[207]

A death from anthrax has been attributed to shaving brushes. Following the death of a Sapper at Rochester it has been found that a consignment of shaving brushes issued at Chatham were infected with anthrax. Since the outbreak of war the deaths of 18 soldiers at home and 28 in France, have been attributed to infected shaving brushes.[208]

School / Education News

The Maths School’s held an athletics meeting on the Esplanade. The 33rd annual athletics meeting of Rochester Maths school was held on the school’s playing field on the Esplanade.[209]

Billets needed for school boys who are willing to help with the harvest. The Bishop of Rochester solicited  the sympathy and help of the clergy of his diocese on behalf of the public-school boys and others who will be coming to their parishes for harvest work. He hoped the clergy would be able to help find suitable billets and by a little kindness help mitigate the strangeness and loneliness of this form of social national service.[210]

Schools advised on the action to be taken in the event of an air-raid. The Rochester Education Committee decided that the following actions should be taken in the event of a day time air raid. 1). Scholars to remain in school until normal conditions are resumed. 2). Gas and electric light should immediately be shut off and candles to be made available. 3). Teachers and children should be kept as far away as possible from windows.[211]

Court Cases

The following report contains a suggestion that the traditional class structure was breaking down but it also curtailed a Common Law right with respect to trial by jury that went back to the Magna Carta. The Grand Jury was comprised of freeholders over the age of 21. Its role was to hear accusations of crimes and decide whether there was a case to answer. If there was, The Crown was required to place the matter before a Petit Jury that would reach a verdict based on the evidence presented to them during a trial.

The use of Grand Juries are to end. At the Rochester Quarter Sessions the Recorder told the Petty Jury that now Grand Juries had been dispense with, [because of the pressure of war], he would ensure that the burden would not now fall on one class.[212]

Herbert Hales’ potato price prosecution failed on a technicality. Hales, the wholesale and retail greengrocer from Chatham, was summoned for selling potatoes to George Bird, fish restaurant proprietor at Rochester above the permitted price. However, the Court accepted that Mr. Bird was not going to retail the potatoes so Mr. Herbert was acting as a retailer and not a wholesaler and therefore the transaction did not come under the order as a retailer was free to sell potatoes at a price of their choosing.[213]

 

Women’s Experiences

It would appear that there was a separate Tribunal for dealing with employment issues related to munition works – probably for all employments of national importance as people could not leave without their employer’s approval.

Daisy Ruffles lost her appeal against unfair dismissal for insubordination. Ruffles from Rochester took her case for dismissal without notice to the Kent Munitions Tribunal sitting at Faversham. She was employed in a sawmill but refused to work on a jigsaw as it was dangerous and she couldn’t do it. The foreman claimed she refused to follow his instructions and as she gave no reason he had no choice but to dismiss her. Daisy accepted that she gave no explanation for her insubordination at the time or before she left, so the Chairman said he had no choice but to dismiss her appeal.[214]

A Baby Week is to be held in the Towns between July 1 and 7, as part of the national campaign. It is only of late that the subject of infant mortality has become of concern to public bodies – perhaps because the registration of births that was introduced in 1907 became compulsory in 1915.[215]

In addition to promoting the welfare of children the following report gives an indication of how the post-war role of women was beginning to be defined. Indeed, the role of women in having children moved from being ‘incidental’ to the ‘essential’.

Mrs. Packman is the mother of Lieut. Tom Packman whose sacrifice was reported in ‘Roll of Honour’ in September 1916.

Rochester is failing its mothers says Mrs. E. S. Packman of Grove House, Rochester. Mrs. Packman wrote to the editor saying how much Rochester Mothers envied Chatham in having Dr. Holroyde as their medical officer, and how they hoped they may also soon have a Maternity Centre founded on the same high ideals. She saw three main reasons for needing to save babies across all classes 1). We have so many vacancies to fill as a consequence of the slaughter of war, 2). Our mighty empire needs to be kept populated and reduce the need for the emigration of women as home makers, 3). Reduce the unnecessary suffering of innocent children. [216] [Lot more detail was contained in the letter.]

Church & Cathedral

The Whitsunday Service is held on the eighth Sunday after Easter to mark the Christian festival of Pentecost.

A vast congregation filled the Cathedral for the Whitsunday Service. The service was ordinary in character but was attended by the band of the Middlesex regiment that played a selection of tunes before and after the service. In his sermon Dean Storrs spoke of the hideous anxiety of war. The loses of money and of property and still deeper the grief for those who have gone – the light of the home, the pride of life, the son, the husband, and the painful struggle between light and darkness in our hearts and lives. The service concluded with the singing of the National Anthem. [217]

Dean participates in a Nonconformist meeting. A Dean of Rochester has taken part in a Nonconformist meeting in Rochester.[218] The occasion being the commemoration of the anniversary nearly 30 years ago of the Rev. George Miller as pastor of the local Baptist Church.[219]

Rochester & Chatham Sunday School Union contains of 17 schools, nine in the country and eight in a town, 191 teachers and 2,265 scholars.[220]

Life Goes On

Marriage between Charles Alfred Crossland & Winifred Trice Reaks. A pretty wedding that attracted a good deal of interest was solemnised at St. Peters Church. The bride Miss Trice Reaks, only child of Mr. & Mrs. Reaks, Victoria Street, married Mr. Crossland elder son of the late Mr. F. Crossland and Mrs. Crossland of Maidstone Road. The bride was becomingly gowned in ivory crepe de chine embroidered and trimmed with silver lace, wore a tulle veil with orange blossom and carried a bouquet of lilies and roses. Reception was held at the home of the bride’s parents, the couple honeymooned in Eastbourne.[221]

Baby week adverts. H&F Towner, 326, High Street, Rochester, the Baby Linen Shop on the Banks, offered dainty underwear and dainty outside wear. Armitage, 3 East Row, stocked Phat-Pheet baby shoes that safeguard the growth of young feet.[222]

Domestic services vacancies for women at St. Bartholomew’s. There are a number of positions vacant at St. Bartholomew’s for women. A Doctor’s Maid, strong girls aged between 15-17, to work in the servants’ mess as well as in the kitchen and wards, and a house parlour maid.[223]

The following position may be difficult to fill as the skills to drive such a vehicle are likely to reside amongst younger men who probably would have been called up, or who were working in an industy from which they are unlikely to get ‘release’.

City Council requires a steam tractor driver. Pay is 35s / week + a war bonus of 7s 6d.[224]

The Battle of Messines was the first stage in the British plan that culminated in the Battle of Passchendaele that commenced on 31st July 1917.

Battle of Messines started on the anniversary of the Dutch Raid. Lloyd George is reported to have heard the blast of gunfire which opened the Battle of Messines just as 250 years previous Charles II at Whitehall heard the guns of the Dutch ships that under the command of Admiral de Ruyter reached Gravesend on the Thames and Rochester on the Medway.[225]

July 1917

Military and War Reports

In July 1917 the Food Controller fixed the prices of essential foods of which the supply could be controlled. This work was decentralised to local food control committees who were responsible for enforcing the Food Controller’s Orders and registering the retailers of various foodstuffs.

Moat House, Castle Hill, Rochester, is the new Recruitment HQ. Following the merging of the recruitment subareas of Gravesend and Rochester the new HQ, with effect from 9 July will be at Moat House, Castle Hill, Rochester.[226]

Tribunals

Hylton Stewart was allowed two months to train up a lady deputy organist. Hylton Stewart (31) was the Cathedral Organist and a lady organist has been appointed. [227]

Joseph Frostick, Rochester’s only sweep, had his call-up deferred for three months. Frostick (33) who is married, claimed to be the only chimney sweep in Rochester had his call up deferred for three months. He claimed to remove between 800 and 900 bushels of soot / year. [228] [A bushel is a dry measure equal to 8 gallons.]

Frederick Dunk who had previously been classified unfit, is called up. Dunk (36) an outdoor manager with Featherstones, who was previously declared unfit, appealed against his call-up but was only allowed a deferment of three months. [229]

Ernest Roberts’ request for a five-month deferment was rejected. Roberts claimed he needed to care for his sick wife.[230]

No substitutes found for the Council’s Sanitary Inspector and Rate Clerk. It was reported to the Town Council that none of the applicants to substitute for the Sanitary Inspector and Rate Clerk – both of whom are likely to be called up – were in any way qualified for the positions.[231]

Reports from the Front

Thomas Barber spent most of his career at Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa before the First World War, during which he served in the Footballers’ Battalion. Barber was forced to retire due to ill-health in 1925 and died soon after aged just 36.[232] Clearly Barber can no longer be fit for the army but is fit enough to be sent to the mines. Is it possible he had mining experience?

Tom Barber advises Aston Villa his football days may be over. Writing from Strood, Private Barber advised the secretary of Aston Villa that he fears that despite what is reported in the papers his football days are over. He wrote as he expected to be discharged from the army shortly and to be sent to work in the coal mines. He said he didn’t know how he will stand it but he will do his best.[233]

Geo. Benny and Fred A. Black – old boys of St. Peters – are awarded the Military Medal. Heroes from St. Peter’s School.  Geo. Benny and Fred A. Black were both awarded the Military Medal.[234]

Roll of Honour

Pte. Harry Vigus killed in action in France. Vigus was the son of Mr. R. Vigas, 8 Garden Row, Rochester.[235]

Shortly before midnight on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, the Vanguard suffered a series of magazine explosions. She sank almost immediately with the loss of 843 of the 845 men aboard. It is now a protected war grave.

HMS Vanguard blew up – six men with a known Rochester connection lost. Only 97 survived the explosion – most of whom were not on board at the time. The tragically long list of fatalities – majority of the crew belonging to the Chatham Port – include the following men with a Rochester connection – Lance Cpl. Robert Woodrow (21) Royal Marine Light Infantry, was the second of Mrs. Woodrow, 12 Morden Street, Rochester, was lost in the sinking of the Vanguard. Her eldest son, Albert, is a sapper with the Royal Engineers in France.  Painter 1s Class, John Taylor (32) leaves a widow and 4 children who reside at 32 Cross Street, Strood. His wife is the daughter of Mr. H. Clayton of 3 Star Hill. She lost her eldest brother a private in the Royal Marines was killed in France, February last. Able Seaman George Chapman (20), 64 John Street. Chief Stoker, John Ernest Coe of 33 Cecil Ave, Strood, leaves a widow and family. AB. Alan Deacon Weaire (20) of Bryant Road, Strood. AB Thomas McGowan (30) leaves a widow and child living in Rochester.[236] Two old scholars from St. Peter’s School were lost in the Vanguard explosion – Robert Woodrow and William Bennett. Woodrow will be missed by the pupils as he frequently visited the school to give an account of his work in the Navy.[237] [See ‘Roll of Honour’ – November 1916, and November 1918 to see the losses of Mrs. Weaire snr., of Bryant Road, Strood.]

Lance Cpl. R. Woodrow of Morden Street – lost in the Vanguard explosion. Woodrow was the second son of Mrs. Woodrow of 12 Morden Street. He entered the service as a boy ad was attached to the Vanguard when it was commissioned 31/2 years ago. He was wounded at Horn’s Reef, and took part also in Heligoland and Jutland battles. He was 21. Mrs. Woodrow’s eldest son, Albert Woodrow, is a sapper in the Royal Engineers in France.[238]

Frederick Youens VC, and Captain Andrews died in action. Two masters of St. Peter’s School have been killed within a month of each other. Lieutenant Youens (see photo) was in a dugout having a wound dressed, but when his company was attacked he rushed out and rallied a Lewis gun team. Twice he picked up bombs and threw them away; the last exploded near him. His brave action saved the lives of those around, but ended his own. Andrews fell at Messines.[239] It was later reported that Frederick Youens had been awarded the VC for his action.[240]

Health & Hospitals

Kent is the second largest VAD County. Speaking at the VAD fete at Rochester Lord Chiston, County Director, said the county had not been idle. They were the second largest VAD county running over 70 hospitals providing between 1,000 and 1,400 beds – all organised and maintained by voluntary effort.[241]

Red Cross Depot & Hospital Munitions Centre based in Rochester Technical Institute. £400 was raised by the fete at Rochester Castle Gardens for the Voluntary Workers’ Association, and a successful Red Cross Flag Day raised £160 for the Red Cross Depot and Hospital Munitions Centre based in the Technical Institute at Rochester. An exhibition of items made for the wounded were displayed in three business establishments in the town. 11,979 flannels and woollen garments and 4,532 splints besides other special equipment have been supplied from this depot to local hospitals. All items were made by 100 willing helpers, mostly ladies of the three towns that meet on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and on Thursday and Saturday afternoons. There were between 300 and 350 flag sellers that included cadets and scouts from the Rochester Technical Institute, and the Hoo and Halling Scouts, who worked their respective areas. 30,000 paper and 3,000 silk flags were made – and all were sold. [242]

American woman funds the outings for the convalescing men in the Strood VAD. Every Friday since the early days of the war, convalescing men in the Strood VAD have been taken for a ride in the country. These drives are paid for by a woman from America.[243]

Home News

The Rochester Conservative’s club returns to Star Hill. Since the Recruiting Authorities gave up possession of the club’s premises, the necessary alterations have been carried out and the whole has been decorated and cleaned from top to bottom.[244]

The Dean highlights a benefit of the war – necessity has proven that people can pick up and utilise new skills. The Mayor’s warning against people going into the street to watch an air-raid may well have been thinking of the bombing of Tontine Street, Folkestone, on 25 May 1917. A ‘litter’ in the following context is a framework of cloth stretched between two parallel bars, for the transportation of a sick or wounded person.

War has brought about many changes. One of the local creations in connection with the war is the City of Rochester Ambulance Division of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade. The members together with the Strood and Rochester Nursing Division were inspected by Dr. Cotton, Deputy Commissioner, on the lawn of the Strood VAD. The Dean who addressed the assembled stated that the war was doing wonderful things for us. Previously it was thought a man was so specialised that he could only do one thing but the war has shown how adaptable we can be in learning new things. Women were now working on trams, milking cows and working in offices, whilst men who had never handled a weapon are now charging the Germans. At the meeting, the Mayor received a donation of litters which he hoped would never need to be used but he knew from elsewhere that no matter how many warnings are given people will crowd into the streets in the event of an air raid – but a bomb landing on a street will result in 30 to 40 casualties.[245]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Medway Milk Company fined £20 for selling milk with 4.9% of added water. Rochester Magistrates were aware that this was the firms second offence.[246]

Conference arranged to look at safeguarding the purity of milk. A conference of local authorities, milk producers and distributors in Rochester and Chatham districts led to a request that the milk suppliers cooperate in an endeavour to find means for safeguarding the purity of the milk supply and to improve on the existing methods of distribution.[247]

Regulations on the use of the river were modified to help address the food shortage.

Access to the river is increased to enable fishing. Permission has been granted to allow certain non-motorised pleasure craft to use clearly specified areas on the river – east of Rochester Bridge – on the understanding that all persons using the pleasure craft do their utmost to increase the food supply by catching fish. Amateurs wishing to catch fish as food outside of the designated areas can apply for a permit.[248]

The Government established an equipment loan scheme to help farmers increase their productivity. Such a scheme was necessary as many farmers would not have had the necessary capital to invest in modern equipment. What is not clear is whether the farmers will all have access to horses strong enough to pull the equipment.

Crop praying machines are available for hire. Horse-drawn spraying machines of the latest pattern made by Messrs Weeks of Maidstone, and loaned by the Government, can be hired at a charge of 1s / acre on application to, amongst other places, W. Crawford, Abbots Court, Hoo.[249]

Civic Business

Proposal made to merge towns into one Parliamentary district.[250]

Community Support

Successful fundraising concert held in the grounds of Strood Vicarage for the Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Institute.[251]

A fete in the Castle grounds was attended by thousands. The weather was glorious and £400 was raised for the Rochester Association of War Workers. Events included a bowls competition.[252]

A Gymkhana was held at the Girl’s Grammar School Rochester to raise funds for the Minesweepers’ Fund. In spite of the fact that no tea was served owing to the Food Regulations, a sum of £20 17s was raised.[253]

Home Tragedies

No Rochester reports discovered.

School / Education News

Further air-raid advice was provided for schools. The Education Committee advised that in the event of an air raid warning being given before school time or doing the lunch hour, only the headmaster should proceed to their schools to give attention to children who might arrive.[254]

War Pensions committee agrees to support the Crafts School in Rochester. The War Pensions committee has responded to the proposal made in October 1916 to establish a Crafts School in Rochester. The committee has offered to meet out of pocket expenses, not exceeding 7s 6d a week, for each man. This was considered sufficient to put plans into operation.[255]

Court Cases

The following offences probably related to the defendants not keeping a record of the aliens staying in their establishments.

Thomas Shepherd & Emily Fooks fined for not complying with the Alien’s Restriction Order. Shepherd, proprietor of the eating house in Station Road, Strood, and Fooks of the City Restaurant beer house in Rochester, were each fined 5s for failing to keep records as required by the Alien’s Restriction Order. Both calmed ignorance of the Order.[256]

To ensure that ‘eating-out’ was not used to circumvent food regulations the Public Meals Order 1917 required establishments to collect food vouchers and keep records of the meals served. The order also specified days on which types of meals could be served, restricted midday meals to two courses and evening meals to three courses, and prohibited the making of expensive sweets and pastries.

George Ledson of the King’s Head fined for failing to keep a register of meals supplied and food used. Ledsonlicensee of the King’s head hotel was fined 5s for failing to keep a register of meals supplied and food use. He explained that his daughter who kept the books was at Folkestone at the time of the air raid, and had not yet recovered from the shock.[257]

Women’s Experiences

For 50 years infant mortality in Rochester has not gone down. As part of the National Baby Week a number of meetings and conferences were held in Rochester. Locations included the Guildhall, open meetings on the Esplanade, and an exhibition of mothercraft in the Castle Hall. The initial conference was held in the Guildhall under the presidency of the Mayoress of Rochester, Miss. Jackson. In the opening address she noted that the future wealth of the nation was being wasted by infant mortality. Mrs. Packman [see Women’s Experiences, June 1917] addressed a later meeting saying that she had worked for 15 years in the area to improve child care. For 50 years she noted that infant mortality in Rochester had not gone down. She put the cause down to women not fully accepting their responsibilities for it was only womanhood who could save the nation. She however was highly critical of the Corporation who she felt were insufficient to deal with the matter. The event concluded with a resolution being adopted that called for the immediate provision of a Maternity Centre in Rochester. [258]

350 babies were entered into the local Baby Competition organised for Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham. E. Gorf of Arcada, Hempstead, was judged the champion. No Rochester baby won a prize.[259]

Cathedral appoints women to the posts of organist and verger.[260]

Church & Cathedral

Dean condemns greed and profiteers – no matter their rank of life. The Dean of Rochester in his sermon in the Cathedral condemned profiteers – no matter their rank of life. The profiteer he said was not always a capitalist – the workman earning 5s / hour who asked for an extra half-crown was also in his way profiteering.[261]

Evensong at Rochester Cathedral is being sung by boys – with a boy at the organ, as all the men are at the war.[262] The Rochester Tribunal granted three months exemption to Mr. C. Hylton Steward, organist, to allow time to find and train a deputy. The Cathedral has already lost four lay clerks and one deputy, and of late the music has at some services been entirely in the control of the choristers, one of whom is a very promising organist.[263] (This had previously been reported in the local press.]

Miss Melvin from Scarborough appointed as Cathedral Organist. As there is every likelihood that Mr. C. Hylton Stewart, organist of the Cathedral will be required to join up, the Chapter have appointed a lady, Miss Melvin, from Scarborough, to take his place while he is away.[264]

Life Goes On

The following account is recorded here as it shows that compassion was being lost – even for the more vulnerable/innocent. The age of the boys was not given but one has to assume they were the ‘orphans’ of an English woman.

The Strood Guardians unwilling to paying for two little German boys in the Union. The mother of the two boys had died in the infirmary and their father had been repatriated to Germany. Mr. L. Dale, a Guardian, was of the opinion that this was of national importance “we don’t want these little rascally Germans here; they are a confounded nuisance.” It was decided to raise the issue with Ernest Lamb, MP.[265]

In 1874, Henry Morton Stanley, an explorer arrived in Africa with three Englishmen. Two were the brothers Francis and Edward Pocock. Both died in the course of the expedition. The brothers, from Upnor, were skilled boatmen. There is a plaque to their memory in Upnor Church.

A number of important gifts were made to the Rochester Museum. Amongst them was a war axe and club sent by H. M. Stanley in 1882 to Mr. [Harry] Pocock of Strood, whose son lost his life in the Second Stanley Expedition. [Copyright of the image is owned by Medway Council[266]] The Committee also entered into negotiations with Mr. B. G. Wade for the purchase of a valuable collection of 26 Dutch pictures of the River Medway and neighbourhood, and other subject connected with the Dutch wars on the 17th century.[267]

August 1917

Germans have been forced back on the Western Front having sustained losses of 168,000. Morale is low amongst the German forces.

Military and War Reports

No more information was published on this ‘gas attack’. The fact it was reported in a local paper suggests that it was in Kent but the Government was also running a propaganda campaign.

Gas bombs dropped on an unspecified town in Kent.[268]

Concerns raised about the wretched pay of soldiers and sailors by the Bishops of York and Rochester. It was felt the time was right for an increase as the men had made great sacrifices and there was a great disparity in the pay of civilian workmen and the Colonial. It was estimated that increasing the pay of a solider to 3s / day would cost £125,000,000 – a sum that would run the war for a month or five weeks. It was agreed to establish a committee of members from both Houses of Parliament to consider the best means of securing an immediate and substantial increase in the pay of soldiers and sailors.[269]

Tribunals

Edward Richard Chambers – the military’s appeal was allowed. The military representative objected to the three months exemption given to Chambers (32) a general services foreman in a laundry wash-house. The appeal was allowed but he hasn’t to report for 42 days.[270]

The military could take steps to ensure those unfit for overseas duties undertook work of national importance.

R. Darren given three months to find work of national importance. Darren (32) of the Monarch public house, who had been categorised C3 [fit for Sedentary Service at Home Camps] was given, at the request of the military representative, three months to find work of national importance. Should this not be achieved the matter is to be re-listed for the Tribunal.[271]

The tribunal looked at the comparative benefits that there would be for the military and the civilian population when considering an appeal. The following report suggests the chairman of the tribunal was not impressed with a skilled man being used as an officer’s assistant.

Bernard – the Tribunal chair seeks assurance the dental mechanic’s skills will be used. S. W. B. Bernard (23) a dental mechanic from Rochester, whose enlistment had been reserved pending the finding of a substitute, was reconsidered by the Tribunal. When the chairman sought reassurance that Bernard would be deployed in a role of dental technician the military representative said this could not be guaranteed and occasionally they get put into square holes. The chairman said he asked the question because another young technician had committed suicide when he was employed as an officer’s assistant. The case was adjourned for further two months to find a substitution.

G. Machin, a dentist, had his deferment reduced from three to two months. Machin (33) a C2 [service in garrison towns] dentist with 2,760 patients was represented by a barrister. [272] The three months deferment was reduced to two by the West Kent Appeal Tribunal with no further right of automatic appeal.[273]

Reports from the Front

No Rochester reports discovered.

Roll of Honour

A memorial window for the late Lieut. A. Dooner is to be placed in the Lady Chapel. Colonel and Mrs. W. T. Dooner of Ditton Place, near Maidstone, have placed the window the memory of their son.[274]

Health & Hospitals

Rochester finally accepts something could be done to improve the experience of travelling on overcrowded trams – see ‘Health & Hospitals’, February 1917.

Rochester Town Council agree to improve the ventilation on trams. The Rochester Town Council found the proposal to install louver windows at the front and rear of the tram – that could not be closed by the public – would increase airflow and help address the problems caused by overcrowding on the trams.[275]

Extra VD treatment centres are to be opened. Special arrangements are needing to be made for the treatment of venereal disease. Twenty-two hospitals have been designated to receive cases of VD along with hospitals in Gravesend, Rochester and Tunbridge Wells.[276]

Doan’s pills contained Magnesium salicylate which would have acted as a pain killer.

Advertisement feature – Doan’s pills relieve rheumatic pains says Rochester man. Mr. E. W. Scott of 33 John Street, was quoted in an advisement feature, that the pills relieved him of the pain that had crippled him for four months.[277]

The shortage of beer reported below is unlikely to have to troubled the Medway Towns’ United Temperance Committee. However the objective of achieving total abstinence within the Forces seems extremely ambitious if not unlikely.

A United Temperance demonstration was held on the Rochester Recreation Ground. [Jackson’s Field] under the auspices of the Medway Towns United Temperance Committee which was formed about four months ago. Its principle aim was to promote personal abstinence and general sobriety. Amongst other objectives, including education, was to promote the case for total abstinence within his Majesty’s Forces.[278]

The following report suggests that planning had started in anticipation of the war ending. House building virtually ended with the declaration of war. The housing that was available for the working classes was in short supply and of a poor standard. Due to the limited maintenance that would have been undertaken during the war – due to a lack of materials, labour and cost – it was probably in a far worse condition than it was before the war.

Estimate required of the number of working class houses that are needed. Strood Rural Council decided they could not estimate the number of houses that would be required for the working classes after the war. Much depended on the labour conditions and what the Government decided to do about the munition works in the district.[279]

Scattered or isolated homes were introduced in the 1890s. Union Guardians would acquire or perhaps build houses to provide group homes for children in their care. A 1902 report in Hansard states there were seven such home in Strood but none associated with the Medway Union.[280] In 1913, Strood was operating scattered homes for children at 49-51 Goddington Road and at 32 Bryant Road, Strood. By 1924 the Goddington Road home had closed and the Bryant Road home then accommodated 40 boys, girls and infants over three.[281]

Strood Guardians agree to purchase Lorne Villa, Bryant Road, Strood for £1,000but completion is to wait until after the war. The house is one of Strood’s Scattered Homes.[282] This house may well be 32 Bryant Road referred to above – but would not have been in the ownership of the Strood Union in 1913.

Food, Queues & Deceptions

The fact that foreign wheat was traded suggests that cargo ships were getting through the U-boat blockage. Was the lack of English grain indicative of a harvesting problem?

Still no English corn offered at the Rochester Corn Market – although foreign wheat was traded.[283]

It is unknown what the new variety of beer referred to in the following piece, was.

The beer shortage continues in Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham. Much dissatisfaction continues regarding the limited supply of beer. The arrival of the new variety has apparently made little difference with many of the licensed houses being closed for half the week.[284]

Civic Business

Campaign to save the name of Rochester as Parliamentary boundaries are reviewed.[285]

Rochester Town Council have decided to insure members of the Fire Brigade against aircraft risks at a premium of 10s per man.[286]

Street watering was probably used to subdue dust and scavenging involved keeping the gullies clear. The following report also indicates how prices had inflated since the start of the war.

Tender accepted for street watering and scavenging. Rochester Town Council accepted tenders for the hire of a horse and man for street watering and scavenging at 14s / day, and for a pair of horses with driver at 25s. Before the war the charge for horse with man was 8s / day.[287]

The opening of a central abattoir should, based on the hopes of the Mayor expressed in March 1916, release a number of slaughtermen to the military.

A new abattoir has been opened for Rochester. A new and up to date abattoir built by a firm of butchers and contractors was opened by the Mayor. It is large enough to cope with the current rate of killing in the area. The hope now is that the local butchers will use it.[288]

The shortage of materials will mean it will be difficult to undertake the necessary repairs to the highway – referHome News’, January 1916.

Roads are in an extremely poor condition due to damage caused by heavy lorries. There is concern about the damage being caused by the heavy lorries belonging to Messrs. Curtis & Harvey, to the road leading from Strood to Rochester. The surveyor remarked that in all his experience he had never seen a road so pulled to pieces in such a short time.[289]

Rochester & Chatham Police have rounded up unlicensed dogs. Five persons have been fined at Chatham, and seven at Rochester including a tax inspector, for not renewing their dog licenses.[290]

Community Support

Despite regulations being put in place to control charity collections their numbers continued to increase. The following collection was down on the previous years. Was this because there was a finite amount of money available for ‘giving’ or was ‘compassion fatigue’ setting in?

Yet another flag day in Rochester. £88 was collected which was down on a similar collection last year for Kent Prisoners of War. The decrease could be accounted for by the continued increase in flag days.[291]

River trip for men of Strood VAD. The wounded soldiers had an enjoyable river trip through the kindness of the Medway Conservancy Board.[292]

A bowling event was organised by the Conservative Bowling Club for wounded soldiers. About 40 wounded soldiers from the Strood VAD were entertained by members of the Strood Conservative Bowling Club on their green. The games were followed by tea and prizes were presented by the Hospital Commandant, Miss Bigge.[293]

Home Tragedies

Runaway stream tractor in Corporation Street seriously injures the driver’s mate.  Owing to the front pin jumping out, a steam tractor belonging to Messrs. Style & Winch, Maidstone, while turning the corner from Gas House Lane into Corporation Street, the tractor became unmanageable and collided with and damaged the wall at Brooker’s Forge. It also smashed the kerbing and ‘scored’ the path. Henry Wenham, the driver’s mate, living at 4 Skinner’s Cottages, Loose, was so badly injured that he was conveyed to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and detained. Charles Fawcett, the driver, of 38 Wyatt Street, Maidstone, escaped with a severe shaking.[294]

School / Education News

A number of cases were before the magistrates for non-school attendance or irregular attendance. Fines were issued and in one case a threat of imprisonment if a case was to return. Scurvy is caused by a deficiency of Victim C – symptoms appearing after about three months. What bread-scurvy was has not been discovered – unless it was used as a generic term for a shortage or deficiency.

Bread-scurvy was the alleged cause for absence from school. Bread Scurvy was the explanation given by William Elvin of Princess Street, Delce, for why his daughter Violet Elvin (12) was absent from school for 17 days. The fact that she had had many more days’ absent her father was fined 5s.[295]

Having a part-time Attendance Officer was viewed as very unsatisfactory. The Attendance subcommittee discussed increasing the pay of the Attendance Officer from £140 to £150. The proposal met resistance as the Attendance Officer was only part time and it was felt that part-time officials were very unsatisfactory as one never knows when they were on or off duty. It was finally agreed that the salary would be £150 with a £10 war bonus on condition the Attendance Officer was regarded as a full-time.[296]

Court Cases

Samuel Hemmersley avoided arrest for using obscene language by joining the Army. Hemmersley failed to answer the charge of using obscene language. It was reported to the Court that he had joined the army. If this proves not to be the case the Magistrates at Rochester ordered that he should be arrested.[297]

Until 2008 legislation dating back to 1266 required bakers in England to sell bread at a specified weight – 400g or multiples thereof. A European directive issued in 2008 allowed bakers to bake loaves of a size of their choosing.[298]

Edith Lyons and Edgar Honey pleaded guilty to selling of bread under 1lb in weight. Lyons of Medway House, Frindsbury, pleaded guilty before Chatham County Police Court for selling a cart load of loaves of bread under 1lb or of an even number of pounds. Edgar Honey, her father, of the same address pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting her. As there had been no previous complaints Honey was fined £1 and Lyons 5s.[299]

Women’s Experiences

Women’s Cooperative Guild claim there is an immediate need for a maternity centre. The Health Committee of the Rochester council received from the Women’s Cooperative Guild a resolution from the Baby Week that asserted the immediate need for a maternity centre in Rochester. The Committee agreed to receive a deputation of no more than three on 5 September.[300]

Baby Week is to become a regular event. A meeting of the local Baby Week committee agreed to hold onto surplus funds as the Baby Week is to become a regular event. Resolutions were passed pressing the Government to establish a Ministry of Health and the creation of Maternity Centres in Rochester and Gillingham.[301]

Church & Cathedral

‘Declaration Day’ anniversary services and meetings were held in the Towns with a special service of intercession and thanksgiving being held at the Cathedral to mark the anniversary of the declaration of war.[302]

Miss Melvin appointed as Cathedral Organist for when Mr. Hylton is called up. Miss Melvin formerly organist at St. Martins’ Church Scarborough as organist for the Cathedral. Miss Melvin will take up her duties when Mr. C. Hylton is called up for military service.[303]

Life Goes On

The Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act 1907 removed the prohibition to the marriage of a widower to his dead wife’s sister but it allowed individual clergy, if they chose, to refuse to conduct marriages which would previously have been prohibited.

Marriage between Eric Lowe & Miss Gertrude Wigley was unexpectedly delayed. A painful incident occurred at the expected wedding between widower Eric Lowe and Miss Gertrude Wigley at Strood Parish Church. After waiting sometime at the alter the vicar called the groom into the vestry and enquired whether his bride-to-be was his deceased wife’s sister. When he confirmed this to be the case the vicar announced he could not marry them. The groom advised the vicar that the law had been changed but the vicar remained firm to his decision as the Prayer Book had not been updated. The couple were married a few days later by special licence.[304]

Valuable gifts presented to the Rochester Museum and Library. The gifts included Walton’s great Polyglot Bible 1657, the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, [printed] 1563, and a unique parchment scroll of the Book of Esther in Hebrew.[305]

A fast swimming Reverend starts the race then beats the competitors. At Rochester police sports event, the Rev. H. M. Johnson, acted as the starter of the swimming races. After dispatching the competitors he plunged into the river and beat the winner of the eight mile race by four minutes.[306]

September 1917

Military and War Reports

Chatham Dockyard bombed – more than 100 killed. The following statement from the Field Marshal Commanding the Home Forces timed at 11.45pm, was issued early Tuesday morning: “Enemy aeroplanes crossed the south-east coast at about 11pm and dropped bombs in various places. No reports of casualties or damage has been received as of yet. A number of our machines went up in pursuit.” A further communiqué was issued in the afternoon. “Last night’s raid conducted by six enemy aeroplanes, proceeded up the south bank of the Thames Estuary as far as Chatham. Bombs were dropped on the Isle of Thanet and in the Sheerness-Chatham area between 10:40 and 11:30pm. There were no Army casualties, civilian casualties reported are – 1 killed and 6 injured. Our machines went up and anti-aircraft guns came into action, but without result.” The Admiralty issued a message: “In the course of the air raid last night the following casualties were caused to naval ratings: – killed 107, wounded 86.

The report continued and graphically detailed the anguish of women waiting outside of the docks, for information on loved ones.

For hours and hours, the wide space outside the depot gates thronged with anxious-eyed young wives, many with babies in perambulators seeking news about their husbands. They were most kindly met by the specially augmented staff – not an inquiry was spurned or neglected, and the women were comforted while inquiries were being made for their men. At tea time a long line of men streamed out; now and again a young woman would dash from her babe having spotted her boy in the press, and fling her arms about him with the cry “Thank God, you’re safe” and so the vigil went out until the light faded and the gates closed for the night. Some stayed on and now and again a warrant officer would beckon a young woman – pale but resolute she would go to him with almost motherly solicitude.”[307]

1,200 Kent men are being held as Prisoners of War. Mr. J, Spoor of Rede Court, who is the Honorary Secretary of the Kent Prisoners of War Fund, reported that it’s costing £3,550 / month to provide for the Kent men held as Prisoners of War.[308]

Tribunals

The military had a high level of success in getting exemptions from military service overturned.

William Brown’s exemption was overturned on appeal by the military. Brown (26) a baker’s van man had his exemption to allow time for a substitution to be found over-turned on a military appeal. Under cross examination his employer said that they had tried a girl and some lads to do the rounds but they lost goods. The military representative pointed out that no one can expect things to go smoothly now. 42 days allowed before call-up.[309]

The decision by the Mayor to allow a conditional exemption in the following case was an act of compassion and appears not to have been challenged by the military representative. There was a shell filling factory in Erith, constructed in 1915, next to a larger Thames Munition Works. These factories were managed by the National Trench Warfare Department. In December 1915 it was reported, above, that the Dean’s daughter and friends went to work in the Erith munitions factory for the regular women could have some time off. [See ‘Women’s Experiences’, December 1915.]

Mrs. Wigley appealed successfully to the Tribunal for her last son not to be conscripted. Mrs. Wigley, an elderly widow of Corporation Street, made a pathetic appeal to the Tribunal for her last son not to be conscripted. She had six sons, two had been killed and three others were abroad. The Mayor appreciated that her son was doing essential work on the roads and agreed to a conditional exemption subject to the man appling to the Trench Warfare Department in Erith.[310]

Bevan – exemption overturned on appeal by the military. The Military Representative appealed against the exemption granted to Bevan, (28) a married man from Rochester working as a master carman for Medway Steel but who had been assessed as being A1 for military service. The appeal succeeded but Bevan will not have to report for 28 days.[311] [A1 = Fit for dispatching overseas, as regards physical and mental health, and training. The term A1 subsequently entered the language as meaning ‘perfect’.]

Reports from the Front

Rescued by a good Belgian soul – then arrested for speaking English. Amongst 37 officers and 362 men – the first batch of exchanged wounded Prisoners of War – was a youngster [unnamed] from Rochester. He related the story that for three days the Germans left him, together with some other wounded soldiers in a trench. He was rescued by a good Belgian soul who sheltered him for 12 months. But one day he was invited to a garden party to which a German princess had been invited. When she spoke to him in English he replied in English and his cover was blown. He was arrested and sent to a Prisoner of War camp and his kind friend was fined 5,000 francs for her practical Christianity.[312]

Roll of Honour

Pte. George Griffin has been reported as killed in action Griffin was the son of Mr. & Mrs. Griffin of 66 Wickham Street.[313]

Health & Hospitals

Another death from anthrax. A death has occurred at the Royal Naval Hospital of a Gillingham man who had contracted anthrax. It is believed he had bought a cheap shaving brush in the Borough. Tests conducted on other brushes in stock at the shop were similarly found to be contaminated with a similar bacillus.[314]

City needs an ambulance says Spencer Sills, Commandant of the City of Rochester VAD. Kent 61 sought assistance in obtaining a light motor vehicle capable of carrying four stretchers. Not wishing to be alarmist the Commandant said that recent experience has shown this area is not immune from air raids and that air raids could result in widely distributed casualties. The detachment currently has 60 men but equipment is limited. It has four stretchers – two donated by the Corporation and two by the Mayor. Small weekly donations made by the men themselves enabled the purchase of four more stretchers, uniforms, surgical haversacks, water bottles and dressings. Messrs Featherstones of Chatham Intra, and Messrs Cob & Sons of Strood, have placed a motor vehicle at the detachments disposal. These can be quickly converted to carry stretchers and to take a Red Cross Hood. However, in the event of a day time raid it is likely these vehicles will be out on deliveries. Although the Fire Brigade provides an invaluable service during air raids should there be a major raid leading to extensive fires they will need to focus on fighting the fire. The detachment is recognised as being a serviceable unit by the War Office but it receives no funding and its work to date has been funded by its members. £200 needs to be raised to enable the purchase of a light vehicle but to date there has been practically no public support. Donations can be sent to Mr. W. Sawyer, 75 High Street Strood or to Mr. Nicholls Capital & Counties Bank Rochester.[315]

Electrical treatment massages are offered at very moderate terms on Rochester High Street. Miss Woodwardof 62 High Street, Rochester, offered special electrical treatment massages and Radiant Heat Baths – all at very moderate terms.[316]

Home News

The following report perhaps highlights the disparity that existed between the social classes in Rochester. The working classes would have undoubtedly been troubled by a further increase in the price of milk, whereas there were other people who could contemplate to have their furs remodelled.

Price of milk goes up, and furs can be remodelled. Dairymen gave notice that from 1 October the price of a quart of milk will be 7d, 8d delivered. Furs can be remodelled quickly and cheaply at Anne Parrys, 52 High Street, opposite the clock.[317]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Food shortages are becoming severe – with blame partly being apportioned to the Government’s attempts to secure a sustainable food supply.

Inmates of Strood Union refuse to eat maize. Inmates of the Strood Union refused to eat maize that had been bought for them at £31/ton. The medical officer refused to allow it to be served to children or old people as he did not agree with it. The Guardians agreed to take steps to dispose of the maize.[318]

Warning given of a meat famine that will come because of the Food Controllers pricings. W. Corbett-Barker of Rochester is warning of a meat famine as a consequence of the gradually decreasing price of cattle fixed by the Food Controller, saying there is no advantage in feeding a bullock if they will not fetch anymore at market as a consequence of the diminishing rate.[319]

The garden of Strood VAD is yielding a good supply of fruit and vegetables. The garden of Claremont House has been very satisfactorily planted and is yielding a good supply of fruit and vegetables. Coal for the winter has also been laid in – and paid for.[320]

Civic Business

There were two types of taxi-carriages in use at this time, the two-wheeled ‘hansom’, and the larger four-wheeled ‘growler’ which had the capability to carry luggage. The ‘growler’ was so named because of the sound it made when on the move.

Hackney Carriage fares to increase by 50% for the duration of the war – the justification being the increased cost of keeping horses.[321]

The Council is ordered to buy-in a stock of coal in anticipation of a winter emergency. The Board of Trade has ordered the council to lay in at once a large stock of coal as provision against an emergency which is expected this winter. The Council agreed to purchase 1,500 tons and to store it in the centre of the lean cattle market. [322]

Colonel Breton has promised to be the Mayor of Rochester again next year. This will make his fourth year in office.[323]

Community Support

Donations enabled the purchase of a Steriliser for Strood VAD. The management of Strood VAD expressed their heartiest appreciation for the Steriliser given by Messrs. John Gill and Sons and others. It will prove of great value in the operating theatre.[324]

Volunteers needed by the Rochester Red Cross Depot and Hospital Munitions Centre. The displays in the windows of Messrs. C. Leonard & Sons, and Messrs. Cobb, of the work produced by the Rochester Red Cross Depot, and Hospital Munitions Centre, has caused many to realise that they are capable of doing much for the comfort and relief of the soldiers and sailors in hospital among us. It is hoped many will enrol as voluntary workers at the Technical Institute, Rochester.[325]

Home Tragedies

Chatham dockyard – Drill-hall bombing. Four Gotha Bombers taking advantage of bright moonlight dropped two 50kg bombs on the drill hall where 900 naval ratings were sleeping in hammocks.[326] [More details included above – ‘Military and War Reports’.]

Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham had their first experience of an air raid. The raid occurred between 11pm and midnight last night [3rd September]. On previous occasions bombs had been dropped in the neighbouring rural areas. A bomb fell on some marsh land near the gasworks at Rochester. It frightened some cattle, but achieved nothing else. [327]

Most injuries in the dockyard bombing were caused by falling glass. On Monday night the air raid on the Chatham District killed 107 and injured 86. Unofficially it is stated that a number of the injured died in the night bringing the death toll to 130. The large number of injured was as a consequence of two bombs falling on a glass-topped building that was providing temporary accommodation for naval men. It is believed that the bright moonlight reflected off of the glass roof. It was the thick falling glass that caused most injuries.[328]

Burial of the victims of the Dockyard bombing. The Mayor of Rochester, along with those of neighbouring districts, attended one of the saddest and most impressive funerals ever witnessed in the South-Eastern District when the naval victims of the Gotha bombing raid were buried [in Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham]. In all 98 bodies were buried of whom six remained unidentified. The coffins were conveyed in 18 motor lorries in a funeral procession that was two miles in length. The private mourners of whom there were a considerable number, were conveyed in motor ambulances. Thousands lined the three-mile route that the procession followed, at one point women munition workers lined the road. The whole of the graves had been dug by bluejackets. One memorial carried the message “Rest in Peace, England will Avenge”. One pathetic incident occurred on the Military Road in Chatham. An elderly couple carrying a nosegay of garden flowers were inquiring in great distress the way to the cemetery. A military policeman put them on a tram and they managed to get to the cemetery just in time for the interment of their son who they had only heard that morning had been killed – and left immediately to get to his funeral. During the service aeroplanes and an airship hovered over the cemetery. It appears all those who were killed were killed by a single bomb.[329]

Probationary Flying Officer Combe, from Hoo, dies in flying accident. Comber (18) the only son of Dr. Thomas Sandby Combe, St. Werburgh Lodge, Hoo, was laid to rest with full naval honours at Chingford Mount Cemetery. He died when the plane he was flying nosedived into Chingford Reservoir nosediving into the water.[330]

Miss Louisa Lynch died through accidently drinking disinfectant on the night of the air raid. Louisa Lynch of 5 Boley Hill, drank a fatal draught on the night of the air raid, and suffered a most distressing death in St. Bartholomew’s. She had been away on war work and had only recently returned home. During the air raid she went upstairs in the dark and drank from a bottle of poisonous disinfectant. Whilst away it is believed the place where the medicines were kept was changed.[331] [In a private letter sent by a doctor who attended Louisa he said she had deliberately drank the disinfectant.]

A schoolboy named Linett drowned while bathing in the river at Rochester, Linett was 12 years of age.[332]

The following two inquest reports give a pointer as to the palatability of the food that was being eaten at this time, and perhaps the desperation for food that some experienced. Bread and flour were hard to find and the government encouraged people to eat less bread. To make the wheat flour go further wholemeal flour was blended with ground-up turnips – which apparently produced an unappetising, diarrhoea-inducing bread.

Alfred Fulcher who put his chest pains down to ‘war bread’ died of heart failure following exertion.  An inquest into the sudden death of Fulcher (64) was attributed to heart failure brought on by the exertion of pushing a wheelbarrow. He had previously complained of chest pains but put them down to the war bread.[333]

Arthur Philips died following the eating of a pappy cucumber. An inquest into the death of Philips (16), of 4 St. Peter’s-street, returned a verdict of ‘Death from Natural Causes’. It had been observed that he had had a very yellow pappy cucumber in his lunch basket that his friend Arthur Bartram advised him not to eat. The jury accepted the view that his led to the severe attack of sickness and diarrhoea and his death.[334]

School / Education News

Winter hours are to come in on the first Monday in November. The afternoon hours will be from 1:15 to 3:30 for boys and girls, and 1:15 to 3pm for infants. A Special subcommittee is to be set up to look at teacher’s pay.[335]

Court Cases

Medway Steel Company fined £1 for not extinguishing lights during an air raid. Rochester magistrates fined the Medway Steel Company for failing to comply with the condition of exemption granted under the Lights Order. They should have had a man at the telephone at night but he was not in attendance when a warning call was given on the occasion of the recent air raid. It was explained the man had gone for a ride on his bicycle and had a puncture which delayed his return.[336]

One way to ease the food shortage was to grow or gather wild fruit when it was available. However soft fruit needed to be quickly preserved if it was to be kept. The government therefore increased the sugar ration for those who undertook to only use it for home preserving. Although rationing was still to come in the mechanism were in place. The sugar registration scheme came in in August 1917. It required customers to register their requirements with a grocer who in turn registered the number of their customers with the Food Control Committee. This enabled foods to be more precisely distributed to shops.

Mrs. Charlotte Luckhurst fined 10s for using sugar for purposes other than home preserving. Luckhurst of Kent Cottages, Lower Hingham was prosecuted for using part of 27llbs of sugar allowed to her for home preserving for purposes other than preserving. According to the evidence the fruit the defender grew was a peck and a half of red currents. In her defence, she claimed to have signed the form without reading it. Kate Rogers and Emily Timbrell of Wainscott were similarly fined 10s – the maximum being £100.[337]

Meeting the cost of the war was a considerable challenge. In addition to selling bonds the government raised the duty on beer and in 1916 imposed an entertainments tax in the Finance (New Duties) Act. Although it could be argued beer and entertainment were not essential they were taxes that disproportionately hit the poor. When the entertainment duty was imposed its was 1/2d for tickets of 2d and under, and 1d for tickets between 2d and 6d.  The duty represented a significant percentage of the ticket price which created an incentive to charge the duty but not pass it on to the government.

Mrs. Elizabeth Manser fined £45 for failing to deface or issue cinema tickets. Manser, proprietress of the King’s Hall picture house, was fined for three offences for failing deface or issue tickets and therefore failing collect the duty required under the Finance (New Duties) Act, 1916. Used tickets should be given up and torn, but police found 2,000 to 3,000 tickets mostly untorn. Most tickets had the duty paid stamp but a number did not. The number of 4d tickets in use bore no relation to the 4d tickets sold. The Chief Constable visited the cinema and sat in the 2d seats where he found a large number of people who had paid but claimed they had not been issued with a ticket. The maximum fine was £50 for each case but the magistrates decided to issue a fine of £15 for each offence – or imprisonment for one month. Mrs. Manser paid the fine by cheque.[338]

Calling on the memory of Charles Dickens failed to prevent the licensee of the Leather Bottle, Cobham, from being prosecuted under the Public Meals Order. His fine was also considerably larger than that placed on George Ledson, reported above. [‘Court Cases’, July 1917.]

Anthony Smith fined for not keeping records of meals served. Smith, licensee of the famous Leather Bottle Inn, Cobham, was fined £5 by the Rochester County Police Court for failing to keep vouchers relating to meals served as prescribed by the Public Meals Order 1917. He appealed to the Bench not to tarnish his escutcheon by inflicting a fine unless it could be liquidated by the smallest coin of the realm. “Oh’” he exclaimed “that the immortal Dickens were yet in the flesh! How he would burlesque and troupe with his illimitable wit and humour this ridiculous and irritating charge!” [339]

It is perhaps worthy to note it was the van driver in the following case who was fined – not the baker who may well have required the deliveries to be undertaken.

 

Frederick Fancett was fined 5s for delivering bread that was less than 12 hours old. Fancett, van driver for Mr. C. Hubbard of Rochester, was fined for delivering bread that had only been out of the oven 10 hours as opposed to the required 12 hours.[340]

Women’s Experiences

For the first time in history a lady rate collector took proceedings at Rochester Police Court. Mrs. Fergusonwas recently appointed by the Corporation to act in place of her husband, who was on active service, and who would have previously taken proceedings against defaulters.[341]

Church & Cathedral

The Dean & Chapter have arranged for the crypt to be opened in the event of an air raid.[342]

Life Goes On

The following report makes reference to Canon Thorndike losing a son.

Marriage between Rev. E. Denby Gilbert & Miss Winifred Wagon. The marriage of Miss Winifred Wagon, daughter of Mr. S. Wagon (jun) of St. Ives, Strood, and Rev. E. Denby Gilbert from Leicester, took place at St. Nicholas Church, Rochester. The ceremony was conducted by the groom’s father. Canon Thorndike was to take part in the service but was prevent by the death of his son in a flying accident. The service was choral with the bride being met at the door by the choir and clergy. The bride wore a charming gown of soft ivory satin and a bodice of georgette tried with silver. The train was of antique lace over satin, with a ruching of chiffon, and on it was placed sprays of orange blossom. The bride also wore a veil of embroidered tulle and carried a sheath of Madonna lilies, a gift of the bridegroom. Her only ornament was an exquisite diamond cross with gold chain, the gift of the bridegroom’s mother. The reception was held at the Masonic Hall, Rochester. They honeymooned in North Wales and Anglesey.[343]

Tenders invited for the Corporation’s manure. Mr. W. Edmonds, of Rede Court, wrote to Rochester Council saying that he was giving up his land and could no longer take the Corporation’s manure – those wishing to purchase the manure should send their tenders to the City Surveyor.[344]

October 1917

Military and War Reports

The tone and subject of the reports appearing in the press seem to suggest that the end of the war was being anticipated – but progress at Ypres and Passchendaele hardly supports this optimism.

Campaign for total prohibition during the war and the period of demobilisation. Sir Ernest Lamb MP for Rochester, is one of a deputation of Wesleyan Methodists who are lobbying the Prime Minister for total prohibition during the war and the period of demobilisation.[345]

Alexander Shreider was court-martialled for taking photographs in Rochester. Shreider, said to be a Russian and a private in the Army Pay Corp, was charged with taking photographs of Rochester, Rochester Castle and Gillingham Gas Works without military authority. In bringing the prosecution it was stated that there is no suggestion that his motives were evil. This was the first case bought under the DoRA regulations and it was argued that it was a civil not a military matter. The matter was however heard by the Court Martial and although the finding was not announced the defendant was removed under military escort.[346]

Army challenges excessive rent charged by the Corporation for Strood Recreation Ground. The military authorities have given notice to the Rochester Corporation to terminate their tenancy of the Strood recreation ground as the rent is excessive. They state however they are retaining the land subject to the terms of a fresh agreement.[347]

Tribunals

The following report gives a glimpse of the types of housing problems the working class of Rochester faced. Housing was in very short supply and it would seem someone could be evicted for the ‘convenience’ of the landlord.

Joseph Totte granted a leaving certificate in order to move to a new employer. Totte, a Belgian employed in Rochester but living in Maidstone, applied to the Tribunal for a leaving certificate as he could not support him and his family on the wages he received and he could not find lodgings in Rochester. His employer stated that he had been offered a cottage adjoining the works for 5s 6d / week. Totte stated that this offer had been made since he lodged an appeal and that the move required an Englishman to be moved out for him to be moved in – this was something he could not accept. In these circumstances the Tribunal granted a leaving certificate.[348]

Charles Russell allowed a further two months exemption – no further appeal without leave. Russell (37) from Rochester, submitted to the Tribunal that he was doing work of national importance in supplying milk for the preservation of infantile life. Mr. Hillier writing in support of the appeal stated that two men sent by the labour exchange for substitution would not try the work as it involved heavy lifting. A further two months was allowed with no further appeal without leave.[349]

Strood hairdresser, who cuts the hair of soldiers for free, was granted exemption by the Strood Tribunal; he was said to have treated 2,500 patients at the Strood VAD Hospital gratis.[350]

Reports from the Front

No Rochester reports discovered.

Roll of Honour

Capt. W. Ralph Cobb (21) of Mockbeggar, Higham, died of wounds sustained in action. Cobb went to France in 1915 and was twice wounded. He was awarded the Military Cross about 12 months ago for conspicuous gallantry. His brother Sub. Lieut. T. H. Cobb was killed while serving on HMS Invincible at the Battle of Jutland last year.[351] [See ‘Roll of Honour’, June 1916.]

Health & Hospitals

Rochester Division of St. Johns Ambulance Brigade covers more than Rochester. The Division covers Rochester, Borstal and Strood and goes out as far away as Snodland and Cliffe and the villages of the Hundred of Hoo. Subscriptions no matter how small could be sent to the Commandant at the Guildhall, Rochester.[352]

A Tuberculous Dispensary is to be opened at 16 High Street, Rochester. The Dispensary requires a caretaker. The premises will be visited once or twice a month by physician, nurse and patients. The premises are to be kept clean by the caretaker in return for unfurnished quarters. Apply in writing to Dr. Francis Clark, 13 New Road. Rochester.[353]

A.P in the following report designates a role that was to become known as a physiotherapist. Trained masseuses were recruited to the principal military hospitals as part of the Almeric Paget Military Massage Service.[354] The Almeric Paget Massage Corps was started in August 1914 by Mr. and Mrs. Almeric Paget. The Pagets funded 50 fully trained masseuses to be sited in the principal Military Hospitals in the UK. The service was such a success that the staff numbers were quickly increased to over 100. The therapists, all of whom were women, wore a military style uniform – the belt was optional but the skirt had to be six inches from the ground.[355] Q.A.I.M.N.S.R. = Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.

Miss Maud Pote-Hunt, Matron at St. Bartholomew’s and mentioned in the following report, was a founder member of the “Nurses’ League of Rahere’s Hospital in London. She held the post of Matron at St. Bartholomew’s from 1910 until 1928. It was through her earlier years of reorganisation of the wards and system of nurse-training that sound preparation had been made for the “great emergency” – the war.[356]

Click on Maud Pate-Hunt above for more information

Recognition of Kent nurses who have rendered valuable services in connection with the war. The following were included in a list of ladies of the nursing services who were brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for the valuable services rendered in connection with the war – Miss M. Breeze and Miss G. Farquhar both Sisters at St. Bartholomew’s; Mrs. A. Marsh of Knights Place, Private Hospital; Miss E. Kerman, Staff Nurse, Q.A.I.M.N.S.R.; Miss W. Batt, A. P. Military Massage Corp at Fort Pitt.[357] The lists in other included – Miss M. Tyrie, staff nurse, Q.A.I.M.N.S.R., Fort Pitt[358]; Miss M. Pote-Hunt, Matron, St. Bartholomew’s; Miss M. Seaton, Sister, Q.A.I.M.N.S.R. at the Central Military Hospital, Fort Pitt.[359]

Strood VAD is full and has vacancies for nurses. Any lady desirous to volunteer will oblige by calling Claremont House.[360]

Home News

The reason for the following decision was not given but the lack of street lighting, reluctance of women to shop after dark, and the need to subdue lighting in shops could all have played their part.

Shops to close at 6pm during the winter months. Tradesmen of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham have decided to close during the winter months at 6pm on the first three evenings of the week. Maidstone have already adopted this practice and other towns are expected to follow.[361]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

George Walters fined £50 for two instances of selling milk adulterated with added water. Walters of Fairfield Farm, Chatham, was fined at Rochester County Police Court £50 for two instances of selling adulterated milk with added water – 52.4% and 28.8%. Walters who had three previous convictions was allowed a month to pay the fines. At the same Court two other dairymen were found guilty of selling milk with added water – but not to the same extent as Walters.[362]

Civic Business

Rochester residents are asking why an air raid siren has not been installed in their City. When the wind is contrary they cannot hear the sirens in the adjoining towns.[363]

City’s Veterinary Inspector instructed to purchase horses. Mr. E. Ebbets the City’s Veterinary Inspector has been instructed to attend horse markets and to purchase four cart horses and one van horse at no more than 85 guineas / horse.[364]

Tram route to be extended half way up Frindsbury Hill. Chatham Light Railway has agreed to run a tram half way up Frindsbury Hill – the Council was grateful for this as it will assist workers reaching Chattenden, Cliffe and Hoo.[365]

Community Support

Cadets from the Maths and Technical Schools, and Strood Scouts, undertake a collection for the Red Cross. ‘Our Day’ at Rochester held in aid of the Red Cross raised £92 11s, about £6 more than last year. The sellers were mainly cadet boys at the Mathematical School and Technical School, Mathematical Boy Scouts and the 1st Strood Troop of the Boy Scouts. They were out from early in the morning until late in the evening. The boxes mainly contained copper but one or two notes were given for flags.[366]

 Home Tragedies

James Hobbs, pedestrian, was killed in an accident on the Hoo Road near Four Elms Hill.  An alarming accident occurred on the Hoo Road near Four Elms Hill, resulting in the death of James Hobbs (60) a munitions worker of Bakers Street, Rochester. A considerable number of munitions workers were returning along the road from work at about 6pm, both on foot and on bicycles, when a motor van belonging to Messrs. Cobb and Sons, outfitters from Strood knocked down Hobbs and another man. Before the war Hobbs was employed as a bricklayer for Messrs. West Bros.[367]

School / Education News

The widow in the following story may have been the wife of John Taylor who was listed as killed in the Vanguard explosion (see ‘Roll of Honour’, July 1917). It stated that he lived at 32 Cross Street and left a widow and four children. If Emily was his widow – could her changed circumstances have required her to move? Either way the reports gives an indication of the hardship that could be experienced by young war widows.

Emily Taylor could not afford boots to send her boys to school. Taylor of 13 Cross Street was summoned for not sending her sons to school. In court, she explained that she had lost her husband on the HMS Vanguard, had had no money for three weeks and has a delicate baby. The problem was that she could not afford boots for the boys, John Taylor (12) and Alex Tylor (9), to attend school. She had previously been fined five months ago and the magistrates fined her again – 5s for each offence.[368]

The following report did state the Maths School. Whether this was an error or ‘shorthand’ for the girl’s grammar school, is undetermined.

Scholarship renewed for a well-to-do girl to attend Rochester Mathematical School.  The Kent Education decided to renew the fees paid for a “well-to-do” girl to attend the Rochester Mathematical School despite her father being a commissioned officer in India, with a solicitor business being run in his absence, and her mother being a paid clerk in a VAD.[369] [The report did say the Maths school but I wonder if this was an error and should have been the Girls Grammar School.]

Court Cases

Criminals should not to be given the choice of Army or prison – it should be prison. The Recorder of Rochester’s Quarter Sessions declared he would not be party to sending criminals to the Army as he had strong objections to the respectable people of Kent having to mix up with people in the Army who ought to be in prison.[370]

Alice Godden & Lena Huggins – fined for allowing the escape of the light from a candle. Gooden a parlour-maid and Huggins a cook, living at the Nursing Quarters, 16 New Road, Rochester, were fined 7s 6d each by Rochester magistrates for failing to prevent the escape of light from a candle. In defence, they said the blind didn’t fit the window – and a new one had been fitted – but they accepted that they had been warned previously.[371]

The following account of an assignation probably helped fuel the concerns about the declining morality of women. However, the Court brought some proportionality to the case by only levying a modest fine.

Mrs. Gertrude Barford gave a false name when booking into the Gordon Hotel. Barford of West-grove, Walton-on-Thames was summoned for giving a false name when booking into the Gordon Hotel. Arnold MacLeod, holding a commission in the Middlesex Regiment was summoned for aiding and abetting. Both defendants attended Court with their solicitor Mr. F. A. Stigant – as did the husband of the lady. The crime was discovered by a private detective who mentioned the matter to the Chief Constable and he thought it was his duty to take proceedings. Evidence was taken that included the husband stating he had started divorce proceedings. The magistrates stated they had no alternative but to convict but in fining each £1 showed that they did not consider this a serious case under the DoRA. Lieut. MacLeod paid both fines and the lady and he left the Court.[372]

The Court also seems to have taken a common-sense stance in the following case.

Emma Collier summoned for selling lard that was not lard despite saying it was not lard! Collier of 38 Rochester Avenue, was summoned for selling – to the Chief Constable – lard that was not lard – analysis found that it contained 40% cotton seed oil. The Chief Constable stated that he would not have realised this had the defendant not told him. The Court also pointed out to the Chief Constable that he should have been aware that it was extremely difficult to obtain lard. However, he said he asked for lard and was sold the substitute. The Court accepted the defendant had made an error and said she would have to pay 15s 6d – the Bench though pointed out that the fine was only 1s as the rest was Court charges.[373]

Women’s Experiences

See ‘Military News’, March 1917 – tractors have arrived.

There’s a need to train more women to drive tractors. A conference organised by West Kent Women’s War Agricultural Committee and held at the Guildhall, heard there was a need to train more women to drive tractors in order to take advantage of a consignment of light tractors that is expected shortly. It is believed that it will be possible to attract a number of women to take up this well-paid role. Women were also being trained in threshing and thatching. Although it may not be particularly attractive for women more need to be trained in rabbiting.[374]

Church & Cathedral

Two memorials were unveiled in the Lady Chapel. Lieut & Adjutant Alfred Edwin Claud Toke Dooner, Royal Welsh Fusilliers, son of Col. and Mrs. W. T. Dooner, formally closely associated with the public life of Rochester; Lieut. Charles Gordon Jelf, the Buffs, youngest son of the later Canon Jelf. The memorial is placed under that of Cannon Jelf that served the Cathedral for 27 years.[375]

Life Goes On

The late Thomas Hellyar Foord left an estate of the gross value of £343,565. Foord, of Southampton, bequeathed £10,000 to St. Bartholomew’s hospital and money for the building and endowing of alms houses for the poor and infirm persons of Rochester that are to be named Foord Alms Houses.[376]

The wife of Lieut. W. Pitcairn Kemp, R.N.V.R, (nee Margaret Metcalfe) had a son. Pitcairn Kemp lives at the Cottage [66] Borstal Road.[377]

November 1917

On 3 November 1917 the War Office informed General Haig that they would not be able to replace the expected losses of men. The current shortfall of 70,000 – 80,000 would be closer to 256,000 by 31 October 1918. Privately, Haig and his GHQ staff believed the gap might be as high as 460,000.[378] On 20 November the British Third Army opens the Battle of Cambria on the Western Front. 476 tanks were used en masse spearheaded the main attack.

Military and War Reports

In October 1917 – see ‘Military Reports’, October 1917, – the army stated they were going to continue using Strood recreation ground but at a rent they would determine. Based on the following report it was quite a bit less!

The military is planning to plough up and cultivate half of Strood recreation ground. Huts would be placed on the other half. The rent was to be reduced from £20/month to £32 10s / year. Rochester Council were of the opinion that it would be pointless to appeal.[379]

The case for temperance has moved from being based on a moralistic argument to one based on the need to avoid wasting precious food items.

Rochester’s MP continues to press for Temperance. Sir Ernest Lamb addressed a meeting of the ‘Band of Hope Movement’ at the Guildhall. He felt the cause for temperance needed to be pressed with more vigour. He made connections with the serious threat posed by food shortages. With 5/7th of the grain used being imported the threat posed by the submarines was as great as ever and food shortages will continue – and it’s not helpful so much grain and sugar gets wastefully directed to the brewing industry. He called upon the Temperance Movement to lead by example and economise in every way possible and to try harder because there was waste elsewhere. If the movement is to progress they need to give up old prejudices and adapt to modern needs.[380]

The Battles of Ypres (Passchendaele) commenced on 31 July 1917 and ended 10 November 1917.

Cathedral bells rang-out in a victory celebration. The distant boom of Flanders guns were heard at Ramsgate yesterday as the bells rang a victory peal. At Liverpool, Exeter, Peterborough, Chelmsford and Rochester the chimes – many of which have been silent for years – sent forth a joyous chorus across the country as we celebrated a victory at Flanders.[381]

Tribunals

The following appeal was probably successful because of the need to support farmers – and because of health problems. However previous tribunals had prioritised getting mechanics in the army.

Appeal of G. Ladd, an agricultural fitter with Messrs. Robin Day was allowed. Amongst a number of appeals – all allowed – was that of G. W. A. Ladd, C3, foreman mechanic, turner and fitter to Messrs. Robins & Day motor engineers who was engaged in the repair of agricultural equipment.[382]

Reports from the Front

Pte. J. T. Masters & Pte. W. J. Theobald have been awarded the Military Medal for bravery. The two Rochester men –Masters of the Rifle Brigade, and Theobald of the Sussex Regiment – were included in a list of NCOs who had received the honour.[383]

Roll of Honour

The awful weather during Passchendaele is well known – as is the fact that many boys lied about their age in order to enlist. It appears that Albert Howes – perhaps like many others – had no leave for years.

Albert Howes was killed instantly by a shell. Mr. & Mrs. A. E. Howes of Granville Road, Strood, received a letter from Private Baker advising them that their son, Albert had been killed in action. His chum wrote that he had just returned from a hard battle, fought in awful weather, and was with his section employed on fatigues behind the lines, when a shell came over and killed him instantaneously. Albert enlisted aged 17 in September 1914 – having like many others added a couple of years to his age. His first and only leave was for 10 days in September when he returned home.[384]

Health & Hospitals

When a wounded soldier was admitted to hospital he was issued with a special hospital uniform comprised of a blue single-breasted jacket with a white lining – worn open at the neck, blue trousers, a white shirt and a red tie. The suit had no pockets allegedly because the soldier did not need to carry anything as everything was provided. To complete the outfit he wore his own khaki service cap with its regimental badge.” The suit was also known as the ‘blue invalid uniform’, ‘hospital suit’ or ‘hospital blues’ generally it did not fit well as it was ‘one size for all’.

The uniforms of wounded soldiers have been redesigned. It has been announced that improvements have been made to the cut and style of hospital uniforms for the troops – no one will be disposed to question the desirability of such a step.[385]

Not enough boys are being born. Rochester’s Medical Officer of Health reported on the birth rate in the district for 1916. In total, there were 710 births (346 boys, 369 girls.) He hoped that the ladies would not perpetuate the fault of more girls than boys being born and emulate a recent group of 20 births of which 19 were boys; 15 of the mothers were the wives of officers and they all had sons which was fit and proper. The two Corporation babies were boys. The medical officer also reported that the health of the City had been extraordinarily good. The Infectious Hospital was almost empty and there had only been one death from spotted fever.[386]

Home News

A wife and children remain in the workhouse as husband can’t afford to rent a house. A man earning more than £2 / week told the Rochester Police Court that his wife and children were in the workhouse because he could not find a house that he could afford to rent.[387]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

A moralistic argument was made not to allow the inmates of the Medway Union beer at Christmas.

Medway Guardians considered whether inmates should have coffee or beer at Christmas. The Medway Guardians considered a recommendation that the Master should be instructed to accept any gifts of beer for the inmates Christmas; this was challenged by Mr. Clements because of the destructive nature of drink. He pointed out that he’s previously observed that drink is not required for health and happiness, and many of the children in the Cottage Homes were there because of their parent’s drinking. Despite these reservations the Master was instructed to accept gifts of beer. It was also agreed that the fare to be offered to the inmates at Christmas will be five ounces of beef or mutton, with potatoes and parsnip, and half-a-pound of plum pudding. As fruit might be in short supply it was agreed that figs and dates could be substituted. One pint of coffee was to be made available in lieu of minerals or beer if no beer was gifted to the Union. However, beer became available when Messrs Budden and Biggs offered to supply sufficient beer for all inmates. The decision to allow beer drew condemnation in a letter to the editor of the paper expressing disbelief that the Medway Guardians agreed to allow beer to be given to inmates at Christmas as in many cases it was drink that was their undoing.[388]

Civic Business

The Mayor, in his acceptance speech, justified Rochester not installing an air-raid siren, refered to people taking refuge in caves and dens, and highlighted the consequences of the war being lost.

Col. Breton gave a comprehensive view of the war and the state of Rochester’s wellbeing. The most troubling aspect of the year he thought was the air raids. As there was total absence between 4 June 1915 and 24 Sept. 1917, he believed the inhabitants of Rochester had been lulled into a false sense of security that heightened the effect of subsequent violations. During this period there had been 22 alarms that came to nothing beyond bringing the police and fire brigade out. When daylight raids were on in June this year there were six alarms in 11 days. It was fortunate he said that there was no system of public warning in force as the work of the City was not interrupted. The Mayor said the inhabitants should be grateful for their immunity from bombing in the City limits. He aid believed the “bomb-bird” only managed to secure an apple tree and one sheep. Two bad shots at the gasworks and one at the power station complete the list. It is also subject for congratulations that the City as a whole had taken the raids and gun fire with such composure. Some have sought refuge in dens and caves the earth. The Mayor acknowledged the special anxiety of women with babies but he was less impressed by the conduct of some of the men. There were stories of a Gillingham man walking to the Frindsbury cave, and a man who works at Chattenden who removes himself to the Cathedral crypt. There were also stories of a man taking rooms in Rochester on the nights of a full moon so he can avail himself of the crypt. The Mayor was not impressed by this as the proper place for young men is with their family – he doubted if young men on the front line would be impressed by men who did otherwise. Although the Mayor wished to see a firm conclusion to the war he said England needed to win as to lose would mean slavery and labour – doing disagreeable work in the workshops and mines of Central Europe.[389]

The following report on the Parliamentary debate on the reorganising the constituencies of Medway, made particular reference to the fact the debate was sensible! Rochester was described as “a city of great antiquity, though rather in decay”.

Medway’s constituencies may be renamed in the Representation of People Bill. The proposal was to create the “Medway Boroughs” which would be assigned two seats “The Chatham Division and Rochester Division.” An amendment was proposed that there should be two constituencies “The Rochester Division” and the “Gillingham Division”. The populations at this time based on the census, consisted – 31,000 for Rochester & Strood, Chatham 45,000 and Gillingham 52,000. “No doubt Rochester is a city of great antiquity, though rather in decay and has the smallest population.” Although no one was keen that a place as celebrated as Rochester should disappear the same could be said for Chatham with its own history and a larger population. After debate an amendment was withdrawn and it was agreed the constituency was to be known as “The Parliamentary Borough of Rochester, containing the divisions of Chatham and Gillingham.” [390]

The following report highlights the differential application of the War Bonus to single men, married men and married men with children.

An increase in the War Bonus paid to the police was agreed. The Rochester Watch Committee increased the war bonus of the Chief Constable from 10s to £1; and in the case of the other ranks – married men from 6s to 12s / week, with 1s per child under 14. The bonus for single men is to be increased from 4s to 8s / week.[391]

Community Support

See “Women’s Experiences”, November 1917.

Home Tragedies

Stack fires have occurred in Strood for three successive nights this week – the cause being unknown. Shortly before 6pm an oat stack at the White House Farm, Higham, in the occupation of Mr. H. Batchelor, was discovered in flames. The fire engines from Cliffe and Rochester attended but due to the lack of water steps could only be taken to protect the three other wheat stacks by covering them with wet cloth.  Fireman accidentally dragged from his bike on the way to a stack fire. On Tuesday the Rochester Brigade was called to another stack fire at Cobham. On the way to the fire Fireman F. Gadd of Borstal met with an unfortunate accident. He was cycling along Borstal Road when he was caught by a man’s coat which blew open, and was thrown violently from his machine into the roadway. Had it not been for his helmet he would probably have been killed. He was taken to the Fire Station where first aid was rendered and afterward removed to his home.[392]

The following report may not be about a local occurrence but appeared in a local paper. It highlights the dangers of an air raid could come from the dropped bombs as well as from falling artillery shells fired at aircraft.

 

Shell came through the roof and killed a man as he lay in bed. A Kentish Coroner held an inquest into the death of William John Tapsell (34) a labourer. The widow stated that while they were in bed there an awful crash from the ceiling. There was a lot of dust in the room and the witness could not see. She found her husband was injured and he said he could not move. He was removed to hospital. There was a hole in the ceiling and also through the bed and spring mattress. Medical evidence showed that death was due to fracture in the spine and rupture of the aorta. In evidence the police officer said an unexploded shell was found embedded in about three feet of earth below the living room floor. The jury recorded the deceased met his death as the result of being struck by a shell in the course of an air-raid.[393]

School / Education News

The Mayor is critical of the German and English education systems. The Mayor comparing the education system of Germany and England said we are now in a position to compare the two systems when tested under the stress of circumstances. With regards to the German system “we see it is incompetent to produce nobility of character, or even ordinary morality. On the other hand, it was capable of producing a patient, plodding habit of disciplined industry that produces valuable results through attention to detail, and a war machine of marvellous perfection.” English culture, the Mayor said, was “the education of the individual but our system was open to criticism. Much of the so-called education in our elementary schools was not education at all but lesson learning and a good deal of cram.”[394]

Court Cases

James Milburn was charged with being an alien in a prohibited area. Milburn (49) a deck hand of NFA, was charged with being an alien as he entered Rochester, a prohibited area, without permission of the Registration Office, and not having in his possession an identity book as required. His defence of ignorance of the law was accepted and he was discharged with a caution. [395]

There were innumerable regulations put in place during the war. Not only could the Food Controller issue regulations so could the Board of Trade from January 1917. Hundreds of orders were issued and small traders could be prosecuted for failing to comply with any of them. On 11 September 1917, the Tobacco and Matches Control Board issued the Match Control Order. What was behind the Order that Dalton and Bristol, in the following report, contravened is not clear. It is possible that because some prices were regulated retailers could have been tempted to make a customer to buy ‘extras’ in order to get the essential item they required.[396]

Mary Dalton & Ethel Bristol fined for placing conditions on the sale of matches. Dalton and Bristol of 296 High Street, Rochester, were fined 5s each – including costs – for placing conditions on the sale of matches – an offence against the Match Order. The Detective Sgt. stated that they refused to sell him matches unless he also purchased a packet of cigarettes. Their defence of ignorance of the regulations did not save them from a fine.[397]

Women’s Experiences

The association of Friendless Girls was established by the Church of England in 1833. Its aim was to prevent girls and women from “falling into prostitution” because of their social or family circumstances.

Fundraiser held for the “Munitions Girls’ Club” and “Care of Friendless Girls”. A bazaar and cafe chantant was held at the Guildhall Rochester in aid of the Munitions Girls’ Club and Care of Friendless Girls. It was organised by Mrs. Storrs and a committee of ladies, and was a conspicuous success, the hall being filled all afternoon. The Mayor in his address spoke of the worthy causes being supported. The Munitions Girls’ Club was of great importance especially when it was considered that many of the young girls that come to work at munitions live in lodgings and had no place to go except such institutions as the club they had met to support today. As to the ‘Care of Friendless Girls’ there is no need for him to emphasise the importance of such work.[398]

Church & Cathedral

The bells could have been rung prematurely. The start of the Battle of Cambrai had certainly started well but by 30 November the Germans launched counterattacks to regain the ground they lost on the opening day of the tank-led offensive. General Byng decided to withdraw and by 3 December the lines were roughly where they were before the offensive started.[399]

The bells of Rochester Cathedral join the Victory Peal. The bells of St. Paul’s along with those of other cathedrals including Rochester’s that had been silent for many years, were rung on 23 November in celebration of a victory on the Western Front, led by Acting General Byng.[400]

The week of prayer cancelled as moonlight air-raids made evening services dangerous. The Week of Prayer and Preaching that was to be held in a munitions area in Kent has been abandoned. Following consultation with parishes it was agreed that the area chosen was in a danger area and the new tactic of the Germans has made moonlight more dangerous than dark nights, and moonlight was essential for people to get to the evening meetings.[401]

Could the following ‘advice’ have been issued because of the ‘misuse’ of the facility that was first made available in September? See ‘Church & Cathedral’, September 1917, and subsequent observations made by the Mayor in ‘Civic Business’ above.

Cathedral crypt will only open during an air raid when a ‘take-cover’ warning has been given. The Dean and Chapter of Rochester wish it generally to be known that the crypt of the Cathedral will be open on the occasion of an air raids only when the warning to take cover has been given, and to such persons who happen to be in the immediate neighbourhood of the Cathedral at the time of such warning. The crypt is a place of comparative safety only, and it is undesirable that large numbers should congregate there, or in one place in an air raid, or that people leave their homes and walk long distances to take shelter there. By doing so they expose themselves to greater danger than by staying home. The crypt will not be opened at any time after ten o’clock. John Stores, Dean.[402]

Proposed changes to divorce laws destroys the meaning of marriage. The Chapter of the Cobham Rural Deanery met in the Cathedral library to consider the provisions proposed for divorce under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1917. While maintaining the indissolubility of marriage, it believed the proposed measures removed all restrictions hitherto governing the granting of divorces, but by making the conditions so lax, offer a direct incentive to vice, and destroys all meaning in the marriage bond.[403]

Life Goes On

Although a new morality was developing throughout the war small local communities, perhaps, would not have been impressed by an affair involving the wife of a man serving his country.

Public condemnation of ‘marital-mischief’ in Allhallows. All is not well in Allhallows as heard in evidence to the Rochester Police Court. A ditty penned by John Parsons, a farm labourer / poet, was being widely sung in the village and caused offence to Arthur Kirk, a private in the Royal Defence Corp. Kirk felt it was about him and caused him to assault Parsons and to be committed for trial. The song went as follows and suggests ‘marital-mischief’ was occurring whilst a man was away at war: [404]

                                    Come into the kitchen, Arthur;

                                                Come into the kitchen do!

                                    You shall sit in the easy chair,

                                                And I will sit by the side of you.

                                    My husband, he’s a solider,

                                                And is gone to fight for me;

                                    While he’s away you are willing to stay

                                                And fill up his place with me.

December 1917

Military and War Reports

There is an impending sense that the war may be coming to an end. The Bishop of Rochester again warned of the risk of rushing to reach an unsustainable peace; thoughts are being given to creating post war employment for demobilised soldiers and at a meeting held in Gravesend of Licensed Victuallers’ and Beer Sellers, Mr. E. Garnerfrom Rochester, stressed the importance of license holders getting organised to prepare for the fight that was bound to come after the war.[405]

As previously reported someone could not leave work of national importance with the permission of their employer. This requirement was clearly used to ‘under-pay’ skilled people as they were not able to obtain a better paid position with another employer.

Churchill abolishes leaving certificates. Churchill explained that the abolition of the leaving certificates required higher wages (12.5%) to be paid to munition workers to prevent skilled workers leaving for better paid jobs.[406]

The following two reports may relate to the same tragedy – Kellaway and Calloway are very similar names. Both reports also state this was the first time a civilian was given a military funeral.

The first military funeral accorded to a civilian to take place in Rochester. The first military funeral to be accorded by the government to a victim of an air-raid is expected to take place in Rochester. Miss Edith Kellawaywho was killed in the recent air raid “in a certain part of the metropolitan area” will be the first to be recognised in this public way as “one who has fallen in battle like a solider”. No gun carriage will be used but a party of soldiers is expected to fire over the grave, and the Union Jack will be placed over the coffin as in the case of a solider.[407]

Military funeral for Mrs. Edith Ester Howie and her niece, Edith Elizabeth Calloway (13) who died in the London air raid on 7 December ([408]), are to be the first civilians killed in an air-raid, to be accorded a military funeral by the Government, when they are interned in the family grave, at St. Margaret’s cemetery. No gun carriage will be used but a party of soldiers is expected to fire over the grave, and the Union Jack will be placed over the coffin as in the case of a solider. … the funeral … the coffins, each covered with a Union Jack, were borne on a Red Cross ambulance and London Motor Ambulance men acted as bearers, and other war organisations were represented in the procession, the scene was very impressive.[409] Calloway belonged to Rochester but Howie had, with her husband, been living away for some years. Miss Calloway had been staying with her.[410]

Prisoner of War parcels should not include objects that could be used as a weapon.  Families sending parcels to a PoW should not include objects that could be used for the destruction of life or property as this could undermine the arrangements that have been jointly agreed with the Germans.[411]

Tribunals

Mr. Daniel W. Tuffill exempted for two months to allow time to make business arrangements. Tuffill, C1, wine & spirit merchant from Rochester, entered an appeal but said conscientiously he like to join up. The Mayor acknowledged that Tuffill was proposing to seek a commission. Tuffill however requested more time to make arrangements for the business to continue or in a condition where he could pick it up after the war. The business was over 100 years old and had been managed through four generations. The Tribunal gave two months exemption.[412]

 

Reports from the Front

The following report makes reference to the mud of Passchendaele.

Fred, Henry and Robert Fancett’s war – all three attended St. Margaret’s School for Boys. Mr. & Mrs. F. Fancett of 53, Rochester Avenue, Rochester, have reason to be proud of the record of their three sons all of whom attended St. Margaret’s School for Boys. The eldest, Fred Fancett, who was a postman, joined in 1915 and rose to the rank of Company Sergeant Major. Lieut. Henry Fancett, the second son, has had a distinguished career. He had been an assistant to Mr. Cobb, outfitter in Rochester, and emigrated to South Africa nine months before the war. In 1914 he responded to the call from his Mother Country and enlisted with the Essex Regiment as it passed through Cape Town. In July 1916, he was injured in the chest at the Somme. After a month in hospital in Edmonton he went through Cadet School. He is currently on home service. He was awarded the Military Medal for Conspicuous Bravery. “Whilst in an isolated position a fellow in Fancett’s section was severely injured by an exploding bullet, his neck being practically shattered. Fancett at once crawled across open ground exposed to enemy fire, and reported it to headquarters, then returning, and then with the help of another man, dragged the man over the same ground to the dressing station. All the work occupied six hours and the ground which had to be covered was only 200 yards – that will give some idea of the difficulty there was in dragging the stretcher through three feet of slimy mud. Mr. & Mrs. Fancett’s youngest son, Robert Fancett was a private in the Grenadier Guards. He was wounded in the Battle of Loos in September 1915, and succumbed to wounds sustained in this battle in September 1916, aged 23.[413]

Lieutenant F. T. L. Baker is alive in hospital and not dead. Mr. E. L Baker, Rochester’s magistrates clerk, has received the gratifying official news that his son is not dead but is in hospital.[414]

Roll of Honour

Lieut. Eric Williams Woodhams has died of his wounds. Woodhams (26), the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. William Woodhams of Wingham Lodge, St. Margaret’s Street, died of his wounds. He leaves a widow.[415]

Portraits unveiled of the late Capt. Horace Andrews and 2nd Lieut. F. Youens. A ceremony took place at St. Peter’s School, Rochester, when the Mayor unveiled portraits of the late Capt. Andrews and Sec. Lieut. Youens, both of whom were former masters at the school. The Mayor referred to the splendid type of men both were, and also gave an outline of the good and efficient work both had done whilst connected with the school. They were amongst the first to join up from St. Peter’s. The boys then stood at attention and saluted whilst the Mayor unveiled the portraits.[416]

Bomdr. Arthur Bristow was killed at his gun whilst on active service. Mr. & Mrs. W. Bristow, 181 Maidstone Road, Rochester, have heard that their son Arthur (26) had been killed at his gun. He went out with the First Expeditionary Force and was involved in all the big battles of the earlier part of the war, and appeared to be living a charmed life for he had escaped till this month without a scratch. He entered the army as a driver and until recently frequently refused promotion as he preferred to remain with the horses that he much loved. His commanding officer said that had he lived promotions would have come quickly and one old chum, writing on behalf of other chums, said they all greatly valued his friendship. His father was the treasurer for the Rochester Baptist Church.[417]

Health & Hospitals

The work of the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Linen League was put on display. The 7th annual meeting of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Linen League was held in the Boardroom of the hospital. Over 800 items were on display and there had been 10 new subscribers. They had a substantial balance in the bank and a special grant had been given to the Matron for linen and blankets.[418]

Thanks from Strood VAD to employees of Rochester Gas Works and Mrs. Russell E Palmer. In a message of gratitude from the management of Strood VAD special mention was made of the donations made by employees of Rochester Gas Works who have made a collection every week since 23rd October 1914, and to Mrs. Palmer of Rochester who with competent skill and cheerful willingness responds to the call for assistance when there is an emergency and an untrained nurse is not available.[419]

St. Bartholomew’s hospital is short of funds. The Secretary of St. Bartholomew’s wrote to the Sheerness Urban Council requesting a house-to-house collection be undertaken as funds were short and a collection was not undertaken in 1916.[420]

Heat and massage treatments offered on Rochester High Street. Miss Woodward, 62 High Street. Rochester, offering radiant heat and massage treatments for rheumatism, neuritis etc., and special electrical treatment for nerve complaints.[421]

Home News

Unspecified districts of Kent were bombed in two waves of air attacks The objective of the first was assumed to have been to exhaust anti-aircraft ammunition.[422]

The fact that Rochester set up a committee to deal with the consequences of an air raid suggests the raids were becoming more frequent or happening nearer to the City.

Rochester Town Council set up an air-raid relief committee. A committee comprised of the Mayor, three aldermen, the Chief Constable and Mr. Spencer Sill (Commandant, Ambulance Corp) was appointed as a committee for the relief of persons suffering in consequence of enemy air-raid. A suggestion was made that a dug-out should be constructed under the land on the east side of Dark Lane above Delce Farm but this could not be entertained as it was on private land. In Chatham an approach was made to the military to construct dug-outs for the public but the request was declined as they had no labour to undertake the task.[423] [Dark Lane became St. William’s Way.]

Despite the costs and shortages patients and inmates of institutions were still able to celebrate Christmas.

Guardians, officials and various friends ensured all had an enjoyable Christmas: The number of inmates at the Medway Workhouse on Christmas Day was 570, 50 less than the previous year – and nothing was lacking on the part of the Guardians, officials and various friends to ensure all had an enjoyable time. A service held in the church in the morning and at noon all the inmates who were well enough assembled in the large dining hall for dinner. The building had been very attractively decorated with evergreens, flags and artificial flowers. A substantial dinner of roast beef, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and plum pudding, together with ale or mineral water was partaken of and all agreed it was far better than would have been expected under the prevailing circumstances. Fruit, cake and a ounce of tobacco for each man was handed out. The wards of the infirmary were tastefully decorated by the Acting Matron, Sister Holland, and nurses, while Dr. A. Freer and the staff did all they could to make the patients happy and comfortable. In the evening, there was a concert and competition in which many of the inmates participated. The patients in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital had as good a time as their pain and suffering would allow. On Christmas morning at 5am carols were sung by members of the nursing staff carrying tapers. Presents were provided for all patients and stockings for children. The fare at dinner included turkey and Christmas pudding, Ald. Willis and Drs. Fairweather, Smith, Dartnell and Cotman assisted with the carving. The Dean and Mrs. Storrs visited the hospital in the afternoon. Mr. Luxon attended with his gramophone. There was also Christmas tree entertainment on Thursday for the children. On Friday, a celebration was held in the outpatient department. Travellers in the Six Poor Travellershad a supper of roast beef, baked potatoes and plum pudding. They also received presents from Miss O’Niell, foundress of the American Dickens Fellowship, and Miss Robinson and Miss Dredge from Hove, through Edwin Harris who went to the ‘Rest’ in the evening with a friend. The wounded men in the Strood VAD passed a very happy Christmas. On Christmas Day ten new patients came in – one testifying “out of hell – into paradise!”  The two wards, Darnley and Frindsbury were most tastefully and beautifully decorated by the nursing staff and the men looked exceedingly well. Two fine trees were donated by Lord Darnley and the Kent Electric Power Company fitted the electric current to the trees and provided a host of coloured lights – all free of charge. Each man had no less than two presents under the tree. The turkeys made a noble show rivalling that famous bird purchased by Scrooge. All the food and drink was donated by individuals or local businesses.[424]

Food, Queues & Deceptions

Queuing for food has become the ‘norm’ and was regarded as a scourge that had to be resolved. Queues were a tremendous waste of time as the time spent queuing was time spent away from work, running home and schooling. Being in a queue was no guarantee the shopping expedition would be successful. This would have been particularly problematic for people coming into the City from the rural areas. Queues also tied up police time.

A new system was introduced for the distribution of sugar. A notice placed in the press stating the system for distributing sugar had changed from one of a household card to one of individual registration. Each member of the household must register with a retailer and make a declaration they are living in the household. This is believed will be a fairer system.[425]

It appears that being in a ‘state of war’, for so long, had become normalised and perhaps there were sections of the local community who could not economise any more. The threat of severe food shortages was real but perhaps as the threat of food shortages had been voiced for so long, ‘words of doom’ had lost their authority? It is worthy to note that the Mayor acknowledged that the ‘pain’ had to be shared more widely.

Public meeting held at the Guildhall to urge food-economy. The first local public meeting in connection with Sir Arthur Yapp’s Food Economy was held in the Guildhall Rochester. The Mayor presided over the meeting which was mainly composed of ladies. The Mayor in his introduction said that we clearly had to eat less but the question whether we will do this by our own free will or have it forced upon us by the government. The situation was being made worse by the military commandeering ships that had been used to import food. In the discussion the view was expressed that we have become accustomed to war and that we need to rouse the people and get back some of the keenness and enthusiasm of the early days. A ‘wait & see’ policy carries the risk that action could be taken too late. The threat of famine was real – as experienced by those living in occupied countries. In winding up the Mayor pointed out that action needed to be taken by the wage-earners as those who were unable to work because of age or infirmity or living on fixed income had already by their circumstances economised.[426]

To reduce queuing, food supplies were redistributed between stores. In order to tackle the problem of queues the Food Inspector for Rochester acted on an Order by the Food Controller and seized part of the supplies of the Maypole [Dairy] Company [171 High Street] and sold to other shop-keepers in the City. The foods commandeered were paid for at one halfpenny per pound below the retail price. For some weeks past there had, on certain days of the week, been large queues outside of the shop in question. The local Food Control Committee hoped that by distributing supplies over the City this would prevent queues in the future. It would seem that this practice which is being adopted across the country, was originated by Mr. A. J. Philip the Executive Officer of the Gravesend Food Control Committee.[427]

Food economies introduced in the Strood Union. The Guardians of the Strood Union have, at the suggestion of the Local Government Board, and with the approval of the Medical Officer, decided to reduce the allowance of bread to inmates on certain days of the week, giving 4oz of potato in lieu of 2oz of bread, and to reduce the allowance of bread for breakfast and supper to one ounce. It was also decided to purchase two barrels of pickled Scotch herrings to be used in lieu of meat on certain days of the week. They also resolved to increase the price of bundles of wood supplied to shops from 4s 2d to 5s / 100 bundles, and from 4s 6d to 5s 6d / 100 to private consumers.[428]

The Corporation purchased 10 cases of 1lb tins of Nestlé’s milk for emergency use. The milk was held in reserve for use when local tradesmen are unable to serve customers.[429]

Civic Business

Road maintenance proved expensive and difficult due to lack of materials and equipment. A report to the County Council stated that there were only four petrol lorries instead of the 10 they had before the war. The seventeen steam tractors and most of the tractor wagons were all suffering from age and have to spend extensive periods undergoing repairs. Two of the 12 steamrollers have been sent to France for military use. In 1914/15 the net expenditure on the maintenance of the roads in Rochester, was £354.3 / mile, this reduced to £347.6 / mile in 1915/16 – despite increased costs.[430]

Nurse or maternity centre was the question before Rochester Town Council at their meeting on Wednesday. It was decided to appoint an additional fully qualified nurse as an initial measure.[431]

Community Support

Countess of Darnley acted as the auctioneer at Rochester to raise funds for the Red Cross. Buyers seem to have heeded the request of Mr. Chaz Lake, Chairman of the Committee to “exhaust their credit”. The sale yielded £2,600, £1,000 more than last year. Sprigs of lucky heather offered by Lady Darnley sold for between 5s and 10s and a one bottle of whisky sold for £8. In addition to the sale there were guessing competitions and draws. The sale lasted from the morning to dusk.[432]

Moralists were worried about having young women and children collecting money on the street. Some charity managers were also concerned that, in the excitement of it all, money might be given to unsuitable or downright crooked institutions.[433]

The Archdeacon of Rochester was concerned for young people selling flags. As a consequence of the Archdeacon drawing attention to the injurious effect on the character of young people in consequence of them being employed as collectors on Flag Days, the Rochester Town Council drafted regulations restricting the age and submitted them to the Home Secretary for confirmation.[434]

Home Tragedies

Miss Emily Poynter a munition worker of 32 Five Bells Lane died of burns caused at home. Her mother in evidence said Emily (17) returned from work seemly to be suffering from a cold. She went to bed but arose around 4am due to several disturbances and stayed downstairs until around 11:30. Her mother said she went into the garden leaving her daughter in front of the fire. After a few minutes she ran into the garden with her clothes alight. Mrs. Poynter and a neighbour smothered the flames. Emily was taken to St. Bartholomew’s but as her case was not regarded as serious she was not detained. Dr. Sexton attended the next day and diagnosed shock. The following day her breathing became worse and Dr. White attended who advised taking her to hospital. The inquest reached a verdict of ‘Misadventure’.[435]

School / Education News

A two week Christmas holiday was been approved for schools. The Schools subcommittee rescinded the rules pertaining to Christmas holidays and that in future the Christmas holiday will be for a full two weeks. This year schools will close of Friday 21 December and reopen on Monday 7 January 1918.[436]

Male teachers are to be paid more than female teachers. The Rochester Education Committee agreed that for the half-year ending 30 September a lump sum in augmentation of their salaries be paid to all head and assistant teachers. £10 to be paid to male teachers, and £7 10s in the case of female teachers. It was further agreed that from 1 October and until a new scale of salaries can be framed, an additional £20 / annum be paid to male teachers and £15 to all female teachers.[437]

Vacancies for Choristers. Choristers will be educated in the Choir School and will in addition receive £6 a year maintenance fee, with £5 annually deferred pay.[438]

Court Cases

Mr. Martin Lewry fined for two offences under the Food Control regulations. Lewry a grocer at 53 Bill Street, Frindsbury, was fined for two offences under the Food Control regulations. He was fined £1 for selling jam at 9.5d / pound when the price has been fixed at 9d, and £1 for including the weight of the paper when selling 2 oz of tea.[439]

May Fossy summoned for selling bread that was not 12 hours old. Fossy assistant to Messrs Jasper Son, bakers, was summoned at Rochester for selling bread that was not 12 hours old in contravention of the Bread Order. In defence, the bakers said they had introduced a special ingredient that helped to keep the bread warm and moist, but the Food Inspector and the Medical Officer were not convinced and were of the opinion the bread was not 12 hours old. A fine of £5 was imposed as the firm had previously been fined £2 for a similar offence.[440]

The fine for the following offence seems rather light bearing in mind that the crime was a deliberate act to provide short measures and overcharge many people who may have been facing financial difficulties.

The Medway Dairy Company used a dipping measure which had a hole in the bottom. The company was fined 40s [£2] at the Rochester Police Court for using a dipping measure which had a hole in the bottom. It was stated that in using the measure a gill was lost on two quarts.[441] [1 quart = 2 pints, a gill = quarter of a pint. The ‘modified’ dipping stick therefore delivered a measure that was 12.5% short.]

Although the milk in the following case was deficient in fat the dairyman was prepared to accept that it had been tampered with and the milk was not being sold as it left the cow.

Henry Woodcock fined £2 for selling milk containing 15.2% water. Woodcock a Rochester dairyman was who had been in the business for 40 years without any previous complaint against him, told the City Police Court that the milk must have been tampered with on the railway whilst in transit.[442]

Not only would an explosion in a munitions factory have killed many working it would also have been detrimental to the supply of ammunition to the Front Line.

Five men were brought before the Court for taking matches into an explosives factory. Of the five local men the youngest who had only been working at the factory for two weeks and voluntarily surrendered his matches and cigarettes, was fined 10s, the other four were fined £5 with the threat of imprisonment should they reoffend because of the great danger to other people.[443]

Women’s Experiences

The Salvation Army had presented the idea of helping women, after the war, to emigrate. See ‘Women’s Experiences’, January 1917. for that month.

Miss Pullen Barry from the YMCA gave a talk on “Life in our Overseas Dominions”.  The lecture was given at the Chatham Hut. Miss Pullen Barry handled her subject very sensitively hinting there would be boom in emigration after the war. She asserted there would be great advantages offered to women in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Entertainment in the evening included the singing patriotic songs by Mr. Honiblow.[444]

A Royal Commission on Divorce sat for two years and reported in 1912. The majority recommended a simplified, less costly and fairer proceedings but did not result in any immediate change. However, the increased numbers of divorces during and after the war increased the pressure for change, especially from groups representing newly-enfranchised women.[445] It was also estimated that half a million couples had separated during the war – and that would have implications for the birth rate which was falling at a time when battlefield casualties were increasing. This situation could worsen if people could not legally divorce / remarry in order to start a family.[446] This led to the Divorce Law Reform Union drafting a bill that it presented to Parliament. It contained the proposal that couples who had lived separately for three years could be regarded as divorced. They argued that by freeing up individuals to marry / more children could be born to “make up for the whole of the wastage of war”. If the church refused to solemnise these marriages it would be necessary for arrangements to be made for civil marriages.[447] The proposals were not welcomed by the Church – marriage was for life. There was also concern that the circumstance of war had separated couples for three years and this could be used by men to justify not returning to their wives.[448]

Bishop of Rochester attacked the proposed changes to the Marriage Laws. The Bishop claimed that an attempt was being made to use the circumstances of the day for a special purpose and that the proposed changes go beyond those recommended by the Majority Report of the Royal Commission on Divorce. He said that the drain of the war upon the manhood of the nation is undoubtedly a serious matter, but it should be met by the removal of the artificial restrictions upon childbearing, to which attention has been drawn again and again by the encouragement of earlier marriages. Sir B. Mallet’s recent publication of vital statistics, with its reference to 200,000 additional marriages as the result of the war, is a sufficient answer to this legislation. Meanwhile all who desire that marriage in this country should continue to be as Christ ordained it, and not “during pleasure only”, should strenuously oppose this bill.[449]

The Girls’ Friendly Society, which is still in being, was established in 1875 in partnership with the Anglican Church as a pioneer youth organisation to protect working-class country girls who left home to take up urban employment.[450]

An open meeting of the Girls’ Friendly Society was held in St. Peter’s parish room.  Last week Miss C. C. Plumptree, C.E.Z.M.S, [Church of England Zenana Missionary Society] Secretary to the Diocese of Rochester, addressed the girls.[451]

There were terrible delays in making a hardship payment to the widows of men killed in action. There was also the further complication as to whether the widow was officially married or determining whether a couple were living as husband and wife. Although details were not provided it could be that Emily Taylor, reported under ‘School & Education News’, October 1917, could have found herself in that situation. For much of the war the separation allowance remained higher than the war widow’s pension so the loss of a husband had immediate financial consequences. The situation was worse for ‘unmarried wives’. Prior to WW1 the number of married soldiers per regiment was limited. A solider could only marry with the permission of his commanding officer. Wives of men who had married without permission were ‘off the strength’. Wives of soldiers who married with permission were said to be ‘on the strength’. The Army had some responsibilities for the families of these men. With the advent of the war it was impossible to differentiate between these different categories of wife.[452]

Temporary pensions to be paid to ‘unmarried wives’ of soldiers killed or wounded in action. They need to be able to demonstrate that they were wholly or substantially dependent on the solider and had been in receipt of the separation allowance.[453]

Church & Cathedral

The need for food economy was promoted from the pulpit. The Bishop of Rochester suggested that the Sunday before Christmas might be utilised by the clergy of the Diocese to help from the pulpit the Food Economy Campaign. The Bishop belived this Sunday will be especially suitable in the light of the approach of Christmas festivities, which need to be curtailed. The matter is urgent because Christmas will decide whether compulsory rationing will be necessary.[454]

The following report draws attention to the increasing number of appeals for money and special services.

The first Sunday in the New Year was been fixed as a day of National Prayer and the Bishop of Rochester recommended that the collection should be devoted to the Red Cross and the Society of St. John of Jerusalem. Editorial comment noted that there is an increase in the number of appeals for money and calls for special Sundays.[455]

Percy William Whitlock was born in Chatham on 1 June 1903. He was as an English organist and composer; student of Vaughan Williams at London’s Royal College of Music. From 1921 to 1930 Whitlock was assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral. Whilst in Rochester he lived at 9 King Edward Road. In 1983 the Percy Whitlock Trust was set up to promote his music.[456]

Choir boys manage music for services with Percy Whitlock at the organ. At Rochester Cathedral the choir boys since June last, had carried on singing at the daily service with one of their number, Percy William Whitlock at the organ. Mr. C. Hylton, Stewart, the organist who expected to be called up for active service almost immediately, said the boys had indeed done wonders. In one week, soon after they started managing the services by themselves, they managed six new anthems and had to learn a new repertoire.[457]

Obituary to Canon Arthur J. W. Thorndike died suddenly. The Rev. Thorndike died on 9 December whilst in his church [St. James the Less, Moreton St. Pimlico / Thorndike Street, Off Moreton Street] for Evensong.[458]

Jerusalem was surrendered to British troops on 9 December 1917. After so much discouraging news from the Western Front this was a highly significant event. It was celebrated with the ringing of church bells in Rome and London.[459] The occupation of Jerusalem enabled plans to be put in place for the creation of a Jewish homeland. A Te Deum is a short religious service based upon the Te Deum hymn, which is held to bless an event or to give thanks. The hymn asks God to save them, lift them up and most importantly to govern them. This ‘event’ that led to the pledge that paved the way for Israel’s creation was commemorated on 2nd November 2017.[460]

The fall of Jerusalem was marked with a solemn Te Deum sung at evensong at the Cathedral in celebration of the capture of Jerusalem from the Turks, and a thanksgiving was also sung in a Nave service when special reference was made to this great event.[461]

Life Goes On

Alderman E. W. Willis is recovering slowly after a severe attack of haemorrhage. Ald. Willis, JP, was a senior member of Rochester Town Council.[462]

The ‘peculiarity’ of a Cinderella Dance is that it terminates at a comparatively early hour, and anything in the nature of an elaborate supper is dispensed with.”[463] For early hour read late. Although some dances were advertised as ending before midnight many were scheduled or continued to 1am or 3am – well past the time when the coach would have returned to being a pumpkin and horses to mice.

A Cinderella dance and waltzing competition took place in the Castle Hall Rochester under the auspices of Shorts’ Social and Athletic Club. A very enjoyable evening was had by about 240 who attended. The judges commended the progress made since the commencement of the season.[464]

Marriage between Mr. J. F. Smith & Nurse Oman daughter of Mr. F. Oman, Sergeant-at-Mace to the Rochester Corporation. Rochester’s Special Constables were out in force at the marriage of their chief to Nurse Oman a lady well known in the City. The ceremony was held at St Nicholas’ Church (Rochester) and the Rev. W. J. Gray officiated. As the newly wedded couple left the church they passed through lines of ‘Specials’ who made a guard of honour with their staves.[465]

High grade boots and shoes make very acceptable Christmas presents according to E. Armitage, 3 East Row, Rochester.[466]

+++ Sources +++

[1] World War 1 – Day by Day. Edited Peter Darman. 1999.

[2] 16 January 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[3] 6 & 27 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[4] 20 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[5] 20 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[6] 27 January 1917, Whitstable and Herne Bay Herald.

[7] 6 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[8] 6 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer. (Photo)

[9] Fundraising during the First World War – http://www.redcross.org.uk/WW1

[10] 20 January 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[11] 6 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[12] 13 January 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[13] 5 January 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle.

[14] 13 January 1917, Birmingham Daily Gazette and the Kent Messenger

[15] 13 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[16] 23 January 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[17] 12 January 17, Wells Journal.

[18] 13 January 1917, Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald.

[19] 27 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[20] 27 January 1917, Kent Messenger.

[21] 27 January 1917, Kent Messenger

[22] 27 January 1917, Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald.

[23] 6 January 1917, Kent Messenger

[24] 6 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[25] The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre subject guide.

[26] Private communication with the archivist of the Salvation Army.

[27] 6 & 13 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[28] 1 January 1917, Dundee Evening Telegraph.

[29] 5 January 1917, Diss Express.

[30] 1 January 1917, Manchester Evening News.

[31] 13 January 1917, Liverpool Echo.

[32] 6 January 17, Dublin Daily Express.

[33] 20 January 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[34] 27 January 1917, Framingham Weekly News.

[35] Back in Blighty, Gerard DeGroot. 2014. p154.

[36] 17 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[37] 24 February 1917, Kent Messenger.

[38] Search ‘RedCross Rehabilitation after the First World War’ – last located 28 July 2018.

[39] 3 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[40] 3 February 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[41] 10 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[42] Brock Millman, Pessimism and British Way Policy 1916-1918, p83.

[43] 27 February 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[44] World War I Day by Day. Edit. Peter Darman. p115.

[45] www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcAxxWcjFTg.

[46] 17 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[47] 24 February 1917, Kent Messenger,

[48] 10 & 17 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[49] 24 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[50] 17 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[51] 12 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[52] 17 February 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[53] 24 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[54] 14 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[55] 17 February 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[56] 3 February 1917, Kent Messenger.

[57] 17 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[58] 3 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[59] The Spectator Archive, 10 February 1917, p7. (http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/10th-february-1917/7/national-service)

[60] 24 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[61] 24 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[62] 10 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[63] 10 February, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News; 24 February 1917, Kent Messenger.

[64] 17 February 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[65] 3 February 1917, Kent Messenger.

[66] 17 February 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[67] 3 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[68] 17 February 1917, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[69] 24 February 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[70] 5 February 1917, Daily Express.

[71] www.nfuonline.com/about-us/history/farming-and-the-first-world-war/. Accessed 27 July 1917.

[72] 17 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[73] 3 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[74] 10 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[75] 31 March 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[76] 17 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[77] 17 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[78] 10 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[79] 17 March 1917, Kent Messenger.

[80] 29 March 1917, Birmingham Daily Gazette.

[81] 27 March 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[82] 17 March 1917, Kent Messenger.

[83] 13 March 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[84] 17 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[85] 17 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[86] 17 March 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[87] 31 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[88] 17 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[89] 31 March 1917, Kent Messenger.

[90] 27 March 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[91] 27 March 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[92] 31 March 1917, Kent Messenger.

[93] 24 March 1917, Kent Messenger.

[94] 9 March 1917, Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser.

[95] 24 March 1917, Kent Messenger.

[96] 24 March 1917, Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser.

[97] 6 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[98] 15 August 1903, Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald.

[99] 23 March 1917, Church Times.

[100] 30 March 1917, Liverpool Echo.

[101] 14 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[102] 17 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[103] 28 April 1917, Kent Messenger & Gravesend Telegraph.

[104] 7 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[105] 28 April 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[106] 26 May 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[107] 28 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[108] 28 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[109] 24 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[110] 28 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[111] 7 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[112] 7 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[113] 14 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[114] 17 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[115] 6 April 1917, Sevenoaks Chronicle.

[116] 28 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[117] 14 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[118] 7 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[119] 14 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[120] 24 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[121] 28 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[122] 8 April 1917, Sunday Mirror.

[123] 9 April 1917, Daily Mirror.

[124] 9 April 1917, Birmingham Daily Gazette.

[125] 20 April 1917, Daily Mirror.

[126] 24 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[127] 17 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[128] 14 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[129] 19 April, Dundee Evening Telegraph and 21 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[130] 7 April 1917, Essex Newsmen.

[131] 10 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[132] 14 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[133] 21 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[134] 21 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[135] 21 April, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News; 24 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[136] 28 April 1917, Kent Messenger.

[137] 6 April 1917, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[138] 17 April 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[139] 7 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[140] 7 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[141] 21 April 1917, Chester Chronicle

[142] 25 April, Exeter and Plymouth Gazette and 28 April 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[143] www.firstworldwar.com/features/womenww1_four.htm Accessed 29 July 2017

[144] 19 May 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[145] 5 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[146] 12 May, Kent Messenger; 15 May 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[147] 12 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[148] 12 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[149] 19 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[150] 31 May 1917, Daily Express.

[151] 5 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[152] 5 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[153] 29 May 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[154] 2 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[155] 26 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[156] 3 March 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[157] 5 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[158] 26 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[159] 12 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[160] 17 March 1917, Kent Messenger.

[161] 12 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[162] 26 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[163] 19 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[164] 5 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[165] 15 May 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[166] 15 May 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[167] 26 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[168] 29 May 1917, Nottingham Evening Post.

[169] 7 May 1917, Birmingham Daily Post.

[170] 26 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[171] 19 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[172] 12 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[173] 19 May, Church Times and 19 May 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[174] 26 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[175] 26 May 1917, Kent Messenger.

[176] 16 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[177] 1 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[178] 14 July 1917, Kent Messenger.

[179] 2 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[180] 16 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[181] 23 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[182] 30 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[183] 16 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[184] 30 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[185] 16 June 1917. Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer. Photo.

[186] 9 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[187] 9 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[188] 30 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[189] 30 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[190] 30 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[191] 16 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[192] 2 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[193] 16 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[194] 16 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[195] 26 June 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[196] 26 June 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[197] 16 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[198] www.vahs.org.uk/vahs/papers/vahs3.pdf. Accessed 31 July 2017.

[199] www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/how-we-remember/the-story-of-the-poppy/. Accessed 31 July 2017.

[200] 23 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[201] www.wouldhamvillage.com/otherbuildings.html. Accessed 1 November 2017.

[202] 30 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[203] 9 June 1917, Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald.

[204] “A Glint on the Sky”, Martin Easdown / Thomas Genth. 30 September 2004.

[205] 19 June, South Eastern Gazette and 23 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[206] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1604621.stm. Accessed 8 November 2017.

[207] www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/05/03/how-shaving-brushes-spread-anthrax-during-wwi.html Accessed 8 November 2017.

[208] 26 June 1917, Evening Dispatch.

[209] 23 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[210] 30 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[211] 30 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[212] 9 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[213] 2 June 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[214] 9 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[215] 23 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[216] 30 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[217] 2 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[218] 29 June 1917, Birmingham Daily Post.

[219] 29 June 1917, Burton Daily News.

[220] 30 June 1917, Kent Messenger.

[221] 30 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[222] 30 June 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[223] 23 June 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[224] 2 June 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[225] 13 June 1917, Liverpool Daily News.

[226] 7 July, Kent Messenger, 14 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[227] 21 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[228] 21 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[229] 21 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[230] 21 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[231] 14 July 1917, Kent Messenger.

[232] www.footballandthefirstworldwar.org/tom-barber Accessed 8 November 2017.

[233] 9 July 1917, Birmingham Daily News.

[234] 28 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[235] 14 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer – with photo.

[236] 21 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[237] 28 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[238] 21 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[239] 27 July, Daily Mirror and 28 July 1917 Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald.

[240] 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer and http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/11273/Accessed 8 November 2017.

[241] 21 July 1917, Herne Bay Press.

[242] 24 July, South Eastern Gazette and 28 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[243] 28 July 1917, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[244] 28 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[245] 28 July 1917, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News.

[246] 24 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[247] 17 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[248] 24 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[249] 28 July 1917, Kent Messenger.

[250] 14 July 1917, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[251] 7 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[252] 14 July, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News and 24 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[253] 28 July 1917, Chatham Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[254] 28 July 1917, Kent Messenger.

[255] 28 July 1917, Kent Messenger.

[256] 10 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[257] 17 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[258] 7 July, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer; 14 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[259] 10 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[260] 26 July 1917, Daily Mirror.

[261] 21 July 1917, Kent Messenger

[262] 23 July 1917, Nottingham Evening Post.

[263] 27 July 1917, Church Times.

[264] 24 July 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[265] 7 July 1917. Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[266] www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/UrSCqrwOSU2cHympNIUQhQ. Accessed 11 October 2017.

[267] 14 July 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[268] 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[269] 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[270] 7 August 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[271] 25 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[272] 28 August 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[273] 28 August 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[274] 18 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[275] 4 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[276] 4 August 1917, South Eastern Gazette and Bromley Journal.

[277] 11 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[278] 18 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[279] 11 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[280] http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1902/nov/20/poor-law-isolated-or-scattered-homes. Accessed 7 November 2017.

[281] www.workhouses.org.uk/Strood. Accessed 7 November 2017.

[282] 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[283] 11 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[284] 6 August 1917, Manchester Evening News.

[285] 18 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[286] 4 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[287] 4 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[288] 4 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[289] 11 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[290] 25 August 1917, Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald.

[291] 18 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[292] 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[293] 25 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[294] 18 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[295] 4 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[296] 4 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[297] 18 August 1917, Kent Messenger.

[298] www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3081008/Bread-rules-abandoned-after-750-years.html. Accessed 1 August 2017.

[299] 18 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[300] 4 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[301] 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[302] 7 August, Kent Messenger; 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[303] 18 gust 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[304] 11 August 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[305] 18 August 1917, Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser.

[306] 24 August 1917, Liverpool Echo.

[307] 8 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[308] 15 September 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph

[309] 8 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[310] 8 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[311] 22 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[312] 18 September 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[313] 8 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer. Photo.

[314] 15 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[315] 15 & 22 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[316] 22 September 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph.

[317] Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[318] 1 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[319] 22 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[320] 15 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[321] 15 September, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer; 16 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[322] 15 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[323] 22 September 1917, Reading Mercury.

[324] 8 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[325] September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[326] 3 September 1917, Medway memories Kent Messenger.

[327] 5 September 1917, Daily Express and the Gloucestershire Echo.

[328] 8 September 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph.

[329] 7 September 1917, Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald.

[330] 22 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[331] 8 September 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph.

[332] 4 September 1917, Aberdeen Journal.

[333] 8 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[334] 22 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[335] 29 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[336] 8 September 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[337] 8 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[338] 25 September 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[339] 29 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[340] 29 September 1917, Kent Messenger.

[341] 1 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[342] 22 September 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[343] 8 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[344] 15 September 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[345] 13 October 1917, Kent Messenger.

[346] 13 October, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News; 16 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[347] 13 October 1917, Kent Messenger.

[348] 6 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[349] 6 October 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph

[350] 6 October 1917, Kent Messenger.

[351] 20 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[352] 6 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[353] 20 October 1917, Herne Bay Press.

[354] www.scarletfinders.co.uk/180.html. Accessed 1 August 2017.

[355] www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/womeninuniform/almeric_paget_intro.htm. Accessed 3 August 1917.

[356] http://rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME094-1946/page005-volume94-january1946.pdf. Accessed 3 August 1917.

[357] 23 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[358] 30 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[359] 30 October 1917, Kent South East Gazette.

[360] 27 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[361] 13 October 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph.

[362] 20 October 1917, Kent Messenger.

[363] 13 October 1917, Herne Bay Press.

[364] 13 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[365] 27 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[366] 27 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[367] 27 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[368] 20 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[369] 27 October 1917, Kent Messenger.

[370] 13 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette and Bromley Journal.

[371] 13 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[372] 20 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[373] 27 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[374] 30 October 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[375] 20 October 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[376] 4 October 1917, Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough.

[377] 29 October 1917,

[378] www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/the-british-armys-manpower-crisis-of-1918. Accessed 8 November 2017.

[379] 10 November 1917, South Eastern Gazette and the Kent Messenger.

[380] 17 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[381] 24 November 1917, Daily Mirror.

[382] 3 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[383] 10 November 1917, South Eastern Gazette / Kent Messenger

[384] 3 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[385] 10 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[386] 10 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[387] 21 November 1917, Western Times.

[388] 24 November and 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[389] 10 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[390] 10 November 1917, South Eastern Gazette / Kent Messenger.

[391] 10 November 1917, South Eastern Gazette / Kent Messenger.

[392] 24 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[393] 10 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[394] 10 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[395] 24 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[396] Law and War, Jonathan Swan .2017, p214.

[397] 24 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[398] 10 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[399] World War 1 – Day by Day. Ed. Peter Darman. 1999.

[400] 24 November 1917, Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette.

[401] 9 November 1917, Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser.

[402] 10 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[403] 24 November 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[404] 9 November 1917, Dover Express.

[405] 26 January 1918, Kent Messenger & Gravesend Telegraph.

[406] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[407] 10 December 1917, Daily Express.

[408] 14 December 1917, Northern Whig.

[409] 15 December 1917, Kent Messenger.

[410] 18 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[411] 22 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[412] 8 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[413] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer – with photo of Robert.

[414] 4 December 1917, Sheffield Daily Telegraph.

[415] 22 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[416] 27 December 1917, Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle

[417] 29 December 1917, Kent Messenger. Photo in 3rd edition.

[418] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[419] 22 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[420] 22 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[421] 1 December 1917, Kent Messenger.

[422] 15 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[423] 15 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[424] 29 December 1917 Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[425] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[426] 8 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[427] 29 December 1917, Kent Messenger and Gravesend Telegraph.

[428] 29 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[429] 15 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[430] 8 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[431] 15 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[432] 15 December 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[433] www.vahs.org.uk/vahs/papers/vahs3.pdf. Accessed 28 August 2017.

[434] 15 December 1917, Kent Messenger & Maidstone Telegraph.

[435] 15 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[436] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[437] 4 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[438] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[439] 4 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[440] 8 December 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph.

[441] 15 December 1917, Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph.

[442] 22 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[443] 22 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[444] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[445] www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/relationships/overview/changesindivorce. Accessed 12 August 2012.

[446] Regulating a New Society: Public Policy and Social Change in America, 1900-33; Morton Keller, 1994, p 23.

[447] http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/20th-october-1917/13/divorce-and-separation. Accessed 12 August 2012.

[448] 9 March 1918, Isle of Wight Observer.

[449] 7 December 1917, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[450] http://girlsfriendlysociety.org.uk/about/history.html. Accessed 3 August 2017.

[451] 14 December 1917, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[452] www.ssafa.org.uk/sites/default/files/separation_allowance.pdf. Accessed 5 October 2017.

[453] 15 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News.

[454] 7 December 1917, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[455] 7 December 1917, Kent & Sussex Courier.

[456] www.percywhitlock.org.uk.

[457] 7 December 1917, The Church Times.

[458] 14 December 1917, The Church Times.

[459] www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jerusalem-surrenders-to-british-troops. Accessed 8 November 2017.

[460] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41819451. Accessed 2 November 2017.

[461] 22 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[462] 1 December 1917, Kent Messenger.

[463] 22 February 1889, The Carlisle Patriot.

[464] 1 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.

[465] 24 December, Cambridge Daily News; 29 December 1917, South Eastern Gazette.

[466] 15 December 1917, Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham Observer.