At 11:30am, 11 November 1918, the Bells of Rochester Cathedral rung-out to announce Peace.

News of the Armistice reaches Medway

The Armistice with Germany had been anticipated for some weeks. The Turks had surrendered and Austria had applied to Italy for an armistice – leaving Germany fighting on alone. When peace arrived there was great excitement mixed with relief, but for many across Medway who would have been laden with grief, expressing joy would have been beyond their capacity. The flu epidemic was also still taking lives and the future was far from certain. Despite these circumstances people across Medway did celebrate and give thanks.

Continue reading “At 11:30am, 11 November 1918, the Bells of Rochester Cathedral rung-out to announce Peace.”

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Spymaster of Rochester from 1908-1913

This is an account of Frederick Adolphus Gould / Schroeder, landlord of the Queen Charlotte public house in Rochester, and “special intelligence officer” for the German Army.

Gould took on the Queen Charlotte in 1908 and managed it until December 1913 when he went to London – perhaps sensing the authorities were onto him. As the landlord of the Queen Charlotte, that was frequented by people with military connections, Gould was in a position to groom and cultivate relationships with soldiers, sailors and defence workers – through whom he obtained documents and information that he passed onto Germany.

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Spanish Flu – arrives in Rochester

Every national event is made up of a myriad of individual causative or consequential experiences. In this blog I hope to give a sense of how Spanish Flu affected the people of Rochester / Medway in the autumn of 1918.

The flu pandemic of 1918 was referred to as the Spanish Flu as a consequence of it being reported extensively in the free-press of neutral Spain. Although this pandemic was not caused by the war, the mass movement of people and overcrowded public transport and housing, enabled its rapid spread – particularly within populations run down by stress and poor diet. When one considers that the population of the Medway Town had quadrupled by October 1915, and quality food was in short supply by 1918, it’s easy to see how the conditions were created that would enable the rapid spread of any contagious disease. Continue reading “Spanish Flu – arrives in Rochester”

St. Bart’s, Rochester, 1914/1918 – and its matron honoured by the King.

This blog offers some insights into how St Barts continued to grow and the demands made on it during the Great War. Such were the demands, arising from the number of military casualties, hospitals generally needed much more than money to provide its services.

Details of the running and development of St. Barts were not covered in great depth in the press during the Great War. Apart from there being more serious matters to report there were a number of other practical reporting issues such as the lack of paper and journalists.

The following also introduces – Maud Pote-Hunt  – who is probably unknown to many in Medway. However whilst she was matron of St. Barts between 1910 and 1928 she made a very significant contribution to the development of nursing and the delivery of hospital care. Her contribution was recognised with the award the Royal Red Cross (Second Class) that was presented to her by the King at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace. 

Continue reading “St. Bart’s, Rochester, 1914/1918 – and its matron honoured by the King.”

A Forgotten Hero of Westerham?

Ask for a link between Westerham and the war and I think most people will come up with Churchill and Chartwell. But there is a lesser known person associated with Westerham whose contribution significantly aided the winning of the Great War and quite probably the Second World War. He led no great battles but without him many battles could not have been fought, would have been lost and many soldiers could have died of hypothermia.

I’m referring to Lt. Colonel Peter Norman Nissen, DSO, (1871–1930) a Canadian engineer and British Army Officer, who designed the Nissen Hut. After the war he moved to Westerham in 1921 and lived on Westerham Hill until his death. He is buried in an almost anonymous and neglected grave in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin, at Westerham. 

Continue reading “A Forgotten Hero of Westerham?”

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