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Folkestone in WW 1


Prince Harry visiting 4th August 2014

Prince Harry visiting 4th August 2014

Knitted Poppies on the Road of Remembrance

Knitted Poppies on the Road of Remembrance
Each one of the millions of fighting men who marched through the town and down to the waiting boats on the harbour on their way to the Western Front between 1914 and 1918 would have gone down “The Slope”, as it was then known.

At the top of the hill they would have heard the order “Step Short”, an instruction to shorten their stride in order to negotiate the gradient safely.

That road is now Folkestone’s Road of Remembrance.

Eight books containing the signatures of thousands of soldiers who passed through Folkestone to go to fight in World War One will be going on public display. There are over 42,000 names of soldiers, nurses and others who passed through the town and signed the visitors books.
Two of the signatories are Winston Churchill and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Some visitors added their regimental numbers and some comments and poems. The books were kept in the harbour canteen where troops would drink their last 'cuppa' before boarding the troop ships for France.
Other signatories are Mjr Gen Hugh Trenchard who helped establish the RAF, he signed on April 5 1918 four days after the new airforce was set up.
The books are due to go online in January 2014.

See the Step Short project on line to view


Folkestone was the ‘artery’ through which millions of men and women passed between 1914 and 1918, on their way to or from the Western Front.

Folkestone was also the point of arrival for the Belgian Royal Family and served as a temporary home not just for them, but for over 100,000 other Belgian and French refugees from the fighting.

Many Canadians were stationed in Folkestone during the First World War. The 49th Battalion CEF during their period of training in Folkestone and Shorncliffe the 49ers published their own magazine.

See this interesting article click to view


Folkestone and Dover were the 'Front Line ' of Britain

Reporting the war news in the press was a precarious business. When the Defence Of the Realm Act (DORA) was introduced in 1914, restrictions were placed on many aspects of day to day life, but one of the most pervasive was the control of the press. The reporting of news items liable to cause alarm and despondency was an offence punishable by law, and descriptions of events were sketchy. When the attack on Folkestone was reported in The Times on Monday 28th May the headline read: DAYLIGHT AIR RAID - 76 KILLED AND 74 INJURED - 17 ENEMY AEROPLANES. But the locality was given as the South East of England, which gave rise to huge speculation. The Times reporter in Folkestone commented that not releasing the name of the town 'caused endless anxiety to people' and two days later it reported 'We are now permitted to announce that the town is Folkestone'

In fact the German report of the successful raid had been widely disseminated on the continent and had even reached Canada


The 'Anglia 'had been built in 1900 by W. Denny & Brothers in Dumbarton Scotland for the London & North-Western Railway Co. She was of 1,862 tons with a 424hp triple expansion engine and two propellers, to give her a speed of 21 knots. The ship measured 329 feet by 39 feet to draw 16 feet.
With the advent of WW1, the ship was acquired as an Auxiliary Hospital Ship, and with Captain Lionel John Manning in command, at 1230 on the 17th. of November 1915 she struck a mine, only one mile East of Folkestone Gate, and quickly sank.


Along with nearby Folkestone, Dover was one of the main troop embarkation ports for France in WW1 and suffered shelling airplanes, Zeppelins and passing warships throughout the war.

The pier was acquired by the Admiralty in 1913. After WW1, the pier was leased for use as a pleasure pier again, but by 1927 it had become dilapidated and was demolished.

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers left from Folkestone, leaving to fight in the trenches of France and Belgium, marching from the Town to the Harbour along ther route now called the 'Road of Remembrance'. Many of them never returned.

Folkestone Harbour today
photos Walter Carrera

Many Chinese were in the Folkestone area during WW1 they were used to load and unload ships unfortunately many lost their lives and are buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery
Photos Janice and Walter Carrera

Chinese Labour

Chinese Labour

Airship over the Channel

Airship over the Channel