Greatness Cemetery Guided Walk on 9 November

We’re pleased to announce that following the success of last year’s Great War guided walks at Greatness Cemetery, we will be leading a group on Saturday 9 November from 11.00 until 12.30.

The walk is free and available to all, including children aged ten and above. Please bear in mind that some of the ground we will be walking is uneven and may be muddy depending on the weather, so suitable footwear and clothing is advisable.

Local historian Matthew Ball will speak about the Great War, telling a diverse range of stories regarding local people buried in the cemetery, from a Crimean veteran who appeared at early recruitment meetings, to a local victim of a Zeppelin raid, a Conscientious Objector’s family, and officers and men of The (Queen’s Own) Royal West Kent Regiment.

The tour includes graves in the care of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and many private memorials.

To book, or for any other queries, please email matt@sevenoaksww1.org

 

 

An Invitation to a Memorial Service for Bridget Aurea Lambarde, Tuesday 5 March

We are pleased to have organised a memorial to a local nurse who served throughout the war on the hundredth anniversary of her death during the influenza pandemic. Bridget Aurea Teresa Lambarde (known as Aurea), is buried in a wargrave with a private memorial in the churchyard at St Mary’s Riverhead.

Aurea had served with the Kent Reserve Voluntary Aid Detachment and was commandant at St John’s VAD Hospital from October 1914 until July 1915.

Aurea Lambarde

Aurea was born in 1889 in Ireland and was the elder daughter of Major William Gore Lambarde. William Lambarde was the last owner of Bradbourne House and estate in Sevenoaks, whic was sold in 1927. Lambarde Road in Sevenoaks is named after the family.

She died from pneumonia whilst serving at the Royal Naval Hospital, Portland in Dorset. The inscription on her grave reads

‘In loving memory of Bridget Aurea Teresa Lambarde, elder daughter of William Gore and Florence Lambarde of Bradbourne Hall, Riverhead, who died March 5th A.D. 1919 aged 29 years’.

As a commandant at one of the town’s VAD hospitals Aurea oversaw arrangements for the arrival of the first wounded men and Belgian refugees who began to arrive in Kent from October 1914. She would have been well known locally and often wrote to the Sevenoaks Chronicle to appeal for funds and support for the hospital and her efforts.

Aurea died in the influenza epidemic that had begun in late 1918.

The short service to remember Aura will take place on the centenary fo her death at 10.00 on Tuesday 5 March and those attending are asked to arrive for 9.50.

Sevenoaks Mayor, Cllr Roderick Hogarth, will be attending along with Riverhead Parish Councillor, Martin Denton.

Prayers will be offered by Daphne Harrison of St Mary’s church.

We hope that local residents will be able to join us to rememebr Aurea and all women who served with the local Voluntary Aid Detachment and British Red Cross during the Great War.

 

 

Great War Medal Reunited with a Sevenoaks Family

Last week we were able to reunite a Great Great Nephew of Gunner Robert Jappe with one of his medals.
Robert Jappe was born in Argentina in 1896. His widowed mother had returned to the U.K. in 1901 with her six sons and settled at Watson’s Villas in the St John’s area of Sevenoaks.
Robert enlisted at Woolwich with the 93rd Brigade Royal Field Artillery and served on the Western Front from October 1915. He was killed on 17 July 1917 and is buried at the Canada Farm Cemetery, Belgium.
Shane Jappe at the war memorial standing to the left of his uncle’s name
Robert’s nephew, Shane, had previously been in contact with historian Matt Ball, who has been able to purchase Robert’s  1914-15 Star at auction.
Matt had recently been invited to attend the national service of remembrance at Westminster Abbey and had taken Gunner Jappe’s medal with him to the service.
Shane recently contacted Matt again and the pair met up with Shane’s wife and father-in-law at the War Memorial, where Matt was able to hand over the medal, which Shane’s father-in-law purchased as a gift for him and Matt also presented a signed copy of his first book.
Both Shane and Matt are keen to hear from anyone connected to the Jappe family, especially anyone who may have Robert’s other medals (The Victory and the British War medals) and the Memorial Plaque that would have been sent to his next of kin.

New Beacon Pupil’s Letter to Sevenoaks Soldier

Young people across Sevenoaks have been invited to send letters to those who served in The Great War as part of this month’s centenary commemoration. In a collaboration between Sevenoaks Town Council, the Sevenoaks WW1 project, and MySevenoaksCommunity, a bespoke poppy post box was created by local carpenter Terry Malone and placed in the foyer of the Stag Theatre.

We’ve had a terrific response from young people in the town and all of the letters received will be scanned and uploaded to the Sevenoaks Town Council website as well as our own.

We’re very pleased to print below one of the first letters, from Samuel Tansley aged 11, a pupil at the New Beacon School.

Before the war, Siegfried Sassoon and his brother, Hamo, were pupils at the New Beacon, along with the sons of the Rector of St Nicholas, Guy and Kingsley Rooker. The sons of the Vicar of St Mary, Kippington, Piers, Austen and Sidney Thompson, were fellow pupils. All of those boys, apart from Hamo who was killed at Gallipoli in 1915, survived. In total there were 37 casualties amongst the School’s former pupils. Samuel Tansley decided to write to one of them: Alan George Livesey of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Dear 2nd Lt Alan George Hilton Livesey

My name is Samuel. I have written to you to thank you for your sacrifices and exploits during the Great War. Like you did, I attend the New Beacon School in Sevenoaks. Unlike you, I have never seen the horrors of a battlefield, the brutal clamour of war, the cruelty of man set against man, under instructions to kill. I have known the fear and the crippling dread of an unknown and horrible death.

What I do know is peace and freedom and a life lived under free skies and friendly times. I know when I wake up, that I will have a good day because you suffered so many bad days for your country, your family, and your friends and for the children of the future, like me.

When you were at school, you played football, like me. You studied hard and went to university, earned a degree and started your career. But then the war came and you did your duty. They found your body at the edge of the German trenches, you had died leading your men into action, a hero. Your short life will be remembered by me and by others. We are truly grateful that you stood up and walked into No Man’s Land with such courage until you couldn’t walk any further. You were twenty six years old when you died.

I hope that you found some comfort amongst your fellow soldiers and knew how your sacrifice would be remembered. Perhaps you would never have imagined that a boy from your old school writing to you 100 years after you fought your last battle. I am writing your name at the top of my letter because your story spoke to me. I hope that my words express my admiration and awe.

Congratulations to Samuel for his excellent letter. There’s still time to post entries and we look forward to posting more.

New book now available!

Our new book, Sevenoaks – The Great War and its Legacy is now available. The book is on sale at Sevenoaks Bookshop, at other stockists, and direct from us at books@sevenoaksww1.org for £14.99 plus p&p.

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The book looks at all aspects of the war in the town, from the men who went away to fight, to the arrival of Belgian refugees and life on the Home Front. Author, Matthew Ball, takes the story of the men who survived up to the 1960s during the 50th anniversary and records how the town has been marking the centenary.

Matthew will be signing copies from 14.30 on Saturday 10th November and will also be at Café on the Vine after the Remembrance Sunday Services (details below).

Cemetery Talks

To mark the publication of the book, Sevenoaks WW1 is giving guided tours of Greatness Cemetery on Saturday 3rd and 10th of November starting at the chapel at 10.30. Tours last for approximately 1 hour and take in a range of local residents who were involved in the conflict. We visit the grave of a Crimean veteran who was involved in recruitment drives and that of Percy John Brooks, a victim of an early Zeppelin raid.

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Matthew Ball leading a WW1 Walk at Greatness Cemetery

The Stag Theatre has it’s own Remembrance season, including a play based on the experiences of Belgian refugees in Sevenoaks, researched by Sevenoaks WW1.

Performances are on 1st and 2nd November with a programme of talks and Q&A from 6.30 before the play begins.

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Our twitter feed @7oaksww1 is regularly updated with more information but if you have any queries then please email matt@sevenoaksww1.org

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Remembering Private Bailey

Today is the hundredth anniversary of the death of Private Ernest Bailey of Seal Chart near Sevenoaks aged just eighteen. His great nephew, David Lambourne and his family will be visiting the church of St Lawrence where their family once worshipped, to remember their ancestor, who is remembered on the war memorial inside the church.

Ernest was born on the 27th December 1899 and lived at ‘Larchwood’, Seal Chart, Sevenoaks.  He was the youngest child of local carpenter and cabinet maker Thomas Bailey and his wife, Caroline.  He had three brothers and seven sisters.  His sister Emily was David’s Grandmother.

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 ‘Larchwood’, the Bailey family home

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 Private Ernest Bailey 50987, 2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry 

Ernest went to St Lawrence School, Seal Chart and was a member of the congregation at St Lawrence Church next door, where he had been baptised on 11th March 1900.

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 Church of St Lawrence, Seal Chart

David started to research the life of his great uncle after inheriting some family photographs and has set out what he discovered:

Ernest was a boy scout before joining the army.  Unfortunately his Army Records have not survived and the National Archives only hold records of his Medals Index and Medal Rolls Book entries.  Therefore I do not know exactly when he joined up and went to France. Trying to calculate from his War Gratuity Payment of £7 it seems that he may have enlisted as early as September 1916 and joined the Highland Light Infantry.

I have found information from War Diary entries for the 2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry and the included Operational Order and a subsequent account by D M Murray-Lyon Lt. Colonel Commanding 2nd Bn. Highland Light Infantry.  In April 1918, the Highland Light Infantry were at the front near Hendecourt and Boiry St. Martin.

The diary records on the 20th April “Quiet day. Preparations in progress for a raid on enemy posts opposite the left Company front of the Right Sub Section.  It was decided to have a short shoot on 21st against a suspected post but no artillery preparation or cover for the raiding party was contemplated.

On the 21st April the diary records that the “Raiding party is ready for their work, Lt Thorburn MC,  3 NCO’s and 30 men had been selected. The Orders for the raid are attached as Appendix A.”

On the 22nd April the diary records ”Zero hour for the raid was 3.45am.  The posts visited were found to have been vacated by the enemy, but an identification was obtained.  Our casualties were one killed and two missing.  The narrative of the operation is attached as Appendix B.

In the Operational Order (the Appendix A) it states the men should be divided into three parties and rush enemy posts with the object to kill the enemy and take prisoners.  It goes into some detail about how the operation should be executed. Their dress for the operation would be as follows — “Equipment will not be worn. Every man will carry a rifle and fixed bayonet and 9 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber.  One bomb per man will be carried in the right hand bottom pocket of the jacket.  Cap conforters – not Steel Helmets – will be worn.  Box respirators will be worn.”  It goes onto say “All identification marks – e.g. identity disc’s, papers, pay books etc will be removed before leaving the Assembly Positions.” 

 The account of the raid (the Appendix B) it states that the 3 groups past through their wire and progressed to the enemy posts and on finding them all but empty, because of British heavy bombardment the previous day, they pressed forward onto further targets as per the Operational Order and came under fire.  As it was getting too light they could not get any further forward and withdrew back to the their lines under heavy fire from enemy guns.  One man was mortally injured and two men went missing, but because it was getting too light, it was decided that they could not be searched for as this would have risked further casualties.  Ernest Bailey is one of those two men missing who were out of sight over the crest on the enemy side of a slope.

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The war memorial inside the church of St Lawrence

Ernest is remembered on the church war memorial, alongside other local men, two of whom (Alfred Hope and Herbert Hodder) are buried in the churchyard.

Hidden casualties

The euphoria and relief that news of peace bought gradually subsided. Local life slowly resumed its old routine and the familiar sight in Sevenoaks of soldiers in khaki was replaced by former servicemen with obvious disabilities.

Others had less obvious but no less serious injuries. Continued efforts were made by organisations like the Comrades of the Great War to continue some of the ties that had bound the men closely together in wartime but there was clear evidence of the suffering that some endured. Some, like William John Ritchie, a former private in the Middlesex Regiment who had lost his sight, used the skills that he learnt at St Dunstan’s (which provided training for blind ex-serviceman in order that they could support themselves rather than relying on charity) making and repairing willow baskets and advertised his services in the Sevenoaks Chronicle in the early 1920s.

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Private Stephen Copper

Stephen Copper had enlisted in September 1914 and served with the Royal West Kents. He was shot in the left arm in March 1916, the wound being so severe that the arm was later amputated. Once he had recuperated he returned to his former employer, and despite his injury, drove a motorbike as a delivery man for Kipps the butchers at St John’s. Stephen was no doubt affected by the loss of three of his brothers and his brother-in-law during the course of the war. His sister, Amelia Garrett, also lost her husband, sergeant Thomas Garrett of the Royal Garrison Artillery; a career soldier, who died of natural causes late in September 1918 in Salonika, Greece. The widowed women of Sevenoaks, who had often suffered other family bereavements, were left to raise their children. Others had to contend with a returned husband who was never the same again.

Some men found life after the war too much to bear and the local paper recorded their circumstances. In November 1919, the paper reported a shell shock victim at Tubs Hill Station one Tuesday evening. A young passenger failed to produce a ticket for his journey and could not answer when asked by staff where he had come from. The staff took him in and gave him some food

While eating this he suddenly bent down, put his hand to his head, and commenced to moan as if afraid of being struck by something. Thinking that he had possibly had a blow on the head, one of the officials made as though to touch his head, but he started off again, saying “Whizz, whizz”. The police had meantime been communicated with and the man was removed to the Union.

Others, unable to deal with their experiences, returned home changed men, with all the implications for their family. Rose Baldwin of Seal was granted a separation order against her husband Charles Adam Baldwin, in 1929. The couple had been married in 1918 and had two children, a boy of eleven and a girl aged eight. Mrs Baldwin stated that the marriage had been very happy until her husband had begun to drink to excess after the birth of her first child. Charles Baldwin lived off his pension, having suffered from shell shock and neurasthenia. Baldwin was a country lad of eighteen and living in Ightham when he enlisted with 1912 with the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. Mobilised on 1th August 1914, he served in France and was shot in October 1914.

Post war, Baldwin was well known to the police for drinking, bad language and other behaviour. On receiving the court summons he had returned home and “proceeded to sell the whole of the furniture, lock, stock, and barrel for £2, including much of his wife’s furniture”. His whereabouts at the time of the court hearing was unknown and the order of separation was given with Mrs Baldwin being awarded custody of their children and her husband ordered to pay maintenance. In 1935, when Baldwin was charged with yet another count of being drunk and disorderly, the Sevenoaks Chronicle noted that

Baldwin alleged that his drunkenness was caused through the war. He was terribly knocked about through the war and suffered with his nerves.

Charles Baldwin was killed in a motor accident in 1939 when, as a cyclist, he was killed while following the hounds. The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death. Baldwin’s bicycle was in a very poor condition and there uncertainty as to how much he had been drinking, although it had been asserted that he had only had a pint and a half before setting off.

The Chronicle carried reports of men who took their own lives unable to cope, others were able to carry on but their weakened constitution no doubt contributed to their early death.

Joseph Sutton had fought in the war with the Royal West Surrey Regiment. Two of his brothers, Dick,   a rifleman with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and Percy, a signalman on HMS Lavender, were killed during the war and are remembered on the Sevenoaks war memorial. Joseph sustained a fractured skull in April 1918 at Messines Ridge and was discharged from the Army as medically unfit. His injuries required several operations and caused him to become epileptic. The news report of his death in the Sevenoaks Chronicle stated that he had remained as cheerful as he could and was a much respected member of the Sevenoaks Services Club. However, he remained poorly for the rest of his life and died aged only twenty five in 1924. He was buried in the churchyard at St Nicholas, Sevenoaks, without any military ceremony.

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The Sevenoaks Chronicle reported Cecil’s death

Cecil George Thompson served for four years in France as a private with 76th Field Ambulance RASC and was recommended for the Military Medal. Both his older and younger brothers were killed during the war and are remembered on the town’s memorial. Cecil had been demobilised in August 1919 before serving for six months with the Imperial War Graves Commission.  In his obituary in the Chronicle, the paper linked Cecil’s death with his war service. He had been blown up in a car in 1917 and suffered acutely from shell shock as a consequence.

Some five or six years ago the trouble reasserted itself, and he has been in ill-health ever since, but he had not become seriously ill till the day before his death, when he suddenly lapsed into unconsciousness.

The paper noted that the date of Cecil’s death – 25th September – had a number of associations for the family. Cecil had first crossed to France on September 25th 1915; his brother Sidney, serving with 7th Battalion City of London Regiment, was killed on 25th September 1916; his older brother, Captain Arthur Herbert Thompson of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was killed on 25th September 1917. The family, sons of Arthur Thompson, former Superintendent of Sevenoaks Post Office was well known in Sevenoaks and news of Cecil’s death, and full military funeral at Greatness Cemetery, was fully reported and no doubt keenly felt throughout the town. “We are grateful” wrote Arthur Thompson “to all our Sevenoaks friends who have shown us such kindness in the loss of the last of our three soldier sons, we say from the bottom of our hearts – thank you.

In 1940, the Sevenoaks Chronicle reported the case Albert Edward Chew. Chew, then aged fifty eight, was found drunk, singing and shouting in the High street, after drinking a toxic mix of beer and methylated spirit. Brought before the local magistrates he declared himself ‘Guilty, sir, and I am very, very sorry’. It was stated that Chew had tried hard to get work and did not normally drink methylated spirt, given to him on that occasion by another man. He had fallen on hard times and had already pawned his medals for 7s. He was able to provide the paperwork to demonstrate that he had kept up the payments in the hope of being able to recover his medals. The case was dismissed as a first offence on the understanding that Chew would leave the district.

This was not Chew’s first appearance on such a charge. Before a previous court he had explained that

He was hit on the head during the war and not been right since.

Among his medals was the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), which he had been awarded as Gunner A E Chew of the 308th Trench Mortar Battery, Royal Field Artillery for

Conspicuous gallantry when I charge of an isolated trench mortar gun. When his wires were cut he continued firing with good effect and observing for himself under very heavy fire.

Chew’s story clearly moved the magistrates who heard the case. One of their number, Sir Edward Meyerstein paid the costs to redeem his medals and returned them to him.