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THE GREAT FOLKESTONE AIR RAID
FRIDAY 25TH MAY 1917

(Including a list of fatalities and persons injured)

by Janice Brooker


BEFORE THE RAID

Civilians have always been directly affected by wars, whether they were the grieving relatives of men who had died in action, or as the victims of siege, famine and displacement. But the First World War brought a new threat - attacks on non combatants from the air.

The first raids made by Germany on the UK were by "Zepps", airships which dropped bombs on Norfolk on 19th and 20th January 1915, causing death and injury.

But by the end of 1916 the British people were not feeling as vulnerable as they had in 1915 and 1916. The airships or Zeppelins were no longer such a threat, because a good line of defence had been installed against them: a wireless warning system, gun crews, searchlights, and aeroplane patrols.

Indeed the attention of the British government turned to the threat of U Boat attacks on merchant shipping. Gun deliveries were diverted from home defence against air attacks to the mercantile marine, and two squadrons of RFC pilots were sent to France, relieved of their Home defence duties.

The Germans realised that the Zeppelin was now a limited weapon and when a new Gotha twin engine plane was produced in autumn 1916, bombing attacks using aircraft became a real possibility.

Until this time Folkestone had escaped from the air raids and shelling by the German Navy that had affected other towns and cities, despite being a prime target. Folkestone harbour was one of the main embarkation points for troops headed for the Western Front. Many of the larger houses in the town were being used a rest camps for soldiers from the battlefields. At Shorncliffe Military Camp thousands of men were camped, including a large contingent from Canada, and the main line of communication from the Western Front to London ran through the town.

THE RAID

25th May 1917 was a Friday. It had been a warm and sunny late Spring day, and the shops in Tontine Street were still doing a brisk trade, although it was nearly six o clock. It was Whitsun Bank Holiday on Monday and many wives were purchasing extra provisions for the long week end. Mothers chatted as they queued for the green grocer or fruiterer, while their children played in the sunshine. An aeroplane circled overhead but few were alarmed, as most thought it was 'one of ours' from Dover. There were a series of crashes in the distance but again it was thought to be gun practice from one of the army camps in the vicinity. So the people of Folkestone were taken completely by surprise when the Gotha 'planes swooped down on the town, dropping their loads of high explosive bombs.

The aeroplanes approached the town from the west at about 14,000 feet. Some attacked Hythe and Shorncliffe Camp, others the west end of Folkestone itself, around Central Station and Bouverie Road East. They then made their way to the town centre and here the majority of the fatalities occurred when one of the bombs made a direct hit outside STOKES' Brothers greengrocers in Tontine Street.

The greatest number of killed an injured was caused by the bomb which fell on Tontine Street. Nearly 60 were killed instantly, many others died later from their injuries and over 100 suffered wounds. For those who witnessed it, the carnage was so appalling it could never be forgotten.

The Fire Brigade, Red Cross, Ambulance Corps, and Police were soon swamped by calls for help, and the Canadian Army Medical Corps and the Special Police were brought in to help with the removal of the dead and to rescue the injured. The cemetery and Royal Victoria Hospital mortuaries were soon filled, and the military hospitals at West Cliffe and Shorncliffe were also used for the injured.

The total number killed was 71: 16 men, 28 women and 27 children The total number injured was 96, but certainly this is a minimum number as there were many with minor injuries who did not attend hospital and were therefore not counted.

Outside Folkestone itself other bombs fell; 19 at Lympne, 19 at Hythe, 2 at Sandgate, 16 at Cheriton, and 18 at the military camps at St Martin's Plain, Dibgate and Shorncliffe.

At Shorncliffe a total of 18 soldiers (16 Canadians) were killed and 90 were wounded (86 of these were Canadians)

The death toll is shocking to us now, but was greeted with disbelief in 1917. Dover had been air raided 18 times, but the death toll had been 22 in total, although nearly 190 bombs had been dropped.

AFTERMATH

Censorship

Reporting the wars 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.

Why was there no warning?

One of the first questions asked after the raid was how had the Germans managed to attack? The attackers had approached not from the sea but from the land. The squadron that attacked Folkestone left is aerodromes in Flanders and flew over Essex, crossed the Thames Estuary at Gravesend, via Maidstone and Ashford towards Folkestone. There were 21 aircraft each carrying up to 6 50kg bombs. The official report after the war stated that 163 bombs with a total weight of 9257 lbs fell, causing 19,405 damage.

Folkestone and Shorncliffe received no warning although the Dover observers had reported the bombers approach 1 hours before the attack.

Both the RNAS and the RFC took to the air after the raid, 37 craft in total, but they were not capable of reaching the height at which the new Gothas flew.

The attack showed the inadequacy of the country's defence against aeroplane attack and aroused deep feelings across the country. As a result urgent steps were taken to protect.

It was later revealed that as the Gothas had flown over North Kent, they were heard at Maidstone, but not seen until they attacked at Folkestone. The jury at the inquest for the victims added their own opinion of the authorities "the jury condemn in the strongest possible manner the negligence of the local and military authorities in not having made arrangements by where the public could have been warned." It appears that the military authorities knew an attack was in progress, but did not warn the borough authorities.

As a result new anti aircraft guns were installed at Westenhanger, Cherry Garden Avenue and Earls Avenue. Search lights and warning sirens, dug-outs and shelters were provided. Some people left the area, and many of the private schools in the town closed for the duration. The frequent alarms and the fear of another attack caused stress and tension, and resulted in tired irritable adults and sleepy children in the schools. But although there were daylight and moonlight alarms, Folkestone never suffered another day like the Great Raid of 25th May.

FOOTNOTE

Folkestone Express Saturday 28th March 1925 p5

A patient and cheerful sufferer

Mrs Lily Caroline BOWBRICK, wife of Mr W BOWBRICK, a builder's foreman of Ashley Avenue, Folkestone. Paralysed from the waist down, but her spirit and fortitude have been remarkably heroic. Seriously ill on occasions, she finally passed away on Tuesday. Died aged 55. Admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital on 25th May 1917 with compound fractures to the right leg, numerous shrapnel wounds and a very bad bruise to her back. Her death was caused by heart failure due to septis from wounds suffered in an air raid.

Mr G W HAINES the Borough Coroner said 'After a lapse of over seven years we are ringing down the curtain on our wounds and sorrows. May those who were spared not be unmindful.'

SOURCES

Carlile, John Charles       Folkestone during the War     1920

Folkestone Express and Advertiser                2nd June 1917

Folkestone and Hythe Herald                          2nd June 1917
                                                                        9th June 1917
                                                                      16th June 1917

AUTHOR'S NOTE
As mentioned above, there were restrictions placed on the reporting of incidents such as the Folkestone Air Raid. It is possible that some names have been omitted or incorrectly reported by the press. The author would be grateful for any clarification offered by readers, in particular the names of those Canadian soldiers who died, and who were not recorded at the civilian inquests.

Further details concerning the actual injuries suffered by those who were killed are also available from the author. These were omitted to save space, but were reported in the local press who attended the inquests.

Janice Brooker

28th January 2001


FATALITIES


Florrie Rumsey c1900 - 25th May 1917


Florrie RUMSEY c1900 - 25th May 1917


SURNAME FIRST NAMES AGE RESIDENCE PLACE OF DEATH DATE OF DEATH NOTES
Arnold May Alexandra 21 19 Bouverie Road East injured 19 Bouverie Road East, died Moore Barracks Hospital 25th May 1917 widow of a soldier, Bombardier F Arnold, CFA
Banks Harold Hayward 25 20 Victoria Grove injured in Bouverie Road East, died Westcliffe Military Hospital 26th May 1917 chauffeur
Barker Mrs Eliza Mary 33 29 Bradstone Road injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917  
Bartleet Maggie Grey 24 or 34 27 Connaught Road Jointon Road 25th May 1917 wife of Sgt. Major Joseph J Bartleet RAMC
Beer Annie 28 90 Blackbull Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Ernest Beer, marine fireman
Beer Annie 2 90 Blackbull Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 daughter of Annie and Ernest Beer
Beer Arthur Stephen 11 67 Bridge Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Henry Beer, coal porter
Beer William James 9 67 Bridge Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Harry Beer, marine fireman
Bloodworth George Henry 26   injured 21 Bouverie Road East, died Westcliffe Military Hospital 25th May 1917 private soldier
Bowbrick Gertrude Elizabeth 12 81 Ashley Avenue Tontine Street 25th May 1917 daughter of Mr Walter Bowbrick, builder's foreman
Bowbrick Lily Caroline (Nellie) 55 81 Ashley Avenue injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 24th March 1925 wife of Mr Walter Bowbrick, builder's foreman. She remained in the hospital from 1917 until her death in 1925, paralysed from the waist down.
Bowbrick Mabel Esther 9 81 Ashley Avenue Tontine Street 25th May 1917 daughter of Mr Walter Bowbrick, builder's foreman
Brockway Sidney 63 17 Peter Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 Corporation outdoor employee
Burgin Dorothy Lillian 16 21 Oak Road, Cheriton Royal Victoria Hospital 31st May 1917 laundry worker, daughter of Mrs Mary Ann Ellender
Burke David John 42 29 St Winifred Road 21 Bouverie Road East 25th May 1917 a boot and shoe repairer.
Burvill Hilda Elizabeth 20 The Cottage, Blackbull Road injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 26th May 1917 daughter of Mr Albert Burvill, estate labourer
Butcher George Edward 44 27 Alexandra Street injured near Castle Inn, Foord, died Royal Victoria Hospital 6-Jun-17 a coal carter
Cason Annie Elizabeth 46 24 Military Avenue Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Arthur C Cason, barrack warden
Castle Albert Edward 41 27 Wear Bay Crescent Grange School, Shorncliffe Road 25-May-17 naval pensioner and gardener
Chapman Kathleen 16 Bates Hotel injured 21 Bouverie Road East, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917 housemaid at Bates Hotel, daughter of Alfred Chapman of Chilham Lees
Clark William 12 24 Mead Road injured Tontine Street, died at Westcliffe Military Hospital   boy scout, son of Stephen Clark
Considine Francis Henry 5 27 Oaks Road     son of a Canadian soldier
Cooper Phyllis Amies 10 3 Warwick Terrace injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 26th May 1917 daughter of Mr Albert Wallace Cooper, butcherís assistant
Daniels Albert Dennis 12 Coombe Farm Hawkinge Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Mr Albert Daniels, farmer
Day Frederick 52 4 Linden Crescent Tontine Street 25th May 1917 grocerís assistant
Dicker Edith Agnes 13 13 Richmond Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 daughter of Sarah and George Wilkie Dicker
Dicker Sarah Jane 41 13 Richmond Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Mr George Wilkie Dicker, manager of the Maypole Dairy Co.
Down Alfred Durrett 54 52 Royal Military Avenue     painter
Dukes Florence Edith 18 3 Devonshire Place, Horn Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 daughter of Mr Henry Barfert Dukes, mercantile clerk, a housemaid home for her holiday
Dukes Florence Elizabeth 51 3 Devonshire Place, Horn Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Mr Henry Barfert Dukes, mercantile clerk
Eales Edith May 18 27 Dudley Road injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 26th May 1917 daughter of Mr Arthur Eales, marine porter, bookeeper at Stokes Brothers. Died one day before her 18th birthday
Feist Nellie 50 Coombe Farm, Hawkinge Tontine Street 25th May 1917 married woman
Feist Stanley Albert 5 Coombe Farm, Hawkinge Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Mrs Nellie Feist
Francis Florence 33 46 Foord Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917  
Gould Edward or Ernest Stephen 40 not known injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917 coal carter in the employ of Anderson and Co.
Graves Richard Ashby 40   injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917 stable man, Pavilion Shades Stables
Grimes Edith Mary 24 14 Tontine Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 typist
Hall William Henry   68 Tontine Street injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 27th May 1917 pork butcher
Hambley Johannah Mary 67 32 Radnor Park Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 widow of Capt. Edgar Hambley, R.N.
Hambrook Ethel 12 1 Invicta Road Tontine Street   daughter of Mrs Hambrook
Harris Caroline 35 144 High Street Cheriton Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Joseph or James Harris, Cyclist Corps
Harrison Fanny or Annie 39 15 Bournemouth Road Tontine Street? 25th May 1917 spinster, no occupation
Hayes Dennis William 2yrs 9 months 25 East Street     son of Martha Hayes, his father having been killed a year ago
Hayes Martha Godden 30 25 East Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 widow of a soldier
Hayward Louisa Alice 37 38 Thanet Gardens Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Pte. W Hayward, The Buffs
Hickman Arthur David 5 93 Military Avenue Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Sgt-Major Hickman, Royal Scots
Holloway Mary Philhemina 9 13 Burrow Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 daughter of Mr Frederick Sidney Holloway, merchants clerk
Holloway Veronica 1yr 3 months 13 Burrow Road injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917 daughter of Mr Frederick Sidney Holloway, merchants clerk
Horn Edward 43 8 Radnor Cliffe, Sandgate Station Approach Road 25th May 1917 butler to Sir Thomas Devitt of Radnor Cliffe, Sandgate
Houdart Constant 33 99 Linden Crescent   25th May 1917 Belgian soldier
Hughes Rose 34 46 Foord Road     spinster, school teacher
Jackman Dorothy Bertha 14 12 Connaught Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 Daughter of Mr James Jackman, electrician
Jenner Company Quarter Master Sargeant Oron Alfred 26 Shorncliffe Camp Shorncliffe Camp 25-May-17 Soldier in the 3rd Reserve Bn, canadian Infantry, (Central Ontario Regt.). From Toronto Ontario.
Laxton Katherine Euphemia 72 19 East Cliffe Gardens or East Street     widow
Lee William   3 Marshland Road, New Eltham     general dealer, in Folkestone to make arrangements to take his donkeys to Dymchurch for the season
Lyth Daniel Stringer 52 Craigside, Castle Road, Hythe injured Hythe Churchyard, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917 verger of Hythe Parish Church
Marchment Jane 50 21 Manor Road 21 Manor Road 25th May 1917 cook to Mrs Callaghan, killed in the basement.
Maxted Elizabeth 31 5 Grove Road   25th May 1917 wife of William Arthur Maxted, butcherís manager
McDonald Agnes Curren 22 lodging at 12 Connaught Road, with Jackman family injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 1st June 1917 Canadian lady stenographer, waiting to proceed to France for ambulance work
McDonald Albert Edward Charles 11 30 Stuart Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Mr A Mc Donald, seaman, errand boy for Timothy Whites chemist in Tontine Street
McGuire Ernest Henry 6 15 Linden Crescent Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Mr Harry McGuire, marine fireman
Moss Jane Charlotte 20 204 High street Cheriton Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Pte George Moss, Labour Battalion
Moss Walter George 2 months 204 High Street Cheriton Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Pte George Moss
Norris Florence Kathleen 2 30 Blackbull Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 daughter of Alfred Norris, car mechanic
Norris Florence Louise 24 30 Blackbull Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of Alfred Norris, car mechanic
Norris William Alfred John 10 months 30 Blackbull Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of Alfred Norris, car mechanic
Reed Mabel 12 37 Mead Road injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917 daughter of Mr Charles Reed, cabdriver
Robinson John Walter Francis 6 64 St Michaels Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 son of John Robinson, a soldier
Rumsey Florence (Florrie) 17 29 Blackbull Road injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 26th May 1917 daughter of Mr Rumsey, fish merchant, bookeeper at Stokes Brothers
soldier     21 Bouverie Road East 25th May 1917 companion to Kathleen Chapman and George Henry Bloodworth  
Stokes *William Edmond 14 33a Harvey Street injured Tontine Street, died Shorncliffe Military Hospital 28th May 1917 son of William Henry Stokes, greengrocer
Stokes William Henry 46 33a Harvey Street injured Tontine Street, died Royal Victoria Hospital 25th May 1917 greengrocer and fruiterer
Terry Edith Gwendoline (Gwennie) 14 12 Connaught Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 school girl
Vane Alfred 36 8 Bradstone New Road Westcliffe Military Hospital 25th May 1917 jobbing gardener
Verschueren Hyppolite 41 Sandgate Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 Belgian soldier at Staff Quarters
Walton Doris Eileen Spencer 16 The Mount School, Julian Road Athelstan Ladies School Shorncliffe Road 25th May 1917 school girl, home address 25 Bernard Gardens, Wimbledon
Waugh Elizabeth Charlotte 48 47 Dover Road Tontine Street 25th May 1917 wife of John Waugh, a soldier on foreign service
Wilson Isabelle 80 11 East Street Tontine Street 25th May 1917 widow of Mr James Wilson, gardener


* Since this list was published on this page Jancie has been contacted by Maureen CARE, a descendant of the STOKES family. Maureen informed Jancie that the newspapers printed the wrong name for the younger STOKES son who died in the bombing. His name was not infact William Edmond but was Arthur Ernest. Maureen has recently written a book entitled Stokes and Co 1907 to the Present

The Injured - a list published in the Folkestone Express and Advertiser and Folkestone Herald 2nd June 1917


SURNAME FIRST NAMES AGE ADDRESS COMMENT
Allen Mrs   14 Castle Hill Avenue  
Anslow Clara (Mrs)   17 Fernbank Crescent  
Anslow Frederick child 17 Fernbank Crescent  
Ash W T (Mr.)   42 Pavilion Road  
Attwood     Westbourne Gardens  
Back William   28 Blackbull Road  
Banks Matilda   11 Bouverie Square  
Batchelor John   24 Radnor Park Crescent  
Birkett F   5 Connaught Road  
Bosmans Elizabeth   7 Copthall Gardens Belgian
Bowbrick Nellie (Mrs)   81 AshleyAvenue,Cheriton died 24th March 1925
Brooks Leonard child 27 St Johnís Street  
Brooman Horace   33 Morehall Avenue  
Brown Miss   9 Radnor Bridge Road  
Burgin Rose   21 Oak Road, Cheriton died 31st May 1917
Bury Beatrice   82 Linden Crescent  
Butcher George   27 Alexander Street  
Cadwell Eileen   12 East Cliffe Gardens  
Caplin Cissie   41 Tontine Street  
Challis Mrs   16 Ethelbert Road  
Chantler Grace   24 Darlington Street  
Chittenden Hilda child 28 St Johnís Street  
Clark John   26 St Johnís Street  
Clarke Mrs   16 East Street  
Cloke Sidney child 20 Linden Crescent  
Coleman Lily   28 St Johnís Street  
Collar William Henry   Red Cow Inn Foord Road  
Considine Mrs   27 Oak Road, Cheriton  
Cooper Mrs   3 Warwick Terrace  
Croucher Harry   38 Garden Road  
Davey Ernest   46 Military Avenue  
Drury Beatrice   82 Linden Crescent  
Duff Mrs   43 Queen Street  
Dunk W (Jnr)   92 Cheriton Road  
Eadie Jeannette   West Cliff Shades Inn  
Fagg Dorothy   17 Fernbank Crescent  
Featherbe Kate   68a Marshall Street  
Flower Maud   3 Pavilion Road  
Francis Palmer   1 Mill Field  
Friend Edward   8 Gloucester Place  
Goldsmith Miss   60 Coolinge Road  
Gosnold George   69 Tontine Street Proprietor of Gosnold Brothers Drapery Emporium
Harvey Mrs   93 Dover Road  
Hayes Peter   5 Blackbull Road  
Higgins Albert   49 Tontine Street  
Hoad Alfred   10 Ethelbert Road  
Holloway Alice (Mrs)   13 Burrow Road  
Houlden Walter   72 Tontine Street  
Iden Annie   39 Greenfield Road  
Jaion Mrs   102 Radnor Park Road  
Jenner Annie   21 Manor Road  
Jenner C      
Jones John   9 Radnor Bridge Road Councillor and proprietor of Brewery Tap Public House, Tontine Street
Jones S (Miss)   10 Dover Road  
Jordan Mary   56 Tontine Street  
Larkin Lily child 9 Thanet Gardens  
Leadbrates Margaret   59 Bournemouth Road  
McDonald Madge   12 Connaught Road  
McGuire Mrs   15 Linden Crescent  
Marsh Beryl (Miss)   29 Castle Hill Avenue  
Merton Paul child 7 Copthall Gardens Belgian
Miller James child 3 Garden Road  
Milton Lily   6 South Street  
Moererams DíEmanus     Belgian
Morris J      
Moyes J      
Muir A J      
Murphy Mary Ann   6 Grimston Gardens  
Nash Edward   63 Dudley Road  
Nicholls Emily   12 Albert Road, Hythe  
Nicholls Jane   12 Albert Road, Hythe  
Osborn Miss child 3 East Cliffe Villas  
Palmer G      
Patrick Daisy   107 Canterbury Road  
Ramsey G   44 Grimston Gardens  
Reed Mrs   32 Mead Road  
Reich Francis John   74 Tontine Street  
Robinson Mrs   124 Sandgate Road  
Savage Charles Vernon   31 Shellons Street  
Scrivens John   19 Watkin Road  
Shelver Florence   62 Blackbull Road  
Sherran Mrs   5 Harvey Street  
Smith Sarah   16 Palmerston Street  
Snowirt Miss     Belgian
Springate Winnie      
Stokes Frederick Charles      
Taylor Minnie (Miss)      
Thompson S (male)      
Thorn Mary      
Ticehurst Matilda      
Van Den Broele Eugene     Belgian
Vane Mrs      
Waite John     confectioner of Tontine Street
Whiting George child    
Whiting Rose child    
Wilson Mrs      


Many thanks to Janice for this wonderful contribution.

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