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The great Folkstone air raid

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Auteur Bericht

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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jul 2011 17:42    Onderwerp: The great Folkstone air raid Reageer met quote

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.

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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Jan 2014 18:26    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Great Air Raid of 1917

The war had touched Folkestone in so many ways and, when there was heavy fighting on the Western Front, the guns in Flanders and France could clearly be heard. From The Leas could be seen the troopships with their Royal Navy escorts and, overhead, the airships of the RNAS. Folkestone had opened its arms to the Belgian refugees and to the thousands of troops who had descended on the town. No one could say that the town was not Ďdoing its bití. On the other hand, while so many other towns on the Kent and Essex coasts had been shelled or bombed, Folkestone seemed to have been left alone by the enemy. The mayor of neighbouring Hythe had voiced the belief of many when he wrote to a prominent London newspaper suggesting that this small area of Kent would continue to enjoy immunity from attack because of the aid given in 1878 to a stricken German navy ship, the Grosser Kurfurst, and the lavish memorial in the Cheriton Road cemetery erected by the town for the victims. For whatever reason, Folkestone had so far been left alone.
The Great Air Raid shattered Folkestoneís sense of security, and the shock wave was felt throughout the country. Such was the outpouring of anger that mobs took to the streets and attacked shops and businesses suspected of any German connection.

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If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied
-Rudyard Kipling-
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