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Our March 2017 Newsletter


  Welcome to the March Newsletter.  Those of you able to come to our meetings will, I am sure, agree with me that we have already had a diverse and fascinating selection of talks so far this year.  Many thanks to Nigel and Norman for their hard work in arranging this for us.  The topical picture this month is of HMS Hardy an  Acasta-class destro…

'No Parades' – A song for the end of the World War I


Members of The Western Front Association might be interested in a new song, commissioned by 'Away from the Western Front', a charity which is looking at the First World War outside Western Europe – in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Macedonia, Libya, Tanzania and many other countries. The song is called ‘No Parades’.   It is in the style of a so…

One of the last true cavalry charges: The Charge of The Dorset Yeomanry at Agagia, Western Desert, 26 February 1916


Britain's declaration of war on Turkey on 5 November 1914 created a threat to the Suez Canal, a vital artery of the British Empire. Whilst the main threat to the Canal came from the east (across the Sinai desert) the Turks and their German allies recognised that a threat to the British from the west could assist their ambitions of cutting off the S…

24 June 1917: Capt. William Parkinson Holt


Parents Richard (a surgeon) and Maggie (née Parkinson). One of three boys, at the 1901 Census the family  lived in a 14 roomed house with three domestic servants on Albert Road, Southport.  William attended Burnley Grammar School and received a scholarship to Aldenham. After moving to Didsbury with his parents he spent the years leading up to …

1 July 1916 : Charles Stonehouse


His father was Francis Stonehouse, a draper and his mother Mary Ann Stonehouse. One of seven children, Charles went on to train as an architect.   At the 1891 England Census that family lived at 32 Adelaide Terrace (all seven children and two live in domestic servants). By the time of the 1901 England Census the family lived at 42 Adelaide Terrace…

20 July 1916 : Pte. Alexander McGregor McKenzie


He was a farmer. He enlisted at Keswick, South Australia on 7 May 1915 and embarked on overseas service from Adelaide aboard HMAT Kanowna on 23 June 1915. After serving at Gallipoli with the 27th Bn AIF from September 1915, Alexander moved to Egypt. After a period of illness, he transferred to the 32nd Battalion and moved to France, arrivi…

The Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine


In 1847 the British authorities in Hong Kong began using Indians as gun lascars, or general workers, because the climatic conditions were unsuitable for white soldiers, and also because Indians were much more economical to employ and to administer. The practice spread throughout the British possessions in the Far East and by 1908 all the gunners we…

15 March 1918 : 2nd Lieut. Harold ‘Harry’ Curtis-Beals


2nd Lieut. Harold ‘Harry’ Curtis-Beals RAF Parents John and Margaret. Educated in Boston. Enlisted in the A.S.C. (M.T) 15 April 1915 11 March 1917 he married May Katherine Francis (born 1893) at the Parish Church, Milton, Northampton.  Gazetted 2nd Lieut. R.A.F. 19 Jan 1918 he served with the Expeditionary Force in Egypt from August 1917. He…

Ep. 124 – Archibald Wavell – William Franklin


William Franklin talks about the First World War career of Archibald Wavell.

21 April 1917: Pte David John Rees


David was the youngest son of Samuel Rees (a farmer in 1901 who died later that year) and Margaret (née Haries)  Educated Mydrim Council School Age 19 in 1911 he’s working as a miner and living with his cousins (an entirely bilingual family) in Fronheulog, Tycroes, Pantyffynnon.  He joined the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry in August 1914 and served w…

7 May 1918 : 2nd Lieut. John Leslie Godfrey


Fourth son of Joseth (a chartered secretary) and Louisa (née William) Godfrey from Finsbury Park. 1901 John was 6, and living at home with his parents, his 4 sisters and 3 brothers and a nursemaid.  1911 now age 16, John was living at home still with his parents, four sisters and four brothers, a visitor and two servants in their 14 roomed ho…

18 May 1917 : Richard John Grandin


Parents Elias Grandin and Louise (née Alix). Richard was educated first at Victoria College, Jersey and on the Training Ship Conway and then at the Lycée St. Breuc, France.  At the 1911 Census Richard was at home in Jersey with his now widowed father, older sister and three domestic servants. His mother Louis had died that January 1911.…

“He spent his dear boy’s life for England” - The tragic story of 2/Lt Stewart Ridley


Engine failure was a persistent hazard for fliers during the Great War, often with fatal consequences.  Here we have the story of a gallant young airman who met his end in a dreadful way due to a malfunctioning engine. Stewart Ridley was born on 6 July 1896, the second son of Mr and Mrs T. W. Ridley of Willimoteswick, in Redcar, North Yorkshire, a…

29 July 1918 : Charles Foster


Second son of William Foster (who owned a brass foundry he had founded) and Emma (née Haig - no relation) At the 1881 England Census the parents had four children and two domestic servants and lived at 63 Savile Park Road, Halifax In March 1881 Charles’s mother died and his younger brother Harold died in June that year. At 2 years old Charles w…

The Battle of Mughar Ridge: One soldier's story


By the autumn of 1917, the allied forces had advanced from Egypt and were on the verge of advancing into Palestine. Two attempts had been made earlier in the year, but a third attack under General Allenby was planned. On 27th October 1917, the British started a bombardment of Gaza. The Turks had been fed reports indicating that a third frontal atta…

19 November 1917 : Sgt James William Blake


Of 1 King Street, Burnley, James enlisted into the 5th Bn East Lancs (Regtl. Number 2991) on 15 October 1914. A book-keeper by trade, he was also associated with the town's theatrical businesses on a part-time basis. After volunteering for active duty, he proceeded overseas in March 1915, serving in Egypt and Gallipoli with the 1/5th battalion be…

Cecil Patrick Healy: the only Australian Olympic Gold medalist to die in war KIA 29 August 1918.


Cecil Patrick Healy - the only Australian Olympic Gold medalist to die in war – was a prominent figure in the swimming world in Australia and beyond, for more than 15 years. An early proponent of the new crawl stroke and the side breathing technique, he contributed articles to the press about swimming and surf-bathing. Above: Cecil Healy picture…

15 November 1917 Oswald Chambers, Christian Minister and Teacher


The infant Oswald moved from Aberdeen with his father Rev. Clarence Chambers, a Kent born baptist minister (without charge) his mother Hannah (née Bullock) three brothers and three sisters to Newcastle Road, Stoke on Trent in 1876 where the family still lived at the 1881 Census at 15 Newcastle Road, Stoke on Trent with the addition of one 15 year…

From Gaza to Jerusalem


At the start of 1917, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) crossed the border from Egypt into Palestine.  After a pause to build up their logistics, in March and April 1917 they made two failed attempts to break through the Ottoman lines around Gaza and advance north into the country.  The summer was spent digging in, re-organising, and re-buildi…

In the Centennial Footsteps of the Great War from Sarajevo to Versailles VOL I  by Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy


It is an ambitious author and photographer who states that the aim of his book is to ‘help prevent the Third World War’, but from someone who is now Hungary’s Ambassador to France, I applaud his ambition that if we ‘understand the reasons and the consequences of the First World War’, we can understand the reasons and consequences of all war, let al…

The First Battle of the Suez Canal - a presentation by Stuart Hadaway


Stuart's presentation focuses on the First Battle of Suez Canal. This will include the actions of Indian forces, the Royal Navy, etc.