To make it easier to find the documents featured throughout our pages, we will list them all here and update when new items are added. Simply click to open and read.
It was not uncommon for people to keep ‘friendship albums’ during the Great War; it was an opportunity for people to record not only their friendship, but also thanks. These little books were more than just autograph albums, sometimes containing long and heartfelt messages. They were particularly popular with nurses, providing a place for patients to write what convention forbade them to say.
Dorothy Earnshaw worked as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at the manor House Hospital on The Leas in Folkestone. She was an avid collector of admirers and her unique and precious album can now be enjoyed by everyone. There are over 100 pages in the album. It is worth spending time reading it, as there are some true gems to be found. You might even find a relative there.
Click HERE to open Dorothy’s Album
Following the success of this year’s living history event in June, when girls and staff from the Folkestone School for Girls helped us to recreate wartime Folkestone on The Leas, we are making available some of the resources used by the girls to learn about the roles they played. One group dressed as members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and showed how many of jobs done by soldiers were taken over by the WAACs to release the men for front line service.
to open a PDF document with information and images explaining how the WAACs arrived and trained in Folkestone.
For the past few years, members of Step Short have been visiting local primary schools to give presentations on the history of the Canada Day ceremony at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. Aimed at the children who have been chosen to attend the ceremony, held each year on 1st July, we have a “hands on” encouraging the children to imagine themselves as participants in the events. Click here to read some of the material provided to the schools. This project was described in the Bulletin, the journal of the Western Front Association.
Stop the War is an interactive classroom game for GCSE students. Players take the role of world leaders of the 6 main countries involved. It is centred round the July 1914 crisis and, given secret and public information, the players have to decide to go to war or stop the war. Six groups of Folkestone Academy students played the game on 8th March. Unfortunately none of the groups was able to stop the war, but we all enjoyed the experience and got to look at the war from a very different perspective. And there were some lively discussions! The game covers that part of the national curriculum and engages and enthuses young people in subject which is otherwise difficult to teach. It was developed by Adrian Lockwood with help from Philip Gearing and Michael George and the Head of History at the Academy Ian Taylor. We are planning to take this into a number of other schools. Apart from the learning opportunities for the students we are also collecting evaluation data to help with developing other Step Short projects.
In 2011 Step Short collaborated with the Folkestone Library and Heritage Studies staff. We devised a day long itinerary with, in the morning, a Town Trail to identify local WW1 landmarks and stories and, in the afternoon the chance to examine some of the remarkable artifacts held at the Heritage Archives. This programme is especially valuable for ‘Focus Days’. We were delighted that one of the students this year (2011) went on the chose to research the Great Air Raid as her EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). Click Here to see the Town Trail route and questionnaire. Sorry, but we cannot provide the answer sheet as we will use this questionnaire again.
Books on the Great War can be found in abundance. Our aim is to locate those which have a relevance to the role of Folkestone and its environs during the war. Initially, the books will be listed on this page; as more are added, a dedicated library page will be opened. Please let us have your suggestions for titles to be included.
A valuable source of free online material can be found at the Internet Archive Digital Library.
The book is a detailed account of all major events and people during WW1 and, although the language may at times seem quaint, it is readable and is generously illustrated. Click on the image to open and read or download online (via Archive.org)
There have not been many books about Folkestone and WW1 since Revd Carlile published his in c1920. Dover and Folkestone during the Great War, by Michael and Christine George, was published in 2008. As the authors are heavily involved with Step Short, we won’t ‘plug’ the book, except to say that it is now available online with Google Books. It is missing a few pages, but most of the text and images can be accessed HERE
The USA entered the war in 1917 and American troops began to arrive in Britain in increasing numbers. Although the time spent by ‘the Yanks’ in Folkestone might be counted only in days, before crossing to France, it is clear from several books about American units that they took full advantage of their brief stay in the town. Below is a selection of these books.
The next book follows the story of ‘The 112th’, and introduces us to the ‘Doughboys’. Again it is searchable, with page 80–of particular interest. What did the residents of Folkestone make of their new visitors? The American troops were impressed with the town: ‘From 9 until noon the boys of the 112th had the freedom of Folkestone, and were delighted beyond measure with the trim-looking little Channel city, with its quaint streets and attractive shops.’ Click here to read
The task of ensuring the safe passage of the millions of service and other personnel between Folkestone and Boulogne during the Great War rested on the shoulders of the Royal Navy, specifically the Dover Patrol. The warships were based at Dover Harbour and they were supplemented by aircraft and airships of the Royal Naval Air Service. The warships gathered outside Folkestone Harbour ready to take charge of the troop ships and escort them across the Channel. In command of the Dover Patrol at the outbreak of war was Rear Admiral Hood, soon replaced by Admiral Bacon who continued in post until 1918 when Sir Roger Keyes took over. Bacon’s two volume work on the Dover Patrol is essential reading for anyone wanting to know more about this vital work of the Royal Navy.
With the First Canadian Contingent by Mary Plummer (1915) After their first few months on the inhospitable Salisbury Plain, the Canadian army moved to Folkestone. Mary Plummer was in charge of organising Comforts for the men and her book contains some vivid accounts of those days, with many fascinating photographs. Click here to read the book online.
Again, we find the Canadians providing details of training and recreation in Folkestone. Here, the story of the Fifth Canadian Field Ambulance is told, including several contemporary photographs. A book well worth reading!. Click here to download.
The avalanche of wounded soldiers and servicemen and women was well beyond the capacity of pre-war medical services. Stepping into the breach was a well organised volunteer army of nurses and carers. Although those who returned to Blighty to be cared for were dispersed throughout the country, it was in Kent that the majority of medical services were centered. This book is a detailed account of the work of the VADs, the Voluntary Aid Detachments in the county, and is full of information about the work, the places and the people who carried out this essential work. Click here to read the book and see the many rare photos.
This is a very special book and tells of a young man’s flying career during WW1. His time is divided between Folkestone, Dover and France. In his letters home, Rosher makes light of the dangers, but he cannot hide the fact that many of his friends died. His own life was cut short when he crashed his aircraft at Dover. Read this unique account by clicking here