Lydd in the Great War

Welcome to the town page for Lydd. Explore your town map to discover people who lived in your town during the First World War.

Similarly to Hythe, Lydd was also known as a military town even prior to the First World War, housing an established Army Training Camp. The Royal Garrison Artillery was a military barracks, and the School of Siege Artillery served as an important training facility. As well as this, as a sister to the Hythe Ranges, the Lydd Ranges were a part of the Cinque Ports Firing Ranges, which also contained a military hospital. The Lydd Ranges had been used for trials of techniques and munitions, with the explosive Lyddite taking its name from the place where it was developed.

The First World War saw the expansion of Lydd as a military garrison, and the Camp was extended through the building of metal huts which were known to the locals as Tin Town. Men from Lydd served in all theatres of the War, and those who lived and trained at the Army Barracks were joined by a variety of combatants from Canadian riflemen and the Australian forces.

It is interesting to note that within the Army Camp itself there were over five miles of railway track. The railway link from Lydd to Ashford was operated by the South Eastern Railway, and traffic was greatly increased during the war as it was a direct route for supplies to the Camp and for other training facilities within the area. In 1916 the No 2 Royal Flying Corps Balloon School was established in partnership to the Siege Artillery Brigade. Balloons were used for artillery range spotting and the balloon sheds and camp were noticeable from the town due to the flat terrain.

For the locals, another visible aspect of the military within the town would have been patrols carried out by the Kent Cyclist Battalion, and in 1918 Lydd became a home base to the 2/1st Cyclist Battalion.

Please add information to your town page by clicking Upload Your Story. Tell those important stories about your relatives – share their experiences to help build a picture of your community during this period. Don’t forget to check out your local clubs and societies, and whilst you are exploring our site take a look at the other towns around the coast to discover more about Kent’s rich history during the First World War.

1. Augusta Collins

Augusta-Collins

2. Tandy Nee Colins

Tandy-nee-collins

3. West Rype

West Rype

This is where the Scouts met, including Henry (Harry) G Balchin
He transferred to a the Yorkshire Light Infantry after being stationed in Yorkshire in the Service Corps. Sent to France he was killed in action on 13th November 1917 aged 19 and his battlefield cross is in the Church

4. Picturedrome

Picturedrome

The Picturedrome featured live music and advertised itself as a high class establishment. The manager was Mr Bertram during the War and he advertised for lady musicians to play the piano, violin and cello.

5. Sports Picturedrome

Sports Picture Drome

The Picturedrome featured live music and advertised itself as a high class establishment. The manager was Mr Bertram during the War and he advertised for lady musicians to play the piano, violin and cello.

6. Rosa Jones

Rosa Jones

Rosa Jones was aged 30 when she was engaged by the Red Cross as a trained nurse arriving in France on the 20th October 1914. She served overseas for the entirety of the War in France and in 1920 she was still serving at The Hague. Rosa was awarded the 1914 Star for her service- not many nurses received this.

7. Lydd Cinema

Lydd Cinema

8. The Lane

The Lane, LyddThe Lane, Lydd

9. Soldiers Rest Home

Soldiers Rest HomeSoldiers Rest Home

The home was used to billet soldiers during the War.

10. William Chesterman

W.ChestermanWilliam Chesterman

William Chesterman attended the Lydd Wesleyan Sunday School when visiting his grandfather and was a choir member.Although William was working in Sierra Leone when War broke out he returned and enlisted in the Queen’s West Surrey Regiment and was an acting Sergeant Major when he was killed in action on the 30th April 1917 in France

11. Albert Victor Russel

Albert Victor Russell

12. William John Marshall

William John Marshall

William John Marshall’s home address was Poplar House, Lydd. He had joined the Royal Navy in 1906 aged 18. He served on several ships during the War including HMS Hibernia at the Dardenelles in 1915 and was a Petty Officer. William continued to sail after the War with the Royal Fleet Reserve until 1927.

13. High Street

High Street

14. Percival Moles

Percival Moles

Percival Fitz-Patrick Moles ( b 1899); whose parents ran the Soldiers Home; joined the Royal Flying Corps in October 1917 as soon as he was 18, he died of illness in 1919.

15. George Paine Photo

George Paine Photo

George Henry Paine whose family lived at the Beehive during WW1, served in Indian Expeditionary Force. He was wounded several times and finally demobilised in 1920. He was a well-known local publican, hi final pub being The Star.

16. Lydd Fire Brigade

Lydd Fire Brigade

During the First World War this was the Fire Station. It now houses Lydd Town Museum which has a number of interesting WW1 displays. Daily from July 23rd until Sept 24th, 2 30 till 5pm, then weekends in Oct, 2 30 till 5pm

17. George Pain Service Certificate

George Pain Service CertificateGeorge Pain Service CertificateGeorge Paine Service Certificate

George Henry Paine whose family lived at the Beehive during WW1, served in Indian Expeditionary Force. He was wounded several times and finally demobilised in 1920. He was a well-known local publican, hi final pub being The Star.

18. George Paine after WW1

George Paine after WW1

George Henry Paine whose family lived at the Beehive during WW1, served in Indian Expeditionary Force. He was wounded several times and finally demobilised in 1920. He was a well-known local publican, hi final pub being The Star.

19. George Pain in Service

George Pain in Service

George Henry Paine whose family lived at the Beehive during WW1, served in Indian Expeditionary Force. He was wounded several times and finally demobilised in 1920. He was a well-known local publican, hi final pub being The Star.

20. Raymond Turner Photo (Front and Back)

Raymond Turner PhotoRaymond Turner Photo

Raymond Turner was the son of Horace (the local shoe repairer) and Caroline and lived at 2 New Street –. Raymond was a Private in the 7th Battalion the Buffs (East Kent Regiment) and fell during the battle of the Somme on 13th July 1916, aged 22 and is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial.

21. Raymond Turner Death Penny and Medals

Raymond Turner Death PennyRaymond Turner Death Penny and Medals

Raymond Turner was the son of Horace (the local shoe repairer) and Caroline and lived at 2 New Street –. Raymond was a Private in the 7th Battalion the Buffs (East Kent Regiment) and fell during the battle of the Somme on 13th July 1916, aged 22 and is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial.

22. Joe Richardson

Chris Richardson speaks about his grandfather who fought in both WW1 and WW2:



‘This is a classic of Joe, aged 17– they must have made the photo into a postcard (a big new thing in 1911). This was three years before the war, and he was training in Lydd, Kent which was the main military training camp for testing explosives (built in 1888) – there was no thought of a War in 1911 – so Joe had quite a life that we didn’t know about. Joe marked himself with an ‘X’ but the postcard was never posted so he kept it through both wars (he fought in both) and gave it to us just before he died aged 71 (March 7th 1894 to December 9th 1965).'



557LYD - 1911 Postcard from Lydd Military Training Garrison 2

Looking at Joe’s WW1 record (damaged and partially burned by a bomb in WW2) – I note he was in the MEF. The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) was part of the British Army during World War 1 that commanded all Allied forces at Gallipoli and Salonika. Once Salonika became the sole Mediterranean theatre the MEF was commanded by General Archibald Murray who was based in Egypt and whose command also involved defence of the Suez Canal from Turkish attacks. As the importance of the Sinai front grew, a separate headquarters called the Egyptian Expeditionary Force was formed (in March 1916). This is the place where Joe told us he had killed several Turks in the fighting to stop the Turks overrunning the vital Suez Canal. Below is a picture of the Turkish troops as they dug in for the attempt to take the canal.



558LYD - Turkish troops attempting to take the Suez Canal 2

And as the Turkish Forces prepared to attack Suez.'



559LYD - Turkish Forces prepare to attack Suez 2

'The battle for Suez'



560LYD - Battle for Suez 2

'Joe was a Sergeant, commanding a field gun similar to this – with a team of 6 men per gun'



561LYD - A Field Gun 2

Courtesy of Chris Richardson Child (Grandson)


23. The Royal Garrison Artilary at Lydd

The Postcard below shows the Royal Garrison Artilery at Lydd. Judging by the language, we believe the postcard is from a student to his old teacher in Cumberland. The card was sent 11th Feb 1916



284LYD - R.G.A At Lydd (Front & Back)

The Transcribed text reads:



‘Dear Sir, Sorry I did not write sooner. This is the kind of gun I am training on expect to go abroad with same. Hoping you are keeping A1 like myself. I am working for my living at last. Joe.’



‘Mr J. T. Beatson, Whitehaven Road, Cleaton Moar ,Cumberland’



Courtesy of D Price


24. Siege Artillery School Lydd camp 1915

Simon Coxhill is looking for any more information on his great grandfather.



260LYD - Siege Artillery School Lydd camp 1915

This photo is taken from a family album and reads:



‘Just a gentle reminder H. Coxhill Lydd Camp Kent 21.8.15’



Courtesy of Simon Coxhill


25. Harry Mittell

This certificate was awarded to Harry Mittell for his service as a Special Constable in Lydd throughout the First World War.



70LYD - Harry Mittell

Harry was a native of Lydd, being born in mid 1875/76; the family had a connection with farming, however he was listed in an early census as residing at Dolphin’s Inn, South Street, Lydd.



Image and text courtesy of Harry Mittell’s great niece, Judy Winstanley.

26. Lydd Camp Main Gate

This card was sent in 1915 by Dick to his friend Jack. Dick gives his address as 19 Siege Comp, 4 Section, Lydd, and promises his friend a long letter which he will write when he is next on guard all night- this gives some idea of the lack of activity in this location. The card was sent 15th March 1915



11LYD-Lydd-Camp-Main-Gate-Postcard

The transcribed text reads:



‘19 Siege Company, 4 Section, Lydd, Kent’



‘Dear Jack, Sorry I cant get the card I spoke about they are all sold but you see I arrived back safe. will write a letter next time I am on guard all night so you see what I am on. Best wishes to you both Dick’



‘Mr John Chalker, 10 Bradford Rd, Sydenham, S.E, London



Courtesy of D.Price.


27. Lydd Camp

7LYD - Lydd Camp

An unusual image from inside the camp showing the large guns which were used for training. There appears to be an inspection taking place outside of the hut on the right of the picture. These huts appear to be the original brick built huts rather than the tin huts which were erected during the First World War due to the expansion of operations at the Camp.



Courtesy of D.Price.

28. Greetings from Lydd

This postcard was sent 20th Jan 1917 from Sydney who had probably been stationed at Lydd for training on the ranges. We do not know which regiment he was serving with, only that he was moving onto Bristol. The picture of the guns on the rail track is interesting because it shows some of the extensive rail network which existed within the camp.



57LYD – Lydd (Front & Back Of Postcard)

The transcribed text reads:



"My Darling Wife, Just a line to say that I am in the advance party to go to Bristol, and shall be off on Monday. I don't know for certain yet, but I think I shall be able to spend most of Sunday with you at least, probably coming about Friday, but will let you know later Darling. Have just sent a card like this to (?) Gothard, and promised to write from Bristol. Excuse me now Darling, but I will write a long letter from B. With all my love & kisses from your ever devoted Sydney."



Courtesy of D Price.