Margate in the Great War

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

A popular tourist destination before the First World War, Margate has a rich history as a seaside town. With the start of the War in 1914, Margate, and the surrounding villages, became a haven for many people with not only the opening of The Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital at Quex, but also through Margate’s numerous hotels which were considered perfect for use as convalescent homes. The town wanted to continue to attract visitors despite the War as evidenced by entertainment provision, for example at the famous Winter Gardens and in 1915 with the opening of a Cinema de Luxe.

Nevertheless, Margate was not immune to the devastating effects of the War. The town was shelled from the sea despite the defence tactics of situating guns along the seafront at Palm Bay.

As well as from the sea, there was also a danger from the air. The Zeppelins were particularly frightening for the local residents as they could glide in silently, and sometimes there was no warning. By 1917 there were improved air defences which halted the daylight raids, but night time attacks continued, with civilians using the Margate Caves to shelter from the bombing.

As well as from the sea, there was also a danger from the air. The Zeppelins were particularly frightening for the local residents as they could glide in silently, and sometimes there was no warning. In March of 1916, Margate witnessed the demise of the first Zeppelin to be brought down by a gun crew, when it crashed into the sea. The air ship broke up upon the Margate Sands, although these lie off the coast 6 miles distant from the town, at low tide parts of the wreckage is still visible today.

However it was not until Margate was attacked by aircraft that there were civilian deaths, with the names of eighteen persons who lost their lives in enemy air raids on Margate in WW1 listed separately on Margate War Memorial. By 1917 there were improved air defences which halted the daylight raids, but night time attacks continued.

The Royal Naval Air Station at St Mildred’s Bay, Westgate-on-Sea opened in June 1914 and continued throughout the war.  An airfield adjacent to the seaplane base was opened in 1915 and, the following year, an airfield was opened at Manston – just three miles behind Margate.

Men from Margate served in all of the services, including the mercantile marine, and within the town there is a War Memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives. Also included on the Memorial are the names of ten munitions workers who lost their lives in the Faversham Uplees explosion of 2nd April 1916.

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. Margate College

Margate College

2. Fletcher

Fletcher

3. Chiesman

Chiesman

4. Rodes

Rodes

5. Police Naval Reserve

Police Naval Reserve

6. Barnstable

Barnstable

7. Cornwall Gardens Dugout

Cornwall Gardens Dug-out

8. Foreness Point

Foreness Point Foreness Point

9. Jetty Defences

Jetty Defences

10. Margate College

Margate College

11. Wanstead House School

Wanstead House School

12. Cottage Hospital

Cottage Hospital

13. Volunteer Force

Volunteer Force

14. Mayor received EK Rifles

Mayor Received EK Rifles

15. Parade at Cecil Square

Parade Cecil Sq.

16. Soldiers at Cecil Square

Soldiers Non Uniform Cecil Sq.

17. Map of Dugouts

Map of Dug-outs Map of Dug-outs

18. Trinity Square Dugout

Trinity Square Dugout

19. Victoria Road Drill Hall

victoria road drill hall
Naval review at head of Jetty 1910

21. Drill Hall Hawley Square

Drill Hall Hawley Square

22. Bomb Sites

Bomb Sites

23. General Inspection in Dane Park

General Inspectionin Dane

24. Bishop of Dover

Bishop of Dover

25. Athelete Volunteer Force in Dane Park

Athelete Volunteer Force in Dane Park

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26. Hodges Gap

Hodges Gap

27. Margate Boys’ Xmas Fund

Margate Boys' Xmas Fund

28. Mayor Presenting Award

Mayor presenting award

29. Mayor Awarding Medal

Mayor Awarding Medal

30. Athelete Volunteer Force in Cecil Square

Athelete Volunteer Force

31. Marine Drive

Marine Drive

32. The Parade

The Parade

33. Union Cresent

Union Cresent

34. Newgate Gap, Cliftonville

9.30pm  August 1915

Margate

651mar-newgate-gap-cliftonville-front651mar-newgate-gap-cliftonville-back 

The transcribed text reads:

R.E.K.M.R.

56 Trinity Square

Margate

Bailing Parade

Dear A

Just going to have a dip. Are you coming? All mixed bathing. Here is lovely. There is 300 in the water now. Heard from Lizzy yesterday and she tells me she will be home for a fortnight soon. How are all at home. I am writing this on the sand waiting for my turn to go and change. We are billeted close to here in haste.

From Bill

 

To Miss A Ellen

Next Black Horse

Hawkinge

Folkestone

 

35. Isle of Thanet Evacuation Plan

644mar-isle-of-thanet-evacuation-plan

36. Westbrook Promenade

The Sands and Promenade Westbrook Margate

The seaplane referred to in the transcript below was most probably based at St Mildred’s Bay Westgate which was a Royal Navy Air Service ( RNAS) base from 1914. In early August the call went out locally for volunteers to relieve the guard of 15 men at the airbase. There was also an airfield at the top of the cliffs but this was a very difficult place to land or take off from and after several accidents the land based aeroplanes were moved to Manston from 1915-1916.

628mar-the-sands-the-promenade-westbrook-margate-front

628mar-the-sands-the-promenade-westbrook-margate-back

The transcribed text reads:

27 May 1915

From: 6 Jubilee Terrace, Margate

Dear M,

We arrived safe had a nice journey not so much walking about. It is lovely down here, been sitting down on the sands all afternoon had a lovely view of a seaplane going over the water

Love to all

George

Mrs F Dunster

Chapel House

St Michaels

Tenterden

Kent

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

37. Private Frank Allan Urry

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private Frank Allan Urry

Son of: Walter B & Elizabeth Frances Urry of ‘Staveley Lodge’ 3 Northdown Ave, Cliftonville, Margate

Service Number: 52024

Unit: 24th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

Date of death: 2nd May, 1917

Age: 30 yrs



Research courtesy of John T Williams

38. Sergeant Leofrie Arthur Harrison

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Sergeant Leofrie Arthur Harrison

Son of: Arthur Harrtson of Broadstairs

Husband of: Florence Mary Harrison of Rose Cottage, Linksfield Road, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent

Service Number: 17573

Unit: 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment

Date of death: 28th May, 1918

Age: 24 yrs

Burial Location: Berlin South Western Cemetery

Grave Ref: XIV, D, 4



Research courtesy of John T Williams

39. Private Robert George Greenstreet

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private Robert George Greenstreet

Son of: George Greenstreet of Margate

Husband of: A.J. Greenstreet of 7 Laume Villas, Gordon Road, Westwood, Margate

Service Number: G/26252

Unit: 11th Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

Date of death: 5th August, 1917

Age: 35 yrs

Burial Location: Bedford House Cemetery

Grave Ref: Enclosure No 4, VII, B, 19



Research courtesy of John T Williams

40. Lieutenant Walter Owen Edis

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Lieutenant Walter Owen Edis

Birth Location: Bedfordshire Yeomanry

Son of: Harry and Laura Edis of 42 Connaught Road, Margate, Kent

Commissioned: August 1916

Rank: Lieutenant (February 1917)

Date of death: 29th March, 1918

Age: 25 yrs

Memorial location: Pozieres Memorial

Reference: Panel 7



Research courtesy of John T Williams


41. Private Arthur Harry Edis

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private Arthur Harry Edis

Son of: Harry and Laura Edis of 42 Connaught Road, Margate, Kent

Service Number: PW/5484

Unit: 1st/7th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment

Date of death: 24th August, 1918

Age: 29 yrs

Burial Location: Vis-En-Artois Memorial

Grave Ref: Panel 8-9



Research courtesy of John T Williams


42. Palm Bay Cliftonville

This postcard shows a view of Cliftonville, Margate. The card was sent 23rd July 1915



274MAR - Cliftonville - Palm Bay (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:



‘My Dear Flo, All’s well so far as regards my pass, and hope to be @ London Rd Station somewhere here around 10’clock tomorrow night. If anything else turns up, will give you all news when I come. Your Old Bert xxxxxxxxxx’



‘Miss V. Vass, 2 Totness Road, Manchester, Lancashire’



Courtesy of D Price

43. The Chetwynd Family

Pictured here is a sketch of Denis Chetwynd’s mother who was a Red Cross Nurse at Quex Park Mansion in Birchington during the Great War. Quex ParK became a Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in 1914 by its owner Major Powell Cotton. Mrs Chetwynd nursed the wounded Belgians at the beginning of the war and later went on to also treat many other nationalities.



324MAR - Mrs Chetwynd A Red Cross Nurse

Denis also told us about his father who enlisted early in the war, but was invalided out after 6 weeks on medical grounds from a childhood accident that resulted in limited mobility of one arm. He subsequently spent the remainder of the war as a Telegraphist (his peacetime occupation) around the coasts of England and Northan Ireland on secret war work with the armed forces.



Image and information courtesy of Denis Chetwynd


44. Guns defending the coast at Margate

'The two images show guns defending the coast against further German bombardment of Thanet from the sea. Both images have a note on the back stating that the guns were located at Margate. I believe that the guns were located east of Cliftonville and near Foreness. None of the buildings shown in these photographs exist today.'



138MAR - Naval Guns at Foreness

'Thanet was bombarded by German destroyers on two occasions; once on the 25th of February 1917 and again on the 27th of April 1917.  Three lives were lost at Broadstairs (at Reading Street) in the first raid* and another two lives were lost at Ramsgate in the second raid.  Fortunately, there were no casualties from those raids at Margate.  Although there was also damage to property, the loss of lives throughout Thanet from those raids were relatively minor compared with the heavy loss of life from enemy air raids.'


Image and text courtesy of James Brazier



*Further information received:



The three civilians who lost their lives during the first raid were Mrs Morgan and her two daughters, Phylis and Doris Morgan.

45. Unveiling of the Margate War Memorial

The moment of the unveiling of the Margate War Memorial on November 5th 1922



36MAR - Unveiling Margate War Memorial (FLAG UP)

37MAR - Unveiling Margate War Memorial (FLAG DOWN)

Courtesy of James Brazier, Margate Civic Society

46. Unveiling of Birchington War Memorial

38MAR - Unveiling Birchington War Memorial 1

Unveiling of Birchington War Memorial on 28th March 1920

Courtesy of James Brazier, Margate Civic Society