Ramsgate in the Great War

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

Prior to the First World War, Ramsgate was a very popular seaside town with an active fishing fleet, and it also had history as a military and naval town. The War had a great impact on tourism, and once initial Government restrictions were lifted on entertainment, the town made an effort to encourage people to visit. Entertainment at venues in the town continued throughout the War.

The First World War had a long term impact on the fishing fleet. German U-boat activity and extensive mining, by both sides, in the Channel resulted in many of the boats moving to other ports such as Brixham because of the difficulty of conducting fishing in the area. Heavy losses had been suffered by the fishing fleet before boats moved to other areas. The harbour in Ramsgate became an important base for the armed fishing boats, drifters and tugs which formed part of the Dover Patrol.

Ramsgate gained a reputation as the most bombed seaside town in the First World War, suffering many Zeppelin and Gotha bomber raids and being shelled several times from the sea. Tunnels into the cliff provided civilians with shelter, and in 1917 an air raid shelter was opened at Ellington Girls School.

In common with other coastal towns, large hotels were taken over to be used as hospitals and convalescent homes, not only for the British Army but also for those of other nationalities. Canadian troops were sent to the Granville Special Hospital and to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital, and injured Belgian troops were also accommodated in the town.

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. Isle of Thanet Evacuation Plan

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

2. The Parrott Family

Linda Richardson has submitted some pictures and a rare letter from the trenches by her Grandfather ‘Charles Henry Parrott’. The photo below shows a picture of the Parrott family which was taken around the same time as the writing of the letter: November 3rd 1916.



574RAM - Charles Henry Parret Family - Taken Around The Time The Letter Was Written

The following images show the Certificates both Bertie and Herbert received. The first is addressed to Bertie Parrott, presented on Empire Day 1916.



571RAM - A Certificate to Bertie Parrot - Empire Day

The second is addressed to Herbert Parrott which acknowledges his help in the Christmas Day Gifts project which saw gifts delivered to Sailors and Soldiers away from home. The third is also addressed to Herbert for Empire Day 1915 again for the help in sending comfort and happiness to the Sailors and Soldiers fighting in WW1.



572RAM - A Certificate to Herbert Parrot - Christmas Day Gifts
573RAM - A Certificate to Herbert Parrot - Empire Day

Also included here, is a letter which was written from the trenches by Linda’s Grandfather and Bertie and Herbert’s Father. The letter gives us insight into what life was like for Soldiers fighting in the Somme.



576RAM - Transcribed Letter - Page 1

576RAM - Transcribed Letter - Page 2

576RAM - Transcribed Letter - Page 3

576RAM - Transcribed Letter - Page 4

576RAM - Transcribed Letter - Page 5

Linda is looking for any information regarding what regiment Charles Henry Parrot was in.



All information and pictures are courtesy of Linda Richardson


3. Airman 2nd Class Harold Gilbert White

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Airman 2nd Class Harold Gilbert White

Son of: Mr. & Mrs. C. H. White, of ‘Lancaster House’, High Street, Broadstairs

Emigrated to: Australia – Returned to England at the end of 1915

Husband of: Ethel Caroline White, of 22 Penshurst Road, Ramsgate

Service Number: 42201

Branch of Service: Royal Flying Corps

Date of death: 30th April, 1917

Died: At the Aylesbury Military Hospital, Buckinghamshire

Age: 35 yrs

Burial location: St Peter's Churchyard

Grave Ref: 19, 20



Research courtesy of John T Williams

4. Private Francis Joseph Wales

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private Francis Joseph Wales

Husband of: Kathleen Mary, Wales of 31 Bloomsbury Street, Ramsgate

Service Number: G/9882

Unit: 10th Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

Date of death: 7th June, 1917

Age: 28 yrs

Burial Location: Voormezeele Enclosure No. 3

Grave Ref: XIII E, 5



Research courtesy of John T Williams

5. Private F C Stokes

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private F. C. Stokes

Son of: John and Fanny Stokes of 4 Tabernacle Cottages, Northwood, Ramsgate, Kent

Service Number: 31291

Unit: 63rd Battalion, Royal Naval Division - Machine Gun Corps

Date of death: 28th November, 1918

Age: 23 yrs

Burial Location: Etaples Military Cemetery

Grave Ref: LI, C, 19



Research courtesy of John T Williams

6. Private Thomas Simpson

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private Thomas Simpson

Born: Canning Town, London

Son of: Henry and Ellen Simpson of ‘Star Cottage’, Westwood, Ramsgate, Kent

Enlisted: Canterbury

Service Number: L/8223

Unit: 'B' Company, 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent.Regiment)

Age: 27 yrs

Memorial Location: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Ref: Panel 12 and 14



Research courtesy of John T Williams

7. Private William John Sheperdon

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private William John Sheperdon

Son of: Mr. Sheperdon & Mrs A. A. Sheperdon, of 1 Fern Cottages, Westwood, Ramsgate, Kent

Employed by: Mr. Brockman, Market Gardner of Westwood

Enlisted: July 1917

Service Number: 26614

Unit: East Surrey Regiment

Secondary Unit: posted to 1st/2.3rd Battalion, London Regiment

Date of death: 9th May, 1918

Age: 18 yrs

Memorial Location: Pozieres Memorial

Ref: Panel 44 and 45



Research courtesy of John T Williams

8. Lance Corporal Walter Denmee

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Lance Corporal Walter Denmee

Husband of: Ellen F. Denmee of 30 Denmark Road, Ramsgate, Kent

Service Number: 101519

Unit: Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry)

Date of death: 13th July, 1917 (In Brighton Hospital (VAD))

Burial location: St Peter's Churchyard

Grave Ref: 19, 25



Research courtesy of John T Williams


9. Private Frederick Holness Castle

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Private Frederick Holness Castle

Place of birth: Ramsgate

Brother of: Mrs. Charlotti S. Chapman of 1 Paramor Cottages, Westwood, Ramsgate, Kent

Enlisted: Ramsgate

Service Number: G/8455

Unit: 6th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)

Date of death: 3rd July, 1916

Age: 32

Memorial: Thiepval Memorial

Grave Ref: Pier and Face 5, D



Research courtesy of John T Williams


10. Gunner W Brenchley

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Gunner W Brenchley

Son of: Mrs. Brenchley and the late Mr. Brenchley

Husband of: Mrs. R.L. Gunner William Brenchley

Address: 2 Tabernacle Cottages, Northwood, Ramsgate

Service Number: 189070

Unit: 109th Battery Royal Field Artillery

Date of Death: 7th June, 1919

Age: 32

Burial location: St Peter's Churchyard

Grave Ref: 20, 66



Research courtesy of John T Williams


11. Gunner John Harold Byng

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Gunner John Harold Byng

Address: Beacon Lodge, St Peter's, Broadstairs, Kent

Husband of: May Harriett Byng, of Somerset House, Albion Road, Ramsgate, Kent

Service Number: 30146

Unit: 55th Battery, Royal Field Artillery

Date of Death: 9th February, 1916

Age: 30 yrs

Cause: Pneumonia

Burial location: St. Peter's Churchyard

Grave Ref: 18, 14



Research courtesy of John T Williams

12. Private Douglas J. Dray

Private Douglas J. Dray (named after his uncle) grew up in Ramsgate and enlisted as part of the Royal Fusiliers.



132RAM - Service Record Army Card (Douglas J. Dray)

Douglas was killed in action on the 24th April 1917, age 19. He is buried in Chili trench Cemetery in France.



129RAM - Douglas J Dray Grave

Pictured below is the certificate that was presented to Douglas’ sister, Rose Foreman. Rose was still at school in Ospringe when she received this certificate which was dated 1919, during the Armistice. Rose worked at St Lawrences as a housemaid and went on to have a son Derek. Rose met Derek’s father, at St Lawrences where he was working as a handy man.



131RAM - Certificate presented to Rose Forman

Image and text courtesy of Derek Dray.


13. Sydney Taylor

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Taylor Family: ‘Sydney Taylor’: Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor



Sydney can be seen in the picture below with his brothers Frank and Percy.



365RAM - Sid, Frank & Percy Taylor

Sid served in the Royal Horse Artillery as can be seen below:



367RAM - Sydney Taylor

369RAM - Sydney Taylor In Uniform

Sid also wrote a postcard to his friend 'Dusty' Miller in 1919 (See 360RAM)



Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor


14. Charles Taylor

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Taylor Family: ‘Charles Taylor’: Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor



Charles Taylor was the youngest of the brothers. He enlisted in 1917, to serve in France with the Dragoon Guards. He later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and then the Tank Corps.



368RAM - Charles Taylor

He too was to see service in India before leaving the service in 1926.



Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor


15. Frank Taylor

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Taylor Family: ‘Frank Taylor 1895 – 1980 and his wife Irene Taylor’: Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor



Frank Taylor was Ken Taylor’s father. He was born in 1895 and lived with his family in St David’s Road, Ramsgate. At the age of 18 he was working as an apprentice butcher in the London Central Meat Company in Broadstairs High Street (which is still trading today) when he joined the Royal Artillery in 1914.



Below is a picture of three of the brothers, Frank in the middle with Syd and Percy.



365RAM - Sid, Frank & Percy Taylor

He is also pictured here on horseback aged 19.



366RAM - Frank Taylor

Frank saw active service during the Gallipoli Campaign (also known as the Dardanelles Campaign) against the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and in Mesopotamia. He recalled incidents of the Gurkha soldiers sneaking up during the night to cut the ligaments of the Turk’s horses to hamper their progress.



Frank returned home and went on to raise three children with his wife Irene. He went on to become manager of the same butcher’s shop where he had worked before the war (see below: Frank is on the right closest to the window) and he was later able to open his own shop in St Peter’s in 1934. Frank died in 1980



587BRO - The London Central Meat Co Ltd

Ken’s mother Irene worked as a dressmaker in Margate and, aged 15 remembered Zeppelins coming in over the town.



Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor


16. Percy Taylor

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Taylor Family: ‘Percy Taylor’: Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor

Percy can be seen in the picture below with his brothers Frank and Sydney.



365RAM - Sid, Frank & Percy Taylor

He served with the Kent Cyclists in Europe as well as on the North West Frontier in India.



361RAM - Percy Taylor Kent Cyclist

Percy returned home from the war but later died from wounds inflicted during the war. He was buried with his father in St Lawrence Churchyard.



Courtesy of Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Memory Book – Memories recalled by Mr Ken Taylor


17. Ramsgate Waterfall

The postcard below was sent 21st August 1914. Perhaps the author is writing to someone who has enlisted in the army and won’t be seeing him again for a while.



334RAM - The Waterfall Ramsgate (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:



‘Dear Bert hope you arrived home safe I missed you after you had gone back I stopped on the pier for an hour after you had gone, then came back to Ramsgate. I am going over to see Edie today Friday. Don’t forget Sunday write soon, love Violet’



‘Mr Cresswell, 2 Loftus villas Loftus road Shepherds Bush, London’



Courtesy of D Price

18. 1915 Souvenir Postcard

This is a French souvenir postcard and shows the amount of parcels and treats which were sent to the troops abroad. The card was sent 15th March 1915



278RAM - 1915 Souvenir Postcard (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:



‘Dear Louie. Just a line am quite well and still merry and Bright. Have received parcel quite safe thanking you very much. Love to one and all will write later on. Boby. P.S. don’t forget the cigarettes’



‘Miss S Leornwell, 34 Margate Rd, Ramsgate, Kent’



Courtesy of D Price


19. 27th April 1917 Ramsgate Attack

A victim of the bombardment in the early hours of 27th April, was Miss Ivy Edith Thorncroft aged 22 years. At the time Ivy was living at No.1 Upper Dumpton Park Drive.



"A flower cut off in the beautiful bloom of youth" words told by Rev. Dr. Nicholson who conducted the service "yet gone not to death but to life eternal".



Crowds lined the route to the cemetery to pay their last respects to their fellow citizen who had fallen victim to the murderous designs of a ruthless enemy. Her escorts from her home were from the Navy: - Lieut - Commander Chipps, Lieut. Phillips and Sub Lieut. Cross.



Ivy was the daughter of a respected Ramsgate tradesman and Wesleyan lay preacher, she was also a popular member of the local ladies' rink hockey team. At her graveside were her brother Private N.A. Thorncroft (County London Ambulance), Mr. John Newby (Uncle) and Lieut. A.T. Newby, Canadian Army (Cousin) and many more family members and friends. The inscription upon her memorial reads: - "In loving memory of our darling girl, killed in the bombardment 27th April 1917 aged 22 years".



Funeral arrangements were carried out by W.P. Blackburn & Son.



Courtesy of the Ramsgate Historical Society


20. The Ramsgate Raid 19th March 1916

The grave of Gladys Eveline Saxby & her brother James are located in the Family Memorial at Ramsgate Cemetery. The siblings were killed on Sunday the 19th March 1916, at just after 2p.m.



Gladys and James were on their way to Sunday school when two seaplanes were spotted above; not knowing the danger, the children stood and watched. The bombs fell on St. Luke's Avenue just passed the junction with Dumpton Park Road. In all 10 bombs were dropped on Ramsgate during this raid. Many children were badly injured and five children and two adults were killed:



Mrs G.M. Bishop aged 23 and Harry Herbert Divers, a Taxi driver aged 49. Also Gladys Saxby aged 6, James Saxby aged 4, Herbert Gibbens, Frank Hardwick and Ernest Philpott aged 12



Courtesy of the Ramsgate Historical Society


21. Jack Luck

Jack Austen Luck: (Service No.1302). Pilot under training - Royal Flying Corps. 06 Training Reserve Squadron.



248RAM - Jack Luck

Jack died in a training accident on the 3rd November 1916 aged 20. His memorial can be found at Ramsgate Cemetery.



Courtesy of the Ramsgate Historical Society


22. A Censored postcard to Mrs Hutchinson

This censored postcard dates from after the Armistice and reminds us that military service continued on as the 11th November 1918 only represented an Armistice – not the final peace. This card was sent 11th December 1918



144RAM - Mrs Hutchenson (Postcard) (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:



"My dear M, I was so pleased to receive another letter from you last night am glad to hear you are still improving. We are having lovely weather here. today I could almost fancy it is spring instead of winter. Sorry to hear Billy is poorly trust it is only a cold and that by now he is improving. My best again to all friends and ... to yourself ... Yours And"



‘Mrs A D Hutchinson, ‘Hillside’, Minster, Ramsgate, England’



Courtesy of D Price


23. A Standard Issue Response Card

This is an example of a standard service issue response card. This particular card was sent 16th December 1917.



Dudley's Postcard (Front & Back) Transcribed

We have not ascertained who Dudley was but a kind censor allowed him to bend the rules and passed the card even though Dudley had written his Xmas greetings on the bottom of the card in contravention of the instructions.



Courtesy of D Price

24. A series of censored postcards from Sgt Burchett to Mrs Wood

This postcard is part of a series of correspondence (see also 145RAM below.) In this card, Sgt Burchett is expressing his frustration that he is still waiting to come home. The card was sent 4th March 1919



Sergt. R Burchett's Postcard (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:



"Dear Sadie, Just a line hoping you are keeping quite well and fit. No word of getting away yet, but will do someday I suppose. Hope johnnee is well and going along A.I. Yours Best Sergt. R Burchett"



‘Mrs J Wood, 56 Margate Road, Ramsgate, Kent’



This second card is also from Sgt Burchett who was still away, a reminder that the soldiers were still stationed abroad after the Armistice on 11th November 1918. We believe that Sgt Burchell was part of the Army of Occupation in Germany. This card was sent 9th May 1919



Mrs Wood (Postcard) (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:



"yours received will be writing later. Hope all are well and how is John is he demobbed yet. yours Bob. R.E Burchett. Sgt."



‘Mrs J Wood, 56 Margate Road, Ramsgate, Kent’



Courtesy of D Price

25. Belgian soldiers at the Bethel in Ramsgate

'Images of the front and back of a postcard showing wounded Belgian soldiers at the Bethel in Ramsgate. The postcard is date stamped 8th November 1914 and the building still stands proud overlooking Ramsgate Harbour. The reference in the message to G-ships maybe to German-ships as the postcard was sent to Lowestoft, about ten miles down the coast from Yarmouth which war shelled, not very effectively, by German warships on November the 3rd 1914 just 5 days before the card was posted.'



139RAM - Bethel PC

As far as can be made out, the transcribed text reads:



'Many happy returns of the day. These are some of the wounded Belgium soldiers who are being … at the bethel. Several of them have been up here so beginning to seem like old friends now. Did you see anything of the G. Ships … … . Love to you… & all good wishes … X...’



Below is an excerpt from an article written by James Brazier about the Bethel and the Royal Sailors Rest in WW1.



The Ramsgate VAD Hospital at the Royal Sailors’ Rest in WWI



Next to the Royal Hotel on Harbour Parade stands an imposing building which proudly bears its name Royal Sailors’ Rest in large letters across its elegant front.   Shortly after the start of the First World War, this building was to serve as an important VAD (Voluntary Air Detachment) temporary hospital and the above postcard shows a number of wounded Belgian soldiers in its chapel (known as the Bethel), which had been converted into a ward.  Part of the message on the back of the above postcard reads: “These are some of the wounded Belgian soldiers who are being nursed at the Bethel.  Several of them have been up here so begin to seem like old friends now.”    The postmark shows that the postcard was sent from Ramsgate to an address in Suffolk on 8th November 1914.



According to Kent’s Care for the Wounded, published in 1915, the Wounded Allies Relief Committee had arranged for the reception of wounded Belgians and had taken over the Royal Sailors’ Rest early in October 1914.  The owners of the building, the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, had made it available for use as a hospital with accommodation for 72 beds.   Within a few days, the first wounded Belgian soldiers to be sent to the Bethel arrived on 10th October 1914.  More wounded Belgians arrived at the Bethel in the following days whilst others were taken to temporary hospitals at Margate and Broadstairs.   The East Kent Times carried reports in early October 1914 of the honour which was extended to the Thanet towns on receiving wounded soldiers from the ‘brave little country’ (as Belgium was commonly referred to at that perilous time in its history).



The Ramsgate VAD (officially known as Kent 2) was formed from the Ramsgate Nursing Division of the St John Ambulance Brigade.  It was registered in 1910 and held the distinction of being the first women’s VAD detachment throughout the whole of Kent.   Although the temporary hospital’s first patients were wounded Belgian soldiers, it was not long before the hospital received a number of British soldiers who had suffered ‘Blighty’ wounds.  Indeed, by the summer of 1915, it is reported that a total of 324 patients had passed through its wards.



There are around 20 wounded Belgian soldiers and three nursing staff shown in the above postcard and it is likely that the photograph was taken around the middle of October 1914.



Image and text courtesy of James Brazier

26. Clarice Spratling

Clarice Spratling was born in Ramsgate and lived for sometime at 1 Elmstone Road, Ramsgate.



28RAM - Clarice Spratling in VAD uniform

16RAM - Clarice Spratling somewhere in France


Clarice volunteered as a VAD in 1915 and served abroad in France. Somehow Clarice found time to keep a diary about her experiences, and this has been transcribed by Clarice’s great niece the artist Dawn Cole.



Image and text courtesy of Dawn Cole

27. Bomb Damage to the Bull and George Hotel

15RAM - Bomb Damage Ramsgate High Street

Pictured here is bomb damage to the Bull & George Hotel in Ramsgate High Street. This was the result of a Zeppelin raid on 17th May 1915.


Image courtesy of the Ramsgate Collection



*New information below courtesy of the Ramsgate Historical Society



Ramsgate woke early on the 17th May 1917, at 1.47a.m. to be precise. A Zeppelin, flying at a high altitude, dropped over 20 bombs on the town. Two lives were lost from Hythe; John Smith aged 42, a visitor to the town who was in room 12 of the Bull and George Hotel in Ramsgate High Street and Florence Earle Lamont aged 43. Both were from 21A Hythe Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey. The hotel itself was wrecked and neighboring businesses were also badly damaged.