Southborough and High Brooms in the Great War

Welcome to the town page for Southborough and High Brooms. Explore your town map to discover people who lived in your town during the First World War.

The communities of Southborough and High Brooms were very close, with many of the residents working together either in the large estates locally or in the various local industries such as The Highbrooms Brick and Tile Company.

When War was declared the first thing that was noticed was that the post office had been open all day Sunday 2nd August until 2a.m. Monday morning and then again all through the nights of the Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th August 1914.

Local large houses such as Crothers in Southborough became Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals and Alec Brook, Photographer, 60 Edward St., Southborough, Kent, would go to Crothers and take photographs of those convalescing. The Victoria Hall and Park House were also used, the Victoria Hall was used to treat Belgian wounded soldiers. The Lady Superintendent of the hospitals was Cecilia Fergusson of Bois House, Southborough, her daughter Phyllis served at Crothers giving 5000 hours of time as a cook and carrying out nursing duties.

There was already an established Kent Territorial Unit whose Hon Colonel was Sir David Salomons and one of whose members was Sir David’s only son Reginald and also a cadet branch for younger boys. The senior unit had been preparing for War throughout the Summer of 1914 and on the 7th of August 1914 they gathered at the Drill Hall in Speldhurst Road and marched out of the town on their way to Tonbridge Station and further training joining with other local men to become the KFRE 1ST/ 3RD Company. Eventually they transhipped together for Gallipoli – they were transferred to the HMS Hythe to be landed at Helles when; on the night of 28th of October 1915; the Hythe was hit by another ship the British troopship The Sarnia. As a result of the collision over 150 men lost their lives that night, including Reginald Salomons with 79 members of the KFRE 1st /3rd Company .The effect on the local community of such loss of life over a relatively small community affecting many families was severe.

Sources :-The Southborough Society, The High Brooms Society, The Red Cross Southborough & High Brooms and various newspapers such as the Kent Courier.

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. Douglas Frank Sharp Capture

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Douglas Frank Sharp

East Kent Regt  No. G4555

Douglas Sharp was taken prisoner on 24th April 1915 during the 2nd battle of Ypres

From Historical Records of The Buffs 1914-1919 by R S H Moody

THE  2nd BATTLE OF YPRES APRIL 1915

23rd April

The rest of the day the battalion was subjected to heavy shelling and rifle fire. The remainder of the Zouaves withdrew, and The Buffs then completely occupied the gap between the Canadian Companies.

The 24th April proved an unfortunate day. D Company was moved at the urgent request of the 3rd Canadian Brigade to a position across Wieltje-St. Julien Road, but at 7 a.m. Captain Tomlinson’s B Company, which had been detached late on the 22nd to the succour of the Canadians, was completely surrounded by the enemy, after losing very heavily, practically all the survivors were made prisoners -------- The Canadians and others who saw this company attack stated that this little force was entirely responsible for the saving of the Canadian left, and also that practically the whole Company was killed, wounded or taken prisoner.-----On this 24th April, as well as the two following days, the shelling was most severe, and the men suffered much from the poisonous fumes given off on the bursting of the shells.

 

Information and image courtesy of Pauline Sims

 

 

2. Douglas Frank Sharp

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Douglas Frank Sharp

Born in 1894 in Marden, he joined the Buffs in 1914 – G4555. He went overseas to join 2nd Battalion on 11.3.1915. He fought with them at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and was captured there on 24/4/2915 being sent to Gottinger P.O.W camp. A list from May 1917 shows him at Cassel Camp. He was discharged to the Reserve on 31/3/1919. (Pictures: 637LR)

TRANSCIPRTION:

7.12.1918

December 7th, 1918

I have arrived in Holland, and expect to be home soon. From your’s Douglas XXX

Militaria English

Miss D Giles,

At Brabourne, Park Rd.,

Southborough

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

England

 

Image and information courtesy of Pauline Sims

 

3. 2/5th Buffs Transport

 

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 2/5th Buffs were second line Territorials. Some of them were part of a composite battalion that went to Gallipoli with their equivalents in the West Kent’s. The remainder were on home service for one reason or another. Notice they are equipped with the old Lee metford rifle. It is surprising that they are all mounted, given the need for horses overseas. (Information from Michael Mills, Buffs historian).

The reverse of the picture says: Grandad Bird. Harry Bird is the grandfather of Pauline Sims, he lived in Hawkhurst.

Image courtesy of Pauline Sims

4. 202nd Infantry Brigade

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They are either 2/4th or 2/5th Buffs who were second line Territorials. Some of them were part of a composite battalion that went to Gallipoli with their equivalents in the West Kent’s. The remainder were on home service for one reason or another. Notice they are equipped with the old Lee Metford rifle. It is surprising that they are all mounted, given the need for horses overseas. (Information from Michael Mills, Buffs historian).

The reverse of the picture says: Grandad Bird. Harry Bird is the grandfather of Pauline Sims, he lived in Hawkhurst.

Image courtesy of Pauline Sims

5. Miss Dorothy Giles

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The transcribed text reads:

Pic. D. U. Sharp

No. 510006, No. 11 Room

Shaft Barracks

E.C.L.C. Dover

Dear Dollie, Just a few lines to pass the time away hoping you are keeping well as it leaves me a1 at present J1 – was a bit lively … last night with gun fire and fire work off the ships. We shall be going over now before long. I expect for a rather little ride. I will close now with best love from your loving cousin Danny

Miss D Giles,

Brabourne, Park Rd

Southborough

Tunbridge Wells

 

In this picture you can see Kearsney Abbey near Dover. It was sent from Dover on 30 June 1918 at 8.45am by Douglas Sharp to Dorothy Giles on his way home from being a POW.

Pauline Sims's mother, Dorothy Giles, was in service with Amelia Scott, at Bradbourne Park Road, Southborough. She was mainly known for her support of The Suffragette movement and improving life for women. During the War she established a Soldiers' Laundry. Amelia Scott was awarded The Order of the Golden Palm by the King of Belgium for her help to Belgian refugees during World War One and attended a Buckingham Palace garden party for women war workers on account of the soldiers' laundry which she managed from 1915-1918.

Image and information courtesy of Pauline Sims

6. Local Hospital

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A scene from a local postcard- we think these a soldiers who might be convalescing in a local hall.

Can you help? We know this is from the area but not where it is. Unfortunately we do not know who sent this postcard either, but we can see that it was sent to an address in Wales.

Transcription:

J WEST

6 ROWLAND ST

CARNARVON

 

7. St Mark’s Church

St Mark's Church, Broadway

 

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5 October 1917

 The transcribed text reads:

Dear B

I am afraid you will be thinking me unkind. But please forgive Me dear. I’m sure you understood why I didn’t come to C. Last Sunday and this week has been so full up I will explain all about it when I see you and I will try and come up soon and see you dear ta ta …

Hope you are will …

Yours as … Alice xx

 

Miss B Hazeldene

St Hilarys

26 park Road

Southborough

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

 

8. Douglas Frank Sharp

Born in 1894 in Marden, he joined the Buffs in 1914 – G4555. He went overseas to join 2nd Battalion on 11.3.1915. He fought with them at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and was captured there on 24/4/2915 being sent to Gottinger P.O.W camp. A list from May 1917 shows him at Cassel Camp. He was discharged to the Reserve on 31/3/1919.637twe-hengelo-vereenliginsgebouw-front637twe-hengelo-vereenliginsgebouw-back

The transcribed text reads:

7.12.1918

December 7th, 1918

I have arrived in Holland, and expect to be home soon. From your’s Douglas XXX

Militaria English

Miss D Giles,

At Brabourne, Park Rd.,

Southborough

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

England

 Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

 

9. The Tent Camp

This postcard shows an image of a tent camp of the Royal Engineers on the Lower Cricket Ground at Tunbridge Wells. The Engineers found it very uncomfortable in their tents due to flooding during heavy and persistent rains. According to the Kent and Sussex Courier dated October 16, 1914, the “stories of the flooding of the camp were exaggerated”, but nevertheless, according to the Army Regulations the outdoor Camp had to be broken up at the end of October 1914. The officers and men were then to be billeted in the houses of Broadwater Down and other parts of town which have been rented for the purpose by the military authorities.

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Courtesy of Darrienne Price

10. The Broadway, Railway Station

A card sent to Olwen Richards in Coventry by SB in November 1917,

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Dear Olwen,

Just a line to let you know I am going on very well. Hoping you are in the best of health. This is a very neat town. And the hospital is fine too. Hope to see you soon.

Your sincerely

S.B.

The railway was a great importance during the War and carried significant goods traffic down to the coast as well as men – especially the ambulance trains which passed through. Among local places used as hospitals were Rusthall, Calverley Lodge, Nevill Park, Victoria Hall Southborough and Park House Southborough – we are not sure which hospital the card refers to.

11. David Salomons House

This picture is a rare capture of David Salomons house, who was the Hon Colonel of the Kent (Fortress) Royal Engineers and had built up a Territorial force from 1912.

His only son Reginald was also a member of the regiment. These men were sent together to Gallipoli and were aboard the HMS Hythe ready to land at Helles when their ship was sunk by a British troopship The Sarnia. Over 150 men lost their lives that night, including Reginald Salomons, with 79 members of the KFRE 1st /3rd Company.

The full story of the Hythe disaster can be found in the book Southborough Sappers of the Kent (Fortress) Royal Engineers by Frank A. Stevens (2000).

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Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

12. St Peter’s Church

The Church was the heart of the community and below are a few examples of how it supported the community throughout the War:

- 28th November 1915 a memorial service was held for the men of the K(F) RE from Southborough who lost their lives in the HMS Hythe disaster. The service was attended by a detachment of the K(F)RE, the Kent Fencibles and the local fire brigade.

- The donations of fruit and vegetables given for the Harvest Festivals throughout the War were given to the local hospitals

- The Church was used by the nurses and patients of Crothers Red Cross VAD hospital and on occasions the collections were taken up for the work of the Red Cross.

Attribute to Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser various dates

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Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

 

13. Railway Station in Montacute Road

All through the War the railway had to cope with passengers and freight in greater numbers than before. For example in October 1914 5,000 territorials from Scotland with their kit arrived at the railway station on 9 trains which had been specially chartered by the War Office. The newspaper report congratulated the station master and staff and the way they handled this influx of men and goods.

Information from the Kent and Sussex Courier 23rd October 1914.

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Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

14. Wedding at St Thomas Church

The wedding took place on 11th November, 1918 at St Thomas’s Church in Southborough. It was the marriage of Major Clark and Marley or Morley. We are assuming that the lady was a nurse as there appear to be nurses at the door of the church but have not been able to discover any more about her.

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The transcribed text on the back of the card says: 

Marley’s wedding Nov 11th 1918 to Major Clark at St Thomas Southborough.

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price