Herne Bay in the Great War

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

Don’t forget to visit the 100 MILES page for the Trail information and downloadable leaflet, booklet, walking directions and quiz.  These trails were developed in partnership with Peter Watson and the Herne Bay Historical Society.

Until the 1830s, Herne Bay had been a small village, but with the coming of the railway and the building of the pier tourists were attracted to it as a holiday resort that was quieter than the neighbouring Thanet towns.

During the First World War civilians would have seen a defence force comprised of several different regiments stationed along the coast, and would also have seen the pier used for military purposes such as firing practice directed out to sea. The town was raided by both Zeppelins and Gotha bombers, and was defended by a battery on the coast.

Herne Bay received wounded soldiers, including Belgian troops, to the Herne Bay Military Hospital and to other private hospitals including Herne Bay Court. Volunteers attended work parties in the town to make dressings, nightwear and bandages as part of a national scheme co-ordinated by the Red Cross and the Order of St John.

Men from Herne Bay served in all theatres of the First World War, and some were members of the Kent Volunteer Fencibles which became the Kent Volunteer Force.

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. McDougall Sisters

Anita McDougall Olive McDougall

2. Lyster Pilcher

Lyster William Pilcher VAD1 Lyster William Pilcher VAD2Lyster William Pilcher VAD3


3. Mary Gooding

Mary Gooding VAD

Mary Gooding VAD2

4. The Parade and Pier

The Parade and Pier, Hearne Bay The Parade and Pier, Hearne Bay

5. Hearne Village

Hearne Village near Hearne Bay Hearne Village near Hearne Bay

6. The Artists’ Corner at Broomfield

The building in the picture is The Huntsman and Horn Public House which stands opposite the Parsonage Farmhouse. In 1916 the War Office selected the meadow east of Parsonage Farmhouse in Broomfield as a suitable site for a landing ground. The field was commandeered and seems to have been used mainly for target practice. A room in the farmhouse was used as an office. After the war the airfield continued to be used and in 1932 was visited by Sir Alan Cobham's legendary "Flying Circus" with flights at five shillings a time.

Records show that the Licensee during 1910-1913 was Mr Frederick Ingleton and Mrs Ann Ingleton was the Licensee during 1918-1922. Unfortunately we do not know if the pub was open during the War years.

Source: http://www.dover-kent.com/2014-project/Huntsmans-Horn-Broomfield.html and ©Herne & Broomfield Parish Plan Steering Group 2004



The transcribed text reads:

21 September 1914

Dear Doll I expect you will be surprised to hear from me, but I thought I would like to write you a few lines hoping they will find you well through this fearful time, when I expect is a time of great anxiety for you as well as us but still we must hope for the best. Do you know where Jim is and if he is alright as we have not heard lately Love from Agg

To Miss D Luff

Hawley Cottages



Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

7. Kings Hall

The first images relate to the Garrison Institute at Herne Bay. In February 1917, the recently-opened Kings Hall was taken over by the Army Canteen Committee (subsequently renamed the Navy and Army Canteen Board) and renamed the Garrison Institute and Theatre. It provided facilities for service men to obtain hot suppers and light refreshments and also to enjoy recreational activities such as dances, whist drives and music hall. Incidentally, the Navy and Army canteen Board would form the nucleus of the newly-formed Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) in 1921. The first image shows staff and customers outside the Garrison Institute in 1917

562HER - WW1 - Kings Hall 2

The second image is a poster advertising entertainments at the Garrison Institute in July 1917.

563HER - WW1 - Entertainment 1917 2

There are also four public information posters issued by the Herne Bay Urban District Council - 2 relating to aircraft raids and a further 2 relating to food production and food rationing.

564HER - WW1 - Food Rationing 2

565HER - WW1 Food Production 2

567HER - WW1 - Aircraft Raids 2

568HER - WW1 - Local Emergency Committee 2

The remaining poster is an advert for the purchase of National War Bonds during War Weapon Week in July 1918.

569HER - WW1 - War Weapons Week 2

From the Collection of the Herne Bay Historical Records Society

8. the Military Hospital in Reculver Road

These two images are of casualties at the Military Hospital in Reculver Road, Herne Bay during the Great War and the wounded men are wearing 'hospital blue' uniforms. The military took over the two Passmore Edwards convalescent homes in Reculver Road and transformed them into a military hospital which (together with adjacent marquees) could accommodate a total of some 320 men.

552HER - Wounded At HB Military Hospital

551HER - Soldiers Wounded At HB Military Hospital.bmp

Courtesy of the Collection of the Herne Bay Historical Records Society

9. The Downs, East Cliff

A postcard showing the Downs, East Cliff in Herne Bay. Notice the text is written sideways, this was often done to fit more onto a card or to try and discourage the postman from reading the cards. The card was sent 10th June 1917

279HER - The Downs, East Cliff (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:

‘My dear Win _ Here we are – seems we have been too busy to write before. Hope you also R. are fit. Been to Margate today. See you on Sunday. Love from G and self. Best to R please Ys Mildred’

‘Miss Bathurst, 12 Goodmayes Lane, Goodmayes, Ilford, Essex’

Courtesy of D Price

10. Views of Herne Bay

This postcard is a rare treat to see. A novelty card, the front of the picture shows a Bi Plane where the wing of the plane folds out to show different views of Herne Bay. The postcard is from a father to his child and is an eye witness account of seeing these planes.

149HER - Views of Herne Bay (Postcard) (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:

‘I saw 5 of these air ships down on the ground last Thursday evening. They came down not 5 minutes walk from here. From father’


Courtesy of D Price

11. B Company Kent Cyclist Battalion posing at the Pier Head.

254HER – B Company Kent Cyclist Battalion posing at the Pier Head.

This image shows a group from the 'B' Company Kent Cyclist Battalion posing at the Pier Head. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, men of the 'B' Company of the Kent Cyclist Battalion - two-wheeled marksmen capable of crossing virtually any terrain at a speed of eight miles an hour - were stationed at Herne and ordered to patrol the sea-wall at Reculver. Their task was to keep a sharp lookout for the expected German invasion.

Image and text from the Collection of the Herne Bay Historical Records Society

12. The War Shrine outside Herne Bays Town Hall

These Images show the War Shrine outside Herne Bay's Town Hall (the site is now occupied by the HSBC Bank - the Town Hall was destroyed by fire in 1925). War Shrines (also known as Street Shrines) were common throughout the country during the Great War - the first street shrine being set up in south Hackney in London in mid 1916. The shrines were used not simply as a focal point for remembering the dead, but also to pray for the living who were away on active service.

252HER - The War Shrine outside Herne Bay's Town Hall

253HER - The War Shrine Armistice Day 1920

Herne Bay's War Shrine was unveiled by Brigadier-General the Hon W E Cavendish and dedicated by the Bishop of Dover on Saturday 24th February 1917. The second image depicts the scene at the town's War Shrine on Armistice Day 1920.

Image and text From the Collection of the Herne Bay Historical Records Society

13. James and Mabel Horn

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Horn Family: ‘James Horn Jr’: Courtesy of Diana Jones Nee Horn

This is the story of my Grandparents and their family during WW1. They were, I should think, a typical agricultural family of the period. They had 10 children, 5 sons and 5 daughters:

179HER - Husband and Wife James and Mabel

The eldest son James, a groom, was the first son to go to WW1. He married Mabel (Mab and Jim) in 1912. I have postcards sent to the family from Egypt and a card from Mabel telling them how lonely she is:

178HER - Egypt Postcard (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:

‘Dear Edie. Just a card & thanks for the P C Jim sent me a time back hoping you are well. Mab tells me you had a good time when you were at Tadworth and that you have been doing yourself well on the farm this year. Just fancy Jim getting off with one of these girls.'

The postcard below, we believe, is from Mabel.

355HER – Marine Parade Tankerton (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:

'4.8.15 Whitstable: Dear Ma. How we wish all were here today. The sea is lovely and just now the sun is shining lovely. Love to all yours etc M ta ta.'

‘Miss Horn, Staple Street Farm, Nr Faversham, Kent’

James returned home safely and in retirement they lived in Reculver Rd Beltinge where I spent summer holidays, visiting aunts and uncles.

Image and text courtesy of Diana Jones Nee Horn

14. The Downs Herne Bay A captured German Field Gun

This image shows Herne Bay's War Trophy - a captured German field-gun - at the entrance to the Pier.

255HER - Herne Bay's War Trophy

Following the cessation of hostilities and the close of the Great War, it was common for towns throughout England to be given British tanks or captured German field-guns as trophies and in recognition of their efforts in the National War Savings Scheme. Cities and larger towns normally received tanks, while the smaller towns were usually presented with field-guns. Originally displayed in the roadway in front of the Pier Theatre, Herne Bay's War Trophy was later removed to the War Memorial Park and finally - after protests from ex-service organisations that it appeared to be aimed at the War Memorial itself - to the foot of The Downs. It remained on this site until the Second World War, when it was duly removed and recycled as part of the war effort.

From the Collection of the Herne Bay Historical Records Society

The postcard below also shows Herne Bay's War Trophy. The date of this postcard is not known but it is believed to be post First World War.

88HER - The Downs Herne Bay defences

Courtesy of D Price