Romney in the Great War

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

At the time of the First World War, employment in New Romney was primarily agricultural, with travel on the Southern Railway from the station in New Romney (which had opened in 1884) to another area providing one of the few other employment options available to residents. The wide High Street reflected a more prosperous past for the town, but at the time of the War it was still one of the main towns on Romney Marsh.

It is not known exactly what effect the various Government agricultural policies in the First World War had upon the farms around New Romney, but policy dictated a change in the use of agricultural land from meat production to a concentration on cereal and potato production. The rich soil of the Romney Marsh was especially suited to the cultivation of these crops, although drainage was a problem.

New Romney was not subjected to as many aerial attacks as elsewhere on the Kent coast. However, some raids by Zeppelins and bomber aircraft took place.

Defence of the Marsh from invasion was a concern during the First World War, and civilians would have seen patrols by the Cyclist Battalion in addition to their own Civilian Defence Force and volunteer Special Constables. They would also have seen aeroplanes from the several airfields located at Lympne, Dymchurch, and Jellands Field, and heard the sound of gunnery practice at Lydd Ranges.

Men from New Romney served in all the forces and in all theatres of the First World War.

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. We Should Like To Have Some Eggs

This is a postcard of St Mary’s Church in Ashford. In the text the writer asks to have some eggs upon their visit to Miss Wood. This shows how food shortages were becoming an issue as the War progressed. This card was sent 6th August 1916

267ROM - We Should Like To Have Some Eggs (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:

‘Dear May if fine + convenient to you we should like to come down on Monday + we should like to have some eggs if you have them to spare one of our boys are billeted at Appledore ... if I do not hear I shall know it is convenient’

'Miss Wood, Whitehall Farm, Snargate, Nr Romney Marsh'

Courtesy of D Price

2. A postcard from Les to Mrs Whitehead 1915

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Whitehead Family: ‘Les To His Mother’: Courtesy of D Price

We have had submitted another card from what appears to be the same family as 72ROM & 73SAN. The previous card is written from Len to Mrs Whitehead and here Les mentions he has seen Len recently. We believe the two are brothers. This card was sent 19th July 1915

214ROM - A postcard sent from Les to his mother Mrs Whitehead 2015 (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:

‘Dear Ma Just a line to let you know I arrived home quite safely. Got here about 7.30 when they shouted fall in this morning at 7 there was none of us up so we had to scratch out. I went to see Aunt Holly and saw Len in Maidstone. Love from Lesly.

‘Mrs B Whitehead, The shop, St Marys, Nr New Romney, Kent’

Courtesy of D Price

3. A postcard from Len to Mrs Whitehead 1917

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Whitehead Family: ‘Len To His Mother’: Courtesy of D Price

A postcard sent from Sandwich to Len Whitehead’s mother in St Mary in the Marsh near Romney in 1917. Len is temporarily billeted in Sandwich whilst he attends a firing course before moving on to Canterbury. He mentions having marched 14 miles the day before. We have been unable to discover any further information concerning Len, but we believe his brother was Archibald Sidney Whitehead who was KIA on 7th January 1916, whilst serving with the Buffs. This postcard was sent in 1917

(See also 73SAN for more information about 'The Old House' & 214ROM for more information on the Whitehead family)

72ROM - Les Whitehead postcard (Front & Back)

The transcribed text reads:

"Dear Mother, Just a line to let you know I have shifted again. I'm shall only be here for a week or ten days for a course of firing and then going into Canterbury, had fourteen miles to march today. You can send letter to same address as before.

Love from Len."

'Mrs B Whitehead, Geneva Cottages, St Mary’s, Nr New Romney, Kent'

*Further information received: We have now received another card which is from ‘Les’ to Mrs Whitehead in which he also refers to her as Ma and also mentions Len. (See 214ROM)

From the collection of D.Price.