DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 23 November 2000

FORMER wartime evacuee to South Wales, Ronald Dutt is all set for a reunion with a fellow evacuee from Etching'hill, Harold Coppins, whom he hasn’t seen for 60 years. And it all comes about because of an overheard conversation over lunch at Age Concern, in Cheriton - when Ron heard Harold’s name mentioned.

Ron, 67, a retired groundsman, said they last met at the Cheriton Cottag'e Homes at the beginning- of the 2nd World War before evacuation to Wales, Ron to Llanishen and Harold to Trelleck. Their reunion is set for the weekend, at Etching'hill.
Memories of the exploits of two war heroes, father and son, who both earned the Military Cross for their bravery in very different military campaigns, are revived by the death of Major Andrew Railton, MC, son of a former Folkestone Vicar.

One of the famous Chindits, an army force which restored Emperor Haile Selassie to the throne of Ethiopia in 1941, he was the son of the late Reverend David Railton, MC, who was Vicar of Folkestone when Andrew was born.

Eighty years old, Andy recently gave interviews in connection with the 80th anniversary of dedication of the Unknown Warrior's tomb in Westminster Abbey in 1920.

For it was his father, a padre who served in the First World War, who came up with the idea of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

He suggested it first to that great leader Earl Haig - at the time Sir Douglas Haig, GOC of the British Army in France - but he didn’t reply, and then, successfully, to the Dean of Westminster, after the war.

David put the idea to the Dean because he thought the warrior's grave,
representing thousands of unidentified British soldiers killed in battle in the Great War, should be in the Abbey.

The Revd Railton, who was then Vicar of St John the Baptist Church, at Margate, offered the Union Jack he had used in the trenches in France, sometimes as an altar cloth, to drape the coffin of the unknown soldier.

The young padre, who won the MC for helping a wounded officer and two privates whilst under heavy enemy fire, got the idea of an “Unknown Warrior’s tomb” when he noticed a simple grave, near his Armentieres billet in 1916. It had a simple white, wooden cross engraved roughly with the words “An Unknown Soldier of the Black Watch.”

David had served as a private soldier in the Scottish Territorials himself. He may not have been the first to think of the idea but his letter to the Dean of Westminster, the Rt Revd Herbert Ryle, set the ball rolling.

And it was Railton’s flag, which had seen action, that was used to drape the oak coffin of the Unknown Warrior on its way to the burial - and is still in the Abbey to this day.

When Railton made his
suggestion in 1920, that “a soldier should be selected from the thousands of those who had no known grave, and be brought back to England to represent those who fell” there remained thousands of the dead still awaiting their final resting places, for many had only temporary graves before being brought together in war cemeteries and given a fitting burial.

The Dean approached King George V, the Prime Minister and the War Office pressing for action.

Michael Gavaghan, in his book “The Story of the Unknown Warrior" published in 1955 records that the UK had been inundated with around 2,000 strikes in the 1919-20 period. Men who had been promised “a land fit for heroes” had a great sense of being let down as there was so much unemployment and the Prime Minister eagerly took up Railton’s idea.

The idea captured the public’s imagination and helped to unite the nation.

Trips were organised to the Western Front, as the battle areas were known, and many thousands are said to have made their individual pilgrimages to the
battlefields where hundreds of thousands of men died.

Michael Gavaghan wrote: “It was perhaps the fact that so many soldiers had no known grave which made this one soldier’s home coming more appealing, for he could be somebody’s son, brother, husband or father - a loved one who, for many, was at last going to bring an end to their war.”

The warrior without rank was, in effect, to be given a Field Marshal’s funeral with all the ceremonial that goes with It.

The coffin was brought to England in HMS Verdun and landed at the Admiralty Pier, Dover, to a 19-gun salute. With the coffin were four barrels of soil from the battlefields - so that the warrior might lie in the earth so many gave their lives for.

David Railton’s son Andrew served in North Africa during the Second World War and, after the Ethiopian campaign, in India before being dropped behind Japanese lines to organise resistance. He was once captured, but escaped. Awarded the MC and mentioned twice in dispatches, he is survived by a widow, son and daughter.
SECRETARY of Folkestone St District Local History Society Peter Bamford, of Shorncliffe Crescent Folkestone, has a fine collection of pictures of old Cheriton and is appealing for the help of Memories readers. He owns this photo of a dozen or so early buses standing outside Cheriton's Baptist Church, in Cheriton Road, circa 1910-20?

What was the big event which required the services of so many buses? At the front is an AEC bus.

Peter has half a dozen or so early charabanc and coach photographs, all taken in Cheriton. They are all connected with the Baptist Church and its activities, and Peter put them on show recently at Folkestone & District Local History Society's annual exhibition of old photographs, postcards and documents, in the Roman Catholic Church Hall in Surrenden Road, Cheriton.
Vicar’s Unknown Warrior scheme
 

 

 

1900

Mayor says public will be able to veto trams.

| QFOLKESTONE born builder Cllr Daniel Ji3UU Baker was elected Mayor, a position carrying far more weight, than it seems to today, with the advent of district count-ils. He was descended from a Baker grandfather who had been a leading light. SO years before, in the development of the Folkestone Water Co. which, it was said, had helped promote the resort as one of the healthiest in the cnuntry. In taking office Mr Baker said a major .lini in the year ahead was a fairer representation of East and North Wards by more councillors for those districts on the Council. More contentious was a Bill in Parliament to introduce tramways over a large part of the district and he referred to the faction pressing for a more limited scheme and so the Council was going to bid for a Provisional Order to enable a more limited tramway system to be worked. The Council was unanimous, he said, that those trams should be constructed for and run by the Council. It didn't want to foist a big tramway system on the town against the wishes of the ratepayers who would have a chance to express their views in the coming local elections, and at a local inquiry that was likely to be held.

 

1925

Kent coal developments good news for Folkestone.

E KENT coal and the development of several ^*7^9 collieries across East Kent was creating a great deal of interest and two members of the Town Council. Aid C. Ed. Mumford JP and Cllr Hollands JP. together with town clerk AF Kidson and surveyor AE Nichols, served on a the Joint Town Planning Committee of Local Authorities discussing Implications of the development for Folkestone and district. There was concern that the district could, if the industry wasn't closely monitored, be riiyulfod by an industrial tidal wave" - in the words of a contemporary author of a book about the East Kent Regional Planning Scheme. It had happened, he warned. In South Lancashire, the Potteries and the Black Country. There were people who predicted the coalfield would be of benefit to Folkestone "whose claims as a residential district will probably be preferred to those of other parts of the Kent" - in the words of one writer. The book also highlighted Folkestone's assets in its range of hills typical of the South Downs, said the writer, who was anxious the view of these should not be spoilt by development -which, sadly, the Tunnel has done, to some extent.

 

1950

Heroism and tragedy as men battle with the sea.

1 Q COA FRONT page picture in the Herald of MOUa partly submerged bulldua-r in the sea at Sandgate told a tragic story of bravery and tragedy. The bulldozer driver, William Henry Barron, whose leg had been trapped was freed by another workman engaged on sea defence work, foreman John Henry Marsden, aged 61. But both men were swept into the sea and Mr Marsden died from shock caused by the cold water and a weak heart. His son. John Marsden, a Liverpool policeman, gave evidence of identification at the inquest. An Old Contemptible Mr Marsden had served at Mons. Ypres and Gheluvelt. He was wounded at Festubcrt and sent home in 1916 but on recovery was again sent to France, eventually be invalided out of the Army in 1918. A record catch of more than 4.600 fish, weighing one and a half tons, was made by a record 200 anglers fishing in the Folkestone Sea Angling Association three-day boat festival. Strong winds and frequent rain were considered ideal conditions by the hardy anglers! Competitors came from all over the country and France and a woman angler from Dover had the heaviest one-day's catch of nearly 58lbs, including a 251b 40oz conger eel. Her team also won the Team Challenge Shield for a one-day's catch for the second year running.

 

1975

Fighters chalk up victory clearing up big oil slick.

j SHEPWAY council was cock of the hoop - jJtJ I O very confident that its desperate efforts to fight the terrible oil slick that threatened the resort after a major Channel collision between a warship and a tanker, had been won. And a leading official made a statement that "there seems to be no reason why it should adversely affect the holiday industry." His view was backed by the chairman of the local Hotel and Catering Association Mrs Els.) Page who told how her heart sank when she had first seen the state of the beaches after the filthy, un-refined oil came ashore. "The men working on the pollution have done a wonderful job" she said and “I am nu Innw-r worried that it will affect holiday trade." But although most of the difficult work was done thi' cle.in-up operation continued on ‘high amenity' beaches and harbour walls, while winter gales were expected to take care of those areas difficult to reach. The Herald editor called for a close scrutiny of Sliepway District councillors' doubtful decision not to designate a site for a gipsy camp site in the Shepway area. That decision came inspito of a KCC request that every district council should suggest two possible sites, with a view to a fair distribution of 'travellers' in Kent. The Herald said it was a highly emotive question and one that would not go away by ignoring it.

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