Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 13 March 2003


MEMORIES reader Barry Fletcher, of Hawkinge, a producer/director for MVS Production*, has been appealing for people with stories about old Folkestone to contact him for a feature film he is making. One interesting story he is trying to confirm, is that a Spitfire crashed on a property in Sandgate Road. Barry can be contacted on 01303 892830. Another reader sent me an e-mail message to say it wasn't the Hindenburg destroyed in the USA that flew over Folkestone, before the war, but another airship.
AN AVIATION historian and researcher, Roy Humphreys, of Hawkinge, has been researching the Hythe Camera Gun which was to play a significant part in the early years of fighting in the air.

Henry Edward Chaney spent hours as an army sergeant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, shouting orders at dull-witted recruits who did not appear to know their left hand from their right, before his transfer to Hythe School of Musketry a century ago.

There he became proficient in small arms of every kind, a crack shot and possessed a unique understanding of the Lewis machine gun which was to prove a stepping stone in the history of aerial warfare.

It was the Lewis machine gun’s unofficial use in France, in November 1914, which convinced the War Office of the vital role for weapons in aircraft.

And Chaney’s expertise with the machine gun, says Roy, marked him out as a likely candidate for transfer to the fledgling Royal Flying Corps to which he soon took his knowledge of the weapon.

Until then the Corps had never contemplated using weapons of any kind fixed to their machines. For one thing the light-loaded aircraft then in use gave little margin for any additional weight to be carried, let alone a heavy machine gun and its equally heavy drums of ammunition.
Henry Chaney became involved with the first experiments using machine guns in aircraft and later became Confidential Secretary of the Experimental Staff, RFC.

Promoted to captain in February 1915, he happily returned to Hythe to join the newly formed School of Aerial Gunnery, whose headquarters were set up at the Hotel Imperial.

The business of training men in aerial gunnery was a hit and miss affair, says Roy, as few men understood the principle of aiming-off at a moving target. But the principle was much the same as shooting pheasant or grouse, although the spread of shot was not so exacting.

Chaney Brainwave

As Chief Instructor Chaney was alarmed at the wastage of ammunition. It seemed the men were never going to learn the rudiments of aiming-off, so that bullets would strike the drogue target.

But a big step forward was in the offing, after Chaney toyed with the idea that perhaps the Lewis machine gun, a familiar weapon in 1916, could be modified to accept a camera and lens.

His brainwave was that by operating the trigger mechanism one frame of film could be exposed and clearly indicate, after the film was developed, the aiming-off point made by the pupil under instruction.
The result of experiments was the first Hythe Gun Camera MK1.

Promoted to Major, Chaney became Chief Instructor of the No. 1 School of Aerial Gunnery, based at Palmarsh airfield, almost opposite the Napoleonic Dymchurch redoubt.

But the congestion caused by the number of pupils to be trained meant a new aerodrome was required especially to train airmen in use of the Hythe Gun Camera which was soon appearing in a MKIII mode, made by Thornton Pickard, in Cheshire.

The new aerodrome was soon built in 1917 at Jesson Farm, St Mary’s Bay.
The new gun camera sported a 300mm f8 lens, central shutter and used a 120 roll of film, taking 14 exposures.

Chaney continued to progress, becoming a Temporary Lieutenant Colonel and was moved to London as Squadron Commander and Inspector of Gunnery and Training, and was later to write a series of technical handbooks on aerial gunnery.

Although the Air Ministry was unable to make payments for inventions to a regular, serving officer, he was awarded the OBE on January 7, 1918. But he experienced stress in his desk-bound job and ended up committing suicide, says Roy.
Crack shot

Spectacle - as local-built fishing boat is launched

<■ WEEKS groat interest was creat-

.LiJUOed in the early part of the year by the sight of ship building in a now timber yard in Canterbury Hoad, a strange sight so far from tho sea. Rail passengers with a grandstand' view ventured the view the boat would never be launched, but the vessel "kissed its native element" early in March. A fishing boat built by Mr Basham for Mr Brice it was hauled to the harbour by traction engine and launched at the slipway near the Paris Hotel. A long report told of a town councillors’ trip to inspect the Paris tramway systems in connection with the possible setting up of a municipal-run transport sys tem in Folkestone. The Paris trams picked up electric power in several different ways on different parts of the system, including studs in the road, which was the method local councillors were considering in preference to Dover's overhead trolley pole system and by a groove (con duit) in the road, as had recently been installed at Bournemouth. Royal Victoria Hospital governors had high hopes of voluntary efforts made by Miss Ismay's school to raise funds to build a verandah on the top floor.
Abolish ‘rubber-stamp’ county council demand

a ^ABOLITION of Maidstone as a "rub-i5/OOber-stamp council" was advocated by Graham Hills at a Folkestone Chamber of Trade meeting in Bobby's (now Debenham's) Restaurant at which the Folkestone Herald's then managing director Mr Don Henley presided. Mr Hills strongly deprecated the "excuses put out by the County Council for their ever-increasing demands." When questioned about rises, he said, they always blamed the government. No change there then! The Herald reported that Folkestone was shrouded in the worst fog in living memory - said to be caused by an anti-cyclone that, in summer, would moan fine weather! Roniney Marsh magistrates approved a change of name for the Victoria Inn, Dymchurch, dating from 1733, to the Ocean. This name, it was said, was found to bo an earlier name for the local. This was discovered when men doing repairs for new owners, the brewers Stylo 8 Winch, removed some plaster and found the name inscribed underneath. The public house was immortalised as the “Ocean" in Russoll Thorndyke's classic "Dr Syn" hooks. The inn had formerly belonged to Messrs Finn, a Lvdd brewina firm of manv voars standina.
Life and death drama after sailing ship sinks steamer

m nnnA GRAPHIC account of a collision off JL«/^ODungen(!SS between a Russian cadet sailing ship Tovarisch, with 95 men on board, and ar Italian steamship Alcantara, sunk with the loss of 22 lives, was given at the inquest at Lydd into the death of two crewmen washed up at Lydd. The one survivor, who could feel his ves sel going down under him, grabbed a chain hanging from the bow of the Tovarisch. The coroner concluded the Russian master should have done more to seek out survivors, although in evidence he had said he did not know the steamer had sunk under his bow almost immediately. The Herald told how a Folkestone man Capt Percy Saunders, o1 Cheriton Road, who was commander of the Glen Line steamer Glenberg (14,000 tons) sailing to and from the Far East, had gained sea-going experience aboard the Russian ship, formerly tho four-masted vessel Lauristan. It was renamed Tovarisch, by the Russians and converted to a training ship. Once a familiar sight off Folkestone arid Dover, it was photographed by Dover marine photograph specialists Amos and Amos.

Government cuts put back road plans 50 years - claim

«* Q7QAROUND 1,500 children were being Jmtj i Oleft unsupervised in their lunch bre<ik apart from a hand full of dinner ladies us a teach ers' pay fight began to bite. One headmaster attempted to introduce 'Continental hours' to get over the problem, with a lunch break of only 15-minutes and classes ending at 2pm. This was welcomed by some parents but not others and the experiment lasted only one day, the Head having to revert to normal hours next d jy! There was division too over Folkestone's town centre shopping precinct. Angry traders in Guildhall St were threatening to fight any further pedestri-anisation which operated on Saturdays only and and a snap survey found that shoppers were split 50-50 ovor the idea. SAGA Holidays Ltd was set to go public, offering a third of its shares for sale and the Herald featured the story of how the business empire began. The paper also ran a serialised reprint of its out-of print postwar book "Front Lino Folkestone," in weekly episodes in the paper and concluded wilh a tribute to Civil Defcnce men and women and other voluntary workers, illustrated by a picture of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who paid their own personal tribute during a visit to the town in 1944.

If anyone should have any a better picture than any on this page, or think I should add one they have, please email me at the following address:-