Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 23 October 2003


THE HISTORY of fashionable Folkestone is presented in a compelling new video produced by Folkestone & District Local History Society which is to be launched early in November. Called “Memories of Folkestone, WOO-1914,"it offers an hour plus of nostalgia, with glimpses of a town very different to today. The video has its first public showing in Holy Trinity Church hall, in Sandgate Road, on November 5, at 8pm. Admission costs £2, but is free to members. Copies will be on sale at the meeting, and also at the Leas Cliff Hall Craft Fair, on Saturday and Sunday, November 15/16.
A COUPLE of times I have referred in Memories to Zeppelin airships which flew over East Kent over 60 years ago and last week I met military veteran Arthur Maddock, of Narrabeen Road, Cheriton, who showed me a copy of a local history I had never seen before, with details of a raid on Britain by a fleet of airships in 1917.

The account is hut a small part of an A4 sized work A Short History of Shorncliffe Garrison, by Colin Caverhill, published in January.

Eleven Zeppelins of the Imperial German Navy set out from Germany to bomb the industrial Midlands, on October 19, 1917 -one of them at least flying' over Shepway later, on its way back to the Continent.

The account of the Zeppelin raid is part of a review of South-East Coast Defences by Lt-Col (Retired) R. J. Jenkins MBE.

By all accounts the weather was calm on the ground but the airships were hit by raging- gale-force winds above 16,000ft and five airships, including L49, crossed the English coast over East Anglia.

Kapitanleutnant Hans Gayer commanded Zeppelin L49 which was hit by engine failure. Hopelessly lost, like some of his fellow commanders, he later admitted that, when he passed over Holtcham, Norfolk, he thought he was flying above Scarborough!

As L49 passed over Norfolk 42 bombs were
dropped, the casualties being some cattle and damaged farm buildings!

Eventually, at 6.30am on October 20, the airship passed over Folkestone and Shorncliffe, dropping some bombs, but achieving little.

“At this point she was engaged by the anti-aircraft guns at Shorncliffe and Lympne. In fact, throughout the country only 22 rounds were fired that night, these two batteries accounting for 16,” comments the writer.

“L49 was engaged by anti-aircraft fire from Martello Tower No. 8, which was used as an observation post.”

This Martello tower, about 100 metres south-west of the present Sir John Moore Barracks Officers’ Mess, has since been converted into an unusual home.

Zeppelin captured

Having got back to the Continent, at 0800 hrs, L49 was attacked near Neufchateau by the French 152 Escadrille.

Five aircraft - all Nieuports - forced L49 down near Bourbon-les-Bains. Owing to exhaustion and a faulty Verey pistol Gayer was unable to destroy the Zeppelin.

The crew, along with the intact Zeppelin, were captured by the pilots who forced them down, assisted by local farmers.

“The capture of L49 was significant in that the Allies had the very latest in airship technology, and much of the post-war development of airships, including the
R100, which was moored at Capel-le-Ferne, was based on L49,” the account goes on.

“The crew members of L49 were lucky; many of their comrades were killed that night. L50, in particular, having lost 16 crew in a gondola ripped off by trees, was driven by the wind south across the Mediterannean. And the Zeppelin and its remaining crew were never seen again.” Arthur Maddock himself is a weapons expert, serving in the Army as a regular from 1937 until 1962, when he came to Folkestone.

He then carried on as a civilian, doing weaponry repairs for a good few years after that, before retiring.
Mollie Davies, of Hawkinge, another Folkestone Herald reader and local history enthusiast, rang to tell me of a Kent cemetery where seven members of the crew of a Zeppelin lie buried.

The graves, maintained to a high standard, are in a churchyard which can be seen from the train, on the main line at Faversham.

Mollie also told me of an interesting book worth seeking out. It is called Bulwark Shore, and features stories about East Kent, compiled, she thought, by John Aitken and Miss Walton, of Eastry.

Mollie lent her copy to someone and lives in hopes that it may soon be returned!
Shomcliffe history tells how Zeppelin hit town

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in port dumping eyesore

I Q/\0 HERALD writer Felix was voicing pub-LęsUOIic opinion when he urged that some-hing be done to rid Folkestone of a harbour eye-ore — an unsightly dumping ground opposite he Royal Pavilion Hotel, with heaps of broken ranite and "much that is undesirable to a oastal resort." At the same time, he said, there yere stacks of timber unloaded from ships vhich shut out both air and light. "Our dear, reamy, sleepy methods were never better illus-rated than in this particular beauty spot facing he chief port to the Continent" ne declared, ollowing closely upon the Folkestone Tennis ournament competition Hythe held its Open ennis Tournament in the grounds of the sea-acing Hotel Imperial. Folkestone Sea Angling association was formed at a public meeting at he Town Hall, the Mayor, Cllr Frederick Hall, greeing to be president. A handsome memorial i/as put up in Folkestone cemetery to the late ieneral Sir Mark Walker, VC, KCB, formerly of he Buffs and Colonel of the Sherwood oresters, who died in May 1902. Felix was acking a local demand that Shorncliffe Station hould be re-named Folkestone West.

MP forced lands in desert on epic flight to India

qaqA PUBLIC meeting at Dover Road Schools was held at which an East Ward Ratepayers' Association was formed. Regrettably five out of six of the ward councillors had prior engagements and the sixth arrived late for the meeting which discussed, among other topics, improvements planned for East Cliff Sands and land fronting The Stade. There was a hiccup on MP Sir Philip Sassoon's marathon flight to India via Italy, Egypt, Bagdad and Basra. While flying over the great Pyramid the engine cut out forcing the pilot to make a forced landing in the desert, during visits to RAF stations. Seventy-five years ago the UK was reported to have one and a quarter million people unemployed, largely because we had lost the bulk of our foreign trade, yet we were annually importing goods requiring 40,000 voyages of ships, most of which left our ports without a return cargo. Hastings lifeboat arrived in Folkestone, escorting a Thanet yacht Gimber which got into difficulties off Bexhill, after being 17 hours at sea. The yacht was bound for Southampton to get new sails when a storm blew up and all sails were shredded. Lifeboat crew fitted a jury-rigged sail and got the craft to safety, the two sailors being exhausted.
Big demand for Dormobile conversions boosts town

a QPQ SUCCESS of the Martin Walter Ltd 1990 "Dormobile" caravan conversion on a Bedford 10/12cwt chassis, costing £545, was highlighted in a Herald review of local firms showing in the National Motor Show. The writer said demand for these, launched in 1952, led to a new factory being built on the Cheriton road to cope with volume production. Sir Kenneth Clark, K.C.B., a Director of the National Gallery, holder of other top art posts, and writer of several books on art, became the new owner of Saltwood Castle. An album of nearly 270 photographs illustrating life in the Royal East Kent Yeomanry regiment, the majority dating from the First World War, was presented to the Royal East Kent Yeomanry Old Comrades Association at its annual reunion. The presentation was made by ex-Yeoman Mr E.W. Hook, years after they were 'rescued' from walls of huts by Cook-Sgt McKim when the Yeomanry were about to leave the Polo Ground, at Canterbury, to serve in Gallipoli, 38 years before. He was thanked by the chairman. Lord Harris, commissioned in the Yeomanry himself in 1907, aged only 17.
Hospital without sheets threat, in pay dispute

^ Q7Q PATIENTS at the Royal Victoria .Lę/ I O Hospital faced the prospect of beds without sheets because of industrial action, said the Herald 25 years ago. It was even possible emergency patients would have no linen at all. Maintenance workers nationwide had been fighting for better pay and restructuring of jobs for a month and this had hit sterile supplies and laundry. Speeding juggernauts were threatening children's lives in the rural area where there were narrow roads, and mums at Sellindge threatened to keep children away from school because of the hazard on a narrow part of the A20 at Grove Bridge - a problem aggravated by British Rail works to strengthen it. The work took up the whole of one side of the road leaving a narrow gap for mothers with prams. Biking posties in Folkestone felt they took their lives in their hands every time they left Bouverie Square to join the main stream of traffic and begin deliveries, the view often obscured by buses. People of Postling had to make a tough decision about their fine 11th Century parish church: to pay for much needed renovation - or have the three medieval bells repaired. The bells won and had to be taken to Whitechapel for renovation.

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