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Farningham War Memorial by Frank Bamping 2008

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Half hidden by the side of the less used North East gate and path to the churchyard and in the shadows of the overhanging branches of the yew and other trees is the Farningham War Memorial. It takes the form of a roughly shaped square base, superimposed by a cross, all hewn from Aberdeen granite. It bears the stark and simple inscription in bronze capital letters:-

"To the Glory of God in memory of the fallen and a thankoffering [sic] for Victory to 
our arms and for the safe return to this Parish of all who served in the Great War."
1914-1918      1939-1945

   Unlike the majority of war memorials, Farningham does not list its fallen soldiers, sailors or airmen on its base. To find these names one has to enter the church of Sts Peter and Paul where on the south wall there is a brass tablet inscribed:-

Parochial Roll of Honour of those killed in the Great War 1914 - 1918

Wm. Hyde Eagleson Gordon Lt Gn Hldrs [Lieut. Gordon Highlanders]
James Wm. Barrell  
Gilbert Johnson Barton  R.N. [Royal Navy]
Robert Henry Mills  
Wm. Ernest Couchman R.G.A. [Royal Garrison Artillery]
Herbert Drury R.M.L.I. [Royal Marine Light Infantry]
Fredk. Walter Dunmall  
Frank Arthur Seaker  London [London Regiment]
Alfred Thomas Wingate  
Edward Jeffery Mcn. Gn. Sec. [Machine Gun Section] (Corps)
George Wm. Gregory )
Samuel Edward Stevens ) K.R.R. [King's Royal Rifle Corps]
Walter Fredk. Turner  
Thomas Wm. Moore Glos. [Gloucestershire Regiment]
Hugh Alan Smith Middx. [Middlesex Regiment]
Herbert John Spier Queens [Royal West Surrey Regiment]
Walter Ephraim Spier E. Surrey [East Surrey Regiment]
Cornelius Wm. Tallett   [Royal West Kent Regiment]
Herbert Thurnall  R.W.K. [Royal West Kent Regiment]
Wm. Edward Whiffin  

Almost immediately facing, on the opposite wall, is the Second World War memorial in carved stone with the reminder:-

To the Glory of God and in the memory of
those from this Parish
who gave their lives in the War
1939 - 1945

W.A. Donnelly R.A.F.         C.J. Dunmall M.N.               
T.E. Hill R.A.F.        
J.M. Moseley A.T.S.
O.A. Moseley R.N.R.         P. Nixey, D.S.O., R.A.F.     
W.H. Wansbury R.A.F.
W.H. Hotchkiss, E.A.5., R.N.

Also in one of the darker corners of the Church, a stone tablet inscribed thus:

In memory of Lietenant
O.A. Moseley RNR of HMS
Charybdis killed in action
October 1943 +++ Junior
Commander J.M. Moseley
ATS died January 1945.
This tablet is erected
by their father

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   All the names, as can be seen, are listed in a rough alphabetical order and are grouped within the particular branch of the services to which they belonged. In addition to the two memorials within the Church and the granite cross outside, there are four CWGC memorial headstones in their standard Portland stone format in the extensive churchyard to the four following servicemen who presumably died here in the United Kingdom:-

"624684
Private S.R. Gregory of the Labour Corps who died 18th November 1918 aged 18."
   Sidney Robert Gregory was the younger son of Mr and Mrs William H. Gregory of No.4, London Road, Farningham, who had already lost a son in 1916 on the first day of the Somme Offensive. To judge from the age of young Sidney and the strong possibility that he was a very fit recruit it is more than likely that he died in the influenza pandemic of 1918, both determining factors in his illness and death.

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"915704 Aircraftsman F.W. Shearmur, Pilot U/T RAF who died 21st December 1940 aged 20. In loving memory of our dear son Frank. RIP".
   RAF recruit LAC Francis Walter Shearmur was the Volunteer Reservist son of Mr Francis Charles and Mrs Lily Shearmur of Green Street Green. He was under training to be a pilot when almost certainly he was killed in a flying accident under the great pressure to reduce the shortage of trained pilots in 1940.

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"7631343 Craftsman A. Wilson REME who died 1st November 1944."
   Arthur Wilson of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers died in this country but his next of kin are not given by the CWGC.

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"Flight Lt. B.C. Hanson W/Op/Air Gunner who died 1st July 1947 aged 35. In everlasting memory of the very dear son of Charles and Daisy Hanson".
   Basil Charles Hanson was, as recorded, the son of Mr Albert Charles and Mrs Alice Daisy Hanson of Swanley. Fl. Lt. Hanson 122968 had been a service officer for some time, probably throughout the War, and was flying with 242 Squadron when he died. 242 Squadron started life as a fighter squadron in the Battle of Britain and later as a Spitfire squadron in North Africa.

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   Now that more than ninety years have elapsed since the end of the First World War and sixty since the peace of the Second World War the remembering of these names has become unceasingly more difficult. So in the sprit of family history research short biographical details of these names will serve as a reminder of their commitment. These very short biographical sketches are listed here in the order which they appear on the memorials starting with the First World War and ending with the Second World War. No claim is made here for their completeness or their accuracy as it is well known that this is almost impossible but they are offered here for the generations to come. Any corrections or amendments would be welcome.
   Acknowledgement is made here to the definitive history of Farningham by Hilary Harding, Farningham and its Mill, as a beginning to this study and some of the family names it contains. Advice has been sought from others including my son, Alaric, of Editorial Intelligence.com
                                                                                                                 Frank Bamping, January 2008

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William Hyde Eagleson Gordon, was a Lieutenant, remarkably enough in the 8th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders. He was the son of Major Archibald Alexander Gordon, CBE, MVO, JP, and Mrs Maude Gordon of Monksbarn, Maugersbury, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, and Dunbrae, Farningham. He was born at The Old Mill, Coalstoun in East Lothian. He was educated at Haileybury and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. At the time that the Great War broke out he was still studying for Holy Orders which he abandoned and joined up straightaway on the 20th December 1914.
   The 8th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders was among the vast number of new battalions raised for Kitchener's New Army. After recruit training he was commissioned on the 10th January 1915 as a lieutenant. The new force crossed the Channel via Southampton to Le Harve and reached Boulogne on the 10th May. On the 17th by route march through Flètre and Meteren they reached Bailleul. Here as part of the 9th Division they arrived for trench duties on the relatively quiet Armentières front for further training.
   It was then transferred with the 26th Brigade as the whole 9th Division together with five other divisions were to take part in the new allied Artois-Loos offensive. Despite a shell shortage and the first use by the British of the unpredictable weapon - gas, advances were made on the first day, the 25th September.
   The difficult country of mines and slag heaps was overcome and progress was made beyond Loos towards Lens. The Gordon Highlanders took the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The word somewhat exaggerates its importance and significance. It was in fact an extensively entrenched area prepared for all-round defence. Several more days of heavy fighting elapsed before the 8th Battalion marched back to the comforts of Béthune somewhat reduced and without Lt. Gordon. They had lost 17 officers and "about 500 ranks". The Battle at Loos went on until October 9th.
   Lieutenant Gordon was one of the casualties who was taken back to a rear hospital where he died from his wounds on Thursday 30th September 1915 aged 22. He is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery, in the Pas de Calais, in grave I.B.17 along with 11,000 comrades.

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James William Barrell was the son of James and Deborah Barrell of 49, High Croft Cottages, Swanley. James, aged 25, joined the Royal Navy, his number upon joining up early was 237068 and in a short time he became a leading signalman, a significant achievement.
   His last posting was to HMS India. This ship was one of a number of lightly armed fleet auxiliaries used for North Sea patrols and anti-submarine sweeps.
   HMS India was in action on the 26th July, 1915, with our submarines and scored a success in sinking a German "G" Class destroyer. Continuing on patrol off the Norwegian coast, HMS India, the auxiliary cruiser with leading signalman Barrell aboard was itself torpedoed and sunk on Sunday 8th August, 1915.
   Sailor James Barrell is recorded on Panel 10 of the Chatham Naval Memorial, on the hill in Town Hall Gardens, Chatham, Kent.

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Gilbert Johnson Barton was born in Maidstone, the son of William and Catherine Barton, who later lived in Chatham. He was already at sea during the outbreak of the First World War as he was a regular able seaman aged 30 with the early service number RFR/CH/B/5356.
   On the morning of Tuesday the 22nd September, 1914, he was aboard HMS Cressy, an elderly 12,000 ton cruiser, in the company of HMS Aboukir and HMS Hogue. This 7th cruiser squadron was patrolling 20 miles off the coast of neutral Netherlands, unaccompanied by destroyers, when they came under attack from German submarine U9 commanded by Lt. Otto Weddigen.
   It first successfully sank the Aboukir and whilst Cressy and Hogue were picking up survivors the same U-boat sunk the Cressy followed by her sister ship the Hogue.
   Each cruiser had a complement crew of 800 officers and men. The whole episode was swiftly over. Able seaman Barton was among the many from the three cruisers who did not survive. He is remembered and recorded on Panel 2 of the Chatham Naval Memorial overlooking the Medway Town in the Town Hall Gardens. In all from the three ships 62 officers and 1400 men were lost, among them 25 officers and 536 seamen from HMS Cressy.

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Stoker 1st class Robert Henry Mills, K/23500, was the son of Robert and Alice Mills of 1, Button Street, Swanley Junction. Part of the information supplied by the CWGC for Stoker Mills includes his designation as H.M. S/M. which is taken to mean that he was a submariner. He died on Sunday the 16th September, 1917, aged 20, almost certainly in action in the North Sea. He is recorded on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

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Gunner William Ernest Couchman, 74318, was the son of Jesse and Ruth Couchman of 2, Holt Place, Farningham. According to the records of the CWGC they list a memorial to Gunner Couchman in the South Eastern part of the churchyard of St Peter and Paul but in spite of very careful searching one cannot be found there. William Couchman is listed as belonging to the 23rd Heavy Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery who died on Sunday the 3rd of March, 1918, aged 24.

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Private Herbert Drury, CH/18765, was a member of the Chatham Battalion of the Royal Naval Division of the Royal Marine Light Infantry. His relatives and place of birth are not given in the records. However, he must have been sufficiently well known in Farningham for the memorial committee to have included his name on the memorial. Most likely he was the son of Joseph and Eliza Drury of Crockenhill and aged 33 when he died.
   Following the hiatus and the need for the British Army to collectively catch its breath on the Western Front during the Winter and Spring of 1915 several ideas to progress the War were being discussed. Near to home, a landing in Sleswig seemed attractive but eyes were already focused on the Near East and the warm-water seaway through to their ally, Russia.
   Thus the Dardanelles/Gallipoli project presented itself in an half-hearted manner. By scraping around for sufficient arms to interpolate, one whole English division, the 29th of regular soldiers originally from India, as well as native Indian regiments, together with the Anzac forces forming in Egypt and the whole Royal Naval Division were collected together. France also found enough soldiers from Home and overseas to make a further contribution. The whole panoply assembled on the offshore island of Lemnos making its base in the town of Mudros from the 18th March onwards.
   Operations started on the 25th of April with detachments from the RN Division making a feint attack by landing in the Gulf of Saros in the region of Bulair, before withdrawing. They then joined the main landings with the 29th Division on beach "Y".
   Later on the 27th April the RN division was added to the main forces to the south of the peninsular. During the 28th and 29th four battalions of the RMLI (namely the Chatham, Deal, Nelson and Portsmouth) were sent to support the exhausted ANZAC troops. On May 2nd the Chatham and Portsmouth were again in action reinforcing the 4th Australian Brigade.
   By May the 25th it was in action at the Kereves Ravine and again on the 3rd June it made a concerted attack on the Achi Baba fortifications in the centre with the 29th and 42nd Divisions on the left and the French Army on the right. Fighting continued throughout June until a stalemate set in by July and August. The RN Division was still in action until the whole sorry adventure dragged slowly to a conclusion with the evacuation from December to January 1916.
   One can with relative safety at this distance in time say that Private Drury was in action throughout the Campaign and that at some point between April and June he was seriously wounded. He could have been first withdrawn to Mudros, to a base hospital there, or direct to the vast and permanent camp with its better equipped six British hospitals established at Alexandria in Egypt.
   In one of these hospitals Private Drury died on Tuesday, 8th June 1915. He was buried in grave M 122 of the Chatby War Cemetery which is situated along the main road out of Alexandria to the East.

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Private Frederick Walter Dunmall, 703480, was a member of the 1st/23rd Battalion of the London Regiment who died on Sunday, 9th of December, 1917, aged 30. He was the son of the then late Mr and Mrs Jeremiah Dunmall of Farningham.
   If any part of the Western Front could have been considered to have been a quiet sector, Arras in 1917 could have been named. It formed a hinge between the Northern Picardy fields of Ypres and the Somme plains to the south. The German positions in the Artois woods were well established and were intended to be at the centre of the allied Nivelle offensive timed for February 1917. But a tactical withdrawal by the Germans in mid March and various changes in the allied high command put the attack back to April 9th.
   Throughout April into May attacks went in from South African, New Zealand, Australian and Canadian forces, but only minor gains were made. The achievement of reaching the Vimy Ridge by the Canadians was considered a success at the attrition rate of 150,000 allied men against 100,000 Germans. And thus the months lingered on with the allies pitting themselves against the Hindenburg Line till the end of 1917.
   Private Dunmall's London Regiment was in the line and suffered as badly as any. He is listed among those missing in action on the Arras Memorial with others from the Regiment carved on Bays 9 and 10 of the beautifully designed Lutyens Memorial.

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Corporal Frank Arthur Seaker, 553454, was in the 1st/16th Battalion of the London Regiment also known as the Queen's Westminster Rifles. He died on Thursday, the 16th of August 1917 aged 23 years. He was the son of Mr William and Mrs Charlotte Seaker of 46, Highcroft Cottages, at Swanley Junction.
   The Third Battle of Ypres opened on the 31st of July, 1917, after meticulous preparations having been learned through the experience of three years of attempting to breakout. Still little progress was made in the face of well prepared defences. High ground around Pilckem Ridge was reached before the troops were overwhelmed by bad weather. A new attempt to widen the salient commenced on the 16th August with better, drier ground which is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Langemarck.
   It was in such a "push" on the 16th the word euphemistically used throughout the War of the Western Front, that Corporal Seaker died or as the other term commonly used was "lost without trace".
   Corporal Seaker is recorded and commemorated on Panel 54 of the famous Menin Gate Memorial, situated on the eastern side of the town of Iper.

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Rifleman Alfred Thomas Wingate, 5358, belonged to Company D, of the London Regiment, as the First Surrey Rifles. He died on Thursday the 21st of December 1916, aged 26. He was the son of Mr William Henry and Mrs Ellen Wingate of No 2, Bridge Cottages in Farningham High Street.
   Whilst the vast Battle of the Somme is usually considered to have been fought over from the 1st July until the 18th November 1916, the final attack centred on the River Ancre petered out with something of a whimper. However, well into December minor actions of all sorts took place all along the front under the soubriquet of straightening the line which produced casualty lists of 2,210 a month.
   Far to the north of the Somme battlefield, in the Ypres salient where the front bulged into Belgium the German 4th Army exerted pressure to reduce the salient. It took the form of continuous bombardment with the heaviest of the artillery shells falling on the town of Ypres, which became a completely shattered landscape, and inflicted some 70,000 casualties in the year.
   When the London Regiment was withdrawn from the Somme battlefield it was sent North to the Ypres front in October. Its portion of the front included the village of Zillebeke, where the front line ran through it for much of the time. It was here that Rifleman Wingate must have been looking forward to a quiet 1916 Christmas. It was not to be. He is recorded as having died and been buried in one of the very many British cemeteries which are to be found in this part of west Flanders. He is in the Woods Cemetery, Zillebeke, in plot III grave A.II.

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Private Edward Jeffery, 71226, of the 89th Company of the Machine Gun Corps died on Tuesday July the 31st 1917 aged 21. He was the son of Mr Frederick and Mrs Sarah Ann Jeffery of No.4, Bath Cottages, Swanley Junction.
   It is generally thought that the best and superior marksmen in the infantry regiments were recruited to the relatively newly formed Machine Gun Corps.
   By 1914 machine guns were in use by all armies, some requiring a six man crew but others only three. They were employed on all the war fronts but particularly the Western. It is therefore somewhat difficult to say precisely in what action Private Jeffery was involved. However, on the 31st of July 1917 it was the opening day of the Ypres offensive.
   This Third Battle of Ypres also became known as Passchendaele, the great battle of attrition to be fought by the BEF. It was on the commencement of this Battle, which cruelly dragged on until the 6th November, and was to cost the BEF some 310,000 casualties, among them Private Jeffery who is buried in grave XLIII G19 of the Tyne Cot cemetery in western Flanders.

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Rifleman George William Gregory, S/15358, was in the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. He died on Saturday, 1st of July 1916. He was 23 years old and the son of Mr and Mrs William H. Gregory of No. 4, London Road, Farningham.
   Rifleman Gregory at 0730 a.m. on the 1st of July 1916 was in the distinguished company of 750,000 (27 divisions) others who climbed out of their trenches on the Western Front. There were 58,000, or one third, who did not live to see another day. Along a 30 kilometre line stretching from north of the Somme River to between Amiens and Péronne was the battlefield which gave its name to the disastrous events which followed.
   The task of the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade of the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division was to attack the Redan Ridge but were initially held up by the Ridge Redoubt and the "Quadrilateral" until 10am by which time they overcame the obstacles only to have to retreat in the face of a counterattack. The rest of the day was involved in close quarter fighting along their first line trenches.
   All their efforts took place between the villages of Serre and Beaumont Hamel. At the end of the first day the whole 4th Division had suffered severely with 5,752 casualties, one of whom was Rifleman Gregory who is buried in the Serre Road Cemetery No.2 in grave plot IA 33.

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Rifleman Samuel Edward Stevens, R/43245, was a member of the 11th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He died on Tuesday the 25th of September, 1917. He was aged just 23 and the son of Mr William Henry and Mrs Mary Ann Stevens of Maplescombe Farm Cottages.
   The medium sized Belgium town of Iper (Ypres) has become imbedded in the history of the British Army of the First World War. It was for over three years from the beginning in 1914 until late 1917 the centre of the salient in the frontline. In an effort to break the German will the last great battle of attrition was launched on the 31st of July 1917 which became known as the Third battle of Ypres.
   The British 2nd and 5th armies together with a French army corps, totalling some 15 divisions supported by 3,000 artillery pieces opened fire on an 18 kilometre front. Thrown against a German defence line in depth it produced little headway. The bombardment however broke up what little was left of the drainage system of the low lying terrain, and several days of rain did the rest.
   Fresh thinking by the 20th September produced small gains which on the 26th to the fourth of October established the British army on the ridge of high ground to the east of Ypres.
   Rifleman Stevens was among the 310,000 casualties who bought this advance with their lives. He is buried in Plot III of the Bard Cottage Cemetery in Western Flanders together with 1,500 of his comrades.

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Rifleman Walter Frederick Turner, 57492, was in the 18th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps who died on Sunday the 27th of October, 1918. He was around 35 years old and the son of Benjamin and Emma Turner of Swanley Village.
   Quite when and where and in what action Rifleman Turner was wounded and taken prisoner is extremely hard to say. The premier regiment of the KRRC had been in every action on the western front throughout the Great War.
    The personal details and records on Rifleman Turner are also sparse, certainly the CWGC has no record. But the Absent Voter's List for the Farningham Polling District lists a "Walter Frederick Turner" living at number 3, Button Street. The entry is, however, completely anomalous as unlike over one hundred others on the List there is no service arm attributed to him.
   One can only speculate about Rifleman Turner's origins. What is safe to say is that he died in Germany, place unknown, and that he is buried in the large southern cemetery in the City of Cologne in plot XIII grave E18. All 1,000 British prisoners who died in Germany and were buried in the 183 cemeteries throughout the country were brought to Cologne for re-burial in 1922, together with a memorial to the 25 officers and men who died in Germany and whose grave sites are unknown.

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Private Thomas Moore, 8721, was an early recruit to the 8th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. He died on Monday the 3rd of July, 1916, aged 25. He was the son of Mr and Mrs H.E. Moore of 15, High Croft Cottages, Swanley Junction.
   The Battle of the Somme had been in progress for three days when it can be established that Private Moore was in action as part of the 57th Brigade of the 19th Division in General Rawlinson's 4th Army. The 19th Division was initially in reserve near the town of Albert from which they moved forward on the 1st July.
   From the beginning Private Moore's Gloucestershire Regiment was involved in keeping up the pressure for a general advance from the captured Schwaben Höhe towards the village of La Boiselle which was captured on the 3rd of July by the 8th Battalion after 302 casualties.
   During this dogged fighting Private Moore was found to be missing upon roll call and is assumed to have lost his life on the 3rd July. He is listed on the famous monumental Thiepval Memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, on the road from Albert. His name appears with so many others, on a Pier and faces 5a and 5b.

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Private Hugh Alan Smith, 95386, of the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment died on Wednesday the 23rd of October, 1918. His records do not immediately reveal who his next of kin were but it is possible from other sources to say that with some probability they lived in the heart of Farningham.
   By the autumn of 1918 the first signs of the impending and coming collapse of Germany could be seen or recognized. On August 8th an allied offensive opened from Amiens which by the 15th forced the collapse of the German 2nd Army. On the 21st a new offensive opened from Albert followed quickly by another allied assault in the shape of the Scarpe offensive. The fearful Hindenburg Line was breached in places on the 2nd of September, and on the 27th and again on the 29th which by the 5th October all the positions had been cleared.
   All along the Western Front the allies had opened successful offensives. With the end of the War in sight Private Hugh Smith was killed in action as part of the advancing BEF. He is buried in the Romeries Communal Cemetery in grave III D4.

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Private Herbert John Spier M.M., L/10035, of the 1st Battalion of the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment and 100th Brigade. He died on Wednesday the 26th of September 1917 aged 30. He was the son of Mr James and Mrs Sarah Spier of No. 2, Mary Villas, Farningham.
   As the fighting around the outskirts of the Ypres salient dragged on throughout the summer into the autumn of 1917, one battle after another seemed endless. In one such action on the 25th September when fighting to the North of the Menin Road the 1st Battalion was forced back by just 200 yards. In another action which started on the 26th September 1917 it became a battle for Polygon Wood and the high ground to the east of the bulging salient. These actions, despite the worsening rain, culminated in gaining the infamous Passchendaele Ridge, some ten kilometres east in the November. It was these continuous offensive actions which cost the BEF about 310,000 casualties and the credit of Haig.  Private Spier who had been awarded the Military Medal during his service on the Western Front was not to respond to roll call on the 26th September. He was recorded missing. With no known grave he and his fellow missing soldiers are listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial Panels 14 to 17 and 162 to 162a, in the Village of Zonnebeke in Western Belgium.

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Private Walter Ephraim Spier, 38119, was in the 8th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. He died on Friday the 25th of October, 1918, aged 29. He was the son of Mr James and Mrs Sarah Spier of No. 2, Mary Villas, Farningham.
   With the end of the Great War almost within sight, three British Armies opened the Scarpe Offensive which followed up the retreating German armies, who were still quite capable of offering resistance. Private Spier must have been in good spirits and getting over the loss of his older, decorated brother Herbert in the previous September, 1917, who had been a private in the Royal West Surrey Regiment.
   Private Spier was not to see the end of hostilities as he, along with another 9,000 Commonwealth soldiers who fell between the 8th August 1918 and the Armistice, and who were later found to be missing are remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in the Pas de Calais.

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Listed on the memorial within the Church is one Cornelius William Tallett of the Royal West Kent Regiment. In spite of such a distinctive name and a clear indication of his belonging to the RWK Regiment Mr Tallett remained an enigma. There is absolutely no record of him as such in the files of the CWGC. Neither does he figure in the complete indexes of the History of the Regiment. However a continuing search of the CWGC files revealed a Private W. Tillett with a regimental number G/6554 belonging to the 8th Battalion of the RWK without a next of kin or age at death. Upon cross checking with the Regiment's Roll of Honour it too lists a Private W. Tillett with the same number. In genealogical research one needs corroboration from other independent documentary sources. And this comes in the September quarter of 1885 Register of Births for England and Wales showing that a Cornelius William Tallett was registered in Steyning, Sussex. By consulting the National Census of 1901 one finds a large family of Talletts living at 29, High Cross Cottages. One of them is a William aged 16 who was born in Portslade, Sussex. For some unknown reason by then he had dropped the use of the family name of Cornelius. So Cornelius William on the memorial is now clearly identified as the son of Mr and Mrs Peter Tallett of High Cross Cottages.
   The 8th Battalion was one of the new battalions raised in 1915 and intensively trained at Shoreham, Worthing and Blackdown. In September 1915 they concentrated at Aldershot as part of the 24th Division.
   The same year they landed in France for a forthcoming offensive (which became known as the Loos) by the 1st Army. The 8th Battalion was allotted to the 11th Corps to support an advance at the centre with La Bassée on the left and Lens to the right.
   After September, the 8th Battalion was never far from the action. Of the 800 men who went into action, only 250 remained effective when the Battalion was withdrawn.
   During a respite in the rear at St. Omer they received large drafts of replacements and re-equipment during early 1916. In March the Battalion arrived back at the front, still part of the 24th Division, to a point near Bailleul where it stayed for the next three months. Its task as seasoned soldiers was to provide large working parties for raiding. During one of these events on Sunday 18th June 1916, Private Cornelius William Tallett died and was buried close by in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in Northern France.

   17th January 2016. Information supplied by Kyle Tallett.
William Tallett was christened William, and the Cornelius crept in during childhood, also our family name is TULLETT but all were illiterate. William (Cornelius) was born in Portslade in Brighton. He was the son of Peter and Jane from Highcroft Villas, Swanley. He was a pre-war territorial with the 5th Battalion R.W. Kent's. He did not go to India with the battalion in 1914, instead he went to the 3rd Battalion guarding the Medway. In Sept 1916 he went to France with a draft bound for the 6th Battalion, but on arrival was posted with this draft to the 17th Bttn Middlesex Regt. He was killed in action 2nd Dec 1917 and has no known grave and is on the Louverval memorial. He left a wife and 4 kids, he was living at Bath Villas. He is also on the Swanley Memorial.

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Private Herbert Thurnall, No. L/10099, of the 1st Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment died on the Sunday morning of the 18th April, 1915, at the aged of 22. He was the son of Mrs Henrietta Thurnall of 3, London Road, Farningham. Like so much of the information available of deceased members of the armed forces of the First World War there is a conflict of information as to Private Thurnall's regimental number which is given as L/10079 in the Royal West Kent Regiment's Roll of Honour.
   One may speculate whether Herbert Thurnall went off to war early with his comrades and found himself mobilized on the 4th August 1914 and embarked aboard SS Gloucestershire for France on the 13th, all 22 officers and 450 men, or was one of the replacements raised after the virtual decimation of the BEF by being in action continuously throughout 1914/15 at Mons, the Marne, the Aisne, La Bassée and Neuve Chapelle. Either way the 1st Battalion was definitely in the line from November 1914 to March 1915 at Ypres [Iper] where the salient had formed.
   At 7.00pm on April 17th the 1st Battalion as part of the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division launched the famous attack on Hill 60 and its capture. Without wishing to diminish the significance of the name Hill 60 it was in fact a man-made spoil heap from the construction of the nearby railway line. But once the enemy had recovered from its loss submitted it to a day long bombardment. It is this action which ensured that the name of this prominence became almost a legend. However, Herbert Thurnall was among those who did not survive; after Roll Call on Sunday the 18th he was posted missing. Today he is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial in Iper on Panels 45 and 47 along with his fellow comrades from the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment who were lost without a trace.

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William Edward Whiffin is listed as Private 240213 of the 5th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record that his parents were William and Alice Whiffin of Beesfield Farm, Farningham. We also know that Whiffin is a well established family name in North West Kent over very many years.
   From the reading of the records it would appear that William Whiffin was probably a territorial. The 4th and 5th Battalions of these territorial soldiers sailed from Southampton for India on the 29th October 1914.
   Meanwhile the mixed British/Indian forces in Mesopotamia [Iraq] were in action fighting Turkish forces in a river war along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. In August 1915, 200 officers and men volunteers from the 1st/5th Battalion back in India sailed up the River Tigris with others to attempt the relief of Kut-el-Amara.
   Among the casualties from actions of all kinds, as well as from illnesses, is Private William Whiffin who was recorded originally on Panel 29 of the Basrah Cemetery which is now on the re-erected Memorial at Nasiriyah. His death at the age of 22 is listed as occurring on Sunday, the 31st of December 1916.

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Col. John McCrae

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Flying Officer William Archibald Donnelly, 129159, was the son of Mr and Mrs Michael Joseph Donnelly of Bridge Cottage, High Street, Farningham.
   He was an early Volunteer Reservist recruit to the RAF and was promoted rapidly through the ranks to Flying Officer. His rôle in the aircrew was that of Air Bomber with the unenviable task of lying prone in the nose of the aircraft during the run-up to the target.
   During the dark days of 1943 William Donnelly was posted to the RCAF 428 Squadron in Group 6 based at Middleton St. George, in Durham. On the night of the 24/25th June, 1943, the target for the night selected was the manufacturing complex of Wuppertal in the heart of the Ruhr. Wuppertal was a sprawling city which included Elberfeld and Barman. The crews of a mixed force of Lancasters, Halifaxes, Wellingtons, Stirlings and Mosquitos comprising 630 aircraft in all were briefed over the target. The Mosquito pathfinders marked the target well but even so 5.4% of the attacking aircraft were lost.
   Among aircrews was F.O. Donnelly flying in a Halifax which came down in friendly Holland on Friday, 25th June, 1943. William Donnelly died aged 31 and is buried in plot EE Grave 25 of the Woensel War Cemetery, Eindhoven. He is in the company of nearly 700 others who lost their lives in raids over Germany together with some British soldiers who died in the 79th and 86th army general hospitals.

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Thomas Ernest Hill was the son of Albert and Eleanor Hill and was married to Lillian Margaret of Brockley. He was also a Sergeant, 1397469, of the RAF Volunteer Reserve which supplied the backbone of the RAF wartime aircrews at the age of 23.
   Sergeant Hill flew with 102 Squadron of Group 4 throughout the War. This Squadron had the unenviable name of suffering the third highest losses in Bomber Command and the most losses expressed in percentages within the Group. From the outbreak of War, 102 aircrews flew in Whitleys but converted to Halifaxes when they became available. They rotated and flew from six of the well-known bases in East Anglia.
   On the night of the 16/17th June, 1944, 32 aircraft set out to attack the synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade/Holten in the Northern Ruhr. Once over the target, thick cloud was encountered which made for difficulties in identifying and attacking the plant. On the return journey the bomber stream passed close to the Bocholt beacon where the controller had wisely held back most of his available night fighter force. 22 of the 162 Halifaxes were lost - 13.6%. Hill's bomber must have been disabled as it neither crashed in Holland nor made it back to base. So one assumes it went down in the North Sea. Sergeant Thomas Hill is recorded and remembered on the RAF Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.

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Oswald Anthony Moseley was the elder son of Lt. Col. Oswald Herbert George Kerr and Margherita Mabel Moseley who lived at Fairacre, Dartford Road, near The Folly, in Farningham. Lieutenant Moseley is designated RNR in the records which infers his direct entry into the Royal Navy from the mercantile service as a junior officer aged 26.
   It is not known whether his first ship was HMS Charybdis, a ten 5.25 inch gun light anti-aircraft cruiser or not. From the war records it is early listed as part of Force "Z" of the 10th cruiser squadron in the Mediterranean which with many other ships were involved in the well-known "Pedestal" convoy to raise the seige of Malta in August 1942.
   Subsequently it was withdrawn back to its Gibraltar base from which, between the 8th and 13th of November 1942, together with HMS Scylla and Sheffield as a cruiser squadron, part of a large allied fleet, they covered the "Torch" landings in North Africa.
   Later whilst still actively patrolling in the North Atlantic and Home waters it was part of a small force attempting to intercept enemy convoys off the north coast of Brittany. During the night of the 23rd of October 1943 it was attacked by German torpedo boats T23 and T27 who were operating out of Brest and Cherbourg. The Charybdis was hit by two torpedoes at 01.45, some 18 miles (33Km) NE of Roscoff. At 02.30 the ship capsized and sank with the loss of 464 men. There were 107 survivors but Lt. Moseley was not among them. He is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial which is situated centrally on the Hoe which overlooks the Sound. His name is on Panel 84 in Column One.

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Peter Nixey was the 6ft. 4inch husband of Margaret and son of Dr and Mrs R.F. Nixey of the Lincoln Kennels on the London Road. Peter Nixey also held the rank of Squadron Leader, 42257, and was holder of the DSO when he died on Saturday 20th June 1942. It was every intention on the night of the 19/20th June for 194 aircraft to set out to bomb Emden but unfortunately the early flare force wrongly identified Osnabrück as the target which two thirds of the force bombed instead. Osnabrück is some 80 miles from the fellow north German coastal town of Emden. It only pointed up the problems in the early days of the air war of night navigation. Nine aircraft were lost from the mixed force of Wellingtons, Halifaxes, Stirlings, Hampdens and Lancasters.
   Peter Nixey started flying early in the war with 214 Squadron of the RAF with which they flew in Wellingtons from June 1940 onwards until later transferring to four engine Stirlings and Fortresses. His rank and decoration point to his being an experienced pilot of probably one of the giant Stirlings that flew to North Germany but did not return. The aircraft came down over Holland where 22 year old Squadron Leader Nixey is buried in the Ommen Cemetery in the central Netherlands.

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Joyce M. Moseley of the A.T.S. was the daughter of Lt. Col. Oswald Herbert George Kerr and Margherita Mabel Moseley of Fairacre, Dartford Road, Farningham. She went to France early in the War and was back in England by 1940. The inclusion of Driver Moseley's name on the memorial indicates that both she and her family were well-known in Farningham, but now are all long gone.
   However, in spite of very extensive research and trawling through all the records of the now superseded Women's Royal Army Corps it has not been possible to give a definitive answer to her decease. Even the beautiful leather-bound Books of Remembrances containing all the italic hand-written names do not include Miss Moseley's.
    Records of the members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service and the Women's Royal Army Corps are still held by the Ministry of Defence which can only be released to proven next of kin. Joyce Moseley would appear to have died in the first quarter of 1945 in Westminster aged 27.

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Cecil James Dunmall was the son of Cecil and Dorothy Dunmall of Farningham. He went to sea at the early age of 17 aboard the M.V. Empire Star registered in Belfast in 1935. This was his maiden voyage in this relatively small merchant navy ship in the rôle of a steward. The Ship sailed from Liverpool on the 20th of October, 1942, and proceeded independently, bound for East London with 19 passengers and 1,055 tons of cargo, government and general stores.
   Three days out on the 23rd she was attacked, torpedoed and sunk by U 615 at 48.14 North, 26.22 West. Captain and Master Selwyn Norman Capon, 29 of the crew, six gunners and six passengers were lost, among them young Cecil Dunmall. Some 45 other members of the crew, three gunners and 13 passengers were rescued by H.M. Sloop Black Swan.
   U 615 working with "wolf pack" Wotan came under repeated aerial attack by U.S. aircraft and was damaged. It was in the process of being scuttled on the approach of USS destroyer Walker during which action Kapitan Ralf Kapitzky and three of his crew were lost but USS Walker saved 43 other U-boat crew members.
   Young Cecil Dunmall remained missing and is recorded and remembered on Panel 45 of the Mercantile Marine Memorial to merchant seamen on Tower Hill in the City of London. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1928.

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William Henry Wansbury was the 23 year old son of Mr William Jones and Dorothy Wansbury who lived in Swanley. He was RAF recruit No. 626655 who after basic training became AC1 Wansbury Aircraftsman First Class, who as far as can be ascertained was a ground crew tradesman.
   His journey to the Far East set out in the dark days of 1943. Aircraftsman Wansbury did not return from Asia in 1945.
   It is quite possible that he died as a Japanese prisoner of war. He is buried in grave 4A3 of the Ambon War Cemetery on the Indonesian Island of the same name. It was constructed on the site of the former prisoner of war camp where many of the captives died.

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William Henry Hotchkiss was the only son of Mr Arthur and Mrs Elizabeth Hotchkiss of Swanley. Their talented and good scholarly son went straightaway into the Royal Navy at age 19. After further basic training he joined the crew of the Prince of Wales after its completion on the Mersey in 1941. It was the ultimate in the then battleship design with a displacement of 35,000 tons, a speed of 29 knots and a crew of 1,612.
   She sailed to Newfoundland with Churchill aboard to meet Roosevelt for the signing of the Atlantic Charter. On return she was in action in the North Atlantic against the Bismarck with still 100 civilian shipwrights aboard.
   Later in 1941 HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse had been despatched to Singapore under the code name Force Z. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 8th 1941 the Pacific area was left somewhat lacking in capital ships.
   With reports that Japanese landings were being made in Thailand and at Kota Bharu in Malaya, Force Z sailed at 17.35 on December 8th to interdict these Japanese landings and supply lines. Force Z had only four destroyers in company, as the then new aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable was not available owing to damage sustained during working up in the Caribbean, which left the whole force very vulnerable. It was sighted by a Japanese submarine at 13.40 hours on the 9th December. With its cover blown it was tracked thereafter and followed by Japanese aircraft. One of the Australian destroyers had to turn back for Singapore as it was short of fuel.
   Continuing the patrol the two capital ships came under aerial attack and the Repulse was sunk at 12.33 hours on the 10th followed by the Prince of Wales at 13.20 off Kuantan in Malaya. 513 men from the Repulse out of a company of 1,309 and 327 out of the company of 1,612 in the Prince of Wales were lost; in spite of gallant efforts by the destroyers to pick up survivors. In this action on Wednesday 10th December, 1941, electrical artificer C/MX 76240, 22 year old William Henry Hotchkiss was not among them. He is recorded on Panel 48/3 of the Chatham Naval Memorial.

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Kent Archaeological Society 15th June 2009

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