Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Great War in Ramsgate and Granddad’s War

The entry from "Cockburn's Diary Ramsgate Life in the First Word War" first:

“Monday August 3rd 1914


Surely there has never before been such a Bank Holiday as this has proved to be. The morning papers stated that the Cabinet would meet again this morning and that Parliament would assemble at 3.30 pm when the Prime Minister would make a statement. During the morning no further news of any importance was received at Ramsgate. All sorts of rumours were about, and as the baker told us that the government had taken over the L. C. & D. (London Chatham & Dover) Railway station. Mummie and I walked down that way in the afternoon to see if my train would run to Westgate as usual tomorrow. The station was open, but all the Inspector could tell me was that “as far as he knew” the trains would run as usual tomorrow. Returning to Addington Street we waited about in case further news should come through. All we heard however was that Bank Holiday would be extended until Thursday, and that the British Mediterranean fleet was reported to have cleared for action.

Directly after tea I went again to Fox's and found a notice to the effect that the Cabinet were unable to make up their minds what to do and the question was to be debated in the House of Commons tonight. It also stated that Mr John Burns and Sir John Simon had left the Cabinet. This, is as afterwards proved, was not a fair resume of what had taken place. But it served to dishearten some of us very much, as it appeared that the Government was hesitating when the honour of the country was at stake.

The next message half an hour or so later, was to the effect that “ war would be declared on Germany tonight or tomorrow morning,” “Mr Balfour and Mr Bonar Law have joined the Cabinet.” This was altered by the substitution of Lord Lansdowne's name for that of Mr Balfour, but the whole message subsequently proved to be incorrect.

Later in the evening Mummie and I went on to the East Cliff. The Band and Concert Party were playing, but the crowds were not up to their usual Bank Holiday standard, either as to size or merriment. Indeed it was defiantly noticeable all day that a sense of anxiety and suspense weighed on the majority of people in the town.

The public lamps on the East Cliff in front of the Coast Guard station were extinguished, to enable the coast guards to distinguish more readily the lights and signals from the sea. We could not see any signs of the two gunboats which had been lying off Ramsgate all day and concluded that they had gone, when suddenly first one then the other started flashing their searchlights about. They had been laying there all the time with their lights out. Presently they commenced signalling with their flash lamps from the masthead, and suddenly 5 or 6 ships further out at sea, whose presence we had not before suspected, commenced replying also by flash lamp. This was evidently the French Naval Squadron, which had passed Dover late this afternoon, steaming northwards. It was very interesting to watch, knowing that France was in for, and we on the brink of the real thing.”

A note for children here: The Cockburn is pronounced co-burn.

When I was a child there were quite few members of my family and family friends who had fought in WW1 around. What they had to say about was basically, not a lot, I was born in 1953 and most of the adults had loads to say about WW2, from our perception as children it seemed that the adults had enjoyed WW2 loads and we were looking forward WW3 with enthusiasm.

I was quite severely disabled as a child and my maternal grandfather who was approximately the same age as the century, who had lied about his age had and gone fight in WW1 when he was 15, developed diabetes with complications which involved the amputation of one of his legs, came to die with us.

I wasn’t really well enough to go to school; so much of the task of looking after him fell to me. He moved into our dining room and I set up camp on the dining room floor, so that when he woke up in the night he could poke me with a stick and I could fetch things for him.


He didn’t have much to say about WW1, but from what he either didn’t say or did say I developed some sort of notion of what he would have said if I hadn’t been 13¾ but had been 15 instead, and I slowly developed the idea that in fact WW3 wouldn’t be such a good idea, but I did start lying about my age, which is much easier to do if you are visibly disabled.

38 comments:

  1. In August 2014 there will be 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This phenomena will not occur again until 2837. By which time TDC will be close to sorting out Pleasurama. Providing we do not get a WWIII, which is an event that I suspect would attenuate the otherwise smooth decision making process.

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    1. Nah John. Too late we have already had one of the Saturdays and one of the Fridays and we only have about six hours left of one of the Sundays, so it’s just too late to assume that Pleasurama will be fixed by 2837.

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    2. An old fallacy John,. Any 31 day month that starts on a Friday must have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. May 2015 is next I believe. The next Friday 1st August will be in 2025.

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    3. Michael & SEMBOB,

      You're both a pair of killjoys. Still I do not mind. For that phallic cathderal on the seafront is starting to grow on me. There is a religous air about the area that reminds me of the Deity. Everytime I gaze upon it I say, "Jes** Chri*t!

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  2. I think people in Ramsgate are starting to mobilise having just had this emailed to me

    Dear Russ Timpson

    We are a group of people who live in Ramsgate, South Thanet.

    You are a prospective parliamentary candidate for South Thanet yet you don’t mention any impact from your airport proposal on the quality of life of people living in Ramsgate. An animal would get more consideration of its habitat. It is both distressing and insulting to us.

    According to the Office of National Statistics, in November 2012, when the airport was supposedly employing 150 people and had training flights, KLM passenger flights and was Britain's sixth busiest cargo airport, median wages in Thanet were £91 a week lower than in Dover and £131 a week lower than in Canterbury. So allow us to question the beneficial effects of the airport on local employment.

    The planes used to line up over the harbour clock tower at 1000ft and descend across the town to the runway. Houses shook. Lessons had to stop in classrooms. Sleep was disturbed at all hours. Aircraft dumped their excess fuel on us and the town's water was polluted because the airport sits over our aquifer.

    Manston was built at a time of national emergency. That airport in that position would never have achieved planning permission otherwise. Well that national emergency has long since passed. The Howard Davies Commission dismissed Manston as a solution to airport capacity in the South East and for many good reasons.

    There is absolutely no evidence that Manston can succeed as an airport, quite the contrary. It has had more than 20 years to prove it is sustainable and it has consistently failed to do so.

    We feel sorry for the people who lost their jobs at Manston. We feel sorry for the 150 people at Elephant Windows and the 35 people at the port who lost their jobs. We should be working with Ann Gloag to ensure new job opportunities not supporting a white elephant.
    It's as though we don't matter somehow. If we are stupid enough to care passionately about our beautiful town, pour money and effort into it and provide jobs then more fool us.

    Ramsgate has a history of vehement opposition to night flights going back two decades. We are sick and tired of hearing that our quality of life and that of our children is a sacrifice worth making for an airport that consistently fails.

    Yours faithfully
    Concerned Residents of Central Harbour Ward Ramsgate

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  3. When the land was converted to an air field I assume the land was purchased from farmers? If this is so, then when the land was sold into private hands in recent years, it seems inconceivable to me that a small group of connected individuals are seeking to profit from a situation from which the people of Ramsgate have had to endure over many decades? I also attended the packed anti night flights meeting at Chatham House back in 2011, and saw first hand the stress etched into the faces of those having to endure aircraft flying directly overhead. It is also inconceivable to me how any Councillor or Politician could gloss over this?

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  4. I think the selling out of Ramsgate has been openly spoken about in SMA meetings for awhile now by councillors and MPs. I cant believe the people of Ramsgate have not been up in arms about the purposed night flights and the amount of day flights that Manston would need to sustain that amount of investment.

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  5. I have had a lot of positive views on my post about the airport and thank everyone for their support. I have had some negative views and here is the latest with my reply in the interests of fairness.

    Andy Hollins: Well after reading the comments below, it seems as though you have the support of towns around Ramsgate and many further afield. But if you really think that you have made friends in Ramsgate advocating this sort of devastation and blight then you are sorely mistaken. I have never visited your fb page before but now your comments have been widely publicised I have come for a visit and can see first hand your views. It strikes me why would an estate agent who sells houses in Ramsgate want to advocate the devaluing of property in Ramsgate? Not unless you think that having jet planes screaming over the houses your trying to sell would make them more valuable? As for jobs, Ramsgate needs regeneration but your views would be the death knell for Ramsgate as the investment that's planned for the harbour will run for the hills, and any future investment will never happen. My only comfort is that you have not read all the facts on this subject and have formed your opinion without taking into account the huge cost or legality of a CPO. Its location could not be in a worse place for a cargo hub being surrounded on 3 sides by water and having to build all its infrastructure (HS1)( train station)(fuel line). The Davis report has ruled it out for being in the wrong place it surprises me that a man in your business is not able to see that Manston has no chance of attracting a buyer with its enormous cost and risk. As an estate agent you should be able to estimate the cost of a 720 acre brownfield site. It just seems to me that you, MPs, and many councillors have jumped on the band wagon at the expense of Ramsgate residents fuelling this pipe dream without a hope of it ever coming to fruition. Its a pity your views did not mirror Ramsgate Town Councils concerns on the devastation that a cargo hub would bring.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 7 hours ago

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  6. (Part 1) Cooke & Co Estate and Letting Agents: Hi Andy. Thanks so much for your comments and taking the time to write about my post. Your thoughts very much echo the lady who and called and wrote to me. Interesting the comments I have received are from all over Thanet, not just other Thanet towns including people from Ramsgate and who live close by to the airport. Most are of the same option as me. Rather than negative sabre rattling and manoeuvring everyone should get together and work out a solution. We need to use the closure as an opportunity create long term skilled jobs by getting large scale investment into the area which has never really happened in the past.Yes small time airports for passengers , I used this service and it was good but always felt temporary and ready to close at a moments notice. It failed but the site lends itself to becoming a hub. It has a good long runway, land around for development and an area hungry for work! It's serious investment that needed and a can do attitude that's needed to secure Thanet as a working prosperous area. For too long we've all listened to why things can't happen in our area. Ive have spoken to clients, staff and the public and the balance of opinion agrees that we need something to bring jobs back. The airport could be our areas unique selling point. Something that most other areas don't have. As an agent I want the whole area especially Ramsgate to flourish and to say I'm trying to down value property is just not true and would be detrimental to my business. I have a vested interest in seeing Ramsgate succeed as a town, have a proper 24/7 marina, good ferry service from a properly built port. In Thanet its always too little to late or we are left with half hearted schemes, the Ramsgate port road, Westwood X road infrastructure, the new road to Sandwich ideal for Pfizers employees, Ramsgate port and the slow train to Ashford!!!! all built after the horse had bolted!. The prices in Thanet are already considerably lower than much of the South East and the market in recent years has mainly moved forward due to the intervention of buy to let investors or housing associations snapping up blocks of flats, land and houses where no buyers could be found!

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  7. (Part 2) Yes I am concerned that without jobs property in Thanet will be either be an area of rent property only or new estates of houses could become a social housing nightmare when nobody can buy due to the limited jobs in Thanet, and slow train links stopping commuters. All areas of Thanet need investment but to say that if the airport was to take off things like the investment planned for the harbour would run for the hills or house prices would drop is ludicrous. Im sure my friend in Uxbridge said exactly the same thing as his hous trebled in value. . Owners of large private cruisers or yachts do tend to have private jets at their disposal so again Manston makes sense as a private terminal could be attached to any plans. ! The airport in its current form with minimal investment over the years did not work but as I have said in my previous posts investment on a large scale is paramount. I understand and respect some of the points and research that Ramsgate Town Council has carried out but what good ideas have been aired for the airport site to promote investment and create jobs in the area. Are the members of the town council all working in Thanet? Inaction, disagreements and sitting in the fence causes devastation whereas big ideas in the majority of cases over time bring success. In Dubai they reclaim land, Airports are built on man made islands, We built the Channel tunnel, Barnes Wallace built the bouncing bomb tested over in Reculver, Sir Frank Whittle the jet engine. All were told by experts that there ideas would not work and would fail. Poloriad and Kodak said digital photos would never take off. If you just give up on an idea, dont think big , or most importantly dont move with the times then you fail and in this case our area suffers. . Then it will much like Thanet has been for many years, picking up the small crumbs offered down in the way of grants for regeneration.. It's time for everyone to stand up and be counted as otherwise in 50 years the area will be, as you put it, devastated.

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  8. Anon 8:18 - 8:19 am,

    I commend your judgement to anyone who desires Thanet to thrive. There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

    Just in case anyone is suspicious of my motives let me say that I am a pension 'rich' DFL retiree who lives under the flight path within sight of the threshold. I do have an axe to grind which is this, I want Thanet to provide intelligent jobs for our young so they may prosper. A carefully thought out and planned Manston Airport is the best chance we have had for decades. We ignore it at our peril.

    [PS for Michael: I know that you will be searching the bard for a quote to counter mine above. Anyway I'm off the rest of the day day with a spring in my step cheered by the erudition of Anon Cooke & Co]

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    1. John, I don't agree with many of your comments however I must agree that Thanet does indeed require skilled jobs for skilled young people before all hope is lost for the next generation.

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    2. Anon 10:37 pm,

      Thanet is in peril of becoming a wasteland that will always have an unrealised potential. There will always be those who no matter what hunt vociferously for the 'Plan B'. However, there comes a moment when it is time to stop talking and actually do something. That time is now and Manston Airport is our something.

      Shakespeare puts it better and I make no apologies for repeating his words. They are are apt to the Ramsgate of today.

      There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

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    3. The Stour bears no empty bottles, Sandwich papers,
      Old condoms, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
      Or other testimony of summer nights. The trolls are departed.
      And their adversaries, the loitering heirs of city directors;
      Departed, have left no addresses.
      By the waters of Pegwell I sat down and wept…

      Delete
  9. I'm surprised my posts (8:13 - 8:19) didn't receive any response from the usual detractors. Michael? Barry? Presumably Purple Om is too busy making his fortune selling icecream.

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    1. Anon my guess is that it is mostly because you left your comments completely anonymously, i.e. not even a “nom de blog” so that further dialogue with you is very difficult to separate from other anons. I think this combined with everyone knowing that I only allow anonymous at night when I put comment moderation on the whole blog, would make any sort of dialogue with you almost impossible.

      Personally I don’t really bother to read anon comments properly any more, I just scan them for content which infringes the blog guidelines below and if they don’t contain any then I allow them.

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    2. John, we are as one on this issue. The prospects in Thanet for me when I was preparing to leave school in Canterbury in 1959 were not brilliant. No vocational guidance in those days, so a scan of the school notice board found an advert for RAF Apprenticeships. I was lucky enough to pass the entrance exam well enough to go to Locking rather than Halton.

      I know that a company I worked for in civvy street at Pysons Road took on apprentices, and my eldest son gained an apprenticeship with a different company locally. But the day release training was mainly in Canterbury for engineering students.

      We need to have high grade engineering opportunities locally and this can only be achieved by Manston operating as a fully functional airport with all the attendant skills available to turn aircraft round.

      I'm off to find an ice cream salesman using his Rolls Royce to tow his storage box around.

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    3. SEMBOB,

      I agree. We have excellent schools in our area but few skilled jobs for the leavers. I agree that Thanet and the country in general need engineers.

      Do you want a flake with that?

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    4. Anon 5:57 Why would I want to reply to your stupid statement about jobs when there a 1000s of skilled jobs out there but you pick a noisy cargo airport idea and infuriate the whole of Ramsgate, with your 24hrs flying and a plane every 2 mins Yeah mate thats what Thanet needs,
      Oh by the way Mr Cooke I hate estate agents anyway but sometimes they are necessary but for how much longer as your business lends it self well to all being done with a computer on line. I will be sure to tell all my friends what I think of you and your ideas for Ramsgate
      You should perhaps look up what a busy ice cream seller makes abroad but I'm quite happy to say that selling ice cream is not my best idea as it is quite limited to one place.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Anon 5:57,

      I think you will find that the Purple Om has own peculiar interpretation of a skilled job.

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    2. Of course there are thousands of skilled jobs out there Purple Om, just not in Thanet. So in order to make £80,000 a year selling ice cream it is now necessary to move abroad? Where to?

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    3. Answer me one thing, why do ice cream sellers fight for pitches if there is no money in it?
      I don't mind answering questions but it comes to the point where you can use the internet to prove or disprove anything

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    4. For the right pitch people have been known to cut other ice cream sellers limbs off Michael and if you think they do that for $22,000 you are mistaken

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    5. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2179809/Ice-cream-turf-wars-Essex-beach-Vendor-loses-arm-axe-attack-seafront.html

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  11. The truth of it is the Manston site could be used for anything employing skilled people and training them. The fact is it does put off people using Ramsgate as a holiday resort it also stops investors from building attractions that would attract holiday makers. Manston has closed dew to it being in the wrong place. Manston will never fly again that's for sure so why not try and think of another use for it that would give Ann Gloag the same return without building houses all over the site. If you cant think of anything else that would make £5-600 million in the next few years then your worse nightmare will come true. There are a lot of skilled people on a building site is that what you mean?

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    1. So presumably Pleasurama failed to get anywhere because of Manston. Perhaps we could persuade the owner of Manston to build flats on the site to accommodate all the purveyors of ice cream who will descend on Thanet once they know the profits to be made.

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    2. SEMBOB you cant help yourself, its just like talking to a child. Have you read what you have written?

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    3. Yes PO, I have read what I have written. I have checked it for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Which is more than you seem to do.

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    4. Now all you need to do is come out with ideas and valid points of you own, Instead of picking holes in other peoples.

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    5. PO. Do you really hope to publish your daft ideas then expect no comments? Now here is an idea. Open Manston. Bring it up to full operating potential as quickly as possible. Offer free double glazing to all those under the flight path, as they did to those adjacent to the hoverport, and offer financial help to those who wish to move away. Let the rest of us in Thanet enjoy the prosperity that a fully working airport will bring to the area. And let's face it, we need industry here. Without it Thanet will just become a sleepy backwater for dfls.

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    6. Open Manston what a fool, I suppose you have the money for that do you? What a great idea, you and all your stupid friends going to club together and buy 1/700th of the airport and make a fortune? Offer free double Glazing to how many people the whole of Ramsgate? Offer financial help to how many? You think my ideas are stupid your the biggest fool around. No wonder you spend all day picking holes in other peoples ideas because when you have an Idea the whole world laughs.

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    7. I will leave the last word to you PO. Then you can go to far Corfe in Dorset where tourism is so much better than Thanet.

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    8. Is this what blog debates have come down to now, calling people "fools" because you don't like other people's ideas? No wonder the local blogging scene is dead.

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  12. Its well known that trolls kill blogs I was just showing one what its like to have it done to him. I hope he didn't like it and hope he just sticks to the facts for now on without coming out statements like this
    "PO. Do you really hope to publish your daft ideas then expect no comments?"
    "o presumably Pleasurama failed to get anywhere because of Manston. Perhaps we could persuade the owner of Manston to build flats on the site to accommodate all the purveyors of ice cream who will descend on Thanet once they know the profits to be made."
    "I'm off to find an ice cream salesman using his Rolls Royce to tow his storage box around."
    And that's 5 statements on this page

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  13. No original thoughts PO? So you copy mine? You seem to infer that anyone who dares to challenge your statements is a troll. You fail to recognise sarcasm when you see it and seem to think you are the only person allowed to make an entry on this blog.

    When, not if, when Manston is up and running again perhaps we could persuade the powers that be to build a little bridge for you to hide under and from whence you can shout your insults at anybody who dares to use the airport.


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  14. SEMBOB you win, talk to yourself

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