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Kent soldiers killed in the Great War remembered

Hundreds of people have turned out in Belgium to remember soldiers from Kent killed during the Great War.

Ex-servicemen, re-enactors and the Band of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment joined locals in the village of Tertre near Mons - at the site of a memorial to the fallen of The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

The West Kents were among the very first troops to see action in Europe when the war began as Derek Johnson now reports.

We speak to: Former serviceman Arthur Healey; Col Peter White of the Queen's Own Buffs Regimental Association; Chaplain Rev Keith Fazzani; Tertre villager Elena Marredda; Peter Zieminski of The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group and Barbrara Taylor and her daughter.


New exhibition marks first mass mobilisation of WW1 troops

One hundred years ago - we saw the first mass mobilisation of troops for WW1 - and, it happened, mainly, on our rail network. Thousands of soldiers - plus weapons - even horses - were transported on trains - from Waterloo to Southampton.

To remember those in the Great War, historians have been re-eacting the transfer of troops. Meanwhile, Network Rail announced a number of new War exhibitions over the coming months. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

Falklands veteran Simon Weston unveils WWI sculpture

At the end of the First World War, the small village of Enham Alamein near Andover in Hampshire became home to servicemen badly injured during fighting on the frontline.

Today a unique wooden sculpture was unveiled by Falklands veteran Simon Weston - to mark 100 years since the conflict began, and the role the village played in rehabilitating injured soldiers. Richard Slee reports.

Cannon fire marks 100th anniversary of 1st WW1 shot

A cannon has been fired on the Isle of Wight to mark the 100th anniversary of the first shot being fired by the Royal Navy in the First World War.

On August 5, 1914, the destroyer HMS Lance fired the first naval shot in anger in the First World War, sinking the German auxiliary minelayer Königin Luise, which was laying mines off the Suffolk coast.

It came just a day after the United Kingdom entered the Great War.

Today's cannon firing on the Isle of Wight and the sailpast by HMS Mersey Credit: L(Phot) Keith Morgan

One hundred years later and a gun salute has been held at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, with a sail past by the Royal Navy patrol vessel, HMS Mersey.

A single cannon was fired at 10am and was followed by a one minute silence to remember those who served their country.

Today's cannon firing on the Isle of Wight and the sailpast by HMS Mersey Credit: L(Phot) Keith Morgan

"Today’s event marks an important part of UK history and it was a privilege to take part.Just as HMS Lance was protecting our interest in 1914 in a few hours time we will be back at sea protecting our nation’s interest in the waters off the UK.”

– Commanding officer, of HMS Mersey, Lieutenant Commander David Gillett

"People tend to think of the First World War very much as trench war but the Navy was very much involved with ships powering along to protect our land infantry. The Royal Navy was able to secure an asset for us – HMS Mersey – and today’s firing went extremely well.”

– Jane Hodgkins, head of Marketing at the museum
Today's cannon firing on the Isle of Wight Credit: L(Phot) Keith Morgan

One hundred years ago tomorrow (August 6) the Royal Navy suffered its first loss of the Great War – just hours after its first triumph. More than two weeks before the British Expeditionary Force lost its first soldier on the Western Front some 130 souls were killed when HMS Amphion sank in the North Sea with the war barely 30 hours old.

Amphion left Harwich on August 5 to sweep the North Sea with a destroyer flotilla and was in the vicinity when HMS Lance fired on the former North Sea ferry, Königin Luise, as she lay mines to block British shipping lanes. Shortly after 7am on August 6, as Amphion returned to Harwich, she sailed across the line of mines laid by the Königin Luise.

The blast tore apart Amphion’s forward section – every man save one on the forecastle guns was killed. Just before the explosion, 19-year-old stoker 1st break with his fellow stokers, among them a fellow Lyme Regis native, Thomas Gollop. The latter took rather longer to finish his mug of cocoa and this delay saved his life while Herbert Street was killed in the blast.

Also killed was the Royal Navy’s first officer casualty, Staff Paymaster Joseph Gedge, Amphion’s accountant; in his name a medal was subsequently introduced at Oxford University and a science block erected at his former school in Leatherhead – a project backed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet in 1914, Admiral Jellicoe.

More than 130 Britons died in the loss of the cruiser and her wreck, on the bed of the North sea some 30 miles east of Orford Ness, is a protected war grave.

Such casualties would soon be dwarfed by the Empire’s losses in France. But even in the first month of the war, not one day passed without a member of the Naval Service dying – often of illness, some drowned, but most lost their lives in action.


Mystery war message: "I hope your kilt will fit you well"

A mystery message has been found in the folds of a kilt, which dates back to the First World War.

As economic historian Dr Helen Paul was removing the packing stitches from the kilt, which has been passed down her family over many years, she discovered the note.

A specialist at the University of Southampton is impressed with the condition of the kilt, considering how old it is Credit: University of Southampton

The University of Southampton academic hopes to trace the descendants of the seamstress who left the note of the kilt which was destined for a soldier heading to the frontline. The note reads:

"I hope your kilt will fit you well & in it you will look a swell If married never mind If single drop a line Wish you bags of luck & a speedy return back to Blighty"

The mystery message found in the kilt is in good condition Credit: University of Southampton

The kilt would have been made for a soldier sent to fight in the war, but some some unknown reason, it was never unpacked or worn.

Helen says, “This garment has been in our family for a number of decades, and until recently, we were completely unaware there was such an intriguing secret hidden in its folds. It was a real surprise when the note fell out.

“My father tried to trace any relatives of the note’s author a few years ago, but his efforts failed and I’m hoping to pick up where he left off.

“There are many unanswered questions. We don't know how many of these poems this lady sent. Was this a one off, or were there many more lost to the battlefield, or even still existing undiscovered? If there were more, did anyone ever answer her message and indeed did she ever meet and marry a soldier returning from the war?"

Memorial service for thousands who died on ships during First World War

Thousands who died on passenger ships during the First World War have been remembered at a special memorial service.

Scores of ships belonging to Southampton and Liverpool based Cunard and P&O were sunk during the conflict with many crew and passengers on board being killed.

The memorial in Ireland - where one of the worst attacks took place - was attended by hundreds of crew and passengers.

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