Friday 25 May 1917 – We Lost 470
There is a daylight air raid on Folkestone carried out by twenty-three German Gothas. The people of Folkestone are taken by surprise when the Gotha planes swoop down on the town, dropping their loads of high explosive bombs. The aeroplanes approach the town from the west at about 14,000 feet. Some attack Hythe and Shorncliffe Camp, others the west end of Folkestone itself, around Central Station and Bouverie Road East. They then make their way to the town centre and here the majority of the fatalities occur when one of the bombs score a direct hit outside Stokes Brothers greengrocers on Tontine Street. Nearly 60 are killed instantly, many others die later from their injuries and over 100 suffer wounds. The Fire Brigade, Red Cross, Ambulance Corps, and Police are soon swamped by calls for help, and the Canadian Army Medical Corps and the Special Police are brought in to help with the removal of the dead and to rescue the injured. The cemetery and Royal Victoria Hospital mortuaries are soon filled, and the military hospitals at West Cliffe and Shorncliffe are also used for the injured. The total number killed is 71, 16 men, 28 women and 27 children. The total number injured is 96, but certainly this is a minimum number as there are many with minor injuries who do not go to hospital and are therefore not counted. Among the dead
- Kathleen Chapman age 16. Her brother drowned in the sinking of HMS Formidable on New Year’s Day 1915.
- Florrie Rumsey age 16.
- 25 more children
Today’s losses include:
- A young girl whose brother was drowned in the sinking of HMS Formidable in 1915
- A man whose lost two brothers in the Great War and another brother who will be killed in an air raid in 1940 with his wife and two children
- The son of a Justice of the Peace
- The son of an Alderman
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Major William McGildowny DSO (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed at age 47. He is the son of John McGildowny JP.
- Captain John Richard Anthony (Royal Welsh Fusiliers attached Royal Flying Corps) dies of wounds as a prisoner of war received when he is shot down near Wervicq. He is the son of the late Alderman of Pwllheli.
- Private John Gilbert Bice (Australian Infantry) dies in England at age 20. His brother will be killed in action in two weeks.
- Gunner Jules Benjamin Alfred Desaleux (Canadian Field Artillery) is killed at age 29. He is the last of three brothers who will be killed in 1917 while a fourth brother will be killed in a German Air Raid in September 1940 along with his wife and two children.
- Gunner Frank Bourner (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 21. He is the middle of three brothers who are killed over a four month period who all served in the Royal Artillery.