Gravesend in the Great War
Gravesend was like most other towns in the UK during the course of the First World War. When the call came to serve King and Country, local men enlisted in their thousands, but sadly not all of them returned.This book gives an insight into the Tilbury to Gravesend Pontoon Bridge, which allowed the rapid deployment of troops in the event of a German invasion along the East Coast. It provided a quicker route to get troops, equipment and supplies from Essex into Kent for transportation across to France.
It looks at the role both New Tavern and Shornemead Fort, part of the London Defence system, played in preventing the German Navy from carrying out direct attacks on London. There is an account of the Gravesend riots, in which groups of local people burnt and looted premises they believed belonged to German aliens who were residents in the town, and the unique story of Captain Robert Campbell, taken as a prisoner by the Germans early in the war.
He was allowed home by the Kaiser to see his dying mother one last time, and voluntarily returned to captivity in Germany, on his word of honour to do so. The story of Sir Gilbert Parker, the wartime MP for Gravesend, is also told.He was instrumental in convincing America to join the war as a British Allie, which was no easy task, as the United States Justice Department estimated there were some 480,000 Germans living in America at the time.
The book also tells the individual stories of Gravesend’s men who fought in the war, some who survived and returned to their loved ones, and others who were not so fortunate. It documents the triumphs and tragedies of Gravesend’s people as they sought to find normality amongst a reality far removed from anything they had ever known before.
‘Gravesend in the Great War’ is now available to buy on Amazon.