Feeding the Front Line

One of the most remarkable facts about Folkestone during the Great War is the number of men and women who set out for the Western Front from the town’s harbour. The figure is in the millions! Perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that not a single person was lost to enemy action while crossing the Channel to France. Add in the freight, horses, food, clothing, armaments, then the scale of the operation begins to become apparent.

As a snapshot, and by no means complete, here is a table of some of the troops who made the crossing in July 1915:

Date July 1915
4 July 12th Btn Highland Light Infantry 814 men plus officers
10 July 10th Btn Worcester Regiment Part of the 19th Division
10 July 7th Btn KOSB
10 July  11th (Service) Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
? July 7th Btn The Buffs(East Kent) Regiment
15 July 12th (Service) Btn Manchester Rgt 30 officers 975 ORs
15 July 10th (Service)Bn Lancashire Fusiliers
15 July 10th (S) Sherwood Foresters
18 July 5th Btn Canadian Infantry(Saskatchewan)
19 July 10th Worcesters
25 July 8th(Service)Btn Norfolk Regiment 997 men and 34 officers
25 July 10th (Service) Btn Essex Regiment
26 July 7th Btn Bedfordshire Regiment 820 men and 31 officers
27 July 8th Btn East Surrey Regiment Part 55th Infantry Brigade
27 July 7th(Service) Btn The Queens Regiment 55th Infantry Bgde
29 July 7th Btn Leicester Regiment Part of the 110th Brigade
31 July 8th(Service)Btn East Lancashire Regiment

The logistical organisation behind this achievement is often overlooked.  It required close co-operation between the railways, the billeting officers in and around Folkestone, the Harbour Master, the troopships and the warships Dover Patrol. The image below is a schedule of sailing times for the the transport and Royal Navy ships from Folkestone-Boulogne and Dover-Calais in June 1917. Click on the image to open in new window.

The Channel was patrolled by airships and warships to protect the troops crossing to France from Folkestone