Chatham Air Raid

For the 100th anniversay of the start of World War I, I wrote a post about an ancester of mine, Kenneth Smith, who died on 1 January 1919, when Her Majesty’s Yacht Iolaire sank after hitting rocks in the mouth Stornoway Harbour. The Iolaire was carrying sailors – who had served in World War I – home, and at least 205 of those on board did not survive. It still remains one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in UK waters.

Alexander Kennedy

In the comments I mention that my mother pointed out that another ancester also, unfortunately, died in World War I. He was also from the Hebrides and was my mother’s father’s cousin (or my mother’s first cousin, once removed – I think). His name was Alexander Kennedy and was serving at HMS Pembroke, which was a Naval Barracks at Chatham Dockyard (where my father happened to work in the 1960s). On the 3rd of September 1917, the Drill Hall (which was being used as a barracks) was bombed, killing 136, one of whom was Alexander Kennedy.

The reason I’m writing this is because the 100th anniversity of the Chatham Air Raid was last month, and there was a memorial service, to which I was invited. The invitation came as a result of someone noticing my earlier blog post. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it, due to a combination of distance and this being a particularly busy time of the year. However, someone very kindly collected a copy of the Order of Service (with the Roll of Honour) and a knitted poppy with Alexander Kennedy’s name on it (there was a display of poppies; one for each of those who lost their life) and sent them to me.

I always think it’s important to remember those who lost their lives in past conflicts. However, this seems like a particularly important time to remind ourselves of the terrible things we can do to each other and of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

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4 Responses to Chatham Air Raid

  1. Amen, brother. I think we cannot continue to spend so much of our global output on weapons of destruction and also afford to make the changes required to address global climate change. Global warming is such a dangerous opportunity for the species to make a critical jump in cultural evolution. Probably on par with figuring out how to move from a pure hunter gatherer technology and more nomadic lifestyle to a less nomadic lifestyle that allowed crop cultivation to begin. Can we do it? I don’t know. I hope so. A planetary standoff that relies on the fear of mutually assured destruction seems like a dead end.

  2. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Radio 4’s WW1 soap opera ‘Home Front’ covered the Chatham raid in a couple of recent episodes, which you should find in this omnibus:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08yg67h

  3. Vinny,
    Thanks, I’ll try to listen to that.

  4. JCH says:

    I have done extensive research on my ancestors. Have found many who served in the military and some who saw extensive action, but so far not a single example of one dying while in the service.

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