Friends of old Folkestone cemetery
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SS Anglia 17th Nov 1915 I saw in passing a news item on BBC a few nights ago about the HMHS Anglia which was sunk just 1 nautical mile off the coast of Folkestone. More than 130 wounded soldiers and their nursing attendants were drowned in this tragic event. I wondered if any bodies had been recovered and buried in the old Folkestone cemetery so I asked our friendly historian Peter Anderson what he knew of this event. Peters response was interesting in itself so is reproduced here: “As far as I know only one of the people on board the HMHS Anglia is buried and not in Folkestone. I think he is buried in Holyhead. The rest went down with the ship and were not washed ashore.  So the remains of between 134 and 163 bodies remained on board. Despite this, the ship is not a war grave it was sold by the MOD to the Folkestone Salvage Company and there is very little in the way of restriction on who can dive on her.  I think there is a requirement to inform the receiver of wrecks if anything including human remains are removed but this is more often than not ignored. One of the soldiers who may have seen the two ships sink was Walter Tull. He was crossing to France for the first time with the 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment. Walter Tull allegedly nearly signed for Glasgow Rangers Football Club. This makes him nearly a footballer and almost their first black player. Tull had to settle for playing for Spurs.Two other well-known people also crossed from Folkestone on the 17th November. One wrote poetry which many people confuse with History. Not the greatest of WW1 poets, that title would most likely belong to his friend Wilfred Owen. Siegfreid Sassoon was also aboard a troop ship heading to Boulogne. Sassoon sailed on the S.S Victoria. Tull was on the S.S. Princes Victoria. The other was an officer in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards known as Winston Churchill. Probably not his finest hour Churchill was in disgrace after the lunacy of Gallipoli. A disaster of a campaign Britain and her Empire were in the process of extracting their soldiers from. Another ship was also sunk on the same day. She was trying to rescue people from the Anglia. This ship has a very famous name SS Lusitania.” There is also another very interesting and detailed account on the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer website (http://www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/HMHSAnglia.html) Thank you Peter Anderson for your help with this. SS Anglia = steam ship Anglia HMHS = His Magesty’s hospital ship
The ‘Friends’ are a volunteer group formed to protect, preserve and promote interest in this lovely old Victorian cemetery.