Fam­ily link to cover

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - WRITE IN -

The cover of Au­gust’s WDYTYA? Mag­a­zine was of great in­ter­est to me. I recog­nised the pho­to­graph of the young girls stand­ing at a grave­side as be­ing part of a se­ries of im­ages that re­lated to the buri­als of vic­tims of the Folke­stone air raid of 25 May 1917.

A sin­gle bomb that dropped on Ton­tine Street ac­counted for 71 deaths [The re­ported num­ber of deaths ranges from 61 to 71]. My mother, who was aged three at the time, sur­vived the bomb blast al­though her brother Ernie McGuire, aged six, and my grand­mother Char­lotte, were in­jured. Ernie died shortly af­ter­wards from his wounds.

The se­ries of im­ages was for­merly part of the Hulton pho­to­graph ar­chive but are now owned by Getty Im­ages. One of the pho­tos on Getty’s web­site is the rather grim im­age of the burial of a small child (shown above right). The pho­to­graph is dated 29 May 1917, which is the same day that Ernie McGuire was buried, so I felt com­pelled to in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther.

The lo­ca­tion of the grave in the photo cer­tainly looks sim­i­lar to that of Ernie’s. One of the mourn­ers, the short lady on the right of the pic­ture, has some re­sem­blance to my grand­mother, too. Un­for­tu­nately, I could not make a pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion due to the veil ob­scur­ing her face. The taller lady to her left could pos­si­bly have been my great grand­mother as there is also some re­sem­blance. I tried to fo­cus in on the mes­sage on the wreath and on the pa­per held in the left hand of the shorter lady. I could just about make out what looks like writ­ing, but the de­tail re­mains elu­sive.

My next step was to con­tact the lo­cal coun­cil to check the burial records for the ceme­tery in Folke­stone where he was buried for 29 May 1917.

The records show that there was only one child buried that day and that it was Ernie McGuire. So, given the date of the im­age, the size of the cof­fin, and the ap­par­ent lo­ca­tion within the ceme­tery, I can only con­clude that it must be the burial of my mother’s brother por­trayed in the pho­to­graph.

In to­tal, there were 96 vic­tims of the Folke­stone air raid. Hope­fully, as we ap­proach its cen­te­nary, fur­ther in­for­ma­tion will emerge, which will add to our knowl­edge of this rel­a­tively lit­tle-known event. Richard Will­cocks, by email Editor replies: It is good to be re­minded that the im­ages we use in the mag­a­zine are of real peo­ple with real fam­ily sto­ries. Thank you for shar­ing this with us Richard and well done with your de­tec­tive work.

Richard Will­cocks be­lieves this photo shows the burial of Ernie McGuire fol­low­ing his death in the Folke­stone air raid

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