Remembrance - 6th Royal West Kent Regiment 1914-18. By Sidney T Kemp

The year 1914 will he remembered in history not for the weather or who won the Cup at the Crystal Palace in April but for the start of the most terrible war that had come onto the world. I had been working as I had been doing for the last two and a half years as a gardener at Oxen Hoath Kadlow and although I was twenty-three years of age on April 5th I had not yet met the girl who I wished to be married to. But on April 13th which was Easter Monday I met Ethel Ashdown and I know that we loved each other from that first meeting. Ethel was nineteen years of age but oh wasn't she lovely. Now 1914 had started off with certain troubles upcoming as usual in Ireland which was then one country. There was talk of a revolt of the army at the Curragh Camp under General French and anything could have happened if the war hadn't started in August. At that time we were governed by a Liberal government under the Prime Minister Mr. Asquith who was called Mr. Wait and See and the Foreign Secretary was Sir Edward Grey with Mr. Lloyd George as Chancellor and Winston Churchill at the Admiralty. This Liberal Government was one of a succession of Liberal Governments'which were first elected in January 1906 with an overwhelming majority over the Conservative party who had held office for eleven years continuously. The Liberals were trying to improve conditions for the lower paid people. They brought in old age pensions of five shillings per week each person over seventy years provided they hadn't too much money in the bank. This was I think in 1910 and then Lloyd George brought in the ninepence for fourpence scheme which was really the start of the Health Service. This came in in 1912. We the workers were promised for fourpence which was stopped from our wages that when we were sick our fourpence would be made up by threepence from the employer and twopence by the State. Both of these Liberal measures have stood the oftest time and both were a boon to people who when they were ill or reached seventy years of age were sure of a small wage paid for by other people. Up to then old folk who couldn't work were dependent on their children and charity and folk indeed did all they could to help the old Atones. that time sugar could be bought for twopence per lb. beer at twopence to threepence per pint tobacco at threepence per ounce and fags at five a penny and if we earned ten shillings or over we usually were paid in gold a half sovereign and silver to makeup the amount and those earning 1 almost always had a gold sovereign. Britain at tha.t time was wealthy and was overstocked as it is now with too many workers therefor were always some fellows out of work as now. The summer of 1914 was a lovely summer not so nice as 19H the year of King George and Queen Mary's Coronation but really passable. I feel that I must go aback bit toKing Edward VII. He came to the Throne in 1901 was crowned in August 1902 after the scare of his operation for Appendicitis stopped the Coronation and school treats for he fell ill just a few days before his Coronation was due.
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