September 3rd, 2021

Shorncliffe Military Cemetery

Shorncliffe Military Camp- on the hills behind Folkestone- was established in 1794. Sir John Moore- the hero of Corunna ("Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note")- used it as a training ground for the light infantry- who were the super soldiers of the early 19th century- chosen for their smarts, well-drilled, encouraged to use their initiative. Generations of military personnel have passed through- including the Canadians- who had military hospitals in the area- and Chinese labourers on their way to dig trenches in France. During the Great War German aircraft dropped bombs and killed people. Part of the site is currently home to a Gurkha battalion, while another section is being used to imprison asylum seekers- which might explain why some guy drove up and gave Ailz a hard sustained stare while she was sitting by herself in the nearby car park- because, who knows- she might have been some sort of journalist or humanitarian.

The military cemetery was opened in 1856- and occupies a small valley beside the camp. From the high ground, where the older graves mostly are, there's a view out over the sea. Most of the pictures available on the internet show the entire site as well maintained, but the valley slopes have now been allowed to become overgrown and brambly- which is sad but not wholly to be deplored.

Bombardier Joseph Brennan, a Cornishman, is one of three recipients of the Victoria Cross to be buried at Shorncliffe. He served in India- where he won his medal- and Bhutan. Brennan's citation reads...

On 3rd April 1858 during the assault on Jhansi, he helped bring up two guns of the Hyderabad Contingent, manned by the natives, laying each gun under a heavy fire from the walls of the fort, and directing them accurately as to compel the enemy to abandon the position.