May 25, 1917

folkestone air raid 1917. portrait heads. silverpoint drawing. work in progress. Roy Eastland 2012
These are silverpoint drawings of some of the people who were in Tontine Street, Folkestone, on 25th May 1917. See previous posts for more about this work. I’m still hoping that other faces from back then will come to light.

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2 thoughts on “May 25, 1917”

  1. Hello Roy – This is lovely. Florrie Rumsey was my grandmother’s cousin. Your drawing is based on a photo of her I put on the internet some years ago and is now in public domain – printed in several books. She was just 17 when she died but is not forgotten by the family to this day. Your sketch is beautiful.

    1. Hello Penny.

      Thank you for your comment. That’s so nice to hear that Florrie Rumsey is still present in her relatives’ consciousness. In making this work I wanted to pass on the story of the bombing and of the people who were there. In a way it can stand for all those stories we hear all the time about bombs exploding in town centres and such like, and in this case we have access to some information about some of the people who were caught up in it. I wanted make those individuals present to people now and maybe do my bit to pass on the story.

      I did see you’re your piece on the internet (with the picture of Florrie) and the same picture was also used in Martine Easdown’s book, ‘A Glint in the Sky’. I’ve also been to the library several times and generally tried to find out as much as I can. No doubt you’ve sifted through the libraries collection of fragile newspaper cuttings yourself. It’s quite a haunting experience being in the library (itself so close to Tontine Street) handling those newspaper reports about the disaster. It would be interesting to find out how the newspaper reporters got hold of those images of some of the people (Did they knock on doors asking to copy family portraits. Did they photographers have copies of negatives in their shops? What were those conversations like I wonder?).

      I’m still hoping that new information will come to light. I received an interesting email from a relative whose mum was caught up in the explosion in Tontine Street (when she was a child). Her older brother, Ernest McGuire, was killed. He sent me some jpegs of family portraits …and to cut a long story short… I now know he was known to his family as ‘Ernie’ and that a few years after the bombing his mother was photographed alone but wearing a broche containing a photograph of Ernie. Knowing that he was called ‘Ernie’ is such a little thing but it adds so much more life to the facts.

      Just a thought: the newspaper reporters didn’t get hold of any photographs of the Belgians who died and it might just be possible that over in Belgium there are people, like yourself, who have family memories of some of those people.

      It’s still not too far in the past for new details to turn up.

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