Campaigners for WWI Heritage Shorncliffe Garrison

Campaigners believe that the Shorncliffe Garrison, which was used as a training camp during the Great War, is ‘under threat’ as there are plans to make surrounding area residential with over 1,000 homes to be built.

The Shorncliffe Garrison located near Folkestone, Kent was used as training grounds for newly recruited men during WWI before they were sent to fight in the Western Front. As a matter of fact, thousands of fresh recruits were housed in the Shorncliffe Garrison and underwent extensive drilling before being subjected to direct combat.

Chris Shaw of the Shorncliffe Trust, an organization with the aim of preserving the heritage left by the Shorncliffe Garrison, even addresses it as the gateway to the trenches of the First World War. He further added that if the plan of constructing 1,200 homes in the garrison’s surrounding area will push through, the legacy of Shorncliffe Garrison will really be lost.

According to Mr. Shaw, the Canadian war horse headquarters along with the barracks will be demolished in the connection the the above housing project. He pointed out that instead of it being destroyed, it should have been converted into a war horse museum with active stabling.

The ruins of the trenches which were used by British and Canadian soldiers during the Great War are just a part of the site.

The Shorncliffe Garrison’s history go way back beyond the First World War. During the Napoleonic Wars, a fort was built within the site. Now, the said fort is already overridden with bushes and trees. The light infantry General Sir John Moore brought with him as he fought in Waterloo was trained here. As of now, The Gurkhas use the camp.

However, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has already let out the assurance that important heritage locations within the camp will not be destroyed. According to a Mod spokeswoman, as reported by BBC News, the Shorncliffe Rationalization Project has also considered these precious heritage sites and assured everyone that these sites were checked when the 1,200 to-be-built homes were planned. She also added that a number of edifices within the camp like the Sir John Moore Library located on Somerset Barracks and Risborough Barracks’ entrance gates have been listed while the Napoleonic Wars fort will be scheduled as an ancient monument.

Historian Andrew Morgan challenges MoD to be true to their words. Otherwise, our children and the next generation to come wouldn’t be able to see the legacy left by the Shorncliffe Garrison.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE