The Order of the White Feather

In August 1914, an event took place, on “The Leas” in Folkestone the aftermath of which spread throughout the county and worldwide during the Great War. The action that took place on the Leas was an important event in our county’s history, which should be remembered in August 2014.

While British soldiers were joining troopships in Southampton in August 1914 to fight in the muddy trenches of the Great War.

In Folkestone many of those who chose not to enlist in the army, took to promenading on The Leas, in Folkestone, Kent, much to Britain’s shame, but one man known as Admiral Rough, decided to do something about this disgrace.

On August 30th 1914, Admiral Charles Penrose Fitzgerald deputized thirty women from Folkestone to hand out white feathers to men not in uniform. The purpose of this gesture was to shame “every young ‘slacker’ found loafing about the Leas” and to remind those ”deaf or indifferent to their country’s need” that “British soldiers are fighting and dying across the channel.”

Fitzgerald’s estimation of the power of these women was enormous. He wanted the men of Folkestone that “there is a danger awaiting them far more terrible than anything they can meet in battle,” for if they were found “idling and loafing to-morrow” they would be publicly humiliated by a lady with a white feather.


Folkestone’s Member of Parliament and Chairman of the group called ‘Step Short’ and supporter of Sir Roger De Haan’s Creative Foundation, Damian Collins, announced the building of a McDonalds style stainless-steel arch memorial, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1, costing a massive six-figure sum just in time for Sir Roger’s Creative foundations third Triennial in 2014.

Mr Collins speaks of fictional tales that:- “The arch represents the sacrifices of the ten million soldiers who came through Folkestone during the war”, also “The arch will stand at the eastern end of The Leas, close to the war memorial and the top of the Road of Remembrance. The arch stands over the route over the route taken by the soldiers marching to the harbour and the ships that were waiting to take them to France and the trenches”.

The facts are that in 1914 troopships used Southampton, not Folkestone harbour. It was not until the following year that troopships started sailing from Folkestone harbour.

Many troops arrived at the harbour, not by marching down Folkestone’s Road of Remembrance, then known as Slope Road, but by troop trains which arrived at the railway harbour quayside to join the waiting ships. 100 years later by Sir Roger De Haan, owner of the town’s harbour, has achieved almost 100% to destruction of the towns ferry port infrastructure ready for his proposed housing scheme, and in so doing has achieved what Germany failed to do in both World Wars.

Also it was not as many as ten million soldiers who came through Folkestone harbour during the war, although it was a considerable number, and an amazing maritime achievement, which should be marked, but not on The Leas, in Folkestone, but at the town’s harbour. As for The Leas, at Folkestone, the plan for the unsuitable McDonalds style arch should be dropped replaced instead by marking true historic events, such as by a far cheaper arch of “White Feathers”, in accordance with what really took place there in August 1914.