“We watched England and the white cliffs gradually recede into the darkness. I wasn’t the only one who wondered whether we would ever set foot on her soil again.”
This is how Harry Patch, one of the last three surviving First World War soldiers, remembered his departure from Folkestone in June 1918.
He was one of hundreds of thousands of men who marched down the slope road to Folkestone harbour to commence their journey to the trenches. As they reached the top of the slope, the command ‘Step Short’ was given so that the men wouldn’t lose their balance on the march down.
In the 1920s, the slope was renamed the ‘Road of Remembrance’ in their honour and a memorial placed at the top.
Ninety years after the end of the war, the ‘Step Short’ campaign group has been founded with two key objectives. First to promote awareness to residents of all ages of the significance of the town to the lives of service personnel in World War One, re-tell some of their stories, and help guide people today to walk in their footsteps. The second is to restore the Road of Remembrance, creating a new memorial and visitors centre. Our aim is to complete this work before the centenary of the outbreak of the war, in 2014.
‘Step Short’ is a Social Action project that brings together residents, local historians, councillors and members of the creative community, all of whom share an interest in marking this important piece of history, and telling its story to new generations.
We hold regular meetings in Folkestone to update people on the progress of the campaign, and all are welcome. If you would like to find out more please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org