Ashton’s War – Birchington and the Russian Revolution Return

by Ashton Pemble, edited by Jennie Burgess

Ashton was born in Birchington in 1881 and having left the Church of England School in Park Lane at the age of 14, he was apprenticed as a carpenter in 1895.  By 1912, he and two friends in the building trade, ‘Stump’ Tumber and Bentley Osmotherly, had set up a small firm called ‘The Operative Builders and Decorators’, known locally as simply ‘O.B.D.’,
When Ashton was called up in 1914 or ‘15, he was sent to Farnborough Airfield in Hampshire, where his carpentry skills proved invaluable.  There he learnt to assemble aircraft built by Sopwith, Bristol and Avro among others<
Ashton Pemble was posted to Russia in April 1917 and his daily entries covered much of what the history books tell us about the Russian Revolution.  He simply stated the facts as he experienced them.  He was based in Moscow and Petrograd much of the time and made no political comments on the events he recorded.
By the time the Bolsheviks had secured their position by November 1917, they negotiated a truce with Germany, and the British troops were speedily withdrawn.
He was then sent to Vendome in France, arriving in April 1918, still assembling and repairing aircraft. By now he was under the command of the newly-formed Royal Air Force, inaugurated on the 1st of April that year. His descriptions of his day-to-day work – and leisure – make fascinating reading and his account of the Armistice celebrations is a joy to read.  Ashton was not given to displaying his emotions, but you can occasionally feel his frustration and excitement.
The book is available at the museum at £7.50
Click on the pictures below to enlarge