The Boy Who Led Them - Kindle Ebook by George Chittenden
Nestled on the English Channel, eight miles north-east of Dover and eight miles south of Ramsgate, the town of Deal has always been a talking point over the years. Due to its location on the Kent coast the town has seen its fair share of skirmishes over the years, from the arrival of Julius Caesar when local warriors lined the shoreline covered in war paint ready to do battle with the Roman army to the battle with the Spanish armada which lit up the English Channel. Local novelist and historian George Chittenden, who was born and raised in the town, says that ‘Dealies’ as they’re known have always had a terrible reputation.
Much of the damage was done on one stormy winter night in 1703 when a hurricane whipped up the English Channel into a fury. The storm itself killed between 8,000 – 15,000 people and to this day is the greatest natural disaster the south of England has ever experienced. Local men who survived on the scraps the sea had to offer saw an opportunity, and instead of assisting the hundreds of ships floundering on the notorious ship swallower’ the Goodwin Sands they chose to plunder them instead. On that night around 1500 sailors drowned and as the country picked up the pieces in the following days blame soon fell on the townsfolk of Deal, tarnishing its reputation forever. Daniel Defoe wrote of the town –
‘The barbarous hated name of Deal should die,
Or be a term of infamy;
And till that’s done, the town will stand
A just reproach to all the land’
Local men always survived by plying their trades on the sea, and with its location so close to the continent it isn’t too surprising that tough local fisherman would eventually turn to a much more lucrative way of earning a crust… by bringing contraband over the channel and avoiding the dreaded burden of taxation! The smuggling trade in Deal grew from strength to strength over the years as illegal cargoes of liquor and tobacco landed on our shores. The trade was such a problem in Deal that eventually drastic action was required and the Prime Minister William Pitt the younger sent an army down to the town to deal (excuse the pun) with the problem once and for all. The soldiers marched along the seafront pouring paraffin over every seaworthy vessel in front of the entire townsfolk. Moments later those same townsfolk watched the town’s livelihood go up in smoke, as if you weren’t a fisherman you were a smuggler. This drastic action was only ever employed in Deal. 'The Boy Who Led Them' takes the reader on an adventure into England's shady past and is guaranteed to have readers turning pages until the very end.