Without food for 48 hours

An internee who disliked the food on offer went on hunger strike after he was assigned restricted rations.

Place of Internment, Reading
26th April 1918

H Schraplowsky
22.6.15 S of S order
Aliens Act Deportation

I have to report that the above named Alien, who was on the 24th inst: awarded 10 days No. 2 punishment diet, has refused to take any food since that date.

Report from the Medical Officer is attached herewith.

C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

HM Prison
Reading

April 26, 18
From the M.O.
To the Governor

Concerning H. Schraplowsky

[Illegible] today he will have [apparently] been without food for 48 hours. He has been drinking water.

His mental condition is sound, and his physical condition is good. Last month… [illegible]

I see no …
[too faded to read the rest]

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Advertisements

A Flag Day for PoWs

Sulhamstead collected funds to help Berkshire PoWs.

THE WAR

BERKSHIRE PRISONERS OF WAR

The Sulhamstead Flag Day was held on Thursday, April 25th. The collectors were:
£ s d
Mrs Brown 1 0 11
The Misses Shepherd 4 6 5
Mrs Winchcombe 0 3 1
The Schools 0 2 2
Mrs Stokes 0 14 0
£6 6 7

Sulhamstead parish magazine, June 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“There are some splendid fellows here”

Although he calls it a field card (the printed cards issued to soldiers about to go into action, or just admitted to hospital, to inform family members), this note to Florence was actually on proper notepaper.

Apl 25, 1918
My dear WF

This is only a field card really to let you know I’m well and with my unit. Today I was hauled into the Orderly Room and I shall probably soon be officially Assistant Adjutant, but please don’t let anyone address me as such.

There are some splendid fellows here. So different from a reserve unit in England.

With my dear love to you all.
Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/31)

A lost Iron Cross from 1916

Will Spencer and his wife had an unexpected discovery on a walk at Lake Thun in Switzerland.

25 April 1918

Farther up the [Goldiwil] road Johanna picked up a small round brooch bearing a representation of the Iron Cross, with an initial W and the date 1916. She was the more surprised to find it, as this is not a district in which German soldiers are interned. This was the first time J. had walked up to Goldiwil from Thun.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

Offensive may begin soon

Press baron Lord Rothermere had been a controversial chairman of the Air Council.

25 April 1918
Motored to Reading for Commandandants meeting….

Fear offensive beginning.

Lord Rothermere resigns.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Today I have had my baptism of fire”

Sydney Spencer found a damaged churchyard highly symbolic.

Thursday 25 April 1918

Well, my dear diary, today I have had my baptism of fire, this morning. At nine [Harvey?], I & NCOs of our platoon went round our brigade front & we came under very light shell fire.

Saw lots of curious & a few distressing sights. In a cemetery, a large vault burst open at the bottom of the vault, an oak coffin within, ‘les Immortelles’ on the top. At the end of the cemetery a larger old cross lying broken on the ground, & underneath the figure of the ‘Great One’ lying with arms clutching the ground & the great face buried in [illegible] clayey mud. Emblematic! He seemed to feel the load too much. The wooden cross still crushes Him into the earth. We are of the earth, earthy.

Peyton & I took a working party up to best support trench about 30 yds behind front but of course under covering gunfire…

We got back at 2 am.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

“He died as he lived, trying to do his duty”

There was sad news for two Speenhamland families.

It is with great sorrow that we heard of the death of George Courtnell, our late esteemed verger, and our hearty sympathy is with Mrs. Courtnell in her sad bereavement. He died in the Canadian hospital at Doullens, having been brought there with many other wounded at the beginning of the recent big battle in France, and was buried with military honours near there. He died as he lived, trying to do his duty. He was a faithful servant of Christ, and a loyal worker and helper at S. Saviour’s.

Our deep sympathy is also with Mrs. Lane, who has for the second time been called to make the sacrifice of a son, Henry Paice having been recently killed in France. He leaves a widow and children, to whom also, as to his mother, we offer our sincere condolence.

Speenhamland parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

Magnificent raid on Zeebrugge

Edward Hilton Young, later Lord Kennet (1879-1960), grew up at Cookham. He was badly injured taking part in the major Zeebrugge Raid.

24 April 1918

Saw Mrs Howard & Will in his coffin. Looked very beautiful. Military funeral on Friday.

Magnificent naval raid on Zeebrugge – shook up the [illegible]. Hilton Young lost an arm.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“It all seems like a Cook’s tour to me instead of real war”

Sydney Spencer was now very close to the action, as he confided in both his diary and a letter to sister Florence (written in pencil on a scrap of paper). His fluency in French meant he was the recipient of the sorrows of an elderly Frenchwoman.

Diary
Wednesday 24 April 1918

After a very peaceful night I got up at 7.30. after breakfast had a rifle inspection. Made up mess acocount. Wrote to OB. Sent cheque to W H Smith & Sons. We march off & dig in at 2 pm. We go to M-M. We arrived here at 8.45 pm. Our platoons dug in & made cubby holes. Before one could say knife they had scrounged any mount of loot & made cubby houses! One was named Norfolk Villa, another “Tumbledown Nest”. Another “Home sweet home”.

Two pathetic incidents, an old lady horribly crippled finished her plaint weeping, “Vous me donnerez, M’sieur, [meme?] grand service si vous tirez a moi”! [You will give me great service, sir, if you will shoot me.]

Another, outside our cellar here in the yard lies a cross with grave number & the legend ‘A British soldier’. Tonight Frost found some flour someone else went to move. Brought back some sort of [lime?]. The two were mixed before I discovered the mistake. Result chaos!

Guns are behind us now firing considerably in “crashes on suitable targets”!


Letter

24.4.18
My dearest Florence

A cellar in a ruined village, straw on the floor, 4 candles, a brazier, a table ‘scrounged’ from somewhere with glasses, table cover & supper in preparation. Artillery getting ever louder & nearer. And that is how I approach nearer the real thing. It all seems like a Cook’s tour to me instead of real war. I suppose it is a case of fools & angels again!

Only twice have I been made to feel the effect of war. Outside leaning against the wall is a small wooden cross torn up from goodness knows where & on it the legend “A British Soldier” and a grave number. An old lady, very crippled, who wept & spoke patois, poured her troubles into my ears, seated on a pile of wood & earth. I was the only one who could understand her so I had to bear the brunt of all her troubles. I will not tell you all she said, but when I told her gently that there was nothing I could do, she wept and pathetically asked me whether I would do her the kindness of shooting her! My captain, who says that he is a well seasoned soldier, was quite touched by the incident, so you can imagine that I had to take very great care to preserve an outward calm.

But still my darling Florence I am as I have repeatedly said, very perky & as well & vigorous as ever I have been. My tootsies are just a little weary after much walking about today, but otherwise c’est une bagatelle.

All love to you my darling sister &
Cheer Ho

Your always affectionate Brer
Sydney

Same address
I am Mess President of my Company. Tonight my [illegible] discovered some flour in a disused mill, another went for more & brought back some lime, both were mixed before I discovered mistake. Result chaos!!!

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and letter to Florence Image (D/EZ177/8/3/22)

News from a hospital

Florence Vansittart Neale recorded the loss of another family friend.

23 April 1918
Heard Will Howard had died on Saturday – heart at the end – in Plymouth Hospital.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“All possible economy must be effected”

The economic cost of the war affected every aspect of life at home.

The Church Accounts, 1917-1918.

Wargrave Vicarage,
April 20th, 1918.

My dear Friends,

We now have the pleasure of publishing the parochial accounts for the year ending at Easter, 1918.

The income for which they account to £623 as against £542 11s. 0d. the increase of subscriptions is partly due to the inclusion of all the Churchyard Accounts of which only part has been included in previous years, but this makes an addition of only £19 12s. 0d., and the remainder is due to increased support. The increased church collections is to some extent attributable to the addition of two Organ Recitals, £20 16s. 6d, but to the very generous response to special appeals, as in the case of the Red Cross, £36 5s. 0d, but the general level of weekly offertories has been distinctly higher and the result is most pleasing.

The increased income is balanced on the expenditure side by additions to salaries and the heavy cost of fuel.

Sir William Cain’s gifts are distributed so widely in the parish that his liberality is known to all and everyone in Wargrave has reason to be grateful for them, they have for instance made the V.A.D. Hospital possible, on its present scale…

A copy of the statement of accounts is to be sent to every subscriber, but no copies are to be included with the parish magazines as in former years, because all possible economy must be effected in printing and paper. The Schedule of Special Offertories will however be inserted in the magazine together with this letter.

I remain faithfully yours,

STEPHEN M. WINTER

Wargrave parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

“All of a tremble: I shall probably get my first experience of being under shell fire”

Sydney Spencer and his battalion were on the move, and getting ever closer to the action.

Tuesday 23 April 1918

Rose at 7.30. Got kit packed & mess kit packed. No parades today. Went for short walk in woods. A lovely morning. The young trees looked their lovely ‘shrill green’. Violets & cowslips everywhere. After lunch we had a mess meeting. Drink bills were settled up, thank goodness. I paid in for B company 160 francs. It is now time to get ready for our route march to Lillevillers, so we is off [sic] 5.45 pm.

10.15 pm. Arrived at Lealv-s at 8 pm. Have had supper. Papers have arrived. We move on tomorrow & dig in behind Mailly-Maillet by daylight. So I shall probably get my first experience of being under shell fire. I am all of a ‘thremble’ [sic] at the idea and as Aunt L would say, here’s a nice kettle of fish. Hervey and I are billeted at No. 75. Artillery is making some row just at present.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

“The main thing that prevents men escaping from here is their foreign accent which would lead to their re-arrest”

Hugh O’Rourke was a 23 year old ship’s steward born in Co. Tyrone and now an American citizen. Interned as a Nationalist following the Easter Rising, he would be transferred to Reading on 9 May 1918 from Islington Prison, and stay until he went to Brixton in 1919. It was feared that he would be a troublemaker.

April 23rd 1918
[To] Place of Internment, Reading

Hugh O’Rourke, an American, was of the Sinn Feiners and was at Cornwallis Road, is [recorded?] to be acting rather out of hand, and will probably attempt to break out if he remains here. So will you please say if you see any [illegible] [objection to be removed?].

[Ilegible signature]

I know nothing of this man.

The Commissioners, who have more information, can judge better as to what effect he would have, remembering that the men here are in constant association and out in the exercise grounds up to 7.30 pm with only one officer on duty, after 5.10 pm, in the grounds. The opportunities for causing trouble or escaping are infinitely greater here than in an ordinary prison, and I am unable to barrack [illegible… ] as is done in other Camps – consequently the safe… can be very general.

I am quite ready to do whatever the Commissioners [say].

C M Morgan
Governor

The main thing that prevents men escaping from here is their foreign accent which would lead to their re-arrest, and the poor results that have attended the many escapes from various Camps, and which they read about in the various papers, they freely admit.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Sick and wounded horses

Berkshire children supported efforts to help war horses.

Ascot Heath Girls School
23rd April 1918

The girls contributed to the St George’s Day effort to raise money for the RSPCA for the benefit of sick and wounded horses. A guinea was sent from this school.

Bradfield CE School
April 23rd 1918

St George’s Day – collection on behalf of sick and wounded horses realised 15/-, which was duly forwarded to the Hon. Secretary RSPCA.

Log books of Ascot Heath Girls School (C/EL109/2, p. 288); and Bradfield CE School (D/P22/28/2, p. 200)

Busily engaged in war work

Reading women had abandoned old religious or charitable work in favor of war work.

LADIES’ MISSIONARY WORKING PARTY

For some months the members of the Missionary Working Party have been compelled to suspend operations because there was no room in which they could meet. Our schoolrooms have either been “requisitioned” by the military authorities or devoted to the entertaining of our soldiers. There was a further difficulty, too, in the fact that many of the ladies were busily engaged in war work of various kinds.

There is now the possibility that the meetings may be resumed, and consequently a meeting will be held at Trinity Congregational Church on Tuesday April 23rd at 3.30 pm to discuss the matter.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, April 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)