“For nearly four years he and others of a sensitive and refined nature fought suffered, bore the rough and tumble hardships of a private soldier, without recognition, without reward or any other distinction than that of doing their duty”

One of the first Earley men to join up in 1914 died at the hands of the influenza epidemic.


In Memoriam

Frank Earley died of influenza in Italy, June 13 1918.

Our readers will remember that in the May magazine we offered our best wishes to Pte. Frank Earley on his return to Italy after a brief and well earned spell of leave. He is gone from us now, not to return. In his home in Manchester Road, by his brothers in France and Italy, and by many friends his loss will be felt.

Always serious from the time he joined the choir as a little boy, as the years went on he took things more seriously, his character taking shape. In August 1914 he was just 18 years of age, and volunteered at once with his brother for service. After six months training he crossed to France. For nearly four years he and others of a like sensitive and refined nature fought suffered, bore the rough and tumble hardships of a private soldier, without recognition, without reward or any other distinction than that of doing their duty.

In the first year of the War commissions were not sought as they are now. Volunteers in the ranks made up the little army which went out to save England. We who knew Frank Earley well can picture him at his post; we knew he never flinched from what was hard, never swerved from what was straight. Thoughtful, modest, resolute – he bore this look in his quiet, almost suffering face, with the strong lines playing about his mouth.

On his last leave he was home for two Sundays. His pleasure at the play on Saturday night did not prevent his presence at the early Celebration at 7.30 the following morning; and on the second Sunday he made his Communion again at the same hour. In Italy he quickly won the admiration of his nurses in the hospital during the brief interval before he laid down his tired life. So passes another of those English boys who at the first responded to England’s call, and by an unselfish devotion to duty have earned themselves an imperishable name.

Short notes

We have heard from our old friend and choir-boy Mr Harry C Taylor who has served at the front in the Guards since 1914. He is presently in hospital in London after a bad attack of influenza.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P192/28A/15)

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Safe and well in spite of rumours to the contrary

There were concerns for men from Warfield.

Our sympathy goes out to Mrs. Bowyer of Scotland Farm, and Mr. and Mrs. Green, of Nuptown, whose sons are reported prisoners of war, and it is with the deepest regret that we have heard that Private William Baigent is reported missing.

We are glad to know that in spite of rumours to the contrary R. Lawrence’s son is safe and well.

Warfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, July 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/6)

A horrible plague of flies

Sydney Spencer was busy preparing for a return to the trenches.

Monday 15 July 1918

Flies – a scourge of them – woke me up at 5 am & gave me beaucoup d’ennui until 7.30. On parade by 9 am. Had a platoon inspection which lasted an hour. PT for ½ an hour, then got new SBRs, anti [dumming?] composition etc. Had a talk about men’s rations etc. [Illegible] cleared up. Arranged for hair cutting. Got shoulder [illegible], water bottles covered etc, caps changed etc ad infinitum!

Returned to billet. Mended breeches. Got my surplus kit ready to send to Florence. Saw the men’s dinners which were really bad today. We had lots of difficulties in getting water for cooking. Sanitary arrangements in village filthy. Result a horrible plague of flies. The French here seem pleased with us & treat us more courteously than those further north.

Looked round my platoon in afternoon & rested most of evening. There was a fear of our being turned out by N. Hants but this did not come off.


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

On both

Elderly William Spencer of Cookham was proud that his daughter Florence Image was having her first satirical article published in Punch.

Fernley
Cookham
July 14, 1918

My dear Sydney, …

I am very glad you like my first effort in blank verse. … But Flo [his daughter Florence] has beaten me altogether. I can only attain to the ‘Advertiser’ but she, a puss, has just had an article of more than a column’s length accepted by ‘Punch’. She has revised the proof & I expect it will appear next Wednesday though it does not follow that acceptance means immediate publication. It has to do with ‘Dora’ & is entitled ‘On Both’ referring to any breach of D.O.R.A’s act being punishable with six months imprisonment, or a £50 fine, or both.

Letter from William Spencer of Cookham to his son Sydney (at the front) (D/EZ177/1/6/1)

A city of silence

Sydney Spencer was cautious about revealing place names in his diary in case of capture by the enemy, but it is clear that he was now at Arras, whose cathedral was severely damaged by German bombs.

Sunday 14 July 1918

Got up at 6.15. Breakfast 6.45. Am orderly officer today. We move at 9. Parade at 8.30. Marched off at 9. Got to busses [sic] (carrying 23 & 2 drivers) & embussed at 11.20 on RVS Road. Started at 11.35…

12.45 A..s a ruined city from the point of view of inhabitants. A fine cathedral. A city of silence. Left A-s at 1.15. D-y at 1.20. Now lying on road between D & St- awaiting orders. It is now 4.15 pm.

Got into village of “Holy Refuge” at 5.30. Saw men into billets. Found officers’ mess no. 38 ‘La Route de Paris’. Dawkins & I found a bed at no. 39. Mounted guard at 7 pm. Conference at 7.30 pm. Had dinner at 8.15. Saw staff parade at 9.30.

Lights out at 10. Turned guard out at 10.45, & then to bed. Had a bed to sleep on but flies were a great nuisance. Dawkins & I in same bed.

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

A delightful, sunshiney, joyful life

An Earley soldier turned RAF man died suddenly of influenza.

In memoriam

Septimus James Hawkes, Captain Royal Berks Regiment

We record with great sorrow the sudden death of one much beloved of us all during his early life when he was closely associated with the Church and parish. He was an admirable scoutmaster and held the office of Taperer or candle-bearer in the church for several years until the outbreak of war called him to Sandhurst, from which he took a commission in the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

He served his country with great ability, and miraculously escaped with his life through many engagements. After recovery from a wound Capt. Hawkes qualified for the Air service and took up his new quarters at Dublin. Up to the day of his death he was in exceptionally good health and spirits. On Wednesday July 10, he had an attack of influenza and died the same day.

We mourn his loss greatly, and his death in Ireland after escaping the dangers of long service in France came as a terrible shock to his family and all here. His was a delightful, sunshiney, joyful life; his affectionate nature kept him in constant touch with his many relations and friends, and he found time to write frequent latters or cards in the stress of his laborious duties in France.

His body was bought back to the church he loved to serve on Sunday night July 14 and lay draped in the Union Jack before the chancel gates until the burial service the following day, at which a large number of officers and men with the military band attended.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, August 1918 (D/P192/28A/15)

The Germans make some progress in parts

Florence Vansittart Neale anxiously monitored the war news.

14 July 1918

Germans begun their offensive – some progress in parts. Aim for Epernay & Reims – but not at all wholly successful. Americans helping French.

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

“Don’t worry, she can’t speak English & I could never make love in French”

Percy Spencer was excited by his sister Florence’s getting a comic article published in Punch, and almost fell in love with a French girl.

July 14, 1918

My dear WF

Another week gone & here I am still at school & beginning to know something about musketry.

I’m very glad to hear Sydney is better again and delighted about the Punch article. Mind you send me a copy of the number.

This week I’ve been feeling very dicky myself. I think I had a touch of this strange fever, but a very slight one. Another officer here, I am sorry to say, has died with it.

Today I have been to a much bombed town near here for a holiday. There is quite a good officers’ club and one can generally meet old friends there and get a good dinner. It’s nice to sit in a pretty garden and receive tea from the fair hands of a wholesome English girl.

Today as you know is France’s National day. I went to the cathedral – which by the way has been rather badly bumped at the eastern end – and listened to a service. The singing was delightful, but it is difficult for me, much as I love the Roman Church’s seriousness, to refrain from smiling at their quaint beadles armed with swords and wearing mighty cocked hats, and at the endless collections.

Another good thing out here is the good nature of all motorists. One sets out to walk anywhere, hails the first car or bus or lorry, which always stops & takes you as far as it can. The other night a staff officer we coolly hailed drove us in here and offered to take us as afar as Paris if we liked. This however only applies as between Englishmen or as between French etc. but today I had quite a romantic experience.

Following the usual custom I stepped out to hail a car, but observing it was driven by a Frenchman, stepped back. However, it stopped & then to my pleasurable surprise I saw it was driven by a French GIRL. I’ve given her capitals as she was a capital girl. She wasn’t going very far my way but would give me a lift on my way. Well, the fair chauffeuse who was on her way to fetch the Prefect of the town we had just left melted, & when she got to her turning & I made to alight, she said she would drive me here and she did. After that we got very friendly and talked about London & the Thames, and she said that after the war she should come to London, and I said then I hoped we should meet again, whereupon she volunteered her address and I mine and neither of us could remember the other nor muster a pencil between us, so we pulled up at a cottage & borrowed one & some paper from an old lady who smiled approval at the beginning of a romance. And all the while the Prefect cooled his heels at some village down south!
I must be a lady killer after all!

Don’t worry, she can’t speak English & I could never make love in French, and Bordeaux (her home) is a long way.

Well, goodbye & God bless you both.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/53-55)

Not possible to start a Cadet Corps at Wallingford Grammar School

Many teachers were absent serving their country.


Secondary Schools

WALLINGFORD COUNTY GRAMMAR SCHOOL.

The Governors have considered the question of the formation of a Cadet Company in connexion with the school, but have decided, in view of the present shortage of staff and the many calls on the time of the Head Master, that it is not possible to adopt the proposal at the present time….

BURSARS AND STUDENT TEACHERS

Of ten Student Teachers whose engagements terminate on 31 July, one is already on Military Service … and one is due for Military Service.

Report of the Higher Education Sub-committee to Berkshire Education Committee, 13 July 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Our manifold necessities in the Great War

The Bishop’s Message

The following extracts are from the bishop’s message in the July Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked

For the supply of our manifold necessities in the Great War.

For all the great sufferers in body, mind and estate.

For Russia and the Russian Church.

For Serbia and the Serbian Students among us.

For Ireland.

Earley St Peter parish magazine (D/P191/28A/25)

Beaucoup wound up about a move

There was tension in the air when expecting a move to the front line.

Saturday 13 July 1918

Beaucoup wound up about a move but nothing had happened yet. 10.45 am. We are now wearing SBRs for an hour. After lunch we had a good rest. I read & lay down for a time but did not sleep.

After tea a conference. I went down to my platoon & arranged things for tomorrow. Trench stores etc. I then went to church for ½ an hour. I am so grateful to the Roman Catholic Church for at least supplying a form of service in which I can take part without feeling that I am not wanted.

Ferrier came into dinner. After dinner packed & to bed at 10. Talked with Kemp about Catholicism until 11.15 & then to sleep.

Saw an old French man with blue trousers & a drum, who stood at street corners & after performing on his drum gave out much important mayoral news to the villagers.

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

The Mayor of Newbury has been called up under the Military Service Acts

The Mayor of Newbury was likely to be called up, which caused consternation in the council. Obviously being a politician was more important than fighting.

12 July 1918

Present
C A Hawker, esq, Mayor…

The Mayor having left the Council [meeting], Alderman Lucas was elected to the Chair.

Alderman Lucas drew attention to the Mayor, Councillor C A Hawker, having been called up under the Military Service Acts to present himself for Medical Examination and stated that he had been graded 1 and was therefore liable to be called upon for Military Service.

The Council, in view of the manifold public duties in which he was and had been engaged, considered that it was in the public interest that he should continue to be so engaged and it was proposed from the Chair, seconded by Alderman Jackson, and carried unanimously,

“It having come to the knowledge of the Council that the Mayor of the Borough, Councillor Charles Adrian Hawker, has been medically graded, and is now liable to be called upon for Military Service:

Resolved that this Council, having regard to the manifold public duties in which he is, and has been for the past three years engaged as Mayor of this Borough, desire that the Mayor make application for exemption from military service, and that the Minister of National Service be requested to consent to his exemption.”

Newbury Borough Council minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

There is no ground for complaint by German Prisoners of War

It looks as if some insane PoWs who had been treated at Broadmoor later complained about the conditions. The authorities disagreed.

Crowthorne War Hospital
Berks

12th July 1918

From Officer i/c Crowthorne War Hospital
To DDMS Aldershot

German Prisoners of War

With reference to your telephonic communication of today’s date I have the honour to state that there has been no insufficiency of warm clothing or lack of heat in this Institution.

There is no ground for complaint by German Prisoners of War who have left this Hospital.

[File copy not signed, but the letter is from Dr Baker]

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

Our hearty good-will and our deep sense of all that France has and is suffering for the cause of freedom and the Allies

Bastille Day, the French national day, is actually on 14 July, commemorating the fall of the Bastille and start of the French Revolution. Berkshire schools clearly had a rather vague grasp of French history, but cannot be faulted for their admiration for our ally.

Aldworth
July 12th 1918

On Friday afternoon, being France’s National Day, the children were addressed by the Vicar, the French Flag saluted and the Marseillaise sung – the following letter was also sent to the President of the French Republic:

Aldworth Vicarage
Reading
England

July 12th 1918

Dear Mr President,

The inhabitants of Aldworth wish to take the opportunity, which France’s National Day affords, to express to you our hearty good-will and our deep sense of all that France has and is suffering for the cause of freedom and the Allies.

We also take this opportunity to assure you that we are determined that the war shall at length, at whatever cost, be waged to a victorious issue.

Believe us to be, dear Mr President, your most devoted Allies.

(signed) A. L Watson, Vicar of Aldworth, Chairman of the Parish Council

Coleshill
12th July 1918

At noon to-day the children first saluted ‘The French Flag’ and then our ‘Union Jack’ in the playground. After this they sang ‘the Marseillaise’ and our own National Anthem, this being ‘France’s Day’.

Aldermaston
12th July 1918.

Pamphlets have been sent by the local War Aims committee to be given to the children today to commemorate France’s Day July 14th. The Head Teacher will give a short explanation of the subject to the school.

Hinton Waldrist
July 12th 1918

France’s Day. Children assembled in playground at 1.30. An address given by Capt: J. Loder Symonds. The French Flag and Union Jack saluted. The Marseillaise and God Save the King sung.


Log books: Aldworth School (C/EL54/3); Coleshill CE School (D/P40/28/5); Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3); Hinton Waldrist C of E Schoolk (C/EL84/2)

Naturalization to be overhauled

Sir George Cave, the Home Secretary introduced plans to revoke citizenship from some naturalised Britons.

12 July 1918

Read long debate about aliens. Sir G. Cave made speech. End up German banks – not open for some years after war. Naturalization to be overhauled….

Letter from Phyllis from 4 London General. Thinks she will like it.

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