‘We have tried our best to “carry on” under pre-war conditions’

The war had led to raging inflation. One victim was the publishing industry.

Our readers will scarcely be surprised to hear that with this number we are compelled to increase the charge for the magazine from one penny to three half-pence. Everyone knows that, owing to the war, the cost of materials has increased enormously, to say nothing of the cost of labour. This means that we cannot any longer publish the magazine at the old price without considerable loss. We have tried our best to “carry on” under pre-war conditions, but at last we are reluctantly compelled to follow the example of most other papers and periodicals. We feel sure our readers will believe that it is necessity alone which has led us to take this step, and we confidently appeal for a continuance of their loyal support.

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

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Admirable work for our wounded soldiers

Broad Street Church supported work with the wounded.

At each of the services on Sunday, January 20th, a retiring collection is to be taken on behalf of the British Red Cross Society and St John’s Ambulance Association. These Societies are doing admirable work for our wounded soldiers, and we feel sure that many of our friends will be glad to have an opportunity of sharing in it.

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

A boastful Bosch killer

Percy Spencer told sister Florence about his current situation.

21st Battalion London Regiment
G Lines
Chiseldon Camp
Nr Swindon

Jan 20, 1918

My dear WF

Did I tell you I’m now in quarters – that is a narrow room with curtained window, carpeted floor and a stove. Well, I am, anyway, and feeling more dignified and comfortable, you’ll be glad to hear.
A large draft of our fellows have gone on embarkation leave today, and I just missed it by a few hours’ seniority so I expect to be here a little longer anyway. But I may not get quite such a nice long leave as they are having.

Yesterday I met two Australians (officers) who knew my No. 6 [in his rowing crew] very well and spoke very highly of him as a Bosch killer. He was a very boastful fellow, but sound enough and never bragged about his battle exploits, but apparently he has many scalps to his credit. So I think John ought to forgive his inclusion in my eight altho’ he was an Australian.

Did I tell you I fired a revolver course during the awful weather last week? Anyway I [censored] passed out a first class shot.

My application for leave has been turned down for the moment on grounds which have not applied to others. However, I’m old enough to be philosophical and shan’t worry if I can’t get my way.

I have asked Thrussell to send my boots here, thanks dear. Thanks too for … the wool and for the ammunition boots.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/7-8)

Comforts for Road Construction and Quarrying Companies in France

Berkshire County Council was unwilling to spend ratepayers’ money on gifts for roadworkers helping with the war effort.

Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee, 19 January 1918

ROADMEN IN FRANCE

An appeal for a subscription out of County Funds has been made by a Committee formed to organise and collect money for providing extra necessaries and comforts for Road Construction and Quarrying Companies in France. It is pointed out that these men are not provided for in the organisation controlled by Sir Edward Ward for the distribution of comforts for troops overseas. The appeal states that the Local Government Board is prepared to sanction a subscription by any Local Authority up to £100.

The Committee feel that no case has been made out for subscribing to this object out of the Rates, and they are unable to recommend it, but think that the appeal should be left to be dealt with by individual effort.

WAR ALLOWANCES

The following recommendation of the War Allowances Section are submitted for approval:

That the allowance granted to A W F Myatt, killed in action on 3 December, 1917, be continued to his dependants for six months from the date of his death.

The Section have considered the effect of the increased payments under Royal Warrant of the 4 December, 1917, in connection with both married and unmarried persons serving with the colours, and recommend that in calculating allowances the following principles be adopted:

Single Men: The full increased pay to be deducted.
Married Men: The full increased pay to be deducted.

The allotment previously paid by the man but now paid by the Government not to be deducted.

Owing to the fact that it will now be difficult to separate Merit Pay from Ordinary Pay and to ascertain in most cases the actual pay receivable as “War Pay” under Clause 3 of the Royal Warrant, the Section recommend that the pay to be deducted shall be the minimum rates set forth in Clause 3 of the royal Warrant, viz:

Private 1s 6d per day
Lance-Corporal 1s 9d per day
Corporal 2s 0d per day

On the receipt of the Quarterly Return, if any persons serving is [sic] found to be in receipt of more than the above rates of pay the excess shall be deducted whenever such excess brings the total Army pay and allowances above the civil pay as at August 1914, plus 25 per cent, but not otherwise.

Berkshire County Council minutes C/CL/C1/1/21

Ladies and younger lads keep the bells going, with energy & zeal

Bellringers reflect on the ways the war had changed their profession.

The annual meeting of this branch took place at Wokingham on Sat. Jan. 19th. A short service was held at All Saints’ Church at 4.30 pm with Intercessory Prayers…

The Rural Dean, Canon G F Coleridge, gave an excellent address, & practical, on the words – “Every man according to his ability” (Acts XI.29). He said he had chosen those words, because they brought home what was being done throughout the country regarding the “War”, at that time, & they should appeal with great force & meaning to those present, as Church Bell Ringers. Many of these, amongst other church officers, had been called to active service abroad, some of them from that branch, of whom some had given their lives for their country, & many ladies & younger lads had taken their places, & kept the bells goings, with an energy & zeal which would always be remembered in the Ringing world!…

The National Anthem was heartily sung at the close…

Tow members had been killed in action during the year. – A Edwards & F Collins, while G Collins was still “missing”, as in last year.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
(for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) (D/EX2436/2)

“They deserved to be left behind”

Albert Cusden, one of the four Reading brothers interned in a German camp, wrote to one of his sisters. Some of the older internees had been repatriated, and it was a bittersweet farewell.

Jan. 19th 1918

Dear Iris

Two letters received from Father and Ruby to Vic, yesterday. Have had no other news for quite a long time, but I believe there is only one mail boat running a month now, so if this is the case your letters and ours will arrive in bunches.

We had quite a memorial day on Jan. 2nd. About 350 men over forty five left here for England. You will of course have read of their arrival long before this is written. Four men went from our loft. As you can imagine all the men were very excited the night before. I know of some men who dressed themselves the night before, and spent the night just waiting. I think there were very few who got much sleep. One man gave a farewell breakfast to his chums at four o’clock in the morning. They had to leave the camp between six and seven in the morning, and three were actually late! They deserved to be left behind.

A train was waiting for them on a siding just outside the camp, and we who were left climbed on to sheds or anything that was handy to wave farewell to men who had been interned with us for over three years. One or two attempts were made to sing such songs as “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and “What’s the use of worrying?”, but they were not very successful. Fellows just watched the train and shouted. Well, they’re gone now, and some day I suppose we shall follow.

We have had very peculiar weather for quite a time. We must have had close on eighteen inches of snow during the last ten days. Most of it has now disappeared. In the first few days we had a frost, so that it was very slippery. Now a thaw has set in and it is very mild.

Our new school term has not yet started, we have been waiting for warmer weather. Probably in another week’s time it will start. It is impossible to do much work in the winter.

We are all four keeping in good health. Love to all.

Your affectionate brother, Albert.

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to Miss Iris Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/9)

The difficulty of obtaining food

Food shortages meant the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist could not have their regular retreat at the mother house in Clewer.

18 January 1918

Notice was sent to the Community from the Warden & Mother that the Sisters’ Retreat fixed to begin Jan. 28th must be indefinitely postponed owing to the difficulty of obtaining food for such a largely increased number.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Invalided home from France

One of the Australian soldiers befriended by the Hallams would not be fighting any more.

18th January 1918
One of our Tasmanian friends came, P.Crane. He is invalided home from France.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

There must be no risk of infecting the Royal Flying Corps with measles

Infectious disease was a serious concern in the days before vaccination, and the thought of precious pilots being incapitated or killed was a serious consideration.

January 17th 1918

Three boys – Harry Austin and the two Harts whose fathers are in the R.F.C. stationed in Ascot have been forbidden to attend School by the O.C. the Corps. The reason given is that as measles are prevalent in the neighbourhood – not in Ascot – there must be no risk of infecting the Corps.

Ascot Heath Boys’ School log book (C/EL110/4, pp. 91-92)

Death of a Corporal

Cranbourne families received bad news.

We regret to have to record the death of Corporal H. Strong, 6th D.A.C. He was born in Cranbourne and attended our School. We express our sympathy with his wife: and also with Mr. Withey whose son Percy has been reported missing since 20th October.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

We hope that 1918 may bring happiness and peace

A New Year message for men from Reading hoped for peace this year.

TO OUR SOLDIERS AND SAILORS ON ACTIVE SERVICE

Dear friends

The vicar has invited me to write a few lines to you who are so nobly and faithfully serving in the Forces, and very gladly I accept the invitation.

I am bold enough to open with the old old greeting – “A Happy New Year”. It is what you would wish us all at home, and in fullest measure we hope that 1918 may bring happiness and peace to you all. Would that we could grasp you by the hand as we say it; for indeed the greeting comes to you with our earnest prayers, and our kindest thoughts….

You to whom these lines are written are scattered far and wide, and some will not read it until many weeks have gone by. But be assured, dear brothers, that the heart of the parish is warm with a real affection towards you all, and there are frequent times when in our intercessions for you we are conscious that at the same moment God hears our petitions for you all and neither time nor distance count with Him in the bestowal of His grace and blessing.

May He guard and guide and bless you all.

Yours very sincerely

Frank Winter.

WEEK OF PRAYER.

The Abbey Hall having been commandeered by the Military Authorities it will not be possible to hold the Meetings usually arranged in connection with the universal week of prayer.

Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

A happy battalion

A senior officer gave up some of his period home on leave to deliver a public lecture on how his battalion was getting on.

The 2/4th R. Berks

The distinguished CO of this Battalion, Lt-Col. J H Dimmer, VC, MC, while home on leave, besides giving up much of his time to making acquaintance with families and friends of officers and men under his command, kindly gave a lecture on 16th January in Reading, upon the doings of the battalion, and the general conditions of life on foreign service.

He impressed his audience with a feeling of confidence that their “lads” were well looked after at the front, and that the battalion was not only a happy battalion, all ranks having full trust in each other, but that it had deservedly won a good reputation among those who ought to know, as was proved by private and official congratulations which he had received upon its behaviour in recent strenuous times.

The Burghfield men in the battalion at present are Captain G Willink, MC, Sergeant Ernest Wise, and Privates W Bushnell, L Clarke, B Hutchins and D Hutchins.


Burghfield parish magazine, February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Escaped internee “did not make friends with the dog”

Carlos Kuhn Escosura y Diaz was a Spanish electrical engineer from Vigo, aged 28 when he first arrived at Reading Prison as an internee in May 1916. He escaped custody in 1917, and shocking claims were made in the papers about the way he had allegedly suborned a guard dog.

16 January 1918
Reading PI [Place of Internment]

Please note that arrangements are being made to bring back Carlos Kuhn de la Escosuras to your custody from the Spanish Embassy, whither he fled on escaping from your custody some time since. He will not be punished for his offence, and precautions will be taken to prevent his making any fresh attempt to escape.

[Illegible]
Secretary

Noted. Prisoner was received on the 15th inst.
C M Morgan
Governor

The attached cutting from last night’s “Evening News” [not attached] may interest the Commissioners. It is the average veracity of the Northcliffe Press.


C K de la Escosuras

1. He did not make friends with the dog.
2. The dog did not come into the Prison.
3. The dog does not exist – the only officer who has a dog is the Chief Warder and far from being friendly to strangers, it bit a policeman in the “tail” when he was searching the Forbury Gardens on the night of the escape – it is a bull dog.

He did not pick his cell lock with a wire. He was not in a cell – but free to walk about the prison till 8 pm – and this escape took place about 7.30 pm.

He does not collect Prison Keys – neither are they left for him to collect.

The key was made by another man out of tinfoil and the garden door unlocked as previously reported.

As regards his prolonged conversation with Police and other officials – he is the only man of the four who cannot talk English.

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

“My Colt revolver is much too heavy for me”

Webley revolvers were the standard small firearm issued to officers, but there were not enough to go around, as Percy Spencer, suffering toothache, told his sister Florence.

21st (Res) Battalion Lon[don] Regiment
G Lines
Chiseldon Camp
Nr Swindon

Jan 15, 1918

My dear WF

We are still having vile weather. Today it has been snowing incessantly.

Yesterday I saw the dentist who said he would not pass me GR and gave me a chit to the effect that I was urgently in need of dental treatment. So today I have applied for ten days leave. I don’t suppose for a moment I shall get it, though short periods of leave are given very freely.

I should very much like some khaki wool for mending. One pair of socks has been mended with a whitish wool which looks unsightly.

I’m now on a revolver course, but don’t expect to do any good as my Colt revolver is much too heavy for me and I am endeavouring to change it for a Webley.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/5-6)

A commercial kitchen for school children

School dinners, promised a week or two earlier, were instituted in Aldermaston, while an old boy came to visit his old teacher in Sandhurst.

Aldermaston School
15th January 1918

A commercial kitchen was started in the village hall today, for the benefit of the school children, 57 children availed themselves of the opportunity, and were made up as follows- 23 over 10 years of ages, 20 under 10 years and over 7, 14 under 7 years.

Lower Sandhurst School
January 15th 1918

William Worrall, an old boy of the school, now a midshipman in the Royal Navy, came to see me to-day.

Aldermaston School log book (88/SCH/3/3, p. 80); Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 421)