The greatest and best help we can give our soldiers and sailors

St Mark’s Church in the parish of Reading St Mary was focussing on prayers for the war.

S. Marks District
Day of Intercession for the War

Wednesday, May 22nd, was observed as a day of continuous prayer. We are thankful to say the chain was not broken throughout the day and there were quite good numbers present at the Intercession services. Besides being the greatest and best help we can give our soldiers and sailors, such a day proves the value of having a church in our midst, where we can just drop in for a few quiet moments of prayer and recollection of God’s presence – may many more learn to make use of it in this way. We shall hope to have another Day of Intercession shortly.

St Mark section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

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“At least half of the interned prisoners refuse to associate with him, because he is a Jew”

David Stad was a Dutch Jew aged 27 when he arrived at Reading Place of Internment in January 1916. He did not enjoy his internment, feeling isolated and discriminated against. In June 1918 he was transferred to Islington.

22.5.18
The Governor
P of I Reading

With ref: to the petition of D Stad dated the 13th inst of which the following is a precise translation:

He says that on the 23rd June he will have been interned 3 yrs, and that he has never been told the reason for his internment.

He has never received any order, as many other interned [prisoners deleted] persons have. He asks to have one.

He asks if, after 3 yrs, he may be allowed to go to Holland, and is prepared to give an undertaking not to leave that country again, at any rate in war-time.

He says that out of a total period of nearly 3 yrs internment he has been 2 yrs & 3 months at Reading Gaol, and feels his vitality diminishing: his appetite is bad, and he suffers from sleeplessness.
This, he says, is due to the unpleasant life he leads at Reading, where at least half of the interned prisoners refuse to associate with him, because he is a Jew.

He accordingly begs to be sent to Holland, or failing that to another camp, saying he even prefers Brixton so as no longer to meet the men who dislike him.

Unless this is done, he cannot hold himself responsible for himself.
He asks that all attention may be given to the question of his correspondence with Holland; he feels sure that his wife and relations write to him at least 3 times a month, but he has had no letters for 6 months.

Please furnish your observations on the statement as to his life at Reading, and the need, if any, for his removal, and also as to the facts respecting the letters he receives and sends.

W J Pond for Sec:

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

With great regret

Bad news for Crambourne families.

It is with great regret that we have to record the deaths of Privates Walter Withey and Charles John Bowyer, and also that Privates William Walter Goodchild and Henry James Smith, previously reported missing, are now reported killed.

We are also very sorry to hear that Privates Sidney Taylor, Henry Goodchild and Noel Edmonds have met with accidents, fortunately not of a serious nature, and that George Wheaton and Frank Hudson have been slightly wounded.

The Clerk and Verger, Mr. Hatcher, is retiring, after 25 years’ service. During these years he has been absent only on one Sunday when he went to see his son who had been wounded; he has also attended every Saints Day Service which has been held. Truly a remarkable record.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

“I’m getting sick of living on tiptoe”

German aeroplanes were bombing both in air raids and at the front.

Joan Daniels
May 21st Tuesday

We heard today that there were seven Gothas at least brought down in Sunday night’s raid which is splendid, let us hope that it will put them off coming a bit.

Percy Spencer
21 May 1918

Frightful row at 3.40 am by us, but Huns again failed to come up to scratch. I’m getting sick of living on tiptoe. A glorious day closing with a heavy storm. Bosch planes active bombing La Boie Hautvilliers.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

A very vigorous lecture on the Navy’s work in the War

Grammar schoolboys in Newbury heard about the Navy – with an eye to recruiting them, perhaps?

On Tuesday, May 21st, we were treated to a very vigorous lecture on the Navy’s work in the War, by Mr. White, a chief lecturer of the Admiralty, who has been doing a tour of the Public Schools. Incidentally it was remarked how few boys we send into the Navy from the school.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

A very sketchy but very jolly time – perpetual movement and precious little sleep

Percy Spencer shared his latest doings with his sister.

May 21, 1918

My dear WF

I don’t appear to have written you a letter since the 13th. And there has really been no reason why not except a mass of work. I’m very glad to say that I can see the results of my labour, anyway, so that should console you, even if you don’t see many letters.

Well my dear girl, I’ve lately had a very sketchy but very jolly time – perpetual movement and precious little sleep. We’re in lovely surroundings in a wood on one side of a steep valley. The days are quiet and very hot and the night is filled with the roar of guns. On the other side of the valley from another camp every evening a very fine trumpet player amuses all the world with cheery music and beautiful clear toned calls. And when he ceases, the nightingales improve upon his performance and sing all through the night whatever the guns are doing.

We’re all more or less on tiptoe and I’m getting rather fed up with it, one gets so little time to oneself and the night has a nasty way of turning itself into day. Nevertheless even that sort of life has its compensations.

For instance on Whit Sunday I arose at 2 am and didn’t turn in again until I had strolled around our wooded hilltop with our padre (a delightful fellow) and watched the sun rise and heard the birds sing praises to his glory.

On the 16th I met Anderson. You will remember him at the Boarding House at St Albans. Did you meet his wife? He told me you did. The war has made him look sterner but he has not lost his delightful smile.

On the 18th we had a terrific thunderstorm and life was moist. I had a painful toothache and got our dentist to haul out a wisdom tooth. A very trying performance as the tooth had an unauthorised prong. However I daresay the extra prong accounted for my extreme wisdom, so that problem’s settled, and now I suppose I shall be very foolish.

On Monday (yesterday) our Follies gave an open air performance on the hillside. I was unable to get away to it, but it was very jolly to view from a distance.

Will you let everyone who ought to have a photo have one. If possible I should like to see one of each myself.

Could you send me a tinder lighter some time, and a refill for my short tubular torch. I also badly need a key ring. I’m so sorry to bother you about these things, but they are unobtainable out here….

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/37)

“No one was killed & no one was hurt”

Joan Daniels’ father’s clothing factory in Kentish Town was hit by a bomb.

Joan Daniels
May 20th Monday (Whit Monday)

Wakened at 6 o’clock in the morning by a policeman for Daddie. There was a bad air raid on London last night after eleven o’clock and they dropped a bomb at Daddie’s place. So of course he went off immediately & sent a telephone message through to say that no one was killed & no one was hurt. Which we were more than thankful to receive. The bomb dropped on a wall at the back between Ash’s false teeth factory & Daddie’s, breaking practically every window in the latter & blowing a lot of the false teeth into LDG’s! Daddie came back by the 12.15 & we spent a lovely afternoon on the river. What a difference. Such a peaceful scene & how much we have to be thankful for that no one was hurt. We heard in the evening that four Gothas were brought down, which is splendid.

Percy Spencer
20 May 1918

BF officer for rest at Le Touquet.

Bosch again disappointed us. A glorious day. Boys dug in cable. Follies performed in evening. CO Major P. dined with 17th. Huns really promised for tomorrow. Davis & I had a long talk in the evening.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

In these anxious days our hearts are full of gratitude and admiration for the brave deeds of our splendid Soldiers

Lack of news was very worrying.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

In these anxious days our hearts are full of gratitude and admiration for the brave deeds of our splendid Soldiers, and those of us especially who have dear ones in the midst of danger cannot help feeling the strain of anxiety and suspense. No news of any casualties amongst Winkfield men has come this month, and for this we may be thankful, but several families in the Parish have heard nothing from their loved ones for many weeks and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to them in their natural anxiety.

We regret to hear that Private A. Fletcher has not yet recovered from his severe wounds, and it seems probable that he will be invalided out of the army.

We beg to congratulate Private A. Brown on his promotion to Corporal’.

Winkfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

“His cell being fungus covered and full of dry rot”

Internee Bernard Rohls was causing more trouble for prison staff. Were his complaints justified? But this was nothing to the fears that a new imflux of dangerous Irish veterans of the Easter Rising two years earlier might pose.

Place of Internment
Reading
20 May 1918

B H Rohls
23.3.16 S of S Order
Defence of the Realm Regn: Internment

The above interned Prisoner who is undergoing 21 days forfeiture of privileges asks that he may be visited by his own medical man from London, his reasons being:

Health.

His cell being fungus covered and full of dry rot – wet and many other things.

He is in an ordinary reception cell – which is clean and dry.

He has been seen by the Medical Officer, Dr Freeman, who is away on 10 days leave, and also by Dr Lambert who has acted as Medical Officer here for many years in the absence of Dr Freeman.

Report from Dr Lambert attached.

He was awarded 21 days by order of the Secretary of State.

C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

20th May 1918
B R Rohls

The above named interned prisoner has been under my observation since 14th May.

The state of his health is in my opinion as follows:

I. He is a distinctly neurotic & emotional man.

II. He shows physical signs of rheumatism of joints in the past. Has astories [sic] also, show signs of degeneration.

As regards his statements as to the condition of his cell – I have examined it, and I do not find any evidence of the presence of fungus or dampness in it. The cell is well ventilated and well lighted.

I have no grounds whatever for objecting to B R Rohls being visited by his own doctor. In my opinion, however, the case is not one for which a consultation is needed.

G O Lambert, MD, pro W T Freeman, MD (MO, H M Prison, Reading).

20 May 1918
Reading PI

Among the Irish prisoners who are being removed to England for internment, are several who were in custody under PS in Lewes Prison and took part in the mutiny there. It is to be expected therefore that the prisoners coming to your prison will combine together to resist orders, and steps should be taken by you to have an adequate staff present whenever they are out of their cells. To assist you in this matter the Secretary of State is asking the War Office Authorities to grant you a Military Guard and you should approach the local Commanding Officer to supply you with such a Guard as you may think necessary in anticipation of orders which he will receive from the War Office. You can arrange with him as to the number etc.
Please report the result.

[signature]
Secretary

[Added in Governor C M Morgan’s hand:]

The men will come out of their cells from 7 am to 7.45 pm continuously. No information as to arrival has been received.

My staff will allow of one officer being there on week days – none on Saturday afternoons or Sunday. I shall have to call in officers who will be repaid time I cannot say I have.

My present staff is today 7 short of what would be used for ordinary prisoners in normal times, who are locked up in most cases 22 out of 24 hours. I have arranged for a guard and request instructions as to the extent they may be used in case of the trouble the Commissioners anticipate occurring.

CM Morgan

[reply:]
The Military Guard should be used for sentry purposes & for exercising force in the event of an outbreak.

A J Wall
Sec:
24-5-18

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

“All through the bombardment, nightingales sang”

Percy Spencer endured a German attack.

19 May 1918

2 a.m. general alarm. Stood to & prepared to move. 3.40 a.m. stood down. Had tea & smoke. Strolled round wood on hill top with Padre and watched sun rise. Turned in 4.45 a.m. Slept till 7.30 a.m. All thro’ bombardment, nightingales sang. Bosch again expected to attack tomorrow.

Diary of Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

We must continually pray for victory in this the greatest battle in the history of the World

There was more sad news for Newbury families.

We have had more losses among our old boys in the War.

Lieut. Nathaniel Gordon Burgess, RNR, serving in His Majesty’s Navy, was lost at sea on March 6th, after doing splendidly in the Service, and being clearly marked out for further promotion.

Sapper R J Drewell, one of the old CLB lads, was killed in action at Clery in France on March 23rd. His Commanding Officer writes –

“He had behaved splendidly… he will be missed by everyone”.

Mr and Mrs Wyllie have lost their only son.

There have been wounded Frederick Winkworth, Frederick Charles Darby, Percy Robert Styles, Philip Webb, a son of Mrs Tillett, a son of Mr Smart, and a late-comer into the town – Mr Hann. Several are reported missing. We offer our sincere sympathy to the relatives who are in sorrow or anxiety. We must continually pray for victory in this the greatest battle in the history of the World.

ROLL OF HONOUR [nb reno 68-79]

Copied and supplied to the Parish Magazine by J W H Kemp.
(Continued from last month.)

68. Pte Albert Corderoy, 26954, Herts Regt, killed in action in France, 22nd Sept., 1917.
69. Pte R Mason, 1st Royal Berks, killed in France, Sept. 25th, 1916.
70. Pte G Mason, Oxford Light Infantry, killed in action May 16th, 1915.
71. Killed at sea Lieut. Robert Morton Bridges Liddle, RN, December 23rd, 1917.
72. Benjamin Williams, ASC, drowned in the sinking of the SS Arragon Dec. 30th, 1917.
73. Sidney James Hughes, 1st Coldstream Guards, killed January 25th, 1915, at Quinchy, France, aged 23.
74. Pte Thomas Henry Harden Perring, aged 36, killed in action in Palestine, Nov. 13th, 1917.
75. Frederick George Hayward, 2/4 Royal Berks Transport, killed June 6th, 1917, at Tilloy Wood, France. RIP.
76. Pte E B Pounds, London Scottish, son of Mr H Pounds, 3, Enborne Road, killed in action in Palestine Dec. 27th, 1917, aged 21.
77. William James Quintin, killed in action in France, 1917.
78. Pte Albert James Geater, A Co. 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action August 16th, 1917. RIP.
79. Albert Deacon, 1st Class Steward HMS Marlborough, drowned at sea January 12th, 1918.


Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Shattered leg, indomitable spirit

A brave Earley soldier had to face a future with only one leg.

Lieut Hugh Kenney is making excellent progress in No 1 Reading War Hospital. Severely wounded by machine gun which shattered his leg, necessitating amputation, he nevertheless retains indomitable spirit and enjoys the visits of his many friends.

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

Eggs are invaluable when wounded men are not able to take any substantial food

Eggs were a welcome gift for wounded soldiers.

Children’s Egg Service

The following letter has been received from the Secretary of the Care and Comforts Committee:

Dear Mr Britton

I am writing for the Care and Comforts Committee to ask you to thank the children for the quantity of beautiful eggs they sent us for the wounded men in our hospitals. A number of men have just come from France, and I know they will greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness of the children. There are many cases in which eggs are invaluable when men are not able to take any substantial food.

Yours sincerely

H Kensington
Hon. Secretary

62 Minster Street, Reading

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

“Even here aeroplanes are more ubiquitous than motor cars and went droning thro the blue at a great height like beetles”

On an antiquarian trip to his home region in the Vale of White Horse, William Hallam took the time to pay his respects at a war shrine.

18th May 1918

Got up at 7. Went to Challow sta. at 20 past 9. Walked thro’ Goosey across the fields – then onto Charney. Here I looked in the church as a young woman was cleaning it and getting ready for a wedding she told me. Notice that queer carving in chapel. Then I copied down all the Inscriptions I could decipher. The I went to a cottage and enquired the way to Cherbury Camp but the old man said I meant Chawberry. He told me the nearest way but I mistook it and went a devil of a way round. However I enquired again and got there alright about 1 o’clock. I was surprised to find such a perfect camp still existing in the midst of agricultural land. I sat on the bank and ate my lunch of bread and butter and a hard boiled egg and revelled in the sun. The cuckoo had been on all day long. The first day I’ve heard him this spring. There was not a cloud in the sky and even here aeroplanes are more ubiquitous than motor cars and went droning thro the blue at a great height like beetles. I sat here and thought for an hour. I looked over the ploughed field in the encampment and found one flint chip.

I came back into Charney the way I should have come – much nearer- and went into the Pub and had a pint and a ½ of ale. This landlady Shepherd knew me by seeing me regularly at St. Paul’s as they lived at Swindon until 3 years ago when they took this Pub. Her husband a smith now working she told me at Cheltenham in aeroplane works and rides on a bike to & from every week end- 45 miles. I asked about this old house near the Church. She told me a lady had bought it 2 or 3 years ago and spent a lot of money on it – then before she had finished it got tired of it and sold it to a Col. Colmes for 1800£ and now he is spending as much as he gave for it in restoring it. Fortunately in antiquarian lines the chapel & all being put back as it should be. When I started back I sat on the Oak bridge and saw the wedding – not a khaki one – party came out – quite a village wedding – all walking.

It was a scalding hot day and as I sat on a heap of stones resting and having a smoke 2 Swindon men passed by and had a chat on their way to Longworth. Further along the road I turned off and went to Denchworth & looked over the Church & churchyard and here I saw the first war shrine. A frame with a crucifix and list of the names of all the young men gone from the village with a prayer for the passer by to offer up for them so took off my hat and said it. Before it on a ledge were 2 brass vases of fresh flowers. I got back to Challow St. at 6 o’clock and got up home here at ½ past 7. The Country is at its best now especially the Vale.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

“Started my first adventure in the front line”

Sydney Spencer was at the real front line at last.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 18 May 1918

At stand to this morning, i.e. 4 am. Started my first adventure in the front line. My bit of line was on the extreme right flank, being a straight portion facing due east, & running north & south. On my left was No. 8 platoon. From my front I could see the crater 250 yards away slightly to my right. It had a great coil of French wire all round it. The hill on which it stood sloped down to a valley along which runs the New B Hand road. At the end of a patch of withered tree stumps & behind out of sight, the site of BH on the left of the road, the hill rose up again & went over the crest on which was line of NZs, C & D on our left.

[Illegible] front ran north & south, while the remainder of B Company was in a weird sort of re-cutment like a horse shoe, a very curious position as posts of Peyton’s platoon could fire at posts of Hervey’s platoon if they faced their direct front. The day was spent in settling on fire positions, sleeping & eating. Company HQ was in a dugout in the local support line…

Percy Spencer
18 May 1918

Another lovely day. Heavy thunderstorm in afternoon. I went down to Warlos and had to wade. Rathorn & party from Wing arrived. Awful toothache. Had wisdom tooth drawn. A painful business – a 4 pronged beggar. One prong too many, aid the dentist.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)