Zeppelins over London

The first air raids to hit London were a shock for the British.

31 May 1915

Hear 10000 troops to be billeted about.

First Zeppelin raid over London. Shoreditch. 3 or 4 killed. Church and factory damaged.

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

Payment of back rent by the National Relief Fund not a precedent

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund considered various requests for assistance from individuals who had been disadvantaged by the war:

31 May 1915Applications for relief were considered from:
Gray, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 50/- be made in accordance with the recommendation of the Windsor Committee, but the Executive Committee does not regard the payment of back rent as a desirable expenditure of the National Relief Fund, & instructs the assistant secretary to inform the Windsor Committee that the grant given must not be regarded as a precedent for such payment.
Pike, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 12/- be made.
Winney, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of £2.12.6 be made as representing one half of the sum expended by the Windsor Committee.
Beasley, Windsor. Resolved that the applicant was not suitable for relief from the NRF.
Crow, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 25/- be made.
Waller, Windsor. Resolved that the applicant be not suitable for relief from the NRF.
Ottley, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 10/- be made: though the Committee does not admit that the mere fact of the rise of price in raw material gives a claim on the NR Fund, the special circumstances & advanced age of the applicant affords reasons for relief being given.
Thatcher, Abingdon. The Chairman reported grant of £2.0.0 on behalf of this case.
Winterbourne, Abingdon. Grant of £1.0.0 reported.
Willis, Maidenhead. Grant of 10/6 per week, beginning May 1st, reported.
Forrester, Maidenhead. Grant of 10/6 per week for two months beginning May 17th reported. The Sec: was instructed to communicate with the Sub-committee on Professional Classes at the offices of the Central Committee upon the circumstances of this case.
Pounds, Peasemore, Wantage. Grant of 5/- per week for three months beginning May 17th reported.
Fish, Warfield, Easthampstead. Reported as refused by chairman.
Ross, Clewer. Reported as having been received & refrred to the SSFA for further information.
Rosser, Wokingham. Reported as not recommended by the local Committee.
George, Maidenhead. Reported that the grant authorized on behalf of applicant on March 23rd had not been paid as the local Sec: had not found it necessary to pay the same.

The grants as reported were confirmed by the Committee.

National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

It is in no sense a normal year

The vicar of Warfield wrote to his parishioners thanking them for their generosity despite the economic impact of the war, and urging the to join in intercessory prayers.



My first words to you this month must be words of generous thanks for the generous Easter offering you gave me amounting to £32. It has been and will be a year of expense to us all, and I appreciate your offering all the more as it has meant a greater sacrifice in the giving. The Easter Services were all well attended, and allowing for the absence of those communicants who are away serving their country, our numbers though actually less were greater than last year. It is as we all know in no sense a normal year, but there is every reason for us all to be thankful for those mercies that are evident in this time of strain. In spite of a choir robbed of many of its members by the war, we kept up our standard of singing on Easter Day. The Good Friday Three Hours Service was conducted by the Rev. J. Frampton of Ascot Priory, whose devotional addresses were found most helpful. Let me ask you once again to make full use and opportunity of both private and public prayer on behalf of those at the war, especially turning your thoughts heavenward at the hour of noon.

Yours affectionately in Christ,

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magzine, May 1916 (D/P151/28A/7/5)

No more awful news

If there was no good news to report, there was at least a lull in bad news.

30 May 1915

No further awful news mercifully.

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

“We miss their cheery presence very much”

Men of the Motor Transport Service of the Army Service Corps made themselves popular in Early.

Good Wishes to the M.T.A.S.C.

We are sure all our readers join us in wishing God-Speed and goodwill to all the Officers, N.C.O.s and men of the 178th Company M.T.A.S.C., who left us in the early morning of Saturday, May 29th. After four months stay we all grew to look upon them as friends and we miss their cheery presence very much. May they be guarded and protected from all harm and ill.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)

The difference between existence and living: comforts for wounded soldiers

Reading people were keen to support the wounded soldiers who had been sent to the town to be nursed. Broad Street Congregational Church was at the forefront of the effort.


In connection with the War Hospitals recently established in Reading a Care and Comforts Committee has been formed with Mrs Benyon as President.

The object of this committee is to add to the comfort and welfare of the wounded soldiers in Reading War Hospitals.

The War Office authorities supply them with the necessaries of life, but this committee will endeavour to provide the little “extras” which make all the difference between existence and living.

Amongst other things it is proposed to supply the following:-
1. Tobacco and cigarettes
2. Fruit and flowers
3. Cakes, etc
4. Games and cards
5. Entertainments
6. Special garments required in hospitals
7. Books, newspapers, magazines, etc
8. Stationery
9. Motor drives
10. Hospitality for relatives desiring to visit wounded soldiers, etc, etc

As we are expecting to have something like 2000 soldiers in these hospitals before long there will be abundant need for all the help that can be given in the directions indicated. We feel sure that many from Broad Street will desire to “lend a hand” and we can assure them that their help will be greatly valued.

Friends willing to help are asked to communicate with the Hon. Secretary Mr S H Hodkin, 11 Tilehurst Road, indicating whether they can give
(1) A contribution of money or (2) a contribution monthly or (3) a contribution in kind (specify what article) or (4) personal service.

A Depot – to which all gifts should be sent – has been opened at 62 Minster Street, hours 9 to 5.

It may be of interest to know that members of the Ladies’ Sewing Meeting are likely to give their attention to this excellent work before long. At present they are busy preparing for a Garden Sale which they hope to hold sometime towards the end of June, or early in July. The proceeds from this sale are to be divided between the Sunday School and the Soldiers’ Entertainment Funds. When this undertaking has been successfully completed there is a desire to share in the effort to provide comforts for the wounded soldiers.

Broad Street Church magazine, May 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A visit to Reading

Florence Vansittart Neale was distressed by news of the loss of the battleship Majestic on 27 May. 49 sailors were killed. Meanwhile daughter Phyllis visited the war hospital at Reading with a view to possibly nursing there.

28 May 1915
Loss of “Majestic” in Dardanelles – torpedoed – most of crew saved….

Phyllis & May to Reading to go over hospital.

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

The best type of young Englishman

Wilfred Grenville-Grey was the latest Berkshire man to lose his life. He was just 20 years old, a lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifles.


Lieutenant Wilfred Hanbury Grenville-Grey has sacrificed his life for his country. Beloved by all who knew him, endowed with rare gifts of influence athletic, musical, and altogether winning – he was the best type of what a young Englishman should be. We deeply sympathise with the family at Holmwood Lodge in their great sorrow. Holmwood Lodge and its occupants are closely bound to Ascot in affectionate regard.
A Memorial Service for Lieutenant Grey was held in All Saints Church on Friday afternoon, May 28th.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine (D/P151/28A/17/6)

Ships lost, men wounded

Florence Vansittart Neale was briefly distracted from the bad news of the war by a visit from her daughter Elizabeth (Bubbles) and a nurse friend.

27 May 1915

Loss of “Triumph” in Dardanelles. Crew saved!! Also “Princess Irene”! Blew up in Sheerness. Many killed. French getting on….

Phyllis to fetch Bubs. Brought little Irish Sister… Girls played tennis…

Johnson & Saunders took Bubs back. Hospital quite full. Large convoy in – bad wounds.

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

“The sad news has definitely come”

News was sometimes slow to reach families at home. One Winkfield man was killed in the wars first month, but only in the spring did the sad news reach his family. They also now had to worry about two of his brothers following his example.

Once again I must thank you very cordially and whole-heartedly for your kind and generous “Easter offering” and, as we have no Parish Social this year, let me now take the opportunity of thanking heartily the Wardens, Sidesmen, Sunday School, Teachers, Choir, Bell-ringers, and all other helpers in parish work.

I would refer you to the account of the Easter Vestry meeting for a summary of the Church accounts, and though our balance in hand for Church expenses has, owing to the expenditure of rather large sums on necessary repairs, been largely reduced, yet we still have a satisfactory balance on the right side.

Last year I was able to report an increased amount in the offertories given away, and so it is indeed cheering to know that this year we have eclipsed all records in this respect, and our special offertories for outside purposes have considerably more than doubled those of last year.

This is, of course, largely owing to special offertories for various War funds, and I trust that the lessons of self-denial and self-sacrifice which the war is teaching us will be fully learnt and continue to influence us when we once more enjoy the blessings of peace.

Your sincere Friend and Vicar,


The following names have lately been added:
James Thurmer
Edward Thurmer
Albert Streamer
George Streamer
Lawrence Frederick Webb

Privates George Chaney, Cecil Jenden, Harry Ottaway, and Harry Rixon have just gone to the Front, and we will trust be remembered in our prayers.

We are glad to be able to state that Private John Williams is now much better and, we hope, is well on the road to complete recovery from his dangerous illness.

We much regret to announce that Private Charles Streamer was killed on August 26th. Some months ago it was reported that he had been wounded, but no information as to his whereabouts was forthcoming ; but now the sad news has definitely come of his death in the service of his Country.

Memorial prayers were said for him on Sunday, April 25th, when there were present several members of his family to whom our sympathies go out. His two brothers, George and Albert, have just joined the Royal Berks Regiment.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, May 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/5)

“What with shells over your tent & submarines at sea there’s scarcely a safe place to sit in!”

One of Ralph Glyn’s fellow officers in the Dardanelles sent him a letter so frank in its criticism of policy that he asked Ralph to burn it after reading. Luckily he didn’t.

Marked ‘Burn’ at the top.

You ought to come out here from the [illegible] & have a talk – but on condition you went back.

Lancashire Landing, May 26 [1915]
My dear Glyn

We are having a heavyish shelling from Camp and the sea beyond – the Turks trying to hit the transports, but very little attention is now paid to it, so very little damage having luckily been done. All the same it is decidedly disconcerting! It’s such an absurd position to be in really – the whole of our force from the front trenches back here – a distance of about 1 hour’s walk! – under fire of the enemy’s guns. In France [it would be] an absolutely untenable position.
I was awfully glad to get your letter and I do not mean in mine to write you much detail as to our doings here… I want rather to bring one or two points to your notice that are of greater importance.
You know as much as I do about the inside of the game. You know that the Balkan situation is today not one whit more clarified than it was when you & I last met.

I lay the whole blame on the FO. I think much as there has been in the conduct of this campaign to criticise (not its execution – the troops have done wonders!) – its larger conduct – nothing is more worthy of criticism than the failure of diplomacy to co-operate and so to appreciate the situation as to bring about a state of affairs that would conduce to the facilitating of out Task – not the making it more difficult. Diplomacy has been willing to sacrifice a perfectly attainable success for the sake of “safeguarding interests (unknown) or avoiding complications (unknown) at some unknown time in the future” – the great truth that the primary object of all should be to defeat Germany – (& here Germany through Turkey) – has, it seems to me, been absolutely lost sight of. We were set a task that could only be achieved if diplomacy played its part well & helped us. I need not go into the Greek negotiations. They’re known to you. Their net result is nil. (more…)

A train load of machine guns

Great Western Railway employee William Hallam witnessed the transport of some guns.

26th May 1915
When going back to work at breakfast time saw a train load of machine guns go down towards Bristol.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)

Absolute hell a few miles away

Percy Spencer told sister Florence he was safe, and gave her some information about the supply of newspapers at the front. But the danger was alleviated by some puppies:

May 26, 1915
Dear Florrie

I’m having a rest.

The Brigade Major mentioned the other day that he thought I was the hardest worked fellow on the staff – I suppose because to avoid mistakes I take night messages and often get very little sleep. So to my disgust I’m not in the battle now raging but am remaining behind to carry on with a few ore & Captain Holliday and to rest as much as I can. Really I suppose I’m lucky as it’s absolute hell a few miles away where we are successfully operating though losing a lot of men.

Thank you for your letters and parcel. I’m blessed if I remember if I wrote and thanked you for the parcel with the cake mother made in it, and father’s flowers. It was kind of him to fag about with them.

I expect you are having the same sort of weather as we are – glorious but terribly hot.

Today brought me four letters – yours, one from T.W., another from Sydney and one from Mrs Everest his former landlady]. Dear old lady; I think she’ll be leaving me something in her will if I don’t look out. Anyway you and I seem to have brought a gleam of sunshine into their (hers and Annie’s) secluded lives – and we are all glad of it.

All this morning I spent in the garden idly watching aeroplanes being shelled, or – for a change – two little brown puppies here, playing hide and seek round a small clump of iris. But for this damnable war and all the uncertainty it involves us in, our situation would be enviable.

Have I told you that I get the Advertiser [presumably the Maidenhead Advertiser] every week (thanks very much), and do not require any money as I keep the petty cash.

Generals & people like that get the “Times” through about 7-8 pm the day of issue, but Mrs Hothouse is wrong in stating that the men get anything more than one day old papers. Very often they don’t get that.

I’ve absolutely nothing to tell you except that I keep remarkably well and jolly. Give my love to all at home.

Yours ever

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/4/30)

Cranbourne’s working party is highly spoken of

Women in Cranbourne joined the national effort to make clothing for soldiers and refugees. Gian, Lady Mount Stephen (1864-1933), a lady in waiting to the Queen, was a relative of the Glyns who was married to a wealthy Canadian peer. She grew up in Uffington, and was the daughter of a Naval officer.


The working party, in aid of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild, has now closed for the summer months. It was started last August under the direction of Mrs. Maxwell Williams. She and Miss Maxwell Williams cut out all the garments- no slight task. The cost of the materials was £55 and was given by the Lady Mountstephen, to whom our thanks are given for affording us the opportunity of supplying some of the needs due to the war. About 1100 articles have been forwarded to the Guild Headquarters, which are at St. James’ Palace. There they are dealt with by a large Committee of ladies, who forward the various garments and other work to our soldiers at the front, our hospitals in England, the Maternity homes for the wives of Soldiers, and the needy Belgians.

Mrs. Maxwell Williams will be very pleased to continue meeting in the early Autumn, if it is still needed, and thanks all the members who have worked so hard and attended so regularly. It is gratifying to hear that the work has been much appreciated at the Headquarters of the Guild and highly spoken of.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, May 1916 (D/P151/28A/7/5)

In search of the missing

A friend of Florence Vansittart Neale feared for the safety of her missing son, and made a desperate trip to France.

25 May 1915

Saw Helen and Cis. No more news of Dick [Powell]. Friend gone out in search. Fear perhaps a prisoner!…

Italy come in – declared war on Austria. National Government formed.

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