The greatness of an Empire depends on the moral greatness of its people

Empire Day was an opportunity for schoolchildren across the county to be instructed in patriotic matters.

Wargave: Empire Day at the Piggott Schools

Empire Day was celebrated at the Piggott Schools, on Friday, May 21st. Although rain fell heavily during the early part of the morning, it fortunately cleared off in time for the children, who numbered over 200, with flags flying, to start for Church where a short service was conducted by the Vicar. He delivered an inspiring address founded on the words “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,” Eccles. ix, 10, pointing out that God’s help is wanted if our daily life is to be successful and prosperous. On returning to the school play-ground the flag was saluted; the National Anthem and several patriotic songs were sung. In the unavoidable absence of Mr. H. C. Bond who had promised to speak to the children, the Vicar kindly addressed them on “Patriotism and the Empire,” Mr. Coleby proposed a vote of thanks to the Vicar and explained why this year’s celebrations was so much different from that of other years. In the first place the War naturally caused a difference, and, secondly by the vote of the children themselves, the proceeds of their concerts last month were given to the Reading War Hospital Care and Comforts Committee.

The following letter had been received from the Secretary:-

“My dear Children,

I write on behalf of my Committee to thank you very much for the lovely gift which I have received from your Headmaster, and which I understand is really your Empire Day “Tea.” I am quite sure that when Empire Day comes, without the Tea, that you will be even more happy than on other Empire Days; because you will remember that by your action, some of our soldiers who have been wounded while fighting for us, are made more cheerful and comfortable. It is fine to be allowed to do one’s bit, isn’t it?

Gifts of this kind are so great an encouragement to those who are working to obtain comfort for our soldiers.

With best wishes for a happy Empire Day.
I remain,
Yours faithfully,
Stanley H. Hodgkin,
Hon. Secretary.”

Cheers for the King concluded the proceedings.

A bag containing a bun and an orange was given to each child as he left the Schools.

Lower Basildon CE School

School closed for celebration of Empire Day. Children came in morning, sang patriotic songs, received a short lecture, and brought pennies as subscriptions towards funds for supplying soldiers at the front with comforts.

Christ Church School, Reading

Whit-Monday being Empire Day, the National Anthem was sung this morning, and the flag saluted, by all the children, many of whom wore the colours. The lessons during the morning were on Empire Day.

All Saints’ Infant School, Reading

The time table was slightly deviated from in the morning – as being Empire Day, the children saluted the flag, sung patriotic songs and had simple lessons given to them on their duty (as future citizens) to their land. The weather being wet, the ceremony took place in school. Several visitors were present. A collection to buy chocolates for the wounded soldiers amounted to 9/-.

Sulhamstead CE School
On May 21st the children sent 7s 6d to the Overseas Club in connection with Earl Meath’s Empire-Day Scheme, for providing comforts for the soldiers in the trenches.

Crazies Hill

Empire Day was observed by us on Friday 21st. At 11 o’clock the School Children all assembled in the Church for a short Service and later were addressed in the School Grounds by Dr. McCrea. We feel most grateful to the Doctor for his very apt and fitting speech, and we rather pride ourselves on having secured him; a few hours later and we would have failed, for he was asked to perform a similar task at Wargrave. I wish, however, that all the children of the Parish could have heard what Dr. McCrea had to tell us about Empires in general, and our own great Empire in particular, and to have learnt from him the lesson which was so simply and yet so masterly put, that the greatness of any Empire depends upon the moral greatness of the people who constitute it. Three School Managers were present, and when the Dr. asked for a special holiday for the children they granted it.

Abingdon CE Girls’ School
Empire Day was kept on Friday, the breaking up day. Lessons on the Empire were given, Patriotic songs were sung, and an Appeal from Lord Meath to British boys and girls was read. The National Anthem was sung before closing school for the Whitsun Holidays.

Earley CE School
This morning at 10.30 ordinary lessons were omitted, and a lesson on Empire Day was given to each class. Afterwards an adjournment was made to the playground, where the Union Jack was raised amid cheers by Colonel Weldon. Short speeches were the made by various gentlemen, patriotic songs were sung by the whole school, & the proceedings closed with the singing by the whole assembly of the National Anthem.

No school was held in the afternoon.

A collection on behalf of the Overseas Club War Fund realised 17s.

Winkfield CE Schools
ON EMPIRE DAY the Schools were closed for the Whitsuntide holidays, but on the Thursday following the children were assembled for the ceremony of saluting the flag.

After a few patriotic songs had been sung the Vicar gave an address on Empire, pointing out how splendidly our Colonies and Dependencies had rallied to the help of the Motherland in this tremendous struggle for her existence; he tried to make clear what the British Flag stood for, and the ideals of justice, honour, freedom, and good governance, for which so many thousands of the flower of our Empire were willingly facing danger, enduring cruel suffering and laying down their lives; and he appealed to the children to try and live worthy of their country, and to fulfil the duty of self-sacrifice imposed on us all in this crisis of our country’s history. One way which they could exercise self-denial and help our brave soldiers at the front, was by joining in the “copper collection” for the Children’s Hut Fund, organised by the Y.M.C.A., by which it is hoped that a few more recreation huts may be provided for the Expeditionary Force on the Continent.

The children then went outside and in the presence of most of the School Managers and several other friends saluted the flag and sang the National Anthem, and Miss Thackrah kindly presented each child with a bun at the close of the proceedings.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P145/28A/31); Lower Basildon CE School Log Book (C/EL7/2); Reading Christ Church CE Infants School log book (89/SCH/7/6); Reading All Saints Infant School log book (89/SCH/19/2); Sulhamstead parish magazine, July 1915 (D/EX725/3); Crazies Hill section of Wargrave parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P145/28A/31); Abingdon CE Girls’ School log book (C/EL2/2, p. 93); Earley CE School log book (SCH36/8/3); Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1915 (D/P151/28A/17/6)

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