A rough and dangerous voyage from India

The Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist defied the dangers of war to travel back and forth to India.

29 February 1916 [Leap Year]

A telephone message was received announcing that the Kaisar-i-Hind had reached the Docks [bringing a Sister home from India]. Sister Beatrice Mary arrived at Clewer in the evening. She had had a rough and dangerous voyage owing to possibility of meeting sub-marines & mines. In the Channel the ship just swept along preceded by mine-sweepers, and followed by a number of small boats anxious to share in the safety thus afforded.

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

How will they make Hell big enough?

Meg Meade wrote encouragingly to her brother Ralph Glyn, who had been depressed, and wistfully remembered a happier visit to Egypt as a tourist before the war.

February 29th [1916]

My darling Ralph

You must not even ‘sometimes’ get very low. I suppose, though, that everyone, no matter where he is occupied with this war, has his very low moments, & it’s the test of how much grit one possesses to keep the feeling under. But when you feel it coming, say this to yourself:

“I humbly thank Heaven
I am not in the Cameroons

I humbly thank Heaven
I am not patrolling the Arctic Circle in snowstorms

I humbly thank Heaven
I am not the wife of a British Baltic Submarine Commander

I humbly thank Heaven
I am not up to my waist in frozen trench water all day”

And then see what a lucky person you are to be having good work under the lovely Egyptian skies. It seems another existence in which I spent those happy days this time of year going up the Nile 5 years ago. But I suppose this war must someday come to an end; meantime, it gets beastlier every day, & I think the only way to get on is to make up one’s mind it will continue for another 2 years. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick….

I get good news from Jim who seems always head over ears in work. Training a flotilla in wartime isn’t so easy as under peace conditions….

The more I think about the war the more wonder I have of how they’ll ever make H-ll large enough to contain the inhabitants of the Fatherland!

My best, very best love, darling
From your ever ever loving

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

Throwing darts at the Kaiser

A number of entertaining evenings were held for wounded soldiers in Earley. One suspects that throwing darts at the Kaiser’s anatomy was a particular favourite.


I regret the delay in publishing this report, which has been unavoidable. Since my last, and up to the time of writing, five more Entertainments have been given: on each occasion about 50 guests have been invited, including 25 on one occasion from the Canadian Contingent at Bearwood. With the exception of the special event on the 29th December, the proceedings have been similar to those already described.

Contributors to the funds have given further help and attended willingly to assist, and there has been no lack of musical and other talent in providing amusement for our guests, amongst them being several members of the ASC stationed at Earley, Miss Marjorie Francis, Miss Elsie Francis, Mrs Dracup, Mrs Hart and Mrs Dowsett, Miss Elsie Smith (who has been of great help at the piano), Mr Tunbridge, Mr H Walker, Mr Tom Morley, Mr Edwin Love with his party, the Misses Francis and Hayward, and Mr Maurice Love, in “Mixed Pickles” and “Bridget’s Blunders”, have greatly assisted in completing the success of each event.

The introduction of a further original game by Mr Love in substitution for pinning the tail on the donkey has been a nearly lifesize picture on a board of the Kaiser, numbered in the vital parts for darts to be thrown at, and which has excited keen competition.

The loan of motor cars by Mrs Joel, Mr Barnard, Mr Ricard Lea, Mr Helps, Mr Heelas, Mr A C Jordan, Mr Bonnett, Mrs Dunlop, Mrs Evans and Lieut. Usmar (who with his wife we are sorry to lose from the district as they took such a great interest in our work) has been a real boon, as without this help our expenses in hire of conveyances would have been very considerable.

A further list of donors and of gifts in kind will appear in due course. The present position of the fund is

Cash received to date £41.9.5

And paid out (exclusive of the last Entertainment and Account for Hire of Cars) £27.6.10.

The committee will gladly welcome any further help in cash, loan of motors or gifts in kind so as to continue these Entertainments.

Chas J. Howlett
Hon. Treasurer

Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)

Gruesome news

Lady Mary Glyn reported the latest war news to her son Ralph in Egypt. SS Maloja was a civilian liner carrying women and children as well as some army personnel when she was sunk by the Germans. Many of the sailors were Indians.

Feb 28th [1916]

Today brings the news of the mining of the Channel and the horror of the great P&O Maloja & the rescuing ship. So gruesome, within two miles of safety – if land is safe on any coast! till we find that welcome for the Hun aircraft which today a letter speaks of as preparing for them. The Verdun news from France is different from Verdun news from Berlin, and certainly they are colossal in their untruth and unscrupulousness of “method” however diabolical.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

No half time: kill or be killed

Sydney Spencer summarised the lessons he had gained from his army training. This was the last entry in Sydney’s diary, although we will still be hearing from him in his letters after he went overseas.

28 February 1916
Captain Shaft

Physical Training

Fitness by training. Bayonet not obsolete as many people think.

Physical training has been worked out for 100 years.

During retreat from Mons, new recruits going by in a train saw an old wounded soldier, & called out “Are we down hearted” & they answered “No”, but he called out “Then you will – well soon be”.

Physical Training massages the inside orders.

Physical Training trains the brains.

Men whose insides are all twisted up get straightened out. Such exercise requires mental as well as physical force.


We have a great advantage over the Germans. We fight more extended than any other nation. In other words he is so to speak alone & must “carry on”. Not so with Germans. The German lacks the resource & initiative. The German is gone when it comes to close quarters.

Our fighting spirit must be controlled & skilled.

Direction of Bayonet.

In bayonet fighting “No half time”. One goes out to kill or be killed.

No “orders” should be given in bayonet fighting practice after actions are once learned. All to be done by signs & prodding at your man.

Company Training

All men, if possible, should be put on in company training & men should be trained in his own company.

Keep a Company Diary, & a Record of each day’s work, & sketches, plans, messages & remarks of his own or visiting officers’ work.

Keep a note of capabilities of your men, NCOs & officers.

Diary kept as a confidential document or as a company book. These diaries should be kept till the next “Company Training”.

Training of NCOs.

6 days to NCO & chosen Privates.

1. Map Reading.
2. Outposts, Flank, Advanced, Rear Gun.
3. Duties of Patrols.
4. Writing reports.

Fire direction.
Indication of targets.
Instruction by lectures & practical work. Frequent questionings.
Reforming after an assault. A lot of practice & arrangement required.

Lectures should be given every day if possible on the next day’s work.

Lectures include Regimental Records, Cleanliness & Morality. 1st Aid, Observers.

Every company commander, & every platoon commander, should have an observer.

How to load pack animals.
How to make knots.

Men should be reminded of faults such as slowness. Taking cover clumsily.

The new importance of night marching. Aircraft. “Disappearing Drill”. Company commander makes programme. Hang it in Orderly Room.
Tactical scheme to be carried out. CC should go out beforehand & see ground over which work is to be done.

He should be commander & umpire always, not umpire sometimes and commander at another time. After each operation hold a pow-wow.

Platoon & section commanders should see that men do work in right way or they won’t do it in actual warfare.

“Habit” to be aimed at in loading etc.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/14)

“Awful bad luck”

Two of Ralph Glyn’s friends wrote to him.

HMS Caroline

27th Feb 1916

My dear Ralph

Being a d-d nuisance Sir told Drummond to send you out some papers to sign, sorry to worry you with them, but it’s in a good cause, as they are all about the transference of Foreign Bonds (mostly Americans) to War Loan, and every little helps. We are all very cheery just at present, as we’ve just had 5 days leave, the first we’ve had for 8 months, and it’s made a lot of difference and bucked us up no-end. Evelyn is most flourishing, & so are the children, though the latter I’ve not seen for some time, as went to London for my leave. I hear you are very busy, didn’t see any of your relations, but Lady George [Sybil] & Joan, & they told us about you. It was sad for her Ivar having been killed, awful bad luck. This is written under difficulties, as we are rowing about, & have had to wedge myself in, but I’ve so little time just at present for writing; after leave & a refit there is always a lot to do.

Good luck to you.

Yours ever
Rupert Drummond

Did you hear the Germans published that they had sunk us by Zeps: can’t imagine why we were selected.

18, Queen’s Gate Place

Feb. 27, 1916

My dear Glyn

Very many thanks for your kind congratulations.

I see that you are on the GHQ of the Mediterranean Force, & perhaps we shall see you at Ismailia when we pass through. Our plans are to go to Cairo from Port Said, then by special train to Ismailia, & so by motor boat to rejoin our ship at Suez.

It will be a fleeting visit – but sometimes one is able to have a view of friends when they know one is coming. Do look out for us.

Sincerely yours

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/12-13)

“It is right to relieve the tradesmen and cottagers from the further burden of supporting the Refugees”

The generous people of Ascot were to cut down on their support of Belgian refugees.


For the last 15 months the tradesmen and cottagers have most generously supported a Belgian Refugee Family at Easton Villa, Kennel Ride. The numbers have varied from two to ten, and in all we have had twelve members of one family. Some have now returned to their own country, and some have gone to work in London or elsewhere – so that at present there are one man and his wife and their small nephew to claim our hospitality.

The large sum of nearly £100 has been raised by weekly subscriptions, varying from one penny to one shilling: and it is thought that as prices are rising, and the Government is asking for all our savings, it is right to relieve the tradesmen and cottagers from the further burden of supporting the Refugees. All District Visitors are therefore asked not to collect in their Districts: but small contributions will still be gratefully accepted.

Signed,- E.M.Elliot, A. Andrews, L. Hullcoop, W.J. Bishop, A. Lissman, H. Woods.

November, 1914, to December, 1915 … £98 6 1

November, 1914, to December, 1915-
Rent … … … … £21 0 0
Coals… … … … 6 6 0
Money given … … … 61 0 0
£98 6 0

Ascot section of the Winkfield District Magazine, February 1916 D/P151/28A/8/2

This horrible war

Ralph Glyn’s sister Meg Meade (staying for a weekend with friends) wrote to him again anticipating his birthday.

Feb 27th [1916]
Fonthill House

My darling Ralph

Many many many happy & happier returns of 3rd. I do wonder where you will be on your birthday, but let’s hope that next year we may be able to celebrate it with becoming distinction, and that this horrible war will be over and done with…

Now & then in the papers we get a thrill by seeing that “Colonel Glynn” has arrived at various places with Sir Arthur, & of course everyone is teasing me about your sudden rise of rank! But I tell them that’s nothing to what will happen to you by the end of the war! You must have been having the greatest fun in the world, & a most thrilling time. I hope you’ll not have forgotten how to speak English by the time you come home though!

Maysie & John came to tea the other night. He had a return of his illness – very slight – but still the Med: Board won’t pass him for another month….

Your ever loving Meg

Their mother Lady Mary also wrote with war and family news:

Sunday Feb. 27, 1916 Peter[borough]

My own best darling blessing

Verdun and its outer fort has been the news of the war which made our other news yesterday so much the less sad, for dear old Uncle Sid died peacefully that morning (the 26th)…

Maysie got into her Windsor house yesterday – Elgin Lodge…

I hear today Aunt Syb has heard from Ivar’s Colonel and from the Chaplain, saying all they can to comfort as to not much suffering, [but?] one would not be able to believe much in that agony of far off-ness, and yet I know she has been much helped by knowing he died in hospital…

Lady Wantage has sent me 10£ for my Work Room and this is a great help.

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2-3)

A good report

Wargrave parishioners donated a flag for the church, while some soldiers came home on leave.

Gifts to the Church

Two Flags have been presented to the Church by the kindness of an anonymous donor: The Union Jack for all National Festivities, and St. George’s Cross for Church Festivals… We record these presents with our most grateful thanks.

The Pigott School Penny Bank – 1915

DR £ s. d.

To Balance from 1914 12 7 8
Deposits 1915 91 3 5
Bonus from Parochial Funds 1 1 10

Total £104 12 11

CR £ s. d.

By Amount paid into P.O.S.B. 14 2 0
Amount withdrawn 73 4 1
Balance in hand 17 6 10

Total £104 12 11

Number of Depositors – 80
H. Coleby, Treasurer

Notwithstanding 1915 being a year of War, the School’s Penny Bank flourished. The amounts paid into the P.O.S.B. were not so large as in former years, but the amount withdrawn was greatly in advance of that of 1914. More than one parent has expressed gratification at having a nice little sum to fall back upon when it was urgently needed.

Hare Hatch Notes

We were pleased to welcome home on leave from the front the following Walter Rixon, Orlando Hussey, Gladstone Sharp, William Arnold; each of them was able to give a good report.

Wargrave parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Sent home wounded

There was news of some of the men who had gone from Park Congregational Church in east Reading.

From the Front

We were all very delighted to have Jack Newy back again with us for a few days at the beginning of the year. He was home on leave from France, and now is out there again.

Since then Horace Pettengell has been sent home wounded. We hope to see him in Reading before long, but at present he is in hospital at Exeter.

Park Church section of Trinity Congregational Church magazine, February 1916 (D/EX1237/1/11)

Basildon Congregational Church’s Roll of Honour

Three members of the little Congregational Chapel in Basildon had joined up. One was killed.

Our Village Churches


Pte B Harding, 035009, ASC, Mechanical Transport
Corporal W J Harding, 2391, 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade (killed)
William Adnams, 19502, 9th Battalion Royal Berks

Basildon Church section of Trinity Congregational Church magazine, February 1916 (D/EX1237/1/11)

10 days leave over

Elizabeth “Bubbles” Vansittart Neale had spent a break from her nursing duties at home in Bisham.

25 February 1916
Bubs [Bubbles] agitating departure back to hospital – her 10 days leave over…. Only just caught train at Maidenhead.

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

A small opportunity of making a sacrifice necessitated by the time of war!

Bracknell Church fitted pricy curtains to comply with the new blackout rules. You may remember local teacher Mr Penwill joining up last September, and it seems he had been posted to India.

Owing to the necessity for darkening the windows of the Church, curtains have been placed over the windows. As this will involve considerable expense, the Churchwarden, Mr. Western, will gladly receive any contributions which any parishioner may wish to make. Here is a small opportunity of making a sacrifice necessitated by the time of war!


A letter has recently been received from Mr. Penwill, our Assistant Master, who is now serving with the Devon Territorials in India. Mr. Penwill has been made into a Lance-Corporal, and writes cheerfully and full of interest about what he has seen in India.

Bracknell section of the Winkfield District Magazine, February 1916 D/P151/28A/8/2

Fighting all along the line

Florence Vansittart Neale was still absorbed in the war news.

24 February 1916
Fighting still going on all along line. Crown P. Army to get to Paris!!

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

Salonika: a splendid place for a rest cure

The books-for-the-troops scheme Ralph Glyn had sponsored was going very well, and there was plenty of money in hand.

55 West Regent Street
24 Feby 1916

Dear Captain Glyn

I am so very glad to have your letter & to note your cheerfulness as to our only interest, the war. I share it, though with me it is more a matter of faith than of information. As it happens, I got your note the morning of a meeting of the ‘Unionist Council’. It was of course purely formal, everyone being re-elected to everything for another year. That having been done, Donald McKay demanded ‘Does anyone know anything about Mr Glyn?’ So McDonald who in the Colonel’s absence was in the chair asked me to read your letter, which I did & I was asked to send you the good wishes of the Company & their hopes for your continued good luck & success.

In regard to the books &c we are continuing to send them, tho’ of course they go now to Salonica or Egypt – I have a young cousin in the A&SH [Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders] who is at Salonica now & writes that it is a splendid place & that he is having a ‘rest cure’ there. Probably the rest won’t last very long.

Down to this time we have despatched rather more than 50 bales of about 50 lbs each. An appeal was made for money at the same time as that for the books &c. Dugald Clark who acts as Treasurer is worried about this. He has between £50 and £60 on hand. The expense of sending the bales to the QAFFF is trifling. We would like to know whether you have any ideas as to how the balance should be expended. We are of course not getting in any more money & we are always spending something; but it would require a very long time – much longer than I think the war will last – to exhaust the money. If you can spare time for a few lines, I shall be glad to know what you think about this. The people who gave the money will imagine it is already spent & won’t of course want any of it back; but it should I think be spent on some purpose connected with the war.

Yours very truly
G A D Kirkland

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/10)