The French Intelligence is the same as ours, and can be relied on

Another friend of Ralph Glyn’s helped with his Intelligence work.

Salonica
30/4/16

My dear Glyn

Yours of 22nd I have passed enclosure on to “I” here, with your request about it.

Re your second question – they think the Alpine Corps has left. The 2 German Divisions remain. Your allusion to “French GS” is not understood, as they say that the reports from AHQ & the French GS do not materially differ, and that you can safely base your information on the AHQ Intelligence Summaries. Hope you are fit and finding something to do.

Yours ever
[E Glynell??? – semi-legible signature]

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/32)

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“Oh! dear – Has God forsaken us?”

It was definitely bad news as the Easter Rising still raged close to home, and the British were forced to surrender the town of Kut in Mesopotamia (Iraq) to the Turks.

30 April 1916

Heard fall of Kut! General Townshend [Q. over?] British born Indians – Oh! dear – Has God forsaken us?

In Dublin, fighting going on still.

Kut! We destroyed all guns & ammunition.

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

Hostages in Ireland

The Easter Rising continued to horrify Florence Vansittart Neale:

29 April 1916

Fighting in Ireland going on…

Heard 40 officers taken by rebels as hostages! 700 casualties.

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

15 women placed on farms in Berkshire

The numbers of men who had joined the armed forces created vacancies it was hard to fill in schools and on farms. Vocational training for schoolchildren was almost wiped out. Meanwhile Reading University was at the forefront of training women to take the pace of absent men on local farms.

Report of Education Committee, 29 April 1916

CADET TRAINING

The Chairman has attended a meeting called by the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House on 19 April for the purpose of considering a Scheme for systematic naval and military training of boys on voluntary lines.

On the suggestion of the Chairman, a small Sub-committee has been appointed to go into the matter and report to the Committee thereon and on any suggestions made by the Lord Mayor.

The Sub-committee appointed are as follows:
The Chairman of the Committee
The Vice-Chairman
The Principal of the Reading University College
with power to add to their number.

Higher Education Sub-committee report, 29 April 1916

PUPIL TEACHERS

H Humphries, a Pupil Teacher at the Roysse’s School, Abingdon, has enlisted although not yet 18 years of age, and the Sub-committee are in communication with the parent as to the payment of the fine under the terms of his agreement.

School Management Sub-committee report, 29 April 1916

TEACHING STAFF

The Sub-committee have decided that all members of the teaching staff on Military Service, including those enlisting after 6 November, shall be retained on the nominal teaching staff of their respective schools during the period of the war…

AMALGAMATION OF SCHOOLS DURING THE PERIOD OF THE WAR

The Managers of Earley Schools have agreed to amalgamate their Infants’ Department with the Mixed School for he period of the war; and this was carried into effect on 1 April.

SPECIAL SUBJECTS

The Sub-committee have decided not to take steps to fill vacancies caused by the enlistment of manual instructors. The following Centres are now closed: Bourton, Faringdon, Hungerford, Crowthorne, and Wokingham. Those at Abingdon, Wallingford and Didcot will be closed when the Instructor is called up.

The Sub-committee have approved a class in gardening at Wokingham St Sebastian’s School. The proposed class at Holyport has been postponed owing to the depletion of the staff through enlistment.

Report of Agricultural Instruction Committee, 29 April 1916

TRAINING OF WOMEN

The Berkshire Committee on Women and Farm Labour, to whom a grant has been made in aid of the training of women for farm work, has submitted a report for the quarter ended 31 March, 1916. The financial statement which accompanies the report shows that there is a balance in hand of £9.13s.0d out of the grant of £50 already made by the Council.

The Committee have, up to the present, placed 15 women on farms in Berkshire. Of this number, 8 were trained at the Reading College farm, and 3 received their instruction from the farmers by whom they are now employed. Four other women, whose services are already bespoken, are receiving instruction from farmers and will shortly be ready to commence work.

Reports of and to Berkshire Education Committee (C/CL/C1/1/19)

Dublin fighting still going on

The Easter Rising was still shocking England as much as the ongoing war with Germany.

28 April 1916

Dublin still going on. PO got out of rebels’ hands (good).

Battleship sunk in Med: mine. Sydney Fremantle’s flagship. 156 drowned!

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

“In the event of an invasion”

We last heard from Apsley Cherry-Garrard in 1914. Now in 1916 he was back home at Lamer again, unwell, his health having broken down under the stress of the war. He wrote to his lawyer on 28 April on financial matter, including a reference to a friend’s role in home defences.

Lamer Park Wheathampstead
Herts

Dear Farrer

R Smith has just finished drilling at Arundel & has been told off to 3rd line trenches in the event of invasion.

Yours very sincerely
Apsley Cherry-Garrard

April 28 [1916]

Letters from Apsley Cherry-Garrard (D/EHR/Z9/47)

Missionaries told ‘not a hair on your head shall be injured!’

The impact of the war in the Middle East was explained to Reading people when a missionary sponsored by St John’s Church wrote home with details. The city he calls Yezd is usually known as Yazd.

NEWS OF ‘OUR OWN MISSIONARY’

Following upon the occupation of Ispahan [now Isfahan], the old capital of Persia, by the Russian forces on March 12th the British Minister at Teheran has consented to the return of C.M.S.

Missionaries to the city. Dr. Emmeline Stuart and Miss J. Biggs have proceeded thither from India and Dr. D.W. Carr, the Acting Secretary of the Mission, is on his way there from England. A telegram from Teheran on April 28th stated that the staff of the Society from Yezd, who had retired within the Russian sphere of influence, would be leaving for their station on May 2nd. Dr. White wrote from Teheran on March 9th:

That the people of Yezd need us very badly and are prepared to give us a great welcome we have heard from various sources. Only last week, among numerous letters from Yezd was one from a large landowner, in which he said how very badly the people needed their hospital and doctor. He went on to say, ‘If you will only come back I will guarantee your safety; in fact, not a hair on your head shall be injured!’ Another Yezd grandee who has been living in Teheran and has just been appointed to a high office in Yezd came to see me before he left and pressed me to go back with him, and said, ‘As soon as I arrive in Yezd I shall begin an agitation to bring you all back again.’

Reading St. John parish magazine, June 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Work parties for wounded soldiers

Burghfeld parishioners were keen to help out wounded soldiers:

HOLIDAY HOUSE
Work parties for both carpentry and needlework in aid of the Wounded Soldiers are being held every Tuesday evening at Holiday House from 7 til 9 pm. Materials are provided, and all who can are asked to help.

Burghfield parish magazine, April 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Martial law in Ireland

The shock of the Easter Rising continued to reverberate in England.

27 April 1916

Martial law in Ireland. Sir J[ohn] Maxwell sent over. Birrell also gone!

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

A window to keep alive for ever the memory of their gallant service

The tragedy of two brothers killed within a week of one another in the first few months of the war led to a beautiful stained glass window at Holy Trinity Bracknell.

The Church has been beautified by the erection of a new window which has been given by Mrs. Van Neck in memory of her two sons who have fallen in the war.

Under one window there is the following inscription: “To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Philip Van Neck, Lieut. Grenadier Guards, who fell in action at Kriessk, Belgium, on 26th October, 1914, aged 27”, and under the other, “To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Charles Hylton Van Neck, Lieut. Northumberland Fusiliers, who fell in action at Herlies, France, on 20th October, 1914, aged 21.”

It will be seen that these two young officers were both killed in the same week; they were well known to us in Bracknell when they were boys, and we greatly appreciate the honour of having this window in our Church to keep alive for ever the memory of their gallant service.

The collection of eggs for the wounded is going on apace. Last week 12 dozen were sent, more than half of which were brought by the scholars of the Ranelagh School. A few came from Bullbrook School and the rest from various contributors. Now that the eggs are plentiful, we hope to keep up a good supply. Anyone who wishes to contribute an egg or more will remember that they should be sent to Miss Avice Barnett at the Vicarage by 12 o’clock on Monday, or to Mr. May, Corn Dealer, High Street. They are sent to the National Egg Collection for the wounded (Reading Branch). We have to thank Mr. Barnard for conveying them to Reading free of charge.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, April 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/4)

Wedding guests criticise Irish politician

Augustine Birrell, Chief Secretary for Ireland, came in for much criticism during the crisis which followed the Easter Rising.

26 April 1916

To Harry Horsford’s wedding. All abusing Birrell. Hope he will retire.

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

The war will bring about theocracy

Lady Mary Glyn wrote a long letter to Ralph. She had strong, if eccentric, views about politics, and was almost as shocked by Australian soldiers’ democratic nature as she was by the Easter Rising.

April 26 1916
Peter[borough]

My darling own blessed Scraps

Easter Day makes me long for you, but all days make me long for you….

I distinguished myself at Windsor by getting bad with indigestion, but it was good to be with John & Maysie, & see them so happy in another Windsor spell of work, and yet being together. He heard when we were there that another operation will not be necessary, but as his Medical Board gave him 3 months they have taken a very good house, “Essex Lodge”, the present house being required by the owner, and this is a much better one with a garden & tennis ground. John is of course very busy, and up early, & at work till late. He looks well, and is in good spirits, evidently liking his work. We saw Cecily Hardy & her Giant, and Tony & Sylvia, & a new Coldstream acquisition – a very Highland McGregor who till lately was engineering in India – quite a new type in the Brigade!

The Political Crisis made those days full of excitement, but none of these soldier people seemed to care, or to look at the papers, and were sure the King would come whatever happened. And he did, but the Crisis was supposed to be over, and the Cabinet once more firmly (?) in the saddle of Compromise. Now the Secret Session, and the result whatever it may be of that settlement is to be made known to so many talkers & plotters and schemers that it will be impossible for all the cats to be in the bag long. Meantime there is a shaken confidence, a longing for a leader other than we have, for this strange growth of freedom to know its limitation, and to recognise its own dependence on laws not made by man, but inflexible because “just and true”, and belonging to the Kingdom that will endure throughout all ages. When we really will, that will come, and its obedience, and we shall learn what freedom is. It does not lie with Democracy, or in Kaiser rule, or in a Republic, but it does in a Theocracy – and my belief is that it is to be restored through this War and “tumult of the nations”….

France is surely ahead of us in the spirit of a new vision, & Russia is invincible because of that vision long accepted – and we wait for it, and you all are bringing it nearer.

(more…)

“Wireless telegraphy has been tremendously developed for intelligence” and is invaluable

Ralph Glyn’s Intelligence colleague Charles French wrote to him in Cairo.

Private
WO

25.IV.16

My dear Glyn

I was very glad to get letters from both you & Perkins by last mail. The organisation of the I branch in Egypt is now becoming quite clear to me, thanks to you two, & the knowledge will be an immense help to all of us.

Judging by your telegrams you seem to be having quite a busy time on the eastern frontier & apparently you are killing a number of Turks which is satisfactory. I am afraid this enemy activity may rather upset your plans of getting to France or home; but personally I find that one gets aaccustomed to sticking in the one place – Perhaps it is unenterprising – But on the other hand the scope of my activities have grown unceasingly ever since I came to the WO. You wouldn’t know many of my section now but I think you’d find it improved. It has been a great advantage breaking up the MO Directorate into MO [Military Operations] & MI [Military Intelligence].

I suppose you’ve met Lefroy – a most scientific bird who may be very useful. You might tell Holdick that here in England W/T [wireless telegraphy] has been tremendously developed for intelligence in every direction – We have a special section under Simpson, who is under me which is doing nothing but W/T and it is perfectly invaluable.

Much of the credit is due to you.

Yours ever
C French

Letter from Charles French to Ralph (D/EGL/C32/31)

Sinn Fein in Dublin

Florence Vansittart Neale was glued to news reports of the Easter Rising in Ireland as well as war news. She was actually wrong, as Sinn Fein played no role in the Easter Rising.

25 April 1916

Evening papers full of interest Dublin rising “Sinn Feins”. P.O. seized…

Also bomb of Lowestoft & German ships came out.

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

Nothing but wire between us and the enemy

Percy Spencer described the part of France he was based in to his sister Florence – and the musical backdrop of nightingales and mouth organs (harmonicas), not far from the hellish mud of the trenches.

Apl 25, 1916
My darling sister

[Censored, probably by Florence]

It’s the most lovely day that ever was. I’ve strolled out of our chateau straight up into a scrubby copse at the top of a very steep hill and here I am lying on quaker oats, eggs and bacon, writing to you and listening to a nightingale. He’s not quite in full song but for wartime he’s very good indeed and I’m grateful.

Already the sun was getting too hot so I have shifted into the breeze and an even wider view. This is a lovely corner of France. Everything is beautiful and only man is vile – that’s because the women left the corn during a very “unhealthy” period. But that’s not quite true for the lady owner has motored up from the south for a couple of days to settle a few business matters and she’s rather nice. Garwood says she’s “a decent bit of stuff” so taking the acme of perfection in womanhood as being “a posh bit” (Major Trevor’s wife reached that standard), you’ll be able to arrive at this lady’s position.

There’s a mouth organ playing in the valley beneath me, and being played remarkably well – “despise not the mouth organ”. As I think I have already told you, Ian Hay has my hearty endorsement to that remark. Many months ago I remember being largely amused at one of our boys’ letters home – “One thing I’ve been longing to ask you for, but I know how things are at home, and don’t like to bother you, but now Sis has got a job could you send me a mouth organ, a 1/- linnet is the best, but I expect they’re more expensive now owing to the war”. But after April 1915 when one mouth organ played a dozen or so of our weary fellows in from their 3 days cellar and shell experience, I made up my mind that the mouth organ was a noble instrument.

I told you, I think, I went round the line the other day. To complete my experience I went round the remaining portion by night with the General, that being the only time it can be approached with any degree of security.

It was an eerie experience and a fearfully wet one, the ground being as torn and riven with shell fire that it seems to slide away under your feet, and in the trenches, mud and water – water up to your thigh if you were unlucky, and mud that wrestled with you at each step for possession of your gum boots.

We went right out into the open (it’s a curious line about here) and with nothing between us and the Huns 100 yards away but a couple of frail curtains of wire – ours and theirs. Here the officers stood for a little while discussing points. I stood anxiously watching the enemy lights soaring into the sky towards us like evil eyes searching for victims to disclose to the German rifles, and behind me crouched an orderly also frightened to death at his exposed position murmured thro’ his chattering teeth, “C- this is all right”.

Well, we landed home safe and sound at 2.30 a.m. By 3.30 a.m. I’d scraped half of France off my clothes and turned in for an hour; turned in again then for another 2 hours when I got up for good, scraped the other half of France off my togs and “carried on”.
About my commission. There was a strong suggestion that being a sergeant I should probably only get six weeks training out here and then be chucked into some line regiment. That’s not good enough and unless I can see my way to getting a reasonable period of training that would enable me to take command of a platoon with confidence and also give me an opportunity of showing my administrative abilities, I’m not going to proceed any further.

Well. Time’s up.

On the right there’s a dear old chateau, dating back to William I’s time, with many grey limestone towers. To the left stretch the everlasting hills clothed with the wooded promise of summer. Overhead a couple of aeroplanes are humming and Hunning and right at my feet in the hollow stands “my chateau” and there I go – to work.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/5/8-14)