In the trenches since August 1914

Two young men who had been serving since the very start of the war came to visit their old school while on leave.

May 31st 1916
Two old boys Horace Wicks and Samuel Preece called to see me this week. Both have been in the trenches since Aug. 1914.

Lower Sandhurst School Log Book (C/EL66/1, p. 364)

Awful – but a great victory

Sometimes it was hard to rejoice in a victory due to the numbers of lives lost. The battle of Jutland was one of the most significant naval actions of the war.

31 May 1916
Awful naval battle at Jutland – lost 5000 or more lives. (Really a great victory.)

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

“Gratitude for the share which the Sailors and Soldiers from the Parish are taking in the defence of our Country and our homes”

Winkfield Church was carefully keeping in touch with its men on active service.


Final arrangements were made for the sending to all our men on Service an Easter Card and Booklet with the following words of greeting:

Winkfield, April 16th.

“Dear Brother,

In sending you the enclosed booklet and Easter card of greeting the Church of England Men’s Society in Winkfield wish to express their feeling of gratitude for the share which the Sailors and Soldiers from the Parish are taking in the defence of our Country and our homes. Once again the eyes of all Christians are turned, at this season, to view the two sublime events on which the salvation of the world depends, the Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and we cannot send you a better greeting than to wish for you and for ourselves that we may accept the former as the one thing of real importance to us, and may see in the latter the guarantee of a new and better life after death if we accept His service and trust His promise.”

Yours very truly,

H.M. Maynard, President
F.L. Wilder, Secretary


The following have lately joined His Majesty’s Forces: William Burt, Royal Berks. Regt.; Wilfred Church, Army Service Corps; Fred Fancourt, Grenadier Guards; Tom Simmonds, Royal Berks Regiment.

Pte. George Faithful was wounded rather badly in the head and face and has been some time in hospital but is now nearly convalescent and is expected home shortly.

Pts. George Thurmer had an accident whilst at the Front, but we are glad to learn that he is doing well.

Sergeant James Thurmer is reported as still seriously ill; his wounds were very severe and much anxiety is felt by his relatives who have our sincere sympathy.

We were glad to welcome Signaller Fred Holmes back on leave for a few days, and it was delightful to see him again in his place in the choir on the Sunday before Easter.

Welcome to 2nd Lieut. R. Hayes-Sadler whose wound is now nearly healed and who is having a few weeks convalescent at home.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District magazine, May 1916 (D/P151/28A/5)

We cannot let soldiers’ children suffer

Wokingham churchgoers were reminded that the needs of homeless children were even worse than in peacetime.

Church of England Waifs and Strays Society.

The proceedings in connection with the 35th Anniversary of the Society will commence on the 30th May with a Celebration of Holy Communion in the Crypt Chapel in St. Paul’s Cathedral at 8.45 a.m. in the afternoon an Annual Public Meeting will be held in the Horticultural Hall, Vincent Square, Westminster, at 3 p.m…
It is especially interesting to note the important ‘War Work’ which this Society is doing by taking into its Homes little children, dependents of our Soldiers and Sailors, who have been left homeless or unprotected by reason of the War. We cannot let these children suffer.

A pleasing feature of the Public Meeting at the Horticultural Hall will be the presentation of purses by children to HRH Princess Alexander of Teck. These purses should contain not less than 10/-, and the proceeds will be devoted to the special “War Work” referred to above. There are possibly some parishioners or members of the congregation who might like their children to help the Society in this way. If so, will they kindly write for a purse, which will gladly be supplied on application to the Rev. Prebendary Rudolf, Old Town Hall, Kennington Road, London, SE.

On Service
Edgar Sandford

Alfred Charles Parker

Harry Fisher

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P154C/28A/1)

Too upset to work

A Reading teacher joins up, as a Cookham teacher’s brother is killed in action.

Reading St Giles Boys’ School
29th May-2nd June 1916

Fourth Standard without a teacher owing to the loss of Mr Webster who joined his group for Active Service as from 29 May. Mr Webster was here for 11 years nearly.

Cookham Alwyn Road School
May 29th 1916

Miss Street absent today. She received news this morning of her brother’s death in Egypt and was too much upset to attend to her duties today.

Reading St Giles Boys School log book (R/ES2/9, p. 233); Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1, p. 274)

Pray for wisdom in dealing with the objectors to military service

The Earley parish magazine was to be sent out to men from the parish serving overseas.

The following are extracts from the Bishop’s message in the May Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are asked specially…

For candidates for Holy Orders: for the maintenance of vocation in those who have gone to the war: and an increased supply after the war….
For our army in Mesopotamia.
For guidance for our rulers.
For the maintenance of industrial peace.
For wisdom in dealing with the objectors to military service.
For British and other prisoners of war in German camps.


It has been suggested that some of those now on Active Service would appreciate a copy of the Parish magazine or the quarterly magazine of the C.E.M.S., and the members of the Earley Branch have undertaken to forward a number of copies each month.

If this should come to the notice of anyone living in the parish who has a friend or relation at the Front or with the Fleet likely to be interested in a copy, I should be grateful for his name and full service address.

Wm H Keep
Acting Hon. Secretary
7, Melrose Avenue


The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
Herbert Bacon, Robert Neale, Philip Pocock, Percy Smith, Louis Taylor, Albert Davies, Jesse Chivers, Frank Burchell, Arthur Hosler, Owen Lewington, Walter Copperthwaite, George Smith, Reginald Merry, Tom Bosley, Frank Fowler, Albert Newberry, Sidney Newberry.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

Sick: Renton Dunlop.
Killed in Action: Sidney Marshall.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/5)

Woollen comforts

Basildon schoolgirls were patriotically supporting the troops.

27th May 1916

Girls commenced this week to knit woollen comforts for soldiers.

Basildon CE School Log Book (90/SCH/16/1, p. 417)

To France in June!

Two of our diarists had news. One of Florence Vansittart Neale’s nurse daughters was set to go to France, while Sydney, still in training, was given a special role.

Florence Vansittart Neale
27 May 1916

Wire from Phyllis – to go to France on 10th June!

Sydney Spencer
May 27

Battalion order 521. Lt S Spencer is appointed Gas Officer of the Battalion.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12)

Dominoes for prisoners of war in Switzerland

Cookham-born Will Spencer and his German wife Johanna had settled down in Switzerland. In fact Will was considering naturalising as a Swiss citizen and relinquishing his British citizenship. Switzerland was neutral, but not quite untouched by the war. In particular, it served as a home for wounded prisoners of war from both sides.

26 May 1916

Worked at my description of domino game which I learned from Herrn Senn, which I am writing for Johanna to send to the wounded soldiers at Weesen (to whom she is sending dominoes & halma [a board game].

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

Belgians invited to Bisham

Florence Vansittart Neale invited some refugees to Bisham Abbey.

25 May 1916
To Maidenhead. Called on Belgians, invited them next day.

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

Providing hostels for Girl Munition Workers

Women and girls in Bracknell were supporting the war effort in various ways.


A sum of £26 6s. 5d. has been collected by the Association and Members of the Sunninghill and Warfield Branch of the Girls’ Friendly Society and sent to Headquarters for the provision of hostels for Girl Munition Workers. Of this sum £6 13s. 11d. was collected in Bracknell.


The work at the depot continues with unabated energy. On March 22nd 300 badges, with accompanying certificates, from Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild, of which Bracknell is a Branch, were distributed to all those who, having worked regularly for the Guild for three months, had thus become eligible. A few days later the Secretary received the following letter from the Central Depot, Cavendish Square:-

The Council have much pleasure in informing you that Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to sanction the issue of a Royal Certificate to your Depot, as a Branch of the Central Depot, Surgical Branch of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. Very few of these Royal Certificates are to be granted, and the list of depots was submitted to Her Majesty, who graciously approved of the recommendation of your Depot. The Council are confident that your Depot will appreciate the honour bestowed by Her Majesty.

The granting of this Royal Certificate has given the greatest pleasure to the Committee, as it came as a complete surprise; and they share with our Workers the satisfaction which we all feel at the recognition by Her Majesty of our united efforts.

There are still a number of Workers qualifying for their Badges and Certificates, and the Committee wish to take this opportunity of saying, that as soon as they have worked regularly for three months for the Guild, they are entitled to apply to the Secretary for them.

Chavey Down section of Winkfield District magazine, May 1916 (D/P151/28A/5)

Overstimulated for three years

Apsley Cherry-Garrard had been forced by illness to return home to England from the front. He was now exercised by the financial effects of the war on his income.

May 24 1916
Lamer Park

Dear Farrer

I make out that I am paying taxes on something like £2240 supposed income direct from agricultural land & the buildings here, while I am lucky if two or three hundred (after paying garden wages) sees Hoare’s Bank!

I see that the Times Leader this morning proposes that all men used on such gardens etc should be placed on the land. How about the capital loss to the long suffering estate owner?

I’ve had a lot more sickness etc etc … I had a long talk with the doctor yesterday. He says he does not think there is very much wrong with the actual wall of the intestine now, but that the strain through which it has gone has so overstimulated everything for some 3 years that it will take a long time perhaps to get right….

Yours very sincerely
Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard (D/EHR/Z9/55)

Empire Day celebrated with earnestness

On 24 May 1916 Berkshire schools celebrated Empire Day and used it to encourage pupils’ patriotism – except in Bracknell, where they were stymied by a storm.


We were unable to keep any public celebration of Empire Day at the School. This was partly because in the recent gales our flag staff was blown down and broken. Is there any patriotic person who would come forward and present us with a new one? The flag is an important feature in the celebration of Empire Day, and we really need to be able to fly our flag on suitable occasions. What shall we do on the happy day when Peace is declared if we have no flag staff?


EMPIRE DAY was observed as usual at our Schools. In the presence of the Managers and a few friends the children sang very sweetly a song saluting the flag and the infants gave a very credible patriotic recitation.

The Vicar spoke on briefly on the importance of all – children as well as grown up people – “doing their bit” in the way of sacrifice, if we are to win this war and help write a great and glorious chapter in our History, and he gave each child a leaflet entitled “What you can do for your Country” in which children are reminded that if our Empire is to continue great, it will be through the character and sense of duty of those still at school.

Alwyn Road School, Cookham
May 24th 1916
Empire Day.

The School was opened this morning with prayer as usual, but instead of Hymn, the National Anthem was sung.

The Headmaster then gave an address to the children on “Empire Day” and this was amplified later in the Classrooms by the Class Teachers, who gave addresses on Empire, Our Colonies, The Union Jack, The Army and Navy.

Composition and Transcription Exercises were given bearing on the subjects taught in the lesson.

At 11.20 the children assembled again in the Hall, the National Flag was saluted and Patriotic songs were sung.

At 12 o’clock the school closed for the day.

Warfield CE School
24th May 1916

Empire Day was celebrated today with earnestness after an address on the unity of the allies. Special war prayers form a part of the proceedings the national anthem was sung, the scholars marched and saluted the flag and seemed to realise the act of patriotism and the need of gratitude to god for the unity of the nations, the combined efforts of both soldiers, sailors and workers, and the need for their weekly act of self sacrifice by which we are able to send our boys in the war. A small token on festivals we sent 15/6 to the overseas club for food for our prisoners in Germany.

All Saint’s Infant School, Reading
24th May 1916

The Time Table was not adhered to this morning. The children assembled in the playground, saluted the flag and sang patriotic songs. Many parents came to see them. A half holiday was given in the afternoon.

Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School
24th May 1916

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.

St Michael’s CE Mixed School, Sunninghill
24th May 1916

Empire Day. Empire Lessons given & flags saluted. No holiday, on account of the War.

Crazies Hill CE School, Wargrave

Empire Day was observed as usual by the Day School. The children assembled in Church, at 9.30, and after the service gave a performance of drill in the Recreation ground. They then returned to the School House where patriotic songs were sung and a short address was delivered. The saluting of the Union Jack and distribution of buns concluded the proceedings.

Basildon CE School
24th May 1916

The children bought their pennies for the Over Seas Club which provided tobacco and cigarettes for the troops.

Bracknell and Winkfield sections of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1916 (D/P151/28A/6); Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1, p. 273); Warfield CE School log book (C/EL26/3, p. 343); Reading: All Saints Infant School log book (89/SCH/19/2, p. 208); Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School log book (89/SCH/7/6, p. 178); Sunninghill: St Michael’s CE Mixed School log book (88/SCH/32/3); Wargrave parish magazine, June 1916 (D/P145/28A/31); Basildon CE School log book (90/SCH/16/1, p. 414)

“Such an account of incompetency”

The inquest into the Easter Rising did not show Britain at its best, though Florence Vansittart Neale.

23 May 1916
Irish debate! Such an account [of] incompetency!

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

PoWs “as nice a looking set of Britishers as one would wish to meet anywhere”

It was a relief to hear that men captured by the enemy were in good health.


We have good news of our prisoners. Lance-Corporal Percy Huxford, 8th Royal Berks, and Private Richard Taylor, 1st Royal Berks. The former is at Mannheim, said to be one of the best managed Prisoners’ camps in Germany. His mother has seen a returned prisoner and friend of his, who gave a good account of the camp and of her son, “always ready” (as he said,) “for a bit of fun.”

Private Taylor also seems well. He has sent home a photo of a group of his fellow prisoners, and of a part of the prison buildings. The latter looks a clean, airy place, and the former as nice a looking set of Britishers as one would wish to meet anywhere. Private Taylor himself is included in the group, looks well, and (a cheering detail) has a cigarette in his hand. He is imprisoned at Friedrichsfeld-bei Wesel.

But however bravely they make the best of their wearisome imprisonment, with its attendant hardships, we know how hard it must be to bear, and are glad to feel that the fortnightly parcels sent by subscribers to the above Fund are regularly received, and make them feel that they are not forgotten by their Ascot friends. In each case the parents subscribe a regular amount monthly towards the parcel; the Fund supplementing the rest of the money required.

The parcels are sent through the Agency of the British Prisoners of War Fund of the British Red Cross Society, and we have heard that the official stamp of these parcels seems to ensure their arrival, even when others go astray. Miss La Trobe-Bateman will be most grateful for promises of fresh subscribers if needed in the future; that is to say, if others of our Ascot lads or men are taken prisoners.

Ascot section of Winkfield District magazine, May 1916 (D/P151/28A/5)