Bad news from France

Two Reading teachers had time off due to loved ones at the front.

Katesgove Girls’ School, Reading
1916, Nov 30

Miss Davey absent, by permission, on the occasion of her brother’s leave of absence from France (Nov 30-Dec 4)

Alfred Sutton Primary School, Reading
30th November 1916
Miss D Smith left at three o’clock in the afternoon as she received bad news from France. She will take a few days leave of absence.

Ascot Heath Girls’ School
30th November 1916

The afternoon session commenced at 12:55pm instead of 1:30pm in order that the girls might attend a children’s service in connection with the national mission at 3:30pm.

Ascot Heath Girls School Log Book (C/EL109/2, p. 264); Katesgrove Girls School log book (SCH/6/8/2, p. 422); Alfred Sutton Primary School log book (89/SCH/37/1, p. 238)

Killed instantly

The Vansittart Neales heard more details of the death of their friend, tenant and neighbour Septimus Kelly.

29 November 1916
Heard dear Sep killed instantly.

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

We do not forget

The Bishop congratulated the Revd T Guy Rogers, the Reading vicar turned army chaplain, on being awarded a medal for bravery.


The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the November Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are asked especially
For the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For our allies and especially for Roumania [sic].
For the National Mission…

Your thanksgivings are asked…
For the liberation of the Missionaries in German East Africa.


I most heartily trust that neither in town parishes nor in country parishes will the evening service on Sundays be abandoned without a very strong effort to carry it on under conditions of lighting which the police can sanction…


I wish to call attention again to the ruling under which I act, given by my Chancellor… to the effect that a person’s normal home where he or she is known may be reckoned as place of residence, though the person in question is at the moment absent whether on military service or for some other purpose.

We are all delighted to know that Mr Guy Rogers has been given the Military Cross. We do not forget him.


I have received a letter from the Director General of Voluntary Organisations expressing great anxiety as to the sufficient supply of comforts for the troops, such as mittens, mufflers, helmets and socks, especially the three first. I am asked to ‘secure the co-operation of the clergy’ in my dioceses to make the anxiety known. The following are depots of the V.O.A. in this diocese…

Berkshire: W. C. Blandy, esq, 1 Friar Street, Reading…
Reading: D. Haslam, jun., esq, 16 Duke Street, Reading…



The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

William Monger, George Slaughter, William Hewett, Harold Hales, Cecil Hales, William Brown, Albert Bishop, George O’Dell, Frederick Eady, Herbert Ballard, Alfred Clibbon, George Breakspear, Albert Gray, Harry Rixon, Walter Rosser, Rupert Wigmore, William Butler, Walter Drown, Percy Prater.

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

Killed: Percy Wyer, Walter May, Ernest Bishop.
Sick: Edward Iles, Charles Webb, William Wright.
Wounded: William Holmes, Frank, Fowler, Harry Merry, Arthur Morrice, Leonard Strong.
Wounded and Missing: Frank Snellgrove.
Missing: Edward Taylor.


On Wednesday, November 29th, there will be a concert in St Peter’s Hall to help provide funds for giving a Christmas Dinner and Entertainment to a party of Wounded Soldiers. Mr E. Love and party are working up an excellent programme, and we hope our readers will help to make the concert a great success by supporting it as much as they can.

Earley parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/11)

War savings in Maidenhead

Teachers in Maidenhead helped to set up a war savings group for their pupils.

November 28th 1916
A War Savings Association commenced operations in the school today. The teachers are carrying out the necessary work.

Maidenhead Gordon Road Boys School log book (C/EL/107/1, p. 97)

Another visit to Bisham Abbey

Another party of soldiers visited Bisham Abbey.

27 November 1916

Wounded came in afternoon.

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

“We now have several families in which no less than five sons are serving King and Country”

Men from across Reading were joining up in their droves.

All Saint’s District

Our heartiest congratulations to Capt. A.H. Norris, R.A.M.C. on being awarded the Military Cross.

Roll Of Honour

The following additional names have been sent in for remembrance at the Alter:

Donald Anderson, William Ayres, Bert Ayres, Thomas William George Bernard, Frank Ernest Butler, Lawrence Darwall, Frederick Charles Dolton, Cecil Hankey Dickson King, Vivian Majendie, Arthur Ernest New, Arthur Herbert Norris, Norman Alexander Norris, Rowland Victor Norris, Harold Sales, Richard James Saunders, Joseph Styles, George Thomas, Frank Thomas, James Young.

It may be of interest to note that we now have several families in which no less than five sons are serving King and Country.

S. Saviours District

Two more of our young men have, we hear, laid down their lives for their country. Sidney Ostridge, brother of Alfred Ostridge, server at S. Saviour’s, has been killed in France; and Corporal Walter Paice, son of Mrs. Lane, a faithful worshipper at S. Saviour’s, was killed instantly in action on the night of October 3rd, near Salonika, to the great regret of his comrades, officers and men, among whom he was very popular. Their families are assured of our sincerest sympathy. The officer of one of them writes: “He died a noble death,” and a sergeant writes: “ He was laid to rest just behind us and the Chaplain held the service and placed a Cross at the head of the grave.” There is hope in the Cross.

S. Marks District

It was with very great regret that we heard Private G. W. Davis had been killed in action. He was very well known and respected in this District, and we offer to his widow and all his relations our very sincere sympathy.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P98/28A/14)

The sad loss of one of our very best soldiers

A bride of a few months suffered the loss of the husband she had met when he was recovering from an earlier wound.

Roll of Honour

We have alas to record the sad loss of one of our very best soldiers – Sgt. Archibald Howard Lucker of the 7th Royal West Surrey (Queen’s Own) Regt. Sgt. Luker had been twice wounded and on his recovery was married in August last to Miss Florence E. Poynter, of Cranbourne, Windsor Park. He was killed by a shell explosion, instantaneously, on Nov.8th. He bore the highest character and will ever be remembered by those who knew him and loved him, not least by the Vicar, with real affection. The sincerest sympathies of many in Cookham Dean and beyond, are with those near and dear to him who are mourning their loss. The Memorial Service was held in Church on Sunday, Nov. 26th. R.I.P.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Soldiers are confirmed

Soldiers were among the young churchgoers seeking to be confirmed in the Church of England as they embarked on the danger of active service.

The Confirmation

The Confirmation was held on Sunday, November 26th, too late to mention in the December magazine. A fair number of Candidates came from St. Luke’s, a good many from St Mary’s, and some from Stubbings, and one from Wooburn, Bucks. Owing to the War, and to the shortness of Clerical Staff, there were not quite so many Boys as usual, but about the same number of Girls and Women. What was, however, very encouraging, was to see six adult Men confirmed, five being Soldiers. The Bishop of Oxford took the Confirmation, and gave, as he always does at this service particularly, two very striking and helpful Addresses.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Kind sympathy for a loss

A Warfield family dealt with the loss of their son.

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis and family desire to express their thanks to all those who have written and otherwise expressed their kind sympathy with them on the loss of Sergeant Joe Lewis. A Memorial Service was held in the Church at 7p.m. on Saturday, November 25th.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1916 (D/P151/28A/12)

The Royal Flying Corps trains in Reading

A church’s social premises in the Newtown area of Reading were the base for trainee airmen.

The Institute, including the care-taker’s house, at the request of the Military Authorities, has been placed at the disposal of the Royal Flying Corps School of Instruction for the mornings and afternoons of all the days of the week except Saturdays and Sundays. It will still be available for parochial purposes on Saturdays and Sundays and every evening. Also it may be possible to use the small Hall and the Committee Room occasionally in the afternoon, but organizations affected by this arrangement will be given due notice of when their Meetings are to be held.

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

Goodbye to a brother

A Berkshire teacher took a break from her duties to say goodbye to her brother:

24th November 1916
Miss Fellows is away from school this afternoon on a visit to home to wish her brother “goodbye” as he is joining the forces.

Ashbury National School log book (C/EL5, p. 181)

Children suffer from lack of teachers

Children at an Aldermaston school were suffering from a restricted curriculum now that teachers were away at war. Luckily the inspector made allowances:

23rd November 1916

In the upper division some of the children answered very nicely, and I expect the rest knew more than they were able to shew. Obviously this is the class that has suffered the most from the reduction in the staff, and I indicated to the Head Teacher how the syllabus might best be used under the existing circumstance.

Ashampstead C of E School log book (D/EX1493/1, p. 225)

“There is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly”

One man after another from Stratfield Mortimer was reported dead or missing. The toll was beginning to tell.

Garth Club

We have received with the greatest possible regret the news of the death of yet another member on the Field of Honour. When war broke out many members volunteered, and have been serving in most of the fighting zones, – in the Persian Gulf, in Egypt, at the Dardanelles, and Salonica, whilst a number have been in France in the thick of the fighting.

The first to give his life was Frank Goodchild, Pte., R.M.L.I. (enlisted 1913), who went down in the H.M.S. “Good Hope” when she was sunk in action off the Chilian Coast, November, 1914. He took a prominent part in all Club doings and entertainments, and was a general favourite – “one of the best,” and greatly missed.

Next came the sad news that Lance-Corp. Chas. Wickens, who joined on the 11th August, and was drafted to France in the 1st R. Berks the following November, was reported missing on the 15th-17th May, 1915. And it is since believed that he was amongst those killed at Festubert or Richebourg. In the long period of uncertainty the greatest sympathy has been felt with his family and his many friends. He earned his stripe very early in his training, and was a most promising young soldier.

Swiftly came the news of the death of Sidney Raggett, Pte. In the R. Montreal Regt., who also joined in August, 1914, and after three months in Canada came home to complete his training on Salisbury Plain. He went out in February, 1915, was wounded in April, but returned to his duty in May, and on the 21st was killed by a stray shot at Richebourg. His Sergeant wrote of him, “I was awfully sorry he was hit, as he was one of the best boys I had,” and Major-General Sir Sam Hughes, in a letter of condolence to his mother, says, “…there is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly and well, and gave his life for the cause of liberty and the upbuilding of the Empire.”

Another period of anxiety has been the lot of Harry Steele’s family and of his wide circle of friends and chums. He, too, felt directly war broke out that it was his duty to join, and he and a friend enlisted in the 10th Hants, and had a long training in Ireland and England. He went in July to Gallipoli, and was in the great charge on the 20th-21st August. He was reported missing, and after many anxious months there seems a sad probability that he may have fallen in that heroic effort. But no details are as yet known. He was a regular and loyal member of the Choir and of St. Mary’s Bellringers, and will be long remembered in the village for his clever impersonation of Harry Lauder, and for his realistic acting at the Club entertainments.

Associated with him, and one of his close chums, was Pte. W. G. Neville, whose death we now mourn. He enlisted in the Hants Regt., and went out early in this year. After a long period of suspense, the War Office have now announced, with the usual message of condolence, and also one of sympathy from the King and Queen, that it is feared he was killed in the great advance on the 1st July last. He was a regular bellringer at St. Mary’s, and he also took a keen interest and a leading part in all Club affairs, and his topical songs and really clever acting were always enthusiastically received at our concerts. He, too, will be most affectionately remembered and greatly missed by his many friends.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

A wretched day

Florence Vansittart Neale found the agony of dental treatment without anaesthesia was nothing to the pain of bereavement.

22 November 1916
I to dentist. Had tooth out. No gas. Rather a wrench, had abscess. Felt quite a wreck all day – took aspirin & hot bottle. Most wretched day body & mind. Could only think of Sep.

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

The grip of influenza

The new scourge of flu was affecting fundraising for presents for the troops.

A dance was held at the Brownlow Hall on Wednesday, November 22nd, in aid of the Christmas Present Fund… The proceeds amounted to a little over £1. Our best thanks are due to Miss Mabel Bowyer for the ready way she came forward at a moment’s notice as pianist for the evening. The Vicar and Mrs. Thackeray, who generally undertake this part between them, were both held in the grip of influenza and were unable to be present. However, they sent to find a pianist from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and no one could be found.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1916 (D/P151/28A/12)