Offerings for the suffering Belgian children

Cranbourne churchgoers and Sunday School children were moved by the sufferings of children in wartorn Belgium.

The collections for the Red Cross and Order of St. John in Jerusalem at the Intercession Services on December 31st amounted to £8 13s. 4d. The purses for offerings for the suffering Belgian children were also received the same day. The children of the Sunday School and some members of the congregation had passed these round the dinner table on Christmas Day. The children’s contribution amounted to £1 0s. 9d. and that of the congregation to £4 10s. 9d., making a total of £5 11s. 6d. We received a most grateful letter of thanks from the London Committee.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/2)

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“May 1917 bring peace, a real lasting peace”

New Year’s Eve, and Florence Vansittart Neale was one of a handful praying for the war in Bisham.

31 December 1916

Services Intercession & the OX – very few there…

Oh! May 1917 bring peace, a real lasting peace.

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

Thankful recognition of the devotion which has been shown by the manhood and the womanhood of our country

The Bishop of Oxford urged Berkshire people to take part in the Day of National Prayer on 31 December.

Wokingham

Day of National Prayer.

The following announcement is made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York:-

In accordance with what was done throughout England on the first Sunday of the years 1915 and 1916, it is proposed that in the Cathedrals and parish churches of England on Sunday, December 31st next, special prayer should be offered in connection with the war, and thankful recognition made of the devotion which has been shown by the manhood and the womanhood of our country.

Reading

December 31st

The last day in the year will be observed as a day of special prayer and thanksgiving in connection with the War. The collections at all the services will be given to the Red Cross Society and the Order of the Society of S. John of Jerusalem, in accordance with the wishes expressed by the Archbishop.

Earley

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

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

Your prayers are specially asked
For the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For our allies, and especially for the Roumanians [sic] and the Belgians…
For the day of prayer concerning the war (December 31st).

THE DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE NATION AT WAR

December 31st has been fixed as a day of prayer. You will not need material to help your devotion, as, I think, we have sufficient. But, as the strain of the war increases and there are no signs of the end, we need to be more than ever faithful and importunate in common prayer.

C. OXON

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
Victor Jennings, Charles Bowden, Walter Ravening, Cecil Ravening, William Parsons, Joseph Cane, Frederick Brooker, Percy Brooker, Henry Furnell, Charles Smith, Frederick Smithers.

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

Sick: Frederick Allen, William Worsfold.
Killed: Stephen Ravening, Arthur Furnell, Frank Furnell, Thomas Brooker, Albert Hall.
Missing: Allan Smit.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P154C/28A/1); Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P98/28A/14); Earley parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/12)

“We wish him God’s protection on the field”

A Warfield man headed for the front would be sorely missed at home.

CHOIR SUPPER.

The Vicar and Mrs. Thackery entertained the senior members of the Choir to supper at the Vicarage on Thursday, December 30th, at 7.30. Only two were absent; Mr. Brockbank was away from home and Mr. Dyer was unavoidably prevented at the last moment from coming. After supper we enjoyed some music and singing, after which a variety of games brought us to a late hour, when Mr. E. Pearce, our senior member, kindly expressed their united thanks for the pleasant evening.

There was general regret expressed from perhaps a selfish point of view at the approaching departure of George Higgs, though we do not grudge his services to the King and Country. He is one of those wonderfully apt fellows who fills in the odd corners and remembers to do all the endless little things amounting in all to a great thing, which others are apt to forget. We felt that we should be lost without him, and strive as we do to fill in the odd duties, we have been “at sea” more than once, and say that this or that would not have happened if George had been here. We are glad to hear that he is getting on well at Andover, where he seems to be sampling the bells in various towers. He expects shortly to be going to the front, and we wish him God’s protection on the field and a safe return to his old place in the Choir and Belfry of Warfield Church.

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

Sending dressings right out to the firing line

People in the villages of Wokingham Rural District gave their money generously, while those in Wargrave were proud to know that their handmade surgical dressings were being put to use at the front where they were most urgently needed.

Our Day

Very hearty congratulations and our best thanks are due to Mrs. Oliver Young and all her collectors, for the splendid contribution sent this year from the district to the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The Cheque sent to the County Secretary from the Wokingham North District was for £168. 10s. 1d. and was made up as follows:-

£. s. d.
Wargrave per Mrs. Victor Rhodes: 19 3 2
Wargrave per Mrs Vickerman 36 0 0
Hare Hatch per Mrs. A. W. Young 20 7 2
Twyford per Mrs. F. C. Young 23 4 0
Remenham and Crazies Hill per Mrs. Noble 21 1 7
Mr. Noble per Mrs. Noble 20 0 0
Sonning per Miss Williams 13 0 0
Woodley per Miss Pantin 3 6 2
Hurst per Mrs. Roupell 12 8 0

£168 10 1

Wargrave Surgical Dressing Emergency Society

Since March 23rd, 1915 over 300 Bales of dressings and comforts have been sent to Casualty Clearing Stations in France, Malta, Egypt, Alexandria and Port Said. The Society is now approved by the War Office, and properly licensed under the New War Charity Act. In future it is intended to print the hospitals where dressings are sent every month, in the Parish Magazine, as it cannot fail to be a source of satisfaction to know that while the Hospital is doing all it can for the men who have come back, the Surgical Dressing Society is sending every month about 20 Bales right out to the Firing Line, for the use of the men who come out of the trenches on the field of Battle.

List of Hospitals for October and November:

B. Ex. F. France:
No. 5, Casualty Clearing Station
No. 27, Field Ambulance – 9th Scottish Section
No. 3, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station

Egypt:
No. 19 General Hospital, Alexandria
No. 31, General Hospital, Port Said

These Hospitals have 4 Bales of Dressings etc. each:
No. 21 Casualty Clearing Station
No. 5 Casualty Clearing Station
No. 2/2d London Casualty Clearing Station
No. 1/1 Midland D. Casualty Clearing Station
British Exped. Force, France.

4 Bales each.

By order of the Director General. Vol. Organizations
Scotland Yard.

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

“It is a most awful place where we are at present”

Soldiers associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church were grateful for Christmas gifts, and in return shared some of their experiences.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We have already received many acknowledgements from our soldier lads of the Christmas parcels from the Church, and they all speak of kindly gratitude. We can find room for a few extracts.

Edward Howard writes, “Many thanks for the most splendid parcel. It is awfully kind of the Church and Institute to think so much of us when we are out here…… It is a most awful place where we are at present. The mud is something like three feet deep, and we are living in tents, but of course we make the best of a bad job. I send you all a warm and affectionate Christmas greeting.”

Reginald Hill received his parcel in hospital at Etretat, where he has been slowly recovering from his gas injuries. He says “I cannot tell you much of my doings in a letter, but one of these Thursday evenings I will give you my experiences at a meeting of the Literary Society.”

Cyril Hews writes, “I can scarcely tell you in a letter what a great feeling of gratitude and pleasure the parcel and letter gave me…… We out here have no doubts as to the future. We are confident that before long victory will be given to the Allies, and the great cause for which they are fighting will be attained.”

Harold Islip says, “Please accept my thanks for the excellent parcel and letter of greeting sent by the Church, which I received two days ago. Both were most welcome. A letter of that description most certainly helps us all out here to “carry on” with our duties, even though they have now become so monotonous. On Sundays, and often during the week, I think of the Church and Institute, and wish I could be present! But by next Christmas the war will be over, and then…!”

J. O. Wright is overwhelmed with his Christmas duties as Post-Corporal (of course, he had a busy time!), but snatches a minute to send “a few lines thanking you and the Church for the splendid parcel, and also for the Magazine.”

Victor Anderson writes, “Many thanks for the parcel which I have just received, and also for the letter. I am in the best of health, and we are now in a very nice place, so I think we shall have as good a Christmas as can be expected out here.”

Percy Lewis is grateful for his parcel, and ventures to congratulate those who made the purchases. “They are just the things one appreciates most out here.”

And J. Quincy, “I thank you very much for the contents of the parcel, which were much appreciated and enjoyed, and I am sure you will extend my gratitude to the Members of the Church for their kindness. May you all have a truly happy Christmas and a bright New
Year.”

Ernest Mead has been placed in the 2/7th Batt. Devonshire Regiment (Cyclists), and is stationed at Exeter.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, January 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Hearing about ‘the Somme battle’

General Douglas Haig’s despatch on the Battle of the Somme was published in the London Gazette.

29 December 1916

Interesting dispatch from Sir D. Haig about Somme battle – lasting 5 months! Edith read it aloud to me.

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

‘The old buffers are those good “christian” people unable to realise there is a war on or to get a move on’

Percy Spencer enjoyed his brief visit home on leave at Christmas, staying with one of his brothers in London and visiting his workplace.

Decr 29, 1916
Dear WF

These few lines are just to let you know that I have “arrived back safely in the trenches” after a very uncomfortable and tiresome journey. However, c’est la guerre.

I did not go down to Cookham again.

After walking over to Victoria and arriving nearly an hour late on Xmas Eve, I was sent back with a day’s extension, this day I spent very quietly in the armchair at my digs and at Mrs Hunt’s flat. Others more virtuous were held up at port of embarkation and [sic] this side and had a worse – much worse time than I.

I was very happy at 37 Dumbarton Rd. [Brother] Horace’s wife is all that is simple and charming; moreover she plays and sings very delightfully – she has temperament. I do hope you’ll soon have the luck to meet her.

Captain Holliday did not get leave and I didn’t see him. But I saw all the directors at N&G as a Board meeting was in progress when I arrived, which they suspended to have a chat with me. They were all very charming to me. Benny Greenwood who you may remember at Howard’s occasionally is now a Major in the RFC. I suppose he would now be about 23 or 4.

I had lunch with Mr Devlin and all the old foggies [sic] of the firm. Poor Mr Devlin – I’m sorry for him as the old buffers he has remaining with him are those good “christian” people unable to realise there is a war on or to get a move on: he told me with despair that they jogged along at the same old rate, or slower, and expected all the ancient pre-war facilities and privileges. Roll on the day when I can get back and re-introduce some ginger.

Garwood is just slicing the OXO and asks me to thank you for it. Earlier this evening he ventured the opinion that OXO was better than rum – it wasn’t very heartily received. He asks me add a PS that more sausages when next you are sending me anything would be very welcome.

With love to you both
Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/5/43-44)

No transport for the wounded

Wounded soldiers were deprived of an outing thanks to lack of transport.

28 December 1916

Rather foggy. Expected wounded but they could not get conveyance.

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

Where is Max?

Will Spencer made enquiries on behalf of his German friends to see if the missing teenager Max Ohler had been taken prisoner.

28 December 1916

In the afternoon wrote a short letter to the War Office, enclosing an English translation of the particulars with regard to young Max Ohler. (His “last address” – Herr Max Ohler, Fahnen-junker-Unteroffizier, VIII Armeekorps”, etc, I of course gave without translating it. I addressed the letter HM War Office, Department: Prisoners of War, London). I afterwards began a letter to Sydney, to whom I am also sending the particulars as well as to Percy.

Diary of Will Spencer, 1916 (D/EX801/26)

“Wargrave is to be congratulated in this time of War”

Several of the Wargrave church bellringers had joined up, but they were still keeping the peals ringing.

The Belfry:

A Meeting of the Belfry was held on Wednesday, December 27th.

There were present: the Vicar in the Chair, the Foreman (Mr. W. H. Easterling) and 11 members.

The official list of the Belfry now numbers 20 men.

Wargrave is to be congratulated in this time of War, both on having sent 4 Ringers to the Front and on having 14 men and lads still ready to ring the eight bells at home.

The names of the members and probationers are as follows, the names of those serving in His Majesty’s Forces are printed in Italics,

H. Attlesey W. Elsley F. Hanson S.P. Nash
G. Bayliss P. D. Elsley R. Lawrence J. Neighbour
W. Burrows E. Field E. Ladd E. Thatcher
A.E. Cox A. Guy F. Pocock C. F. Shersby
W. H. Easterling W. Herbert J. Preston

FINANCE
It appeared that the most important need, in regard to apparatus, was the provision of eight mats, to take the fall of the ropes as they touch the floor, and a set of Mufflers.

The Foreman was requested to enquire about the cost of suitable squares of carpet.

No resolution was passed in regard to Mufflers. It was suggested that if a set could in an emergency be borrowed from a neighbouring tower a purchase might be deferred until after the War.

Wargrave parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Missing since battle on 7 October

Will Spencer, the elder brother of Percy and Sydney who was living in Switzerland with his German wife, still had many friends in Cologne where the couple had lived before the war. The 18 year old son of one of those friends had been reported missing, and Will agreed to use his British connections to see if any news could be obtained of the young man.

27 December 1916

By the afternoon post a letter to Johanna from Max Ohler. They are still without news of young Max. (Johanna wrote to Fraulein Lochliger on Sunday, asking for the particulars which she has with regard to young Max, in order that I may send them to Percy & Sydney.)

By the evening post a letter from Arlesheim, from Fraulein Lochiger, sending us the particulars with regard to young Max Ohler. He has been missing since a battle at the southern edge of the Pierre Vaast Wood, near Sailly, on Oct. 7th. During the evening I made an English translation of the particulars (but leaving the “last address” as it stood) & afterwards made two copies of it (one for J. to take with her to the German consulate tomorrow.

Diary of Will Spencer, 1916 (D/EX801/26)

Unskilled single men are permitted to escape service

The Board of Guardians of Abingdon Poor Law Union, who would have to pick up the pieces when families fell on hard times, wanted to see married men with families left at home to support their children.

27th December 1916

A circular letter is read from the clerk to the Hammersmith Union enclosing the following resolution recently passed by that Board with reference to the action of the Recruiting Authorities in calling to the Army married men with families, and it is resolved that the Board do approve of the resolution and that a copy thereof be forwarded to the Secretary of State for War, the Chairman of the Man Power Board and the local Members for Parliament.

That this Board views with concern the action of the Recruiting Authorities in calling to the Army married men with families who invariably have heavy business and domestic responsibilities, whilst unskilled single men are permitted to escape service, and respectfully begs to call the attention of the War Office and the Man Power Board to the urgent necessity of calling to the colours all single men of military age classified fit for general service or garrison duty abroad, as it is believed that by doing so a very important economy in the National Finance, both now and after the war, will be effected.

Minutes of Abingdon Board of Guardians G/A1/32

Difficulties for the Vansittart Neales

The Vansittart Neale girls were struggling with their nursing work, while Sydney Spencer had spent Christmas at home on sick leave. He returned to Yorkshire to find his battalion had moved again.

26 December 1916
Florence Vansittart Neale

Heard from Bubs at last. Very bitter. She in new hut. Medical ward. Her clock stolen. P’s hands full of chilblains.

Sydney Spencer
December 26, 1916

I arrive at new quarters, F block Hillsboro barracks.

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

Major Dinkum

Florence Vansittart Neale heard some gossip and tall tales from army officers. “Dinkum” is actually an Australian word, and the story, ascribed to an Australian officer, is recorded as being in circulation elsewhere.

25 December 1916

Had 5 Remount Depot to dine with us.

Major Remount Depot told me – hear [Colonel?] RFA told him how a spy had been caught. Posed as a Major who came to their Division & gave orders to bombard [later?] a salient! Said he had been sent from the HQ, also seen and arranged for other divisions etc etc. A Canadian present said. “Is this dinkum”, a slang word meaning is this true. He answered Yes, I am Major Dinkum. Whereupon the C[anadian?] rushed on him & held him down & they found he was a spy & was taken out & shot.

One day the artillery was told to bombard heavily but unluckily the ammunition was forgotten!!

Hear the new Government dare not conscript Ireland.

I hear Sir D. Haig sent for 1000 miles of railway lines, 400 engine drivers & heaps of locomotives, & that has caused the reduction of trains & increase in the price of tickets to begin Jan 1 1917.

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