The mental stress of war is worse for the “feeble and aged”

The war also affected the county lunatic asylum, with an unexpected imbalance in new admissions.

During the year [ending 31 March 1917] there were admitted 66 males, 72 females, total 138…

There has been an exceptional decrease in the admissions as compared with recent years, amongst whom were an unusually large number whose mental condition was associated with old age. This would indicate that the stress of war has had but little appreciable effect upon the virile members of the community, due primarily to the conditions arising from a plentitude of work with high wages, whilst on the feeble and aged the stress has reacted with telling results….

There has been a greatly increased strain placed on the Officers and subordinate staff as a result of the great depletion owing to the great war. The weekly and annual leave of the Attendants has been much curtailed, as also has been the weekly leave of the Nurses. A monetary allowance has been made in lieu of the leave lost….

Report to BCC of the Committee of Visitors of the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, 31 March 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

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Where are they?

Holidaying on the Isle of Wight, Florence Vansittart Neale’s attention turned to the plight of prisoners of war, and the fear of submariners landing secretly.

31 March 1917

Ventnor. A wife of a Turkish prisoner taken at Kut is here. They are so far treated well, but the poor Tommies, they are afraid of them – to fear out of the 6000 taken whether any will return. It is supposed that the Turks do not ill treat them themselves but give them over to the Arabs & Kurds.

I hear that a captain of a German submarine was taken & a bill for dinner was found in his pocket a few days old from an hotel at Bournemouth.

A submarine was found caught in the boom outside Cowes, but no crew. Where are they?

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

“By each sixpence we kill two birds with one stone, because it helps our Country and ourselves at the same time”

People in Clewer were encouraged to invest in the local War Savings Association.

St. Agnes’, Clewer

Our War Savings Association is going on well. Payments are made at the Mission Room on Mondays from four to five o’clock. New members can join on any Monday: and the numbers are steadily increasing. You become a member by paying one or more sixpences, for which you receive one or more stamps and a card. By each sixpence we kill two birds with one stone, because it helps our Country and ourselves at the same time. If you need the money, you bring back your stamps, and receive for each stamp the sixpence which you paid for it. If you do not need the money, you receive a Certificate when you bring your card with 31 stamps on it. One advantage of joining a War Savings Association is that your Certificate can be bought by an Association before you have finished paying for it, and is therefore worth more to you than it would be otherwise because you get your interest sooner.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

The great advance in prices

A church run refreshment stand had to increase its prices.

COFFEE STALL.

Owing to the great advance in prices it has been found necessary to raise some of the charges at the Coffee Stall. Bread and butter is now 1d. a slice or two slices for 1½d. Halfpenny cups of tea will be sold only up to 9 a.m., after that hour only penny cups will be on sale. Other prices are unchanged.

Reading St. John parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

The gravity of the situation and the imperative need for all to carry out the instructions of the Food Controller

Various kinds of savings were pursued in Winkfield – but there were concerns as to how poorer people would cope.

WINKFIELD WAR ASSOCIATION.

The Committee organised a Public Meeting in the Parish Room on Friday, March 30th , when there was a large attendance.

Mrs. Boyce gave an excellent address on the Food question, pointing out clearly the gravity of the situation and the imperative need for all to carry out the instructions of the Food Controller, especially as regards to bread; and the point was emphasized that although the labouring man who could not afford so much meat might legitimately take a larger allowance of bread, yet he is now bound to reduce his usual amount by at least one pound a week.

Mr. Creasy also spoke on the importance of War Savings, and proposed the following resolution which was seconded by Mr. Harrison and carried “that all present pledge themselves to co-operate in carrying out the regulations of Lord Devonport and the Authorities on the question of rations to households generally, and to support the War Savings Association to the best of their ability”.

The Committee learning that many Cottagers and Allotment holders found great difficulty in obtaining seed potatoes arranged to buy a ton of seed at once, and Mr. Asher kindly advanced the money to secure them. Most of these potatoes have now been applied for, but a few pecks are still available, and any wishing to buy them should apply to Mr. C. Osman, Winkfield Row.

Arrangements have been made for the saving of waste paper; sacks have been taken by Mr G. Brown, Maiden’s Green, Mr. Eales, Winkfield Street, Mr. C. Osman, Winkfield Row, Mr. Langley, Brock Hill, Mr. Osman, Gorse Place, and also at the Schools, and it is hoped that many will send contributions of waste paper (old letters, circulars, newspapers, but not brown paper) to help fill these sacks which will then be collected and forwarded.

Winkfeld section of Winkfield District Magazine, May 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/5)

A record of which we may well be proud

Ascot churchgoers sent care parcels to their friends in the forces, and entertained strangers in the Royal Flying Corps.

ASCOT SAILORS AND SOLDIERS COMMITTEE.

In January a parcel was sent to Ascot men in the Navy or Army serving abroad “with every good wish for a happy New Year from your friends in Ascot.” The parcel contained a fitting writing case, a pair of thick socks, and some candles for the men in the trenches, and was sent to 12 men in the Navy, 75 men in France, and 13 in Egypt, Salonica and Mesopotamia.

Many letters have since been received from the men thanking Ascot for their kind thoughts of them, and giving good accounts of themselves. The cost of the parcels with the postages has more than exhausted the funds at the disposal of the Committee, and we must hope of means of replenishing the fund before long.

We are very pleased to hear that Sergeant Grimmett has been recommended for a commission, and we cordially congratulate him. This will make the sixth commission specially earned by Ascot, and is surely a record of which we may well be proud. The names of the gallant six are- 2nd Lieuts. Baker, Grimmett, Robinson, Stuart, Taylor and Watson, and we wish them “Good Luck.”

We regret to have to add the name of William J. Tidy (Gun Section H. A. C.) to our Prisoners of War.

CLUB ROOM for the men of the Royal Flying Corps.

Through the earnestness and energy of several ladies of All Saints congregation a Club Room has been opened at the Fire Brigade Station in High Street, the Committee of the Brigade having most kindly lent their premises for the purpose.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, March 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/3)

Staffing difficulties

A Reading school was stretched to its limits, and offering only half day sessions due to lack of staff.

29th March 1917

Attended office to confer with the Chairman as to the practicality of trying ‘two sessions’ a day after Easter. Owing to ‘staffing’ difficulties the idea was dropped.

Mrs Hewitt absent, her husband, a wounded soldier, being home on leave before again joining his unit.

George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading: log book (89/SCH/8/1, p. 141)

Who are willing to offer themselves?

Clergy were expected to answer the call of the new National Service Scheme as well as laymen.

National Service.

We all know that the Country is calling upon able-bodied persons both men and women from the age of 18 to 61, to volunteer for National Service. It is a call addressed to the Clergy as well as the Laity. Our Bishop is making enquiries of the Clergy in his Diocese to ascertain who are willing to offer themselves, either for spiritual or secular work. The decision rests with him as to which and how many of the Clergy, who volunteer, can be spared from the Diocese. If any member of our staff of Clergy is thus withdrawn from Parish work, we must be prepared to reduce some of the Services and make the best use of our diminished opportunities. Perhaps, as things are, we have too many Services in the various Districts, and a little concentration would not be a bad thing for us. It is sometimes found to be the case that those who have fewer facilities for Public Worship make a better use of them than those who have too many. If the Bishop therefore counsels a temporary reduction in the staff of Clergy in this Parish, we must readily submit to it.

The War Shrines.

All the money needed for the War Shrines in Clewer Village and Clewer New Town has now been subscribed. Any money subsequently sent will be given to the permanent Memorial which we hope to have erected in the Church when the War is over.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

Wartime gardening

Gardeners were encouraged to take up allotments and grow vegetables to help alleviate the food shortages.

The Gardener’s Association

A second lecture on War-time Gardening was given in the Iron Building on March 28th, by Mr. C. Moore, Gardener to Mr. W. E. Cain, Wargrave Manor, on “Cropping the Allotment.” This was not so well attended as the former one, many of the Allotment Holders being busy on their plots that evening. A plan of a 20 pole allotment was shown on a blackboard, marked in the way he would advise planting, and a good and varied list of vegetables were selected for cropping it. Inter-cropping and the principles of rotation were explained and concluded an interesting lecture.

Mr. Coleby suggested the formation of an Allotment Holder’s Society for the mutual benefits of all concerned, but the idea did not seem to attract much attention.

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

Well and serving in France

Rumours spread fast in wartime, as the people of Bracknell found.

A rumour appears to be widely spread in Bracknell to the effect that Bullbrook Schools are to be turned into a military hospital. We can assure the parents and scholars that there is no sort of foundation for this rumour.

* * *

THE ROLL OF HONOUR.

One of our Bracknell men, Earnest Napper, of the Royal Engineers, has been killed in France and has left a wife and three little children.

Official news has also now reached Mrs. George Fish of the death of her husband last October. He too has left a young family.

Co. Hugh Stanton has been wounded and is in hospital in France.

Oswald Blay, who nine months ago was officially reported missing, has now been heard of. He wrote a post card to his relatives stating that he was well and serving in France, but they have so far had no explanations to account either for the report of his being missing or of his long silence.

We congratulate Mr. Taylor, our Station Master, on the Military Medal which has been awarded to his son Vernon.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, March 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/3)

Conscientious objectors honoured

It is unusual to see a conscientious objector listed on a church’s roll of honour.

Spencer’s Wood Roll of Honour.

Tom Allen, Canadian.
Cpl. W. Appleby, R.B.
*Edward Beales, R.B.
Alfred Beken, R.F.A.
*Arthur Bradfield,R.B.
*Archie Butler, Territorials.
Fred Card, R.E.
Charlie Clacey, R.N.
Tom Clements, R.F.C.
Will Clements, A.S.C.
Ted Clements, R.F.A.
Frank Cocks, R.B.
Charlie Cocks, R.B.
Harry Coffill, R.N.
Charlie Day, R.B.
Dick Day, Devon Regt.
Jacob Didcock, R.N.
Cpl. Fred Didcock.
Sgt. W.Doherty, Man. Regt.
*Jim Double, R.E.
Percy Double, R.B.
Chappie Double, R.B.
Sgt. Kenneth Eggleton, A.M.C.
E. Eggleton.
E. Foster, R.E.
Sgt. Hawkins, R.B.
Reginald Jewell. R.B. (wounded).
Reginald Lee, R.A.M.C.
Edgar Lee, R.E.
Wilfred Lowe, R.F.C.
Leonard Luckwell, Coldstream Guards.
Walter Luckwell, R.F.A.
A. Marcham, R.B.
A.H. Marcham, R.B.
Jolly Middleton.
Arthur Middleton.
Sydney Middleton, R.F.C.
Harry Moss, A.S.C.
Arthur Moss, A.S.C.
Albert Povey, R.B.
William Povey, R.B. (prisoner of war).
– Sloper (C. objector).
Fred Swain, A.S.C.
Bert Swain, A.S.C.
Leonard Swain, Coldstream Guards.
S. Tiller.
*Alfred Watkins, Canadian.
George Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Edwin Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Charles Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Sgt. Wallace Webb, C.C.
Stanley Webb, R.F.A.
Lieut. William Wheeler, C.Dr.
Owen Wheeler, R.E.
Lce-Cpl. H. Wheeler, R.B.
*Laurie White, R.N.
Frank Wilson, R.F.A.
William Wilson, R.B.
Fred Wiseman, East Kent.

*Has made the supreme sacrifice for King and Country.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, March 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

A day of wild rumours

The area was swept with particularly wild rumours about a possible invasion.

27 March 1917

Day of wild rumours. Our navy defeated! Big battle North Sea for 3 days! Germans landed Scotland. All troops mobilized. Nothing in papers.

Went on all today. That there was a great N. Sea battle – 11 ships lost! Then 9!! The Germans had landed in Scotland – then on east coast. All troops from neighbourhood sent away. The Engineers at Maidenhead left Sunday, Marlow this morning. (This latter is true). Also Sydney Elliott at Bramshott, then suddenly mobilized to go somewhere. Heatley said it was a rising in Ireland. Nothing in the papers – morning or night, except Londoner’s Diary laughing at the reports. Last version Germans had taken Scotland!!!

No petrol substitutes to be given out. No more petrol allowance after end April!

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

“So ravenously hungry up in these hills that I could eat a hayrick”

Hungry young art student turned medical orderly Stanley Spencer was equally desperate for food, books and art while serving in Greece.

March 27th 1917.

Dear Florence,

I am no longer in the 68th or 66th F.A., so note my new address. Simply alter number of F.Amb. to 143rd. The remainder of the address is the same as it always has been. I was sorry to lose the C.O. of the 68th and I was getting on well in the 66th. If you think you can afford it could you send me out some eatables of some kind, say biscuits or those tinned cakes – cakes in air-tight tins.

Send me one of those little 6d Gowan’s and Gray’s books of Masterpieces of Art. Send me Raphael.

You must not think that I ask for eatables because I am not getting enough food. On the contrary, I am getting good rations, as we all are, but I get so ravenously hungry up in these hills that I could eat a hayrick. It is being out-of-doors so much.

And about books: it is impossible to get them here. A field Amb. is not like a hospital at Salonique where you can buy books, etc. Robert Louis Stevenson is a man whose writings I love.

I do not know if any parcels containing eatables have been sent to me; if so, none have ever arrived. But with the exception of the wonderful ‘Daily News’ Christmas pudding which I never got (and would like to know why), I do not think anything in that line has been sent to me ever since I left England on August 22nd last.

With much love

From your ever loving,

STAN.

Letter from Stanley Spencer to Florence Image (D/EX801/20)

A very marked success

Young pilots training in Ascot could enjoy refreshments provided by volunteers.

THE TEA ROOOM for the Royal Flying Corps is unavoidably closed for a fortnight (beginning March 26th), owing to the prevalence of German measles. The tea room is proving a very marked success.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, April 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/3)

A shortage of starch

The Sisterhood of St John Baptist had to amend its habit due to shortages.

26 March 1917

Notice from Mother that owing to the difficulty in obtaining starch, we should discontinue wearing cuffs for the present as a war measure.

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