Unfit for General Service

The porter at Abingdon Workhouse had joined up like so many others. After being wounded, he planned to return to his old job.

30th April 1917

The following letters were read viz:-

From J Bradley, the Porter, stating that he had been discharged from Hospital and was returning to his Regiment, and as he was unfit for General Service suggesting that he might return to his duties as Porter if it could be arranged. Resolved that the Board do apply to the Local Government Board to take steps for the discharge of Bradley in order that he may resume his duties as porter.

Minutes of Abingdon Board of Guardians (G/A1/32)

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A happy set of wounded soldiers

More wounded soldiers visited Bisham Abbey from the hospital at Cliveden.

30 April 1917
Fine day. Dug Ellie’s allotment with Hilda. Wounded came from Cliveden. Went round garden & farm after tea, & sat out by river. Some went in boats. Nice set – all very happy.

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

The wounded should be taken off the prayer lists once they are out of hospital

The vicar of Sunningdale was keen to keep the parish list of wounded soldier up to date.

Will parishioners kindly help the Vicar to keep his list of soldiers and sailors up to date, and especially that of the sick and wounded for whom we pray. He begs that relations will send him names of men who are in hospital as soon as they hear of the casualty and also that they will let him know when the same person is discharged from hospital, in order that his name may be taken off the list.

He wishes to commend to the notice of all the example set by one soldier who after his recovery asked that thanks to God might be offered in his name in the Parish Church. This precedent might be followed by everyone.

Sunningdale parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P150B/28A/10)

Cheer him in his pain and solitude

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church were serving in various fields. One man was having a nice break in Malta on his way to the east, while another was suffering with a severe wound.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Sidney Eastman sent us a message announcing his arrival at Malta. He says,

“A line of greeting from an isle of sunshine and blossoms! The brilliant blue of sea and sky, white sails and grey giants, sandstone rocks and golden architecture, vividly focussed by the eyes of an enthusiast, convey to the chambers of memory a mental masterpiece in the producing of which nature and man work hand in hand – nature gives light while man gives shade. I am very fit now, and much enjoying a day or two of respite here.”

Evidently the “sunshine and blossoms” have got into our deacon’s soul.

Reginald Hill has been rather badly wounded and is at the Wharncliff War Hospital at Sheffield. We may be quite sure that letters from any of his old friends of the West Street Church would cheer him in his pain and solitude, and would be joyfully welcomed. Letters should be addressed, “17 Ward, 6 Block.” We are glad to know that his doctors anticipate that he will probably make quite a good recovery.

Ernest Bristow is in Hospital in France, suffering from influenza.

Alfred Vardy was married on March 8th to Miss Coxhead, and is now on active service in France.

We were glad to see Ernest Mead on Sunday last looking quite fit and well.

W.H. Clark has arrived at Salonika.

A. Lane has been transferred with his section to Marlow.

Charles Catliffe is with a Signal section at a Camp near Bedford.

MILITARY MOVEMENTS.

Most of the Engineers who have been for some months in training at Maidenhead have been removed elsewhere, and at least an equal number have been brought to our town to take their place. The new-comers seem to appreciate the comforts of the Clubroom more than their predecessors, and use it in much larger numbers. But the Free Church parade service has suffered. So far, only a few attend, instead of the eighty or more of recent months. Perhaps the organization has been at fault, and we will yet hope for better things.

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

A sermon on rationing

The vicar of Bisham preached on the food situation.

29 April 1917
Willie preached: “Sunday labour” in morning, “Food Rations” in evening.

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

A very gallant officer and gentleman, recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage

The Old Boys of Reading School were distinguishing themselves at the Front.

O.R. NEWS.

Killed in Action.

2nd Lieut. Norman A. Howell, King’s Shropshire Light infantry. On December 23rd.

He is the second son of Mr. W. Roland Howell, architect, of this town. Born at Reading in April 1897, he was educated at Reading School and St. Laurence College, Ramsgate, and had been about a year in his father’s office before joining the Army in November, 1915. His cadet training at school and college enabled him to get his commission. He was posted to the King’s Shropshire’s, was ordered to the front at the end of June last, and has been in the thick of the Somme fighting for six months. Lieut. Norman Howell came home on his first leave on December 6th and returned on the 16th. Within a week he had made the great sacrifice.

His Commanding Officer wrote to Mr. Howell on December 24th:

“I deeply regret to report the death of your son, who was serving in my Battalion. Whilst going up to the front line trenches in charge of a party last night an enemy sniper shot him through the head, killing him instantly. This morning his body was buried by the Chaplain near where he fell, with military honours, officers and men attending.

“I had trench mortars and rifle grenades on the sniper’s post, patrols had reported 8 to 10 Huns there, none there now! On behalf of his comrades, officers, N.C.O.’s and men, I wish to convey to you our profound sympathy . He was loved and respected by all of us, and we mourn the loss of a very gallant officer and gentleman. To all of us he was known as recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage, devoted to his duties, which he discharged most cheerfully under the most trying conditions.”

“I placed him in charge of the Lewis Gun detachment, on which he had set his heart and soul. He belonged to my own Headquarters’ mess, and I took particular interest in him. A cross has been put up on the grave near Les Boeufs.”

It will be remembered that in October, 1915, Mr. Howell’s elder son, 2nd Lieut. Roland Basil Howell, was reported “wounded and missing.” Nothing has since been heard of him, and any hopes of his being alive hangs on the very slenderest thread. On the 16th of last month the War Office wrote saying that they were now forced to believe he was killed.

Lieut. Basil Howell was born in October, 1895, and received his commission in the 4th North Staffordshire’s three months after the war started. He was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers (the Fighting Fifth), and went to the front in May, 1915.

Reports received from the front show that on the night of October 1st-2nd, 1915, the battalion to which Lieut. Howell was attached were in severe action. After all the officers of the company had been killed he gallantly led a bombing party to attack a German trench, but was never seen again.

Every possible enquiry was made through the War Office, the American Embassy, the Red Cross, and the wounded men who returned to England. Many references were made by the latter to the respect and love they had for the brave young officer. Like his brother he was educated at Reading School and St Laurence College, and had started his training to follow in his father’s profession. For many years he was an enthusiastic scout, and took a big share in starting the South Reading Troop.

Lieut. Cedric Charles Okey Taylor, East Kent Regiment, attached to Trench Mortar Battery, only son of Mrs. Taylor, 39, Weltje Road, Ravenscroft Park, W., and of the late Mr. Charles Warmsley Taylor, of Reading. Further details are now to hand of Lieut. Taylor’s death.

He died for King and country on December 3rd, 1916, in his 22nd year. Young in years but old in endurance, he was in constant action for 15 months at Ypres in 1915 and on the Somme in 1916. He is laid to rest in the cemetery, at Faubourg d’Amiens, Arras.

2nd Lieut. W. Marsden Cooper, Worcestershires, only son of Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper, 107, London Street, Reading, aged 19.

Cooper was only 19 years of age and went out to the front in the Worcestershire’s about the middle of December, shortly after completing his course at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was educated at Reading School, where he gained a Council scholarship in 1909. His School career was unusually distinguished. In 1914 he gained a School Certificate followed the next year by a higher certificate.

In response to his country’s call, he decided to take a commission, and in the entrance examination for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, held in February, 1916, he came out second on the list, gaining a Prize Cadetship. At Sandhurst his success was no less pronounced than at school, and he gained the position of Sergeant in his cadet unit, the highest position a cadet can obtain, before he left College. Not only did he have considerable intellectual gifts, as his record shows but he was a fine athlete as well. He was an excellent all round cricketer and his natural powers as a bowler would have enabled him to make his mark in really good company. As a Rugby Football player he showed great promise, and before he left school he had the distinction of being captain of football, captain of cricket and captain of the school. Yet he was never elated by success, and perhaps it was more than anything else his modesty which made him so popular with the boys and the masters alike. Those who have watched his career, for the last two years, and marked the way in which his development always seemed to keep pace with his new responsibilities feel a special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close.
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Totally blinded

The County Education Committee continued to find its work affected by the war in many ways, as teachers joined up, prices rose, and they helped people cope with shortages of staple foods.

School Management Sub-committee

SCHOLARSHIPS

Mr F Portas, who has for four years held a Supplementary University Scholarship, has now completed his medical course and passed the final examinations of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. He is now serving in the RAMC. Mr Portas, prior to receiving a Guthrie Scholarship at Westminster Hospital, held a County Scholarship at the Windsor County Boys’ School, where he received his school education.

DOMESTIC ECONOMY

The demand for Sicknursing Classes which have been conducted by Miss Barrett since 1896, has during the last year ceased, chiefly on account of circumstances arising from the war, and the Sub-committee have received the resignation of Miss Barrett.

The Sub-committee desire to record their appreciation of Miss Barrett’s useful work. For twenty years the classes have been held in almost every town and village in the county, and have always been well attended and greatly appreciated.

Higher Education Sub-committee

TEACHERS ON MILITARY SERVICE

Under an arrangement between the Board of Education and the War Office, the following teachers in the lower medical categories have been released from the Army to resume their school work: Mr H May, Mr W Edginton, and Mr B Gibbons.

The Sub-committee record with regret that Mr F W Lupton has been killed in action, and Mr F E Parker has been totally blinded.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

The Educational Supply Association have given one month’s notice to terminate on 11 May the present schedule of prices on which school materials are supplied; but will submit a revised schedule before that date.

The Contractors for Needlework Supplies have also notified further increases in the prices of some materials, and Messrs Charles & Son have raised their prices for paper goods to 100% above pre-war figures.

NATIONAL SERVICE

The Sub-committee have passed the following resolution:

In view of the fact that the Local Education Authority is of opinion that teachers are engaged in work of national importance, the Local Education authority will be unable to give any guarantee to any teacher called up that his or her place will be kept open.

FOOD ECONOMY CAMPAIGN

The Sub-committee have considered and approved a memorandum of the Education Secretary, referred to them by the War Savings Committee, with regard to the use of the Committee’s Cookery Centres for making known the best way of utilising as foods such substitutes for wheat as are available locally.

Reports of School Management Sub-committee and Higher Education Sub-committee to Berkshire Education Committee, 28 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Tactfully teaching young nurses

Elizabeth “Bubbles” Vansittart Neale was not a qualified nurse, but she had gained a lot of experience during the war.

28 April 1917

Big speech by Lloyd George very good….

Nice letter from Bubs – she “tactfully teaching the new bemedalled sisters”!

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

Promoting the economical use of foods

The Education Committee was at the forefront of war savings schemes locally. School were also to be used to promote changes in people’s habits with regards to food and cookery given the food shortages resulting from the war.

Report of Berks War Savings Committee

The War Savings Committee submit the following report of their work since the report to the July meeting of the Education Committee:

In accordance with the powers given to them on appointment, the following additional members have been co-opted:

Mr G F Slade
Mr T Skurray

During July and August last… Local Committees for War Savings came into being at Abingdon, Windsor and Maidenhead. Since that date, as a result of public meetings addressed by Miss Fraser of the National War Savings Committee and the Education Secretary, Local Committees have been started at Pangbourne, Thatcham, Newbury, Wallingford, Bracknell, Hungerford and Wokingham. Up to the 31 March, War Savings Associations have been established under the control of these Local Committees as follows:

Abingdon, with 6 Associations

Wallingford, 15 Associations

Pangbourne, 4 Associations

Hungerford, 7 Associations

Newbury, 15 Associations

Thatcham, 5 Associations

Wokingham, 13 Associations

Windsor

Maidenhead, 32 Associations

Bracknell, 13 Associations

As a general rule, these local committees deal only with their immediate areas, but efforts are being made by the National War Savings Committee to secure the extension of their activities to the surrounding parishes; e.g. the Associations of Marcham and Moulsford are affiliated to the Abingdon and Wallingford Local Committees respectively, and the War Savings Associations at the Cookham, Alwyn Road Council School, and Clewer S. Stephen’s School are affiliated to the Maidenhead and Windsor Local Committees respectively, whilst the Earley CE School War Savings Association is affiliated to the Reading Central Committee.

The Associations in connexion with Windsor Castle and the Broadmoor Asylum are affiliated directly with the National Committee.

The number of War Savings Associations (in addition to the above) in the Rural Parishes formed up to the 31 March, is 56; at least one half of these are in connexion with the schools….

The average amount saved by each Association during the quarter January to March, 1917, is £217. These figures do not include the grouped Associations, and relate only to the smaller Rural Associations, where the opportunities to save are less than in the larger centres of population.

The Berks Teachers’ Association officials in January consented to help in the work, and have been successful in arousing and maintaining interest in the movement. Messrs Camburn, James and Fryer, in particular, have done most valuable service.

The National War Savings Committee have been invited by the Ministry of Food to assist in the Food Economy Campaign, and the Berks War Savings Committee have had before them the Central Committee’s suggestions for Local Authorities and War Savings Committees, and in conjunction with the School Management Sub-committee, they have approved the arrangements embodied in the following memorandum:

FOOD CAMPAIGN

The Food Controller, in conjunction with the National War Savings Committee, has suggested that “Under the auspices of the Education Authorities a Conference might be called in every area with a view to enlisting the enthusiastic support and active help of teachers. In the case of ordinary schools, the children will form a means of securing the interest of the parents, and invitations to meetings and special classes can be issued through them. The Domestic Science teachers will be wanted to take charge of such classes.

After consultation with HM Inspector, the following preliminary Scheme has been drafted:

That the Instructresses be instructed to modify their syllabus with a view:

To promote the economical use of foods of which there is an available supply in the locality.

To prepare specimen menus for family use based on the above, with notes on the quantities required to give a proper diet.

To arrange to have the cooked meals on view after the lessons, so that the mothers can see them and ask questions.

To confer with the Head Teachers of the neighbouring schools as to the best way of spreading useful information among the parents of children not in attendance at the Centres, either by inviting visits which could be regarded as object lessons or by co-operating in drawing up a scheme for simple instruction in the schools.

It is to be noted that:

While it is important to keep the full record of all meals and their cost, it is not to be expected that the employment of substitutes will effect any substantial saving in cost, as the price of substitutes must rise as the standard foods become scarce.

It is most important to give guidance as to the feeding of children, as in some families there may be a tendency to reduce the food value of their meals.

Where milk is obtainable, it will be very useful to emphasise its uses in cookery.

It is hoped to hold a conference as soon as the Instructresses have drawn up their Scheme, and it is most important that the scheme should be prepared as soon as possible.

This Conference was held on the 20th April and the preliminary steps have been already taken to start work.

Report of Education Finance Sub-committee

The Sub-committee have arranged with certain employees on Military Service, who were receiving allowances from the Committee, to invest on their behalf part of their allowances in War Savings Certificates.

Reports to Berkshire Education Committee, 28 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Guests horrified at war tea!

Food shortages meant a limited selection of dishes when Florence Vansittart Neale entertained guests.

27 April 1917
Mackays to tea – fear they were horrified at war tea!! Raid on Ramsgate – 21 houses destroyed.

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

A war bereavement

There was sad news for a Reading teacher.

27th April 1917
Mrs Alexander left school at 10.5 owing to a War Bereavement.

Reading St Giles Boys School log book (R/ES2/9, p. 247)

Shall we starve?

The Vansittart Neales were shocked by the implications of food shortages. Lady Nott-Bower (yet another Florence) was the wife of a senior police officer.

26 April 1917

Henry & I to Food Economy Meeting at Maidenhead. A Lady Nott-Bower – very good but most alarming. Shall we starve!! Sorry everyone was not there to hear.

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

Torpedoed off Capetown

More War Savings Associations continued to flourish.

Bracknell

A War Savings Association has been started in connection with the C.E.M.S. sharing-out Club, and there are already about 50 members.

Warfield

Our War Savings Association is thriving; we now have 100 members, thanks to the energy and zeal of our Secretary and Treasurer.

We welcome the return of Mr. T. Bowyer, jun, who was one of the engineers on the Cilicia which was torpedoed off Capetown and now has got back safely to Warfield.

Winkfield District Magazine, April 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/4)

Valuable lectures on the culture of vegetables

Ascot people grew vegetables for the war, while one couple lent their big house for use as a hsopital.

THE MILITARY HOSPITAL is to be re-opened immediately after Easter at “Sandridge.” Mr. and Mrs. Ninian Elliot have, most generously, handed over their delightful house for the purpose.

LECTURES on the Culture of Vegetables (two of them in this parish) have been given in the neighbourhood during the past few weeks. Interesting and valuable in themselves, they have also been very well attended.

ERNEST MERRY, who was some time ago reported missing, has been killed in France. We deeply sympathise with his wife and little children.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, April 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/4)

Germans being pushed back with great slaughter

A group of ladies from the Maidenhead area shared a car to a meeting about getting women working on the land.

25 April 1917

We all to Maidenhead after early lunch en route for Reading. Helen motored H Moule, EVN [Edith Vansittart Neale], E[dith] Frere & I to Women’s Agricultural Meeting, & Bessie Sturges met us. Good meeting. Women spoke well. Recruits came in!

Germans being pushed back with great slaughter.

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