A splendid address on Duty and Patriotism that even the tiniest could understand

Empire Day was the focus for patriotic expressions in schools across the county.

Piggott Schools, Wargrave
Empire Day

The children of the Piggott Schools celebrated Empire Day (May 24th) in right loyal fashion. They assembled at the School, and with flags flying, marched down to Church where a short service was held. The Vicar gave an appropriate address. Re-assembling on the Church Green they proceeded to the Schools and took their places round the flag pole from which the Union Jack was flying. A good number of parents and friends of the children with many of the soldiers from the hospital were waiting their return. As the boys passed the soldiers they gave them a salute in recognition of what they had done for their country.

The National Anthem was sung, and the flag saluted, and Miss. E. Sinclair gave a splendid address on Duty and Patriotism in such a way that even the tiniest could understand it. Capt. Bird proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Sinclair and hearty cheers were given in which the soldiers joined. Three Patriotic and Empire Songs were sung by the children, the Vicar called for cheers for the Teachers, and Mr. Coleby announced that Mrs. Cain had most kindly provided buns and sweets for all as they left the grounds. Hearty cheers were given her for her thoughtfulness. Cheers for the King concluded the proceedings.

Alwyn Road School, Cookham
May 24th 1917

Empire Day was celebrated today. The Headmaster addressed the children assembled in the Hall, and the National Anthem was sung. The children then went to their classrooms and ordinary lessons proceeded till 11 o’clock. Each class teacher then gave a lesson on “Empire” and kindred subjects till 11.30. This was followed by a Writing Lesson when some of the important facts were taken down.

The school assembled in the Hall again at 11.55 and after a few more remarks by the Headmaster the national Anthem was again sung and the children dismissed.

Opportunity was taken of this morning’s addresses to instil into the children’s minds the necessity of economising in the use of all food stuffs, and more especially of bread and flour.

A holiday was granted in the afternoon.

24th May, 1917.

Thursday. Empire Day. I assembled the Scholars in the Playground this morning. The elder children sang Patriotic Songs which were followed by the National Anthem and a salute in passing the Union jack. In the school, addresses on Patriotism, Duty, Honour, and the necessity for economy in the use of food, were given.

Abingdon Girls CE School
1917, 21st-25th May

Mrs Reynolds presented us with a Memorial Picture of the War to be hung up in School. Empire Day was kept as usual. The children marched past and saluted the flag. Recitations and Patriotic Songs were sung. The National Anthem of our Allies; and a subscription to the Overseas Fund was forwarded to Headquarters. 7/-.

Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School
24th May 1917

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 this year were (owing to the shortage of food) not so much on Empire Day, as upon the care which all must exercise not to waste food of any kind.

Lower Sandhurst School
May 24th 1917

Empire Day. Gave special lesson on ‘Food Saving’ and how children can help to win the war.

A special collection was made to-day in aid of the ‘Over Seas’ fund for sending comforts to the Troops. The sum of one pound – 2/3 was realised in the course of the day and sent to the Hon. Treasurer of the Fund.

Sunninghill: St Michael’s CE Mixed School
24th May 1917

Empire Day. Empire lessons until 11 a.m. A pageant depicting the Empire & the Allies was given in the playground before a large audience of parents & others interested. A collection after the pageant, on behalf of the Over Seas Club realised £5.8.

Stoke Road School, Slough
May 24th 1917

Empire Day was celebrated throughout the school by special lessons and patriotic songs. The Chairman, Mr Andrews, attended and addressed the children on their privileges and duties as subjects of the British Empire.

A half holiday was given in the afternoon.

Reading St Giles Boys School
24th May 1917

Being Empire Day the lessons were changed at 11pm for lessons on Food Shortage and on the Flag of the Empire. School closed with “God Save the King”. Half holiday.

George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading
24th May 1917

Empire Day. Programme: God Save the King. The Children’s Song. The list of G. Palmer Dead in the Great War. Saluting the flag. Head Master’s talk on ‘Why & how we should ration ourselves’.

Priestwood School, Eashampstead
May 24th 1917

Empire Day. No Visitors. Children saluted flag and sang national anthem at 11:40 after an address by head master. Lessons on patriotism were taken by the class teachers during the morning.

St Peter’s CE School, Earley
25th May 1917

Yesterday morning was observed as Empire Day, the ordinary lessons not being observed. Special lessons were given throughout the school, and at 11 a.m. the Flag was raised before the assembled school & many visitors by Rev. H Wardley King, who gave a most instructive speech to the school; other speakers included the Vicar, Colonel Weldon, R Lea esq, & F Cowslade esq.

In the afternoon the usual festivities connected with May Day were kept up. May Staley was the May Queen, & was crowned by the Lady Mayoress of Reading (Mrs Sarjeant) who presented her with a silver cross & chain, as a lasting memento of the occasion.

Following the coronation came an exhibition of maypole dancing & plaiting, morris dances, country dances, & old fashioned country games.

A collection was made among the visitors (about 400) for the Soldiers & Sailors “Care & Comforts” & amounted to £1.17.6.

More on Earley St Peter (from the parish magazine)


On May 24th, Empire Day was duly observed at the schools. Before the assembled children, and a goodly number of spectators, the Flag was raised amid cheers, by Rev. H W King, who afterwards delivered a stirring and instructive address on Duty and Loyalty. Canon Fowler, Colonel Weldon, and Messrs Cowslade and Lea also spoke a few words on Patriotism to the children. Patriotic songs were sung and the meeting closed with the singing of the National Anthem.

The afternoon of May 24th was observed as May Day at the schools. The May Queen, Alice May Staley, who had been previously chosen by the votes of her school fellows, made her procession from St Peter’s Hall at 3 pm, there being present the whole of the school and over 400 spectators. The Mayoress of Reading (Mrs F A Sarjeant) performed the coronation ceremony, and then presented the Queen with a silver cross and chain as a lasting memento of the occasion. Mis Eileen Joel, who was unfortunately unable to be present, had also sent a gift of a nicely bound book. The Queen in a few words returned thanks for the honour that had been done to her, and then announced a programme of Morris and Country Dances, and May Songs. The Plaiting of the May Pole by the Infants was greatly enjoyed, as were also the Fancy Skipping by two of the girls, and the Morris Dances by some of the older girls. The programme ended with “Sellinger’s Round” danced by nearly 150 children. After the National Anthem had been sung, the Queen made her recession to the Hall. A collection was made, and the proceeds sent to the “Care and Comforts” who are providing wool with which the girls will knit socks etc, to be sent to the soldiers.



Empire Day was observed as usual. In the presence of some of the Managers and Parents, the Children sang a song saluting the Flag, after the Vicar had given a short address on what our Empire stands for as the upholder of those principles of freedom, truth and justice for which we are now fighting; and he reminded the children that they could all do something for their Country in these days, by avoiding all waste of food, and, some of them, by helping their parents in the garden or allotments to produce as much food as possible.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P145/28A/31); Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1, p. 297); Pangbourne Primary School log book (C/EL78/2, p. 59); Abingdon Girls CE School log book (C/EL 2/2, p. 139); Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School log book (89/SCH/7/6, p. 186); Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, pp. 402-403); Sunninghill: St Michael’s CE Mixed School log book (88/SCH/32/3, pp. 212-213); Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 396); Reading: George Palmer Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/8/1, p. 143); Reading St Giles Boys School log book (R/ES2/9, p. 248); Priestwood School log book (C/EL69, p. 193); St Peter’s CE School, Earley: log book (SCH36/8/3); Earley St Peter parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P191/28A/24); Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

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