Setting such a good example in food economy, that at present there is not much prospect of compulsory rationing

Reading clergy agreed none of their churches would put on a tea for Sunday School children this year.

THE VICAR’S LETTER

My dear friends,

The Bishop of Oxford, in the Diocesan Magazine for this month, calls especial attention to the effort that is to be made following on the National Mission of last year. To stimulate prayer and interest and self-sacrifice for the overseas work of the Church, Sunday, October 14th, and the days following have been set apart for this purpose in Reading, and we hope that there will be a wide response. The Bishop expresses his earnest wish that we and our people should realise the great obligations laid upon us by the war for the evangelization of the world…

At a meeting of the clergy, of all denominations in Reading, held a short time ago, it was resolved that there should be no Sunday School Teas as usual, but that an afternoon should be set aside for games and sports. We are sure that both children and parents will feel that at this time public meals of any sort are to be avoided. We understand that so many town, including Reading, are setting such a good example in food economy, that at present there is not much prospect of compulsory rationing.

Your friend and vicar,
W W Fowler

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list: George Bernard, Bernard Walker, Charles Simmonds, Ernest Dormer, William Cooper.

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

KILLED IN ACTION: Albert Denham, Frank Snellgrove, George Jeram.

SICK: Alban Fixsen, William May, Cornelius O’Leary, Francis Broadhurst.

WOUNDED: Frederick Smithers, Frank Taylor, Gilbert Adams.

MISSING: William Wynn.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

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By boat from Cliveden

A group of wounded soldiers recuperating at Cliveden visited Bisham by boat.

strong>30 July 1917
Wounded from Cliveden came by launch.

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

Carrying on under exceptional circumstances

A Slough soldier came to visit his old school while home on leave.

July 30th 1917

Lieutenant Henry Chilverd R.F.A came to the school today. He was promoted to Sec[ond] Lieutenant in the regular army eighteen months ago for ‘carrying on’ with his battery under exceptional circumstances.

He had been in the army before the war and also served in the North West – Canada. His younger brother was the first of our old boys to be killed in this war.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 399)

“One can’t do too much to make these young colonials comfortable”

Florence Vansittart Neale despaired of the situation on the Russian Front, while William Hallam and his wife offered some home comforts to Australian soldiers.

Florence Vansittart Neale
29 July 1917

Russia hopelessly rotten. Retreating all along.

William Hallam
29th July 1917

Up at 10 past 5 and to work. How I am getting fed up with this week and work. Home at ¼ past 1 to dinner. Our Tasmanian came in to dinner and tea with his two chums Gordon Inglis and Percy Crane from Hobart. They are certainly 3 of the nicest fellows I’ve ever met and I feel one can’t do too much to make these young colonials comfortable and give them a home comfort when we can. Very wet, raining hard.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Special intercession for the war

An open air service organised by a Reading church commemorated the start of the war.

OPEN-AIR SERVICE ON THE LAWN

The open-air services held on the lawn under the auspices of the Men’s Service seem to have been greatly appreciated, and we have been encouraged to arrange a similar service this month. It will be held on the last Sunday in the month, July 29th, at 3.30 pm.

As this is the Sunday before the 3rd anniversary of the declaration of war, we shall have special intercession in connection with the war. The address will be given by the vicar; his subject will be announced later. The service will be open to all, both women and men.

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

“All right, now mind all you – will attend the next – parade”

Back in the UK as he undertook officer training, Percy Spencer was amused by a sergeant particularly keen on ensuring religious observance.

July 29, 1917
My dear WF

Sunday, and if there could have been any doubt about it, this was settled by the burly orderly sergeant who appeared in our hut at 9.50 am and in stentorian tones demanded all Nonconformists on parade. Nobody moving, he added. “All right, now mind all of you – will attend the next – parade, C of E. Doesn’t matter a – what you are. Understand?” and I’ve no doubt he sings hymns beautifully.

There are strong rumours that we should be away from here by Friday next at latest. But I have nothing definite to go upon.

If I get 3 or 4 days I shall run up to London and get my kit together. Here I have nothing but army clothes. At the cadet school I shall want quite a lot of civilian things I have.

I am writing on the front at Abergele, a very quiet little place, charmingly situated north of St Ormes Head. On Tuesdays we come here to bathe – a great privilege but rather spoilt by the march here which the officer who takes us tries to do at 150 paces a minute, a frightful step.

I’ve heard from Will this week. He seems very well and still deep in the heights of mountains and size of lakes.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/6/58-61)

Squads of schoolboys to bring in the harvest

Shortages of labour due to the vast numbers of men gone to the war combined with restricted imports to lead to fears for a food crisis.

Public School Boys as Harvesters

The Director-General of National Service has appealed for the help of the elder boys from Public and Secondary Schools as a Reserve of Labour.

There has been good response from the Schools on the part of the Masters and Boys.

Free railway warrants are to be provided for volunteers undertaking work for two consecutive weeks in term time or three consecutive weeks in the holidays.

Boys will be organised in squads. Each squad will be in charge of an assistant master.

Squads will not be asked to do any work under this Scheme on Sundays.

Boys will receive the current rate of wages applicable to the locality, i.e. 3d to 4d. per hour. Boys will only be paid for work done. When not employed through wet weather or for other reasons, they will receive no pay.

Squads for fruit picking are included in the Scheme.

The Rev. R. Holmes, White Waltham Vicarage, Maidenhead, is Secretary for this District and he has asked the Vicar, the Rev. S. M. Winter, to act as Local Correspondent for Wargrave. Applications for the services of such volunteer workers for further particulars should be addressed to him.

Potato Spraying

The Food Protection Committee, through the kindness of the President, have taken steps to obtain Sprayers and the necessary Spraying Material.

The Sprayers will be lent by the Committee to all who require them, and the Liquid will be obtainable at cost price.

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

Donations for wounded army horses

Berkshire schools were affected by the war in varying ways.

Abingdon Girls’ CE School
1917, 23rd-27th July

As last year the County Council gave War Time Certificates instead of Prizes.

During the year the girls have sent:

1. To the Jack Cornwall Fund for Memorial Ward – 13/
2. Xmas puddings for soldiers at the Front – one guinea
3. To the RSPCA Fund for sick and wounded army horses – 12/
4. The Overseas Fund on Empire Day – 7/

Broadmoor School
27th July 1917

Miss Haines was allowed to leave school at 2 o’clock on Monday to see a friend from the trenches.

Charlton Infant School
27th July 1917

The usual school treat is not taking place this year, in accordance with the wishes of the Food Controller.

Abingdon Girls’ CE School log book (C/EL 2/2); Crowthorne: Broadmoor School log book (C/EL100); Charlton Infant School log book (C/EL12)

The “Scroungers’ Retreat”

Percy Spencer wrote to sister Florence to tell her about his experiences in officer training. His fellow trainees were mainly NCOs with experience of the worst of the war, and were not easily corraled by their superiors.

Attd C Company
58th TRB
Sergeants Mess
No 9 Camp
Kinmel Park
Rhyl

July 26, 1917
My dear WF

I’m very fit indeed, working very hard and always hungry. We are exceptionally well fed, I think, and conditions are good.

It’s very difficult to write as several of the boys are telling their experiences, and every now and then they touch ground I know and I have to join in. One man has just been minutely describing the bundling and labelling of corpses for the fat factory as seen by him, and another the manacling of maritime gunners to their guns, also as seen by him. Both descriptions are so minute and definite as to be convincing. I’ve only to meet someone who has actually seen a corpse factory and I shall be a confirmed Kadaverite.

The battle of wits – the staff v. us continues with varying success. The routine is changed daily to put us off our stroke and get ahead of us, but the same crowd who lay themselves out to “dodge the column” successfully carry on just as usual, appearing on parade, answering the roll call and vanishing into the blue before any work is done with consistent ability. This rather large section of our number have a discipline of their own. Backsliders are dealt with by courtmartial. Absence from the “Scroungers Retreat” (a quiet marquee in the neighbourhood) seems to be the most seriously looked upon offence, and is dealt with very harshly, the punishment being I believe to attend next parade and answer for all the others from their hut who are not there.

Of course, being out of training, I find the work very hard indeed, quite apart from my ignorance of it which is another difficulty with me, but I can feel myself growing straighter and stronger every day and look forward to being a Samson soon.

By the way I’ve had 2 days trench digging. It’s extraordinary how difficult such a menial job as digging earth and throwing it out of the trench is. An experienced man will throw his shovel of earth intact 10-20 feet away in any direction. The novice finds it difficult to throw and direct and very hard to keep together.

I can see I shall very soon be nailed down to drill and books – that is, as soon as I get to a cadet unit. Until then I’m not taking this business too seriously, and simply concentrate upon breaking myself in physically. You’d scacrcely credit how absurdly soft my hands and feet were. They are hardening up rapidly, but I’m still a pretty blistered object.

Well my dear girl, I feel this is a very uninteresting letter, but conditions are very trying for letter writing so you’ll have to please excuse it.

With my dear love to you both
Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/53-57)

Voluntary workers get badges

Ladies from Crazies Hill were honoured for their hard work sewing and knitting for the wounded.

Crazies Hill Notes

With reference to the Working Party, Miss Rhodes has kindly forwarded the following:-

The Director General of Voluntary Organizations has issued Voluntary Workers’ Badges to the following members of the Crazies Hill Working Party who are entitled to a Badge, under the rules of the Association:-

Mrs. French Miss Kate Willis
Mrs. Whiting Miss Fleming
Mrs. Light Miss A. Fleming
Mrs. Waldron Mrs. Barfoot
Mrs. Habbits Mrs. Norris
Mrs. Stephens Miss Goodall
Mrs. King Mrs. Huckle
Miss Rose Mrs. Rhodes
Miss Mary Rose Miss Rhodes
Miss Beck

A letter received from the Secretary of the Hon. Lady Monro’s Hospital Depot says:

“Will you congratulate your workers for the splendid way in which they have worked and for the quality and quantity of their work and that we shall expect and hope for their help next winter. The following is a list of the things made:-

Pyjamas 132
Slippers 28
Mufflers 24
Slings 18
Socks 7 pairs
Mittens 13 pairs
Bed Socks 3 pairs
Helmets 112
Swabs 11
Bed Jackets 11
Treasure Bags 30

Sent to Bartholomews Hospital:-
4 Bed Jackets
13 Bed Gowns.”

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

“I know that the Mothers will take these restrictions in the right spirit”

One Reading parish offered war savings certificates in lieu of food at the Sunday School treat.

The Vicar’s Notes

This year, in accordance with directions of the food controller, there will be no tea in connection with our Sunday School treat; but to make up for this, it is proposed to give every child a 6d. War Stamp. So I hope all parishioners will give a warm welcome to our collectors when they come round for contributions. Wednesdays the 25th (St James’ Day) has been suggested as the probable date for the treat; and the schools in each district of the parish will arrange separately for sports to be held on any grounds that may be conveniently close by. There will be no joint gathering or procession of the children. I am sorry too that the Mother’s Meeting’s teas will have to be suspended this year throughout the Parish; but I know that the Mothers will take these restrictions in the right spirit.

Intercessions

Our wounded especially Roy Russell (now in hospital at Lincoln). Arthur Russell (just wounded in France).
For prisoners, especially Charles Mercott (one of our servers, now a prisoner of war in Germany).
For the fallen, especially John Middleton-Cross (killed instantly in action in Belgium on June 7th)
R.I.P.

Thanksgiving
For the recovery of Ian Dunbar Dickson (wounded near Salonika).

Reading St Mary parish magazine, July1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

“Three members have given their lives for their Country”

The Reading St Giles branch of the Church of England Men’s Society took stock of the numbers of their felllows who had joined up.

The annual meeting of our branch of the C.E.M.S. was held on the 24th [July]. Three members have given their lives for their Country: Randolph Portnell, Reginald Golder, Harry Gorring; and 28 members are now in the Navy or Army.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P96/28A/32)

“Personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy” in Russia

Customary insistence that churchgoers should wear their Sunday best had gone by the wayside.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

This short line comes to greet you in the midst of what I hope will be pleasant summer weather. The very beauty of Nature around us must make us in our green Island think of the goodness of God’s bounty to us all ; and it must in our thankfulness suggest to us how great our sympathy should be with all those of our kith and kin, who in weariness too often, in hardship too frequent, are on our behalf in the shell-scarred, dusty, noisome trenches of many foreign lands.

I would not exhort, as Vicar, for just now we are all very ready to stir each other up to action, but I would rather beg of you as a fellow worshipper, that we should try not to grow weary or fainthearted in our prayers for those we love, whether at home or in Church. St Luke’s Church is open always from 8 am to 6 pm, later on Fridays and Sundays; St Peter’s is open, too. Those who cannot find a quiet corner at home, can find one there. Working clothes do not matter; God wants our hearts, not fine clothes.

There is, too, the War Shrine to provide a centre for our prayers. And many could come to the weekly Friday Intercession Service. We have to remember that life is not the only boon we can ask for those we love but that honour, purity, and straightforwardness are even greater things. I think we are all doing this pretty well; but I suppose we could none of us honestly say we could not do a great deal better…

Now may I say one ward as regards Treats, etc. The War certainly imposes on us the need for great economy. All expenses should, so far as possible, be cut down. But the War has already lasted nearly three years, and owing to the Republican disorder in Russia, the hope of an early Peace has faded away; though the entry of the United States into the War has made more certain than ever before a full and final victory. We must all hope for a speedy settlement in the land of our great Russian Ally; personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy.

So, many children are fast growing up without much memory of the peaceful days before the War. For them there should be, I think, very simple and economic Treats. I hope those who agree with me will support our Sunday School Fund during this month. I feel that the Mothers are another class who should have some little outing, as cheap as possible, of course, still a little change from the daily work and anxiety…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

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

Aeroplanes flying about

Over the county border at Swindon, William Hallam was entertained by the sight of trainee pilots practicing their newfangled art.

23rd July 1917
Another hot day. 13 aeroplanes flying about here at dinnertime.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

“Our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty”

The parish of Newbury feared the Russian Revolution would make the war longer.

The War still drags on, and the Revolution in Russia has not tended towards making it shorter: our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty, and may stand firm against the enemy.

The War has lately claimed two more of our men, and we offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Cox, of 6, Rosemary Terrace, and Mrs Preston, of 3, Rosemary Terrace, on the loss of their husbands. Several of our CLB lads have lately had to join up. There is still urgent need for economy in the matter of our food, and a food economy exhibition has lately been held in the Corn Exchange.

It is most unfortunate that, just as new and most suitable premises had been secured for the Soldiers’ Club, all the soldiers should disappear from Newbury: and the committee are accordingly left in a difficulty as to what to do. At this moment the club is furnished, but is not open, and we cannot hear of any more soldiers coming. The Secretary and Treasurer of the Club is Miss Godding, and the Committee are Mrs S A Hawker, Mrs O’Farrell, Mrs H Hollands, Mrs Palmer, and Miss A Boyer. These ladies have made the Club a great success by their hard work, and with the assistance of other helpers.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)