A badge for those who sign a paper undertaking to continue their work until the end of the war

Winkfield women were recognised fror their hard work.

On Friday, 31st August, Lady Haversham motored over from South Hill Park and very kindly presented a badge to each of the members of Mrs. Harrison’s working party at Newington House. There were 20 claimants for the badge which is given by the War Office to those who have worked continuously for 3 months or more and who sign a paper undertaking to continue their work til the end of the war.
The number of garments made and sent to the depot at South Hill Park since April, when Mrs. Harrison undertook the working party is upwards of 260, and includes socks (80 pairs), shirts and bed jackets, &c.

It will be remembered that at the sale held at Newington House in June the sum of £46 was realised, all of which is being spent on buying materials that go to make up the garments. The working party is affiliated to the Berkshire Association Voluntary Organisation of Workers.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/10)

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Canadians at Bisham

Two Canadian officers visited Bisham Abbey.

31 August 1917

2 Canadians came [in evening].

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

A substitute for certain industrial processes connected with the war

Newbury children were recruited to collect horse chestnuts for use in munitions – which would in turn release more food.

Friday, August 31st, 1917

Teacher on Military Service

The Sub-committee recommend that Mr G F Pyke, a Certificated Assistant Master on the staff at the Newbury CE Boys’ School, who has been on military service since March 31st last, be granted an allowance at the rate of £13 per annum whilst he is holding his present rank in the Army; such allowance to take effect as from April 1st, 1917.


Collection of Horse Chestnuts

A circular letter was received from the Board of Education intimating that the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Munitions had asked for the assistance of Local Education Authorities in collecting this year’s crop of horse-chestnuts.

It appears that a considerable quantity of grain is at present being used in certain industrial processes connected with the war, and that in order to set this grain free for food, experiments have been made to discover a substitute. This substitute has been found in the horse-chestnut, and it is stated that for every ton of chestnuts which are harvested, half a ton of grain can be saved for human consumption.

The secretary was asked to make the necessary arrangements with the schools for the older boys and girls to assist in collecting the horse-chestnuts in the borough and neighbourhood, and to communicate with owners of property with the view to permission being granted to parties of children to collect the nuts on their premises.

The Sub-committee have made the following arrangements for the temporary storage of the chestnuts:

(a) for children collecting north of Newbury Water Bridge: at Mr J Stradling’s premises (The Newbury Coach and Motor Works), London Road.

(b) for children collecting south of Newbury Water Bridge: the playshed of the Council Boys’ School, Station Road.

Minutes of Finance, School Management and General Purposes Sub-committee of the Education Committee, Newbury Borough Council (N/AC1/2/8)

The prospect of a long term of service

An Earley Boy Scout joined the Navy as a writer, a sailor who dealt with administration and finances on board ship. He would have been classed as a non-commissioned officer.

W G Dobson, patrol leader of the scouts’ troop, has been called up, and has successfully qualified as writer in His Majesty’s Navy. This means the prospect of a long term of service, and not for the war only.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine (D/P192/28A/14)

Pretty eloquent testimony as to what has been happening the whole country over

More and more men were serving overseas as the war intensified.

Church News

Sorrow.

It is with very deep regret that we record the death of another of our hero “boys” – John Bernard Eighteen. Tragic indeed is the grief of this family. It was only last November that his brother, Henry Thomas, was killed in action, and now the elder brother has died of severe wounds – passing away before his mother, who was hastily summoned, could reach him. To all who mourn his loss our hearts go out in deepest sympathy, and we pray that our Heavenly Farther may draw very near to comfort and to help!


Roll of Honour.

Advantage is being taken of the fact that our Membership and District Lists are being revised and reprinted, to get our Roll of Honour dealt with in the same way. That roll has steadily been growing, but up to the present has never been arranged in any sort of fixed or permanent form. When it comes to us from the printer this month we shall be able to use it in considering that final form it must take when we place it somewhere in our buildings as a memorial for all time of our part in the Great War. In the earlier stages of the struggle we thought we thought the number on our roll was fairly high when it reached twenty. It is now much nearer sixty. This fact, when one reflects that our experience is probably quite normal, is pretty eloquent testimony as to what has been happening the whole country over. It has not been exactly easy to arrange this roll, and if it should contain omissions and errors I should be very grateful if friends would kindly let me know. For the guidance of those interested, I may say here that in drawing up the list of names, the general principle followed hitherto has been to include along with the members of the Church, Institute or Congregation, sons or husbands of our members, whose names do not appear on any other Church Roll of Honour.


Khaki Chat.

The statement made last month to the effect that Leslie Newey is now in France is incorrect. We are glad that Leslie is still on this side, and much regret the slip made.

The following paragraph was omitted from last month’s columns owing to lack of space:-

The interesting quotations given below are from a letter received from a Y.M.C.A. Hut Leader in France, and will explain themselves.

“I cannot help feeling you and your people will be glad to hear that Mr. Jordan is really doing splendid work out here….. His C.O. released him that he might be my right-hand man in running this Hut in the centre of a large Hospital on the downs….. He seems as happy as the day is long and is most useful. I am sending you this quite spontaneously.”

I might add that the Hut Leader has since been invalided home, but that Mr Jordan is still at the work referred to. His new leader is a Congregational minister.


Trinity Congregational Church magazine, August 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“This weather is getting serious for the crops and just when we want an extra good one”

William Hallam was worried that bad weather would worsen food shortages.

29th August 1917

All night it rained too. This weather is getting serious for the crops and just when we want an extra good one.

It got brighter this evening tho’. An aeroplane went over just after 9 o’clock to-night. The latest I have seen one yet.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Mothers, wives and widows take on their men’s allotments

Women were picking up the slack at home when it came to tending soldiers’ allotments.

Burghfield and Sulhamstead Horticultural Society’s Annual Show

On Wednesday 29th August, it was a gratifying sight to the promoters of this Show to see so goodly a supply of produce from the cottage gardens and plots; especially when it is remembered that a large number of the gardens and allotments are being cultivated by the wives and mothers of the men who are away serving their country; and by the widows of those who have fallen in the war. The greatest credit is due to them.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Mufflers for the African troops

Men from the British colonies in Africa and elsewhere fought on the Western Front. Reading women thought they might suffer in an unaccustomed climate.

WOMEN’S MISSIONARY AUXILIARY

A number of the Broad Street members of the Auxiliary kindly undertook to knit mufflers for the African Troops now serving at the Front. These ladies are asked to be good enough to forward the mufflers to Mrs McDonald Reid, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, not later than August 28th.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Drenching rain for wounded soldiers

A rainy day at Bisham Abbey – and a party of wounded soldiers arrived by boat.

27 August 1917

Wounded came by launch. 20 of them! Poured so had games indoors & they went off about 5.30 in drenching rain.

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

A German commander with a sense of humour

On their trip to Cornwall, Florence and John Maxwell Image heard an entertaining if unlikely tale.

29 Barton Road
27 Aug. ‘17
My most dear old man

On Thursday to Landsend, stopping our car for tea at the famous Gurrend’s Head. Here was current a pleasing myth. It is a desolate scene, with one tiny farm house and a shabby aleshop calling itself an Inn. To this latter came, recently, an affable stranger in mufti, who called for a drink, wrote his name in the guest book, and went. Not until afterwards was he discovered to have been the Commander of a U-boat in the sea below! That man had a sense of humour.

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Train to increase output for Aeroplane Engines – if you can stand for 10 hours a day

Women were encouraged to sign up to train as workers in munitions factories.

Munition Training at Reading

Mr. Herbert Maryon, University College, Reading, to whom all enquiries should be addressed, desires to make known particulars of Courses of Munition Training, which are being held at Reading, to increase output [f]or Aeroplane Engines.

Candidates can take a two week’s course at Reading and, if successful, are then transferred to the Instructional Centre in London.

Candidates must be between the ages of 18 and 35, and not under 5-ft, 2ins. in height. They are required to pass a strict medical examination, and be able to stand a ten hour’s working day if necessary. A lady doctor examines all candidates at Reading.

All candidates will be required to sign an agreement to work full time in a factory in any part of the British Isles.

a) A subsistence allowance of 15s. per week if living at home or within easy reach of the College, or 25s. per week if living in lodgings, is payable to candidates accepted for training.
b) 25s. per week during the part of the course taken in London
c) One week’s further maintenance allowance of 25s. will be payable to a candidate when transferred to a factory on the satisfactory completion of the training at the Instructional Centre.

Overalls and caps are supplied to the candidates during training and these remain the property of the Centre, but 3d. per week for washing them is deducted from the allowance.

3d. per week is deducted for National Health Insurance.

Hours of Classes at Reading: – Day, 9-5 (with interval from 1-2.30); Saturdays, 9-1.

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

So the war takes toll of England’s best

Tribute is paid to a fallen soldier from Reading, a young man with much to offer his community.

In Memoriam
Wilfred Wallace Drake.

The sad news that our loved friend and brother, Lieut. Wilfred Drake, had died on August 16th, from severe wounds received in action that day, has cast quite a gloom over Trinity. It came to all who knew him as a shock of personal and poignant grief. He was so essentially a vital part of the work here that, in his passing, we have sustained a grievous loss. He was perhaps the one to whom some of us were looking to come back into the Church life and, in his inimitable way, to infuse fresh life and vigour into its various activities. It is a great blow to feel that this cannot be.
In thinking over his life, three characteristics stand out in impressive prominence.

1. His Splendid Keenness.

With what tremendous energy and enthusiasm he threw himself into any job he undertook, great or small. Shall we ever forget the eagerness with which he championed the scheme for the entertaining of Kitchener’s Army in 1914-15, and with what joyful willingness he gave up many an evening to this work? Of him it may be truly said – “No duty could over task him, No need his will outrun; Or ever our lips could ask him, His hands the work had done.”

2. His Gentility.

He was of a particular happy disposition, and his spirits were so infectious a nature that he made everyone else interested and enthusiastic. Whether it were the Children’s Choir, the Eisteddfod, an Institute picnic or tennis tournament, it went if “Drake” had anything to do with it. So great was his influence that even his telegram of good wishes for the success of the Eisteddfod of 1916 gave fresh Zest to the proceedings.

3. His Earnestness.

With all his spirits, his deep thoughtfulness impressed all who were privileged with his close friendship. He scarcely ever missed attendance at the Institute Bible School, and was of enormous help getting in other young men to join. They came at first at his word and because he was there; they stopped because they liked it, again helped by his unconscious influence. He was a simple but strong faith; he did not say much but lived out what he believed.

His activities were many and in all he excelled. From its commencement the institute owed much to his initiative and enterprise. For four years he was the superintendent of the Band of Hope, where his bright personality made him the life and soul of every meeting. The training of the children’s choir was a truly great piece of work, and not only revealed his wonderful aptitude for teaching children, but was the means by which large sums were raised for charitable objects. And how the children loved him! They will long revere the memory of their good natured and painstaking conductor, to whose careful tuition many of them owe their musical powers to-day. In the Choir he was invaluable. Possessing a baritone voice of rare quality and resonance, he was a decided acquisition, and his attendance could always be relied upon. Again, his glad willing spirit readily undertook any required service.

Lieutenant Drake received his commission over two years ago, and had been in France since June, 1916. He came home on leave only a month before his death. How little did we, who so gladly welcomed his presence at church, think it was for the last time! He was attached to a Trench Mortar Battery. Numerous are the tributes which have been received showing the deep affection and profound esteem entertained for him.

Through the kindness of Mrs. Drake we are able to print two of them.

His Commanding Officer writes:-

“I have just heard that your husband has died of wounds. I cannot say how sorry we all were. Although he had been away with the trench mortars, he of course belonged to the Regiment, and had been with us for some time. He was one of the bravest and most promising of officer’s, and his loss is greatly felt in the Regiment. Please accept my deepest sympathy and that of all ranks of the Battalion in your great loss.”

The second is from A/Sergt.-Major Holmes, and it is signed by many of the of lieut. Drake’s own Battery. It is as follows:-

“I write to you these few lines of sympathy on behalf the loss of your husband, Lieutenant Drake was, who was an officer in our Battery, and I must say that he was very much liked indeed by all N.C.O’s. and men. It is now we miss him, and many a time I have heard my men say, ‘Isn’t it a pity we lost Mr. Drake?’ And I am sure it is also, for I, as well as all the others, was always fond of such a brave and noble officer as he proved himself to be.

The following are names of the N.C.O.’s and men who came out of the last action; they all asked me to write, and all send their deepest sympathy to you, the wife of a noble Officer of the British Army.”

So the war takes toll of England’s best, and when it claimed Wilfred Drake, it took one whose life would have enriched our land wherever it had been lived. Yet he is not dead, for that spirit cannot die. For us its memory will never fade, but will live as an inspiration to all who knew and loved it, and “the friendships thus made in God will grow through a;; eternity” till we meet before the great white throne and all “the shadows flee away.”

But what of his loss to his loved ones? To his young wife, whose joyful wedding lingers still in all memories, our hearts go out in tender thought, and to her and to his parents, mourning the loss of their only son, we offer our heartfelt sympathy, praying that God of all consolation may comfort their hearts.

On Sunday morning, August 26th, the choir sang very impressively “What are these?” (Stainer), and Mr. Goodenough played “O rest in the Lord. ”At the Bible School in the afternoon.” Mr Streeter made feeling reference to our great loss, and a vote of condolence with Mrs. Drake and the bereaved parents was passed. Mr. E.C. Croft gave a beautiful rendering of R.L. Stevenson’s “Requiem.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“Many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Christmas”

An army chaplain with links to Mortimer shares details of his life in Normandy.

Mr Bowden writes:-

Dear Vicar,

It is a long time since I sent a contribution to the Magazine, not that I have forgotten Mortimer but I have so little of interest to relate. My work is now in the docks area – I have charge of No. 2 General Hospital, on the quay alongside which the hospital ships lie and take in the wounded direct from the trains to convey them to Southampton. Any cases which prove too bad for the boat journey we take in to our hospital which is directly over the railway station, and occasionally we get a train load for treatment at No. 2. We have three very fine, airy wards; and a broad balcony facing the sea runs the whole length of the hospital; in the summer we place many beds out there – the men love to be in the open air and watch the shipping and the aircraft. The hospital commands a fine view of the town on one side and the mouth of the Seine with Trouville and Honfleur on the other.

In addition to hospital work I have some 1,500 Army Ordnance and 650 Army Service Corps men to work amongst. These are busy on the docks all day long but can be seen in the Recreation Huts and in their billets in the evening and at meal times.

There are plenty of amusements provided for them – some sort of entertainment almost every night. We also have recently acquired a recreation ground for their use and a cricket ground as well as a tennis court for officers and N.C.O.’s.

It might be of interest if I give my Sunday programme – I start early with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 6 a.m. for the A.O.D. in a little chapel near their quarters – another celebration at 7 a.m. for the hospital staff in a hut on the quay. This is always followed by a series of private Communions to sick men and officers in the various wards and huts; [sic] then back to breakfast. I used to have a Parade Service at 10-30 for the R.A.M.C. but have dropped it as it was an inconvenient time for the men. At 11-30 we have a Parade Service for the A.O.D. in one of the warehouses on the docks – the men climb up on the boxes all round a space left for the purpose – we have a good choir, an hearty service, and then the men go straight off to their dinner at noon, or soon after.

Then I have nothing till 5-15 when I hold Ward Services in hospital – these are very much appreciated by the patients and are of an informal nature as all denominations join in. The men love singing hymns and the Sisters come and help form a choir. At 7 p.m. we are now having open-air services in the A.S.C. camp on the river front between the docks and hospital. Here the men are mostly getting on in years – I believe the average age is about 42 – All younger men have long since been sent “up the line.” Of course a large portion of both A.S.C. and A.O.D. men have done their bit at the front in various units and have been sent back to work at the Base owing to wounds or some physical disability rendering them unfit for the fighting line.

Sometimes my day ends here or I have a service at the Y.M.C.A. or in one of the other huts, in turn with other Padres.

We have many destroyers constantly alongside the quays, the escorts for hospital ships, transports, &c. I go aboard when I can but generally most of the sailors are sleeping as they are working all night and its [sic] not often possible to hold a Service for them, but one gets some interesting talks with men and officers.

Just now we have a Mortimer man in hospital – Sergt. Shackleford – he is doing very well. He is only the second man I have met from the parish since I joined the B.E.F. – the other being Frank Parsons.

We are all very cheerful about the position of things just now and many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Xmas.

With best wishes to all friends.

Yours very sincerely,

W. S. Bowden, C.F.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Sanctified manliness

A young man – probably still a teenager – who was an influential figure at the Sunday School he attended, was the latest Tilehurst man to join up.

We cannot go to press this month without wishing the very best to our Senior Scholar, Mr Sidney Fowler, who joins the forces on August 24th. We shall remember him and his relatives amid all that the future may mean to them, and shall pray that he may exert among his comrades the influence of sanctified manliness that his classmates have felt from him hitherto.

Tilehurst Congregational Church section of Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“He died, as he had always lived with us, a brave and perfect gentleman”

Tribute is paid to two Caversham men.

S. Peter’s

IN MEMORIAM

Second–Lieutenant Thomas Clark Powell, R.G.A.

Born in 1897, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cotton Powell, of Fairlawn, Caversham, he was educated at Ashdown House, Forest Row, and at Shrewsbury. At the latter school he had a distinguished career: he became head of his house and a cadet Officer in the Officers’ Training Corps, and at the end of 1915 he was elected to an open Mathematical Scholarship at New College, Oxford.

On leaving in 1916 he obtained a commission in the R.G.A., and went to the front in France in September of the same year. He was slightly wounded early this year, and on the night of July 14th was struck by a shell and mortally wounded, dying shortly after reaching the Casualty Clearing Station; and so closing a career of great promise.

An Officer of his Battery writes:

“He had been tending our wounded, and was mending the telephone lines, when he was hit. He died, as he had always lived with us, a brave and perfect gentleman.”

S. John’s

We regret to have to record the death of Harry Borton, sidesman at S. John’s. He is the first of the officials connected with the church in our district to give his life in war service at the front. He was not very well known to many at as. John’s. For he was of a very quiet and retiring nature and fond of his home. But he was regularly in church on a Sunday morning with his wife and used to sit well to back on the pulpit side. Mrs. Borton may be sure she has the sympathy of the congregation in her sorrow.

Caversham parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P162/28A/7)