Lemonade crystals for the troops

Ascot soldiers and sailors received regular parcels from home. The contents included concentrate to make a fizzy lemon drink.

ASCOT SAILORS’ AND SOLDIERS’ COMMITTEE.

The object of this Committee is to keep in touch with every Ascot man who is serving his Country abroad, and to show appreciation of what he is doing. Correspondence is kept up with the men and parcels are sent out periodically.

Recently, parcels have been sent out to 101 men, namely:

10 in the Navy, consisting of book, pipe and socks. 63 in the B.E.F., consisting of matches, candle, bootlaces, towel, lemonade crystals, soap, pipe, and 1/4lb. of tobacco.

28 in the M.E.F. and India, consisting of lemonade crystals, socks, pipe, 1/4lb. of tobacco and tinder.

In sending these the Committee have found a number of changes of address, and several additions to the number of men serving. In future, in order to avoid disappointment, it is important that any changes should be at once notified to any member of the Committee or to Mr. W.H. Tottie.

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

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Back to school

Two war heroes visited their old primary school when home on leave.

September 21st 1917.
Visited by two old boys who have received the military medal, Sergeant J. Ferguson and Lance Corporal F. Brooks.

Crowthorne C.E. School log book (D/P102B/28/3, p. 15)

Fresh push on

The news from the front was good, but there were still casualties. Nurse Phyllis Vansittart Neale had her anticipated leave cut because she was so busy with the influx.

20 September 1917

Fresh push on – quite successful – over 2000 prisoners.

Heard Phyllis could not get full week now, so taking 4 days from 26th.

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

“We are proud of the patriotism he has shown”

A middle aged dad from Winkfield whose son had been killed decided to join up himself.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

Pte. Fred Blay, who only recently went out to France, has, we regret to learn, been badly gassed and complications of bronchitis and inflammation have ensued. He is now in Hospital in England and going on as well as can be expected.

Pte. E.C. Nichols has lately joined the M.T.A.S.C. As his age is 46 he is the veteran of our parish. We are proud of the patriotism he has shown and sympathise deeply with him and his family in the recent loss of the eldest son George.

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

“He went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed”

The striking figure of an army chaplain who had studied with the rector of Sulhamstead prior to taking Holy Orders is remembered.

There must still be many in the parish who remember Mr Eli Cobham, a pupil at the Rectory. They will recall his great height, 6 feet 2 inches, and his capabilities in the cricket and football field. It was with great sorrow that we heard of his death last year, in German East Africa. Many incidents of a short but adventurous life were given in the “Greater Britain Messenger”, from which we take some of the following facts.

After much hesitation concerning his own unworthiness, he was ordained to a curacy at All saints, Fishponds. In this post he accepted no stipend. Canon Welchman says that there were few who knew his liberality [generosity]. The lectern was his anonymous gift, and the inscription he chose was “His dominion shall be from sea to sea”. He was afterwards vicar of All Saints, Fishponds.

From here he went to America, and worked his way back as a trimmer in the stoke-hold of a steamer, so as to get experience of what the men had to do and endure. Strong as he was, he found the labour almost beyond his powers.

In 1913 he resigned his living to work in East Africa, where he had 16 centres for service, in some of which he could only hold a service once or twice a year. He enlisted directly the war broke out, and used what time he had from soldiering to act as a Chaplain. He relates how he went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed. Details of his death are not known, but the bare announcement states that on September 19th, 1917, the Rev. Elijah Cobham died from “wounds received while carrying in the wounded, somewhere in German East Africa”. He was a man of deep spirituality, and when discussing even trifling details, his invariable remark was “Let’s pray about it first”.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, April 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“There must be a certain satisfaction to know he died bravely for his King and Country”

There was sad news of several men from Sunninghill.

The Vicar’s Letter

Again I am sorry to have to record the death of two more Sunninghill men. Pte. H. F. Simmonds, who was missing for some weeks, must now be regarded as having been killed. His Commanding Officer writes to say that there can be but little doubt about it, as a shell fell between three men, one of whom was Pte. Simmonds. Our sincerest sympathy is given to Mr. and Mrs. Simmonds in their great bereavement. Pte. Simmonds was in the Civil Service Rifles.

Pte. Gilbert Norris, of the Australian Imperial Forces has also been killed. Though he has not been seen here for some time, he was a native of Sunninghill, and we ask his widow, relations, and friends to accept our condolences.

Corporal Dalton, I am glad to say, is progressing satisfactorily after having been wounded in the leg.

Cheapside News

The fortunes of our soldiers serving at the various Fronts are the chief subjects of interest in Cheapside, as elsewhere, at present.

Mrs. Beale received a letter from the Major of the Battalion in which her son William was serving at the time of his death. He wrote:

“He was a splendid man, and highly thought of by all who came in contact with him. Allow me to express to you my heartfelt sympathy, but at the same time there must be a certain satisfaction to know he died bravely for his King and Country.”

Cecil Godwin has been wounded and is in hospital, but reports himself able to walk about, so it is hoped that it is not serious.

Sunninghill parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P126/28A/1)

Blackberries for the war

This was the first of many occasions on which children at a school in Datchet were sent off to pick blackberries. The fruit was made into jam to send to the troops.

17 September 1917
The children went up blackberrying.

Datchet National Mixed School log book (SCH30/8/3, p. 400)

One more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better

A reluctant but determined soldier, son of a Congregational minister, paid the ultimate price.

After many months of anxious waiting, definite news has come of the death in action, on November 13th, 1916, at Beaumont Hamel, of Mr. Philip G Steer, and so one more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better. Phil Steer was a son of a manse, and all who knew him looked forward to a great future for him. Combined with a charming manner, he had great qualities of mind. After leaving school he took his B.A. degree, and before he was 21 he was already in the responsible position of assistant master in a public school. The writer well remembers his 21st birthday, for it occurred during our second Trinity Young Peoples Camp in the Isle of Wight, and it was during that delightful fortnight’s companionship that some of us learned the qualities of our friend.

He joined up immediately war broke out, and went through hard fighting in France. When he was promoted on the field for gallantry. He was badly wounded, but recovered quickly and was soon back in France again. Now he has gone, and to those of us who still hoped against hope that he might be a prisoner, the news of his death has come as a great sorrow, and our special sympathy and affection go out to his family in the terrible loss which has come to them. So the great War takes its heavy toll of our best, and we owe it to them who have willingly laid down their lives for a great cause that we carry on their fight till our enemies confess that might is not right, and a true and lasting peace can be achieved.

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

A war bride’s banns

While nursing the troops, Elizabeth “Bubble” Vansittart Neale had fallen in love with Leo Paget (1889-1951), a Captain in the Rifle Brigade, whose father was a General in the Royal Artillery. The couple’s wedding would take place at Bisham Church in October 1917.

16 September 1917

Bubs’ banns read for 1st time.

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

Racy remarks from a soldier on leave

Members of the men’s group at Broad Street Church in Reading were urged to set up a war savings scheme.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

During the month [of September], in common with other Brotherhoods in the district, we took up a collection on behalf of the Shilling Fund which is being raised by the “Reading Standard” for the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and our members contributed the magnificent sum of 104 shillings. This is one of the best individual collections made by our society for some time.

It is an object which has the sympathy of all our members.

It was with great pleasure that we welcomed back our assistant secretary Brother A H Cooper on his leave. He certainly looks well, and his racy remarks were much appreciated.

At the invitation of our committee, Miss Darker, secretary of the Reading Local Central Committee of the National War Savings Committee, addressed members on Sunday afternoon, September 16th, and very ably and tactfully explained the war savings scheme.

Her remarks were attentively listened to, and the frequent applause leaves little doubt that the committee will consider it advisable to form a Broad Street PSA Brotherhood War Savings Association.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“Everything getting most scandalously dear”

William Hallam was shocked by the latest price rises, but was still patriotically investing in war savings certificates.

15th September 1917

Fine to-day again. Worked till 5. To-night after tea and I had washed, shaved and changed I went down to the Frome Hotel and got 2 pints of ale 1/= then along Bath Rd, bought a W.S.C. 15/6, then walked along looking in the shop windows. B[ough]t an oz of Red Bell tobaccos 6d. and a box of matches 1½d. Everything getting most scandalously dear. Coming back I went into Bath Rd reading room till ½ past 8. Very dark coming home. To bed at 10.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

Wounded men dig potatoes

Some wounded soldiers helped to feed themselves.

14th September 1917

Payment to wounded men for digging potatoes.

The payment of 3£ divided amongst 8 of the wounded soldiers for assisting in getting up the potatoes for the Hospital was approved.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2, p. 345)

Two sons killed, two more at the front

More news of Reading men. One mother had now lost half of her children.

Intercession List

Privates Alfred Goodger, A. Palmer, G. Clack.

Wounded: Corpl. E. Durman, 2nd Lieut. G.A.F. Gillmor.

Departed: Capt. A. Hudson, R. Berks Rt.; Hugh Willis, R.A.M.C.; E.A. Pearce, R Berks Rt. (attached T.M.B.)

R.I.P.: Private Pearce was one of our most regular Sunday school teachers and servers. Our sympathies go out to the widowed mother, two of whose sons have been killed, while two more are at the front.

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

“We have lost another of our lads”

Many young Ascot men had paid the ultimate price, or suffered life changing injuries.

We are sorry to say that we have lost another of our lads, Stephen J. Bennett, or the Royal Engineers. He was a member of the Church Lads’ Brigade, and was due home, after eighteen months at the Front, for leave, when he fell, and may he rest.

Albert Victor Cook, of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, also fell on April 9th.

Many others from our parish have been wounded, and two have been discharged, crippled.

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

The war will be followed by a revolution

A soldier home on leave envisaged potential revolution after the war.

THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

No very penetrating observation of the signs of the times is necessary to discover that in all probability the war will be followed in England by disturbances which may amount to a revolution. If many people are unaware of the urgency of this peril it is because the greater part of labour is still inarticulate and because, in response to the demand for an appearance of unity at all costs, labour is at present willing to wait till the war should be ended before it makes its demands known.

Many factors will combine to precipitate the crisis. The days before the war were full of a growing industrial unrest on the one hand, and the example of threatened civil war on the other. The Irish rebellion, the growth of Sinn Fein, and, above all, the Russian Revolution, have had influences greater almost than can be imagined. Sources of irritation and distrust are to be found in the conduct of the war itself. Finally, the end of the war will leave society in a state of flux in which all who were discontented with the old state of things will see a condition propitious for change. And they will have learned the use of bayonets ….

It will always be surprising to some people that any radical change should be thought desirable in “free England”; still more so that a revolution should be deemed necessary to bring it about. But they forget that political freedom, even when it exists, does not imply an economic equivalent. They hardly realise that millions of the men and women of “free England” are condemned by our economic system to spend their lives in joyless drudgery for a wage which hardly permits mere physical efficieny. Such conditions are strangulation to the spiritual in man; and the very danger lies in this. It is not ideals that make revolutions; it is empty stomachs and empty souls, and hunger may desperately clutch the wrong things and content itself with the purely material.

What remedy, then, can we offer? The placid politicians who propose mere goodwill can have no idea of the acuteness of the situation.

Russell Brain

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