It is hoped to hand the Lunatic Asylum over as a war hospital

Cost and staffing pressures affected the county Lunatic Asylum at Cholsey.

War Bonuses to the Attendants, Nurses and Artizan [sic] Staff have been increased in view of the existing conditions of the labour market.

Since the commencement of the war 37 male Attendants and other employees have joined the colours. Two of these have been awarded the Military Medal, 7 wounded, and 4 have been killed or have died….

The continued high prices ruling for provisions and all necessary articles has necessitated the raising of the maintenance charges from 11/8 to 12/3 per patient per week. The Committee fear that in view of the prevailing conditions, this figure may have to be revised at no distant date….

At the request of the Board of Control the Committee have agreed to receive, subject to certain conditions as regards the provision of the necessary extra Staff, to receive [sic] a number of patients from another Asylum. This step has been rendered necessary by the shortage of Hospital accommodation, which it is hoped to remedy by handing over the Asylum in question to the War Office for that purpose….

Annual report of Committee of Visitors of the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, year ending 31 March 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

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Savings for the Church Army Hut Fund

The parish of Reading St Mary devoted Lent collections to the Church Army’s work with soldiers behind the lines.

Lenten Savings for the Church Army Hut Fund should be sent in to the Priest-in-Charge at the Vestry at any of the services about Easter time. The boxes provided are much too large to go into the alms bags. Of course, any who prefer to give paper money or cheques may enclose them in envelopes and place them in the alms bags as usual, with the words “Church Army Hut Fund” written on the outside.

Reading St Mary parish magazine (D/P116B/28A/2)

This time of great national anxiety

It was another worrying Easter.

The services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday were well attended and it was satisfactory to notice that at this time of great national anxiety a larger number than usual came to meet our Risen Saviour in his Holy Communion, and pray for their loved ones at His service. In spite of the shortages and high prices many offerings of beautiful flowers were brought to the Church, which looked its best, thanks to the care and taster of those who so lovingly arranged them.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

“Oh! the pain inside”

The ongoing struggle continued to concern Florence Vansittart Neale.

31 March 1918

Still holding but daily expecting more awful thrusts.

Easter Day….
11th day of battle! Oh! the pain inside. Pray that Amiens won’t be reached.

Victory in Mesopotamia. 5000 Turks & heaps of material retaken.


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

Very few men in khaki at Easter service this year

Were all the soldiers already at the Front, or had religious enthusiasm declined as the war went on and on?

The number of Communicants on Easter Day [31 March] was slightly less than in the preceding year, but it was noticeable that there were very few men in khaki this year.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

“These things cannot be done in five minutes – but do you not think that nearly 4 months is rather a long delay?”

Sydney Spencer was increasingly frustrated that he was still on the home front.

Copy of a letter I sent to Brigadier General Pratt [sic?] commanding 208th Inf. Brigade at Doncaster on Easter Sunday March 31st 1918.

From The Brigade Gas Officer
208th Inf. Brigade

To the Commander
208th Inf. Brigade

Sir:

I have the honour to lay the following request before you hoping that it will meet with the great consideration which you have shewn at all times towards me in my rather unhappy position. May I be forgiven if for the moment I break through that necessary reserve which rightly exists between a junior subaltern & his General Officer Commanding, & write rather more openly than official language will allow, even being you, for the time being, as one who has seen more of life & service than I have lived years, & one who has shewn great sympathy & willingness to aid me towards the one great end to which I unceasingly look, rather than as my superior officer to whom I have no right to address the following in such terms as I am about to use.

Sir: both you & General Fortescue before you have done your best to get me overseas, & have rightly understood the unenviable position I am now in, & yet nothing has happened. My first definite application through the Brigade to the Division must have reached the division at about Christmas time. Since then other applications have gone in. Nothing has come of it. Lord Stanley, when he was with the Brigade, told me to be patient & that these things cannot be done in five minutes. I realize that, but do you not think that nearly 4 months is rather a long delay? Hence I feel driven to ask the following favour. May I be allowed an interview with the General Officer commanding the Division so that I may know what are his real feelings about my position.

General Fortescue, Colonel Harris told me in Sheffield last week, definitely stated that the taking up of my post as Brigade Gas Officer would in no way interfere with my going out as a SS officer should the opportunity arise. In five days time I shall have held my appointment 5 months. Six months is the full term of this office according to ACI Instructions. Frankly, Sir, if I have given satisfaction in my work, & if I have put enthusiasm into the Battalion Gas officers under me, & they have given me every support, as this last week has shewn, it is on my part, an enthusiasm born of an unceasing desire to keep from becoming despondent, & lose after nearly 3 years home service as a General Service Officer. May I hope that the length of this letter, & the language in which it is couched, has in no way given offence.

I have the honour, Sir,
To be
Your obedient servant

Sydney Spencer Lieut
Doncaster

31.3.13

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12)

Foch to be Generalissimo

Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) was appointed to take command of the Allied forces.

30 March 1918
Foch to be Generalissimo of Allied forces. French reserves helping.

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

An interned Norwegian in good spirits

Henrik Maria Ulich had been interned at Reading since July 1917. He was a Norwegian in his early 50s, and worked as a steward.

[to] The Governor
M.O., Place of Internment, Reading

Mar. 30 1918

For the information of the relations of Henrik Ulich. He is in the Royal Berks Hospital. We find an obstruction to the passage of food, and an operation may be necessary. He is in good spirits, and is willing that we should do what we think best for him.
W. J. Freeman

30 March 1918
Henrik Ulich
The attached letter from the Medical Officer is submitted for the purpose of being forwarded to the man’s wife if the Commissioners think it desirable – through the Norwegian Consul. I give the last address his wife wrote from – letter received today –
C M Morgan

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Still having to endure patiently

Good Friday was always a sober day in the church calendar, and the mounting toll at the Front added to the melancholy mood.

29 March 1918

Good Friday. Our feelings so in keeping with the day. Still having to endure patiently. Our line held but moving back slowly….
More soldiers lost!

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

Newbury’s Roll of Honour: Part 1

So many men from Newbury had been killed that the list to date had to be split into several issues of the church magazine. Part 1 was published in March 1918.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Copied and supplied to the Parish magazine by Mr J W H Kemp

1. Pte J H Himmons, 1st Dorset Regt, died of wounds received at Mons, France, Sept. 3rd, 1914.
2. L-Corp. H R Ford, B9056, 1st Hampshire Regt, killed in action between Oct. 30th and Nov 2nd, 1914, in France, aged 28.
3. L-Corp. William George Gregory, 8th Duke of Wellington’s Regt, killed in action Aug.10th, 1915, aged 23.
4. Charles Thomas Kemp Newton, 2nd Lieut., 1st Yorkshire Regt, 1st Batt., killed in action June 3rd, 1914 [sic], at Ypres.
5. 2nd Lieut. Eric Barnes, 1st Lincolnshire Regt, killed in action at Wytcheak, All Saints’ Day, 1914, aged 20. RIP.
6. G H Herbert, 2nd Royal Berkshire Regt, killed at Neuve Chapelle, 10th March, 1915.
7. Pte J Seymour, 7233, 3rd Dragoon Guards, died in British Red Cross Hospital, Rouen, Dec. 8th, 1914, aged 24.
8. Pte H K Marshall, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action in France July 13th, 1916.
9. Pte F Leslie Allen, 2nd East Surrey Regt, killed in action May 14th, 1915, aged 19.
10. Pte Harold Freeman, 6th Royal Berks, died of wounds, Sept. 6th, 1916.
11. Joseph Alfred Hopson, 2nd Wellington Mounted Rifles, killed in action at Gallipoli, August, 1915.
12. Sergt H Charlton, 33955, RFA, Somewhere in France. Previous service, including 5 years in India. Died from wounds Oct. 1916, aged 31.
13. Harry Brice Biddis, August 21st, 1915, Suvla Bay. RIP.
14. Algernon Wyndham Freeman, Royal Berks Yeomanry, killed in action at Suvla Bay, 21st August, 1915.
15. Pte James Gregg, 4th Royal Berks Regt, died at Burton-on-Sea, New Milton.
16. Eric Hobbs, aged 21, 2nd Lieut. Queen’s R W Surrey, killed in action at Mamety 12th July, 1916. RIP.
17. John T Owen, 1st class B, HMS Tipperary, killed in action off Jutland Coast May 31st, 1916, aged 23.
18. Ernest Buckell, who lost his life in the Battle of Jutland 31st May, 1916.
19. Lieut. E B Hulton-Sams, 6th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, killed in action in Sanctuary Wood July 31st, 1915.
20. Pte F W Clarke, Royal Berks Regt, died July 26th, 1916,of wounds received in action in France, aged 23.
21. S J Brooks, AB, aged 24, drowned Dec. 9th, 1915, off HMS Destroyer Racehorse.
22. Pte George Smart, 18100, 1st Trench Mortar Battery, 1st Infantry Brigade, killed 27th August, 1916, aged 27.
23. Color-Sergt-Major W Lawrence, 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action at Hebuterne, France, February 8th, 1916.
24. Pte H E Breach, 1st Royal Berks Regt, died 5th March, 1916.
25. Pte Robert G Taylor, 2nd Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds received in action in France November 11th, 1916.
26. Alexander Herbert Davis, Pte. Artists’ Rifles, January 21st, 1915.
27. Rfn C W Harvey, 2nd KRR, France, May 15th, 1916.
28. 11418, Rfn S W Jones, Rifle Brigade, France, died of wounds, May 27th, 1916.
29. Alfred Edwin Ellaway, sunk on the Good Hope November 1st, 1914.
30. Guy Leslie Harold Gilbert, 2nd Hampshire Regt, died in France August 10th, 1916, aged 20.
31. Pte John Gordon Hayes, RGA, died of wounds in France, October 4th, 1917.
32. Pte F Breach, 1st Royal Berks, 9573, died 27th July, 1916.
33. L-Corp C A Buck, 12924, B Co, 1st Norfolk Regt, BCF, died from wounds received in action at Etaples Aug. 3rd, 1916.
34. Pte Brice A Vockins, 1/4 Royal Berks, TF, killed in action October 13th, 1916.
35. Edward George Savage, 2nd Air Mechanic, RFC, died Feb. 3rd, 1917, in Thornhill Hospital, Aldershot.
36. Percy Arnold Kemp, Hon. Artillery Co, killed in action October 10th, 1917.
37. Pte G A Leather, New Zealand Forces, killed in action October 4th, 1917, aged 43.
38. Frederick George Harrison, L-Corp., B Co, 7th Bedford Regt, killed in action in France July 1st, 1916; born August 7th, 1896.
39. Sapper Richard Smith, RE, killed in action at Ploegsturt February 17th, 1917.
40. L-Corp. Albert Nailor, 6th Royal Berks, killed in action July 12th, 1917.
41. Frederick Lawrance, aged 20, killed in action November 13th, 1916.
42. Pte R C Vince, 1st Herts Regt, killed in action August 29th, 1916, aged 20.
43. Pte Albert Edward Thomas, King’s Liverpool’s, killed in action November 30th, 1916.
44. Pte A E Crosswell, 2nd Batt. Royal Berks Regt, killed February 12th, 1916.
(To be continued.)

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

A week of awful fighting

The toll was beginning to tell.

28 March 1918
A week of awful fighting.

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

Help in these difficult days

Food shortages led to a soup kitchen being set up in Ascot.

By the effort of the Teachers a Soup Kitchen is being started as the Schools for the benefit of the children, and we are sure many parents will be most grateful for this help in these difficult days. The Managers have made a small grant towards utensils, and gifts of vegetables, or offers of personal help will be welcomed by the Teachers of the Rector.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, March 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/3)

About to leave for military training

The divided loyalties of international couple Will and Johanna were poignantly underlined when Johanna’s 17 year old nephew was called up in Germany – ready to face Will’s brothers on the British side.

27 March 1918

Wrote a ppc [picture postcard] to [Johanna’s nephew] Kurt for his birthday on the 31st. He is about to leave Bonn for his military training. Will be eighteen on the 31st.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

Holding our own!

A friend encouraged Florence Vansittart Neale that the situation was not as dire as feared. It was possibly Captain Hubert Victor Rhodes, from Henley, whose wife came from Marlow.

27 March 1918
Cheering talk with Victor Rhodes. Are holding our own!

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

A lazy, mischievous, and highly neurotic man, not fond of work

Bernard Henrick Roehls (Rohls with an umlaut over the o), a Prussian born builder and surveyor, was 45 when interned in 1916. He remained at Reading until he was released on parole in August 1919. Like many of the internees, he worked while interned.

27 March 1918
B H Roehls

Prisoner is a capable workman but exceedingly cantankerous. On two previous occasions he has been employed by the Engineer – on building work and also on repairing wheelbarrows &c, and on each occasion he gave up the work because he insisted on doing it in his own manner & refused to do as the Engineer told him. Further, the Engineer was strongly suspicious that he stole the glue to use for his own private work. However, rather against the Engineer’s advice, I gave the man another opportunity by letting him saw up some wood for firewood – for payment, & later, at his request, allowed him to repair chairs & stools. He did the work well, and I had it done in the building formerly used as an association room in the garden, where things could be under lock &c. Yesterday Roehls asked to be allowed to work there after the officers had gone. [Illegible] not safe. He then [quite a lot too faint to read]…

He then became rather important, stating that he was a British subject, and if I did not allow him to make things & have tools, he would petition against it that way. I ordered him out of the office, and out of his work.

His record from Islington gives him much the same character, & he was removed here for that reason.

He is by no means fond of work – except entirely under his own authority, and invariably has a grievance against someone.

C M Morgan

HM Prison
Reading March 28.18

From the M.O. to the Governor concerning B H Rohls

Recognising that I was dealing with a lazy, mischievous, and highly neurotic man, I advised him to occupy himself with some form of manual labour. His general health appears to me good, very good.

W. Fenman

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)