“Every war memorial should be worthy of the occasion and permanent in character.”

The Bishop issued some guidance as to suitable war memorials in Berkshire churches.

War Memorials

My dear Sir,

I commend to your notice the enclosed suggestions which have been drawn up by the Advisory Committee for War Memorials in this Diocese. Experience has already shown that it is most desirable that local effort should be concentrated on one common Memorial. It is also important to consider carefully the nature of any proposal made, and to obtain competent advice, if possible on the spot, so that every memorial should be worthy of the occasion and permanent in character. To obtain satisfactory results, some delay and great care are imperative. This I sincerely hope that, before determining upon any memorial, you will consult the Advisory Committee. The Secretary is the Rev. William C. Emeris, The Vicarage, Burford, Oxon.
Believe me to be, yours faithfully, C. Oxon.

The Advisory Committee for War Memorials in the Oxford Diocese desires to make the following suggestions.

(1) Advice should be sought when a Memorial is first proposed, and before the question of the form it should take is decided.

(2) The Committee urges the importance of concentrating upon one common design and the avoidance, if possible, of several small Memorials. The best and most permanent Memorial is that which best harmonizes with the building or surroundings in which it is placed. It is not intended to exclude separate Memorials erected under one common scheme, e.g., the fitting up of a chapel.

(3) The erection of a united Memorial should be postponed until the end of the war, though it may be of importance to decide beforehand what form it should take.

(4) The character of the Church (e.g., whether ancient or modern, whether of stone or brick) should be taken into consideration before deciding upon the best form of Memorial. In old Churches preference should be given to the replacing of the ancient ornaments of the Church, rather than to the erection of new monuments. As instances the following are suggested: the restoration of altars to their original dimensions, the re-erection of screens, both chancel and parclose, of roods and lots, canopied font covers, good bells, worthy “ornaments of the Church and of the ministers thereof”, such as the Prayer Book contemplates, and Churchyard Crosses.

(5) Local materials should in most cases be preferred to those brought from a distance. Lacquered brass or copper ornaments are deprecated, also designs submitted by Church furnishing firms.

(6) Special attention should be given to lettering. Roman characters should be preferred to Gothic. It is important to choose such material and lettering as will last for many hundred years. Quality, simplicity and permanence should be the guiding principles in carrying out the work.

(7) Where it is proposed to place the chief memorial in the open air, it is advisable that a record of names should also be preserved within the Church, engrossed on Vellum, in book form or otherwise.

(8) Even for the simplest ornaments of the Church and Minister it is desirable that the services of an architect or artist, and not a firm of Church Furnishers, should be employed. The Church Crafts League, Church House, Westminster, is always ready to suggest names of competent artists and craftsmen.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

Advertisements

“I shall always recollect his energy, his enthusiasm, his fresh, clean cheerfulness and his personal example of bravery”

A Mortimer West End NCO was awarded a medal.

West End

We are very glad to hear that Corporal Francis Penny is recovering from his wounds and offer him out hearty congratulations on winning the Military Medal. His commanding officer writes as follows:-

“I am pleased to be able to intimate that he has been awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry in action during the recent withdrawal and seldom has this medal been more finely won. He has earned it, I know, many times before, and I shall always recollect his energy, his enthusiasm, his fresh, clean cheerfulness and his personal example of bravery, with pleasure and with admiration. The Brigadier-General congratulates him on the honour he has won, and on behalf of the Battery I thank him for the distinction he has brought it.”

This is a letter that the parents may well be proud of and we shall share their pride.

Our fund for the Prisoners of War of the Hants Regt. which was open for a month amounted to £10 3s. 6d.

We deeply regret that Percy Merrick has been officially reported missing since March 21st and at the moment of writing there is no further news of him.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

Steel helmets were donned & many were for fleeing to dugouts

The fighting came closer to Sydney Spencer.

Sunday 30 June 1918

My dear diary! Rejoice with me for at last I have stopped mentally crying & railing on the world & saying ‘The world? Why the world’s a hoss’.

Last night the Huns raided some ten miles away. General wind up in our camp. Steel helmets were donned & many were for fleeing to dugouts. Their noise & excitement bored me as I wished to be left at peace to sleep.

Spent a delightfully lazy morning studying the phrase ‘dolce far niente’ lying on my back most of time. Am now writing letters in Grand Hotel Club. Hope to see Cubitt today.

Had my bath. A dog who craftily escaped waves when fetching a stick was very amusing. Had dinner at Club & an amazingly interesting talk with a Scots officer. He had no religion & was full of it without knowing it!

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

In the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town

Members of St John’s Church in Reading (now the Polish Catholic church, but then a Church of England one) supported the troops in prayer and by sewing clothes etc for the wounded.

ST JOHN’S CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

The Care and Comforts Working Party still pursues its useful activities. Even in the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town, a number of devoted ladies are to be found each Wednesday making various articles necessary to the comfort of the honoured wounded in our hospitals. Workers never fail, materials are always forthcoming, but the latter have to be paid for and the funds from time to time run short. Donations are always welcome, and should be sent to the Treasurer, Miss Rundell, 7 Alexandra Road.

List of the articles made this month: 1 shirt, 1 pyjama suit, 100 face cloths, 28 treasure bags, 44 sterilizing bags, 43 locker curtains, 17 cushion covers.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR FOR THE FALLEN

We have been asked why the Roll of Honour has been moved from its place by the South Door of the church to its present position in the North Transept. The answer is – in order that it may have a place all to itself with its own bracket for flowers and in a quiet part of the church where people may be sure of being undisturbed in their prayers.

The beautifully made oak bracket beneath the Roll of Honour is the kind gift of two friends who desire to remain anonymous.

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

New work

The Vansittart-Neales’ son in law got a plum job in headquarters in Kent.

29 June 1918
Boy [Paget] went off to his new work. Staff cap! At Dovercourt.

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

A sort of gas officer’s nightmare

Sydney was annoyed to have to go through the same procedures over and over again.

Saturday 29 June 1918

Refitted once more with my SBR.

11 am. I am going through a sort of gas officer’s nightmare. What do you think, my dear old diary, I ask, being refitted again with my SBR. So far the history is as follows:

First fitted 5.12.17
2nd fitting 9.5.18
3rd fitting 26.6.18
4th fitting 29.6.18
& so it goes on.

I have to sit & listen to elementary lecture on how to put on a mask! I have had to come about 3 miles for this.

I got back to camp about 4. Had tea & then down to Grand Hotel in hope of seeing Cubitt. He did not turn up. Had a good dinner at the Continental with Peter Layard, Toolman & a chap named Somerset. Its effect was very civilizing & I felt much better as a result. My depression vanished.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

Personal help given to the Belgian refugees & soldiers during the war

Two of the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist were recognised for their caring work with wounded soldiers and Belgian refugees.

28 June 1918

Notice was sent out that Sister Edith Katharine had had the “medaille de la reine Elisabeth” bestowed upon her by the King of the Belgians, in recognition of personal help given to the Belgian refugees & soldiers during the war. Also that among the King’s Birthday Honours, Sister Mary Victoria has the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal bestowed upon her.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Dispose of bacon before the meat became unsound

Meat which might go off was allowed to be sold without ration cards.

28th June 1918

An application by a retailer to sell bacon and hams without coupons in order to dispose of same before the meat became unsound, at a maximum price of 1s 6d per lb, was sanctioned.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Sub-committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

A very quick journey through, only 18 hours altogether

Sydney reached Calais to find his gas mask needed to be refitted.

Friday 28 June 1918

I woke at 4.15 am to find that we were at Etaples already. I did not worry about anything. I just grunted & went off to sleep again & slept on & off fitfully until 10 am when to my surprise I wound I was at Calais! No changes & a very quick journey through! Only 18 hours altogether.

A shave, shampoo, wash at Club. Got 125 francs from Base Cashier. Lunch at Club, bought some socks at ordnance. Got up here to ‘L’ depot (IB) at 3.30. After tea talked to a few old 2/5th Norfolk men.

Went to see Adjutant who said that my SBR must be refitted!! I only had it done 48 hours ago! My kit not yet arrived; it is now 6.30 pm! It arrived at 8.15 pm & I went to bed. Very tired. Essex officers in tent only just out kicked up a big noise.


Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

Killed by the explosion of a shell

A Reading teacher serving in the army was killed in what is now Iraq.

27th June 1918
Heard this morning from Mrs Sheldon that her husband Frederick George Sheldon (who was assistant in the old school in Southampton St. and subsequently in the George Palmer Boy’s School from its opening Oct 3rd 1907) had been killed by the explosion of a shell, whilst he was serving as acting sergeant in the A.O.C. Mesopotamia, on June 18th 1918.

Reading: George Palmer Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/8/1, p. 152)

A sweet oblivion

Another long journey for Sydney, still not all that well.

Thursday 27 June 1918

A lovely morning. Got up at 6.30 after breakfast. Saw the MO then got packed up & rested a time. 10 am to Adjutant. I go by a train which leaves I suppose somewhere about 4 pm.

Got into train for Calais at 4 pm. Had to march down here. It was very tiring. Saw Jourdain who left 208th Brigade for Egypt in February. He was only in Egypt a week or two at base!

Train started at 4.45. I am pt in charge of front half of train. Just my luck.

Journey was a good one. I didn’t worry about the men. Was too tired & they behaved decently. Besides we did not wait at stations long enough. We passed through Acherecourt & Darnetal en route for Etaples. I slept by about 10 pm & the rest of the hours of darkness were a sweet oblivion.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

Artists or literary authors among the Irish prisoners to be allowed materials

Many of the Irish internees were artists and writers.

26 June 1918

[to] The Gov, P of I, Reading

The Ch: Sec: for Ireland stated in the House of Commons that any artists or literary authors among the Irish prisoners would be allowed to have artists’ materials or other necessities for the practice of their arts. Be good enough to let the prisoners know that these will be allowed at their own expense.

[not signed]

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

Delay dealing with shell shock case

George Dubock had been discharged by the army due to his severe shell shock.

26 June 1918

George J. Dubock

This man having been interviewed by the Board it was resolved that he be now discharged from the Institution. The Clerk was instructed to write Mrs Hawker, Secretary of the Newbury Sub Committee, Berks War Pensions &c committee, enquiring the reason of the delay in dealing with this case and on what authority he was said to be insane.

Newbury Board of Guardians minutes (G/N1/39, p. 75)

“Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels”

Sydney was uncharacteristically resentful of his superiors.

Wednesday 26 June 1918

When I got up today at 6.45 I felt just as scornful & uppish with everything in general as I did yesterday. Thus does ‘Flu’ play pranks with us. At 7.45 to MO’s inspection. A farce when I simply said ‘I am alright’ & walked off. At 8.5 listened to a long long harangue from the Base Colonel. I cannot understand why such an attitude as he took up should be necessary. Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels. At any rate I shall be anxious to prove myself otherwise!

5 pm I am up in the little turret at the top of the Fleche of Rouen Cathedral. A wonderful view. 500 feet or more up. Had dinner at Club. Had a long talk with a staff Major. Afterwards went to a picture show to rest my weary legs. Very boring.

Back to camp by 10 pm. Saw men & dogs being tossed in a blanket. I go away tomorrow. To bed & read more of Tartarin sur les Alpes.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“He has had the good fortune to be drafted to Reading for treatment”

There was news of several of the soldiers from Reading’s Broad Street Congregational Church.

PERSONAL

We should like to offer our somewhat belated, but very sincere, congratulations to Captain Horace Beer of the RAF on his promotion. Captain Beer obtained his captaincy, it appears, several months ago; but it was only recently that the news reached us. He is now serving at the headquarters of the RAF and he has our best wishes for the future.

News has been received that Private E. Layton Francis has been wounded. He was serving with the London Scottish in Palestine, and many of our readers have enjoyed his vivid descriptions of places and people, which have appeared from time to time in these pages. Private Francis is now in one of the Stationary Hospitals in Gaza, suffering from a gunshot wound in his right arm. Beyond this there is no further information at the moment. We hope, however, that the wound is not serious, and that our friend may have a speedy recovery. Meanwhile we express our sympathy with Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis and their family in their anxiety.

Private F. W. Snell has been seriously wounded in the head and face while fighting in France. He has had the good fortune to be drafted to Reading for treatment and is now lying in No. 1 War Hospital. He is making good progress. We earnestly hope it may continue, and that before long we may see him back in our midst.

We are glad to see our young friend, Private George Hathaway, back at Broad Street. Private Hathaway was training with the Royal Warwicks, but he has been on the sick list for some time, and has now obtained his discharge. We trust that before long he may be restored to health.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

We deeply regret to have to report the death of Brother Ernest Ward of Westfield Road, Caversham, who recently died of wounds….

Our musical director and choirmaster, Brother Wynton-Turner, will have commenced his military duties by the time these notes are in the hands of our readers. We wish him every success.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)