“His soldiering days are probably over”

With six of their seven sons having joined the army, the Spencers of Cookham had a lot to worry about.

Will Spencer
30 September 1918

By the afternoon post a letter of Sept. 11 from father. They have had news from Stanley. They are not allowed to know Gilbert’s present whereabouts. Sydney has gone back to the front. Harold leading an orchestra (in Plymouth, Father believes). Horace is better, but Father thinks his soldiering days are probably over.

Florence Vansittart Neale
30 September 1918

We reached Cambrai. 2nd Army with Belgians got Dixmade.

Diaries of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

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Fruit, vegetables and eggs for wounded soldiers

Once more, harvest gifts were donated to wounded soldiers.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

On Sunday, September 29th, we held our Harvest Thanksgiving Services…. The church was once more tastefully decorated for the occasion, a plentiful supply of vegetables, fruit, flowers, eggs, etc, having been provided…

On the following day the fruit, vegetables and eggs were sent to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for our wounded soldiers, and the secretary of that institution has sent a letter in which he expressed gratitude for the gift.

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

The distribution of meat to the public would be jeopardised if more butchers were called up

There were concerns that if butchers were called up no one would be left to prepare meats for sale to the public.

30th September 1918

The Committee nominated the Mayor as the representative of the Food Control Committee on the Committee recently formed to deal with applications for exemption before the Local Tribunal in respect of men engaged in food production and distribution. A deputation from the Butchers’ Committee attended the Committee, and submitted a statement showing that the number of slaughtermen and shopmen employed by the butchers in 1914 was 43; that since that date four butchers’ businesses have been closed down, throwing additional work upon the remaining butchers; and that the present staffs consisted of 14 employees which might, if exemption was not granted in certain cases, be reduced to ten; that the total number of registered customers served by the butchers was 21,474. The deputation stated that if the present staff was further depleted a very serious position was in sight and the distribution of meat to the public would be jeopardised. The Committee instructed the Executive Officer to send a copy of the statement laid before them to the Divisional Ministry of Food and to state that the Committee viewed the position with very considerable apprehension, and requesting that no time should be lost by the Ministry in taking up the matter with the Minister of National Service with a view of a stop being put to any further depletion of the present butchers’ staffs; and further that the Food Control Committee would not accept any responsibility for anything that might happen with regard to the preparation or distribution of meat to the public if there was any further depletion in the butchers’ present staffs.

The Committee approved applications by Mr Keen and Mr Love for permission to sell cooked meats and pies, which complied with the regulations, without coupons.

The Milk Winter Prices Order, 1918, was further considered and the Committee decided that the maximum retail price of milk delivered to purchasers for the months October to April next should be at a flat rate of 3s per gallon, and the Executive Officer was requested to notify the Ministry accordingly.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

Closed for blackberrying

1918
Sep 29th

School re opened after the harvest holidays…

Tuesday afternoon [30 September] school closed for blackberrying. 40 lbs gathered.

Beedon CE School (C/EL55/1)

“I am hopeful that the next few weeks will see us very near the end of the war”

A chaplain told his Maidenhead friends about his experiences with our Serbian allies.

Letter from Rev. J. Sellors

Dear Friends,-

To-day we have had some excellent news which will be old by the time you read this. We have just heard that Bulgaria has signed an unconditional peace, and I am hopeful that the next few weeks will see us very near the end of the war. At this stage I am allowed to say that part of my work was to visit a British battery on the part of the front where the Allies – Serbs and French – first broke through the Bulgar lines. It was in the sector between Monastir and the Vardar, comprising the Moglena range of mountains, which rise abruptly from a plain to a height of anything from 4,000 to 6,000 feet, bounded on the left by Mount Kaimachalan, over 8,000 feet high. When crossing the plain I could see the Bulgar lines near the crest of the mountains, and knew that from their observation posts in the direction of Vetrenick and Kozyak they could see my car approaching, and I rather sympathised with the rabbit (the wild one, not Mr. Chevasse’s variety) which knows there is a man with a gun in the neighbourhood, and wonders when he is going to fire, and if he is a good shot. However, I was fortunate enough to escape any shelling, although the roads and villages en route were on several occasions shelled shortly before or after I had passed by.

The enemy positions seemed absolutely impregnable, and we felt here the Allies had little chance of success if the Bulgars made a very determined resistance. We were immensely pleased and cheered to hear that after an intense bombardment of only seven minutes, an attack was made which broke right through the lines held by the very dazed surviving Bulgars, overcame all resistance offered in reserve trenches, and never stopped till the enemy cried for peace. The Serbs were simply magnificent. They bounded forward at the rate of some 40 kilometres (about 25 miles) a day. The enemy was given no chance to reorganize; a great part of his whole army was thrown into absolute chaos, and having lost practically the whole of its supplies, food, ammunition, guns etc., with a fortnight it acknowledged itself as beaten. Personally I do not think that without the Serbs the Allied victory would have been so speedy and complete. They are wonderful fighters, and charming, simple people. I see a good deal of them, as I am chaplain to the British units attached to the Serbian army and have my headquarters at a hospital for Serbs (37th General Serbian Hospital, Salonika Forces).

As I write, the units are scattered all over the country, but my parish used to extend about 50 miles of front and lines of communication, and I visited a battery, a number of transport companies, hospitals, etc., and had to use a motor car for the performance of my duties. (Don’t imagine me riding about in great comfort. The car was really a small Ford van, generally used for carrying shells and supplies, and we had to travel along very uneven roads, sometimes mere cart tracks, and owing to the consequent bumping, the intense heat of the sun, and that rising from the engine, together with the dust, riding was often the reverse of pleasant.)

I find that on the whole the “padre’s” work is very much appreciated, and one is constantly receiving proof that man instinctively wants God and reverences Christ, and it is a great privilege to take part in the work of proclaiming God to others and seeking to drawn men to Him. Men out here have been torn away from all the things which hitherto filled their loves, and I think this enforced detachment from normal pursuits has led many who previously luke-warm Christians to find that their religion alone in such times of stress can comfort, strengthen, inspire and sustain them. Thus I think the war will have the effect of deepening the religious life of many, even if it does not lead the indifferent man to faith in God through Christ.

I trust before many months have passed I shall be with you again in Maidenhead for a short time.

With prayers for you all, especially those in sorrow or anxiety,

Yours sincerely,

J. SELLORS, C.F.

Macedonia, Sept. 30th, 1918

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

Trench fever and training

Mixed news for Winkfield families.

We are very glad to be able to report that the parents of Pte. Cecil Brant have had their anxiety lessened by the news that he is a prisoner of war in Germany; they have also now had a card from him saying that he is well, and unwounded.

We congratulate Captain Forster Maynard on his promotion to Major R.A.F.

Sergeant Leonard Tipper has been ill with trench fever but is now convalescent, and about to begin his training in England for commission.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/8)

Splendid news

THere was excellent news from the various fronts.

29 September 1918
Splendid news this last fortnight. All fronts pursuing. Allenby in Palestine. Turkish armies destroyed. Servians [sic] advance in Bulgaria & all along the Western Front. Thousands of prisoners taken.

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

To help our Allies with some corn and implements &c, when they can get their land back again

Country people donated money for the reconstruction of occupied areas.

SOUTH BERKS ASSOCIATION

This Association embraces all parishes within the radius of six miles from Pangbourne, and it is agreed that the Show should be held early in October. We feel that as it is for the encouragement of Production of Food, and like the Burghfield and Sulhamstead Horticultural Show, we have no band &c, we are justified in holding it. Prizes will be given for Ploughing with Horses, Tractor Ploughing, Rick Building, Thatching, Milking, Length of Service, Shepherds’ Prizes, Horses, Cattle, Roots, Corn, Butter, Poultry and Eggs. We hope that Burghfield will come well to the front, and that several will come and see the Show.

We have just sent a donation of £10 10s 0d to the Relief of the Allies Fund, which is to help our Allies with some corn and implements &c, when they can get their land back again.

J.L.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Winter will come without fail and coal is urgently wanted

Coal was in ever shorter supply.

Coal

We have summer now, but winter will come without fail. And we are asked to use as little coal and coke as we can. Indeed, by the recent Coal Order, we are to be allowed considerably less than the amount which we have been in the habit of consuming. Nor is it at all certain that we shall be able to get even as much as the allowed amount, owing to shortage of production. Coal is urgently wanted in the War for our ships, for our troops’ comfort and conveyance at home and abroad, and for munition work in all its many forms. More than this, it is wanted for our Allies’ use in similar ways: and they will have to face the cold with a far shorter supply than ourselves. We must all, therefore, make provision for the winter in every other way we can. Fortunately, the devastation of the beautiful woods, now being affected in order to supply timber for War purposes, has its good side: and there are excellent opportunities of storing up large supplies of wood. We strongly advise everybody to do this as far as they possibly can. Those who can get peat will be wise to do so. And as to coal and coke, the Coal Controller urges all people with sufficient storage to get their full supplies as early as may be, that those who can only store small quantities, and must get coal often, and at short notice, may not be hindered in time of need.

Local Fuel Overseer

The parish may feel gratified that the Bradfield District Local Authority has had to come to Bradfield for its Fuel Overseer, and that Mr F T Wenman has been able to see his way to accept this important appointment. He has already held many posts, and rendered good service in the parish and district…. We wish him success in his new duties; and are sure that he will do his best to secure it.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Now, we have to thank God for a series of victories that bring the end of the War appreciably nearer

There was optimism in Maidenhead that the end was in sight.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

The War Intercession Services were, I understand, very well attended. Now, we have to thank God for a series of victories that bring the end of the War appreciably nearer. There is still a long row to hoe, but we do seem to feel that the work to be done, will eventually be completed to the satisfaction of all the Allies. Owing to the Fuel and Lighting Order, Week-day Evensong from September till the Spring, except on Friday, which will be unaltered, will be held in both Churches at 3 p.m….

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

WAR SAVINGS ASSOCIATION

Furze Platt residents will be glad to know how successful the Furze Platt war Savings Association continues to be. Formed in November, 1916 [sic?], it now has a membership of 107, with a total subscription to date of £958 10s 6d. The following table shows the progress made:
Members Sum subscribed
March, 1916 73 £125 1s 6d
November, 1917 82 £422 11s 6d
July, 1918 105 £941 9s 0d

Members of the Association are grateful to the Committee for their continued interest in the work, particularly to Mr Fry, the Hon. Secretary, and Mr Naylor, the Hon. Treasurer, who are always to be found in St Peter’s Room on Monday evenings for the purpose of receiving subscriptions. The good work done by Mr Hawthorne will not readily be forgotten, and it is hoped that the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Peddar, will soon recover from the illness which had laid him aside.

It will be within the recollection of subscribers to the Magazine that the sum of £110 1s has been invested in War Savings Certificates towards the Building Fund for a new Parish Room, which is so badly needed. It is hoped that it will be possible to add to this sum from time to time, so that immediately after the war the building may be put in hand.

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

Churches are to be rationed

Churches feared a chilly winter to come.

THE COAL SHORTAGE.

The shortage of coal may possibly be a serious matter for places of worship this winter. We are distinctly told that Churches are to be rationed, though the method has not yet been made public. Several months ago the deacons appointed a sub-committee to consider the question of our fuel supply and economy, and certain alterations in the method of heating our premises are recommended. When our Church was first erected no provision for heating was made; apparently in those days all places of worship were left at the mercy of the seasons, our fathers being content, it would seem, with an extra coat! But in these days a cold Church would be left empty. Hugh Bourne, one of the Primitive Methodist founders, on a freezing morning when then the chapel stove refused to draw, observed, “I never knew a sinner yet who was converted with cold feet.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Special courses for discharged soldiers who wish to enter the teaching profession

Newbury welcomed former soldiers to the teaching profession.

Friday, September 27th, 1918

Teachers on Military Service

The Sub-committee much regret to report that Lieut. M. Rose, Hants Regiment, has died as a result of wounds received in action in France. Mr Rose was on the staff of the Newbury Boys’ Council School, and left to enter the army in June 1916. This school has now lost two of its masters in the war.

Training of Discharged Soldiers

A circular letter was received from the Board of Education, with reference to the establishment of special courses for discharged soldiers who wish to enter the teaching profession, and suggesting that applicants from each area should be medically examined by the School Medical Officer. The Sub-committee were informed that the Committeee’s School Medical Officer (Dr R. Hickman) had kindly offered to medically examine any candidate from this area without payment of the usual fee.

Finance, School Management and General Purposes Sub-committee of the Education Committee of Newbury Borough Council: minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

Closing early to save coal

Braywick
27th September 1918

On three afternoons this week the registers were not marked, as the girls went blackberry picking.…

Mistress received instructions from the town council to close winter school at 3.30pm in order to save coal.

East Ilsley
27th September 1918

Children picking black berries for the M of food. 50lbs picked and forwarded last time.

Buscot
Sept. 27th

Another blackberrying expedition by older children and 2 teachers; 85 pounds gathered, packed and sent to Faringdon, making a total of 703 ½ pounds.

Hampstead Norreys
27th Sep.

Have closed three half days this week for blackberry picking. We have received & weighed 552 lbs of blackberries this week, making 1540 lbs in 3 weeks.

Log books of Braywick CE School (C/EL65/4, p. 205); East Ilsley CE School (C/EL39/1, p. 487); Buscot CE School (C/EL73/2); Hampstead Norreys CE School (C/EL40/2)

These days of war taxation, war claims and war prices

Before the advent of the National Health Service a generation later, hospitals like the Royal Berkshire Hospital were a mixture of private, charitable and subscription-based. Subscribers paid an annual fee to ensure treatment if they needed it. But the war’s disruption of the economy put hospitals at risk.

ROYAL BERKS HOSPITAL

An Urgent Appeal

The hospital is in serious need of money. As times go on subscribers pass away. Their places are hard to fill in these days of war taxation, war claims and war prices. On the other hand, expenses rise. Special departments become necessary, operations cost more. All maintenance costs more. The number of patients grows. Altogether, increased support to the amount of £5000 is needed if the work is not to suffer.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Trinity roll of honour

Trinity Roll of Honour
Robert Howard Freeman, Signal section, R.N.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/EX1237/1)