Really splendid work at Devonshire Lodge

A voluntary war hsopital in Reading was no longer needed. Devonshire Lodge was a big house in Shinfield Road.
Devonshire Lodge V.A.D. Hospital

It was with sincere regret that many of us heard that this excellent Hospital was closing at the end of December. We would offer our sincerest congratulations to the Commandant, Miss Purcell, and her staff on the really splendid work that has been done.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P98/28A/16)

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Down early to the hospital

31 December 1918

Went down to hospital early as Henry went to Bisham by 11.20. I spent day there & lunched at the Lawn. Met little Colonel Tizard – wished P’s temp: would get more steady. I drove him home & picked up Ag & spent night with her.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Important changes at the Hospital after an interesting but difficult year

The war’s end meant changes for Newbury District Hospital.

Newbury District Hospital : The Thirty-Fourth Annual Report and Balance Sheet for 1918

For the year ending December 31st, 1918:

There have been important changes at the Hospital during the past year, and in many respects, the period under review has been an interesting but difficult one.

Miss Atkins, whose services as Matron are well known to the Subscribers, left in August last to be married. Having regard to her long arduous and successful work in the Hospital the Committee took upon themselves to present her, on behalf of the Subscribers, with a sum of £25 on leaving. The Subscribers are asked to ratify this grant.

Sister Biddle also left in August to take up another engagement. Miss Atkins was replaced, as Matron, by Miss Phoebe Jones, whose testimonials were of a very high character. She entered on her duties at a time when the work was very heavy, and as the Nursing Staff, for some time afterwards, was very inadequate, the Committee recognise that her position was a difficult one. Every effort was made to replace Sister Biddle, and to put the Staff on a satisfactory footing in other respects, but it was not until October that the situation was somewhat relieved by the engagement of Sister White.

Shortly afterwards the outbreak of Influenza put a further strain on the Hospital, as a large number of cases of pneumonia were received. Practically all the Probationers were laid up by Influenza, and to add to the difficulties the Matron herself was attacked, and after being laid up in the Hospital for some time was obliged to go away to recruit.

During her absence Sister White was in charge and proved herself efficient, but it became obvious that the Staff was over worked, and must be strengthened as soon as the general scarcity of Nurses would allow it.

On the advice of the Matron the Committee, late in the year, authorised advertisements for a third Sister, and some other additions to, and alterations in, the Nursing Staff. As it was not possible to make this addition immediately it became necessary to relieve the Staff by closing one of the Annexes, and reducing the number of Soldiers in the Hospital for some weeks. Throughout this period the domestic Staff was, as it still is, a source of anxiety, it being necessary to depend to a great extent on temporary assistance.

It will be seen from the statistics annexed that notwithstanding these difficulties, an unusually large number of Patients were treated in the Hospital during the year. As compared with 1917 Civilian Patients increased by 104 and Soldier Patients by 38. It would have been impossible for the small staff to cope with this work without the help of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment and some other ladies, all of whom rendered most valuable assistance.

Since the retirement of Dr. Heywood, Dr. Kennedy has been responsible for Soldier Patients, Dr. Adams giving his assistance as regards surgical matters when required.

The Rev. W. S. Edgell undertook the duties of Hon. Secretary on the retirement of Mr. Savill in April.

The Committee has again to acknowledge the general interest in the Hospital evidence by the gifts of vegetables, supplies and other useful articles throughout the year. The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot has again furnished many requisites, and Miss Wasey again organised a successful Pound Day and also presented fittings for the Anaesthetic room. Mrs. Wombwell, Mrs. Rooke and Menstone House School made very liberal donations for the entertainment of the Soldiers at Christmas. Mr. Wombwell, Mr. R. Beynon, Mr. Hogg, Mr. Cotterell, Mr. Johnson and others shewed their interest by gifts and in other ways.

Hearty thanks are due to all the members of the Medical Staff, upon whose time the Hospital has made large demands.

The Committee also desire to thank Mrs. Sharwood-Smith, the Commandant, and the Officers and ladies of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment, who have done very valuable work.

Miss Cecile Boldero, the Assistant Commandant (latterly Commandant) was most helpful in the difficulty caused by the deficiency in the regular Nursing Staff.

Miss Salway has again given massage and special treatment to Soldiers, for which the Committee are most grateful, and thanks are due to Mr. Alleyne for taking charge of the recreation room.

Thanks are also due to the former and present Matrons, and the Sisters, and Nurses, for their services during a very strenuous year. In addition to their heavy nursing duties they have had to meet difficulties in catering, and the want of a permanent and sufficient domestic Staff. The economic results of their efforts are best shewn by the Statistics annexed as to cost per occupied bed, and cost of food per head. Having regard to the great rise in prices the Committee think these figures very satisfactory.

During the past year, and in fact during the war, few repairs and renewals could be done owing to the pressure of work, and a thorough overhauling of the Hospital is required now that the soldiers have gone. A considerable expense will be involved. A sub-committee has been appointed to report on the necessary repairs and renewals and on certain structural alterations. The most pressing work upstairs has been done, but the sub-committee has not finally reported. An important matter to be considered is central heating, and some other mode of heating the passages, etc. this is most desirable, and perhaps necessary, but the expense would be very large. The question of the disposal of the temporary Annexes is under consideration: one of them is now clearly unnecessary, and it is doubtful whether either of them should be retained.

In this connection it may be mentioned that when the soldiers left, the Chairman received from the Southern Command, Salisbury, a cordial letter thanking the subscribers and the committee for the generous provision made for soldiers during the war, and the care bestowed on them.

W. Walton, Chairman

W. S. Edgell, Hon. Sec.

Newbury District Hospital annual report (D/H4/4/1)

A Lawson Tait bed

The doctors recommended a special bed to aid in Phyllis Vansittart Neale’s recovery from influenza.

30 December 1918

Left Lawn for EVN’s flat. Luggage ready by 11 o’clock.

Called at Hospital. Found Mr Edmunds very full of “Lawson Tait” bed & mattress. So H & I took Johnson to flat & went on to Mortimer St. Heard it had to come from Birmingham.

Went Hospital & lunch at Lawn.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Never a better moment for preaching the Christmas message of “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men”

Reading men were to be welcomed home.

My dear Friends…

I have received a letter from the Bishop bringing to my notice his own and the Archbishops’ suggestions for the observance of the Christmas season. He says, “As to Christmas itself, there was never a better moment for preaching the Christmas message of “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men”. I trust that in this connection you will lead your people in earnest prayer for the effective establishment of a League of Nations to secure a just and permanent peace.

On December 29th we are recommended by the Archbishops to make united, reverent and thankful commemoration of those who have died in the War. Sunday, January 5th, it is suggested that we should offer special thanksgiving for victory and special prayer for the statesmen assembled in the Peace Conference.’ I propose to act on these suggestions; accordingly the list of those belonging to us who have fallen in the war will be read out at Morning and Evening Prayer on the last Sunday of the year and special thanksgiving and prayer on the lines indicated will be offered on the following Sunday. The Bishop speaks also of the need of securing a hearty and religious welcome for every one of the returning soldiers in all parishes. This can only be done by the co-operation of the people. I shall be most grateful for information as to the return of soldiers and sailors, such as shall enable me to call and offer each man a personal welcome back to the parish. …

Your sincere friend and vicar,

W. Britton

Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P172/28A/24)

A just and lasting peace

Church people prayed for a just peace to be negotiated.

Special Services

The Archbishops, feeling that there is a widespread desire that the year of victory should not pass without some united, reverent and thankful commemoration of those who have laid down their lives in the service of their country, recommend that this commemoration should be made in all churches on Sunday, December 29th. They hope further, that similarly on Sunday, January 5th, along with thanksgivings for the great victory given to our arms, prayer will be offered for the Statesmen of the world assembled at the Peace Conference, that by their efforts a just and lasting peace may be secured, and that the foundation of a new life may be laid on the basis of justice, order and righteousness.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P154C/28A/1)

A day at the hospital

28 December 1918

Spent most of day at Hospital.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“Beginning again in the dark”

There was great sympathy for soldiers’ whose war wounds had left them blind.

FOR ST DUNSTAN’S

We have done a good many generous things as a church, but it is doubtful if we ever responded quite so well as when we helped the cause of the Blinded Soldiers and Sailors during the Christmas season. Starting in quite a modest way with the suggestion that our choir should provide a carol service in the evening of Christmas Sunday [28 December 1918], the plans gathered sympathy, until they included a United Carol Service in the Village Hall on the Sunday evening referred to, a collection at the Watch-night service, and a special gathering of personal donations from members of our church and congregation. By this means £10 3s. 4d. was raised for those “beginning again in the dark”. We recognise that this was a united effort, and do not take the credit to ourselves, but we do appreciate the kindly sympathy that our folks showed in both subscribing to and organising such a fund.

Tilehurst Congregational Church section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Arduous experiences as a soldier

A churchwarden returns.

We are hoping very shortly to welcome back among us our Churchwarden, Mr H V Caldicott, after his arduous experiences as a soldier, and we have to express our gratitude to Mr Ansell on behalf of the church for the capable, willing and business-like way in which everything has been carried on during Mr Caldicott’s absence.

Remenham parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P99/28A/4)

Driving round the decorated route for President Wilson

Florence Vansittart Neale gave one of the nurses caring for her daughter a trip out.

27 December 1918

Sat a little while with Phyllis, then took Sister Bonsall a motor drive round park & decorated route for Pres: Wilson. Could not see much of Phyllis so went to meet H at Paddington. Settled to stay at the “Lawn” till Monday.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Good news

Happy news for Christmas.

It is good news to know that Mrs. Baigent has heard from her son, who was a prisoner of war in Germany.

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

Great decorations and interest in American President

President Woodrow Wilson’s visit to France and London was the first official trip to Europe by a US President.

26 December 1918

Temperature still keeping down. Breathing bad. Saw her very little that day. So exhausted.

Took Henry to Paddington to spend night at Bisham. Went 11.20, then saw A & E & back for lunch.

President Wilson arriving – great decorations & interest. Well received. K & Q there too.

Only saw her one moment. Ag here to dine & keep me company.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

The best Christmas present

There was good news at last for the Vansittart Neales.

25 December 1918

Xmas Day at The Lawn, 101 Denmark Hill SE5.
Very crowded early service. Not back till past 9 o’clock. Went off directly after. Heard shade better. Then to Hospital service. Met Mr Edmunds. So pleased temp: coming down slowly. Best Xmas present.

Henry went to [his cousin] Frank Dickinson’s for tea. I sat quietly with Sister in ward. Had tea. She very kind.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Hearts full of deep thankfulness to Almighty God for His wonderful mercies to us in our great victory

Newbury churchgoers were invited to mak Christmas Day the focus of thanksgiving fr the war’s end.

With our hearts full of deep thankfulness to Almighty God for His wonderful mercies to us in our great victory and, as we hope, the permanent termination of hostilities, we should aim at making Christmas Day a day of earnest thanksgiving and worship. We would therefore remind all those who have been confirmed that the Great Act of Worship in which we are invited to take part, and in which it is our privilege and duty to take part, is the Service of Holy Communion. Let us endeavour to make careful preparation, and all to come on Christmas Day to the service which Our Lord has commanded, as the Memorial of His Supreme Sacrifice and Victory, which is the Great Feast of Fellowship between All Saints, living and departed.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Christmas came to us this year with an unwonted sense of freedom to enjoy it, after four years of war

Christmas came to us this year with an unwonted sense of freedom to enjoy it, after four years of war. Both Churches were very prettily decorated, and for that our best thanks are due to the kind ladies who undertook the work. Good congregations and large numbers of Communicants showed that very many remembered the gratitude due to God for the gift of a Saviour…

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)