A necessary bit of war work

There was a call for men to join the Police Reservists and help maintain law and order at home.

EARLEY SUB-DIVISION BERKS POLICE SPECIAL RESERVE

Owing to removals and army munition work our numbers are becoming very much reduced, and we would earnestly ask any men in the parish of Earley, whether living in the Borough [of Reading] or not, who are not already acting as Specials or Reservists to come and give us a hand in this necessary bit of war work. After all, to patrol for 3 hours once a month from 9-12 pm is not a very great thing to ask, and there must be many men who could if they would come forward and thus ease the strain on those who have been quietly and steadily doing this work for over 3 years.

The Rev. H Wardley King, 1, Green Road, who is undertaking the duties of Sub-Divisional Officer pro tem, will be very grateful to receive names of any willing to help.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

Cecil Webb, Herbert Plumer, Walter Smithers, Ernest Thompson, John Edwards, Eric Burchell.

In addition to those already mentioned, we especially commend the following to your prayers:

SICK OR WOUNDED: Duncan Simson, Levi Rackley, Charles Barton, George Bungay, Samuel Dee, George Embery, Ernest Embery, Benjamin Rickards, Albert Gray, Herbert Harper, Herbert Oliver, Clifford Holliday, Thomas Ilott, Arthur O’Dell, Owen Lewington, John Phillips.

KILLED: Charles Bowden, William Murphy, William Wynn, John Hitchcock, Albert Hosler.

MISSING: Arthur Langmead.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

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Happy evenings

Soldiers training at home were grateful for the hospitality shown by Reading people.

Our Soldiers’ Club

This is now well established and a steady increase in the attendance testifies to the appreciation of the comforts provided. Though only open a fortnight, the following letter is the grateful testimony of one who came every night and looked on the Club as “home”:- Reading 20/10/17.

Dear Mr. Stevens, –

You no doubt will be surprised to learn that I am leaving Reading this afternoon for Tidworth. It came very unexpectedly. I cannot let this occasion pass without tendering very heartfelt thanks for the way that I have received and the kindness shown to me by various gentlemen of the soldiers’ club. In fact, I will always look back upon the happy evenings which I spent there with very pleasant memories. I cannot tell you how I feel in leaving Reading, but will always maintain that the Trinity Congregational Church Soldiers Club is worthy of the highest credit which it thoroughly deserves, and I sincerely hope and trust that the good work will continue and that Miss Austin will sell the refreshments better than ever.

Again thanking you one and all,

Believe me, I remain,

Yours Sincerely,

John J. Kingdom.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

We joyfully welcome men home on leave

There was news of men from Trinity Church in Reading.

Trinity Roll of Honour

We regret that last month we inadvertently omitted the following.

Samuel Henry Baker, 6th L.R.O. Co., att. Royal Fusiliers.
Fred B. Gleave, now 2nd Lieut. Labour Battalion.

We joyfully welcome home on leave Douglas Elsbury, Walter Harding, and Charles Bostwick. All look very fit and well.

Charles Wagner, too, is with us again, being an inmate of Wilson Hospital with his left arm and hand badly broken. We are glad that now he is steadily improving.

Bert Prior is still in hospital with a wounded shoulder, but is doing well.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

A pretty wedding at Bisham

Nurse Elizabeth Vansittart Neale, co-heiress of Bisham Abbey, had enjoyed a wartime romance with 27 year old officer Leo Paget, and today was their wedding day – at Bisham Church. Mother Florence’s diary entry was brief:

20 October 1917

Bubs’ wedding day.

However, she went into more detail in another book she kept.

20th October 1917
Elizabeth married Capt Leo Paget – Rifle Brigade. Wedding took place in Bisham Church – very pretty – good music with Dr. Bath at organ & Marlow choir boys to reinforce ours.

Over 60 guests at luncheon, almost all relations.

Bridal pair repaired [?] to Reading to Malets Cottage at Norcot–Lynton [?].

Young Paget came over on leave from the front in France – he arrived the day before the wedding- he had 2 weeks leave (4 days extra for marriage).

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Bisham estate memorandum book (D/EX73/1/8/2, p. 222)

The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation

The parish of Burghfield was keeping track of local men serving in the war.

THE WAR

The Roll of Honour

A list kept by the Rector, of those Burghfield men who since the beginning of the war have laid down their lives for their country and the just cause of the Allies, hangs near the reading-desk in the Church.

The full Roll, including those who have offered and been accepted for immediate or deferred service, is kept up to date by Mr. Willink so far as possible, and hangs in the Church Porch. The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation: but he will be glad to receive names of men not already on the Roll but actually serving, together with the exact title of their ship or unit, also notice of any honours or promotions, wounds or deaths.

The list of wounded is growing long. Happily most cases are light. But it should be known by everybody that any disabled man is entitled to free training, if necessary or possible in some trade, and to be helped in finding employment. Information can be obtained at any Post Office. In cases of delay or difficulty in this matter, or in regard to Pensions or Allowances, applications should be made to the Berkshire War Pensions Committee through Mr. or Mrs Willink, who are on the Reading Rural Sub Committee.

Honours

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray, of Culverlands, formerly C.B whose distinguished services in past times are well known, has been made K.C.B. He has acted as King’s Messenger during the War, and has repeatedly visited the front. He and Lady Murray have also received certain Japanese decorations.

Captain G. O. W. Willink was mentioned in Despatches in May, and has just been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished conduct in August. He has commanded “A” Coy in the 2/4 R. Berks Regt. Since he went out in July 1916, and has seen service in many parts of the line in France and Flanders.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Appliances for the wounded

People in Burghfield raised money to help the wounded.

Holiday House
A Concert was given on October 19th, in aid of appliances for the wounded.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Glove making for Mine Sweepers

A teacher faced the loss of her brother, while a Sonning school got its boys to do leatherwork for the Navy.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School
19th October 1917

Miss Kemp excused to-day, her brother killed at front.

Sonning Boys school
19th October 1917
Started glove making for Mine Sweepers in Upper Group. This work will be taken instead of gardening during the winter months.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School log book (90/SCH/5/3, p.38); Sonning Boys school log book (89/SCH/1/2, p. 53)

Flags and horse chestnuts

The patriotic children of Lower Sandhurst were still keen to contribute to the war effort.

October 18th 1917

‘Our Day.’

The children made Red Cross flags for sale for the fund.

Our collection box was opened and was found to contain £1 – 14 – 0 which sum was forwarded to the Secretary of the local Red Cross Committee.

One cwt. of horse-chestnuts was forwarded for the manufacture of munitions.

Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 414)

Food is very scarce

William Hallam (working the night shift in Swindon) heard of food shortages in the Midlands.

18th October 1917

A beautiful starlit night. Home at 6 this morning and lit the fire, washed and had my breakfast, and was in bed at ½ past 7 where I stayed till 4, but did not get a lot of sleep. My bro. George wrote from Coventry. He says food is very scarce there.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

“Some excess in food has been going on” – but families should get more sugar

Food restrictions were well under way in Newbury.

October 18th, 1917.

Maximum Prices

The Committee have fixed the maximum retail price of milk (delivered) as follows:

For the month of October, 2s per gallon, and 6d per quart, and from November to March inclusive, 2s 4d per gallon, and 7d per quart, prices for all other measures to be in proportion.

The Committee have under consideration the question of Meat prices and Butter.

Sugar Distribution Scheme (Manufacturers, Caterers, Institutions)

Very valuable assistance has been given by a member of the Committee, not a member of the Council, in dealing with these applications. Many more applications have been received from Manufacturers than estimated, and a great deal of delay has been caused in issuing the vouchers, owing to the difficulty of getting further supplies from the supplying department.

The rationing under the scheme, of Manufacturers and Caterers, should mean a very appreciable increase in the amount of sugar available for private consumption. The Committee would put on record that such rationing has been carried out strictly under the rules of the Food Control Department, that is for Manufacturers, 11 ½ per cent of their 1915 supply, for the period covered by the immediate authorities, and for Caterers and Institutions, on the basis of 2-7ths of an oz. per meal, with certain modifications to meet special restrictions such as those against afternoon teas for people who live out in Institutions, and allowances against the sugar used in cakes in certain classes of catering business.

Householders Applications

These applications on the whole are not very incorrectly [sic] filled in, a good many being traced who had omitted the address, by names of schools being inserted on the forms. Voluntary assistance has been given in filing applications, writing envelopes, etc, and all sugar cards should be out early this week.

Hotels, Restaurants

We regret to say that the registers required to be kept under the “Public Meals Order” have not been very well kept in many cases, and that some excess in food has been going on. We hope that this is now stopped.

Food Economy Campaign

The Committee have received a communication from the Ministry of Food asking them to set up a special committee for this purpose, but they have decided to deal with such a campaign, as the question arises, at meetings of the full committee.

We received 48 applications for licences to sell sugar, from retailers, 47 licences have been granted, one application being refused by the Committee on the grounds that no legitimate retail business was in existence.

Flour Compensation

The Committee and their staff were given a good deal of work in connection with this matter.

Potato Licences

The Committee received a large number of applications for dealing in potatoes, the majority of which have been dealt with. They have some late applications which have just come in.

Members of the Committee for the Sugar Distribution Scheme had to meet on an average twice a week, to deal with the above, and also in regard to Flour Compensation, and other details of their work.

Newbury Borough: Report of the Food Control Committee (N/AC1/2/8)

A collection for the Red Cross

Aldermaston children donated to the Red Cross.

17th October 1917
A collection was made in School on behalf of the Red Cross Fund and the sum of 9 shillings was obtained.

Aldermaston School log book (88/SCH/3/3, p. 75)

“The musketry results are out”

Percy Spencer was fairly happy with his progress training to become a officer, he told his sister Florence.

Oct 17, 1917
My dear Florence

The musketry results are out. 14 of our platoon failed. Tubbs was top with 77. I am marked V. Fair with 60. Below 50 failed.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/6/69)

“Days & nights in water and mud is very trying”

An army chaplain reported on his experiences with men just back from the front lines for a short break.

19 October 1917

Mother received a letter from the Sub-Warden on the 17th inst. from which the following are extracts:

“We have just emerged from a very uncomfortable and strenuous time, & are resting in a little French village. The men are splendid, but it was heart-breaking to see them all getting out of the train which brought them straight from the front…

With considerable difficulty we managed to have thin blankets for them all to get into and fall asleep. Already food and rest have changed them wonderfully, & their poor feet are better. Days & nights in water and mud is very trying.

I shall never forget a Mass in a crowded dugout the day before they went in. Halfway through the service, 2 officers managed to slip into the doorway; there was no other spot. I remember them so well crouching in a very uncomfortable position, and shutting out all of what little light could get in. Only the 2 candles on the altar. They made their Communion. It was their Viaticum. GOD rest their souls!”

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

Is anyone willing to be kind to the Canadians with no friends in England?

Soldiers from Canada often had nowhere to go when on leave.

“Woodclyffe” Auxiliary Hospital, Wargrave

Miss Sinclair has been made “Visitor” (someone specially to look after and care for the wounded Canadians) by the Canadian Red Cross Society with the consent of the Commandant. She will be glad to hear of Americans or Canadians, who would like to take any interest in the men. Many of them have no friends in England and come back to Wargrave for their leave, because the Hospital is the only Home they know. Anyone willing to be kind to the men, please write to Miss Sinclair, Wargrave Aux. Hospital.

Wargrave parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

People ask “Why does the War go on?” – “Is there a God?” and other equally futile questions

The Newbury parish magazine was critical of social change.

One of the most disquieting signs of today is the widespread neglect of Public Worship and indifference to spiritual things…

It is for instance a very melancholy thing to see women drinking in public as they do today quite shamelessly, and as they would never have thought of doing a few years ago, and neglecting their children and their homes; while there are some wives and mothers who are leading vile and disgraceful lives.

And then people ask “Why does the War go on?” – “Is there a God?” and other equally futile questions. Yes, there is a God, and He is the same God as He has always been, and He will punish wickedness and vice, and careless indifference as He has always punished them; nor is it reasonable to suppose that God will give the victory where victory is not deserved.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)