The best return that can be made to those who have fought for us

Earley adults were urged to follow the thrifty patriotism of teenage girls.

Our Girls’ Club have contributed no less a sum than £305 in the War Savings Fund. A letter to the Journal of the War Savings Committee contains a strong appeal to those who are saving nothing. The best return that can be made to those who have fought for us on their return, will be the greeting that we at home have been careful, saving, and have put by something out of our earnings for them. How can we meet them if in return for the hardships they have borne we have been spending money thoughtlessly and carelessly? A War savings certificate is in reach of us all.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P192/28A/15)


A permanent record to tell what manner of men gave their lives for their Country

Wargrave wanted to be sure not to forget the parishioners who had been killed in the war.

Roll of Honour

The names of the men from this Parish who have fallen in this War will be inscribed in the Parish Church underneath the East Window, which is erected in their memory.

But we should wish to preserve some record of closer human interest to future generations than the mere list of names could afford.

A Roll of Honour has therefore been compiled, which gives a short paragraph of personal notes under each name.

It is published as a supplement to this issue of the Parish Magazine and friends are thus given an opportunity of adding or altering anything they may wish.

The idea is that this Roll should be suitably engrossed, after the war, and preserved with the Parish Registers as a permanent record to tell what manner of men gave their lives for their Country.

Additional Copies of this Roll of Honour can be obtained from the Vicarage at three pence each or one shilling for six.

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Up to your eyes in mud and water – or a howling wilderness of desert sand

Reading men at the front write home with more news of their experiences, and hopes for the longed-for period after the war.

We still manage to keep smiling, with the hope that this war will soon come to an end. We are now (March 16th) at work loading and unloading material, and taking it up the line on the light railways. We have exciting times some days. I hope to have a leave before long, if all goes well. It is just on 12 months since I crossed the Herring Pond…

The weather out here has been like summer these last few days, but of course it is very cold in the early morning. It’s rotten out here when it is wet. The least drop of rain, and you are up to your eyes in mud and water…

G. Thatcher (OS)

I wonder if you have the same crush into your Soldiers’ Club as there is in all such places out here in the camp where I am working. At the YMCA here it is the usual thing to have half an hour queue wait to get a cup of cocoa in the evenings. All religious services on Sundays are full to overflowing three quarters of an hour before starting time, and it is advisable to get there an hour before time to get a seat. Needless to say concerts and lectures are as bad. I hope the Brotherhood is still flourishing. The attendance is, I magine, largely of greybeards – the old faithfuls. The choir is, I suppose, practically defunct for the present – awaiting a glorious resurrection when the boys come home…

With best wishes to all at Broad St.
Chas A. Grigg (OS)

I should just love to visit a place such as you have (the Soldiers’ Room) but my place at present is a howling wilderness of desert sand. We have done great work, the boys of the Berkshire Battery, for which we have been praised – also the Yeomanry, too…

This week we have had a very bad time for rain and wind. I have changed three times today (Feb 19th) owing to getting wet through. The towel you send me came into use directly I opened the parcel; and the other contents I can honestly say came in extremely useful. I am writing you the first letter out of the writing pad you also were good enough to send me…

Please give my fondest regards to the Brothers…

God bless and keep you all.

A. W. Slatter (OS)

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

Desperate smoker “will pay for it all tenfold after the war”

A nicotine addict interned in Reading Prison was desperate for his English friends to send him supplies.

March 5th 1918
G Stichl
S of S Order 20.8.16 Internment

Letter to Miss [Hemmerle] – he wants her to get Mrs P Danes to send him another parcel as soon as possible – double or four times the quantity, as he has nothing more. Will pay for it all tenfold after the war – it is fearful when he has nothing to smoke.

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

“A renewal of the war when the Teuton wolf has once licked his sores dry”

John Maxwell Image foresaw something like the third Reich.

29 Barton Road
4 March ‘18


When I study the words and actions of England’s public men, “Can I discern between good and evil?” I begin to truly doubt: Will these suffer the Allies to defeat and CONQUER Germany? We boast of keeping them off Paris. But Germany today is a Continent within the Continent. She and her vassal states stretch in unbroken line from the North Sea to Mesopotamia and over a third of Russia.

If America “stick it”, this “Continent” may be broken up. Yet even America professes unwillingness to interfere with a nation’s right to choose its government – which means a renewal of the war when the Teuton wolf has once licked his sores dry.

Our love to you both

Letters from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“Somehow the power of Evil is broken and the end is in sight”

We haven’t heard from the Glyn family for a while, but we resume with an optimistic short note from Ralphs’ mother Lady Mary.

March 2 1918

My own own darling

I know that somehow the power of Evil is broken and the end is in sight for already the victory is given when we are ready for it…

Own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/5)

The spiritual needs of our soldiers on their return from the war, redux

Dr Underhill’s talk on the church’s offerings to returning soldiers was making its rounds.


On February 26th, Dr Underhill very kindly came to Furze Platt, and read us an interesting paper on “Some ways by which the Church could meet the spiritual needs of our soldiers on their return from the war”, and it was hoped that there would have been a discussion and many suggestions made; but though the world may not realise it, St Peter’s folks are very shy, and occasionally even diffident, so very few people ventured to make any remarks!

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

The pinch will come after the war

The Spencer paterfamilias in Cookham was optimistic, while Florence Vansittart Neale despaired at the situation in Russia.

Will Spencer
23 February 1918

By this morning’s post we received a cheerful letter from Father… Sydney has taken his BA at Oxford. Has received splendid reports from his commanding officers. Was just getting into train at Paddington to come down to Cookham on a Saturday afternoon when he saw Percy on the next platform, whom he hadn’t seen for 2 years. He quickly fetched his luggage out, & stayed the night with Percy, who had just come up from Swindon for a few days, on business.

I was glad to learn from Father that they suffer no privation. The pinch will come after the war, he says, but what can be is being done to provide against that.

Florence Vansittart Neale
23 February 1918

Russians utter degradation, under the heel of Germany.

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

The ceaseless rush & tumble of a soldier’s nomadic life is transient, unreal & arid

You may remember that before the war, Sydney Spencer had been at Oxford studying theology with a view to a call to the Anglican ministry. The war had changed him, but it had strengthened his vocation, as he told his sister Florence and her husband after a weekend’s leave at her home.

In the Train, 5.23 pm, Feb 23rd 1918

My Dearest Florence & Mr Image

I do not feel that I can adequately express what my stay with you has meant for me. The quiet & ease of your home life & companionship has an effect upon me which only those who know what real life is and means, can appreciate.

The ceaseless rush & tumble of a soldier’s nomadic life may possess a brilliant element of excitement, but books, & thought & companionship such as yours is, have an irresistible attraction for me which make all this military life something transient, unreal & arid. The soul of Alma Mater has breathed upon me once and for all & I Have no other wish in life than to follow her dictates & live up to her ideals in spirit. A life such as Dr Glover teaches is what I want, & rash though it may seem to make such a statement I am absolutely convinced that, if I go to France, which please God I shall do, I have many years still left in which some small way to follow the dictates of a spirit in me which cries out to be the reciprocal of other men’s needs.

The Church has only this one attraction for me. It will give me those innumerable opportunities to minister to those needs of men – it’s men I want to get at – which become more patent to me every day.

Letter from Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/3/4)

Pigs, women’s vote & Revolution

Florence Vansittart Neale presided at the Bisham Church Mothers’ Meeting, where she led the discussion on some significant issues of the day.

22 February 1918

Last Mothers’ Meeting. Read Charlie Lucas “Call of the War” with success. Discussed pigs & piggeries & women’s vote & Revolution.

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

Probably we are nearing the final stages of this trouble

There was sad news for some Reading families, while others could be proud of their loved ones’ medals.

It was with extreme regret that we recorded in our November issue the news of the death of Private F. R. Johnson of the Machine Gun Corps, who was killed in action shortly after he had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Previously to his joining the Army he had been a member of our Choir and was deeply interested in all that concerned its well-being. We now have to announce a very kind and thoughtful act on the part of his parents. He left behind him a certain sum of money which they decided to hand over for the benefit of the Choir and it is proposed to invest this sum in War Loan and to the use the interest in case of sickness among the men or boys of the choir. There may be times when tickets for the Convalescent Homes and railway fares to the Homes may be very acceptable, and we are much indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson for their generosity. It is proposed to call the Fund the “Johnson Benevolent Fund” and we hope it may prove the nucleus of a Fund to which other members of the congregation may like to add from time to time”.

Our heartiest congratulations to Lady Carrington, whose second son Lieut. C. W. Carrington of the Grenadier Guards has recently been awarded with the Distinguished Service Order. It will be remembered that her eldest son also gained the D.S.O. and the youngest son the Military Cross.

Our deepest sympathy has been given to Mrs. Montagu Brown, on the death of her husband. He went up into the trenches on a certain date, and news came forty eight hours later that he had died of wounds. May the God of all comfort console those who are mourning his loss!

Our hearty congratulations to Lieut. Fred White on gaining the Military Cross, and to Corporal Will Taylor on gaining the D.C.M., and being now out of hospital.

This will be one of the most solemn Lents we have ever known. We all feel more and more that great changes are taking place in the world and that probably we are nearing the final stages of this trouble, the ultimate result of which it seems impossible to tell but one thing we are certain that we must not slacken our prayers – but rather increase them and deepen the spirit in which they are offered.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

Hospital accommodation for disabled soldiers and sailors who have been discharged

Some servicemen who were not going to recover their full health were discharged from the forces – but still needed medical care.

8th February 1918
Ministry of Pensions, Letter from.
A letter from the Ministry of Pensions re. Hospital accommodation for disabled soldiers and sailors who have been discharged was considered by the Board, and it was decided on the proposition of Capt Pretyman & seconded by the Revd. C. Fry that the Board offer 4 beds after the War for the same.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2, p. 354)

Stanley Spencer “thinks the training has made him fit”

Art student Stanley Spencer had served for some time in the Royal Army Medical Corps before transferring to the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Will Spencer
6 February 1918

A letter for me from Mother. Enjoyed reading how we spent Christmas Day. Stanley is still at the base. Thinks the training has made him fit.

Florence Vansittart Neale
6 Feb 1918

Dot Mole & I had our rendezvous at the Bull Inn, Wargrave. Discussion on Ireland & Home Rule.

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

The spiritual needs of our Soldiers on their return from the War

The question of the church’s response to soldiers coming home was raised.


A meeting of the local combined branches will be held in the Parish Room in St Luke’s Vicarage on Monday, February 4th, at 8 pm, when Dr F W Underhill, President of the Windsor and Maidenhead Federation, will address the members on “Some way by which the Church may meet the spiritual needs of our Soldiers on their return from the War”.

A discussion on the subject will follow.

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

Our economic policy has borne the heat & burden of 3 years strain

The thoughtful members of the Dodeka Bok Club in Reading discussed the possible post-war economy.

The 289th meeting of the club was held on Feb 2. 18 at Cresswell’s…
Cresswell then introduced as a topic for discussion, “Our prewar and postwar fiscal policy”, & in the course of his remarks asked – Does our prewar policy stand condemned? & stated that our general policy, although with defects, had borne the heat & burden of 3 years strain – not only in keeping our industries going, but making large advances to our allies, & London continued to remain the centre of the world’s finance, whilst other countries had had to alter or reverse their pre-war methods, & that our present difficulties were the direct result of war conditions, & would continue more or less acute until the war was over.

Our efforts should therefore be directed to finding out our defects & remedying such as far as possible.

He held the opinion also that as an island country we could not owing to climatic reasons become self-contained or produce all raw material necessary – nor did he agree with the idea of an economic boycott of Germany after the war, even if possible. Especially as each nation has, can & will continue to specialise in its own way & power.

It might be necessary to protect certain industries after the war from unfair competition, but not to the extent that some manufacturers have now, in order that the public should be exploited as they are today.

He confessed to the idea of a “League of Nations” appealing to him very strongly – but this to be effective should include all nations, & thought that such a League the best means to avoid an economic war in the near future. On the whole a too hasty reversal of our pre-war policy would appear to be unnecessary & unwise, & the superplan, he considered, would be to continue as we were in our general policy with an open mind & details could be adjusted from time to time as reason & need arose. A spirited & animated discussion followed.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)