What a vast difference it makes to know that the War is won

We end our WWI blog with this reflection on the future which faced Berkshire by the end of 1919.

Advent

The lesson and meaning of Advent have been brought home to us by varied and heart-stirring experiences in recent years. During the war we have felt both the warning of judgement and the comfort of the assured triumph of righteousness as never before. Last year our hearts were full of thankfulness, – ‘then were we like unto them that dream’ – and the dominant message of Advent was the Coming of the Prince of Peace. Today we look forward more soberly to the future. God is working His purpose out, His kingdom is being established upon earth, but, in the meanwhile, the reign of peace seems longer delayed than we had hoped, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power.”

So it becomes us to remember the Gospel teaching as to the conduct of those who wait while the Lord delayeth His coming. They are to be good stewards and intent upon their work.

It is a most appropriate Advent lesson for us all; we can see that the country needs all hands to the task of rebuilding, and this means that it is a patriotic duty for every man to work hard and do his best in his allotted place. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”

But what a vast difference it makes to know that the War is won and that all the work done now goes to make the world a happier place for the children who are growing up. Such an outlook puts joy into work and makes men feel the warmth of fellowship as comrades in a task worth doing.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

Two German rifles (one without a bolt)

Another school displayed enemy weapons.

November 27th 1919
Received from the Parish Council, per Mr. Cooper, two German rifles (one without a bolt) to be kept at the School in memory of the great war.

Log book of Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL66/1, p. 490)

Returned from military service

26th November 1919
I am informed that Mr Edwards has returned from military service and has resumed his appointment as school attendance officer.

Aston Tirrold CE School log book (C/EL105/1, p. 196)

Changes to war savings

25th November 1919
Our War Savings Association is now attached to the Wallingford Local Committee.

Aston Tirrold CE School log book (C/EL105/1, p. 195)

“This hospital is being used for permanently disabled soldiers, so that it will probably remain open for a long time”

The ladies of Stratfield Mortimer folded their sewing group which had supported soldiers.

The War Working Party

The Committee wish to make a final report with reference to the funds which remained in their hands. These were laid out in the purchase of a sofa, an Indian cane chair, and a Singer hand sewing machine, which have been given to the Sutherlands hospital (Reading) for use there until that hospital closes. It will be remembered that this hospital is being used for permanently disabled soldiers, so that it will probably remain open for a long time. When that hospital is closed these properties are to be handed over to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. A most grateful letter of thanks has been received from the Sutherlands Commandant, who is especially delighted with the sewing machine, which will be in constant use by the ladies who undertake the heavy task of mending.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

“The absolute stillness and reverence of the crowd was most marked”

The Cookham Dean war memorial was unveiled.

The blessing and dedication of the war memorial, long looked forward to, took place on Sunday, November 23rd, at 3 p.m. There has been such a kindly notice of the proceedings in the local Press that it will suffice to say that no more impressive day had occurred in the history of the village since the day that the Church was consecrated in 1845. Arrangements for the orderly conducting of the ceremony had been most skilfully and carefully made by Mr. Edwards, and to this is due the great success of the afternoon. Three Companies of Service men, under the command of Capt. R. E. Hunt, helped to keep the ground. The absolute stillness and reverence of the crowd was most marked; it is said that every word of the Service could be heard by all. The hymns were accompanied most sympathetically by the Band. The children, in charge of the Lady Stewards, did their sad part faultlessly, and all felt that as far as earthly honour could go, the thirty-nine men whose names are carved upon the Memorial received that which was due and fitting from those for whom their lives had been given – ‘Faithful unto death, their name liveth for evermore.’ May our Cross be ever honoured, ever cared for, ever reverenced for their sakes in whose memory it has been erected, and, above all, for the sake of Him who died upon a Cross that they and we and all mankind may live though him.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, December 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

A memento of the Great War

Germans guns went on display.

Six captured German rifles have been presented by the authorities to Winkfield Civil Parish. At a recent meeting of the Parish Council it was decided that they should be divided among the Schools, to be kept there as a memento of the Great War.

If we are fortunate enough to receive two rifles they will hang well on either side of the Roll of Honour in the main schoolroom.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/11)

Slight consolation in proud grief

A war memorial was unveiled in Ascot.

November 21st made up for two previous disappointments, and the presence of the Diocesan Bishop amongst us for his first visit to South Ascot gave additional pleasure to some old friends. He expressed his admiration more than once for our beautiful church… For the latest addition to our prized possessions – the Churchyard Crucifix erected by the relations of those from All Souls’ who gave their lives in the great war – he expressed his delight and cordial approval.

A full and visibly impressed congregation assembled for the Dedication, and the service had a pathos and dignity which will not readily be forgotten. The music was mainly composed for the occasion by Mr D Clarke, and much of the well-timed conduct of the service was due to his careful training of the choir. The memorial represents in England the last resting place of our dear lads whose bodies lie, known or unknown, in France or elsewhere. As such it will command at least the same reverence as is claimed for the Cenotaph in Whitehall. But our Cenotaph here has another and more cogent reason for reverence. It is crowned by the Symbol of the World’s Greatest Sacrifice. We have dared to place That there because we believe that there is some parallel, however distant, between the Son of God’s Redeeming Sacrifice and the sacrifice made by our men. “In that Broken Body,” as the Bishop said in his address, “there is a likeness to which any human sacrifice of life willingly made does approximate”. It is quite true that no such claim would ever be advanced by our heroes, and it might be equally true that such a thought did never occur to them. But it is as we meditate over their accepted offering that we trace reverently a parallel which makes nothing less than the Crucifix an adequate memorial.

But the memorial has a value apart from its immediate purpose. It is a silent witness to the passer-by of his one hope of salvation. “In Cruce Salus” (in the Cross lies our safety) is a truth which all men need to recollect, and here in South Ascot its truth is driven home by the presence of the Figure which gives to the cross its meaning and its power. And the passer-by will make his act of thankfulness not merely to the memory of valiant hearts which bled for England, but to the Redeemer Who died for him. Surely it will preach many a sermon to those whom sermons do not reach, and keep them in mind how much they need the Redeemer’s Sacrifice.

And the observer will notice that it is no figure of a Dead Christ which hangs there. It is Christ hanging from the Tree. The Sacred Eyes are resting in tender sympathy upon the tomb beneath. He watches over their emblematical resting place. Under His protection they rest in peace with the promise of His presence to give them refreshment in Paradise. And not to them only, but also to all who sleep or shall sleep in our graveyard under the shadow of the great Christ, is this sense of guardianship given…

The Figure of the Christ has been carved out of oak known to be 150 years old, and the colour is natural. The carver, Mr Peacock, was sent a copy of the war picture the “Great Sacrifice” for his model. He has faithfully reproduced the effect which was wished, and as a work of art it leaves nothing to be desired. The lettering was carried out by Mr Bannister and is well executed. The masonry is solid and carefully laid. Messrs Bowman’s workmen took obvious interest in the work. For the Service itself it is difficult to single out individuals for our thanks, for all deserve them. From churchwardens to the smallest choir boy, all endtered into the spirit of the day. A special word of thanks is however due to Mr Jenkins, not merely for his help given on the day, but for help during the difficult erection of the Cross, and also to Mrs Browning for her work, constantly undone, in getting the church ready, and to Mrs Keating for her gift of the flowers used for the altars.

All who care for All Souls must feel profoundly grateful to the donors of the Crucifix. It cannot but strengthen the bonds which bind us to our beautiful church. The Mourners too must have felt the deep sympathy which prevailed for them in their proud grief. Perhaps it may have been some slight consolation…

South Ascot Parochial magazine, December 1919 (D/P186/28A/19)

Always cheery even under the most adverse circumstances

Percy Spencer, who would be discharged on 19 December 1919, received an excellent reference to take to civilian employers.

This is to certify that Lt P J Spencer, 15th London Regiment, served with me & under my command from Aug 1914-Nov 1918. He is an extraordinary efficient officer especially in office work (adjutant). He is hard working – self-reliant – reliable – accurate, tactful & always cheery even under the most adverse circumstances. I can thoroughly recommend him & feel sure he will make a success of any job he takes up. He can be relied on for any office of trust & discretion. He is sober – popular with everybody. I cannot speak too well of him & wish him every success.

Gen. Kennedy
20.4.19


(D/EZ177/7/12/41)

A Memorial which will stand for centuries as a keepsake of the bravery and sacrifice of Mortimer’s sons

Mortimer people had responded generously to the war memorial appeal.

War Memorial

The response to our appeal last month has been most satisfactory, many gifts, and some of them big gifts, having been received. The total now paid in or promised is £453 out of the £500 required. The remaining £47 which is needed may be expected to come in readily enough during this month; for probably everybody would like to be connected, by however small a gift, with a Memorial which will stand for centuries as a keepsake of the bravery and sacrifice of Mortimer’s sons. Probably also a good number of people have delayed to send in their gift, but will do so now when it is known that before long the fund will be closed. Any member of the Committee will gladly receive and forward any gifts, or these may be sent to the Hon. Sec. Miss Phelp, Wisley, Padworth Road, or be forwarded by cheque or postal order to Lloyds Bank, Reading, made payable to “Mortimer War Memorial Fund.”

The stone for the Memorial has been secured, but the bronze castings of the names and the inscription will be a slow business, and, though the carving of the stonework will be put in hand as soon as the sum required is received, the architect warns us not to expect to see the whole structure completed until early in next summer.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

A telegram advising closure

The terrible influenza pandemic was still raging.

Nov. 18th
Visited school this afternoon with telegram from Education Secretary advising the closing of the school on account of an outbreak of influenza. This was done.
Wm Davenport

Buscot CE School log book (C/EL73/2)

An absence (in the Army) of more than three years

Another man returned to civilian life.

1919, 17 November
Mr Edwards, resumed work as Attendance Officer after an absence (in the Army) of more than three years.

Wallingford Boys Council School log book (SCH22/8/3, p. 78)

Forbury Hill “not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate”

There was considerable debate over a proposed Berkshire war memorial. This project never came to fruition, as not enough money was raised, and the committee folded in 1922. However, in 1930 a former serviceman who was elected mayor of Reading revived it.

17 November 1919

The secretary reported that Dr Stewart Abram, Mayor of Reading, had acceded to the request to join the committee [and was present at this meeting]. He also reported the death of Mr H C Mylne and it was agreed that Mr Martin, the newly elected Mayor of Wokingham, be asked to take the vacant place on the committee.

The secretary reported that the Town Clerk had written saying that the application for the Forbury Hill site had been considered by the Parks & Pleasure Grounds Committee, and that they have recommended the Town Council to accede to the application of the Berkshire War Memorial Executive Committee. The recommendation above will be considered by the Council on the 4th December.

The site of the Forbury Hill selected for the memorial was criticised by Mr Bates, who pointed out that in all probability the Hill was itself a memorial and that it was not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate. Considerable discussion took place, and it was suggested that a much better position could be found in the Forbury Gardens at the Victoria Gate. Mr Bates moved and Mr Howell seconded

“that the Town Clerk should be informed that on re-consideration and after an inspection of the Forbury Hill and Gardens the Committee feel that it would be undesirable to interfere with the amenities of what they understand is really an Historical Monument. Moreover the Committee finds that any suitable monument erected on the Hill would necessitate much re-modelling of the Gardens and interference with the existing arrangements. In the circumstances the Committee request that the application made in the secretary’s letter of the 24th October be not put forward at the Town Council meeting on the 4th December.”

This was approved unanimously. The secretary was instructed to intimate that a fresh application for another site in the near neighbourhood will probably be forthcoming later on.

The Committee visited the Forbury Gardens in connection with a suggestion made by Mr Bates, supported by Councillor Howell and others, and it was ultimately decided that Mr Benyon, Mr Bates and Councillor Howell be appointed a Sub-committee to prepare a plan of the site in question in order that the matter may be further considered at the next committee meeting.

The secretary reported the issue of posters & record cards as agreed at the last meeting, and the question was raised as to the persons whose names should be recorded. Colonel Barker moved that “the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men who were serving in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Territorial battalions of the Berkshire Forces when the war broke out, be deemed to be Berkshire men for the purpose of the memorial”. The resolution was seconded by Mr Bates and passed.

The secretary was instructed to return the designs submitted at the last committee meeting, and to express the thanks of the committee to the designers.

Bills for printing and petty expenditure were submitted and passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

A Cross for the war memorial Altar has been promised

War Memorial Chapel Fund

Unfortunately, the detailed list of subscriptions has been crowded out, but will appear in the December issue. Total cash received for general purposes, £292 15s 11d, and another £75 to £100 for an oak Altar, and a Cross for the Altar has also been promised.

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

“Plenty of beer – more than I’ve had since the War started”

Shortages were a thing of the past.

14th November 1919

Wages 2£.16S.9d. which D- got for me to save me going down at dinner time. I went to bed as soon as I had had my breakfast; got up at 6 and then to the Drill Hall from 7 to 10 serving out beer to the returned soldiers and sailors again. Plenty of beer there, in fact one barrel was not tapped. I had more than I’ve had since the War started. To work at 10.


Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/26)