Many months of anxiety and trouble for the alleviation of the sufferings of others

The hard work of women from Newbury and Speen during the war is reviewed.

RED CROSS WORKING PARTY

The Parish Red Cross Working Party, under the superintendence of Mrs L Majendie, was started by her at the Rectory, Newbury, on May 1st, 1915.

The first meeting was hastily summoned for the purpose of making respirators, but as it was found these were not required, being provided by the War Office, work for hospitals and other objects was substituted.

Mrs Majendie carried on the meetings at more or less regular intervals from a fortnight to three weeks, with suspension of these generally during Lent.

She was assisted, first by Miss Boldero (who also held a number of supplementary meetings for mending for Newbury District Hospital), and later by Mrs and Miss Majendie, Speen.

The number of names on the books was between 50 and 60, and of these over 30 attended regularly from the first meeting, May 1st, 1915, to the last, February 18th, 1919. Thanks are due to all the members, but more especially to these last, also to the various hostesses who provided tea, and lent their houses for meetings (many more would have been glad to do this, if lack of space had not forbidden it).

The hostesses were Mrs L Majendie, Miss Boldero, Mrs A Majendie and Miss D Majendie, Miss Godding, Mrs Gould, Mrs Hawker, Mrs Porter, Mrs Camp, Mrs O’Farrell, Mrs Colbourne, amd Miss Bellinger. Some entertained at their own houses, some at the Conservative Club, and a large number of meetings were held at the Parish Room.

Some members have left Newbury, including several Belgian ladies, who worked regularly for a time.

The objects worked for were very numerous, 24 in all, and included the following:

1. Reading War Hospital, twice.
2. Newbury District Hospital, 9 times.
3. Newbury War Depot, 6 times.
4. Miss Power’s Hospital, once.
5. General Hospital No. 18, France (to Miss Hayne), once.
6. The Minesweeper Newbury, 7 times.
7. HMS Conquest (to Lieut. Burgess), once.
8. Submarine F3 (to Lieut. Burgess, once).
9. The Navy League, 3 times.
10. Dr Heywood’s Hospital, Malta, once.
11. Malta and Near East Special Red Cross Appeal, once.
12. Dr Heywood’s Hospital, Rouen, twice.
13. Dr Heywood’s Hospital, Stationary, No. 3, France, 12 times. Extra parcels were often sent to Dr Heywood’s Hospital at other times.
14. Ripon Camp Hospital (Dr Mackay), twice.
15. French Red Cross, twice.
16. French War Emergency Fund, 11 times.
17. National Committee for Relief in Belgium and Northern France, twice.
18. Belgian Red Cross, once.
19. Italian White Cross, twice.
20. Russian Prisoners of War, once.
21. Serbian Relief Fund, 7 times.
22. Syria and Palestine Relief Fund, 5 times.
23. Air Raid victims in London, once.
24. Soldiers’ Children Aid Committee, twice.

Making 73 meetings in all.

The many grateful letters received are too numerous to quote, but each one showed clearly how much the recipients appreciated the parcels of well made clothing despatched from Newbury. Not only were new clothes sent, but many gifts of garments slightly worn, but in good condition were also sent to various Societies. These were received with special thankfulness for the many refugees in France, Belgium, and Serbia, and as the work of repatriation in some of these terribly devastated regions will have to be carried on for months to come, parcels might still be forwarded from time to time if members cared to collect for them.

Thanks are specially due to those members who were kind enough to continually lend their sewing machines for ten meetings, and to several who undertook from time to time cutting-out at home.
The sum of £92 7s 8d was collected in donations and subscriptions, and was expended in flannel, flannelette, linen, twill, sheeting, muslin, gauze, lint, and cotton wool, which were all worked up into about 2,653 different articles, comprising, roughly speaking, the following:

735 treasure bags, 386 bandages, 376 miscellaneous things (such as washers, dusters, hot water bottle covers, table napkins, etc), 253 children’s garments, 210 men’s shirts, 177 knitted articles (socks, helmets, mufflers, operation stockings, etc), 128 collars and ties for hospital wear, 108 men’s vests and other underclothing, 106 women’s underclothing and blouses, 86 towels, 68 pillow cases and sheets, 20 pair steering gloves (leather palms): total 2,653.

The pleasant fellowship in which the members worked so untiringly through many months of anxiety and trouble for the alleviation of the sufferings of others, may well have strengthened not only parochial and personal ties, but also many wider ones with those they were privileged to help.

Newbury parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

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11 weeks illness

Phyllis Vansittart Neale, who had had a severe attack of influenza, was well enough to come home.

15 February 1919

Phyllis came home from Hospital. 11 weeks illness!

Foggy morning, so felt anxious for Phyllis but Shaw brought her back all right with Newton & Sister Simpson about 4 o’clock. Bore journey very well. Looks pale & thin. Had tea & bed early.

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

Our “Burghfield Belgians” are trying to return home

A refugee family who had found asylum in Berkshire were now hoping to return home.

Our “Burghfield Belgians”

It will be remembered that our honoured guests, the Laurent family of Louvain, after a year’s sojourn in the Old Schools, migrated on October 19th, 1915, to Reading, partly for Mme Laurent’s health and partly to get work. The step was successful in both respects. But still better prospects opening up in London they moved there after about 15 months, and have since supported themselves entirely. The enemy having been driven out of Belgium, they are now trying to return to their native country, for though their home at Louvain is destroyed, they have friends in Antwerp and mean to go there, at any rate for a time.

At the last meeting of our Committee it was resolved that any funds left after the payment of small bills should be retained by the Treasurer and handed to the family on repatriation.

The balance in question has grown by interest accretions, from £16 4s 4d to £18 9s 0d, which latter sum was paid by Mr Willink, the Hon. Treasurer, on 13th February, and he holds the receipt. The whole family begged him to thank the Committee and all Burghfield friends very warmly for their help in time of need.

They will probably set up a boot shop again – they had the biggest one in Louvain. The two sons have both served right up to the end of the war – Arthur in fact wishes to remain a soldier. We wish them all happiness and good fortune.

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1919 (D/EX725/4)

A home for these men, who had come so far from their kith and kin to fight

Our wounded allies were nursed in Sulhamstead. The house is now the Thames Valley police training centre.

The Convalescent Auxiliary Hospital which was organised and carried on by Lady Watson at Sulhamstead House has now been closed, after rendering splendid service. The hospital was opened in May, 1915, for the reception of 15 convalescent soldiers from Reading Military Hospital, and this number was increased to 22 in July, 1916. Lady Watson’s main object was to receive overseas troops, and as far as military rules allowed, to make a home for these men, who had come so far from their kith and kin to fight. The number of convalescents passed through the hospital was close on 400. The work has been a great pleasure to Lady Watson…

For the last two years Sister Helen Parker has devoted herself unselfishly to the most important duty of caring for the health and happiness of the men in hr charge. A word of thanks is also due to the indoor and outdoor staffs, who were keen to help with the work of the hospital and arrange the men’s amusements, not forgetting Mr Ralph the engineer, who willingly gave up two evenings weekly all through the winter, while the hospital was open, to give the men cinema entertainments.

(From “The Reading Mercury”.)

Sulhamstead parish magazine, February 1919 (D/EX725/4)

Inciting to Bolshevism

Eduard Soermus was an Estonian musician and revolutionary who had been living in Wales.

8 February 1919

Dottie says German prisoners are no longer to be used but make way for our own men. Tuck came back demobilized!…

Strikes still continuing. No undergrounds or tubes running,. Many people taken to work in Army lorries. Conferences going on. A Russian violinist “Soermus” taken up – inciting to Bolshevism. He in Brixton, is to be deported.

Phyllis changed room – by herself to escape flu patients.

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

A doctor returns from France

A doctor returned home after serving at the front.

6 February 1919
Sister Bertha Margaret went away from Clewer being no longer needed as doctor, Dr Attlee having returned from France.

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

A thrilling escape

Philip Godsal, sone of a Welsh landowner, was captured early in the war, and eventually made a daring escape in 1917.

5 February 1919

Monthly Meeting

A most interesting lecture was given by Capt Philp Godsal on his experiences as a prisoner of war in various camps in Germany, and his thrilling escape to Holland.

Hurst WI minutes (D/EX1925/33/1/1)

“An incalculable amount of pain, many limbs, and indeed many lives must have been saved by the timely arrival of the bales”

Wargrave had been at the heart of work providing surgical supplies during the war.

Wargrave Surgical Dressing Society

This Society, which has just brought its work to a close owed its existence to the energies of Miss Choate.

At Millward’s, generously lent by the late Mr. Henry Nicholl and recently by Major C.R.I. Nicholl, was started by her in March 1915, a work which grew to such an extent that during the four years some 500,000 dressings and comforts were dispatched to the wounded from Wargrave. These were not, of course, all made in the village. Under Miss Choate’s organisation, branches were started at Dartmouth, Ledbury, Loughton, Pangbourne, Peppard, Shiplake and Wimbledon, while welcome and regular parcels were received from Twyford, Kidmore and Hoylake. But all were packed for shipment and consigned from Wargrave.

The parcels went to Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations at almost every fighting area – to Mesopotamia, to Gallipoli, to Egypt, to Serbia and to American and Colonial Hospitals in England and in France.

It is impossible to ever estimate the value of the work. An incalculable amount of pain, many limbs, and indeed many lives must have been saved by the timely arrival of the bales. As a lame man said to the writer “Only we who are still suffering the effects of the shortage of medical comforts at the beginning of the war can appreciate fully the work these people have done.”

In the early days, consignments were sent in response to urgent appeals from Commandants and Matrons of Hospitals, but since 1916 the Society, in common with other of the larger Societies in England, has worked under the direction of the Department of the Director General of Voluntary Organisations at the War Office.

A.B.

A meeting of the Society and the subscribers was held on Wednesday, Feb. 5th, at Millwards to decide upon the disposal of the Balance in hand. Every provision had been made for carrying on the work through the winter if the war had continued, and the funds amounted to over £200.

In the absence of Capt. Bird, the Vicar was asked to take the chair. After a full discussion it was unanimously resolved that £200 be given to the Ward Fund and Recreation Fund of the Manor Hospital, Hampstead.

It was a great happiness to all concerned to feel that the money should benefit a work with which Miss Sinclair was so closely associated.

It was resolved that the remaining balance be given to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, for a Care and Comforts Fund for the Soldier Patients.

The accounts have not yet been audited but it is expected that the amount to be given to Reading Hospital will be about £20.

These resolutions, together with the audited accounts, must be submitted to the Charity Commissioners for approval, but there is every reason to think that they will be endorsed by them.

The men in the Manor House Orthopedic Hospital, Hampstead, for discharged Soldiers and Sailors, wish to send their grateful thanks to the Members of the Surgical Dressing Emergency Society, Wargrave, for their splendid gift (£200) to be used for their Care and Comfort. As many Wargrave ladies have consented to be god-mothers in the wards, it is the wish of the men that some of them should be on the new Committee, called the Care and Comforts Committee, who from time to time will decide how the money shall be spent. The appreciation of the men is very touching in its sincerity and sense of sympathy.

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

“He speaks well on the whole of his treatment in the prisoners’ camp”

Cigarettes were this year’s Christmas gift for Maidenhead soldiers.

OUR SOLDIERS.

A letter of Christmas greeting was again sent to each of our soldiers, and a packet of cigarettes to those who were overseas. We hope that in a very short time the majority of them will be back amongst us. Robert Bolton and Alfred Isaac have already been discharged. Reginald Hill was at home for Christmas leave, looking quite recovered after his long hospital experiences. Wallace Mattingley and George Ayres are in Germany.

We are glad to hear that 2nd Lieut Edgar Jones, son of Rev. G H. Jones, of Marlow, who, after a few days in France was taken prisoner about 17 months ago, returned home in time for Christmas. He speaks well on the whole of his treatment in the prisoners’ camp.

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, January 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

In a prisoners’ hospital in Germany

Some PoWs were in a bad state.

We are glad to welcome home John Tidy, Richard Taylor and Percy Huxford, who have been prisoners of war, and to hear that Arthur Francis and Ben Ferns have arrived in England, though they are at present in hospital. Mrs. Ednie has heard that her son Victor is in a prisoners’ hospital in Germany, but he is expected to be moved home soon.

Winkfield District Magazine, January 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11)

Such very substantial help to our Hospitals

League of Mercy

Miss Brenda Rhodes, a Vice-President of the League, desires to thank the numerous contributors who have subscribed during 1918, and have enabled her to send such very substantial help to our Hospitals. The Flag and Heather Day produced £78 7s. 4d. Annual subscriptions £23 8s. 6d. Total £104 19s. 10d.

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

To Paris for Peace Conference

British politicians headed to France to sort out peace terms.

11 January 1919

Lloyd George & Bonar Law went to Paris today for Peace Conference.

H & I round by J & B Farrer to fetch a pheasant they were giving to Phyllis. She had a bad night. Much pain with tube. Surgeon put in a smaller one. Very good sleep after lunch but still tired.

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

Gay with flags and laurel leaves

There was a still a need to support the troops.

St Peter’s Notices

The Furze Platt Working Party meets at Furze Croft on Tuesday, 7th and 21st. The Secretary wishes to thank all workers and subscribers for their steady support through these years of war. No further funds will be collected for this society, but workers are asked to continue their efforts a little longer, as we have a certain amount of material in hand for making the garments which are still being asked for by the hospitals; also, Government has given us wool, as knitted garments are very much needed for the army abroad. A full account of the work of this branch of the Society will appear in the February or March number of the Magazine. I believe it will be found that more work has been done this year than ever before, and I am sure people will be glad to know that as the Society asked that games should be supplied for the troops, our December subscriptions provided some footballs and games for 2/4th and 5th Battalions of the Royal Berks and the 187 Light Trench Mortar Battery.

The Bazaar has realised £171 13s 3d. great credit is due to the workers. The Town Hall looked gay with flags, and the stall were most effective, draped with white, with a flag of one of the Colonies or of an Allied Power as a centre piece, and festooned with garlands of laurel leaves made by the boys of Furze Platt…

Now that there are fewer Collections for War Charities, will Church people consider the possibility of becoming supporters of the Free-Will Offering Fund? We, most of us, profess to believe in everybody getting a living wage, and yet this Fund has very few supporters.

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

“The London Jews’ Society has probably suffered more material damage through the war than any other of our British Missionary Societies”

A missionary organisation sheds light on the impact of war in Palestine.

LONDON JEWS’ SOCIETY

The London Jews’ Society has probably suffered more material damage through the war than any other of our British Missionary Societies. In Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Safed the Turks, whilst generally respecting the missionary buildings, have ruthlessly commandeered everything on which they could lay their hands. On the Continent, owing to so many of the mission stations being in the fighting area, and the buildings having been used for the purposes of war, much damage must necessarily have been done. Under these circumstances the committee feel that many of their supporters would like to give, in addition to their ordinary contributions, a part of their thankofferings for the blessings of victory to help this special need. They therefore earnestly appeal for Victory and Peace Thank-offerings to the War Restoration Fund at present in existence, the object of which is the restoration and re-equipment of the Society’s mission stations, hospitals and schools, not only in Palestine, but also wherever they have suffered through the War. Remembering the great spiritual debt we owe to the Jew, who has given us our Bible, our Faith and our Saviour, we heartily commend this appeal to the consideration of our people. Contributions to the LJS Victory and Peace Thankofferings should be sent to the local treasurer of the Society or to Mr W R Cory, the Society’s Accountant, 16, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

“The Christmas presents from the parish reached Salonika”

The after-effects of the war still dominated Christmas.

ST. DUNSTAN’S HOSPITAL FOR BLIND SOLDIERS

We are glad to have been able to send £13 16s. 4d. as the result of the collection at the Carol Service on Christmas Day, and the Carol Singing by the Choir at Heathfield School, when £7 1s. 1d. was subscribed, together with £1 14s. given by the Girls’ school and 16s by the Infants.

It is satisfactory to learn that the Christmas presents from the parish reached Salonika by Dec 22nd, and several men write saying they received them there on Xmas Eve.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/2)