A club for ex sailors and soldiers on similar lines to the Recreation Huts so popular overseas

Ascot wanted to continue supporting servicemen after their return home.

The concert arranged by the R.A.F. in the Cinema on December 11th, in aid of our Christmas Presents for Men in the Navy and those serving overseas, was a great success. The ladies of the “Some Concert Party,” gave an excellent Entertainment to a crowded audience, and the receipts, after deduction of entertainment tax and expenses amounted to £37. Donations to the Fund, chiefly forwarded by Miss Tydd, came to over £8, making a total of over £46.

Some time before the performance 135 parcel presents had been despatched by registered letter post at an average cost of 5/- each. It has been suggested that the balance remaining in the hands of the Committee might well be transferred to a new fund for providing a club for ex sailors and soldiers in the parish, run on similar lines to the Recreation Huts so popular overseas.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, January 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/1)

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A short life on earth, given for the cause of freedom and liberty

More news of Reading men.

The Rev. G.N. Naylor has been appointed chaplain to the R.A.F. in Reading.

We shall miss the R.A.F. officers, cadets and men at the Sunday morning parade service, but I that many of them will still come to our high celebration and to evensong.

The special appeals fund will be closed on the 10th of December.

Intercessions List

Departed: Private Leonard Cadman, D.C.L.I.; Gunner Ivor Hicks, A.F.A.; Sergeant George Murley, Berks Yeomanry; Major Max Henman; Lieutenant Sydney Cecil Lansdown Guilding R.F.A.; Gunner George Poulton Smith, R.G.A.; Bombardier Gerald Frederick Jordan, Berks R.H.A.; Gunner A.J. Hayden; Private A.V. Palmer.

Sick and Wounded: Corporal Coggs; Private E. Targett.

Our sympathy and prayers have, I am sure been given to the relatives and friends of the above, all of whom have nobly done their duty, and given their lives to the Empire, and for the cause of freedom and liberty. Lieutenant S.C.F. Guilding was one of our servers. His was a short life on earth, but he has been called to higher service elsewhere, and we shall not forget the work he did for us here. R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, December 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

A memorial worthy of the men and lads fallen in the War, and the cause for which they have laid down their lives

Influenza was making inroads at home, while the town of Newbury started to think about a war memorial.

The influenza epidemic, if it is the influenza, has been and still is causing a great deal of illness in the parish, both among adults and among children. The Day Schools and Sunday Schools have both had to be closed, and there have been several deaths. We would offer our sympathy to those who are in sorrow at this time, especially to Mrs Philip Webb, Mrs Berry, Mrs Jones, Mrs Hosier; also to Mr and Mrs Barber, whose son Pte William Barber, one of our old choir boys, has died on service in Norfolk; to Mrs Frederick Newport and Mrs Lipscombe, whose husbands have died on service; to Mr and Mrs Buckingham, whose eldest son Lieut Edward Buckingham, RAF, has been killed by accident in France…

We ought to be thinking what form the Memorial to our men and lads fallen in the War is to take. We wish to do something worthy of them and the cause for which they have laid down their lives, and it is probable that there will be several suggestions as to what the Memorial should be. When Christmas is over we must have a meeting of parishioners to consider the matter, and get to work upon it.

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

“Rarely, if ever, before, have we been called upon to mourn the loss of so many of our friends, in such a short time as during the past month”

Broad Street Church had endured many sad losses through the war, and the toll was not yet over.

CONDOLENCES

It is our sad duty to report from time to time the death of members of the church and congregation. But rarely, if ever, before, have we been called upon to mourn the loss of so many of our friends, in such a short time as during the past month….

Private Ernest Layton Francis, son of our esteemed Deacon, Mr Ernest Francis, and Mrs Francis, was well known and greatly beloved at Broad Street. Up to the time of his enlistment in the London Scottish Regiment he was a most faithful teacher in the Sunday School, and he exerted a powerful influence for good over his boys. Both teachers and scholars alike bear testimony to his patient and enduring work, and they all deplore his loss.

Mr Witcombe, Chief Warder at Reading Gaol, had been a loyal member of the church since 1911. During the whole of the war period he has given unstinted and devoted service in the work for men and women in khaki attending our rooms, and his cheery presence was always an inspiration. His early and unexpected death from pneumonia has fallen as a sad blow upon his wife and family.

Mr Harry Haydon was, in early days, a loyal worker in connection with the C[hristian] E[ndeavour] Society and Sunday School… a few months ago he had to join the army, but, as he was never strong, the period of training proved too great a strain on his constitution, and the influenza scourge found in him a victim. He leaves a wife and two young children to mourn his loss…

[Miss Rosa Millard and Miss Christina Codiferre are also named as among those dying of influenza.]

The influenza epidemic, which has been raging throughout the country lately, seems to have been worse in Reading than in most places. For several weeks the Sunday School had to be closed. So, too, had the Soldiers’ Rooms. Very many of or Broad Street homes have been visited, and some, unfortunately, with fatal results. It is a relief to know that the evil is now abating, and we trust that those friends who are still suffering may speedily be restored to health.

PTE E. LAYTON FRANCIS

The deepest sympathy has gone out from our whole community to Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis and their family, in the sad loss they have sustained through the death of their second son, Private E. Layton Francis. Layton Francis was a fine type of strong, intelligent, upright manhood, and his passing is deeply regretted by all who knew him.

When the war broke out he was anxious to volunteer at once for active service, but he was prevailed upon to complete his course of training as a Chartered Accountant before doing so. After successfully passing his final examination, he voluntarily joined up in the London Scottish Regiment, and saw much active service in France, Macedonia and Palestine. Readers of the magazine will remember the interesting descriptions he sent of various places in the Holy Land.

At Es Salt, on May 1st, 1918, he was seriously wounded in the right arm. After undergoing treatment in several Military Hospitals abroad, he ultimately reached England and was taken to the Military Hospital at Napsbury, near St Albans. Here, unfortunately, he was seized with influenza, and, pneumonia supervening, his weakened constitution was unequal to the strain.

We give below a couple of extracts from the many letters received by his parents. They testify to the very high regard in which he was universally held:

From a school friend:

“To me Layton was the best chum I ever had, or can hope to have. In fact he was more than a friend, he held the place of a brother. He was a real gentleman, and the life that God has taken will always be a great example and ideal for me to live up to.”

From a friend and former worshipper at Broad Street:

“Although I was considerably older than Layton you know what friends he and I were whilst I was at Reading. It was a friendship of which I was proud. He was the finest boy I have known. He was such a splendid combination of strong character, high principle and lofty ideals. He was absolutely straight – too great a character either to tell a lie or to harbour a mean thought. He was a fine example of young muscular Christianity.”

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

“We shudder to think how thin seemed the partition between us and destruction!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church rejoiced.

PEACE!

The war is over! How difficult it was to believe at first! We could only slowly get our eyes accustomed to the sudden light. It seemed like passing out of a dark prison into the light of freedom again. Timidity was changed into a feeling of triumph. We can scarcely recognise the altered world, the change has been so sudden and startling. Everything seems new. The glow of victory and expectation is everywhere. As the enemy’s records slowly come to light, it is ever more plain how deliberate and wanton was Germany’s onslaught upon a world at peace, how deep her plots to get the nations under her heel, how tremendous her preparations, yes, and how nearly she succeeded! And now her huge strength has been destroyed. We open our daily newspapers now without a tremor. Nothing in the Peace celebrations seems more wonderful than the restraint and dignified calm of the people as a whole. There was no “mafficking” in the streets, there was no bombast anywhere. Perhaps it was because we had all suffered too deeply. Exultation of course there was, and it was abundantly justified. Dr. McLaren in one of his books asks the question, “Does Christianity forbid us to rejoice when some mighty system of wrong and oppression with its tools and accomplices, is cleared off from the face of the earth?” And the great preacher answers his own question with a text of scripture: “When the wicked perish there is shouting.”

It will be good for us to strive to make our gratitude to God more conscious and eager. We have been in tremendous peril! The Prime Minister said some year or two ago, “We shall win, but we shall only just win.” And it has been “only just.” We may well shudder to think how thin seemed the partition between us and destruction! Can we hope that a new sense of God will fall upon the nation? We need divine guidance and help as certainly in the reconstruction problems as in the peril of the war. Britain’s future depends upon the settlements of the coming year. The nation and the Churches too are at the cross roads! None of us, none of our sires or grandsires, have known a time when the call for earnest thinking and devoted service was to be compared with what it is to-day. Everyone of us must give answer unswervingly if we are not to let the hour pass and the opportunity slip away.

And now, among other things, we want our boys back again. We have felt their absence keenly, not only in our homes, but in the Church. There are nine of our own who will not return, and we will not forget them. But the others, may they come back firmer in fibre, more ready to serve Christ in His Church and in His Kingdom, more determined by His help to “build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.” And may the lessons of our great trial and triumph make us all wise and strong while life lasts.”

CHRISTMAS.

We ought to be able to fill our Christmas this year with real and unaffected joy. The great shadow is taken off merry making. Not that all the problems of the world have been solved, but they are nearer solution, and there is a grand hope in our hearts. And the coming of the world’s great King may remind us that the first of all conditions of real peace and content is a child-like heart, a spirit of gentleness and meekness, and of trust in the guidance of the good Father above. Rivalries and frettings eat out our peace, as a moth a garment, as acid soft metal. When man is right with God, all the earth will be right with men. If we are to gain true peace and happiness in the future, either for ourselves or for the nations, it must be by utter submission to Him who was born a child at Bethlehem.

OUR SOLDIERS.

F. W. Harmer is in hospital in London, suffering from some internal trouble, and may have to undergo an operation. Ernest Bristow is much better, and will soon be ready for his artificial leg. He is back at the Maidenhead Red Cross Hospital. Hugh Lewis has been down with a severe and serious attack of “flu,” and is in hospital at Boulogne.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, December 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Shot through the head

News of the last days of Berkshire soliders continued to trickle in.

Casualties

Sergeant A E Bolton (2nd DG, Queen’s Bays), died in France; Private W H Brown (8th Royal Berks), twice wounded, and prisoner since last April (omitted before); Frank Hicks (2nd Royal Berks), at last officially presumed killed on 9th May, 1915; W Painter (RE), wounded and gassed; J W G Phillips (RAF Labour Company), killed; H J Pembroke (1st Royal Irish Fusiliers), killed in action, 1st October, 1918; G H Poulton-Smith (RGA), wounded; died (of pneumonia) in Italy.

Captain Bullivant’s Death

One day last September, his unit, the 1st Middlesex Yeomanry, was holdig a line of out-posts in Palestine, when a Turkish column was reported to be moving across the front. He rode forward with an orderly to reconnoitre, sending his trumpeter back with orders for the squadron to follow. When they did, however, they at once came under fire, and had to go into action (no doubt dismounted), without having see him or being able to gather which way he had gone in the tangle of ridges and valleys; and the engagement continued for some hours, finishing up in the dark, miles from where it began. Search was made for him early next morning, and a patrol brought in his body. He had been shot through the head, and “must have come right on to them when he galloped over the ridge”, writes his subaltern. His orderly had had his horse shot, and could not himself be traced at the time of writing. A gallant death: but a sad loss to his family and to this parish, in which he took great intrest, and in whose affairs we hoped he was destined to play an active part. He was a Rugby and Cambridge man.

Lieut. Alfred Searies has made a wonderful recovery, and been home on leave. He was buried and damaged while occupying a “pill-box”, and only recovered consciousness five days later in hospital. His MC has been duly awarded him.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Troops welcomed to stop looting in defeated Germany

Phyllis was still unwell.

6 December 1918

Heard fair account of P[hyllis]… Then on to P. Fond Seymour with her. She feverish after high temp. at night, 104.8. Had doctor up, & had aspirin. Felt rather wretched, head bad. I bathed it with eau de vie & water & Caveau orange. Stayed till nearly 5…

Our troops marching into Cologne. We welcomed to stop looting!!


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

“This officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong”

Many Old Boys of Reading School covered themselves with glory in the last months of the war. E C Holtom’s book is still in print.

O.R. NEWS.

Mr. W.L. Pauer, son of Mr. W. Pauer, who had previously won the Military Medal and Bar and a French Medaille Militaire, and who had also been made a “King’s Sergeant” for bravery on the field, has now been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Croix de Guerre.

2nd-Lieut. Churchill, M.C., R.F.A., Son of Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Churchill, of Eldon Square, Reading, has been awarded by the President of the French Republic the Croix de Guerre.

Naval Promotion.

Surgeon E.C. Holtom, stationed at Chatham, has been promoted to the position of Staff Surgeon (Lieut. Commander) in the Navy. He has written a book which is being published by Hutchinson & Co., of London, under the title of “Two Years Captivity in German East Africa.” Mrs. Holtom, of 23, Junction Road Reading, the mother of Surgeon Holtom, has received a letter from Queen Alexandra, in which she says she has ordered a copy of the book. Surgeon Holtom was educated at Reading School and is very well known in this district.

Military Cross.

2nd- Lieut. Adrian Lillingworth Butler, Royal Field Artillery, as previously reported, gained the Military Cross. The following is the official account of his gallant conduct: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer fought his section in the open, engaging enemy infantry and tanks until they got within 50 yards, scoring a direct hit on a tank at this distance. He rallied the infantry and only withdrew at the last moment, having himself to drive in a gun team when the driver was killed.

T/2ND-Lieut. E.C.P. Williams, Middlesex Regiment. When the enemy attacked in great force, driving in the line and endeavouring to cut off the retirement of the battalion, this officer remained as a rear-guard with a small party of men and a Lewis gun, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, and gaining time for the battalion to withdraw in good order. On previous days he had been out with patrols securing prisoners and bringing back valuable information.

Lieut. (Acting Major) Owen Wakeford, R.G.A. For consistent good work, especially as Officer Commanding Battery, during the operations in the Ypres Sector, from July to December, 1917; where he maintained the efficiency of his unit, under heavy fire.

Bar To Military Cross.

The bar to the Military Cross has been awarded Lieutenant (Acting Captain) L.E.W.O. Fullbrook Leggatt, M.C., Oxon and Bucks L.I. Special Reserve for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while attached to brigade headquarters. Headquarters suddenly came under heavy rifle fire, and this officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong. He sent out patrols to locate the enemy and our own troops, and himself collected much valuable information. His promptitude did much to clear an obscure situation and strengthen the line. (M.C. Gazette February 18th)

Lieut (Acting Captain) J.L. Loveridge, Royal Berks Regiment. He made a reconnaissance under heavy enemy barrage, and next day led his section to the starting point, in spite of the fact that his Tank had been observed by the enemy and were submitted to heavy fire. Throughout he showed great coolness and initiative.

Reading School Magazine, December 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

German soldiers returning from the front marching across the Rhine

German soldiers were retreating en masse. Will Spencer heard the Germans’ side of the story via his wife’s family.

24 November 1918

Johanna read to me letters of Nov 20th & 21st which she had received from Agnes. In her letter of Nov. 17th she had spoken of soldiers returning from the front marching through the town & across the Rhine, & now – on Nov. 21st – they had six soldiers in the house for one night, & expecting six more the next night.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

Free to leave internment

The Cusden brothers from Reading had spent the entire war cooped up in a German internment camp. Now they were free. Albert was interested in the revolutionary movement and headed for a day in Berlin; back home he would become a member of the Labour Party, and 30 years later his wife Phoebe, as mayor of Reading, would welcome German children from war torn Dusseldorf to the town.

Spandau-Ruhleben 21 November 1918

Der hier internierte
A. E. Cusden & R. G. Arthur
Ist heute aus dem Englanderlager Ruhleben nach Berlin von neun bis sechs Uhr nachmittags beurlaubt worden.

Der Kommandant [signature]
Feldwebelleutnant

Der Soldatenrat

Pass for Albert and a friend to leave the camp at Ruhleben (D/EX1485/4/6)

“Germans let prisoners loose, gave no food”

The British took charge of the entire German Navy. Every single ship was taken to Scotland, while the submarines were handed over at Harwich.

21 November 1918

German fleet in Scotland. 150 submarines to be given up. Sir R. Tyrwhitt receives them at Harwich. King up to Scotland to see Fleet.

Hear awful account of prisoners. Germans let them loose, gave no food. Many died on the road.

Canadians to play golf. Shaw caddied.

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

“We were cadets so they sent us at once to the Belgian front”

A refugee teenager ended up involved in the final push of the war, and helped to liberate his homeland.

The Head Master has recently received the following letter from Devos. We all remember how good a sportsman Devos was, and how thoroughly he entered into the spirit of English School life. It is good the think that he carries home with him some pleasant memories of his exile. We hope he will come and see us again.

Dear Mr Keeton,

It is already a long time I have not written you, but don’t think I have forgotten about Reading School. No, for my greatest pleasure is when I am at home to look at the old Reading School Magazine again. It reminds me of my former English teacher, whom I will never forget, the boys and the School where I had such a happy time.

Since I wrote you last time a lot of things have happened and the big war is over. Let me tell just what became of me. In the beginning of 1918, about the month of April, they sent me to the Belgian Sub-Lieutenant School near Treport (along the coast). I stopped there for six months, when the offensive broke out. We were cadets so they sent us at once to the Belgian front. I came too late for the first push, but the second was mine. On the 6th of October I was in front of Roulers. On the 14th at 5.35 our artillery began and we pushed forward. My battery was with the English people. After about three hours everything became quiet. Our troops were advancing and I went to a British ambulance nearby, to help carry the wounded.

The next day I had to move again, this time to Iseghem, where the French came to take our positions. Later on we came down to Thourout for two day’s rest. Hearing that our troops had entered Ostend I asked for one night and a day’s leave and went walking to Ostend where I arrived at night. You could never imagine what a sensation you have to enter your birthplace again after having left it for five years, not knowing anything about it and fearing not to find anything but ruins. Luckily for me I found everything back, except for the small pieces of furniture and copper they took away. I stopped in Ostend till the next day, when I met my brother, then came back to the battery. They had just received orders to move.

We had to go to Bruges to a small village called Ursel to the north of Ghent. We did not stop long, for we were trying not to the Germans time to breathe. On the 31st of October we made an attack but we could not pass the canal de derivation. We tried again the same morning, but again we could not get through. That day we had rather heavy losses. Two days later, on the 2nd of November, we heard the Germans had left their positions in front of us and were retreating. At once the cavalry began to chase them as far as Ghent. Our artillery pressure had become useless there and we moved to the south of Ghent. Everything was ready to make our big push on the 13th of November early in the morning. We had seen our infantry going up to the line in order to start at daybreak. Our guns and munitions were ready – (at that time I had to look out for the munitions of my battery) – even the men were already at the guns, when the order came that we had to return to our quarters, for the Armistice was signed. Luckily for Fritz ! For his worst time was coming, especially now because we had French and English reinforcements behind us.

From Ghent I went to Brussels and stopped there for about two months. Then we had the re-opening of our universities. I went in for Mechanical Engineering at the Brussels University, and have just finished my first year. I have still three others to do.

Please remember me to Mr. Newport, Mr . Thorpe, &c. Give them my kind regards, and tell them I have I have not forgotten all about the School. I suppose games have begun.

I hope that the list of casualties of Old Reading School Boys is not too heavy.

Yours Sincerely,
G. DEVOS.

October 18th, 1919.

Reading School Magazine, December 1919 (SCH3/14/34)

Laurel wreaths round Roll of Honour

Laurel leaves were a symbol of victory from the Classical world.

16 November 1918

I still in bed. Johnson too. Dorothy now bad.

Phyllis & Mary decorating church with flags & laurel wreaths round Roll of Honour.

Believe “little Willie” escaped to Holland also.

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

A very narrow escape

There was news of the fate of several men from Burghfield.

THE WAR

Honours and Promotions

Temporary Captain G H B Chance, MGC, to be Assistant Instructor, graded for pay at Hythe rate.

Casualties

Captain R P Bullivant, MC (1st County of London Yeomanry), killed in action, in Palestine; 2nd Lt A Searies (Suffolk Regiment), severely wounded; Albert Bond (13th Royal Fusiliers), wounded last April; L Clarke (2/4th Royal Berks), wounded; Eric G Lamperd (London Regiment), prisoner; F J Maunder (Devon Regiment), wounded; Lance Corporal Percy Watts (Royal Berks Regiment), wounded; Lance Corporal Alfred West (Inniskilling Fusiliers), prisoner.

No details have yet been received about the lamented death of Captain Ritchie Bullivant, of which the whole parish will have heard with regret. It is hoped to give some fuller notice in a future magazine. Meanwhile his brother may be assured of general sympathy.

It is to be deplored that gallant Alfred Searies should have been seriously wounded, gunshot wounds in face and hand. He has, however, been able to be removed to hospital at Wimereux, so his mother may hope for the best. He had been doing duty for some time as acting captain; and we hear that he had also been recommended for the Military Cross, so he had been distinguishing himself before receiving his third wound.

2nd Lt G D Lake, ASC, MT, has lately had a very narrow escape from a shell bursting close to him and killing and injuring several men. We hope to see him safe and sound home for his approaching marriage, which is to take place (if he gets his expected “leave”) about mid-November.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Military honours

A hardworking young soldier was felled by influenza just before the war’s end.

It is with sorrow we record the death of Sergeant Edgar J Barber, Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, the son of Mrs Butler, The Angel Inn, Remenham. He had been fighting from the beginning of the war, and had been recently recommended for a Commission in the Royal Engineers. For some weeks he had been attending a course of instruction at the Cadet School at Newark-on-Trent, and on the very day (Saturday, November 2) when he was admitted into hospital with influenza and pneumonia, intimation was received that he had passed his qualifying examination with success. A few days later his illness terminated fatally, and his remains were brought home for burial, which took place at Henley Cemetery on Tuesday, November 12. Military honours were paid to him both at Newark and Henley, and he was laid to rest amid expressions of widespread affection and esteem.

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