Two minutes of perfect silence and stillness

Schools remembered the Armistice one year earlier on the first Remembrance Day.

Bracknell
11th November 1919

Today is the first anniversary of the armistice. All the children and staff assembled around the flagstaff. Just before 11 a.m the Headmaster read the King’s proclamation – the flag was lowered to half mast and two minutes of perfect silence and stillness was observed as a simple service of silence and remembrance. Children sang ‘God save the King’ and special lessons on ‘The League of Nations’ were given in the upper classes.

White Waltham
November 11th 1919

Today Nov 11th is the first anniversary of the Armistice which stayed the world wide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and freedom. The King has sent the following message to the people with a request that his message should be read to the pupils in all schools.

Kings Message:

I believe my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of that Great Deliverance and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.

To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of this feeling it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the armistice came into force, the eleventh our of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, there may be for one brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all normal activities. During that time, except in rare cases where this may be impractical, all work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, as that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead.

No elaborate organisation appears to be necessary. At a given signal, which can easily be arranged the suit the circumstances of each locality. I believe that we shall, all gladly interrupt our business and pleasure, whatever it may be and unite in this simple service of Silence and Remeberance.

George R.I.

Programme:

10.50 All Children assembled in Large Room
10.55 Brief explanation of reason of assembly and the Reading of the King’s Message.
11-11.2 Reverent Remembrance of the Glorious Dead in Silence
11.3 Singing of Hymn “On the Resurrection Morning” to end a most impressive service
11.10 Resumption of work.

Eastbury
11th November 1919

The League of Nations Day Nov. 11th. At eleven o’ clock a pause was made in the ordinary work. The bell tolled thirteen times as that was the number of men at Eastbury who have made the great sacrifice. During that time the names of the dead heroes were written on the blackboard, while all the children stood silent, seeming to realise the act of honour the silence was giving to the glorious dead.

Prayers for the departed were read and the prayer for peace and a hymn was sung. The children seemed much impressed by the lessons that were given. The King’s letter was read. The national anthem concluded the service.

King Street School, Maidenhead
11th November 1919

The Anniversary of Armistice Day was kept in school by a complete change of timetable commencing with a simple musical service of praise & worship & an address to the children on “Give to the world the best you have” as a basis for a League of Nations.

The Silence Time (which is a daily occurrence here) was devoted to the sending of love & affection to the fathers of our children killed in the war & yet still near them. The lessons throughout the day were in relation to this, & bigger children were allowed to take home what they had written about the Great Day.

A widowed mother called in the afternoon & told of the cheer she had received from her little boy’s expression of what has been told him in school today.

(more…)

“The League of Nations is one of the ways in which an attempt is being made to reconstruct the world”

In the end the League of Nations would fail to prevent an even worse conflict, but in 1919 hopes were high.

School News
Christmas Term, 1919
Nov. 11th

We assembled in the School hall at 10.50 am, Sister read us the King’s proclamation, and at 11 am, when the Curch bell rang, we kept the two minutes’ silence, which was being observed throughout the British Empire. Afterwards, Mrs Everett spoke to us about the League of Nations…

We were all acquainted with the ordinary selfish person, yet perhaps we were less familiar with what is known as “family selfishness”, or people who do not mind what happens as long as their family does not suffer. But there is yet a third kind of selfishness, in thinking too much of one’s own country, a selfishness often disguised under the name of patriotism. A true patriot can never do too much for his own country, but in this great League of Nations, we have to include the greater part of the world – not only England, but Germany, Austria, Russia, Japan, and all the other great powers. We have to see that every nation has her fair and proper share, so that the strong shall not oppress the weak, and, moreover, the children of each country may have a chance of growing to healthy manhood and womanhood. The League of Nations is one of the ways in which an attempt is being made to reconstruct the world. The Headquarters will be at Geneva, where all disputes and other affairs will be settled.

Concluding, Mrs Everett said that the older people would do their “bit” as long as they could, but it rested with the younger generation whether the small beginnings would prove a success, and the children of another generation would have reason to look back and bless them.

Clewer: St Stephen’s High School Magazine, 1920 (D/EX1675/6/2/2)

Very few of our men remain undischarged

MOst of the men from Maidenhead Congregational Church were back home.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Very few of our men remain undischarged. Frank Tomlinson, who has not been home for about three years, is expected in these parts very shortly now. George Ayres received the heartiest of welcomes on his return a week or two ago. He has been in Germany for nearly a year. We congratulate Wallace Mattingley on his second “pip.”

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

“The War Office had not even the common courtesy to say thank you”

The Superintendent at Broadmoor felt unappreciated for his organisation’s contribution to the care of insane PoWs. This complaint elicited a hasty letter of gratitude on 16 November.

3rd November 1919

Dear Major Wells

With regard to the enclosed I don’t know exactly what manner of report may be required, but I have neither the time nor inclination to go further in the matter.

In 1916 I undertook to relieve Netley Hospital of the care & treatment of their German Insane Patients, a job that was not at all congenial & which apparently nobody else would look at.

Later on the War Office, without consulting me on the subject, by telegram gave orders that I should undertake the duty & responsibility of repatriating the German Insane via Boston, not only from this Hospital but from others, the patients being sent on here for review and dispersal. I made no demur but carried on all this extra gratuitous work in addition to my own heavy civil duties which had to be performed with all my very able-bodied staff on active service.

Result, I am gazetted out of the army without remark & the War Office had not even the common courtesy to say thank you.

Under the circumstances I feel I am under no obligation whatever to render further gratuitous service to the War Office, altho’ the material might be forthcoming.

These remarks refer entirely to the War Office; the DMS Staff at Aldershot were always kindly, helpful & courteous, & Major General Browne was complimentary in acknowledgement of the work performed.

Yours faithfully

[Dr Baker
file copy not signed.]

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

“This sense of freedom, this new opportunity, this cleaner world, has been purchased for us at the cost of life”

Jerusalem was sung at the dedication of the war memorial in Maidenhead Congregational (now United Reformed) Church.

November 1919
THE WAR MEMORIAL.

On Sunday evening, Nov. 2nd, a Special Service will be held at 6.30 in grateful and reverent memory of our young men who gave their lives in the Great War. The tablet will be unveiled by Mr. Lewis, who will also preach a sermon suitable to the occasion. We hope to see present every member of the Church and Congregation who is not unavoidably prevented.

December 1919
THE MEMORIAL BRASS.

The Brass Tablet erected to the memory of our young men who fell in the Great War was formally unveiled at the Sunday Evening Service, Nov. 2nd. There was a large congregation. The Minister was supported on the rostrum by the Deacons of the Church. The anthem was, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” and the choir sang as a voluntary, Parry’s setting of Blake’s inspiring verses, which declare –

“We will not cease from mental strife,
Nor shall the sword sleep in our hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green and pleasant land.”

Mr. Lewis took for his text, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He said that the cause for which our young friends had laid down their lives was great and worthy, and concluded,

“Let us remember that we are those for whom lives have been laid down. This sense of freedom, this new opportunity, this cleaner world, has been purchased for us at the cost of life. That we might live our lives safely, without being tyrannized over by coarse and godless men, free to develop our own life in the way that seems highest to us, men have suffered and died. Now all life must be more sacred to us. This dear England must be more sacred. It is because Christ has been denied the right to control the life of the nations that the great sorrows yet will come (for there are evils infinitely greater than war and death), if we will not strive to set right the life of the land, according to His mind and will. We don’t belong to ourselves any more, for Christ bought us long ago, and we have been bought again by British soldiers for the service of our brother men. May we be worthy of all that has been done for us.”

The brass is a splendid piece of workmanship, and has been greatly admired. It was executed by a London firm, to the order of Mr Hews.


Maidenhead Congregational magazine, November and December 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

There should be some sort of Peace Memorial

There were mixed views in Wargrave as to how to commemorate the war.

October
Peace Memorial

The Parish has summoned a Parish Meeting for Friday, October 10th, which will be held 7.15 p.m. in the Woodclyffe Hall.

It is felt that this would be a suitable occasion for raising the question of a Peace Memorial in the Parish.

I. – There is a very general feeling that there should be some memorial in the Parish Church, in memory of those who fell and to record the names of those whose lives were freely jeopardised for the glory of God. Such a memorial has been already dedicated in the East Window, as a tribute from an individual donor, and it will be completed by a Chancel Screen with the names carved on the panels. But there are those who would like to have a share in raising a General Memorial, which would remain as a tribute from the parish as a whole. With this view the East End of the South Aisle was specially reserved by a Resolution of the Vestry. Sir Charles Nicholson has prepared a scheme of decoration, for this which will be submitted to the meeting on Friday, Oct. 10th. It provides for a screen, in continuation of the proposed Chancery Screen, and for the panelling of the walls. A lectern might be added with a large volume, after the fashion of an old chained bible, in which the names might be engrossed and biographical particulars added. We should thus have a Place of Memorial.

No scheme of embellishment can give to any part of the church the least dignity and sanctity without making it a place of Communion, because the whole plan in the building and decorating of our churches is to lead the worshippers to the altar, as that to which everything else is subordinated. In our Peace Memorial there is unfortunately no space for an altar. But the East Window of the chancel itself is a memorial to the fallen and all who approach the choir to enter the sanctuary will see the names on the chancel screen.

II. – there are also those who feel that there should be some sort of Peace Memorial outside the church. If so it would seem that this should be either a monument to commemorate the services rendered or an institution to benefit the families of those who served and their children after them.

There may be many suggestions made when the opportunity of the public meeting gives occasion and, if so, the widest possible range is to be encouraged. We want all the suggestions which commend themselves to the different views and tastes of parishioners. It will be easy to refer such proposals to a committee, who shall report to a subsequent meeting, if such a course is thought to be advisable.

It is therefore to be hoped that the meeting will be very largely attended.

The actual purpose for which the meeting is summoned is to decide about a German Gun.

The War Office has sent a 77 m/m Field Gun and Carriage to the Parish Council to be kept in the parish as a public trophy of the great victory and as an acknowledgement of the V.C. which adorns the Wargrave Roll of Honour.

It has been presented to the Parish Council that there is some difference of opinion as to how the gift should be dealt with. The Parish Council has therefore summoned a Public Meeting of the Parishioners to decide the matter.

November
The Parish Meeting

Three matters were brought before the Parish Meeting, which was summoned by the Parish Council on Friday, October 10th, at the Woodclyffe Hall. The Peace Memorial, a German Gun presented by the Trophies Committee of the War Office, and a new Burial Ground.

There were very diverse subjects, but in each case it was felt that the matter should be put to the widest possible vote, and when the prospect arose of a largely attended meeting it seemed best to take the opportunity of bringing them all forward on the same night.

The Peace Memorial

The Vicar, as chairman of the Parish Council, presided. He introduced the subject by explaining that there was no notice of any particular Resolution before the meeting, but it would seem that a Peace Memorial should either take the form of some sort of monument to commemorate the fallen, or some sort of institution to benefit those who had served in the Great War or their dependents.

A memorial to the fallen might be either inside the Church or outside. A memorial was already secured inside the Church in the East Window and Chancel Screen given by Sir William and Lady Cain. The names of the fallen would be carved on the panels of the screen. But this was an individual gift and several people had expressed a wish to add something more, as a memorial by public subscription. Any such proposal having to do with the fabric of the Parish Church must be submitted to a “Vestry Meeting”.

A Vestry Meeting had decided that the East End of the South Aisle should be reserved as a Place of Memorial and the walls had therefore been left free from individual tablets. The consulting architect, Sir Charles Nicholson, had considered that if this proposal was eventually adopted the best [plan would be to erect a screen, in harmony with the Chancel Screen, and to panel the walls in oak. It would be possible to preserve a record of the names of all who had served, together with biographical particulars of the fallen, in a book, after the fashion of a chained bible, on a Lectern inside the screen. Sir Charles Nicholson’s sketch design was exhibited in the Hall.

After some discussion it was proposed that a Committee be appointed to consider the best form of Peace Memorial outside the Church and to report. The following gentlemen were elected on the Committee with power to add to their number:- Messrs. R. Sharp, H. A. Hunt, T. H. Barley, F. Headington, A. B. Booth, W. Sansom, J. Richardson, J. Hodge, Major Howard Jones, Col. C. Nicholl, Major K. Nicholl, and Dr. McCrea.

Another Parish Meeting will be summoned in due course to receive the report of this Committee.

It is no doubt a good thing to leave the question of any Memorial inside the Church to a Vestry Meeting. A Vestry is an equally public Meeting, but it is summoned by the Vicar and Churchwardens and is technically qualified to apply to the Chancellor of the Diocese for het legal ‘faculty,’ which gives permission to proceed with the work. A Parish Meeting summoned by the Parish Council is not thus qualified and could only make a recommendation to a Vestry.

The German Gun

The next question was that of the German Gun. A resolution asking the Parish Council to accept the trophy was lost by a considerable majority.


Wargrave parish magazine, October and November 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

“There was little or no truth in the rumours that the German missionaries acted a political agents for their Government”

Mission workers were keen to renew cooperation with Germans.

THE GERMAN MISSIONARIES.

Before the war there were large numbers of German missionaries at work in British territory, about 400 in India alone. When the war broke out they were all expelled, and their work has remained for the most part at a standstill up to to-day. It appears to be the intention of the British authorities to refuse permission for their return for the present, perhaps for many years. At the last meeting of L.M.S. Directors, a resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority urging the authorities to shorten the period of exclusion as far as possible. It is a most serious matter for mission work over so large an area to cease, and for so many Christian Churches to be shut out from any participation in foreign enterprise. At the Board meeting it was stated on unexceptional authority that there was little or no truth in the rumours that the German missionaries acted a political agents for their Government.

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

Not money enough to pay the wages the strikers expect

The Vansittart Neales’ baby grandson was invited down to Bisham. He came down with his Nannie the next day. The strike ended on 5 October.

27 September 1919

Awful strike begun. All trains stopped. Hear Jo. Kelly to send destroyers to Ireland for [illegible].

They have made preparations, but expect petrol & perhaps [Shaw?] to be commandeered. Hear milk supply in London may be irregular so settled with P[aget]s to send for baby Sunday by car…

Expect strike to last some weeks. The country have not money enough to pay the wages they expect.

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

A German rifle

War trophies were handed out.

September 17th 1919

A German rifle has been presented to the school by the Parish Council, who have received some six for distribution.

Bradfield CE School log book (D/P22/28/2, p. 227)

Medals commemorating ‘peace’ and a portrait of Nurse Cavell

Edith Cavell was a British nurse based in Belgium, who heled a number of British and other soldiers to escape and was shot dead by the German occupying force. She is remembered for her words, “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

Wallingford Boys Council School
1919, 15 September

A portrait of Nurse Cavell, purchased by the boys, hung in the hall today.

Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School
15th September 1919

The whole of the boys attended the Town Hall this morning to receive medals commemorating ‘peace’.

Log books of Wallingford Boys Council School log book (SCH22/8/3, p. 76); and Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School (C/EL72/3, p. 214)

Released from internment

Children of interned aliens were generally cared for in the workhouses if their mothers were not alive. Once the war was over, they hoped to return home.

26th August, 1919

A letter was read from Mr John Geiger, of 15, Brighton Road, Reading, of the 17th instant, stating he had been released from Internment, and should be thankful to know what steps to take on behalf of his three sons now under the care of the Guardians.

The Chairman stated that the man was written to, to attend before the House Committee at 10.30 that morning, but he had only just arrived, and he suggested that the man should come before the Board.

Geiger appeared before the Board and explained his position as regarded the providing of a home so that he might take his three sons out, and asked that they might be allowed to remain in the Institution until he could provide a home.

After some discussion, on the suggestion of the Chairman, it was resolved that the Children should remain in the Institution for three weeks and that Geiger should pay 10/- weekly in respect of each child, and at the end of that period it was hoped the man would be able to remove the children.

Wokingham Board of Guardians minutes (G/WO1/26)

“Our village is still like a battlefield”

The August issue of a Reading church magazine had news from a family of Belgian refugees who had now returned home.

Our Belgian Guests

Though we have now bidden good-bye to our Belgian family, they are not forgotten, and we gladly avail ourselves of Miss Hammond’s kind permission to print the following letter, (long held over through lack of space) telling of the return home.

Kelfs-Herent,
29TH March, 1919.
Dear Miss Hammond,

We reached home a fortnight ago, on the 15th of March, at half-past four in the afternoon. We found our house quite empty, for the Germans had stolen most of our things, and what they left others took. The doors and windows are broken, the walls both inside and out are damaged, and there is a large hole in the roof. The Germans did their cooking everywhere, leaving the house so dirty that it has taken me ten days to get it even a little clean! We must wait till next year for fresh wall-paper, it is still too dear.

Food is very scarce; there is hardly anything in the shops and everything is much dearer than in England. Meat costs 9-10 francs the Kilo, butter 15 franks, margarine 8.5 franks. A sack of flour costs 110 franks, and one cannot even then always get it. Every day we say that war for existence is now beginning, and happy are the people who live in the promised land of England or France. Our village is still like a battlefield; some of the houses have been re-built but not all. The people living next to us have so aged during these four years that we did not recognise them. We have no cow or horse, and they are so dear that we must wait a while before buying.

I hope that you will give our compliments to all the kind friends at your church, and thank them again for all they did for us during the four years of war.

Please accept the sincere respects of your grateful family.”

M. Van De Venne.
Elise De Kruster.

We are very grieved to hear that, since reaching home, our friends have sustained a very heavy loss in the death of their dear little girl, Elisa, on June 3rd, after an illness of three weeks. We shall all join in sympathetic remembrance of the sorrowing father and mother.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, August 1919 (D/EX1237/1/12 )

Any selfishness of any class must stand in the way of real peace and happiness at home

The vicar of Newbury urged a generous spirit in rebuilding national life, and thought servicemen should have first call on all jobs.

The long hoped for signing of the Peace Treaty has taken place, and the Nation has joined together in humble and hearty thanksgiving to Almighty God for His great and undeserved mercies. It is impossible to imagine from what horrors we have been saved by His goodness, and through the willing sacrifice of so many of our splendid men, and the courage and energy of millions, both men and women. If the terms imposed by the Allies on Germany seem hard they would have been nothing to the terms they would have imposed on us if they had won, and for generations our Country would not have recovered, if ever it did recover. Thanks be to God for His mercy to us.

And now we have to reconstruct our National Life. That is no easy task, and it calls for the spirit of willing co-operation and sacrifice from all classes. Any selfishness of any class must stand in the way of real peace and happiness at home. It is the duty surely of employers to give returned soldiers and sailors the first chance of employment, even if it means displacing someone else, and those who have fought and endured should have no just cause for grievances. The Government will have to put down profiteering with a strong hand, and should also severely punish the professional agitator and “him that stirreth up strife among brethren”. While all of us should do our best to spread the spirit of love and service. God has been gracious to us and now it is for us to prove ourselves worthy of His favour.

Sunday, July 6th, was observed as a day of Thanksgiving for Peace, and the services were well attended. The Municipal and National rejoicings took place on July 19th. There was unfortunately a lot of rain, and the children’s tea had to take place in different buildings instead of all together on the Cricket Field. The Procession in London must have been a magnificent sight.

The War Memorial Committee have had two meetings lately, the first with Mr C O Skilbeck to advise them, and the second with Mr Cogswell for the same purpose. They hope soon to have a design from the latter to put before the congregation and parishioners.

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

“When we look back and see how terrible was the peril through which was passed, it is enough to make our blood freeze”

PEACE!

For the Peace which has been granted to us may the Lord’s holy Name be praised! The deliverance has been wonderful; we should be the most ungrateful people on earth if we failed to offer Him thanks. Our late foes are already threatening vengeance for peace terms which they describe as inhuman. But it is only just that the chief criminal should suffer most. As the Allied note stated, no fewer than seven millions of men lie buried in Europe as a result of Germany’s desire to tyrannise over the world, while twenty million other men carry upon them evidence of wounds and suffering. Something was bound to be done to make a repetition of the frightful crime impossible.

It was by a miracle of God’s mercy that we were saved from disaster. When we look back and see how terrible was the peril through which was passed, it is enough to make our blood freeze. But, defending the right, we were “under the shadow of the Almighty.” How better can we thank Him than by striving anew to get His Will done on earth? There are foes with whom we ought to come to fresh grips. Since we have won to-day, let us fight with more eagerness to-morrow. We can put aside machine-guns and bombing places and gas masks, and take up the old weapons of Faith and Prayer, the spear of Truth, and the sword of the Spirit. And may God bless our native land!

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

A rude German hotel manager causes riots

Germans were still not popular.

22 July 1919
H & I started off about 10 o’clock in pouring rain for our 2 days journey to Dovedale. Cleared at Oxford. Lunch at Banbury. Lovely afternoon. Arrived at Coventry 5.30. Found riots going on. Shops barricaded. Not much relieved by hearing our hotel the chief offence – rude German manager. Mob threaten burn it down. Many police… (All quiet that night.)

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