A necessary bit of war work

There was a call for men to join the Police Reservists and help maintain law and order at home.

EARLEY SUB-DIVISION BERKS POLICE SPECIAL RESERVE

Owing to removals and army munition work our numbers are becoming very much reduced, and we would earnestly ask any men in the parish of Earley, whether living in the Borough [of Reading] or not, who are not already acting as Specials or Reservists to come and give us a hand in this necessary bit of war work. After all, to patrol for 3 hours once a month from 9-12 pm is not a very great thing to ask, and there must be many men who could if they would come forward and thus ease the strain on those who have been quietly and steadily doing this work for over 3 years.

The Rev. H Wardley King, 1, Green Road, who is undertaking the duties of Sub-Divisional Officer pro tem, will be very grateful to receive names of any willing to help.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

Cecil Webb, Herbert Plumer, Walter Smithers, Ernest Thompson, John Edwards, Eric Burchell.

In addition to those already mentioned, we especially commend the following to your prayers:

SICK OR WOUNDED: Duncan Simson, Levi Rackley, Charles Barton, George Bungay, Samuel Dee, George Embery, Ernest Embery, Benjamin Rickards, Albert Gray, Herbert Harper, Herbert Oliver, Clifford Holliday, Thomas Ilott, Arthur O’Dell, Owen Lewington, John Phillips.

KILLED: Charles Bowden, William Murphy, William Wynn, John Hitchcock, Albert Hosler.

MISSING: Arthur Langmead.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

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We joyfully welcome men home on leave

There was news of men from Trinity Church in Reading.

Trinity Roll of Honour

We regret that last month we inadvertently omitted the following.

Samuel Henry Baker, 6th L.R.O. Co., att. Royal Fusiliers.
Fred B. Gleave, now 2nd Lieut. Labour Battalion.

We joyfully welcome home on leave Douglas Elsbury, Walter Harding, and Charles Bostwick. All look very fit and well.

Charles Wagner, too, is with us again, being an inmate of Wilson Hospital with his left arm and hand badly broken. We are glad that now he is steadily improving.

Bert Prior is still in hospital with a wounded shoulder, but is doing well.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“Days & nights in water and mud is very trying”

An army chaplain reported on his experiences with men just back from the front lines for a short break.

19 October 1917

Mother received a letter from the Sub-Warden on the 17th inst. from which the following are extracts:

“We have just emerged from a very uncomfortable and strenuous time, & are resting in a little French village. The men are splendid, but it was heart-breaking to see them all getting out of the train which brought them straight from the front…

With considerable difficulty we managed to have thin blankets for them all to get into and fall asleep. Already food and rest have changed them wonderfully, & their poor feet are better. Days & nights in water and mud is very trying.

I shall never forget a Mass in a crowded dugout the day before they went in. Halfway through the service, 2 officers managed to slip into the doorway; there was no other spot. I remember them so well crouching in a very uncomfortable position, and shutting out all of what little light could get in. Only the 2 candles on the altar. They made their Communion. It was their Viaticum. GOD rest their souls!”

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

People ask “Why does the War go on?” – “Is there a God?” and other equally futile questions

The Newbury parish magazine was critical of social change.

One of the most disquieting signs of today is the widespread neglect of Public Worship and indifference to spiritual things…

It is for instance a very melancholy thing to see women drinking in public as they do today quite shamelessly, and as they would never have thought of doing a few years ago, and neglecting their children and their homes; while there are some wives and mothers who are leading vile and disgraceful lives.

And then people ask “Why does the War go on?” – “Is there a God?” and other equally futile questions. Yes, there is a God, and He is the same God as He has always been, and He will punish wickedness and vice, and careless indifference as He has always punished them; nor is it reasonable to suppose that God will give the victory where victory is not deserved.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

Khaki Socials have proved a great boon to very many

Soldiers and airmen were entertained weekly on Sunday evenings at Broad Street Church in Reading.

Now that the darker evenings are upon us, arrangements have been made to resume the “Khaki Socials”, which have been held every Sunday evening in the winter months since shortly after the war began. These Socials have proved a great boon to very many. Sunday, October 14th, is the day fixed for re-opening, and we shall hope to see then many of our old friends, and many new ones also.

The running of these Socials – seeing that light refreshments are provided free of cost – involves us in expense. But of this we shall have more to say in our next month’s issue.

The many friends of Lieut. Oswald Francis (son of our friends, Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis) will be glad to hear that he has been awarded the Military Cross “for exceptional valour and devotion to duty through the battles east of Ypres” in August. We heartily congratulate both Lieut. Francis and his parents on the honour which he has won, and we earnestly hope he may live for many years to enjoy it.

The aforementioned article appeared in the October church magazine. There was a follow up report in December:

KHAKI SOCIALS

The Khaki Socials which have proved such an interesting part of our winter programme since the war began, were resumed after the evening service on Sunday, October 14th. There was a very good attendance for the opening meeting, and the number has increased with each succeeding Sunday. There is no doubt about the popularity of these Socials, nor can there be any doubt of their usefulness. Quite apart from the number attending – which in itself is no mean testimony – we have the frequent expressions of gratitude from those who deeply appreciate what is being done. There is nothing stiff or formal about these gatherings, but a delightful homelike feeling which greatly appeals to our friends in khaki.

Music – vocal and instrumental – and recitations form the chief items in the weekly programme, and these are interspersed with hymns in which all present heartily join.

Members of the Royal Flying Corps have to leave us at 10 o’clock, but most of our other khaki friends remain for the family worship with which we close the proceedings at 9.30 pm.

We are sorry that owing to our limited accommodation we cannot invite more of our Broad Street friends to join us for these gatherings, but we can assure them that, in their name, a very helpful bit of work is being done by the ladies and gentlemen who gladly give their services week by week.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October and December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Speakers home from the Front will explain the work of the Y.M.C.A. abroad

The work of the YMCA with soldiers was publicised in Maidenhead.

Y.M.C.A. Meeting

I have been asked to announce that the Y.M.C.A. will hold a Public Meeting in the Town Hall on Friday, Oct. 12th, at 7.30 p.m. There will be speakers home from the Front who will explain the work of the Y.M.C.A. abroad. No doubt many of us are still more interested in the work of the Church Army. But the field is so large and the needs of our men so urgent that there is plenty of room for the excellent work done by both Societies. I hope therefore that many may be able to attend.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

So far recovered from the effects of being gassed, a soldier gets married

There was sad news for many Reading families, but one soldier, home after the nasty experience of being gassed, decided to marry his sweetheart.

The Vicar’s Notes
Intercessions

For our Russian allies in their time of need.

For our own fighting men, and especially for our lads who have just joined the army, particularly Charles Upstone.

For the wounded, especially Percy Viner.

For the fallen, especially Thomas Murray, William Eaton, Albert Ford, George Lawrence, Frederick Lewis. R.I.P.

S. Saviour’s District

R.I.P.
The brass tablet placed in the Church by Miss Ward, and the new Epistle and Gospel lights for the sanctuary, presented by Mrs Ward and Miss Ward, are in memory of the late Evelyn Paget Graves, Major R.A. and R.F.C.

Albert Edward Barnet and Albert Edward Turner are reported killed in France. Our sincere sympathy is with the bereaved families.

Marriage
Our best wishes to Alfred James White (Corporal R.G.A.) and Miss Nellie Allwood, who were married at S. Mary’s on September 1st. We are glad that Corporal White has so far recovered from the effects of being gassed in France.

S. Mark’s district
R.I.P.

It was with great sorrow that we heard that one of our servers, Leonard Pusey, had been killed in France on August 22nd. He had been a server at S. Mark’s for about 7 years and he always took a keen interest in all that was done in connection with the Church; he will be much missed – we offer our sincere sympathy to his wife.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

Pray for Reading men

Prayers were asked for Reading men who had gone to war.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions: 2nd Lieut. Cuthbert J. Wollaston Trendell, 8th Norfolks; P.F.O. Mervyn H. Wollaston Trendell, R.N.A.S.

Sick and Wounded: Gunner Goulden; Sapper Chambers.

Departed: Private H.C. Cowley; Rifleman Leonard Smith; Private C. Clarke, Royal Berks Regt.; Gunner S. Crewes, Royal Field Artillery.
R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P96/28A/32)

“The attempt of our enemies to starve us has practically failed”

In Earley people were grateful for good weather, which looked set to relieve the pressure on the food supply.

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends

Autumn is drawing on apace, and we have again reached the time for our Harvest Thanksgiving, which is fixed for Sunday, October 7th.

This year we ought to be especially thankful. At one time our outlook as regards food appeared to be far from satisfactory, but God has blessed us during the past month with such weather that in most districts the greater part of the harvest has been gathered in without much damage, and the attempt of our enemies to starve us by unrestricted submarine warfare, though still serious, has practically failed. Surely we ought to join together in our thanksgivings, and especially at Holy Communion, with a deepened sense of what we owe to God for our nation and for ourselves.

And while we are thanking God for our material harvest, let us all think of those fields which are ripe for the spiritual harvest in India, Canada, South Africa, and throughout the world… Do we realise as we ought the enormous responsibility that will rest upon our country after the war for the spiritual harvest of the world?

Your friend and Vicar
W W Fowler.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses”

Civilians in wartorn northern France and Belgium suffered terribly due to the war.

Movement in Reading in aid of the Relief of Sufferers by the War in France and Belgium.

Friends at Trinity will no doubt be interested to know that a movement in the above direction has been initiated by the Reading Broad Street Brotherhood. The objective is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns and in the colonies, and in continuation of efforts already made which have abundantly testified to the Christian sympathy which exists towards those who have suffered so acutely through no fault of their own. A relief fund of £20,000 is contemplated, a very large part of which has already been subscribed by Canadians, by London and other cities, towards which also many small towns have contributed nobly and generously.

It is supposed that the good lead of Basingstoke with its generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, &C., Reading will not wish to be excluded from taking part.

It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind, as in some of the large townships in France (Lille in particular, which is the Manchester of France), the civil population – men, women and children – are in rags, not having had any opportunity of purchasing clothing and boots for 2.5 years (since the German occupation).

Clothing (cast-off and new) will therefore prove most acceptable, also boots.

Those who have seen tell us that the homes of the people in the country towns and villages are ruined-walls broken and roofs fallen. A witness on the spot says:

“In a large town it was my orders to report how many houses were fit for billeting British soldiers, and after visiting with a comrade every house in the place (about the size of Reading) there was not a single house with an unbroken roof, and I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses such as I and my comrades occupied.”

Wood houses are already being prepared in sections in this country to be despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens-facilities having been promised for this purpose as soon as possible by our own Government. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men within a day of arrival, and it cost would be about £40. Seed for gardens, food, flour, blankets, &c will also be despatched.

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to the national Brotherhood Offices, 37, Norfolk Street, London, W.C., when they will be supplied with a pamphlet entitled “The Story of Lille, and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement,” and which describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 A.D. and the practical relief already given.

Locally, every Church, adult School, and Christian Society in Reading will later on be invited to join hands with the Relief Committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, the secretary being Mr. A. Woolley, 85, Oxford Street, Reading.

Further information may also be obtained from J. Harper, “Chelmarsh,” 42, Crown Street, Reading.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“The return to the hell of war must be to our brave fellows a terrible wrench, far more than going out for the first time”

Winkfield men received a sympathetic hearing on their rare visits home on leave.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

We regret to report that Pte. George Streamer has been very badly gassed and is now in Hospital in England. It is feared that he may be invalided out of the Army; his sight is badly affected.

Pte. Frank Brant has been seriously ill for several weeks. He is hospital in France and we trust that the anxiety of his relatives will still be relieved.

Pte. James Winnen has been suffering severely from shell-shock, but is now convalescent.

We are glad to welcome home on leave this month Lance-Corporal Edwin Gary, who recently won the Military Medal, Lance-Corporal Hartly Golding, and Privates G. Chaney, W. Harwood, W. Fisher and N. Town.

After the peace and quietness of a few days at home, the return to the hell of war must be to our brave fellows a terrible wrench, far more than going out for the first time. May they have a very real place in our gratitude and prayers.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/10)

“As far as it is possible to anticipate in these uncertain times”

It was hard to make plans during war time.

Harvest Festival

It seems rather early to announce any notions of the Harvest, but everyone will be glad to hear that the Bishop of Buckingham has kindly promised to come and preach for this Festival on Sunday, September 30th, “as far as it is possible to anticipate in these uncertain times”.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

“Confident that they would all be back from the Front to sing an anthem at Christmas”

There were mixed views as to how much longer the war would last.

We convey our congratulations to our bell-ringers who in spite of the absence of so many of our ringers at the Front, still manage to make a brave show with the bells. It is only about two Sundays that two bells have been chimed, but as a rule we get from four to six. The Choir has also got somewhat thin from the same cause, but we have dropped nothing except anthems on Festivals for the last year. However, the Vicar had a letter from one of the Choirmen at the Front who appeared confident that they would all be back to sing an anthem at Christmas! We all hope his idea is correct.

Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild needs as much support as ever, as the war is not yet over. There are a certain number of them who do not get “weary in well-doing.” It is wonderful how one may encourage another, and also how an irregular member may deter another.

Many have asked “What about the Coal?” Well, that was the matter over which Warfield Charities Committee sat on August 8th, and the Coal Merchants could give us no quotations. So til the middle of September we must “wait and see.” Most probably the saw-mills will be busy this winter.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)

Food from Harvest “will be greatly appreciated by the wounded men in hospital”

Worshippers at Broad Street Church sent their Harvest Festival offerings to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for wounded soldiers.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

The Harvest Thanksgiving Services, held on Sunday, September 23rd, afforded joy and inspiration to all who were able to attend. The church was very prettily and effectively decorated for the occasion. A plentiful supply of fruit, vegetables, flowers, etc, had been provided…

On the following day the good things provided were conveyed by Mr Bunce to the Royal Berks Hospital, for the wounded soldiers who are there.

Mr Rawlinson [the minister] has since received the following letter from the secretary of that institution:

“Dear Sir

Many thanks for your letter, and for the eggs, fruit, vegetables, flowers, bread, etc, which arrived yesterday.

These will be greatly appreciated by the wounded men in hospital, and I should be grateful if you would accept for yourself, and kindly convey to all concerned, an expression of our warmest thanks for this generous present.

I am, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully

Herman Burney
Secretary”

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

The annual Harvest Festival in connection with the church was held on Sunday September 23rd, and as usual our brothers contributed very liberally with fruit and vegetables from their allotments.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“He went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed”

The striking figure of an army chaplain who had studied with the rector of Sulhamstead prior to taking Holy Orders is remembered.

There must still be many in the parish who remember Mr Eli Cobham, a pupil at the Rectory. They will recall his great height, 6 feet 2 inches, and his capabilities in the cricket and football field. It was with great sorrow that we heard of his death last year, in German East Africa. Many incidents of a short but adventurous life were given in the “Greater Britain Messenger”, from which we take some of the following facts.

After much hesitation concerning his own unworthiness, he was ordained to a curacy at All saints, Fishponds. In this post he accepted no stipend. Canon Welchman says that there were few who knew his liberality [generosity]. The lectern was his anonymous gift, and the inscription he chose was “His dominion shall be from sea to sea”. He was afterwards vicar of All Saints, Fishponds.

From here he went to America, and worked his way back as a trimmer in the stoke-hold of a steamer, so as to get experience of what the men had to do and endure. Strong as he was, he found the labour almost beyond his powers.

In 1913 he resigned his living to work in East Africa, where he had 16 centres for service, in some of which he could only hold a service once or twice a year. He enlisted directly the war broke out, and used what time he had from soldiering to act as a Chaplain. He relates how he went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed. Details of his death are not known, but the bare announcement states that on September 19th, 1917, the Rev. Elijah Cobham died from “wounds received while carrying in the wounded, somewhere in German East Africa”. He was a man of deep spirituality, and when discussing even trifling details, his invariable remark was “Let’s pray about it first”.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, April 1918 (D/EX725/4)