“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)

Released from an aliens internment camp

An Abingdon man of foreign extraction was released from internment.

29th September 1919

The following letters were read and ordered to be filed for future reference namely:-

4. From the Prisoners of War Information Bureau London, notifying that William Henry Ernest Meyer had been released from an aliens internment camp.

Minutes of Abingdon Board of Guardians (G/A1/33)

Somewhere on the march between Baghdad and Mosul

It took years for some deaths to be confirmed.

Roll Of Honour:
R.I.P

Hodge, Albert. Lance-Corporal Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, died in Mesopotamia, July, 1916, aged 26. He was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. John Hodge of Wargrave. When war broke out he was serving in India. He was sent straight to Mesopotamia and was taken prisoner at Kut. All that is known is that he left Baghdad about July 17th, 1916 with a party of prisoners and died somewhere on the march between Baghdad and Mosul.

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

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)

“Lottie’s husband turned up from Germany, & she had to leave the kitchen!!”

Presumably Lottie was the cook at Bisham Abbey.

6 June 1919

I went up early for memorial service for Dick at St Martin’s. Very lovely service…

Heard Lottie’s husband turned up from Germany, & she had to leave the kitchen!!

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

“The case was not one in which the distress was due to the war”

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund was still accepting applications for assistance from people whose lives had been disrupted by the war.

17 May 1919

The Chairman read the following report on cases dealt with since the last meeting [on 24 June 1918].

Mrs Coleman

Mrs Coleman was interviewed by the Chairman and Mr Bate as requested by the Committee at their last meeting and it was ultimately decided that Mrs Coleman should take a course of Business Training with Mr Taylor, Station Road, Reading. A sum of £30 was paid to Mrs Coleman in September, to cover the cost of the preliminary training and maintenance during such time, and in October a further sum of £37 was paid over. In January 1919, Mrs Coleman asked that a further £20 might be remitted to her and this was agreed to and paid over by the Government Committee. Mrs Coleman has now completed the training and is finding some difficulty in securing a situation, and on the 26th April asked for a further sum of £30 out of the balance of £163 now remaining. This application has been forwarded to the Government Committee before sanctioning any further payment of the grant.

Mrs Willis

In accordance with the instructions of the Committee at the last meeting, the case of Mrs Willis was referred to the Government Committee with a suggestion that a grant of a capital sum might be made in place of the monthly payment. The Government Committee were of opinion that the monthly grants should continue and Mrs Willis has continued to receive £2.2.0 per month. Whilst this grant continues it is doubtful if Mrs Willis will make any effort to render herself self-supporting.

Mrs Keefe

An application for assistance was received in January, 1919, from Mrs Keefe, 44 London Road, Newbury. Particulars were obtained and it appeared that the applicant was a widow who had had a small General Shop, but owing to heart trouble and difficulties due to the various rationing orders (mainly the former), she had given up the shop and taken lodgers. Subsequently the heart trouble increased and in consequence she was unable to work. These particulars were forwarded to the Government Committee who were of opinion that the case was not one in which the distress was due to the war and therefore not one which could properly be dealt with by this Committee.

Mr E E Bishton

Mr E E Bishton, Florence Cottage, New Road, Ascot, on the recommendation of the Repatriated British Civilian Help Committee, applied to this Committee for a grant towards the purchase of necessary clothing, which he required before he could commence work. Mr Bishton was interviewed by the Chairman and the Secretary, who authorised the supply of clothing to the value of £10.10.6, and also a temporary grant of £4.

In the case of Mrs Coleman it was resolved:

To recommend to the Government Committee that an immediate payment of £30 be made as asked for and that the balance of £133 with interest be retained for the present.

On the suggestion of Mr Slade it was agreed that the allowance to Mrs Willis should be continued for a further period of 3 months to give her the opportunity of finding suitable work.

If at the end of this period it was found that she would require a certain capital sum to enable her to set up in business, the Committee would consider the advisability of recommending the case to the Government Committee for a capital grant.

The action of the Chairman in the case of Mr Bishton was confirmed.

National Relief Fund: Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

A danger board due to the PoW camp

Traffic associated with a PoW camp was a danger for local children.

May 6th 1919

Wrote to the Education Secretary recommending that a danger board be placed on the road above the school as owing to the German Prisoners’ Camp there is a good deal of motor traffic now passing the school.

Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 469)

“They drinked and drinked till they had drinked it all up”

Now the war was over, William Hallam was hoping to retire back to his birthplace in the Vale of White Horse. On a reconnaissance trip he saw German PoWs hard at work.

22nd April 1919

Up at 7 this morning and went to Uffington by the 20 past 9 train. I walked up to Fernham. Looked over the churchyard and the church (modern) was locked. Just under churchyard a piece of ground occupied by the ruins of 2 old wattle & daub cottages which would do to build a new house on, I thought, if it could be bought cheap. Here an old man who was chopping the hedge tidy told me it was a sharp frost this morning, and if we had many more like it, it would do a lot of harm to the fruit.

I went on to Longcot and when I got there went into Pub to have a drink but the hostess said they hadn’t a drop of anything, she said you know Sir we had a wedding yesterday and they kept it up, yes, and they drinked and drinked till they had drinked it all up.”

I enquired of her where the houses were which were for sale and then went and looked at them. One was too big and another too small (one room down 2 up), another property was a block of 3 cottages – but I don’t want neighbours when I get into the country. I’ve had enough of their borrowing and gossiping ways here in Swindon. This property had high sounding names for instance the little cottage was Priory Glen, the 3 cottages Priory Place and the largest house the Priory, but all this is misnamed for I don’t believe a religious house or property ever existed there. However none of it will suit me.

I then went and looked round the Churchyard. I quizzed some of the stones – must go and copy them down. At the SW corner of the C.yard is a little house or room where they hold the Church… over the door is date 1821 & initial. Then I walked on to Shrivenham.

In a garden at Longcot I was 2 German prisoners at work planting potatoes- working very leisurely and smoking cigarettes. As I had plenty of time before getting to the station I went into Church & churchyard. Sat down in a pew and rested……..”

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Poignant news

The tragic news had not yet stopped.

TILEHURST

Mr and Mrs Cane have lost their boy Norman, who after only 2 days at home following on his discharge entered on his last illness. Mrs Warner has received the news of her husband’s passing away at one of the hospitals in Cologne, news which has much poignancy in view of the expectancy of early release.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, March 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

War service of children who had been emigrated by the Guardians

Some men who served in the war had roots in Berkshire despite having joined up in the colonies. They included boys who had been assisted to emigrate by charities.

4th March 1919

Emigration

Reporting the receipt of a letter from the Local Government Board transmitting the following reports made by Canadian Immigration Officers upon children who had been emigrated by the Guardians.

From Reading parish by Dr Barnardo.
Walter —- age 25. This young man who came to Canada in 1906 at the age of 13 years has enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and is now at the Front.
24th September 1918.

From Reading Parish by Dr Barnardo.
Ernest —- age 26. With the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Reported missing, and discovered to be a prisoner of war.
27th August, 1918.

Mr Fenner, Relieving Officer

Reporting the receipt of a letter from Dr Hartnett to the effect that Mr Fenner, Relieving Officer No 1 District, was suffering from influenza and was unable to carry out his work. The clerk stated that Mr Kenner had now resumed his duties.

Report of Infant Poor Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/58)

Shrapnel pulled out without anaesthetic

A former PoW visited Bisham Abbey to report on his experiences.

1 March 1919

Alfred Plumridge came after being prisoner 13 months at Magdeburg. Showed shrapnel in his body. Pulled out without anaesthetic.

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

Safe home again

Some men returned home safe at last; others did not.

We are glad to see Pte. Doel and A. Jones safe home again. Both of them have been prisoners in Germany.

Much sympathy has been expressed from Mrs. Yeo, who has received the sad news of her husband’s death from wounds.

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

Children whose father was an interned alien

25th Feb., 1919

The Chairman, on behalf of the House Committee, reported …

That they had considered the case of the children named Geiger whose father was an interned alien, and recommended that the Clerk write [sic] the Local Government Board with a view to the children being removed on their father being released from internment.

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

It has been a delightful experience to welcome home some of those who have been far too long absent

PoWs were coming home at last.

Prisoners of War

It has been a delightful experience to welcome home some of those who have been far too long absent.

Mrs. Trevor thanks all those who so kindly subscribed to the Rifle Brigade Prisoners of War Bread Fund. From July 15th, 1916, to October 22nd, 1918, inclusive, £123 14 s. 3d. was sent to the Treasurer of the Fund. The balance £12 4s. 6d. has been sent to Sir A. Pearson for S. Dunstan’s Hostel, where so many of our blind soldiers and sailors are. The accounts have been most kindly audited each half-year by Mr. Sillence, and the balance sheet hung up in the porch of S. John’s Church.

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

10 miles behind the German lines, with no hope of rescue

A small Sulhamstead church would have an organ as a war memorial.

We are very thankful to hear that our two prisoners of war have returned safe. Sergeant George Steel, MM, has been a prisoner of war since May 1918. It will be remembered that it was at first reported that he had been killed. Private Ernest Adams was made prisoner in March 1918. His company was left 10 miles, or so, behind the German front line after their sudden sweeping advance in that month, and defended themselves there for many hours without any hope of rescue.

Lieutenant Colonel Greenley, DSO, Royal Army Service Corps, whose marriage is reported in this number, has been further distinguished by the conferment by His Majesty of the Companionship of St Michael and St George.

Major Gilbert Shepherd, RE, DSO, Chevalier Croix de Guerre, has been promoted to Brevet-Major.

AN ORGAN FOR ST MICHAEL’S CHURCH

Mrs Tyser has most generously promised to give an organ for St Michael’s Church in memory of Major George B Tyser, East Lancashire Regiment, son of Mr and Mrs Tyser of Oakfield, who was killed almost instantaneously on July 6th, 1916. He was last seen in the act of encouraging his men across to the enemy trenches in one of the brilliant assaults that we were then making.

Mr J Price, Wilts Regiment, has received his commission as Second Lieutenant, on discharge from the Army. We congratulate him and his family on the well-merited promotion. His brother, Mr Stanley Price, has received a similar promotion. He has been gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, and is now engaged in instruction work. He, too, receives our best congratulations.

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