“Services no longer required”

The end of the war meant one priosn officer had a very short time in the army.

14th Novr 1918

Warder Northam

This officer who was mobilized on the 5th instant was yesterday discharged from the Army, “services no longer required”, and he returned to Prison duties today. His Record of Service and Medical History were returned to the Head Office on the 6th instant – also the Exemption Card.

C M Morgan
Governor

[to] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

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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)

Prison staff very short owing to Influenza

Reading Prison staff members were falling prey to influenza. The Governor issued a desperate plea for help. In reply he was sent a clerk and schoolmaster from Canterbury Prison.

7 Nov 1918

I shall be glad if the Commissioners can lend me a few officers for a time. My staff is very short owing to Influenza &c.

Principal Warder Witcombe dead.

W. Northam joined up last Tuesday.

Wr Bilke influenza last 3 weeks & likely to be ill for some time.

Engineer Hooper influenza today.

Clerk & Schoolmaster Stevens influenza last few days and likely to be away some time.

The Steward is carrying on, but is not well, & if he collapses, I have no one at all in the office, Mr Stevens being already sick.

I should be glad of a clerk who understands office work & returns, and two warders – temporary officers are unfortunately unobtainable – and the two prisons – Irish and Aliens make it [illegible].

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“The world become more cheerless as we think we must go on to the end without them”

Three more bright young men had made the supreme sacrifice.

Memorial Service

Captain F.S. Brain.
Lieut. H.E. Aust.
Charles D. Freeman.

Three more of those brave spirits to whose return into Church life and usefulness some of us were looking, have heard the call of God and have joined the throngs invading Heaven. Three more have cheerfully and bravely given their lives to make earth clean again, and keep it safe from those who regard honour among the highest and love peace. It is easy to write these words, but behind them our hearts ache with grief and yet rejoice with noble pride.

What then is their loss to those who loved them best? Ah! Theirs is a sorrow beyond human comfort. May the only True Comforter console and sustain all such!

Captain Francis Brain was well known to most of us. Although his College career prevented his active participation in our Church life, his interest in Trinity was very real and true. A quiet, unassuming manner hid intellectual powers of no mean order, and his future was bright with possibility when, at the call of duty all was laid aside. On February 26th, 1915, he obtained his commission in the Royal Berks, being later attached to the 1st Batt. Royal Dorset Regt. He saw much service in France, and had quite recently been promoted Captain. His military record is most fittingly recorded in a beautiful appreciation from which we quote:-

“He was of the type of ‘the happy warrior that every man in arms would wish to be.’ His sterling worth drew men to him in a remarkable degree. He was greatly beloved by the men of his Company and a great favourite with every single Officer. In the trenches he was splendid, absolutely fearless, and with never a thought of self. He has been tried to the uttermost and found worthy.”

Warm tributes of affection and high regard have been received.

His Major writes: – “His death has been a great blow to all who knew him. He was loved and esteemed by all ranks of the Battalion, particularly the men of his own company.”

A fellow Officer says: – “I served for a considerable time with your son, and I was very sincerely attached to him. We all loved him- his cheeriness and good fellowship – always ready with a bit of a song to cheer one up in the most cheerless circumstances; but above all the absolute honesty and straightforwardness of his character.”

His servant Wrote: – “It is impossible to tell you in words how awfully sorry everyone in my Company feels at having lost such a good Officer. I myself know that it will be impossible to get another such Officer to be a servant for.”

Lieutenant Harry Aust was equally well known. He was a member of the Institute and had been a willing worker in all its activities. In the School at Spencers Wood his work will belong remembered, and his memory cherished. He too answered duty’s call at the outbreak of war, and, on joining, at once received a commission. On one occasion he was gassed, and later was so severely wounded that he spent eleven months in hospital. But such was his indomitable spirit and high courage that, contrary to expectations, he forced his recovery and returned to France to make the supreme sacrifice that England might live.

Charlie Freeman had been abroad for the last five years in the service of the Eastern Telegraph Company. Yet many of us knew him well, having watched him grow up, and we loved his bright happy nature. He came home this summer on leave and spent a gloriously time joy which had its consummation in his marriage. It was on his way back to his duties that the vessel was torpedoed, and he lost his life in the service of his country equally with those who fall in battle.

So one by one the war takes toll of Trinity’s best, and the world become more cheerless as we think we must go on to the end without them.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

“What would have happened to us if things had gone the other way we shudder to contemplate”

Feelings in Earley were still hostile to Germany.

The Vicar’s Letter

My Dear friends,

We have again very much to be thankful for with regard to the War. We have been passing through a critical stage, much more critical than most people have thought. The attempts of our enemies to bring about an armistice, and to gain time to recover and bring about a peace favourable to themselves, have been attended by very real danger for the future of all free nations, and we may be thankful that they have not succeeded. We all desire peace from the bottom of our hearts, but it must be a just and righteous peace, which will once and for all safeguard the world in the future against the horrors and misery of the past four years. A vindictive spirit is not a characteristic of our nation, but none of us can have read during the past month of the “agony of Lille,” the cold blooded cruelty of the sinking of the “Leinster,” and the outrageous treatment of our prisoners, without feeling that there must be a sharp punishment as well as reparation. Moreover, we cannot, as President Wilson says, make any terms with the present rulers of Germany, and therefore we must still fight on for the present; and surely we ought to thank God that we are more than likely, within a reasonable time, to be in a position to impose our own terms. What would have happened to us if things had gone the other way we shudder to contemplate.

It is possible that the Magazine may have to be suspended for a time owing to the scarcity of paper and the great increase of cost. We shall be in a position to make a further announcement next month.
Your friend and Vicar,
W.W. FOWLER.

THE WAR

Events are moving so rapidly in the War that it is possible for us seriously to indulge in hopes of peace, even though we find ourselves quite unable to put the slightest trust in German professions. It is difficult to understand the state of mind of those who, while asking for peace, continue those very practices which have above everything produced the strong determination in the allies to render them impossible in the future. It does appear certain that the best hope for the World does not lie in a peace by negotiation, but in a peace dictated by strong conquerors who are in a position to ensure justice. The ideal of human justice is to secure society from the depredations of the criminal, and if possible restore the criminal so that he may become a worthy member of society; for this purpose punishment may be necessary and salutary but among civilized people the just judge is not expected to vindicate. It is to be regretted that in some of our leading papers letters are allowed to appear which are more characteristic of the Hun attitude in the days of their ascendancy than of the strong calm nation which is pledged to a righteous and lasting peace. The Germans have shown themselves to be brutal; we are happy to think that our own men could not bring themselves even in retaliation to be brutal, and that we shall to the end retain a clean record.

The following have been added tom the list of those serving in His Majesty’s Forces – Frank White, George Jerram, Albert Harry Burgess.

Our prayers are also asked for the following: –

Richard Goodall, Harry Russell, Killed.

Frank Lloyd, Neil Henderson, missing.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

Enlistment for training

A young men was sent from the workhouse to join the army, but was not suitable for active service (he may have been disabled).

30th October 1918

A letter was read from the Army Service Corps with reference to Edward Cullet joining the army, that his enlistment could only be considered for training as a Saddler and Tailor. It was resolved he should join the army for training as a Saddler.

Hungerford Board of Guardians minutes (G/H1/39, p. 443)

A reputation for utter disregard of personal safety, but with it an equal regard for the safety of his men

Two young men from Ascot were confirmed killed.

Many of our readers will have felt the most profound sympathy for his parents in their loss of their only son Harold Keating. He fell in action on June 28th whilst carrying out a duty full of danger. After a school career of extraordinary brilliancy, in which he had gained the gold Asiatic Medal, open to all the youth of England, he had begun his Oxford life when the war broke out.

In September, 1914, he received a commission in the Royal Engineers, and was in France soon after. There he gained a reputation for utter disregard of personal safety, but with it an equal regard for the safety of his men. He would expose himself to risks from which he carefully kept those under him. In 1916 he was wounded and sent home, but in the following year was back again in France. In March, 1918, he was in the Amiens salient, and shared to the full the dangers and hardships of the great retreat. His letters showed how galling that failure to hold the line was to his sensitive mind, but he was spared to see the tide turn, and his own sacrifice not in vain.

Apparently, like many others, he had a premonition that his life here was to end; and before the engagement in which he met his death, he left behind for his parents a letter of the deepest affection and unusual perception.

“I am enough”, he wrote, “of a philosopher not to fear the thought of death, and enough of an adventurer to feel excitement and thrilling sensations of adventure at entering continents unknown. That is how I would have you think of me. The captain of my ship setting sail for some most glorious Eldorado, while the rising sun blazes into my face”.

That is something of the martyr spirit, and the adventure he speaks of is the spirit of faith which God asks from all who step out into the unknown. That a career which might well have left its mark in history has been cut short is obvious, but God has greater rewards to grant than the rewards which men can give. It will be when we can read life in its unabridged edition that we shall know that God does not so lose the gifts he gives to me.

After a long delay of mingled anxiety and hope, the authorities have reluctantly resigned all hope of further news of Robert Brown. Many will recollect the boy solo in All Souls’ choir, with his remarkable pure boy’s voice. He was badly wounded on October 9th, 1917, but from that day onwards not the slightest trace has been heard of him. It is thought that on his way to the clearing station he must have come under shell fire, and been blown to pieces. It is God’s mercy that his only brother has been spared to his parents after a desperate and usually fatal illness.

To the parents of both these young boys of our parish we offer our deepest sympathy. For their souls we shall continue at each requiem to pray, “Grant unto them, O Lord, eternal rest, and let Thy light perpetual shine on them”.

South Ascot Parochial Magazine, October 1918 (D/P186/28A/18)

“Our day”

Sandhurst children were raising money for the wounded, while those in Reading needed nursing themselves. “Our day” was a branded campaign used across the country to help raise money for the war.

Lower Sandhurst
October 24th 1918

“Our Day.”

Eight monitors in suitable dress visited the Class Rooms to sell flags of their own making. The amount thus realised was £2. 12. 4.

In the afternoon the “Red Cross Box” was opened in the presence of the Collectors and found to contain £2. 8. 0.

A total amount of £5. 0. 4 was forwarded to the local Hon. Secretary for “Our Day.”

Windsor
October 24th 1918

Mr. J. W. Beaumont has been given a Commission in the Royal Air Service and relinquished his duties.

East Ilsley
24th October 1918

Children willing to go blackberrying for M.O.F allowed to go – others remain at work.

Reading
24th October 1918

School closed for Influenza until Nov 5th.

Log books of Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL66/1, p. 451);St Stephen’s Boys’ School, Windsor (88/SCH/23/7, p. 166); East Ilsley CE School (C/EL39/1, p. 488); Alfred Sutton Primary School, Reading (89/SCH/37/1, p. 249)

Killed in an aeroplane accident

Not many workhouse boys can have risen to the heights of being an officer.

Oct 15th
Heard of the death of Frank Hopgood. He was a boarded out boy from Reading Union and had all his education at this school. Leaving at 13 yrs of age he went to work and at the commencement of the war joined up and went to France. He gained a Commission and as second-lieutenant was killed in an aeroplane accident at Faversham yesterday morning.

Log book of St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

Coal is the source of power wanted to end the war

THE COAL CRISIS

In view of the serious coal shortage, Sir Guy Calthrop, the Coal Controller, makes the following urgent appeal:

“The country is faced with a serious shortage, and I appeal to clergymen of all denominations to do their utmost to bring the facts to the notice of their parishioners and congregations, with the view to enlisting the services of every man, woman and child in this country in one united effort to save coal.

Coal is the key industry of Great Britain and the Allies, and the outlook today is very much more serious than is generally realised. The causes of the shortage are:

1. The call to the Colours of 75,000 miners to meet the peril of the German offensive in March; and
2. The almost complete stoppage of the mines in Northern France as a result of the German advance in the West.

Coal is the source of power; it makes gas, electricity and steam. It drives the ships and it drives the trains.

The coal of England must be shared with our Allies – France, Italy and America. It helps to carry the American Army to France. It helps them to move their army while in France, and it keeps their soldiers warm.

It is sold to neutrals to buy shipping to bring American troops over and is exchanged for food which would otherwise go to Germany.

Coal is the source of power wanted to end the war. Coal burned in a house in excess of absolute need is power wasted. It is, therefore, the duty of every one to save coal, because to save coal is to save lives.”


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

Teachers over 45 years will not be called up for the present

The County Council continued to try to prevent all its male teachers from being called up to fight.

MILITARY SERVICE

The Board of Education have notified that, by arrangement with the Ministry of National Service, Teachers over 45 years on 1 January, 1918, will not be called up for the present. The age of protection for teachers in Grade II has been raised to 36 years on 1 January, 1918. At the present time the following arrangements are in operation as regards the protection of teachers:

Teachers in Grade III over 25 years of age on 1 January, 1918
Teachers in Grade II over 36 years of age on 1 January, 1918
All teachers over 45 years of age on 1 January, 1918

Since the last meeting, two Headmasters have been called to the colours, one leaves on 8 October; the calling up of another has been postponed till 31 October. The Board of Education have also recommended postponement in the case of the Headmaster of a large Mixed School in East Berks.

Berkshire County Council: Report of School Management Sub-committee, 12 October 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

To save coal is to save lives

The patriotic were urged to make every effort to save fuel.

THE COAL CRISIS.

At the request of the Controller of Coal Mines we bring the following facts to the notice of our readers in the confidence that we shall all do our best to help our country in this particular need:-

Coal is the very key industry of Great Britain and the Allies, and the outlook to-day is very much more serious than is generally realised. The causes of the shortage are:-

1. The call to the Colours of 75,000 miners to meet the peril of the German offensive in March; and
2. The almost complete stoppage of the mines in Northern France as a direct result of the German advance in the West.

Coal is the source of power; it makes gas, electricity and steam. It drives the ships and it drives the trains.

The coal of England must be shared with our Allies – France, Italy, and America. It helps them to move their army while in France and it keeps their soldiers warm.

It is sold to neutrals to buy shipping to bring American troops over and is exchanged for food which would otherwise go to Germany.

Coal is the source of power wanted to end of the war. Coal burned in a house in excess of absolute need is power wasted. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone to save coal, because to save coal is to save lives.

HOW TO SAVE COAL.

Mix coke with it; a third of coke will have no bad effect upon the fire.

Use fire bricks to reduce the size of the grate, or have a false bottom fitted.

Put the poker out of the way. Never let a fire burn fiercely. Use the small coal to damp down the large.

Keep your pans and kettles clean outside as well as inside. Dirt and soot absorb and waste heat.

Never use gas for cooking when the kitchen fire is alight. Do not light the kitchen fire for cooking when you can use gas instead.

Take out the electric light bulbs that are only a temptation. Put in smaller bulbs and smaller gas burners where less light will serve.

Never mend a fire late at night Take the coal off when you go to bed. Save the cinders.

Burn all your rubbish. Remember the dustbin often contains a supply of fuel of sorts. The kitchen fire will burn all sorts of fuel.

CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

Donations received: Miss Bowyer 10/-, Miss Gilmore 3/6, Miss Bradley 2/6.

Things made: 4 white shirts, 12 pairs pants, 11 cushion covers, 14 treasure bags, 11 face cloths, 1 muffler, 1 pair gloves.

Reading St. John parish magazine, October 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

“We have lost men and millions, but these wretched French return to smoking ruins”

Florence Image was devastated by the news that her beloved brother Sydney Spencer had been killed, just after returning to the Front after having shell shock.

29 Barton Road
7 Oct. ‘18

My very dear old man

You and your wife’s thoughts will, I know, be with us. We got home from London last Tuesday evening about 7. I was standing in hat and overcoat, my back to the fire, getting a warm. Florrie, the other side of the table, opened a bundle of letters. Suddenly – in a quiet, toneless voice, I heard her saying, “Sydney is killed”. I did not realise her meaning. It stunned me. And she, poor dear – I knew how passionate was the devotion between the brother and sister – and how he idolized her beyond any other woman in the world. She bore up, but I could not. To spare the old parents in their weakness, he (like his elder brother) had left all to her hands to manage. What a week!

The Major’s letter, scrawled in the hurry of the battle, is all that we have heard – and the pencil scrawl was but a few words.

“I am very, very sorry to have to tell you that your brother was killed on Sept. 24th.” (How matter of fact is the announcement!) “He was commanding B Company at the time. He was, I think, the keenest officer I have ever met. A shell burst near him and he was killed on the spot.”

We have heard no syllable since – nor could I find any mention of the Norfolks in the Times syllabus of those days. Poor boy! I told you how he was blown up by a shell on the fourth day of the advance, and how when he insisted on rejoining, the Colonel sent him down to the reserve, as not healed yet; but he wrote to us that he was less “tired” than those officers who had been years in the field – and he seems to have got his way – to this end.

But an end how glorious! He was BA of Oxford and was meaning to enter the church. Always he was doing something for others. It cheers me to remember that his was such a straight, clean, useful life. To us he is not, and never will be, dead.

Oh how I remember his leaving for the Front. He was staying with us, and went straight from our house without stopping, at so early an hour that I was not up. Florrie was with him to give him his breakfast: but I was abed still, when he came in for goodbye, and at the last moment he lifted to his lips my hand lying on the bedclothes. My last sight of Syd! He was so cheerful and so full of life.

Percy, the elder brother, is still at St Thomas’. The doctors marvel at their success with his left arm but he cannot move it yet: will he ever be able? His letter to her ended: “Thank God you have John, and thank God I have you both”.

The Impudence of the Kaiser! Announcing to the army that this tickling of the President was his own action; that he is still all in all. Wilson won’t be slimed over. We have lost men and millions, but these wretched French return to towns and villages that are smoking ruins – deliberately destroyed by the retiring Hun. I don’t care about a town for a town. We know that our squeamishness would let Germany off half price. No. We should compel them, by the labours of their own populace, to restore every ruined French town, every village, yes, every house: and keep military occupation of Germany until this has been done, and to France’s satisfaction.

Also, we should demand ample fines and indemnities.

Florence begs to join me in sending love to Mrs Smith and to you.

In all affection.

Yours
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Taking charge for the duration of the war

Berkshire children continued to gather fruit for jam, while some teachers were still being redeployed to cover shortages.

Hurst
1st October 1918

The head master was asked by the Education Secretary to the visit the council school at Three Mile Cross near Reading and interview the Head Teacher of that school preparatory to taking charge for the duration of the war.

East Ilsley
1st October 1918

Elder children & those whose parents wished allowed the afternoon to get another day picking black-berries. Probably the last.

Little Coxwell
Oct: 1st

Registers will not be marked in the afternoon as the older children are going blackberrying.

Aldermaston
1st October 1918.

Half day for blackberrying, no baskets arrived and berries not sent off.

Datchet
1 October 1918

Blackberrying this afternoon.

Sparsholt
Oct 1st

The children had half holiday for blackberry picking.


Log books: Datchet School (SCH30/8/3); East Ilsley CE School log book (C/EL39/1, p. 487); Hurst School (D/P73/28/23); Little Coxwell CE School (C/EL80); Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3); Sparsholt CE School D/P115/28/47)

The distribution of meat to the public would be jeopardised if more butchers were called up

There were concerns that if butchers were called up no one would be left to prepare meats for sale to the public.

30th September 1918

The Committee nominated the Mayor as the representative of the Food Control Committee on the Committee recently formed to deal with applications for exemption before the Local Tribunal in respect of men engaged in food production and distribution. A deputation from the Butchers’ Committee attended the Committee, and submitted a statement showing that the number of slaughtermen and shopmen employed by the butchers in 1914 was 43; that since that date four butchers’ businesses have been closed down, throwing additional work upon the remaining butchers; and that the present staffs consisted of 14 employees which might, if exemption was not granted in certain cases, be reduced to ten; that the total number of registered customers served by the butchers was 21,474. The deputation stated that if the present staff was further depleted a very serious position was in sight and the distribution of meat to the public would be jeopardised. The Committee instructed the Executive Officer to send a copy of the statement laid before them to the Divisional Ministry of Food and to state that the Committee viewed the position with very considerable apprehension, and requesting that no time should be lost by the Ministry in taking up the matter with the Minister of National Service with a view of a stop being put to any further depletion of the present butchers’ staffs; and further that the Food Control Committee would not accept any responsibility for anything that might happen with regard to the preparation or distribution of meat to the public if there was any further depletion in the butchers’ present staffs.

The Committee approved applications by Mr Keen and Mr Love for permission to sell cooked meats and pies, which complied with the regulations, without coupons.

The Milk Winter Prices Order, 1918, was further considered and the Committee decided that the maximum retail price of milk delivered to purchasers for the months October to April next should be at a flat rate of 3s per gallon, and the Executive Officer was requested to notify the Ministry accordingly.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)