“He has now lost, like so many others, his only son”

A young pilot from Berkshire had been shot down. His wealthy family had moved to Wargrave Manor in 1898 when he was 13. As well as a grieving father and sister, he left a young widow (who after the war married another RFC officer) and 18 month old old daughter.

Vicar’s letter

We all sympathise with the sorrow which has fallen on our old friend and benefactor, Mr Sydney Platt, by the loss of his son Lionel, late Capt. in the Royal Flying Corps. Some of you may remember he used to bicycle over with his father and sister from Wargrave to service here when he was a boy at Eton. Those years are long past, but his father’s generosity and interest in our parish has been maintained at all times and he has now lost, like so many others, his only son. May he be comforted.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine (D/P192/28A/14)

Killed in HMS Vanguard

An Earley man went down with HMS Vanguard, which exploded at Scapa Flow. It remains one of the worst accidental disasters to befall the Royal Navy.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list: Howard Bull, Russell Harmer, Leonard Tovey.

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

SICK OR WOUNDED: Leonard Brown, Gilbert Adams, Frank Hayward.
DIED OF WOUNDS: Robert Newton, William Murphy.
KILLED IN HMS “VANGUARD”: James Hall.

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

It is a constant source of anxiety to know if our funds will hold out til the end of the War

The people of Wargrave contributed to help for Berkshire PoWs, including sending them bread to supplement what the Germans provided.

Prisoners of War of the Royal Berkshire Regiment

It is one of the first duties laid upon us to provide for the prisoners of War of our county regiment.

A Committee, of which Rear-Admiral Cherry is Hon. Treasurer and Mrs. Mount of Wasing Place, is Hon. Secretary, has undertaken this work. In February last it was realised by the Committee that to look after the prisoners of all the seven battalions now at the front would be more than they could undertake. It was therefore decided that this committee should only deal with the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 8th battalions – the prisoners of the 1/4, 2/4 and 7th battalions were handed over to Mrs. Hedges, 19, Castle Street, Wallingford, and the prisoners of the 6th battalion to Mrs. Dowell, 155 Malden Road, Colchester.

An appeal was sent to the Parish of Wargrave for support and Mrs. Henry Bond undertook to collect subscriptions for the fund. Mrs. Bond’s appeal has met with a ready and generous support- the amount collected by her in the parish was £101. 2s., in sums of £5 and under.

In acknowledging the cheque Mrs. Mount writes:

Wasing Place,
Reading,
August 21st.
Dear Mrs. Bond,

I really do not know how to express to you my thanks for the splendid collection you have made in Wargrave for the Royal Berks Regt. Prisoners. It is a constant source of anxiety to know if our funds will hold out til the end of the War. Our bread bill alone amounts to between £60 and £70 a month, besides which we have to find adopters for our 280 prisoners willing to pay each £21 per year for these prisoners.

Your splendid collection will go far towards removing any immediate anxiety.

Yours sincerely,
Hilda Mount.


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

“His parents have relinquished hope that he may be alive”

There was bad news for many Maidenhead families.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to know that Reginald Hill is still progressing. Harold Islip has been wounded in the arm, and after a fortnight or so in the hospital, is now recruiting at a Convalescent Home in France. It is fifteen months since his last leave. Alfred Vardy has been at home on special leave, lengthened by a slight attack on influenza, but is now back on light duty at the Convalescent Camp at Thetford. Percy and Hugh Lewis have been home on leave, both looking well. The two brothers passed each other unknowingly in the Channel, one coming and the other returning. Fred Hearman, who has been for three weeks in hospital with trench fever, is now in a Convalescent Home in France.

We have heard with deep sorrow that Lieut. Edgar Jones, son of the Rev. G.H. and Mrs. Jones of Marlow, has been posted as “missing” since the fierce enemy attack in the Nieuport sector in June which ended so unfortunately for us, and his parents have relinquished hope that he may be alive. Our hearts are full of Christian sympathy with our stricken friends.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, August 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

American officers visit Bisham

Some Americans awaiting their journey to the front had a day out at Bisham Abbey, like so many the British and Imperial officers.

19 August 1917

American officers came over with Mr West in afternoon. Took them all round house & had tea. They saw garden & church.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Goodbye to an Australian

The task of hosting a colonial officer ended early for the Vansittart Neales.

17 August 1917

Our Australian officer left by 9.45.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Plant food means human food

Local gardeners were encouraged to use chemicals to increase food yields.

PLANT FOOD means HUMAN FOOD!

Plants must have Food if they are to produce all they are capable of.
Much of the Land which has been newly broken up this season is sadly deficient in Plant Food. Farm Yard or Stable Manure has been very difficult – often quite impossible – to obtain. Unless means are adopted for Feeding the Crops, they will be small and disappointing.

The so-called Artifical Manures are really

CONCENTRATED PLANT FOOD

AND

You can Double Your Crops by their proper use.

We stock all the Standard kinds.

Sulphate of Ammonia and Superphosphate FOR POTATOES.

J. P. WEBSTER, FRHS, SEEDSMAN AND HORTICULTURAL SUNDRIESMAN,
124 High Street, & Station Front, Maidenhead
ALSO AT COOKHAM AND BOURNE END.

The Richer Your Land the Heavier Your Crop by the Use of Fertilisers.
Compete for our Handsome Challenge Bowl and Valuable Cash Prizes at Cox Green War Time Food Show, Aug. 16.

Advertisement in Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

To Windsor to see the Queen

The Vansittart Neales’ Australian guest, a wounded hero, got a royal audience.

14 August 1917

Captain Yates & I went dog walk – then golf and croquet. We all motored to Maidenhead, I to meetings about work – new secretary…

Captain Y[ates] to Windsor & saw Queen.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Helping sufferers in the countries devastated by the enemy

Members of the Broad Street Brotherhood at Reading’s Broad Street Chapel promised to help out our allies in the countries invaded by the enemy.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Our Society intends to make a special effort in connection with the Continental Relief Fund for the help of sufferers in the countries devastated by the enemy.

To give us information on the Fund, Brother TJF Robinson of Staines visited us on Tuesday the 14th August, and met a number of our members and discussed the best ways and means of raising money.
At this meeting a strong committee was formed, and various suggestions were made which will be considered at an early date and acted upon.

Stamps, price one penny each, are on sale each Sunday afternoon, the proceeds of which sale will go direct to the Fund and they also help to make the fund known.

We in Reading cannot expect to raise a very large sum, but it is hoped that a sum of not less than £50 will be obtained for this most deserving cause.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Boating and bowls

Another group of wounded soldiers enjoyed a lovely summer’s day at Bisham Abbey.

13 August 1917

Had wounded soldiers – 16 of them. Fine day boating & bowls. Stayed [until] 7.30!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Holidaying dressed in khaki, with a string of medal ribbons

Holidaying in Cornwall with his Cookham born wife Florence, John Maxwell Image noted a senior officer on leave.

Polpurrian Hotel
Mullion
S Cornwall
12 Aug. ‘17
My most dear old man

The Hotel is becoming abominably full. This morning we beheld, in khaki, and a string of medal ribbons, a Brigadier General…

Very affect.
Bild

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

“We could hardly realise that our popular Big Drummer would never return to help us again”

Teenage boys from Earley had the fun of a camp dispelled by sad news of old friends who had gone to the Front.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND SCOUTS

We had a most enjoyable time on the School journey in spite of the weather. A very full account is being published in the “Reading Observer”, and we are hoping that Mr Albert Smith will be able to spare the time to come and give us a Lantern Lecture describing our travels, so we shall not enter into details now. Several of the Cadets and two more Scouts joined us at Hungerford when we spent a most delightful four days, everyone showing us the greatest kindness.

The news of the death of our late Staff-Sergeant George Maskell came as a great shock to us on our return, and we could hardly realise that our popular Big Drummer would never return to help us again. We had a Memorial Service after Matins on Sunday, August 12th, some of our friends from St Giles’ and St John’s Companies joining us for the Parade Service and staying to the Memorial Service. We offer our deep sympathy to the relations and friends of one whom we all loved – RIP.

On going to press we have just heard of the death of another of our CLB Staff Sergeants, John Parker. Jack was one of our very keenest and best CLB workers and we shall miss him terribly. We offer our deepest sympathy to his mother and other relations and friends. RIP.


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

A happy visitor

The latest vistor to Bisham Abbey was evidently having a good time.

11 August 1917

Officer easy to amuse.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Back to Australia

Bisham Abbey had two visitors. Phyllis Vansittart Neale was at home for a break from nursing, while a wounded Australian visited before being sent home.

10 August 1917

P. had long lie…

Captain Yates (DSO) came. Fractured skull. To go back to Australia.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

The chemistry of the gas helmet

After a period training at Kinmel Park in Wales, studying such matters as the workings of the gas helmet issued to troops, Percy Spencer wrote to sister Florence Image with good news.

Aug 10, 1917
My dear WF

Thanks to John my address is
Cadet P J Spencer
B Company
No. 5 Officer Cadet Battalion
Trinity College
Cambridge

All the bad men from Kinmel are here too, so at any rate I feel I shall have a moral advantage.

I’ve just been trying to get the rules and regulations into my head. Luckily I realised early that it couldn’t be done and gave it up….

You are quite right about Kinmel. I was awfully well and jolly there, and look and feel very fit. Even the lectures were entertaining, no matter how dry. For instance one lecturer (a schoolmaster before the war) taking us in musketry, and looking very brainy, explained (in fact he was so pleased with the idea, he explained it twice) that “an explosion is the immediate or spontaneous transition of a solid into a gas. Q.E.D., which those of you who have studied Euclid will know means Quod erat dictum!!!”

We also had some very interesting lectures on the gas or PH ‘Elmet. Really they were not so much lectures on the helmet as they were upon methods of dodging learned recruits. If I am unlucky enough to get hold of some recruit who evinces a knowledge of chemistry, I am to switch off on to the mechanism of the helmet, of which he’ll probably be ignorant, and vice versa. Presumably if one is unlucky enough to be landed with a recruit who knows both the mechanism & the chemistry of the helmet there is nothing to be done but to lead him gently to the gas chamber….

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/62-64)