On both

Elderly William Spencer of Cookham was proud that his daughter Florence Image was having her first satirical article published in Punch.

Fernley
Cookham
July 14, 1918

My dear Sydney, …

I am very glad you like my first effort in blank verse. … But Flo [his daughter Florence] has beaten me altogether. I can only attain to the ‘Advertiser’ but she, a puss, has just had an article of more than a column’s length accepted by ‘Punch’. She has revised the proof & I expect it will appear next Wednesday though it does not follow that acceptance means immediate publication. It has to do with ‘Dora’ & is entitled ‘On Both’ referring to any breach of D.O.R.A’s act being punishable with six months imprisonment, or a £50 fine, or both.

Letter from William Spencer of Cookham to his son Sydney (at the front) (D/EZ177/1/6/1)

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“Don’t worry, she can’t speak English & I could never make love in French”

Percy Spencer was excited by his sister Florence’s getting a comic article published in Punch, and almost fell in love with a French girl.

July 14, 1918

My dear WF

Another week gone & here I am still at school & beginning to know something about musketry.

I’m very glad to hear Sydney is better again and delighted about the Punch article. Mind you send me a copy of the number.

This week I’ve been feeling very dicky myself. I think I had a touch of this strange fever, but a very slight one. Another officer here, I am sorry to say, has died with it.

Today I have been to a much bombed town near here for a holiday. There is quite a good officers’ club and one can generally meet old friends there and get a good dinner. It’s nice to sit in a pretty garden and receive tea from the fair hands of a wholesome English girl.

Today as you know is France’s National day. I went to the cathedral – which by the way has been rather badly bumped at the eastern end – and listened to a service. The singing was delightful, but it is difficult for me, much as I love the Roman Church’s seriousness, to refrain from smiling at their quaint beadles armed with swords and wearing mighty cocked hats, and at the endless collections.

Another good thing out here is the good nature of all motorists. One sets out to walk anywhere, hails the first car or bus or lorry, which always stops & takes you as far as it can. The other night a staff officer we coolly hailed drove us in here and offered to take us as afar as Paris if we liked. This however only applies as between Englishmen or as between French etc. but today I had quite a romantic experience.

Following the usual custom I stepped out to hail a car, but observing it was driven by a Frenchman, stepped back. However, it stopped & then to my pleasurable surprise I saw it was driven by a French GIRL. I’ve given her capitals as she was a capital girl. She wasn’t going very far my way but would give me a lift on my way. Well, the fair chauffeuse who was on her way to fetch the Prefect of the town we had just left melted, & when she got to her turning & I made to alight, she said she would drive me here and she did. After that we got very friendly and talked about London & the Thames, and she said that after the war she should come to London, and I said then I hoped we should meet again, whereupon she volunteered her address and I mine and neither of us could remember the other nor muster a pencil between us, so we pulled up at a cottage & borrowed one & some paper from an old lady who smiled approval at the beginning of a romance. And all the while the Prefect cooled his heels at some village down south!
I must be a lady killer after all!

Don’t worry, she can’t speak English & I could never make love in French, and Bordeaux (her home) is a long way.

Well, goodbye & God bless you both.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/53-55)

Naturalization to be overhauled

Sir George Cave, the Home Secretary introduced plans to revoke citizenship from some naturalised Britons.

12 July 1918

Read long debate about aliens. Sir G. Cave made speech. End up German banks – not open for some years after war. Naturalization to be overhauled….

Letter from Phyllis from 4 London General. Thinks she will like it.

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

“I think we have got the Boche fairly well in hand now “

A Sunningdale soldier wrote an optimistic letter home.

A letter from France to Miss Tritton.

11th July 1918

Dear Madam,

I hope you received the letter I sent you some time ago. I have been wondering if it had gone missing as so many are lost in transit. I trust this note will find you well, and I may state that I am the same, though I have been gassed some time ago, but am fairly recovered from the effects of it.

I hope you are still going strong at the Red Cross work. Needless to say that it is all very much appreciated by the boys out here in France.

I am looking forward with joy to the day when we will be home again, and I think we have got the Boche fairly well in hand now and that he will never do any more than he has already done… I would like it very much if you could send me the Banner (Parish magazine).

I am,

Yours sincerely,

W. K. Turner.

Sunningdale Parish magazine, August 1918 (D/P150B/28A/10)

All aliens to be interned or sent back

There was increasing pressure to intern or deport foreigners.

11 July 1918
Long debate on aliens – want all interned. Propose interning males from 18 upwards & sending back women! Lloyd George spoke well.

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

Future shell shock cases

A precedent was set for dealing with shell shocked patients who ended up in the workhouse back home.

9 July 1918

G. J. Dubock

Mrs Hawker and Mr Alleyne, the Secretaries of the Newbury Sub Committee, Berks War Pensions &c Committee, being in attendance, were interviewed by the Board on the matter of this man and as to the procedure to be taken in any future similar case, and it was resolved on the motion of Mr Hill recorded by Rev. Kefford that the Master notify the above Committee immediately on admission to the House.

Newbury Board of Guardians minutes (G/N1/39, p. 79)

Lavender Day

Ascot parishioners were asked to contribute lavender from their gardens in a novel fundaising idea.

The Parade Service of the R.A.F. now takes place in the Church at 9, instead of in the Cinema.

‘There will be a “Lavender Day” on July 20th in aid of the Five “Ascot” beds with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in France, Corsica and Salonika, and the Berkshire War Prisoners’ Fund. Gifts of Lavender, fresh or dried, will be gratefully received by Miss Hanbury at Holmwood least a few Lavender bushes, and the smallest quantity will be welcome if sent promptly.

The Ascot Sailors and Soldiers Committee have been distributing the printed Cards, mentioned in our last issue, for relatives to post to men serving abroad. If any have not yet received a card in a stamped envelope ready to be addressed and sent along with an ordinary letter, they should apply at once to the member of the Committee in charge of their district as follows:

High Street – A.F. Bullock
H. Woods
London Road – H. Goswell
Fernbank Road – H.Tustin
Seinley and Priory Road – J. Skelton
New Road – H. Charman
A. Morton
Kennel Ride – A.Woods

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, July 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/6)

German PoW on the run “is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding”

Three Germans PoWs on the run were foiled by the brave actions of a Berkshire policeman and three Special Constables.

6 July 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE

Lt-Col Poulton attended the Committee and stated that he had been absent from his Police work for three years, and he thought it was time he returned to such work; that his Army work was now so organized that it could be easily carried on by some other officer; and that he had now reached the age of 60; and suggested that the Secretary of State be asked to apply to the War Office for his relase from Army Service to enable him to resume his duties as Chief Constable of the County, as from 31 August, 1918.

Resolved:
That the Secretary of State be asked to make the application to the war Office as suggested.

Resolved also on the motion of the Chairman [J. Herbert Benyon] and seconded by Sir R. B. D. Acland, knight: That the very best thanks of the Committee be accorded to Col. Ricardo for services rendered as Acting Chief Constable.

Capture of three escaped German prisoners

The Acting Chief Constable has brought to the notice of the Sub-committee the action of PC 105 Reginald Jordan, stationed at Burghfield, and of Special Constables Webb, Holland and Hill, in effecting the capture of three Prisoners of War who had escaped from Bramley Camp on 24 April 1918.

PC Jordan challenged these men whom he met at Burghfield at midnight, and, finding they were foreigners, attempted to arrest them. After a struggle in which one of them is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding), the Germans succeeded in escaping, but were discovered and recaptured the following evening by PC Jordan – with the assistance of the Special Constables above-named, who had been working indefatigably all day in search of them.

The Military authorities sent £4.10s.0d as a reward, which was apportioned as follows: PC 105 Jordan, £2; Sergeant Taylor (who had also assisted) and the three Special Constables, 12s.6d each.

MOTOR CARS

The two motor cars which were so kindly placed at the disposal of the Superintendent at Maidenhead and Wokingham at the commencement of the war by the late Mr Erskine have now been returned to the present owner, Mrs Luard of Binfield Grove, and I beg to recommend that a letter expressing the gratitude of this Committee for the use of the cars, which have been of very great value to the Police, be sent to that lady.

I should also like to take this opportunity of referring to the loss sustained to the Force by the death of the late Marquis of Downshire, who, as a Special Constable from the commencement of the war, had kindly placed his valuable time and the use of his two cars (free of any charge) at the disposal of the Superintendent of the Wokingham Division, and by this means saved the County a great deal of expense.

I recommend that a letter be written to the present Marquis from this Committee, expressing regret at the death of his father, and its appreciation of his generous services.

The present Marquis of Downshire has very kindly placed his car at the disposal of the Superintendent at Wokingham on condition that the County keeps the car insured, [and] pays the licence duty and cost of running.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

In the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town

Members of St John’s Church in Reading (now the Polish Catholic church, but then a Church of England one) supported the troops in prayer and by sewing clothes etc for the wounded.

ST JOHN’S CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

The Care and Comforts Working Party still pursues its useful activities. Even in the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town, a number of devoted ladies are to be found each Wednesday making various articles necessary to the comfort of the honoured wounded in our hospitals. Workers never fail, materials are always forthcoming, but the latter have to be paid for and the funds from time to time run short. Donations are always welcome, and should be sent to the Treasurer, Miss Rundell, 7 Alexandra Road.

List of the articles made this month: 1 shirt, 1 pyjama suit, 100 face cloths, 28 treasure bags, 44 sterilizing bags, 43 locker curtains, 17 cushion covers.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR FOR THE FALLEN

We have been asked why the Roll of Honour has been moved from its place by the South Door of the church to its present position in the North Transept. The answer is – in order that it may have a place all to itself with its own bracket for flowers and in a quiet part of the church where people may be sure of being undisturbed in their prayers.

The beautifully made oak bracket beneath the Roll of Honour is the kind gift of two friends who desire to remain anonymous.

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

Personal help given to the Belgian refugees & soldiers during the war

Two of the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist were recognised for their caring work with wounded soldiers and Belgian refugees.

28 June 1918

Notice was sent out that Sister Edith Katharine had had the “medaille de la reine Elisabeth” bestowed upon her by the King of the Belgians, in recognition of personal help given to the Belgian refugees & soldiers during the war. Also that among the King’s Birthday Honours, Sister Mary Victoria has the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal bestowed upon her.

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

Delay dealing with shell shock case

George Dubock had been discharged by the army due to his severe shell shock.

26 June 1918

George J. Dubock

This man having been interviewed by the Board it was resolved that he be now discharged from the Institution. The Clerk was instructed to write Mrs Hawker, Secretary of the Newbury Sub Committee, Berks War Pensions &c committee, enquiring the reason of the delay in dealing with this case and on what authority he was said to be insane.

Newbury Board of Guardians minutes (G/N1/39, p. 75)

“Died through lead poisoning contracted while on Government work in France”

The Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund tried to help people thrown into economic disarray as a direct result of the war.

24 June 1918
Shire Hall

The Secretary reported that he had been successful in obtaining work for Mrs Swain with Messrs Gill & Sons, Tailors, Reading. Mrs Swain had, however, since stated that she wished to go to Holland where it was understood her husband had been transferred. The Secretary stated that he had informed Mrs Swain that he did not think it would be possible for her to obtain a permit to do this, and nothing further had been heard in the matter.

The case of Mrs Coleman, Station Road, Twyford, whose husband was killed in an Air-raid on London was considered, and a letter was read stating that the Lords Commissioners had sanctioned an award of £250 to Mrs Coleman. The Committee were asked to inform the Government Committee of their proposals for the disbursement of the amount in the best interests of the dependents, and in order to do this it was agreed that the Chairman and Mr F Bate should interview Mrs Coleman on the following Monday, 1st July.

The Chairman stated that he had authorised as a case of urgent necessity, two grants of £5 to be expended by the Rev. H Tower of Windsor, on behalf of Mrs Kate Clarke, St Leonards Road, Windsor, whose husband had died through lead poisoning contracted while on Government work in France.

The action of the Chairman was confirmed and a further grant of £5 authorised to be paid if necessary.

An application for assistance received from Miss Lipscombe, Maidenhead, was considered and refused, as it was not considered one of distress directly due to the present war.

The Secretary reported the result of his enquiries of Mr Davies, Maidenhead, in the case of Mrs Willis, to the effect that it would appear that Mrs Willis would not be able to take up employment. It was suggested that the case be referred to the Central Office asking whether a final grant might be given to the woman, and the Secretary was instructed accordingly.

The Treasurer reported that the loan of £3 made in April 1917 to Mrs Lake, Yew Tree Farm, Swallowfield, the period for repayment of which had been extended, was now five months overdue, and asked for instructions as to any necessary action in the matter.

After consideration it was agreed that the promissory note be returned to Mrs Lake and the loan treated as a gift.

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

The Austrian offensive seems to have vanished into mid air

Officers were well treated on their visits home, on leave or wounded.

Florence Vansittart Neale
22 June 1918

I & two officers motored to Oxford. Saw Dorchester, had lunch en route. Saw Magdalen, New College & Christ Church. Two MO Canadians here for Sunday, Captains Johnston & Reay. They out all evening. We brought Phyllis home. She left Oxford.

Joan Daniels
June 22nd Saturday

Bruce McPherson has come for the weekend… Bruce has had a very nasty wound in the back of his head which he got last October.

The Austrian offensive seems to have vanished into mid air.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and Joan Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

“Far away from my battalion and the plague of khaki”

Percy had gone on ahead of his unit to arrange billets in the French countryside.

June 19 [1918]
My dear WF

I like this place. Far away from my battalion and the plague of khaki, here I am billeting – at least I was yesterday.

Today I’m just waiting for my people to turn up.

I like the chateau with its monster lime trees – one, the largest I have ever seen. And I like the big farmer who took me into a direct current from his styes and there held me in lengthy conversation – and the old ladies apparently born in strait waistcoats who hold one spellbound for hours in a flood of patois out of which one thing only is clear – they require an exorbitant price for what they are pleased to call an officers’ mess.

The postman, fat & aged, is refreshing too. His cheerful announcement of letters & postcards with all details and contents of the letter is good to the heart. His cheery good day to me as I passed and request for a cigarette & explanation that tobacco is very scarce went straight to my cigarette case.

And then there is M. le Maire, schoolmaster & umpteen other things, who left his overalled charges to show me billeting matters and give me lengthy explanations only pausing to hurl corrections across the courtyard to the schoolroom, where one of the boys was reading aloud.

And then there is Madame at the estaminet where I have my temporary headquarters, who provides me with an interminable reserve of eggs and coffee, and constant shocks. The climax was reached when I asked for milk, and taking a homely bedroom utensil [a chamberpot!], she drew therein a supply from her little goat and served me liberally therefrom.

And that’s my village.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/47-49)

Asked to give an entertainment to the wounded soldiers

Clewer girls were asked to put on a concert for recuperating soldiers.

June 14th 1918

The school has been asked to give an entertainment to the wounded soldiers at [King] Edward VII Hospital on Saturday next – the performance will be rehearsed this afternoon so the timetable will not be observed.

Clewer St. Stephen Intermediate Girls School log book (SCH/8/8/2, p. 177)