Zeppelins get lost

Florence Vansittart Neale rejoiced at the misadventure of some enemy Zeppelins.

21 October 1917

5 Zeppelins down in France, lost their way.

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

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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)

A pretty wedding at Bisham

Nurse Elizabeth Vansittart Neale, co-heiress of Bisham Abbey, had enjoyed a wartime romance with 27 year old officer Leo Paget, and today was their wedding day – at Bisham Church. Mother Florence’s diary entry was brief:

20 October 1917

Bubs’ wedding day.

However, she went into more detail in another book she kept.

20th October 1917
Elizabeth married Capt Leo Paget – Rifle Brigade. Wedding took place in Bisham Church – very pretty – good music with Dr. Bath at organ & Marlow choir boys to reinforce ours.

Over 60 guests at luncheon, almost all relations.

Bridal pair repaired [?] to Reading to Malets Cottage at Norcot–Lynton [?].

Young Paget came over on leave from the front in France – he arrived the day before the wedding- he had 2 weeks leave (4 days extra for marriage).

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Bisham estate memorandum book (D/EX73/1/8/2, p. 222)

The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation

The parish of Burghfield was keeping track of local men serving in the war.

THE WAR

The Roll of Honour

A list kept by the Rector, of those Burghfield men who since the beginning of the war have laid down their lives for their country and the just cause of the Allies, hangs near the reading-desk in the Church.

The full Roll, including those who have offered and been accepted for immediate or deferred service, is kept up to date by Mr. Willink so far as possible, and hangs in the Church Porch. The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation: but he will be glad to receive names of men not already on the Roll but actually serving, together with the exact title of their ship or unit, also notice of any honours or promotions, wounds or deaths.

The list of wounded is growing long. Happily most cases are light. But it should be known by everybody that any disabled man is entitled to free training, if necessary or possible in some trade, and to be helped in finding employment. Information can be obtained at any Post Office. In cases of delay or difficulty in this matter, or in regard to Pensions or Allowances, applications should be made to the Berkshire War Pensions Committee through Mr. or Mrs Willink, who are on the Reading Rural Sub Committee.

Honours

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray, of Culverlands, formerly C.B whose distinguished services in past times are well known, has been made K.C.B. He has acted as King’s Messenger during the War, and has repeatedly visited the front. He and Lady Murray have also received certain Japanese decorations.

Captain G. O. W. Willink was mentioned in Despatches in May, and has just been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished conduct in August. He has commanded “A” Coy in the 2/4 R. Berks Regt. Since he went out in July 1916, and has seen service in many parts of the line in France and Flanders.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

“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)

“The toll the war is taking of our men is appalling”

Reading and Caversham property developer Edwin Jesse (1842-1921), currently living in Mapledurham, had seen his sons Edwin (Ted) and Walter, both in their 30s, and his daughter Rose’s husband, off to fight in the war, and the family had now heard bad news of the latter.

13/10/17

Dear Uncle

I am indeed very sorry to hear the sad news of the death of [his cousin] Rosie’s husband. It must have been a great shock to you all, and you have my sincere sympathy.

The toll the war is taking of our men is appalling.

So Ted and Walter [his cousins] are in France now. I wish them both the best of good luck & trust they may return safely – and soon.

I am so sorry that you should have all this anxiety…

With kind regards

Your affectionate nephew
E. S. Herbert

Letter from E S Herbert to Edwin Jesse (D/EX1942/1/1/40/59)

Awful at Paschendaele

The little Belgian village of Paschendaele was the focus of fighting on the Western Front between 31 July and 10 November 1917. The battle (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres) became notorious for the seas of mud encountered, and the hundreds of thousands of casualties.

12 October 1917
Another push, but checked by weather. Really awful! “Paschendaele” objective.

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

Arrived from the front

A Pangbourne teacher welcomed a brother home on leave, while the Datchet children’s collections from the hedgerows for the troops diversified.

Pangbourne
9th October, 1917

Miss Drury, at her own request, given a day’s leave of absence to see her brother who has arrived from the front.

Datchet
9 October 1917

I have sent several boys for horse chestnuts while the weather is dry.

The children went a blackberrying.

Datchet National Mixed School log book (SCH30/8/3, p. 401)

Pangbourne Primary School log book (C/EL78/2, p. 62)

A splendid push

Florence Vansittart Neale was delighted by the war news.

9 October 1917
Splendid push going on.

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

Letters from sailors

Florence Vansittart Neale was encouraged by a British success.

8 October 1917

Went to schools to read letters to school children from sailors. Drenching afternoon. Soldiers came…

Battle of Broodseinde – very good.

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

“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)

A day of grief and glory: another of our boys has heard the call of God and joined the throngs invading heaven “with gay and careless faces”

Memories are shared of a Reading-born man whose death had been reported.

Harry Ireland Long

It was with deep regret that we heard of the death of Lance-Corpl. Harry Long, who was killed in action in Flanders on August 15th. To most of us his name is familiar, as being the son of our old and esteemed friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Long, and to them, as to his sister and brothers, we offer our deep sympathy. Some, however, had a more intimate knowledge, and one of those, the Rev. Herbert Snell, of Caterham, a former minister of Trinity, has kindly written the following:-

“Lest Heaven be thronged with greybeards hoary,
God, who made boys for his delight,
Stoops, in a day of grief and glory,
And calls them in, in from the night.
When they come trooping from the War,
Our skies have many a new gold star.”

Another of our boys has heard the call of God and joined the throngs invading heaven “with gay and careless faces.” Another has cheerfully and bravely given his life to make earth clean again, and keep it safe for those who regard honour among the highest and love peace.

It is easy enough to write these words, but behind them are living hearts that ache with grief and yet rejoice with noble pride.

Harry Ireland Long was the eldest son of William and Anna Long. He was born February 25th 1886, at Reading, and was killed in Flanders on August 15th, 1917.

“Trinity” will remember him, first of all, as a youngster, attending school at Miss Lacy’s and at Miss Burgisi’s, and on Sundays as a member of Mr. H.A. Baynes’ Bible-class. When I knew him he was at Reading School, which he left in 1901 in order to work for a while in his father’s business. Everyone liked his handsome face, with bold dark eyes and pleasant smile; though there was plenty of the boy about him there was a serious vein in Harry’s thinking which soon brought him to face the great deep questions of life. A year had scarcely elapsed from the time of leaving school before he joined the membership of Trinity Church.

In 1904, Harry went to Kingston in Jamaica where he worked for eight years. During that time he went through the terrible experiences of the great earthquake of January, 1907. Although he escaped the physical perils of that time, I have some kind of an idea that it was then he met his “fate,” and that there was some connection between the incidents of January, 1907, and a marriage which took place in Kingston, 1910, between Harry on the one side, and Miss Isabel Frances, of Crouch end, London on the other. But I do not give this as authoritative, lest, perchance, a very treacherous memory should have betrayed me.

Only this I know, and can speak thereon with utter confidence, having been privileged to visit on several occasions their delightful little home in Montreal, that it was a marriage full of happiness and promise.

It was in 1912 that they migrated to Montreal and in 1914 that I found them there, with Maurice who had joined them about a year before. I was at that time taking charge of Emmanuel Church during Dr. Hugh Pedley’s vacation, and being altogether a stranded and solitary stranger in the huge city, it was an indescribable pleasure to receive an English welcome in a Canadian home. None of us thought, in those early uninstructed days of the war, that it would ever be necessary for one of us to join up, and it was utterly beyond the limits of considered possibilities that one of our laughing circle should, in three years from then, have given his life for freedom.

Harry enlisted in the 244th Canadian Battalion Kitchener’s Own on September 1st, 1916. Owing to his previous training in the Victoria Rifles (Montreal’s volunteer contingent), he was almost at once given Sergeant’s rank, and when he came to England in April, 1917, it was a company Quarter-master Sergeant. Six weeks later he went to the Front with a draft to reinforce a Canadian battalion already there, and so lost his stripes, but he was speedily promoted again to Lance-Corporal, and it was while “gallantly leading his section in an attack against a strong German position,” that he met his death. The Chaplain of his Battalion, Capt. C. Stuart, speaks of him as having speedily won a place for himself in affection and esteem of all the boys. “He was so keen and willing in his work, so cheerful always in the face of all discomforts and difficulties that he became one of the most popular men in his platoon.”

And so another of our boys is gone. And the world is becoming more cheerless as we think we shall have to go on to the end without them.

But this also we know, and it far outweighs the gloom, they have brightened the earth by their example, they have for ever enriched life by their self-sacrifice.

Harry Ireland Long will not be forgotten at Trinity, and his name will go down with honour among those who have helped to save the world for Christ.

“Oh, if the sonless mothers weeping
And the widowed girls could see inside,
The glory that hath them in keeping
Who went to the Great War and died,
They would rise and put their mourning off,
And say ‘Thank God, he has enough.”

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

Remembered as a little boy

A soldier who had lived in Earley as a small child was awarded a major medal.

Our congratulations are offered to Leslie Shepherdson – who will be remembered here as a little boy in S Bartholomew’s Road, son of Mr and Mrs Shepherdson of Angmering, Sussex – on having won the Military Cross. Mr Leslie Shepherdson is now a 2nd Lieut. in the Durham Light Infantry.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine October 1917 (D/P192/28A/14)

A splendid victory

Douglas Haig (1861-1928) has not had a great reputation with historians of World War I. But at the time people like Florence Vansittart Neale admired him.

2 October 1917

Splendid victory Sir D. Haig. 4,500 prisoners, won all the blights.

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