The agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed

The Rector of Remenham had strong views about our defeated enemy, and about domestic politics.

Rector’s letter

Since I wrote last month events connected with the War have moved with startling, dramatic rapidity. Bulgaria, Turkey, Austria, had collapsed, and then on November 11 Germany, the last of our enemies and the worst, whose conduct has been stained with iniquity and brutality and loathsome disregard of the obligations of honourable warfare, was overwhelmed. And now hostilities have ceased, and we breathe freely once again. We trust that, when the actual terms of Peace are settled, the wrongdoers will be adequately and justly punished; and that the foundations of righteousness may be firmly laid among the nations of Europe. On Sunday November 17, we held our Thanksgiving Services to acknowledge the good hand of God upon us, and, while our hearts were lifted up to him in profound gratitude, the agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed solemnised and, I believe, hallowed our worship.

The country on December 14 will be faced with the responsibility of a general election, and for the first time women will have the parliamentary vote. Let us pray that they may exercise it wisely, and I believe they will. The present Coalition Government, composed of Unionists and Liberals, will appeal to the nation for a fresh mandate to empower them if returned to office, to negotiate the terms of Peace, and, after Peace, to grapple with the grave problems of reconstruction that await solution. Old party divisions will for this election be put aside, and the Government will ask the country to support the united Coalition. The forces opposed to them, as far as I can judge, will be independent Labour and Socialism, and as their interests are confessedly sectional, they are not likely to safeguard the well-being of the nation, at this critical juncture.


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

Advertisements

“We have watched amazed these last few months a foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him”

A power cut caused disruption at the Ascot peace services.

Advent, 1918

My dear friends,

It is with the most profound relief that I am able this year to address to you the Advent letter with the good hope of restored peace. We must feel that Advent has taken on a new meaning for us. It has been in a very real sense that Christ has come to the world. We make a mistake if we relegate the word Advent to His Final Coming. We have watched amazed these last few months a foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him. Whatever causes writers of History may attribute to the dramatic collapse of our enemies, those of us who believe in the immediate Rule of Christ over the world he won for Himself will see in that collapse His judgment at work. It was in truth an Advent, a foretaste of what the Final Advent must mean.

But the Advent of Jesus is not just to destroy, it is to build anew. There lies before us a period of intense activity where without His Guidance our efforts can so easily go in the wrong channels. I say with the utmost deep conviction that man unaided is not sufficient for this opportunity. We must aid our statesmen by our prayers. Here at All Souls’ we shall begin Advent with the daily Eucharist restored to the Parish.

Our thanksgiving services were marked by a real heartfelt thankfulness on the part of our people. Both morning and evening we paid our debt of honour to all who have served their country on active service, and pleaded for the peace and joy of those who had shown the greatest love which man can show. In the morning the congregation with choir and wardens made a pilgrimage to the Shrine, and in the evening to the Rolls of Honour in the Church. In both cases the simple act of respect and honour proved deeply affecting and impressive. It was greatly appreciated by those who have beloved names on our rolls. An upsetting incident occurred in the failure in the morning of the electric current which put the organ out of commission in the midst of a hymn. The choir, however, rose well to the occasion, and went on as steady as rocks supported by the congregation who sang with a heartiness we have never heard before. Fortunately, our practice piano was standing in the church, and Mr Fowles was able to keep the choir well supported till the current was restored. It was nevertheless a great day and one which no one will ever forget. The Church had touched the need of the people.

A generous benefaction of £100 has been given to the Parish by Mr F A Keating in memory of his son.

The victory was marked by the gift of a large St George’s Cross Banner to the Church by Lady Radnor. It waved bravely over the Church on Thanksgiving Day. It will enable us to express ourselves on great occasions in the future. It is a great addition to the Tower, and helped to hide its unfinished appearance.

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

“Our pride and gratitude for the work so gloriously completed by our naval and military forces”

There were mixed feelings in Ascot as the war’s human price was still an open wound.

The Ascot Sailors and Soldiers’ Committee have decided that efforts must be made to let every man from our parish serving overseas receive a Christmas present and a message assuring him of our pride and gratitude for the work so gloriously completed by our naval and military forces. Arrangements have already been made for the sending of such presents by registered letter post, so that if not delivered they may be safely returned and presented to any who may have already returned home.

To raise the money required, the R.A.F. have most kindly offered to arrange a special performance in their Cinema, probably on Wednesday, December 11th. Please look out for the announcement and make sure that no seat is left vacant. Members of the Committee will be calling upon relatives to ascertain the latest addresses of the men abroad.

We congratulate Sergt. C.C. Parsons on the great distinction of receiving a bar to his military medal.

The Managers have decided to devote the money which would have been expended on prizes during the past three years, on a Christmas Entertainment for all the Children before the conclusions of hostilities.

While we are all full of thankfulness for the great victory, it is a specially sad to have to record the death of yet another Ascot man, who has died whilst serving his Country. George Smith, for many years in the service of Sir Charles Ryan, died in a military hospital at Tidworth, and was buried at Ascot, on Nov. 23rd. When he was called up for the R.A.F. last summer there were many who doubted whether he was strong enough for a soldier’s life, and our deepest sympathy goes out to his widow and little daughter.

We are glad to hear that George Maunder, who is suffering from gas poisoning, is making progress towards recovery, and we hope that this is the last casualty we shall have to record. We pray that very soon those who have relatives prisoners of war may be relieved of their anxiety, and that we may all share in welcoming them home in safety.

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

A short life on earth, given for the cause of freedom and liberty

More news of Reading men.

The Rev. G.N. Naylor has been appointed chaplain to the R.A.F. in Reading.

We shall miss the R.A.F. officers, cadets and men at the Sunday morning parade service, but I that many of them will still come to our high celebration and to evensong.

The special appeals fund will be closed on the 10th of December.

Intercessions List

Departed: Private Leonard Cadman, D.C.L.I.; Gunner Ivor Hicks, A.F.A.; Sergeant George Murley, Berks Yeomanry; Major Max Henman; Lieutenant Sydney Cecil Lansdown Guilding R.F.A.; Gunner George Poulton Smith, R.G.A.; Bombardier Gerald Frederick Jordan, Berks R.H.A.; Gunner A.J. Hayden; Private A.V. Palmer.

Sick and Wounded: Corporal Coggs; Private E. Targett.

Our sympathy and prayers have, I am sure been given to the relatives and friends of the above, all of whom have nobly done their duty, and given their lives to the Empire, and for the cause of freedom and liberty. Lieutenant S.C.F. Guilding was one of our servers. His was a short life on earth, but he has been called to higher service elsewhere, and we shall not forget the work he did for us here. R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, December 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

“It is even yet difficult to realize that the war is over”

Bracknell was starting to come to terms with the end of the war.

It is even yet difficult to realize that the war is over, and though, thank God, the fighting is ended we must remember that, for a long time to come, we shall have to keep to the food regulations, and the coupon books, and practice economy and war saving in every possible way.

One more name has been added to the Roll of Honour, Sergt. Gordon Court, who was killed on November 4th, just a week before the Armistice was signed. He had much fighting in the earlier part of the War, and then after some time of service in England he went out again a few weeks ago. It seems likely that his will be the last name to be added from this Parish, to the gallant company of those who have laid down their lives in the great cause. Fifty-seven names are on our list of fallen. We hope that we shall be able to erect some permeant memorial which will worthily preserve their memory.

We congratulate Sergeant Percy Smith, of the R.A.M.C., on the Military Medal which has been awarded to him.

In common with the rest of the country we have been visited with the plague of influenza, and it has caused the death of several persons in Bracknell, and its immediate neighbourhood.

Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, December 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/10)

“Rarely, if ever, before, have we been called upon to mourn the loss of so many of our friends, in such a short time as during the past month”

Broad Street Church had endured many sad losses through the war, and the toll was not yet over.

CONDOLENCES

It is our sad duty to report from time to time the death of members of the church and congregation. But rarely, if ever, before, have we been called upon to mourn the loss of so many of our friends, in such a short time as during the past month….

Private Ernest Layton Francis, son of our esteemed Deacon, Mr Ernest Francis, and Mrs Francis, was well known and greatly beloved at Broad Street. Up to the time of his enlistment in the London Scottish Regiment he was a most faithful teacher in the Sunday School, and he exerted a powerful influence for good over his boys. Both teachers and scholars alike bear testimony to his patient and enduring work, and they all deplore his loss.

Mr Witcombe, Chief Warder at Reading Gaol, had been a loyal member of the church since 1911. During the whole of the war period he has given unstinted and devoted service in the work for men and women in khaki attending our rooms, and his cheery presence was always an inspiration. His early and unexpected death from pneumonia has fallen as a sad blow upon his wife and family.

Mr Harry Haydon was, in early days, a loyal worker in connection with the C[hristian] E[ndeavour] Society and Sunday School… a few months ago he had to join the army, but, as he was never strong, the period of training proved too great a strain on his constitution, and the influenza scourge found in him a victim. He leaves a wife and two young children to mourn his loss…

[Miss Rosa Millard and Miss Christina Codiferre are also named as among those dying of influenza.]

The influenza epidemic, which has been raging throughout the country lately, seems to have been worse in Reading than in most places. For several weeks the Sunday School had to be closed. So, too, had the Soldiers’ Rooms. Very many of or Broad Street homes have been visited, and some, unfortunately, with fatal results. It is a relief to know that the evil is now abating, and we trust that those friends who are still suffering may speedily be restored to health.

PTE E. LAYTON FRANCIS

The deepest sympathy has gone out from our whole community to Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis and their family, in the sad loss they have sustained through the death of their second son, Private E. Layton Francis. Layton Francis was a fine type of strong, intelligent, upright manhood, and his passing is deeply regretted by all who knew him.

When the war broke out he was anxious to volunteer at once for active service, but he was prevailed upon to complete his course of training as a Chartered Accountant before doing so. After successfully passing his final examination, he voluntarily joined up in the London Scottish Regiment, and saw much active service in France, Macedonia and Palestine. Readers of the magazine will remember the interesting descriptions he sent of various places in the Holy Land.

At Es Salt, on May 1st, 1918, he was seriously wounded in the right arm. After undergoing treatment in several Military Hospitals abroad, he ultimately reached England and was taken to the Military Hospital at Napsbury, near St Albans. Here, unfortunately, he was seized with influenza, and, pneumonia supervening, his weakened constitution was unequal to the strain.

We give below a couple of extracts from the many letters received by his parents. They testify to the very high regard in which he was universally held:

From a school friend:

“To me Layton was the best chum I ever had, or can hope to have. In fact he was more than a friend, he held the place of a brother. He was a real gentleman, and the life that God has taken will always be a great example and ideal for me to live up to.”

From a friend and former worshipper at Broad Street:

“Although I was considerably older than Layton you know what friends he and I were whilst I was at Reading. It was a friendship of which I was proud. He was the finest boy I have known. He was such a splendid combination of strong character, high principle and lofty ideals. He was absolutely straight – too great a character either to tell a lie or to harbour a mean thought. He was a fine example of young muscular Christianity.”

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Shot through the head

News of the last days of Berkshire soliders continued to trickle in.

Casualties

Sergeant A E Bolton (2nd DG, Queen’s Bays), died in France; Private W H Brown (8th Royal Berks), twice wounded, and prisoner since last April (omitted before); Frank Hicks (2nd Royal Berks), at last officially presumed killed on 9th May, 1915; W Painter (RE), wounded and gassed; J W G Phillips (RAF Labour Company), killed; H J Pembroke (1st Royal Irish Fusiliers), killed in action, 1st October, 1918; G H Poulton-Smith (RGA), wounded; died (of pneumonia) in Italy.

Captain Bullivant’s Death

One day last September, his unit, the 1st Middlesex Yeomanry, was holdig a line of out-posts in Palestine, when a Turkish column was reported to be moving across the front. He rode forward with an orderly to reconnoitre, sending his trumpeter back with orders for the squadron to follow. When they did, however, they at once came under fire, and had to go into action (no doubt dismounted), without having see him or being able to gather which way he had gone in the tangle of ridges and valleys; and the engagement continued for some hours, finishing up in the dark, miles from where it began. Search was made for him early next morning, and a patrol brought in his body. He had been shot through the head, and “must have come right on to them when he galloped over the ridge”, writes his subaltern. His orderly had had his horse shot, and could not himself be traced at the time of writing. A gallant death: but a sad loss to his family and to this parish, in which he took great intrest, and in whose affairs we hoped he was destined to play an active part. He was a Rugby and Cambridge man.

Lieut. Alfred Searies has made a wonderful recovery, and been home on leave. He was buried and damaged while occupying a “pill-box”, and only recovered consciousness five days later in hospital. His MC has been duly awarded him.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Troops welcomed to stop looting in defeated Germany

Phyllis was still unwell.

6 December 1918

Heard fair account of P[hyllis]… Then on to P. Fond Seymour with her. She feverish after high temp. at night, 104.8. Had doctor up, & had aspirin. Felt rather wretched, head bad. I bathed it with eau de vie & water & Caveau orange. Stayed till nearly 5…

Our troops marching into Cologne. We welcomed to stop looting!!


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

Whom could England put in place of Lloyd George at this juncture?

The upcoming General Election was a historic one – the first in which all men over 21, and at least some women (married women over 30), could vote. The new Labour Party appealed to the working class new voters.

6 Dec. ‘18
My very dear old man

The Poll (but possibly you already know this) will be taken on MTWOF (16th to 20th)…

As for the election – I’m not “enthusing”. I only seem to fear it is Eclipse and the rest nowhere. Whom could England put in place of Lloyd George at this juncture?

We shan’t make Germany cash up, but under any other leader we should secure less than under him.

Beattie and Foch have ‘guts’ and are not timorous of Ultimatums – but these civilian tin-gods! I really half think that one of the Labour men would be more solid and less certain to be weakened than the creatures we are sending. The Hun will play upon Wilson’s vanity for bossing, and England, as usual, will cringe. Carson wouldn’t! O that he could have gone.

Ever affec.
Bild.

Her wounded brother, after whom you kindly ask, is still in St Thomas’s Hospital. It will, I fear, be a very long time with his left wrist – but I can see the great progress in it already.

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

Fever coming on again

Phyllis Vansittart Neale continued to be very ill with influenza.

5 December 1918

Heard fair night & not worse. A & I to flat, & I went on to Kings CH. Found her brighter, more able to talk. Lunched Victoria. Saw Ag then back again. Distressed to see fever coming on, & head bad again.. L. Williams’ sister there. Did not expect temp. to be higher but it was up to 104.8. I luckily did not know it. Went back home.

Ex Kaiser & ex CP to be handed over.

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

“This officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong”

Many Old Boys of Reading School covered themselves with glory in the last months of the war. E C Holtom’s book is still in print.

O.R. NEWS.

Mr. W.L. Pauer, son of Mr. W. Pauer, who had previously won the Military Medal and Bar and a French Medaille Militaire, and who had also been made a “King’s Sergeant” for bravery on the field, has now been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Croix de Guerre.

2nd-Lieut. Churchill, M.C., R.F.A., Son of Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Churchill, of Eldon Square, Reading, has been awarded by the President of the French Republic the Croix de Guerre.

Naval Promotion.

Surgeon E.C. Holtom, stationed at Chatham, has been promoted to the position of Staff Surgeon (Lieut. Commander) in the Navy. He has written a book which is being published by Hutchinson & Co., of London, under the title of “Two Years Captivity in German East Africa.” Mrs. Holtom, of 23, Junction Road Reading, the mother of Surgeon Holtom, has received a letter from Queen Alexandra, in which she says she has ordered a copy of the book. Surgeon Holtom was educated at Reading School and is very well known in this district.

Military Cross.

2nd- Lieut. Adrian Lillingworth Butler, Royal Field Artillery, as previously reported, gained the Military Cross. The following is the official account of his gallant conduct: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer fought his section in the open, engaging enemy infantry and tanks until they got within 50 yards, scoring a direct hit on a tank at this distance. He rallied the infantry and only withdrew at the last moment, having himself to drive in a gun team when the driver was killed.

T/2ND-Lieut. E.C.P. Williams, Middlesex Regiment. When the enemy attacked in great force, driving in the line and endeavouring to cut off the retirement of the battalion, this officer remained as a rear-guard with a small party of men and a Lewis gun, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, and gaining time for the battalion to withdraw in good order. On previous days he had been out with patrols securing prisoners and bringing back valuable information.

Lieut. (Acting Major) Owen Wakeford, R.G.A. For consistent good work, especially as Officer Commanding Battery, during the operations in the Ypres Sector, from July to December, 1917; where he maintained the efficiency of his unit, under heavy fire.

Bar To Military Cross.

The bar to the Military Cross has been awarded Lieutenant (Acting Captain) L.E.W.O. Fullbrook Leggatt, M.C., Oxon and Bucks L.I. Special Reserve for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while attached to brigade headquarters. Headquarters suddenly came under heavy rifle fire, and this officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong. He sent out patrols to locate the enemy and our own troops, and himself collected much valuable information. His promptitude did much to clear an obscure situation and strengthen the line. (M.C. Gazette February 18th)

Lieut (Acting Captain) J.L. Loveridge, Royal Berks Regiment. He made a reconnaissance under heavy enemy barrage, and next day led his section to the starting point, in spite of the fact that his Tank had been observed by the enemy and were submitted to heavy fire. Throughout he showed great coolness and initiative.

Reading School Magazine, December 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

Joy in victory is clouded by the thought of those whose fidelity unto death helped to win that victory

A Reading vicar rejoiced at the end of the war.

MY DEAR FRIENDS

None of us are ever likely to forget the month that is ended. We have lived through tremendous days, apocalyptic days, when the judgements of God have been manifest in all the earth, when his voice has been heard saying to them that rose up against Him, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Witnessing the utter downfall, the complete humiliation and final ruin of the Germanic Alliance, we are driven again to the great poetry of the psalms for words adequate to describe the things we have seen, and we find them in the second psalm, ‘The Kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His anointed… He that dwelleth in Heaven shall laugh them to scorn, the Lord shall have them in derision… Thou shalt bruise them with a rod of iron and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ And from the same psalm we draw the moral for ourselves, ‘Serve the Lord in peace and rejoice unto Him with reverence.’ Reverence was the most marked feature of those wonderful Services of Thanksgiving wherein on Monday evening and on the following Sunday we thanked God for His deliverance and for the victory which we attribute only to His help- reverence and a solemn awe. A new devotion to God’s service and a new oath of allegiance to the divine King must be our permanent response to our God thus made manifest in judgement and in mercy.’ This God is our God for ever and ever. He shall be our guide even unto death.’

In the midst of our rejoicings our loving sympathy goes out to those whose joy in victory is clouded by the thought of those whose fidelity unto death helped to win that victory. May the knowledge that the sacrifice has not been in vain comfort the hearts of all whose dear ones’ names are entered on our Roll of Honour for the fallen and must in due time be permanently engraved upon the walls of our Church.

The news of the signing of the armistice came to us in the midst of the severe epidemic of influenza which has claimed many victims among soldiers and civilians alike….

We pray that God may bring comfort to the parents of soldiers who have died of pneumonia following on influenza, among whom we would mention Privates Aliban and Church, old boys of St John’s and St Stephen’s respectively. Lastly, we offer respectful sympathy to the family and friends of Frank Fisher, old boy and chorister of St Stephen’s, killed in battle in the last month of the war….

The sermon and preaching arrangements for Advent will be found in the Calendar. I propose on Sunday mornings at St John’s to speak from the Christian standpoint on certain important ideas which are at present occupying the minds of thoughtful people, under the general title of “Issues of the Great War”. My subjects each Sunday will be:

Dec. 1 The War to end War
Dec. 8 The World Safe for Democracy
Dec. 15 The League of Free Nations
Dec. 22 The Re-union of Christendom…

I wish you all a very happy Christmas. The birthday of the Prince of Peace will be celebrated this year by a world at peace at last after 4 ½ years of war. Let us celebrate it with glad thanksgiving and with the earnest prayer that the hearts of all men everywhere may be inclined to do His Will, so that there be permanent peace on earth, among men of good will.

Your sincere friend and vicar,

W. Britton.

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

So many officers down with flu

Florence Vansittart Neale’s daughters saw the German submarines being surrendered.

25 November 1918

Heard from Phyllis. They watched the submarines all Friday afternoon. Boy had to go to Felixstowe. So many officers down with flue….

Feel on a holiday. No soldiers, no officers! Captain Carswell left this morning.

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

More assured hopes of peace

Reading families received sad news despite hopes of the impending end of the war.

The Vicar’s Notes

R.I.P.

Walter George, one of our old Bible Class Lads killed in France, September 30th.

Thanksgiving

For the gradual liberating of Belgium, France and Serbia, and for more assured hopes of peace.

“Care and Comfort”

“Care and Comforts” hope to hold an Exhibition of the wounded soldiers work and a sale on the 4th December in the Corn Exchange, Reading, to raise money for their funds. We hope to have stalls for all kinds of articles, old and new, useful and ornamental, gifts suitable for Christmas presents, provisions, etc.etc. and we shall be particularly grateful for the articles of value. Gifts may be sent to “Care and Comforts”, Minster Street.

If everyone will endeavour to give something we shall have a record sale.

All Saints’ District


R.I.P
. – We have a long list of departed this month. Our sincere sympathy is offered to their friends. May they have strength to bear their sorrow.

Percy John Arding (killed in action) …

S. Saviour’s District

Our deepest sympathy is with Mr. and Mrs. Ward, 19 Field Road, who have just heard of the death of their only son in Egypt. It is indeed a great sorrow for them.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Many still far from well

Christchurch School had been in the throes of an influenza outbreak for over a month already. The Earley teacher mentioned here did not return to work until 6 December.

Leckhampstead
22/11/18

Attendance this week has fallen from 27 out of 28 present on Monday to 17 present this morning – all absentees due to influenza colds. Secretary notified this morning – school closed.

Boyne Hill
Nov: 22nd

The percentage of attendance this week has been 76.5. Many of the children are still far from well, & in consequence the standard of work is very poor.

Christchurch, Reading
22nd November 1918

By order of the Medical Authority, school will be closed until November 25th.

Earley
22nd Nov 1918

Mrs Radbourne, whose husband is home on leave from France, has been absent all the week.

Log books of Leckhampstead School (C/EL 51/2); Boyne Hill Girls’ CE School (C/EL121/3); Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School (89/SCH/7/6); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3)