“I shall transfer all my affections to Sister Macgregor”

Percy Spencer tells his sister Florence about his experiences as a wounded soldier in a London hospital. He was very grateful to the kind nurses.

Bed 8, Florence Ward
St Thomas Hosp[ital]
London SW

Aug 14, 1918

My dear WF

Thank you so much for your letter. It will be nice to see you again on the 20th and you may be sure we shall be alone.

I did feel sort of used up at the end of the day, so yesterday told Sister I would see no one but Miss Image [Florence’s elderly sister in law], who luckily did not come, for she would have found a very sleepy fellow indeed – I slept from 1-3 pm. Last night with the aid of 2 tablets plus 2 more I got to sleep in the grey hours and feel fresher.

You can come just when you like, dear, but as my arm is dressed each morning and the time it is done depends on the amount of work, and sometimes I like to be still for a little while afterwards, you may not be able to see me before lunch – ie 12.30 – 1pm. But as early after that as you like.

Miss Image & Mrs Curtis came today. I do think it is sweet of “Aunt Margaret” to come, & she brought me some lovely roses. Mrs Curtis turned up later and very kindly brought me a supply of matches. I hope Aunt Margaret didn’t mind, but Mrs C is one of my faithful adherents I feel I cannot be “out” to. I foresee I shall have to sort my visitors over, and tell them when to come.

Well, Sister Kirby has just washed me like a mother, and given me some clean pyjamas and I think I love her best at the moment, but I fear we are fickle fellows, for at midnight when I cannot sleep and want my pillows put straight I shall transfer all my affections to Sister Macgregor, for she has a way with her with pillows and a sweet smile to boot.

Yrs ever, with my dear love to you both

Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/68-71)

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Wounded in his last stunt

The Hallams’ young friend had been injured.

13th August 1918

M. had a letter from Lieut Girling. He is now in hospital at Oxford wounded in his last stunt.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Shaken in body but in spirit still quite perky

Not only had Percy Spencer been wounded, but younger brother Sydney had suffered shell shock.

Aug 12th [1918]

My Dearest Florence

Just this line. I am safe but in hospital, unwounded. Was blown up with my men when sheltering in a shellhole. Am suffering from slight debility. Am shaken in body but in spirit am still quite perky.

Your affec Brer
Sydney

Note from Sydney Spencer written in pencil on scrap of paper (D/EZ177/8/3/68)

A sad casualty

Two men with Sulhamstead connections had fought their final battle.

Sergeant Major Robert East, Australian Expeditionary Force, has been obliged to have his leg amputated, and has returned to Australia for further treatment. He was to have been raised to the rank of a Commissioned Officer, but this sad casualty has prevented it.

ROLL OF HONOUR

We regret to have to announce that Mrs Painter has received news from the War Office that her husband, Private Albert Painter, Royal Berks, has been posted as killed. He was taken prisoner by the Germans on March 21st, and died on March 24th.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, August 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Government funds for convalescent soldiers

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital wanted to recoup some of the costs of nursing the wounded.

9th August 1918

Government funds for convalescent soldiers.

It was resolved that the higher rate allowed by Government for convalescent soldiers received into hospital be applied for.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2, p. 363)

Severe gunshot wound

Florence Image was her brother Percy’s official next of kin. He was transferred to a London hospital later that day.

9 August 1918

Regret inform you Second Lt P J Spencer 21st Londons admitted 8 General Hospital Rouen August 9th gunshot wound left wrist and scalp severe.

Infantry Record Office

Official telegram to Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/7/65)

Oh the brutes!

Reading teenager Joan Daniels was indignant about German targetting of the wounded.

August 6th Tuesday

Ambulance transport sunk & 123 lives lost by the Germans. This is what riles us more than anything. Oh the brutes!

Diary of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

Earnest supplication that the righteous cause for which we have made such heavy sacrifices may be speedily crowned with victory, and a just and lasting Peace come quickly.

Churches in the Bracknell area commemorated the fourth anniversry of the start of the war.

August

Ascot

SUNDAY, August 4th, will be the fourth anniversary of the Declaration of War, and special forms of Prayer and Thanksgiving will be used throughout the Country on that day. The hours of service at All Saints’ will be as usual.

Bracknell

THE WAR – On Sunday, August 4th, when we shall enter on the fifth year of the War, we are called to come together to seek for God’s help and guidance, and to offer our thanksgivings for the success that has been granted to our efforts. The services will be at the usual hours, but will be of a special character. It can hardly be necessary to urge that there should be a large attendance. We need God’s continued help, and we must seek for it by persistent prayer. The collections at all the services will be for the British Red Cross Society.

Warfield

On Sunday, August 4th, the fourth anniversary of the Declaration of War, there will be celebrations of the Holy Communion at 7, 8, and 12 o’clock. Morning Prayer and Intercession Service for Children at 3. Evening Prayer, Intercession, reading of the Roll of Honour, and Sermon at 6.30. May we, like the good king Hezekiah of old, go up unto the house of the Lord, at this great crisis in our nation’s life, and spread out our cause, our troubles and anxieties, national and personal before the Lord.

Winkfield

For the first time, the 4th of August, the anniversary of the beginning of the War falls on a Sunday. The government have decided against a week day commemoration, so that the whole nation, it is hoped, will observe the occasion as a day of National Intercession to God on behalf of our country, with earnest supplication that the righteous cause for which we have made such heavy sacrifices may be speedily crowned with victory, and a just and lasting Peace come quickly.

We earnestly hope that this parish will respond, as never before, and that no family will be unrepresented in this parish church on such an occasion, when, as our Prime Minister writes:

“It is fitting that the nation should remembering the services of the men who are fighting for the preservation of civilisation, and should once more reconsecrate itself to the high ideals for the attainment of which the Allied Nations have sacrificed so much”.

The names of all our men serving at the front will be read out and commended to God in prayer, and the offertories at all the services will be devoted to fund helping to send comforts to Winkfield men now prisoners of war in Germany.

September

Bracknell

THE WAR – The Services held in August 4th – the fourth anniversary of the commencement of the War – were well attended. There were many communicants, and the church was really full, both at 11 and 6.30. The special services were used, and seemed to strike the right nore, as the services were specially earnest and reverent. The good news of the Allies’ successes deepened the feeling of thankfulness and hope in all hearts. £21 18s. was collected for the Red Cross and Prisoners of War Fund.

Cranbourne

WAR ANNIVERSARY — The services on August 4th were well attended, especially in the evening. The collections were for the Prisoners of War Fund, and amounted to £11 10s. 6d.

Warfield

It was a great pleasure to see such splendid congregations and above all so many communicants, on Sunday, August 4th, the fourth anniversary of the Declaration of War. In the evening the body of the church was quite full, and the congregation joined most heartily and earnestly in the service. The collection £6 9s. 7d. was in aid of the parochial fund for providing parcels for prisoners of war, of which Mrs. Wood is secretary.

Winkfield

The services on August 4th were well attended, especially in the evening. The offertories for Prisoners of War amounted to £12 10s and on the following Sunday £7 was raised for the Mission to Seamen.


Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, August and September 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/7-8)

News of Earley men

More Earley men had joined up.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

Reginald Bluring, Reginald Harding, William Hunt, Arthur Illsley.

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

Killed in Action or Died of Wounds: Tom Parker, Edward Harwood.

Wounded and Prisoner: William Barton.

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

Veritable hell: “We knew that some one had blundered, but obedience is the first rule of the army”

Here is a dramatic account of life in the Army Service Corps taking water to the thirsty troops one terrible day in Mesopotamia.

(We publish the following account of an exciting adventure in Mesopotamia in justice to the gallant men of the A.S.C., in case there should still be any who are liable to despise the man not in the front line. ED)

“A Stunt.”
(By a FORD Driver in Mesopotamia)

We had just completed an eleven days’ continuous run, and were expecting a day or two’s well earned rest, but such was not to be.

We reached —— at midnight and “parked up” our cars outside the old Turkish Cavalry Barracks. I “clicked” for guard, and at 3.30 a.m. took a telegram from a despatch rider, containing instructions to move off and load up immediately, So at the first streak of dawn, amid much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”, we “wound up,” and after picking up supplies we started off on a joy ride across the desert to an unknown destination, for a journey of indefinite duration.

We arrived at ——, and to our great joy were informed that we were to rest for the remainder of the day. What hopes!

For the next two days we had barely time to eat the necessary “bully,” so busy were we rushing supplies of all descriptions to an advanced position.

At the end of the second day, thinking we had earned a little sleep, we had just got into our blankets when the whistle announced “fall in.”

This time (about 8.30 p.m.) it was to pick up troops, under sealed orders. For the first fifteen minutes all was well, then we pulled up, and the fun commenced. All lamps out, no smoking, talking or blowing of hooters, the greatest precautions to be taken.

Of course, you should know that we were on the desert, following a track which we had never travelled before, everything pitch black, laden with troops, with the knowledge that with us rested the success of the action planned for the following day break.

When returning the following morning, we could hardly believe our eyes, when we saw the route we had taken in the dark, deep, yawning precipices and huge boulders of rock, and the places of danger which we passed but “where ignorance is bliss ‘tis folly to be wise.” Anyhow, after about an hour’s ride or so, during which time we had relieved the tension on our nerves by smashing a few radiators, losing the column and sundry other mere “inconveniences,” it was decided to pull up for one-and-a-half hours till the moon should show just a glimmer, for progress under the circumstances was absolutely impossible.

This hour-and-a-half was even more nerve racking than driving, as we hardly dared to whisper, for here we were, stranded in “No Man’s Land,” where, apart from the actual enemy, viz.:- Johnny Turk, the great nuisances were the hostile and cunning Arabs, who do not at all object to using us as targets for practical jokes of a serious nature.

At last we started off again, and after many and indescribable difficulties, we parked up under the shelter of a big hill to drop our men and to wait for dawn and further instructions.

The day broke and with the dawn our brave men went over the top of the hill, but Johnny was not asleep this time, for he soon started throwing a few shells over, and we, being somewhat interested, stood on top of our cars to watch the proceedings, until one of the enemy’s aeroplanes “spotted” our “place of rest” and gave information to his artillery, who got our range to a nicety, and we (reckless, daring spectators) began to discover, a few at a time, that the underneath parts of our cars needed attention, but I freely admit, that to stand and allow someone to throw 6in. shells into our midst, while powerless to reply or defend ourselves, did not greatly appeal to me at least.

However, our time of idleness was brief, for word came through, even in the early dewy hours of the morning, that the only water available for our advancing troops was from the salt lakes.

Then we got busy, packets, tanks, buckets, petrol tins, canvas water carriers, everything capable of holding water is flung aboard and we dash off by two’s and three’s from our “park” to gain a river some few miles across the desert.

But Johnny had anticipated our movement and had the river banks nicely covered with snipers and machine guns, so instead of running “en bloc” and filling up altogether, we had to dash up one or two at a time and fill up our receptacles.

When all the difficulties were overcome, and we were ready to commence our return journey, it was approximately 10 a.m., with a temperature of 110° in the shade, when we regained sight of our troops it was practically midday, with a temperature of 128° in the shade.

Then came a veritable hell, the water had to be got to the troops and orders came through that the M.T.’s were to “carry on.”

We knew that some one had blundered, but obedience is the first rule of the army.

The M.T.’s had never been under fire in Mesopotamia before and never since, except in cases of single cars on special detail, but here we were, about eighty cars in column, ordered to practically reach the front line trenches, shells bursting right and left. Did someone mention “Brooklands?”

Never before had Ford cars travelled at such a speed, sixty pounders make excellent accelerators. There were many miraculous escapes, cars riddled with machine gun bullets and shrapnel, some cars put out of action, here and there was a man putting on a spare wheel under fire, but marvellous to relate, not one of our men was touched. I shall not forget a shell dropping and rolling under a car about two yards away.

Thank God, ‘twas a “dud.”

Eventually the trenches were reached, the sight was almost beyond description, dead and dying, troops mad with thirst, they had been drinking salt water, and more men had been “laid low” by sun and thirst than anything else.

Disregarding discipline, our cars were raided, the water speedily drunk, and all craving for more. Then we drove, hither and thither, picking up wounded and dying, and made our way to the field hospital. By this time it was “every man for himself,” and we practically worked individually, using our own discretion. During this time, two of our men gained Military Medals, and one of our officers was “mentioned” and has since received promotion.

Night was now drawing near, but it made no difference to us. Half was ordered to move the Casualty Clearing Station and then drive thirty miles (this time in safety) across the desert for more ammunition.

On the return journey, I, personally, and several of my “pals,” I know, fell asleep over the wheel, to be suddenly and rudely awoke by a “gentle” drop into a hole or a bump against a sand bank.
When we got back we found that our troops had retired about seven or eight miles, and while we were fetching the stores and wounded back, the Arabs had great sport “sniping” at us, and some of us nearly got into trouble for stopping to reply to their “overtures of good will.”

But we successfully completed the retirement, and Johnny did not follow up, so the “stunt” s finished, and we returned to —- for a rest, — what hopes, we were dead beat, no sleep for over fifty-six hours, but within twenty-four hours we were again on our ordinary work of carrying supplies from one dump to another, to be forgotten until the next stunt, but don’t forget, — when the M.T.’s are wanted again, they will be there.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

On a football field in France

Old Boys from St Bartholomew’s Grammar School in Newbury shared their news.

Several letters have come our way from O.N.’s, among them being one J. Allee, who wants to know if there are any other O.N.’s in Palestine, where he is serving as a Captain in the A.S.C., as he has seen no one but Brooks since he has been there, for nearly three years. He seems rather disappointed with Jerusalem, but says that the country around the Dead Sea and the Jordan was well worth seeing, the hills being ablaze with flowers.

H. Pappin, in another letter, tells how he met Newman on the football field in France, where they both had been picked for the same team, the latter recognising Pappin’s name in the list. There seems a favourite place of recognition, for it was in Egypt that Pappin met Hobbs and Beard under similar circumstances. He has been running his battery team, “The Lily Whites,” all the winter, a combination in which what is lacking in science is made up with enthusiasm.

Two most interesting letters have come to us from F. W. Taylor and W. H. Bradfield. The former, who is serving with the Nigeria Regiment at Zungeru, has met our plea for an article by saying that he is writing a Grammar of the Fulani Language, but promises to do his best; while Bradfield, who is with the R.F.A. in France, is in the thick of the present heavy fighting.

J. J. Hurrell, who left the N.G.S. for Bradfield College, in 1913, has just passed through Sandhurst and goes into the Indian Army in September.

A double good fortune is the lot of D. W. Rosling, who is serving at Salonica; for simultaneously with his majority comes the following announcement: May 28th, at Cambray House, Carmarthen, to Florence, wife of Major D. W. Rosling, The King’s Liverpool Regiment, the gift of a son. – Congratulations.

We also have to congratulate two O.N.’s on their marriages; Lieut. E. J. Widle, T.M.B., to Miss Daphne Collette, at St John’s Church, Oxford; and Henry Hoskings, 1st Life Guards, to Miss Phyllis Richens, at St Anne’s, Westminster.

Our casualties are again heavy, though the proportion of wounded is, as last term, small. A. B. V. Brown and I. C. Davidson are both in hospital in England, after having been gassed, while A.L. Sandbach has been discharged through his wounds, after an exciting career. Volunteering for service on the outbreak of hostilities in Africa, he served against German West Africa, under Botha, in Greyling’s Commando, where he was one of the sole two white men serving. German West having been quelled, he returned to his civil duties, but soon after answered the call for men for German East. This time he joined the 2nd South African Horse, with whom he saw some hard fighting, on one occasion having his horse shot from under him. He was promoted to Sergeant and served for about three months longer, after which time he was hit in the thigh by shrapnel at Germinston, with the result as stated that he has been invalided out, returning to his work at Johannesburg. By a curious coincidence, each of these in this branch of the list is an old Victor Ludorum, Sachbach having also tied with Evers for a second year, while the dates of Brown and Davidson respectively, are those immediately preceding the War.

I. K. Fraser, whom we reported as having been wounded, in our last number, has so far recovered as to be able to pay us a visit towards half term. He is looking remarkably fit in spite of all.
Congratulations to G. W. Hall on his Mention in Sir Douglas Haig’s last despatch, and also to J. Allee on his mention in General Allenby’s.

John Cannon has been transferred from the A.S.C. to the 1st Somerset Light Infantry, and is now in the trenches.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

Garments are so very urgently needed for the wounded

Burghfield people continued to make clothes and hospital supplies for wounded soldiers.

Holiday House

The Committee regret that they are unable at present to arrange for any Evening Entertainments &c, due to the Lighting restrictions.

The Holiday House work party wish to thank all those who so kindly subscribed to the thousand penny fund, which was raised in answer to the appeal for funds from the Reading Depot. The amount subscribed more than reached our expectations, and we were able to send the sum of £7 10s 0d in all to the depot, £3 (i.e. 720 pennies) profits on a Whist Drive and Dance at Holiday House, and £4 10s 0d (i.e. 1,080 pennies) collected.

The Work Party would be glad to welcome more workers, as garments are so very urgently needed for the wounded, and also any help in providing wool for “operation” stockings.

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

News of Newbury men

More Newbury men joined the forces.

O.N’s in His Majesty’s Forces.
List No. 12.
Additional Names.

ALDERSON, Cadet C. B., R.A.F.
CHURCH, Pte. A. E., Artists’ Rifles.
GAUNTLETT, H., R.N.
GIBSON, Gunner J. M., R.G.A.
HURRELL, Cadet J.J. O.C.B
KENDRICK, 2nd A. M., P.A., R.N.A.S.
MICHELL, Lance-Corpl. C., Royal Warwick Regiment.
NEW, Cadet G. H., R.A.F.
NEWMAN, Gunner, 1/1st Wessex Heavy Battery.
PLUMB, T.
STRADLING, Cadet A. W. G., R.A.F.
SUMMERS, Cadet S., R.A.F.
WALTER, J.

Promotions.

BLAND, Cadet, W. H., to be 2nd Lieut., R.A.F.
CHURCH, 2nd Lieut. E. H., R.A.F., to be Lieutenant.
DAVIDSON, Corpl. I. C., Worcester Regiment, to be Sergeant.
HUDSON, 2nd Lieut. N. A., Leicester Regiment, to Lt. Adjt.
PARKER, Cadet G. L., to be Probationary 2nd Lieut., R.A.F.
PLENTY, Capt. E. P., R.A.F., to be Major.
ROBERTS, Pte. E. E., Civil Service Rifles, to be Lce.-Corpl.
ROSLING, Capt. D. W., The King’s Liverpool Regiment, to be Major.
TANNER, Cadet, W. J. V., to be 2nd Lieut., Royal Berkshire Regiment, attached Royal Warwick Regiment.
WEBB, Lieut. O. S., M.C., R.E., to be Captain.
YALDEN, Sergt. E. C., 7th Middlesex Regiment, to be 2nd Lieut., 7th Middlesex Regiment.

Honours.- Croix de Guerre.

BURGESS, Lieut. N .G., R.N.R.

Mentioned in Despatches.

ALLEE, Capt. J., A.S.C.
HALL, Lieut. G. W., R.G.A.

Reported Killed, Now Wounded and Prisoner of War.

MICHELL, Lnce.-Corpl. C., Royal Warwick Regiment

Wounded.

BROWN, Lieut. A. B. V., 3/17th London Regiment.
DAVIDSON, Sergt. I. C., Worcester Regiment.
FUNNELL, Pte. F., 10th Royal Fusiliers.
SANDBACH, Sergt. A. L., 2nd South African Horse.

Lost at Sea.

BURGESS, Lieut. N. G., Croix de Guerre, R.N.R.

Accidentally Killed.

COWELL-TOWNSHEND, Lieut. R., R.A.F.

Killed in Action.

HALLEN, Corpl. J V. 1st Surrey Rifles.
MORTIMER, Pte F. C., 4th North Staffordshire Regiment.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

“If it did not get quite so hot here in the summer Mespotamia would be an ideal place for an Englishman.”

Several Sunningdale men had been taken prisoner, while another man from the village was serving in modern Iraq.

We are thankful to say that none of our men have been killed in recent fighting but the list of prisoners is lengthened for Edward Evans and Walter Day, of Ridge Cottages, Charters Road and Mr. E. Rump have been captured, and also Lt. R. Cowell who was wounded has fallen into the hands of the enemy. Stanley Hind is reported to be in hospital with a severe gunshot wound. We shall be glad if relatives will kindly let us know in all cases of their men being wounded in order that the prayers of the congregation may be offered for them by name.

We give below some letters from abroad, from Roy Lewis in East Africa and Bevis Jerome in Palestine.

Corpl. C. Burrows writes from Mesopotamia his thanks for a parcel from the Sunningdale Red Cross Society.

He says –

‘It will be a trifle strange when I get back to not have anyone to speak to who understands Arabic or the ways of Arabs as I have had 2 ½ years amongst them now and am quite at home with most of them. If it did not get quite so hot here in the summer it would be an ideal place for an Englishman.

I suppose if we continue to hold it they will eventually get it like most places in India.

There is a great prospect of a large flood this year, and I expect it will be like 1916, one mass of water as far as one can see, not deep but very uncomfortable when one has to march through it, knee or waist deep. It is a splendid sight to see the setting sun over the Desert, any artist would love to have a picture of it. It is a pity one cannot get the colours with a hand camera. I sent to Basrah the other day, but same old tale ‘we are expecting it by the next boat’.

Once again thanking you, I remain, etc.

Sunningdale parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P150B/28A/10)

Prisoners from this district are benefitting from the Lavender Market

Ascot PoWs would benefit from recent fundraising.

Our Readers will be glad to know that the “Lavender Market” held on July 20th resulted in a net profit of £200 odd, which enables the Ascot Women’s Suffrage Society to send £100 to the Royal Berkshire Regiment Prisoners of War Care Committee, and £100 to the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Those who helped so generously will be gratified to know that their own prisoners from this district are thus benefitting.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, September 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/8)