Almost ludicrous if not so horrible

Opposition to the war had led to revolution in Russia, and the fear of getting drawn in caused riots in neutral Switzerland.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 November 1917

Russia almost ludicrous if not so horrible. A subaltern made Commander in Chief.

Will Spencer
19 November 1917

News that a policeman & two other men had been killed in “anti-military” riots in Zurich on Saturday night…. After dinner I read the account of the Zurich riots on Friday & Saturday. (They began on Thursday.)

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

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We can hardly grudge the stretching out a hand to soldiers’ little ones

The Waifs and Strays Society (now the Children’s Society) was there to help children orphaned by the war.

Waifs and Strays Society

May I commend to the attention of the Parishioners the following letter from this Society. We owe a good deal in this Parish to their work, and they have several children in their charge who belong to this town. May I also ask you to note that Mrs. Chisman (in the absence of Miss Roe, who is Nursing abroad) is Acting Hon. Sec. for St. Luke’s District. She would be very grateful if collecting boxes could be returned to her at Northfield during November.

Dear Vicar, –

We are still “carrying on,” but the demands are always increasing, and so is the difficulty of meeting them. “Munitions” and “more and more munitions” is our cry. Will you help us with the following scheme? We hope to hold, as for the past seven years, a Central Gathering and Sale of Work in London; date, November 21st and 22nd; place, Caxton Hall, Westminster; object, to raise £1,000, the sum which we have for some years come to reckon on as the result of this particular effort. Please help it in one or more of the following ways.

(a) Commend the attention of your Parishioners to this appeal in every direction you can.
(b) Ask them to come on one or both days and join our gathering, even if they have no money to spend.
(c) Tell them we shall be most grateful for any contributions beforehand, in money, or work, or provisions, to be sent to our Bazaar Organising Secretary at this office.

Our work for soldiers’ children is overwhelming; do join us in special effort to carry it through. So many of us have cheerfully though sadly given up our own nearest and dearest, that we can hardly grudge the stretching out a hand to those little ones whose own protectors are powerless to see to their welfare.

Believe me, yours faithfully,

E. de M. RUDOLPH

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

“They would be bitterly disappointed if they could see how few really care”

Enthusiasm was flagging among those who had committed to praying for the troops in Cookham Dean – but the village’s children cared about injured horses.

The Vicar’s Letter

Might I plead once more for more regular attendance at our ordinary Intercession Services? Why has the attendance dropped in numbers so seriously – especially on Wednesdays at 11? As far as possible I vary the Services so that they should not be the same – and I would urge those who began well and attended so regularly during the first months of the war to begin again. ‘Be not weary of doing well’, says St. Paul, who there enforces a lesson we all need to learn over and over again. The thoughts of so many on Active Service turn for comfort and support to the thought that at certain times, ‘Many are gathered together praying’ for them in the Church which at home they know best and love most; and I fear they would be bitterly disappointed if they could see how few really care to come with any regularity to the Services provided for them. Do think of this, and act upon it.

The Roll of Honour

The promotion of Pte. E. Blinko to be Corporal should have been notified some months ago. We should like to congratulate most heartily Capt. Vesci Batchelor M.G.C. (elder son of the Vicar of Cookham), who has recently been promoted Major, and 2nd Lieut. C. Edwards promoted Lieut.

Parish Registers

The children of the school have made a Collection on behalf of the Wounded Horses Fund, and have sent up £1 to the R.S.P.C.A. Society.


Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

“We are soldiers”: German prisoners refuse to work beside the Conscientious Objectors

German society was even more strongly opposed to pacifists than their English counterparts.

29 Barton Road
13 Nov. ‘17
Desideratissimo

Today she [Florence] has had [visitors including] … one Oldham, a B.A. engaged in war work for aeroplanes.

A General from the Front was lunching in our Combination-room the other day, and said to us that in his section the German prisoners refuse to work beside the Conscientious O.’s “We are soldiers”, they say.

Ten days or so ago, at one of the dinners which the College gives to Cadets on receiving their Commissions, we had a couple of officers of Zouaves as guests. Mumbo (whose health is much improved) proposed their toast in French. Capt. Marcel (he looked a handsome Englishman) responded in his own tongue, and ended with a shout which sent the Cadets wild, “England for ever”!!

What think you of Ll. George’s speech in today’s paper? It is depressing but not depressed. I personally have no fear of any harm except what the English baser natures can induce our Government to do. Surely Russia teaches what must be the result to a nation of slaves who are suddenly emancipated from control. So will it be in Germany until they have settled down. Meanwhile it’s the present English people worth dying for?

Our love to you both.

Always affect. yours Bild.

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

A gallant lad who enlisted “because he thought it was his duty”

The service of several Burghfield men had ended, either through death or illness.

THE WAR

Honours and Promotions

Major Richard Kirkwood, who as temporary Lieutenant Colonel has since the beginning of the war been in command at Exeter of the Depot of his old Regiment (the Devons), has been seriously ill. He is now being relieved, and is receiving the permanent honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and we hope to see him and his wife back at Boldrewood in November.

Discharges

So far, only the following names have come to hand of Burghfield men discharged from the Navy or Army in consequence of wounds or sickness contracted on service, viz:

Joseph Bedford, ex 8th Royal Berks (wounds)
E H Bracey, ex MGC (wounds)
Arthur L Collins, ex 2nd Anzacs, AEF (sickness)
Ernest Goddard, ex 1st Royal Berks (wounds)
William Goddard, another son of Joel Goddard, born and bred in Burghfield, but not resident for some years, has also been discharged, ex RE, on account of wounds.

Obituary Notices

Percy G Day, a gallant lad who enlisted “because he thought it was his duty”, though he broke his apprenticeship by doing so, was son of George Day of Trash Green. He was in the 2/4th Royal Berks, but was found not strong enough to go to France with the Battalion in May 1916, and was latterly employed on munition work in Leeds, where he died on 6th October in hospital.

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

“The War still continues, would that it were not so”

Several Newbury men had been reported killed, but those left behind were still keen to support the troops.

The War still continues, would that it were not so. We have suffered several losses lately among the young men in the parish: William James Quinton, of the Gloucester Regiment; Albert James Geater, Royal Berks Regiment; Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons; Albert Corderoy, Hants Regiment, all killed in France; and William Aldridge, 1st class petty officer, RN, who went down in HMS mine-sweeper Begonia. We offer our sincerest sympathy to the relatives of these brave young men, whom we can ill afford to lose, and we thank God for the example which they have set us.

Harold Hughes, youngest son of Mrs Hughes, of 6, Berkeley Road, has lost a leg in France, and we trust that he will make a good recovery.
We are glad to see Dr Heywood back again in Newbury, after the valuable work which he has been doing at the seat of War.

The Soldiers’ Club at the old “King’s Arms” in the Market Place, has only been used lately very occasionally, because there have been no troops billeted in the town, but we hear that there is the likelihood of 1000 men of the Royal Flying Corps coming to Newbury, and if this does take place we hope to open the Club again, and shall be glad of offers of personal assistance and of subscriptions. The Club, when it was held in other premises, proved a great boon to the men, who thoroughly appreciated the kindness and attention of the ladies who managed it, and gave up so much of their time to it.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

A great success from the Patriotic as well as the Social point of view

A concert encouraged Clewer people to invest their savings in government funds aimed at helping with the war effort.

St Agnes’, Clewer

There is no doubt that we all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly at our War Savings Concert on October 30, and it was a great success from the Patriotic as well as the Social point of view. What with the varied selection of popular songs, the wonderful execution of a pianist, and the telling speech in which Mr. Weston advocated the advantages gained for our Country and for ourselves by joining the War Savings Association, it was an out and out star-performance.

No less than six new members were enrolled then and there, and others have joined up since. Payments (6d. and upwards) are made at the Mission Room any Monday between 4 and 5 o’clock. when the Hon. Secretary will gladly give information to all who will take this splendid opportunity of helping those at the Front, and at the same time, getting a good return for our money which we can always have out at any time if we should want it.

Clewer parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

Peace at any price?

The church of St John in Reading was willing to challenge its worshippers – and managed to cause a local controversy.

THE MEN’S SERVICE.

Our subject for last month, as announced on the posters, was ‘Peace at any Price,’ and it seems to have caused a certain amount of displeasure, especially to the soldiers in our neighbourhood. We would like therefore to explain that owing to a mistake a mark of interrogation was left out from the end of the title, which should have read, ‘Peace at any Price?’ The soldiers if they had turned up would not have heard a pacifist sermon, but alas they did not take the trouble to come, but contented themselves with illtreating one or two of our posters.

All the same we had a fine turn-up in spite of the absence of khaki, and the general feeling seemed to be in favour of the Vicar as he declared for ‘Peace at any Price,’ saying that no price is too great to pay, not for a mere armistice, but for real genuine and permanent peace, and the price that the nation has to pay just now is to go on fighting. And the spiritual application was listened to as intently as the remarks on the war.

Reading St. John parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

A new readiness to face a new world

The Bishop of Oxford observed the terrible toll the war was taking at home, but had hopes for a brighter future.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the October Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked…
For the work among the munition workers…
For peace in Ireland and the Irish Conference.
With regard to the European war, for victory and peace, and for the maintenance of the spirit of the nation.

We are settling down to our winter’s work with the horror of the war still upon us and no speedy prospect of relief. Besides the grave anxiety of the war, we have manifold discouragements which specially affect the country clergy. The population of the villages is, in most cases, even disastrously reduced; the number of children we have to deal with so much smaller; the young and middle-aged men almost all absent at the war. Then prices are very high and means slender. In vicarage after vicarage, all the household and garden work falls upon the Vicar and his family, and perhaps they are not used to it….

But behind all these causes of anxiety and depression, we should be able to discern a purpose of God… The great ideas of human fellowship and mutual service are taking firmer root – fellowship and mutual service among nations and classes and individuals. The minds of men are moving with unusual rapidity. There is quite a new readiness to face a new world. It ought to stir us to a profound thankfulness to believe that we can help in the reconstruction of our country and the world; all the more that what is wanted in nothing else whatever but the bringing out into prominence and effect of the root ideas of Christianity about human life….

And surely nowhere is the necessity for social reconstruction and re-equipment more manifold than in the villages. I do not think it is too much to say that in the replenishing of the villages, and the lifting of the life there on to the new level of spiritual and social equality of consideration, independence and brotherhood, lies the only hope for the country…

Depend upon it we shall be really wanted in the exciting days that are coming…

C. OXON.

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

“The War is a terrible thing, but it has brought out many splendid qualities in those serving their King and Country”

The parish of Newbury was proud of its young men.

THE WAR

We are very sorry to hear that two of our young men are reported missing – Ernest Edward Cooper, of 17, Waterloo Place, and Albert James Geater, of 2, Wellington Terrace. We trust that their friends may yet hear better news about them. Also Walter John Pocock, of Waterloo Place, is said to be suffering badly from shell shock in hospital in France.

Sergeant E Sivier, formerly of Newbury, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the field, and Harry, son of Mr and Mrs Bright, of West Mills, has received a like honour. These things make us very proud of our young men, and should lead us to be all the more earnest in our prayers for them. The War is a terrible thing, but it has brought out many splendid qualities in those serving their King and Country, and our Nation will be all the richer for these things in the years to come.

The Rector has been hoping to obtain another colleague in the person of Mr C T Lord, son of the Vicar of Chaddleworth, who was to have been ordained by the Bishop of Oxford this September: but those hopes have now been disappointed, as Mr Lord has been claimed by the Military, and so will not be ordained at present.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

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)

Dandelions and devastation

Members of the Broad Street Brotherhood, the men’s group at Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading were supporting the war effort in whatever ways they could; and also helping civilians in the devastated occupied regions. Regional rivalry came into play, with the men not wanting to show up poorly in comparison with Basingstoke.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Some of our members have intimated a desire to start a War Savings Association in connection with our Brotherhood, similar to what is being done at other Brotherhoods and churches up and down the country.

The matter has been carefully considered by a small sub-committee, and it is felt that it is hardly necessary to open a fresh savings department, but any member can purchase these War Savings Certificates through our already existing Savings Bank.

We most strongly recommend these war savings certificates to the earnest attention of every member as not only are they financially sound, but each one purchased is directly helping our country to victory.

Brother Hendey will be pleased to give particulars and carry through any transaction.

We take this opportunity of thanking many of our brothers who have during the past months loyally and painstakingly worked to keep the allotments in order for the brothers who are at the Front.

This has been a fine example of practical brotherhood work.

It is our sad duty to have to record the death of our Brother Frank Ward, who made the supreme sacrifice for us in France just recently.

He is the fourth member of our Brotherhood who has given his life for his country.

BROTHERHOOD CONTINENTAL RELIEF

Our constituency will no doubt be interested in the movement in Reading in aid of sufferers by the war in France and Belgium, which has been initiated by the Broad Street Brotherhood.

Their object is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns, and in the colonies (and in continuation of efforts previously made) to express the Christian sympathy which exists towards those victims who, although innocent, have suffered acutely through the war. The National Brotherhood Council are aiming at a contemplated relief fund of £20, 000, a very large part of which has already been subscribed. The Brotherhoods of Canada have sent large sums, as well as London and the great centres of industrial life in England. It is believed that Reading will not want to take second position to Basingstoke, where the generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, books, etc, has been made. It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind.

In several of the large townships of Northern France and Belgium the civil population is in rags. For instance Lille (the Manchester of France), having been in the occupation of Germany for 2 ½ years, has had no chance whatever of providing her people with clothing, even if they had the means to purchase. Clothing, boots (cast off or new), seeds, blankets, or anything of portable, useful and lasting character will be acceptable, and later on fruit trees.

A witness on the spot (Near the Somme) says “the fruit trees, large and small, are ruined; but little remains of pleasing appearance except dandelions, and they cover desolation almost everywhere.” A large town (about the size of Reading) had not a roof left whole upon any one building. In a report given to headquarters he said there was no accommodation for men whatsoever (not even for a pig) except in the cellars of ruined houses, such as he then lived (slept) in personally.

The country people, who crowded into the towns, had to hurriedly vacate their homes which were in the path of the then advancing enemy, and could only carry what they stood upright in. They have had no chance, many of them, since to return; and if they had done so they would have found (as some did) that not a tree in the garden, not a vestige of furniture or other property, and a ruin of the actual building. The writer of the foregoing testimony says that for 9 weeks he never saw a civilian (man, woman or child) although frequently on the move, and for long distances.

Wood houses are being prepared in sections in this country for the purpose of being despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens, and facilities for this purpose have been promised by the governments of Great Britain and France as soon as possible. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men, within a day, upon arrival at its destination, and its total cost would be about £40. Who will buy one for “La belle France”?

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to The National Brotherhood Offices, 37 Norfolk Street, London WC2, when they should ask for a pamphlet entitled “The story of Lille and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement”. This pamphlet describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 AD and the practical relief already given. Locally, every church, adult school and Christian Society in Reading will be asked later on to join hands with the relief committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, whose secretary, Mr WA Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, Reading, is associated with Bros Mitchell, Hendey and Harper in this great work.

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

“We are proud of the patriotism he has shown”

A middle aged dad from Winkfield whose son had been killed decided to join up himself.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

Pte. Fred Blay, who only recently went out to France, has, we regret to learn, been badly gassed and complications of bronchitis and inflammation have ensued. He is now in Hospital in England and going on as well as can be expected.

Pte. E.C. Nichols has lately joined the M.T.A.S.C. As his age is 46 he is the veteran of our parish. We are proud of the patriotism he has shown and sympathise deeply with him and his family in the recent loss of the eldest son George.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)

One more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better

A reluctant but determined soldier, son of a Congregational minister, paid the ultimate price.

After many months of anxious waiting, definite news has come of the death in action, on November 13th, 1916, at Beaumont Hamel, of Mr. Philip G Steer, and so one more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better. Phil Steer was a son of a manse, and all who knew him looked forward to a great future for him. Combined with a charming manner, he had great qualities of mind. After leaving school he took his B.A. degree, and before he was 21 he was already in the responsible position of assistant master in a public school. The writer well remembers his 21st birthday, for it occurred during our second Trinity Young Peoples Camp in the Isle of Wight, and it was during that delightful fortnight’s companionship that some of us learned the qualities of our friend.

He joined up immediately war broke out, and went through hard fighting in France. When he was promoted on the field for gallantry. He was badly wounded, but recovered quickly and was soon back in France again. Now he has gone, and to those of us who still hoped against hope that he might be a prisoner, the news of his death has come as a great sorrow, and our special sympathy and affection go out to his family in the terrible loss which has come to them. So the great War takes its heavy toll of our best, and we owe it to them who have willingly laid down their lives for a great cause that we carry on their fight till our enemies confess that might is not right, and a true and lasting peace can be achieved.

Trinity Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“Everything getting most scandalously dear”

William Hallam was shocked by the latest price rises, but was still patriotically investing in war savings certificates.

15th September 1917

Fine to-day again. Worked till 5. To-night after tea and I had washed, shaved and changed I went down to the Frome Hotel and got 2 pints of ale 1/= then along Bath Rd, bought a W.S.C. 15/6, then walked along looking in the shop windows. B[ough]t an oz of Red Bell tobaccos 6d. and a box of matches 1½d. Everything getting most scandalously dear. Coming back I went into Bath Rd reading room till ½ past 8. Very dark coming home. To bed at 10.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)