The Austrian offensive seems to have vanished into mid air

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

Florence Vansittart Neale
22 June 1918

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

Joan Daniels
June 22nd Saturday

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

The Austrian offensive seems to have vanished into mid air.

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

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£10 war savings

Newbury children were rewarded with a day off for their contributing to the war savings programme.

21st June 1918

Half holiday to celebrate passing of £100 line by School War Savings Association.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School log book (90/SCH/5/3, p. 43)

A seat under the lime trees would be a convenience to the wounded soldiers

A Newbury doctor treating injured soldiers made a suggestion to the borough council.

Tuesday, June 18th, 1918

Seat for Wounded Soldiers

A letter from Dr Hickman suggesting that a seat placed under his lime trees in Bartholomew Street, would be a convenience to the Soldiers, was read. The Committee agree to the suggestion, and recommend that a form [bench] be lent for the purpose, on condition that Dr Hickman can arrange to have it taken in at night.

War Bonus to Hall-keeper

The Committee recommend that a War Bonus of 5s per week be paid to the Hall-keeper.

Newbury Borough Council Estates, Markets and Bye-laws Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days

Newbury’s clergymen were rejected for war work, while the parish magazine was at risk.

THE WAR

There are reported Missing – Alfred Dennis, William Smith, Mr Barlow, and Mr Marshall; Wounded – Ernest Giggs; Gassed – Jack Smart; Prisoners – Jack Cooke and William Selwyn. We offer our sympathy to the relatives and friends.

The clergy of the diocese have received a Form from the Bishop on which they could offer for War Service. The Rector stated on his Form that he would be prepared to go to a Church Army Hut for several months if the work of the Parish could be provided for; and he has received the following reply through the Bishop’s Secretary: “The Bishop says stay where you are”.

Mr Marle offered to go to a YMCA Hut for four months, but received the reply: “The Bishop certainly thinks that you should stay where you are”.

As with our food, our clothes, and our boots, so with our paper. We are continually being faced with a new situation. After urging our readers to continue to take in the Parish Magazine, we have received a communication from the publishers of the Dawn of Day [insert] that there is serious shortage of paper, or that there will be, asking us to cut down our number of copies. However, it appears that our circulation has been so far reduced that we shall not have to ask any of our subscribers not to subscribe; but whether we shall be able to make both ends meet at the end of the year is doubtful. Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, June 1918(D/P89/28A/13)

A new star

Always interested in the natural world, Sydney Spencer was excited by news of a newly discovered nova.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 15 June 1918

I was orderly officer today & got up at 5.45, & saw the men’s breakfasts. Came back to mess, washed & dressed. After breakfast I wrote to some Scotch firm about shortbread. Looked round billets, then gathered up officers’ advance pay books & orders for pay for Battalion. Dillon let me have his horse ‘Charlie Chaplin’ & I rode to Acheux & got the money. A glorious morning. Saw Barker’s batman & sent message to him. Got back at 12.30. Dished money out.

After lunch took drummers up to range & picked up clips & ‘empties’. After tea wrote letters. After dinner a staff parade. Capt. Weave is back with Battalion. Dillon taught me double patience & we played a game, up till 11 pm. I used my new field glasses to try & find the new star in Aquila but I couldn’t find it.

End of 10th week [at the front].

Florence Vansittart Neale
15 June 1918

Expected 2 officers but they did not come.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Not bad enough for an asylum but should go to some special hospital for shell shock patients”

A west Berkshire man was suffering from severe shell shock.

14 June 1918

G. J. Dubock

The Clerk, was instructed to reply to the Secretaries, Naval & Military War Pensions Committee, Reading, that this ex-soldier patient is not bad enough for an asylum but should go to some special hospital for shell shock patients and that the Board trust he may be removed soon and are indignant at the delay in the case.

Newbury Board of Guardians minutes (G/N1/39, p. 71)

The O.T.C. had never been so strong in numbers as it was now

Reading School boys did much to support the troops.

The O.T.C.

The O.T.C. had never been so strong in numbers as it was now. There were 158 in the corps, and there were 77 recruits. At the War Office inspection in June last the officer inspecting was greatly impressed with their “soldierly contingent,” and though great credit was due to the officers and instructor. The corps had suffered a loss by the retirement of its commander, Captain Crook. After a long period of service, and he was also sorry to say that Sergt- Major Green, D.C.M. had been obliged to give up the post of instructor owing to ill-health. It was agreed to give Sergt-Major Green some material recognition of his good services to Reading School, and a fund had been opened for that purpose. Mr Keeton referred to what the old boys had done during the War, as reported elsewhere.

Good work has been done in other directions, and the School workshops, under Mr. Spring, had turned out a great deal of material, such as crutches, splints, bedrests, &c., for the Reading War Hospitals. The boys had also helped in food production. Many had given up a portion of their time to gardening, and a squad of 50 boys did harvest work last year in the neighbourhood of Hastings. In the matter of war savings the School had subscribed £1,650.

Reading School Magazine, April 1919 (SCH3/14/34)

Intercessions list: Reading St Giles

Reading churchgoers were asked to pray for their men.


Intercessions List

Sick and wounded: Kenneth Baines, Private Edwin Ritchie.

Missing: Alfred Henry Douglas. Harold Willoughby, Privates George May, Harry Kirkby, and Pavey.

Prisoners: The Rev. H.A. Smith-Masters, C.F. Lieut Cuthbert J.W. Trendall, Private Ernest Rogers.

R.I.P.: Driver Walter Browning, Corporal Frederick Browning, Captain Noel Thornton, Privates Ware, Connell and Dowler, Lieut. Mervyn Trendell.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

Easter eggs for wounded soldiers

Hundreds of eggs were donated as a special Easter gift for wounded soldiers. (They were real eggs not chocolate ones!)

Crazies Hill Notes

Mrs. Woodward once again made a collection of Easter eggs for wounded soldiers and is to be congratulated upon the success of her efforts. In money no less than £4 1s. was offered for this worthy object and 109 eggs were given in addition. 331 eggs were purchased with the money so generously given and a total of 440 eggs were distributed as follows: –

Wargrave Hospital 140
No. 1 War Hospital at Reading 100
Henley Hospital 100
3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth 100

It is to the last named Hospital that the work done by the Crazies Hill Working Party is sent.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

French holding fairly, lost in some parts, but fighting very hard

It was the last day of Sydney Spencer’s gas training course.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 10 June 1918

Got up at 7.15. After breakfast, I wrote up some of my notes. Then to lecture given by chemical adviser Major Edwardes-Ker, on Responsibilities of Officers.

Then the usual last day of course lectures by students. Very droll, some of them, too. Major Knights was asked about Green X shells & spoke lengthily about what his CO had said concerning yellow X shells. Jones the Welsh man had a fit of spoonerisms, talking of ‘belastic lands’ for elastic bands! Poor Bin – he was dumb! Hardwick knew nothing but was so droll as to pass it all off. Graham was very good indeed. I had to speak on ‘Reliefs’ & gassed areas, etc. Major Ker promised to send my notes down to Broadbent in England. Wore SBB for an hour. After lunch a short lecture by Ash. Then break up of school.

After tea to Hesdin shopping & a bath at common dark place. Dinner, a short walk with Major Knights and then the completion of note writing up to 12.30 am. Wrote letter to Major Ker, reference notes & to bed & read Tartarin de Tarascon.

Florence Vansittart Neale
10 June 1918

Canadians left 9.45…

Disturbed siesta. Soldiers came early – nice set of men. Boats, bowls, croquet & tennis. Left 6.30.

French holding fairly. Lost in some parts, but fighting very hard.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Battalion HQ in very deep dugout

Sydney had a sightly better journey today, and paid more attention to the controversial Billing case at home.

Sydney Spencer
Thursday 6 June 1918

Rose at 5 am. Got breakfast, & into the train for Hesdin by 6.30. It is now 9.30 & we haven’t yet started. Another glorious morning, all sunshine.

Billing has been pronounced ‘not guilty’. Justice Darling makes use of the following expression, ‘I tell you now that I do not care a bit for you or anyone like you, or what you say about me’ seems ridiculously childish. A street boy would have pulled a face & said ‘yar ‘oo cares for you’ & would have called for more conviction with him!

Started for Hesdin (30 miles) at 9.30. Got there 11.30. Wonderful. Lorry jumped to Marronville, arriving at 12 noon. Graham & I billeted at the mead, a long low white cottage facing the church. Mess will be started tomorrow morning.

Had lunch at the Hotel de Commerce. Walked back to billets. Slept. Got some [illegible] out of the sergeant. Walked down with Graham & Barker to Hesdin. Had dinner at the Hotel de France. Back by 9.15 & to bed. Started reading Tartarin de Tarascon by Alphonse Daudet. A very droll book.

Percy Spencer
6 June 1918

17th relieved us and we went into support. Battalion HQ in very deep dugout.

Florence Vansittart Neale
6 June 1918

Early church – dog walk – then fussed to find rooms for farm workers till lunch. Heard another officer coming today & one tomorrow. Captain Petcher AFC Maidenhead called on Miss Areson.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Down here because the raids upset her so”

The Daniels family welcomed an additional guest fleeing from air raids in the East End – a young relative of their maid.

Florence Vansittart Neale
5 June 1918

Amusing lunch. Officers described German prisoners! They both left (Granville & Knapman).

Joan Daniels
June 5th Wednesday

Florence’s little sister came with her mending. Mummie has had her down here because the raids upset her so. They live in Plaistow & had bombs very near them last time. She is a most amusing kiddie…

Uncle Jack went to be medically examined & is passed Grade 3. That means if anyone goes it has to be Daddie, but it strengthens the latter’s position with regard to exemption.

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

Soldiers saved from paupers’ funerals

The Comrades of the Great War Society was established to help discharged soldiers and the families of those killed.

5 June 1918

Monthly Meeting

The meeting opened with an excellent address by Major Vaughan Williams on the objects of the “Comrades of the War” Association for the after-care & comfort of our fighting men. He showed how they look up all claims for pensions & give all legal advice required, & help in every way to assist widows & children.

They had already in Berkshire saved soldiers from paupers’ funerals. Major Vaughan Williams spoke most strongly on what we owe to the devotion of our soldiers.

Hurst WI minutes (D/EX1925/33/1/1)

“The line is a very different country now to what it was when I was here in September 1916”

Percy Spencer, as a single man, relied heavily on his sister Florence for the supply of toiletries and other things, and even asked her to do his mending. He was pleased to hear that former art student brother Stanley had been asked to join the War Artists scheme. As Percy proudly predicted, it was to be the first step in a starry career.

June 5, 1918

My dear WF

Thank you for the long letter, battery, key ring and tinder ‘lighter’, the lighter however does everything but light and the battery is the wrong shape. I think I said tubular. However I’m trying to get one here.

I got the last parcel – in fact all you have sent I think, dear. But letters do seem scarce when one’s only correspondents are a dear sister and one’s mother and father.

Can I give you another wants list –

6 eyelets for field boots
1 pair long laces (field boots)
2 pairs mohair laces (ankle boots)
Cake Wrights coal tar soap
Tube Kolynos tooth paste
Socks

3 or 4 pairs of socks I have, want mending. May I send them back to you on receipt of some from you?

I can’t remember whether I left any at my diggings. If you have none I’ll write to Mrs Curtis.

I’m having a lovely time camped in a wood by a stream. Worked pretty hard, as the orderly room has run downhill badly and I’m applying ginger.

We generally get a few hours bombing each night and occasional shelling and gas shelling, but nothing very near. Had a lucky escape further back a week or so ago. The Huns shelled our camp and dropped a shell close to the tent the doctor and I were in and between 2 bivouacs. Luckily we were all sleeping at the time and the force of the explosion and another from the shell went over us.

Last night I went for a walk up the line as I was feeling rather bilious. It was about 8 miles up from here. A very different country now to what it was when I was here in September 1916. It was a very quiet trip, no shelling or machine gunning. Arrived back at 2.30 am and feel all the better for my walk this morning.

Have you seen that Gen. K has got a CMG?

Your news about Stanley is the best that has reached me for many a day. Of course it’s a terrific compliment to his work and an appreciation which may be the making of his name.

I rather think that Sydney is north of me.

Yours ever
Percy


Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/41-44)

“Those who had brought many eggs gave to those who had none”

Everyone pitched in to provide eggs for a war hospital in Wargrave.

Egg Service

A very successful Egg Service was held at the Parish Church on Sunday, June 2nd. Those who had brought many eggs gave to those who had none, and each child gave an egg to the Vicar as they passed in procession to the chancel step. The Wargrave V.A.D. Hospital was thus provided with one hundred and eighty eggs.

Wargrave parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

Eggs from Newbury, meanwhile, were set to provide nourishment for seriously wounded soldiers in France.

An “Egg Service” was held at 3 pm on Trinity Sunday [2 June]: 140 eggs were presented, and the collection amounted to £1.13s.1d, this being considerably more than last year. A total of 280 eggs, or more, were thus provided for the wounded in France.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, July 1918(D/P89/28A/13)