There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front

Broad Street Church put on a concert in aid of men blinded at the front.

December

CHOIR CONCERT

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, our choir will hold its twenty-second annual concert. We have been fortunate, by the kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle, in securing the Large Town Hall. This year we propose to repeat the concert version of “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co), which was rendered two years ago. This is the sixth concert we have given for war charities, and this year the call for the co-operation of all our friends is more urgent than ever. We propose to devote the proceeds of the concert to St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, where there are many hundreds of our soldiers who have been blinded during the war. Surely this cause is one which will appeal to the heart of everybody. This will be the happiest Christmas that many of us have known for four years; can we not try to make it brighter for those brave fellows, who, away from their own homes, will miss the usual good cheer of Christmastide?


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On behalf of our Blinded Heroes

There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front, all of them young men who have been deprived of their sight at the very outset of life. We have at St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, many hundreds of thses Blinded Soldiers.

Christmastide will soon be with us. We want to make this Xmas as bright and happy as possible for these brave men. Away from home and relatives, they will sadly miss the usual cheer and comforts. Will you please help to give them something of Xmas gladness in return for what they have so nobly done for us all?

BLINDED FOR YOU, WILL YOU NOT CARE FOR THEM?

Broad Street Congregational Church Choir
22nd Annual Concert, 6th Concert for War Charities

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, 1918, in the Large Town Hall (by kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle)

The concert version of German’s Opera “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co) will be rendered by the Choir

Artistes

Mrs E. C. Dracup
Miss M. Phillips
Miss M. Tyrrell
Mr Muir Millar
Mr H. J. Collier
Full Band & Chorus
Leader: Miss Lily Davis, ATCL
Conductor: Mr F. W. Harvey

Tickets: West balcony, three front rows, 3/-; three back rows, 2/4; front area, 2/4. All numbered and reserved.
Unreserved: side balconies and area. 1/3; admission 8d.
May be obtained of Messrs Barnes & Avis, members of the Choir, at at the doors.
Doors open at 7 o’clock. Commence 7.30.

January

CHOIR CONCERT

The concert given by our Church Choir in the Town Hall on Wednesday, December 18th, in aid of our blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s, was an unqualified success in every way. As the Berkshire Chronicle said:

“It was gratifying to see such a large audience, not emrely on account of the excellence of the object, but as a recognition of the persevering efforts of the choir, which has done so much to brighten us all up during the depressing period of the war. The performance was also in every way worthy of the large gathering.”

Edward German’s “Tom Jones” was the work presented, and the various solos were most capably rendered by Mrs E. C. Dracup, Miss M. Phillips, Miss Muriel Tyrrell, Mr Muir Millar, and Mr Harry Collier. Valuable assistance was also given by Mr and Mrs G. F. Attwood, Mrs Newbery, Mr waite, and the very efficient orchestra led by Miss Lily Davies, ATCL.

“The choir work maintained a high standard, the chorus singing with fine intelligence and unfailing vivacity; the tone was good and nicely contrasted and the balance well preserved. The work of the orchestra did justice to the inherent beauties of the score.”

We all felt tremendously proud of our choir, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor (Mr F. W. Harvey) on the accomplishment of another triumph. When the accounts are made up there ought to be a considerable sum for the very worthy object for which the concert was promoted to help.

February

By their concert given in the Town Hall on December 18th, the Church Choir raised the sum of £52 for the blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s. This is a highly satisfactory result. Altogether, during the period of the war, the choir has raised in this way over £240 for War Charities. This is a record of which any choir might justly feel proud, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor, Mr F. W. Harvey, and all who were associated with it.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918 -February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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War savings to date

Dec: 17th

Total War Savings to date amount to £659.4.6.

Boyne Hill Girls’ CE School (C/EL121/3)

Four years and four months of desperate warfare manfully endured rewarded by a victorious Armistice

The vicar of a Maidenhead church was among those who had suffered from the international influenza epidemic.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

ALAS! for the first time I have to apologize for a late Magazine; but the “Flu” must be my all sufficient excuse. It is indeed, a time of difficulty just now, so many households have illness, and many have to mourn losses; to all these our hearts go out in sympathy. But overshadowing all this is the feeling of a load having been lifted from the mind and heart of the whole Nation on St. Martin’s Day (November 11th). Four years and four months of desperate warfare manfully endured rewarded by a victorious Armistice, to lead, as we all pray, next Spring to a just and abiding Peace. The Civic Service, acknowledging the Nation’s gratitude to Almighty God, held before the Town Hall, was well attended, and I am told by all who heard it how deeply they were stirred by Mr. King-Gill’s Adress. On the same night (Wednesday) full congregations returned our thanks as a Parish to God in St. Luke’s and St. Peter’s…

Then, I have been asked by the Mayoress and Mrs Gardner to remind parishioners of the Lord Roberts Memorial Workshops. These fit crippled sailors and soldiers for earning their living in an independent way. Envelopes will be delivered at all houses, and collected at Christmastide by Boy Scouts. We all hope they may be well filled.

Finally, as regards a Thankoffering by the parish. Many friends have asked me what we mean to do to mark our gratitude for Peace and Victory. I feel that it is almost too early to settle that yet, until Peace is actually signed, or nearer than it is, as yet. Next year, I hope to call a Parish gathering to discuss what form our memorial of the gallant dead, and of the self sacrifice of those who survive, should take. But this year some people feel they would like to give something at once. It has been suggested, and the Churchwardens and I have agreed, that the Christmas Collections should, after deducting £10 at St Luke’s for the Sunday School, and £2 10s at St Peter’s, be given towards the Endowment Fund we are trying to raise to help to maintain the Assistant Clergy…

Lastly, I would ask your prayers for those called on, as Electors, to choose Members of Parliament, and for the New Parliament itself, that all things may be ordered “to the glory of God, the good of the Church, the safety, honour, and welfare, of our Sovereign and his Dominions.”

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P181/28A/

A talky set of soldiers

Now the crisis was over, Florence Vansittart Neale welcomed soldiers back to Bisham Abbey.

16 December 1918

Heard good account of P[hyllis].

Soldiers came late but stayed till 7.30. Very talky set.

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

PEACE! What a blessed word!

The Broad Street Brotherhood rejoiced at the end of the war.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

PEACE! What a blessed word! How often we have sung “In God’s good time there will be peace”.

And now after four years of awful slaughter, turmoil and anxiety, there is at hand that righteous and lasting peace for which we have so fervently prayed.

It is a time for great joy. Praise and prayer. But let us remember with proud and loving thankfulness those who have won us this great blessing by the sacrifice of all they had. God give us a real peace, peace amongst the nations, and peace at home.

Our heartiest congratulations are extended to our secretary, Brother A S Hampton, on being presented with the coveted Red Triangle by Princess Marie Louise, for his untiring zeal in connection with the YMCA.

We are sorry to learn that our Brother C. Saxby, well-known to the choir members, is still a prisoner of war in Germany, but we are hoping by the time these notes are out, that he will have been released.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918

Some garments are still needed for our men at the front

9th – 13th December

Mistress could not undertake the usual quarterly examinations, as there has been so much sickness about and the attendances irregular owing to holidays for blackberrying in autumn, then illness with a month closure and lately heavy rains that it seemed more to the children’s advantage to teach those present, than to examine intelligent scholars. This week rain made sad havoc with the attendances, also many of the girls were taking part in various war concerts which necessitated their absence on afternoon, so that it seems almost impossible to make much progress…
The elder girls are busily engaged in their spare time producing some comforts for our men at the front. Some garments are still needed there.

Braywick CE School log book (C/EL65/4, p. 212)

No more fighting and killing, and our sailors and soldiers soon to come back

Families anticipated the return home of their loved ones.

CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

Donations received during the month: Mrs and Miss Heywood, 5/-; Mrs Baughan, 10/-. Articles made: 6 pyjama suits, 4 mufflers, 2 pairs of gloves, 2 pairs of cuffs, 10 face cloths, 20 treasure bags: total, 3.354 articles.

SCRIPTURE UNION

I should think that you all must nearly have forgotten where Princes Street Room is by this time, what with having the “flu”, being away from school, and hearing all about the end of the great war. Just think of it: no more fighting and killing, and our sailors and soldiers soon to come back. It won’t be very long now before you see your dad again, or your brother, or uncle, or whoever it may be. We always used to ask God in our meetings to stop the war and keep them safe – be sure and not forget to thank Him with all your heart, and don’t forget either to ask Him to comfort all those boys and girls who have not got any soldiers or sailors to come back because they have been killed….

HHN

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

A club for ex sailors and soldiers on similar lines to the Recreation Huts so popular overseas

Ascot wanted to continue supporting servicemen after their return home.

The concert arranged by the R.A.F. in the Cinema on December 11th, in aid of our Christmas Presents for Men in the Navy and those serving overseas, was a great success. The ladies of the “Some Concert Party,” gave an excellent Entertainment to a crowded audience, and the receipts, after deduction of entertainment tax and expenses amounted to £37. Donations to the Fund, chiefly forwarded by Miss Tydd, came to over £8, making a total of over £46.

Some time before the performance 135 parcel presents had been despatched by registered letter post at an average cost of 5/- each. It has been suggested that the balance remaining in the hands of the Committee might well be transferred to a new fund for providing a club for ex sailors and soldiers in the parish, run on similar lines to the Recreation Huts so popular overseas.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, January 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/1)

Vive l’Entente Cordiale!

A wealthy Frenchman living in Burghfield enmtertained wounded British soldiers on river trips. Georges Fiessinger – possibly the obscure artist of that name – married Gertrude Davidson in London in 1912. The couple later moved to Sussex.

More Water Trips for Wounded

A propos of the kind owners of the “Cecilia”, and their good work (see November magazine), it is pleasant to record the kindness shown last summer by our new neighbours at the Manor House, Mr and Mrs Fiessinger, to convalescent soldiers at Oxford. Having fitted out a good sized motor boat with cabins, etc, they took her up the Thames and made Oxford their headquarters, living on board her there for several months, during which time they took wounded soldiers from the War Hospitals daily for trips up and down the river. Mr Fiessinger is of a French family, and was rejected in France for military service, owing to a weak heart. This, however, as our readers will agree, has not affected its warmth, or his will to be of use, somehow, to his Allies, his wife’s native country. Vive l’Entente Cordiale!

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

“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 Xmas collection for the soldiers blinded in the war

With the war over, families which had fled London for fear of raids were hapy to return home.

10th December 1918

Most of the London children returned to town during the Xmas holidays…

The teachers and children again made a Xmas collection for the soldiers blinded in the war, & the sum of £5 was sent to St Dunstan’s.

Log book of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1, p. 431)

“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)

A wallet for the soldiers

The servicemen associated with Broad Street Church received a last Christmas gift.

Early in December a Christmas letter and a wallet were sent to each of the men connected with Church or Brotherhood who were serving with H M Forces. Many letters of grateful appreciation have already been received in reply. We should have liked to print some of them, but unfortunately we have not sufficient space.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, January 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

An Exhibition of Soldiers’ Work

Wounded soldiers engaged in handicrafts in order to help their comrades.

The Reading War Hospitals Care and Comforts Committee hope to hold an Exhibition of Soldiers’ Work, and a Sale, on 4th December, in the Corn Exchange, Reading, to raise money for the funds. They hope to have stalls for all kinds of articles old and new, useful and ornamental, gifts suitable for Christmas presents, provisions, etc, and would be particularly grateful for articles of value. Gifts may be sent to Care and Comforts, 62, Minster Street.

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

Soldiers from Cliveden as usual

Florence Vansittart Neale’s daughter was the latest flu victim.

2 December 1918

Had party of soldiers from Cliveden as usual….

Heard P. had flue – high temp. I telephoned – heard “easier”.

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