Happy evenings

Soldiers training at home were grateful for the hospitality shown by Reading people.

Our Soldiers’ Club

This is now well established and a steady increase in the attendance testifies to the appreciation of the comforts provided. Though only open a fortnight, the following letter is the grateful testimony of one who came every night and looked on the Club as “home”:- Reading 20/10/17.

Dear Mr. Stevens, –

You no doubt will be surprised to learn that I am leaving Reading this afternoon for Tidworth. It came very unexpectedly. I cannot let this occasion pass without tendering very heartfelt thanks for the way that I have received and the kindness shown to me by various gentlemen of the soldiers’ club. In fact, I will always look back upon the happy evenings which I spent there with very pleasant memories. I cannot tell you how I feel in leaving Reading, but will always maintain that the Trinity Congregational Church Soldiers Club is worthy of the highest credit which it thoroughly deserves, and I sincerely hope and trust that the good work will continue and that Miss Austin will sell the refreshments better than ever.

Again thanking you one and all,

Believe me, I remain,

Yours Sincerely,

John J. Kingdom.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

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Appliances for the wounded

People in Burghfield raised money to help the wounded.

Holiday House
A Concert was given on October 19th, in aid of appliances for the wounded.

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

Glove making for Mine Sweepers

A teacher faced the loss of her brother, while a Sonning school got its boys to do leatherwork for the Navy.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School
19th October 1917

Miss Kemp excused to-day, her brother killed at front.

Sonning Boys school
19th October 1917
Started glove making for Mine Sweepers in Upper Group. This work will be taken instead of gardening during the winter months.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School log book (90/SCH/5/3, p.38); Sonning Boys school log book (89/SCH/1/2, p. 53)

Flags and horse chestnuts

The patriotic children of Lower Sandhurst were still keen to contribute to the war effort.

October 18th 1917

‘Our Day.’

The children made Red Cross flags for sale for the fund.

Our collection box was opened and was found to contain £1 – 14 – 0 which sum was forwarded to the Secretary of the local Red Cross Committee.

One cwt. of horse-chestnuts was forwarded for the manufacture of munitions.

Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 414)

A collection for the Red Cross

Aldermaston children donated to the Red Cross.

17th October 1917
A collection was made in School on behalf of the Red Cross Fund and the sum of 9 shillings was obtained.

Aldermaston School log book (88/SCH/3/3, p. 75)

“Days & nights in water and mud is very trying”

An army chaplain reported on his experiences with men just back from the front lines for a short break.

19 October 1917

Mother received a letter from the Sub-Warden on the 17th inst. from which the following are extracts:

“We have just emerged from a very uncomfortable and strenuous time, & are resting in a little French village. The men are splendid, but it was heart-breaking to see them all getting out of the train which brought them straight from the front…

With considerable difficulty we managed to have thin blankets for them all to get into and fall asleep. Already food and rest have changed them wonderfully, & their poor feet are better. Days & nights in water and mud is very trying.

I shall never forget a Mass in a crowded dugout the day before they went in. Halfway through the service, 2 officers managed to slip into the doorway; there was no other spot. I remember them so well crouching in a very uncomfortable position, and shutting out all of what little light could get in. Only the 2 candles on the altar. They made their Communion. It was their Viaticum. GOD rest their souls!”

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Raid area children

More refugees had fled air raids in London for the safer environs of Maidenhead, while the little ones in Burghfield were helping pick blackberries for soldiers.

King Street School, Maidenhead
15th October 1917

Eight new scholars admitted – all of which were raid area children.

Mrs Bland’s Infants School, Burghfield
October 15th 1917

Holiday given this afternoon in order that children might pick blackberries for the troops. No. of lbs picked 68 ¾.

Log book of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1); and Mrs Bland’s Infants School, Burghfield (86/SCH/1/1)

A concert for our soldiers and sailors who have been blinded in the war

A concert was held in Maidenhead to help support men who had lost their sight in the fighting.

ST DUNSTAN’S HOSTEL FOR THE BLIND

This institution, that does so much for our soldiers and sailors who have been blinded in the war, is to be supported by a Concert on Monday, October 15th. There are to be performances at 3 pm and 8 pm, and the musicians themselves are blind. Tickets can be obtained from Mr Marsh, High Street, and also from Miss Mary Gore, Oldfield House, Maidenhead, who is organising the entertainment. Prices range from 4/- to 1/-.

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

Wounded soldiers get a space for reading, writing and social intercourse

Broad Street Congregational Church’s latest effort was to offer organised entertainment to wounded soldiers who had been aimlessly wandering the streets.

HOSPITALITY TO SOLDIERS

On Monday October 15th, a new movement was inaugurated in our Schoolroom. For some time previously various members of the congregation has been impressed with the idea that something should be done for the Wounded Soldiers who gather each afternoon in Broad Street, and who appeared to need a place where they could rest (particularly in wet weather), play games, and be able to obtain light refreshments. It was felt that there was need of something of the same sort being done for other men and women in khaki in the town in the evening. These matters were considered by the Church members, and ultimately it was decided that an attempt should be made to meet the needs referred to, and a Committee immediately got to work, with the result that the Schoolroom and two adjoining rooms were ready for occupation by the soldiers on the 15th.

Subsequent events have proved that the needs were even greater than we thought. From the very first the undertaking has been a success. The various Military Hospitals and billeting places had been informed, by printed handbill, of our arrangements, and this was all that was necessary. Almost as soon as the doors were opened, our wounded friends began to arrive, and every afternoon since they have been coming to Broad Street in large numbers. Each evening, too, there is a good attendance of men and women in khaki. Our visitors are allowed to amuse themselves in the way they deem best. Some make good use of the writing room, in which writing-paper and envelopes are provided without cost; whilst others join in one or other of the various games. Magazines and papers are supplied for those who care to read them; and the piano is in almost constant use by those who enliven the whole proceedings. The original intention was to try the experiment for a month, but the success was such that it has now been decided to continue indefinitely. It has also been decided to meet a further need by opening the rooms for reading, writing and social intercourse each Sunday afternoon from 4 to 6.15 pm.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Last year’s addresses are not sufficient

The parish of Burghfield was anxious that no soldier’s Christmas gift should be sent to the wrong place.

IMPORTANT
Christmas Parcels for Sailors and Soldiers

Relatives of men on active service are requested, if they wish parcels to be sent out as last year, to send to Mr Willink in good time the “numbers”, ranks and exact names of ship or unit, also the correct address. There are constant changes; and last year’s addresses are not sufficient.

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

Khaki Socials have proved a great boon to very many

Soldiers and airmen were entertained weekly on Sunday evenings at Broad Street Church in Reading.

Now that the darker evenings are upon us, arrangements have been made to resume the “Khaki Socials”, which have been held every Sunday evening in the winter months since shortly after the war began. These Socials have proved a great boon to very many. Sunday, October 14th, is the day fixed for re-opening, and we shall hope to see then many of our old friends, and many new ones also.

The running of these Socials – seeing that light refreshments are provided free of cost – involves us in expense. But of this we shall have more to say in our next month’s issue.

The many friends of Lieut. Oswald Francis (son of our friends, Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis) will be glad to hear that he has been awarded the Military Cross “for exceptional valour and devotion to duty through the battles east of Ypres” in August. We heartily congratulate both Lieut. Francis and his parents on the honour which he has won, and we earnestly hope he may live for many years to enjoy it.

The aforementioned article appeared in the October church magazine. There was a follow up report in December:

KHAKI SOCIALS

The Khaki Socials which have proved such an interesting part of our winter programme since the war began, were resumed after the evening service on Sunday, October 14th. There was a very good attendance for the opening meeting, and the number has increased with each succeeding Sunday. There is no doubt about the popularity of these Socials, nor can there be any doubt of their usefulness. Quite apart from the number attending – which in itself is no mean testimony – we have the frequent expressions of gratitude from those who deeply appreciate what is being done. There is nothing stiff or formal about these gatherings, but a delightful homelike feeling which greatly appeals to our friends in khaki.

Music – vocal and instrumental – and recitations form the chief items in the weekly programme, and these are interspersed with hymns in which all present heartily join.

Members of the Royal Flying Corps have to leave us at 10 o’clock, but most of our other khaki friends remain for the family worship with which we close the proceedings at 9.30 pm.

We are sorry that owing to our limited accommodation we cannot invite more of our Broad Street friends to join us for these gatherings, but we can assure them that, in their name, a very helpful bit of work is being done by the ladies and gentlemen who gladly give their services week by week.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October and December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Speakers home from the Front will explain the work of the Y.M.C.A. abroad

The work of the YMCA with soldiers was publicised in Maidenhead.

Y.M.C.A. Meeting

I have been asked to announce that the Y.M.C.A. will hold a Public Meeting in the Town Hall on Friday, Oct. 12th, at 7.30 p.m. There will be speakers home from the Front who will explain the work of the Y.M.C.A. abroad. No doubt many of us are still more interested in the work of the Church Army. But the field is so large and the needs of our men so urgent that there is plenty of room for the excellent work done by both Societies. I hope therefore that many may be able to attend.

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

A great blessing to the hospitals

The work of women and children in Cookham Dean was gratefully received.

Cookham Dean War Working Party.

The Vicar has been asked to make the following known, through the Magazine:

From June 6th to Ocober 25th the undermentioned work has been sent out:

(A) To the Surgical Emergency Dressing Society at Maidenhead, 571 ‘T’ bandages, 14 flannel bed jackets, four nightingales, eight flannel shirts, 10 pairs of socks, 13 mufflers, 14 pairs of mittens, four helmets, 244 capelines;

(B) To Lady Smith-Dorrien, 68 hospital bags. The total number of articles being 950.

Mrs. Hunt and Miss Hawkes desire to thank all workers who have so kindly contributed to the result; those who have attended the working party; those who have done work in their own home; and last, but not least, the children in the mixed school who have given up their playtime, and who have helped on the work so willingly…

The following letter has been received from Miss R. Bulkeley:

Redcroft, Maidenhead, October 11th, 1917.

Dear Mrs Hunt, Miss Hawkes has sent me from your War Working Party such splendid hospital and other comforts, and I do not know how to thank you all enough. They are so beautifully made, and will be a great blessing to the Hospitals and Units to which they are sent.

In answer to their appeal yout ‘T’ bandages and capelines go regularly on the 6th of every month to No.2 New Zealand General Hospital, and they say they are just what they like.

Many, many thanks again for all your generous help.

Yours sincerely, Ruby Bulkeley.

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

War savings in Crowthorne

The drive to encourage People to invest their savings in government loans was successful in Crowthorne.

October 11th 1917
The total number of War Savings Certificates sold is now in excess of 150.

Crowthorne C.E. School log book (D/P102B/28/2, p. 16)

A refugee from the air raids

Yattendon children were sent out to pick horse chestnuts (for munitions) and blackberries (for jam to send to the troops).

Yattendon CE School
Octr 10th

Holiday given this afternoon to enable the children to gather horse chestnuts, which are asked for by the Ministry of Munitions.

Received circular re “Picking Blackberries” from Education Committee.

Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School
10th October 1917

Re-opened school after fair holiday, admitted one boy (from London – a refugee from the air raids).

Log books of Yattendon CE School (SCH37/8/3) and Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School (C/EL4/2)