Decided to send him back to America

Alfred Egbert Whisperry, formerly Wurzburg, was a journalist from the USA with German ancestry. He had been at Reading since 1915, when he was 24. He must have been relieved to be going home at last.

2 March 1918
Reading PI

Please inform Alfred Wurzburg & Whisperry that the Secretary of State has decided, after communication with the American Authorities, to revoke the Internment Order under which he is now detained, and to send him back to America.

Please therefore transfer this man to Brixton Prison in order that he may be handed over to the police when called for. The Governor there should note this instruction.

[Faded signature]
Noted at Reading Place of Internment. He will be transferred to Brixton Prison on Tuesday the 5th inst:

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)


Happier news all round

Florence Vansittart Neale anxiously awaited rationing at Bisham.

26 February 1918

Seems happier news all round….

Our meat & butter to begin March 18th.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Missing, believed killed

There was news of several Burghfield men.


R T Montagu (East Surrey) missing, believed killed
Harry Woolford (5th Royal Berks) missing
F J Painter (5th Royal Berks) prisoner
Cecil Gibbs (6th Ox. And Bucks) wounded
G Budd discharged (eyesight)

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

The pressure of work caused by a chaplain’s absence with the troops in France

The CSJB Sisters’ Lenten preparations were disrupted due to the army chaplaincy of one of the clergymen who normally served them.

15 February 1918
Notice was given that the Warden would not give the usual course of Lenten lectures this year owing to the pressure of work caused by the Sub-Warden’s absence with the troops in France.

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

“A horse flesh shop has opened here now but I notice a good many more people were outside than in”

Food shortages had led to an attempt to sell horsemeat to the British – who were not keen.

15th February 1918

Down to Ship to pay A.S.E. then got our meat – a piece of pork. 5lbs to last us all the week. A horse flesh shop has opened here now but I notice a good many more people were outside than in.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

A German recruit

Johanna Spencer’s German nephew had been called up, and would be fighting on the opposite side to her husband’s British brothers. He would be training at Kulmsee (now Chelmza), which was in Pomerania, a detached part of Prussia which was to be incorporated into Poland after the war.

11 February 1918

J. read to me letter from Agnes. Kurt has been examined. Will probably receive his officer’s training in the neighbourhood of Kulmsee.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

A generous response

A Carol Service was held after Evensong on January 30th and a collection made for the Blinded Soldiers and Sailors; it amounted to £2 7s. 6d.

The Services on the day of National Prayer and Thanksgiving were largely attended. The collections, as in former years, were for the Red Cross. £16 18s. 2d. was the generous response made.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, February 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10)

Ladies and younger lads keep the bells going, with energy & zeal

Bellringers reflect on the ways the war had changed their profession.

The annual meeting of this branch took place at Wokingham on Sat. Jan. 19th. A short service was held at All Saints’ Church at 4.30 pm with Intercessory Prayers…

The Rural Dean, Canon G F Coleridge, gave an excellent address, & practical, on the words – “Every man according to his ability” (Acts XI.29). He said he had chosen those words, because they brought home what was being done throughout the country regarding the “War”, at that time, & they should appeal with great force & meaning to those present, as Church Bell Ringers. Many of these, amongst other church officers, had been called to active service abroad, some of them from that branch, of whom some had given their lives for their country, & many ladies & younger lads had taken their places, & kept the bells goings, with an energy & zeal which would always be remembered in the Ringing world!…

The National Anthem was heartily sung at the close…

Tow members had been killed in action during the year. – A Edwards & F Collins, while G Collins was still “missing”, as in last year.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
(for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) (D/EX2436/2)

No plum pudding

It was a festive Christmas at Bisham Abbey, although the family missed daughter Phyllis and son in law Leo “Boy” Paget, respectively nursing and fighting.

25 December 1917

Had soup, turkey and bread sauce!! No plum pudding, but omnibus with dates. Drank health absent ones, Phyllis & Boy, in champagne.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

We lost a little more ground

Whiskey was in short supply.

William Hallam
24th December 1917

This morning I cleaned all my brass ornaments and nic nacs. Chopped up firewood, got in coal. In afternoon went for a walk with wife. Got my friend [in] the regt. at Draycott to bring me in a bottle of whisky from their mess. It is impossible to get any spirits in the town. Sold out weeks ago.

Florence Vansittart Neale
24 December 1917

We lost a little more ground. See Willie Packer’s death confirmed.

Diaries of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“While interned here he expressed the strongest pro-German sentiments”

Louis Claas, aged 21 when interned in 1916, was a motor mechanic born in Birmingham of foreign extraction. He said he was a Wesleyan Methodist. He escaped from Reading on 3 November 1917 – but now he was back.

24 Dec 1917

Louis Claas
26.8.16 S of S Order, Defence of the Realm Regulation, Internment

The above named man who escaped from here last November and who while interned here expressed the strongest pro-German sentiments, called at the Prison yesterday wearing the uniform of a Private in the British Army and stated that he had been enlisted into the 30th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, stationed at Reading. He came nominally to enquire about some property – but probably in hopes of seeing other men.

He was not admitted to the Prison.

C M Morgan
[To] The Commissioner

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

A sailor visits Bisham

More acquaintances of the Vansittart Neales were serving.

23 December 1917

Oswald Powell & sailor son came to luncheon…

Innes! to France!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Were it not for the sake of those he has left behind, he would have wished for nothing better than to offer his life to others”

There was news of several men from Earley.

With the pleasure of meeting again some of our soldiers – in particular Sergt-Major Rider and Sergt. Woodin, both of whom are recovering from wounds, Albert Earley, R E Edwin Goddard (ASC) and Aubrey Grinsted – comes the news of the death of acting Sergt- Major William Love killed in action. It seems but a short time since his brother Leonard gave his life fighting in the East. William Love, one of our old guild boys, was with us some months ago when last on leave. He was a magnificent type of an English soldier, of great strength and height, and a gentleness and goodness of heart that attracted every one who knew him. He died instantaneously leading his men. His father and sister here know how much we mourn with them his loss.

We regret very much to have to record another loss. Frank Gosling, of the West Surreys, is report missing, but believed to be killed by shell-fire. Our memories of him take us back to early days, to acting and all the social amusements of St Pancras Guild during Mr Haines lifetime; and latterly, whenever there was any Christmas entertainment, and help wanted, it was to Frank Gosling that we turned. Always looking on the bright side of life, his extraordinary gift of cheerfulness and kindness made him greatly beloved of all who knew him. And were it not for the sake of those he has left behind, he would have wished for nothing better than to offer his life to others.

Besides those of our soldiers mentioned, we have had the pleasure of seeing Mr Lewis Hawkes, who after a year’s service on the Somme has been offered a commission; also our choirman Mr F C Goodson, and his son Mr George Goodson.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine December 1917 (D/P192/28A/14)

King George’s Sailors’ Fund gets a boost

Children and teachers at Sandhurst supported a new charity for merchant seamen affected by the war.

December 18th 1917

Sent £3. 16. 0 to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ for ‘King George’s Sailors’ Fund’. This amount has been contributed during the past few weeks by the teachers and children.

Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 419)

Our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground

Reading people were encouraged to place their savings in the hands of the war effort as another Christmas approached.

The Vicar’s Notes

We are still at War, and our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground; but this great Festival always brings a message of comfort and hope, never more so than at such a time as this: so I still venture to wish all the people of S. Mary’s Parish a happy Christmas.

The War Savings’ Campaign has begun again. I hope we will all back it up to the utmost of our power. Information can be obtained at the bureau, 6 Broad Street. A big meeting for stirring up interest will also be held at an early date. Meanwhile let those of us who have received the special letter from the Mayor and other leading townsmen, do what we can to follow out its suggestions.

Nothing can ever really repay the incalculable debt we owe to our Seamen especially at this time: so let us do our best to support the Flag Day of the Missions to Seamen, which is to be held on Dec 1st.


For the newly confirmed, who are making their first communion at Christmas.

For all our allies, especially the Italians and Russians.

For all our fighting men and more particularly for the sick, wounded and prisoners.

For the fallen, especially George and Hanbury Kekewich; also for Sir Stanley Maude, the victor of Bagdad [sic].


For success granted to our arms in France and in the Holy Land.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)