A torpedo as a war memorial

A torpedo might have been an interesting choice of war memorial, but it was not allowed.

Report of Highways Committee, 26 April 1919

WAR MEMORIALS

Cookham.

With reference to the application for consent to erect a war memorial at Cookham – referred to in the last report of the Committee – the County Surveyor has since inspected the proposed site, which is the centre of the triangular piece of waste land adjoining the main road from the Moors to Cookham village.

The Committee recommend that no objection be raised to the erection of the memorial on the site suggested.

Pangbourne.

An application has been received from Miss Waddington for permission to erect a War memorial at Pangbourne, in the middle of the Square.

As the erection thereof would cause danger to the traffic, the Committee recommend that such consent be not given.

An application has been received from the Pangbourne Parish Council for permission to place a torpedo (which has been presented to them) on the parapet of the bridge over the River Pang as a War Memorial.

The torpedo being approximately 22 ft in length, 18 in wide, and about 1 ton in weight, the Committee recommend that consent to its erection on the bridge be not given.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

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Hope springs eternal

This poem may have been inspired by having lived under the shadow of war for years.

“Hope Springs Eternal.”

YOUTH looks upon the world and sees it fair;
Exultant in his strength, he fears for nought;
The years behind seem as a mounted stair,
The years before are rosate in his thought.

He dreams of fame, success, the world’s applause,
Of love, maybe, and deeds of high romance,
Obedient ever to his nature’s laws
Bidding him hope, nor doubt of what may chance.

When age is drawing on, he muses o’er
The retrospect of shattered hopes, and sees
How barren proved his dream’s enchanted shore,
The strand whereto he voyaged through troubled seas;

Dark and uncertain looks the future: yet
He needs must hope until his sun be set.

T.G.W.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), April 1919 (N/D161/1/9)

“These men had fought for truth and justice, they had fought that England might live”

The little parish of Remenham wanted to provide medical care as the best form of war memorial.

April 1919

The new Parish Council will come into office on Tuesday, April 15, and they intend to hold a public meeting that evening in the Parish hall at 6.30 pm, when all householders are asked to attend, so that we may decide on the best War memorial for the Parish. So will every-one, please, make a note of Tuesday, April 15, at the Hall at 6.30 pm?

May 1919

We have had our public meeting about the Parish war memorial, and you will see by the report that feeling was practically unanimous that it will take the form of a “Remenham Bed” in the proposed Memorial Cottage Hospital in Henley. When information has been obtained as to te sum required by the Henley Committee to guarantee that a bed shall always be available, when required, for a patient from Remenham, an appeal will be issued for subscriptions.

REMENHAM WAR MEMORIAL

There was quite a large gathering of parishioners in the Parish hall on Tuesday evening, April 15, for the purpose of considering the question of a war memorial. Amongst those present were Viscount Hambleden, Mr Heatley Noble, Captain E H Noble, Rev. G H Williams, Mrs Ames, Miss Ames, Mrs Burnell, Mr E C Eveleigh, Mr C T Holloway, Mr H V Caldicott, Mrs Lovegrove, Mr R Ansell, Mr Frank Butler, Mr Tunbridge, Mr Drummond, Mr W Baker, Messrs F Fassnidge, W Ebsworth, J Dixon, W Sears, B Moring, C Langford, G Challis, J Challis, D Marcham, and many others.

At the commencement of the meeting Mr Holloway occupied the chair, and in the course of a few remarks expressed his pleasure at seeing such a large number present to consider the question of a war memorial to those brave fellows who fought, suffered, and laid down their lives for them and their country. He would like to propose that Mr Heatley Noble be the Chairman of the War Memorial, for they who had been associated with him well knew his business qualities – (applause).

Mr Tunbridge seconded and the proposition was agreed to with acclamation.

Mr Heatley Noble on taking the chair said he would rather that Viscount Hambleden accepted the position of chairman, but his lordship said he would prefer not to. Continuing, Mr Noble said whatever they did he trusted it would be unanimous. He was aware that there were differences of opinion, but he hoped the minority would give way to the majority – (applause).

The Rev, G H Williams, at the request of the Chairman, forst addressed the meeting. He said he would like those present to feel that what he was going to say was as an individual parishioner, and whatever the meeting decided on he should loyally fall in with. They were there to do their best in a moment of sacred and solemn responsibility. He had kept an open mind on the subject from start to finish, but after considering all the schemes he had heard propounded, he certainly leaned towards a bed to be called “The Remenham Bed” in the proposed Henley Memorial Cottage Hospital. A meeting was recently held in Henley at which he was present. It was a very representative gathering, the room being practically full, and the meeting unanimously decided upon a hospital as a suitable memorial. In fact, the proposal swept the board, no other proposition being made. He asked, if Remenham joined in the Henley Scheme, could a bed be provided to be named the “Remenham Bed”, and he received an unequivocal “Yes” from both the Mayor (who presided) and the Town Clerk. Therefore if they co-operated with Henley they would do so with a direct Remenham touch. That cleared the ground to some extent. The first question they had to consider was as to the need. So far as Henley was concerned it did not touch them. was there a need in Remenham? (Mrs Ames: Most strongly.) He agreed with Mrs Ames. Reading was most awkward to get to and it would be a great boon to have a hospital close at hand. There had been cases in the parish which had had to wait weeks before getting a bed in the Royal Berks Hospital, and if they had their own bed in Henley the difficulty would be overcome. He would like to say that the proposed hospital in Henley was to be an entirely new one, built on the most modern lines, and to contain as a start eight beds. Round the institution it was suggested should centre all the activities of the new health ministry. As regards the cost, it was intimated that from fifteen to twenty thousand pounds would be required. If he looked into the hearts of some of those present, he knew they would be saying that such a large sum could never be raised. He thought otherwise. There were many substantial people amongst the audience at the meeting he attended, and letters were read from others promising their support. They would find that the rich people would do their duty, and if the rich people in Henley did theirs, he was sure the parishes which were invited to co-operate would not be lacking in their financial assistance. What would be required from them he did not know. It might be £500 or £800, but it would be nice if they could reach £1,000. Some of them might ask why they should do Henley’s work for Henley, but there was another side, and that was, did they want Henley to do for Remenham what they should do for themselves. How did they meet these two questions. Would the idea of a “Remenham Bed” be a sufficiently personal memorial. He thought it would. They would have their inscription over the bed, and could they not add to it a small scroll containing the names of their fallen? That would supply the personal touch. As to the men who had died, they had the personal touch in the parish through the kind provision of the late Mr Wilson Noble, by whose will his executors were enjoined to expend a sum of money for a memorial to be placed in the Church, containing the names of their fallen heroes. In order that all might have an opportunity of participating in the cost of that tablet, it had been agreed that any subscription the relatives and friends liked to give would be handed to the executors. That further secured the personal touch. Then, wpuld the form of memorial he had suggested be worthy of the men whom they wanted to honour. As he had said at the outset, they were at a moment of solemn responsibility and wanted to do their best, and he thought such a memorial would be a worthy one. These men had fought for truth and justice, they had fought that England might live. What about the proposed “Remenham Bed”? Patients would receive attention at the hands of skilful doctors, have careful nursing, the latest appliances would be used, and they would receive good food at a critical time. It might be a child, or a mother, or probably one who had been a soldier or a sailor who was stricken down. No matter who it was, they would be well cared for. So he thought in caring for the sick and suffering, they would be carrying out the spirit of the men who fought for them; it might mean a life saved for England.

The Chairman said that personally he was in favour of what Mr Williams had said, but he would like to hear opinions expressed by others in the room.

Mr Ansell said he had not a scheme of his own as he favoured the hospital idea himself, but one or two who were unable to be present had expressed themselves to him. One favoured the placing of what was contributed to the parish towards putting discharged soldiers on the land. Another suggestion was that they should provide a cottage for a blinded soldier. He would like to ask whether if they endowed a bed they could have the immediate call of it in case of necessity. To name a bed did not necessarily mean that they could always have the call of it.

The Rector said that was a detail which would have to be considered later. The impression he gained at the meeting at Henley was that they would have first claim on the bed, and if there was room they could send more than one patient to the hospital.

Mr Ansell thought if there was going to be only eight beds, Henley could do with that number itself.

The Rector said the doctors at the meeting thought eight beds would suffice, but of course there might be occasions when there was a pressure, which would be provided for. If they went into double figures by way of beds the expense would be greatly increased.

The Chairman thought if they had a “Remenham Bed” it should be reserved for Remenham when required. He would like to say that the comrades of one man who died subscribed together and sent home about £18 to be used in memory of him, and hid friends favoured giving it to the Henley Hospital scheme if Remenham joined it. He had spoken to many of the labouring men and others and they all favoured the hospital scheme.

Mr Caldicott thought if they had a “Remenham Bed” in the Henley Hospital it would be lost sight of after a time. He favoured a memorial in their own parish, and begged to propose that a permanent memorial be erected in the churchyard containing the names of the fallen, and that if the subscriptions more than sufficed the balance be given to the Cottage Hospital at Henley.

This found no seconder, and it fell to the ground.

The Rector submitted the following resolution: “That a War memorial for Remenham should be the endowment of a bed, to be named the ‘Remenham Bed’, in the proposed Cottage Hospital in Henley-on-Thames.”

Viscount Hambleden said if that resolution was passed they ought to give the Committee instructions, before agreeing to join in the scheme, to ascertain if the bed would always be available for Remenham patients. He was afraid from his knowledge of things, there would be a little difficulty over the matter. It would prove unpopular to keep a bed vacant for one particular parish, and he was afraid the Henley people would say they could not give a guarantee. He would also like to know what sum was required for the endowment, and further it should be made clear whether any annual payment was expected from them for its upkeep.

The Rector said he would be happy to embody what his lordship had said in the resolution he had drafted.

Viscount Hambleden thought they might pass the resolution as it stood and pass on to the committee instructions to deal with what he had suggested, and if they failed to come to an agreement to call another general meeting. He would move the resolution.

The Rector seconded and it was carried almost unanimously.

The Committee was then elected and constituted as follows: Mr Heatley Noble (chairman), Mr Ansell (hon. sec.), Viscount Hambleden, Miss Ames, the Rev. G H Williams, Mr Eveleigh, Mr Holloway, Mr Tugwood, Mr Caldicott and Mr Stephens. The Chairman and the Rector were appointed to represent the parish on the Henley Committee.

On the initiative of Viscount Hambleden the Chairman was heartily thanked for presiding.

Remenham parish magazine, April-May 1919 (D/P99/28A/5)

The men of the Berkshire Regiments are welcomed home

It was an exciting day.

11th April 1919

There were a good few children absent on Tuesday because they had gone into the town to see the men of the Berkshire Regiments welcomed home.

Reading: Battle Infants School log book (SCH20/8/2, p. 332)

News from the hospital

12 January 1919

Newton telephoned. P[hyllis]s’s temperature had been up but better. She inoculated this morning so keeping her quiet, so I did not go down.

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

The military authorities help with burials

There are a number of war graves in Reading Cemetery (at Cemetery Junction). In 1918 it was still privately run, and war conditions caused difficulties.

10th January 1919

The Cemetery Sub-committee beg to report they have made their usual inspections of the Cemetery during the last six months. They have found the grounds kept in fair condition.

Owing to the exceptionally large number of interments the available staff has not been able to cope with the work, so recourse has been made to other bodies, viz the Military Authorities and the Borough Surveyor, for assistance, which has been given.

The work of the Superintendent & Clerk has been exceptionally busy during this time and we recommend they be paid £10 & £25 respectively in addition to their Salaries.

Resolved that the report be accepted.

Reading Cemetery Company minutes (R/UC1/8/4)

Much excited

The long awaited Lawson Tait bed had arrived.

6 January 1919

We heard bed arrived at Mortimer St. Fetched Henry from Paddington, then bed, & took it to Hospital. P[hyllis] much excited.

H & I to lunch at Club – got back about ¼ to 4. P. very tired so left early. She to be put on bed after her washing. Brought her more Muscat grapes.

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

Blowing bubbles

The Vansittart Neales hovered over Phllis in London.

4 January 1919

H ∓ I off early to hospital as he off to Bisham 11.20 to meet Mr Lawrence about sale next Wednesday. I sat with P till lunch. The wound hurting. Dr to dress it. Lunch at lawn & back there till 5 when Shaw came for me…

Phyllis to have vaccine inoculation & to blow bubbles.

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

The prevalence of influenza

23/11/1918
The school will close this afternoon until Nov 5th owing to the prevalence of influenza among the teachers and scholars in the town.

Log book of Coley Street Primary School Reading (89/SCH/48/4)

Flu at Oxford

The epidemic had now struck the University of Oxford.

20 October 1918
Heard Jack Farrer ill with “flu” at Oxford.

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

How sad it is to lose one’s friends in this terrible war

Sydney’s university landlady sheds new light on him as a soucrce of comedy.

12 Southmoor Road
Oxford

Oct. 4th / 18

Dear Mrs Image

Your sad news came as a great shock to myself & Mother, we do indeed feel Mr Spencer’s loss very deeply, he was a true friend & we always enjoyed his company. He did one good with his bright ways. We never enjoyed a good laugh so much as when he was here. How sad it is to lose one’s friends in this terrible war. Please accept our deepest sympathy, for you have lost a dear brother, & I feel so for his mother, how terribly grieved she will be.

It was good of you to write to tell me. As regards his wish which I appreciate very greatly, will you kindly choose something for me, what you think he would like me to have.

Yours very sincerely
Mary Hobbs

Letter of sympathy from Sydney Spencer’s former landlady (D/EX801/81)

Churches are to be rationed

Churches feared a chilly winter to come.

THE COAL SHORTAGE.

The shortage of coal may possibly be a serious matter for places of worship this winter. We are distinctly told that Churches are to be rationed, though the method has not yet been made public. Several months ago the deacons appointed a sub-committee to consider the question of our fuel supply and economy, and certain alterations in the method of heating our premises are recommended. When our Church was first erected no provision for heating was made; apparently in those days all places of worship were left at the mercy of the seasons, our fathers being content, it would seem, with an extra coat! But in these days a cold Church would be left empty. Hugh Bourne, one of the Primitive Methodist founders, on a freezing morning when then the chapel stove refused to draw, observed, “I never knew a sinner yet who was converted with cold feet.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Trinity roll of honour

Trinity Roll of Honour
Robert Howard Freeman, Signal section, R.N.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

Hot and fly-plagued

A Berkshire army chaplain had news of the war in Italy.

The Italian Front

Mr. Bowdon arrived on the 29th, very well, and very full of Italian news. He has recently been in charge of a British hospital at Taranto in the extreme south, hot and fly-plagued; but hopes to return to the front on the Piave.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

“If they dress my hand in the morning you mustn’t expect me to be very lively”

Percy was still suffering in hospital.

Bed 8, Florence Ward
St Thomas Hosp[ital]
London SW

Aug 16, 1918

My dear WF

Had a pretty bad night and a frightful head this morning. However a couple of [illegible] and a morning’s sleep put me all right again. My hand was dressed partially without pain today. To make up for it they “re-adjusted the extensions”. However, I feel much comfortabler.

Aunt Margaret is writing to you about Tuesday. The surgeon has chosen that day to reset my wrist. But I believe Aunt Margaret has squeezed Sister for you to come & see me in the morning. But if they dress my hand in the morning you mustn’t expect me to be very lively, dear.

So Bates & Sgt Newton have written you. The former is a most excellent & interesting fellow, very much under the spell of the East. Newton was the fellow I was training as orderly room sergeant – has done some gallant things and got the Military Medal.

I’ll write later on to Gen. Kennedy, dear.

With my dear love to you both

Yrs ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/7/73-74)