Help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

Maidenhead people were asked to support the troops in prayer and with their savings.

Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

… Our new War Shrine (temporary) is now erected in the Church. I hope many who pass by will enter to say a prayer from time to time in that quiet corner, for those in danger for our sakes, or to honour the memory of our gallant dead. If anyone would like to give a desk or rail to kneel against, they should communicate with Mr. Hazeldine, 5, College Rise, the hon. sec. of the C.E.M.S., the Society to whose generosity the Shrine is mainly due, or with myself as Vicar…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY


St Luke’s War Saving Association

Miss Garratt, hon. sec., attends at the National School, East Street, from 7 to 8 p.m. every Monday, to receive deposits of 6d. and upwards to buy War Saving Certificates. Come in numbers, and help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

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

A pill for the Kaiser

The pro-German King Constantine of Greece was forced to abdicate by the Allies and his own government, in favour of his younger son Prince Alexander (1893-1920), passing over the elder boy, Prince George. The king and his wife Sophia, sister of the Kaiser, went into exile. Florence Vansittart Neale rejoiced.

14 June 1917
Tino gone! & family & suite leaving P. Alex to take his place. Pill for the Kaiser.

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

A bathing grievance on the part of the Women Munition Workers

Public baths offered both a swimming pool and washing facilities – particularly useful for workers living in rented rooms with no bathrooms. In a more modest era, single sex facilities were normal.

Thursday, June 14th, 1917

Analysis of Flour

The Acting Inspector was requested to take action under the Order of the Food Controller and to obtain samples of the flour used by the bakers in the manufacture of Bread.

Baths – Hours for Women

The Mayor stated that there existed a grievance on the part of the Women Munition Workers in consequence of their inability to use the Public Baths on account of the hours on which the Baths were open to women. The present hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday 11 am to 1 pm.

The Committee decided that the Baths should be open to women in addition to the above, on Tuesdays and on Sundays from 9.30 am until 12.30 pm. The baths would therefore cease to be open to men on the two evenings of the week mentioned, and children would not be admitted on Sundays between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm.

Newbury Borough General, Sanitary, Baths and Cemetery Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/8)

A heavy death toll

Our diarists heard the distressing news of massive air raids in other parts of the country.

Florence Vansittart Neale
13 June 1917

To tea with Krohutres. Mrs Iscombe there – told us about London air raid…

Big air raid in East End, London. Heavy death toll – school & near Liverpool.

William Hallam
13th June 1917

Great excitement amongst the people to-night hearing of a great air raid on London.

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

Cancelling the Sunday School tea is helping their country to some small extent

Food shortages meant that the usual summer tea party for children attending the Sunday School at St John’s Church in east Reading had to be called off. Instead, the children were to be given a war savings certificate.

SUNDAY SCHOOL TREAT.

This has always been a very great event in the lives of our Sunday Schools, but this year it will be deprived of its most attractive feature, for in view of the very clear instructions of the Food Controller we cannot give the children a tea. The Sunday School Committee has gone carefully into the question of the form the Treat should take this year so as to give the children a good time and also to give them some compensation for the loss of their tea.

They have decided that the children shall march out to some field as in former years, and that they shall be refreshed with whatever fruit is in season and available, and also that there shall be given to each child a sixpenny War Savings Stamp. They feel that in this way the children will be given a real and lasting equivalent for their tea; those who already belong, as very many of them do, to a War Savings Association will be encouraged to continue, those who do not will be stimulated to join up.

At the same time contributors to the treat will feel that they are helping their country to some small extent, and the children to a very real extent, and will be relieved of the uncomfortable feeling that owing to the embargo on the tea, they are saving their own pockets at the expense of the children.

Reading St. John parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

The provisions of the Royal Warrant with regard to discharged disabled Soldiers and Sailors

The porter of Abingdon Workhouse, wounded on active service, returned to work – but stayed on the army’s books.

11th June 1917

A circular recently issued by the Local Government Board calling attention to the provisions of the Royal Warrant with regard to discharged disabled Soldiers and Sailors was read and it was resolved that the same be filed for future reference.

A letter was read from the Local Government Board stating that the Workhouse Porter, E. J. Bradley, had been transferred to Class W. of the Army Reserve to enable him to resume his duties under the Board and requesting in the event of Bradley ceasing to hold Office, the board might be immediately acquainted with the fact. Resolved that the request of the Board be complied with.

Minutes of Abingdon Board of Guardians (G/A1/32)

‘I shall probably have to do the common or garden “over the bags” stunt one merry morning’

Percy Spencer’s hopes of a commission seemed to have been dashed, but now at last he was going to get the opportunity – although he would have to undergo extra training, and would probably not get the administrative job he was most suited for.

June 11, 1917
My dear WF

You’ll think I’m a dreadful correspondent, but you’ll have guessed the reason of my silence – I’ve been terribly busy.

My commission papers went up with an application for a direct commission to be granted to me from the OC of the Battalion I was and am wanted for. (By the way this CO is now a Brigadier.)

Well, there is a rule that no direct commissions are to be granted. So altho’ my application was recommended by the Divisional Corps & Army Commanders & a special application was made to the war Office, the WO has refused to allow me to hold commissioned rank, unless I first come home for a cadet course. The reason given being that it has been found undesirable to grant direct commissions whatever the circumstances to men who have been mainly engaged upon clerical work. Isn’t it funny – and isn’t it a nasty sort of reflection upon “clerks”?

Just then was not an opportune moment for going into such matters. So it was put on one side until today.

Tonight my papers have gone up again for a cadet course in England; and if I dodge the shells & the submarines I ought to be in England within 3 weeks for a cadet course somewhere.

The crab of the business is that it will only be by the veriest luck that I shall get an administrative appointment at the end of it, and shall probably have to do the common or garden “over the bags” stunt one merry morning.

Anyhow, I feel I ought to hold commissioned rank, whether as a fighting or an administrative officer – and this stigma upon clerks must be removed, what!

If and when I come home I shall have some long stories to tell, some of which I’m sure John will wholly approve….

Yours ever
Percy

The asparagus was great. Never was it eaten with such relish or in such extraordinary circumstances.

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/38-40)

Do the German hear our starlight singing in their distant trenches?

There was much news of soldiers from Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to report that Reginald Hill is so far improving, that he has been able to sit up a little each day. Thomas S. Russell has been called up, and is in training with the Motor Transport Section of the A.S.C. G.C. Frampton after about two hours drill was considered advanced enough for foreign service, and left England for France on May 18th. He is gone into Military Canteen work.

An interesting letter has come to hand from Sidney Eastman, which may justly be described as lengthy, for it is written upon a piece of paper some seven or eight feet long, and covers both sides. It is mostly occupied with a description of his travels and of the sights he has seen, and we are glad to gather that he is in good health and spirits.

G.C. Frampton has been unpatriotic enough to take German measles, and is in Hospital at Etaples. We hope to learn very shortly that he is quite well again.

Alfred Vardy, after a severe bout of pneumonia, caught on his way to the Front in France, is now at a Convalescent Camp in Thetford, gaining strength before returning to duty.

Wilfrid Collins is in hospital at Reading, suffering from heart weakness following upon a severe attack of “Trench fever.”

Reginald Hill has been out of bed for an hour, and is going on satisfactorily, though slowly.

Cyril Hews had a somewhat narrow escape recently. He was out with his motor-bicycle upon a French road during a thunderstorm, when the lightning struck a tree by the road-side, and a large branch fell upon the handlebars of the machine, providentially leaving the rider untouched.

Alfred Lane, after more than a year’s training in the Home Counties’ Engineers at Maidenhead, has been sent over with a draft to France.

Harry Baldwin, having attained the age of 18, and being called up, has elected to enter the Navy, and will probably enter a Training School.

One of our young men, who took an active part in the Messines victory, writes:

“Rather a good sight yesterday. I attended with my men a very large open-air drum-head Church Parade Service, as a sort of Thanksgiving Service for our recent great victory. A large number of Welshmen were present, and it really was great to hear these fellows sing “Aberystwith” and “St. Mary,” accompanied by a band.”

The papers, by the way, have been recently telling us that in all the Welsh regiments there are “glee parties,” who sing under the stars, until the Germans must hear and perhaps wonder, in their more or less distant trenches.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, June 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Meat now easier to obtain


The food situation was becoming a little easier.


9 June 1917

The Sub-Warden received orders on the 5th June to report himself to Strensall Camp, York, on the 21st inst.

Instructions have been received with regard to mails to India, which are now to go fortnightly instead of weekly. The first mail under the new system will leave here June 13.

Notice was given that, owing to meat being now easier to obtain, the 2nd meatless day in the week would be given up.

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

Anterhinums instead of vegetables

The head gardener at Bisham Abbey made the mistake of thinking the flower garden should be defended against vegetables. Meanwhile General John Pershing (1860-1948) made a visit.

9 June 1917

Martin had planted anterhinums instead of vegetables! Has to take them up….

American General & staff arrived – General Pershing.

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

“Doing our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army”

The Church Lads’ Brigade offered training for teenage boys which in many cases led to heroic actions as adults at the Front.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE CADETS

We had a very good Field Day at Streatley on Whit-Monday. The Battalion turned up in good strength, and some useful skirmishing practice was got through on the Downs, an ideal spot for such work.
On Saturday, June 9th, the Annual Battalion Marching Competition was held. By kind permission of the Headmaster of Reading School, the various Companies assembled in the School Quad, and under the management of Sergeant-Major Green, were quickly got into due order for inspection. Colonel Melville, RAMC, very kindly came over from Aldershot to judge the competition, and expressed himself as quite astonished at the efficiency of the lads and highly delighted with the whole arrangements and the esprit de corps displayed by the teams. We congratulate our friends the Caversham Company on winning the Shield, our Earley lads were a very close third.

The arrangements for Whit-Monday and the Marching Competition were very ably carried out by the Acting Adjutant, Capt. H A Smith-Masters, who has just received his commission as a Chaplain in the Army. We congratulate him, and shall miss his help very much. He is the fourth Adjutant we have had since the war began, and all four are now serving in the Forces.

Our Captain, Corporal C J O’Leary, MTASC, received some rather severe scalds while rescuing a comrade from a motor which went wrong, and has been in hospital in France, but we are glad to say he is now much better again.

The following Army Order has filled us with pleasure and determination to try and do our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army:

“ARMY ORDER 128, 1917.

The Army Orders for April contain one of the most epoch-making which has ever been issued in respect of the CLB. It runs thus:

‘The recognised Cadet Battalions of the Church Lads’ Brigade are affiliated to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.’

We hope that every member of the CLB will appreciate the honour of belonging to the famous 60th, and that this will be one more incentive to obtain even a higher standard than the CLB has ever attained before.

The great fact is accomplished, and we hope by it the future of the CLB is assured, and that an adequate safeguard of all its religious training and ideal is achieved.”

Having passed the required examinations, the following lads have been promoted as stated: Corporals F Ansell and C Downham to be Sergeants; Private M Smith to be Lance-Corporal.

The body of one of our old members, Frank Snellgrove, who has been missing for months, has been discovered by a Chaplain in France, and reverently buried with full Christian rites. We offer our deepest sympathy to his people, who have thus lost their only son.

H. Wardley King [the curate]

Earley St Peter parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

Sick leave from France

A Maidenhead teacher’s husband came from from the front due to illness.

8th June 1917
Mrs Wells had leave of absence for two days, as her husband had sick leave from France. Secretary acquainted of this fact.


Log book of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1, p. 396)

Invalided solider sent to a Convalescent Home

Hospitals didn’t want wounded soldiers to block beds.

8th June 1917
Convalescent Patient.

The action of the Hon. Secretary in sending an invalided soldier not an inmate of the Hospital to a Convalescent Home at Folkestone was approved.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2, p. 338)

One of the sacrifices which the war calls upon us to make

Clergy who had volunteered to become chaplains to the armed forces left vacancies at home, which other clergymen were asked to fill.

As many of our readers know, the Rev. P.L. Tomkins is leaving the Parish at the beginning of June. When Mr. Tomkins volunteered for National Service he had in intention of severing his connection with Bracknell, but the work which the Bishop assigned to him is to help in a Parish in Newbury, where help is greatly needed, and where the Bishop wished him to stay for so long a period that there was no alternative but for Mr. Tomkins to give up his home here and move his possessions to Newbury. It is with very great that we shall part with so old a friend. He has worked here for nearly ten years, and he will be greatly missed. Our prayers and good wishes will follow him and Mrs. Tomkins in the new home to which they are going.

His departure will leave Bracknell less well provided with Clergy than it has been hitherto, but this is one of the sacrifices which the war calls upon us to make.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

A new opportunity for women

The Women’s Institute seems as though it has been part of English life since time immemorial, but in fact it first came to the country in 1915.

The Women’s Institute

In May of this year, Mrs Watt, who is well known for having started WI in many parts of England on the model of those which have been so successful in Canada, visited Burghfield for the second time and gave an address on “The Work of Women’s Institutes”. Inspired by what she said it was desired to form a branch. The first monthly meeting was held in the Jubilee Room on Thursday June 7th and nearly 40 members were enrolled.

The aims and objects of the Institute are as follow: a) Study home economies [sic], b) provide a centre for educational and social intercourse, and for all local activities, c) encourage home and local industries, d) develop co-operative enterprise, e) stimulate interest in the Agricultural Industry. Each monthly meeting has been well attended and interesting discussions have taken place, also songs and recitations have done much to enliven proceedings. It is hoped that the members will realise that the success of the Institute depends greatly on each member trying to take an active part by giving suggestions, entering into discussions at the various meetings, bearing in mind the words on the membership card, “to do all the good we can, in every way we can, to all the people we can, and above all to study household good in any work which makes the betterment of our home the advancement of our people and the good of our country.

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