Coffee with a man back from France, war worn

Sydney Spencer resumed his diary on finally being sent to the Front, after three years of training.

Sunday 7 April 1918

8.15 pm
I left home at 7.50 for la belle France. Although I deplore the fact that I temporarily lost all my cash, my warrant, my food card etc, it took away the sting from the leavetaking. Thank goodness I found the whole pocket book in my cardigan. I leave Victoria tomorrow morning at 7.35, & report Folkestone at 10 am.

Arrived London 9 pm. Went to Grosvenor Hotel & had a very good night’s sleep despite the fact that I was unable to get any dinner or food of any sort. Thank goodness I had a few biscuits which Florence (bless her) had put in my pocket. I did manage to get a cup of coffee & drank it conversing with a man back from France, war worn.


Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

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“The teachers might be trusted to give all necessary instruction”

On 4 January the Newbury Borough Education Committee had agreed to let the government’s new propaganda body talk to Newbury schoolchildren. But it proved to be controversial.

January 29 1918

Food Control Meat Ration

The Mayor mentioned the work of the Local Food Control Committee and the necessity which had arisen for restricting the supply of meat to 1 lb per head per week for all persons over 9 years of age, and ½ lb for those under that age, to be supplied on the production of the sugar tickets.

Education Committee

Alderman Rankin moved the adoption of the report of the 4th January, but expressed his disagreement with the clause in the report with reference to the sending by the South Berks Committee of the National War Aims Committee of a speaker to address the children of the Newbury Elementary Schools on the subject of National War Aims, seconded by Councillor Parfitt.

Alderman Rankin withdrew his motion for the adoption of the report, which was then moved by Councillor Stradling. Seconded by Councillor Parfitt.

Alderman Rankin then moved as an amendment,

“That the paragraph in the Education Committee’s report re War Aims Committee’s request be altered to read as follows: That when the proposed leaflet has been approved by the Education Committee, the Education Committee empowers them to recommend the teachers to explain to the Senior boys the War Aims as lately defined by the Prime Minister and President Wilson.

Seconded by Councillor Pratt.

Alderman Lucas supported the motion, and considered that the teachers might be trusted to give all necessary instruction to the children attending the schools. Councillors Geater and Parfitt opposed the amendment, which on being put, was carried, and the report as amended was then put and carried.

Newbury Borough Council minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

Our fourth war-time Christmas: a joy none can take from us

Food shortages, and the use of adulterated products, had one unexpected casualty – the quality of communion bread. The vicar of Cookham Dean reflected on the fourth Christmas of the war.

The Vicar’s Letter

Since the war began I have found increasing difficulty to obtain bread suitable for use at the Holy Communion. For years I have had a special loaf sent every week from Edinburgh, but it is impossible to depend now upon its quality, and some of the ingredients with which bread is at present made are quite unsuitable for the holy purpose for which it is used. For a long time past I have used, both for sick people and on Saints’ Days, wafer bread, made as the Prayer Book directs, ‘of the best and purest wheaten flour’: Its use secures reverence, and its quality never varies, so that from Advent Sunday onward I intend to use it on Sundays also: I am obtaining it for the present from the same place that supplies the Bishop with that used by him in the Palace Chapel at Cuddesdon.


The Vicar’s Letter

This will be our fourth war-time Christmas. As each year goes on one realises how less like Christmases of former days each succeeding one becomes; and yet, beneath all the changes and turmoil of war, there must ever be the gladdening in our hearts at the thought of the Redemption of the World by our Lord Jesus Christ. We must be ready to offer our worship at the Manger Throne, and find the same comfort and the same grace as ever before at the Altar Throne if our hearts have been duly prepared in Advent by penitence and faith to seek Him, and receive Him there.

Some of the dear lads from the village will spend their Christmas very near to Bethlehem: What an un-looked-for experience for them! May they, and we, and all our dear ones, far and near, bound together in love for Him who was born at Bethlehem – ‘born for us’- find in His Presence a joy none can take from us, and thus realise in a very true way a happy Christmas.

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