“Scalps” secured by our airships

Even an idyllic seaside holiday for the Images was interrupted by the war.

Polcurrian Hotel
Mullion
S. Cornwall

Monday, Aug. 6, 1917

My very dear old man

O but this is a heavenly morning! Brilliant sky, such as I never saw in England before, in August – and the bay underneath my window of such glorious dazzling blue as I think would equal – or put to shame – South Seas or Tropics – and underneath it all, the sneaking deadly submarine. One came in here ten days ago, but had to quit re infecta, without any murders.

But a couple of young ladies from this hotel actually saw, last week, at the Lizard, 6 miles away, a U-boat torpedo strike a steamer and heard the explosion. And a man, who had cycled over, described to me the passionate race of 3 English destroyers to the rescue and our own Mullion airship hovering overhead. They did not get that submarine, though: or at least will not own to it. Discipline makes them very reticent. Still, in less guarded moments, hints are dropped as to several “scalps” secured by one or other of the airships….

Letters tell us … of two raids there – raids never mentioned yet in any newspaper!

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Plans for air raids

Small children in Reading practised their air raid drill.

Battle Infants School, Reading
20th July 1917

Instructions have been received that a plan of action is to be arranged in case of an “air raid”. A drill for this was practised on Thursday.

Grey Friars Infants’ School, Reading
July 20th 1917

‘Air Raid’ Drill practised this morning according to scheme prepared.

Stoke Road School, Slough
July 20th 1917
An old boy of the school called this week having been promoted on the field to Second Lieutenant in the Canadians – 2nd Lieutenant D Oldham.

Battle Infants School log book (SCH20/8/2); Grey Friars Infants’ School log book (R/ES4/2); Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1)

People coming away from air raid districts

A Reading woman who was hoping to find a tenant for a house she had inherited saw a silver lining in the war.

83 Hamilton Road
Reading
July 19/17
Dear Mr Sargeant

They tell me houses are letting in Reading, people coming away from Raid districts…

Yours sincerely

Agnes Allen

Letter from Miss Agnes Allen to her lawyer (D/EX208/B2/17/70)

Air raid safety drill

Some Reading children were prepared to face air raids.

16th July 1917
The Vicar visited the school this afternoon, and saw the children practise a safety drill in case of an Air Raid.

Reading: All Saints Infant School log book (89/SCH/19/2, p. 229)

Air raid precautions

The Government circulated schools with instructions on how to respond to an air raid.

13th July 1917
A copy of a memorandum dealing with ‘Precautions in Air Raids’ received from the Board of Education was received from Mr Pugh. A plan of action in accordance with the suggestions in the memorandum was drawn up and sent to Mr Pugh.

Emmer Green CE School log book (R/ES8/3, p. 132)

Great excitement at news of air raid

Our diarists were concerned by news of a major air raid in London.

William Hallam
7th July 1917

We had a Tasmanian soldier in to tea to-night. After tea I had a bath and shaved, dressed and along to Bath Rd reading room till 9. Bought 3 15/6 W. Sav. Certif. This makes 80 I have. Great excitement again – news of a big air raid on London but not much official news so probably exaggerated.

Florence Vansittart Neale
7 July 1917

Another bad air raid in London. So far 27 killed, 141 hurt. Have not heard extent of damage. (Over 40 killed.)

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

Increasing air raid insurance

A Twyford charity decided to increase its insurance against air raids on its property, to safeguard the charity’s funds.

3rd July 1917

Insurances. Fire + Aircraft.

In accordance with the minute of the last meeting hereon the question of increasing the premiums on the Insurance policies on the Trustees’ properties at Hampton and Twyford was bought up for consideration.

Resolved: That the Clerk be instructed to increase the Insurances on the above mentioned properties by 33 1/3 %, and that the Insurances under the Aircraft Raid policy be similarly increased.

Polehampton Charities, Twyford: trustees’ minutes (D/QX42/1/5)

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)

74 killed in Folkestone

The peace of Bisham Abbey seemed like a million miles from the south coast, hit by air raids.

2 June 1917

Captain Kennedy arrived – another Australian. Sat out. Men boated.

Bad raid on Folkestone – 74 people killed.

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

Enthusiasm for cooking lessons dwindles

Enthusiasm for wartime cookery lessons in Bisham had dwindled:

28 May 1917

Only 3 women came for cooking lessons on Tuesday.

Raid was on Folkestone mostly, 76 killed.

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

Heavy raid on the south coast

A massive air raid hit the south of England, the news making waves for our own diarists.

Florence Vansittart Neale
26 May 1917

H[enry] took Ag on river and brought back word heavy raid on S C woods. Lot of casualties.

William Hallam
26th May 1917

A great Air Raid on S.E. coast in to-night’s papers.

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

Mercifully preserved from an air raid

The Clewer-based Commnity of St John Baptist had a big convalescent home in Folkestone on the Kent coast, and also did mission work in the town. They faced the danger of an air raid in May 1917.

25 May 1917

A bad air raid took place at Folkestone in the evening. About 60 killed and many more injured. Our 3 houses, and all our Sisters, patients & workers mercifully preserved from any injury, for which special thanksgiving was made afterwards at the altar.

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

Guests horrified at war tea!

Food shortages meant a limited selection of dishes when Florence Vansittart Neale entertained guests.

27 April 1917
Mackays to tea – fear they were horrified at war tea!! Raid on Ramsgate – 21 houses destroyed.

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

Subscriptions to insure all Church buildings against Aircraft risk

The fear of air raids had clearly lessened, as insurance premiums were significantly lower.

Anti-Zeppelin Insurance

The Churchwardens and Vicar again ask for Subscriptions to insure all Church buildings against Aircraft risk.

Owing to the reduction of premiums, it will probably cost about £12 this year instead of about £20. We have already received £2 from Mrs. Cope, and a Collection was taken on Low Sunday, April 15th, for that purpose.

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

Mutiny in Russia, revolution in the East End

The worst mutiny of the Russian Revolution took place at Kronstadt in March, when two admirals were among the officers murdered. Admiral Viren was the unfortunate commander to be cut into pieces.

1917

Hear that Russian sailors killed all naval officers. Cut up an Admiral & sent pieces to each ship!!

In air raid in London hear police say children might press on the yellow from poison in shells.

They say air raids purposely go East End so as to make the people revolutionary.

Hear Stepney very revolutionary. Hate the King, say the war caused by personal quarrel between our King & Kaiser.

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