Fireworks and flares

On 19 July 1919 peace celebrations were held across the county following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

St John’s School. Caversham
July 19th 1919

Saturday- to celebrate the conclusion of peace all the children of the town [Reading] were entertained to tea, games etc in either Palmer or Prospect Parks.

King Street School, Maidenhead
19th July 1919

“‘Peace Day’ was kept by a sumptuous tea for the children in school this afternoon. Several people came to help entertain them. An old pupil gave musical selections while children had their tea & the popular airs they were familiar with were much enjoyed.

After tea, cheers were given for the soldiers & the king & concluded with the National Anthem. Children were then taken to Kidwell’s Park to enjoy sports, roundabouts & other amusements.

Aldworth School
July 14th-18th 1919

This week we made 100% attendance!

The Peace celebration was held on Saturday July 19th – Dinner, tea and sports in the old playground, for all parishioners, followed by fireworks and flares in “Battle Field” at Westbridges.

Lower Sandhurst School
July 19th 1919

To day Saturday in common with all parts of the country this Parish held its Peace Festival.

The school children assembled at school and marched to the Wellington Arms where they met the other two schools and headed by a band a procession was formed and a move was made to the Broadway. Here the ceremony of hoisting the flag was performed, prayers and thanksgivings were offered for victory and peace speeches were delivered, Mr. W. J. Joye, Chairman of the Managers, being one of the speakers.

Tea and sports were provided for the children and although the weather was unpropitious the children spent a happy time.

Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School
19th July 1919

‘Peace Celebrations’. During the day all school children were specially provided with a tea (followed by a tea for the general public). Sports were also provided for school children, preceded by a procession from the Hall through High Stand to the Sports Ground. All who had served in H. M. Forces during the war were entertained to dinner.

St Peter’s CE School, Earley
19th July 1919

Today was observed as “Peace Celebration Day” for the parish of Earley, & the children of the school, whether living in Earley or in Reading, were included in the invitations. By kind invitation of J Rushbrooke esq, the celebration took place in Bulmershe Park, where, despite showery weather, a most enjoyable afternoon & evening were spent.

Cookham Alwyn Road School log book
July 19th

Saturday: Peace Celebrations. Tea to scholars in School Buildings. March to Kidwells Park at 4.15.

Eastbury National Primary, Lambourn
19th July 1919

Peace celebrations at Eastbury. The school children took part in the procession, sang patriotic songs, and afterwards partook in tea in a lane kindly lent for the occasion. Giving in to the rain, the sports were held on the following Monday.

Charney Bassett
19.7.19

Peace-day was kept up in the village. The children had a tea in a barn kindly lent for the occasion, and the adults a meat tea; owing to the bad weather the sports were postponed until Sat the 26th.

Speenhamland
July 19th

We have been making preparations for the Peace Celebrations tomorrow, and work has to some extent been interrupted.

Bracknell
19th July 1919

Peace Celebrations.

During the day all school children were specially provided with a tea (followed by a tea for the general public). Sports were also provided for school children, preceded by a procession from the Hall through High Stand to the Sports Ground. All who had served in H. M. Forces during the war were entertained to dinner.

Log books of St John’s School. Caversham (89/SCH/14/1); King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1); Aldworth School (C/EL54/3); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL66/1); Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School (C/EL45/3); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3); Cookham Alwyn Road School (88/SCH/18/1); Eastbury National Primary, Lambourn (D/P79B/28/2); Bouverie Pusey School, Charney Bassett (C/EL41/2); St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3); Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School (C/EL45/3)

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Our hearty good-will and our deep sense of all that France has and is suffering for the cause of freedom and the Allies

Bastille Day, the French national day, is actually on 14 July, commemorating the fall of the Bastille and start of the French Revolution. Berkshire schools clearly had a rather vague grasp of French history, but cannot be faulted for their admiration for our ally.

Aldworth
July 12th 1918

On Friday afternoon, being France’s National Day, the children were addressed by the Vicar, the French Flag saluted and the Marseillaise sung – the following letter was also sent to the President of the French Republic:

Aldworth Vicarage
Reading
England

July 12th 1918

Dear Mr President,

The inhabitants of Aldworth wish to take the opportunity, which France’s National Day affords, to express to you our hearty good-will and our deep sense of all that France has and is suffering for the cause of freedom and the Allies.

We also take this opportunity to assure you that we are determined that the war shall at length, at whatever cost, be waged to a victorious issue.

Believe us to be, dear Mr President, your most devoted Allies.

(signed) A. L Watson, Vicar of Aldworth, Chairman of the Parish Council

Coleshill
12th July 1918

At noon to-day the children first saluted ‘The French Flag’ and then our ‘Union Jack’ in the playground. After this they sang ‘the Marseillaise’ and our own National Anthem, this being ‘France’s Day’.

Aldermaston
12th July 1918.

Pamphlets have been sent by the local War Aims committee to be given to the children today to commemorate France’s Day July 14th. The Head Teacher will give a short explanation of the subject to the school.

Hinton Waldrist
July 12th 1918

France’s Day. Children assembled in playground at 1.30. An address given by Capt: J. Loder Symonds. The French Flag and Union Jack saluted. The Marseillaise and God Save the King sung.


Log books: Aldworth School (C/EL54/3); Coleshill CE School (D/P40/28/5); Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3); Hinton Waldrist C of E Schoolk (C/EL84/2)

“Something attempted, and something done”: a bombing raid on a German Aerodrome

Here we get a rare first person account of an air raid over the German army.

The Vicar has received from one of our Cranbourne Airmen the following account of a bombing raid on a German Aerodrome. The fear of the Censor prevents us mentioning the name of the writer, but it will not be difficult to guess who is the writer. It only seems a few weeks ago since he was a boy in our Schools and singing in our Choir. We are sure Mr. Aldworth will be proud that one of his pupils can write so well and graphically. The following is the account:

“A slight mist hung over the Aerodrome as the bombing machines were wheeled from the hangers. One by one their engines were started up for nothing is left to chance on these strafing expeditions. Meanwhile myself and fellow airmen had been summoned to a little office to learn the whereabouts of our objective. After a few minutes consultation and map reading we made our way to the machines, which looked spick and span, ready for the coming strafe. In a short space of time all was ready and one by one the machines left the ground. Steadily the indicator of the alti-meter was registering, and I knew my machine was climbing well, and it grew colder and colder, although we were wrapped up well. Looking ahead I found the formation of which I was at the rear, in perfect order.

Suddenly a sharp crack under the tail of my machine told me that anti-aircraft gunners had spotted us and that we were over hostile country. A quick glance at my map to pick up my bearings and then one seems to possess the eyes of a hawk. All at once a signal was made by the squadron leader denoting that we were nearing the objective. The air by this time is thick with shrapnel bursts, and looking through the trap door perceived the hangars of the night raiders. A few seconds to take line of sight and then a quick pull at the bomb-wires. Suddenly a streak of light flashes by and looking round I espy a German machine coming full tilt with its pilot firing rapidly. Like a flash I swung my guns at the oncoming Hun, who finding it getting too warm thought discretion the better part of valour and made off. During this little scrap my pilot had got the nose of the machine well down for home where we arrived in a short space of time. I made my report of ‘something attempted, and something done’, had earned a night’s repose.”

We are glad to hear that Pte. H.W. Edmonds is progressing favourably.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, April 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/4)

Grow more potatoes

The need to grow more food inspired lessons for West Berkshire children.

Aldworth
22 February 1918

The children have this week written an essay on the potato and need of extra cultivation this season on account of the shortage of food – Prizes (in the form of seed potatoes) are to be given by Mr Roscoe of Streatley to the children who have written the best essay.

Reading
February 22nd 1918

Schools closed this afternoon on account of Children’s Concerts to be given in Large Town Hall for Wounded soldiers.

“Our work for soldiers’ children is overwhelming”

Charities were struggling to compete with the demands of war-related appeals, even those who were helping families affected by the war.

Church of England Waifs’ and Strays’ Society.

Rev. E. de M. Rudolf, Secretary of the Society writes ‘We are still “carrying on” but the demands are always increasing, and so is the difficulty of meeting them. “Munitions” and “more and more munitions” is our cry. Do help us. Our work for soldiers’ children is overwhelming; do join us in special effort to carry it through. So many of us have cheerfully though sadly given up our nearest and dearest, that we can hardly grudge the stretching out a hand to those little ones whose own protectors are powerless to see to their welfare.

This Society is the one officially authorised by our Church to care for the little ones who are homeless and friendless, and as such is deserving of all the support which we can give it. Our offerings in Church at the Children’s Service on the third Sunday in each month and on Christmas Day are given to it. In addition £1 7s. 6d. has just been received, per Miss M. A. Monk (Aldworth), in subscriptions. Additional subscriptions are earnestly invited, and collecting boxes may be obtained from the Vicar. The value of the work which the Society is doing cannot be overestimated.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P154C/28A/1)

Viewing an aeroplane at close quarters

Children in a Berkshire village were excited when they saw an aeroplane being repaired.

April 16th-20th 1917

On Thursday afternoon, April 19th, the children had a half holiday that they might go on the Downs to see an aeroplane which had descended near the Old Well at about 9am.

The pilot had lost his bearings and had other trouble, so mechanics were sent for and the aeroplane was put in working order and continued on its journey at about 5.30pm.

The children were much interested in all they saw, having never before had the chance of viewing an aeroplane at close quarters.

Aldworth School log book (C/EL54/2, p. 298)

Is there any demand for allotments?

Allotments were still relatively rare during the First World War, but they offered a way for more food to be grown at home.

A meeting was held in the Reading Room, North Street, to consider the question whether there is any demand for allotments. The Vicar, having explained how allotments may be acquired, asked those who were present to give their opinion. A discussion took place from which it appeared that owing to various reasons the demand would not be large.

The names of those requiring seed-potatoes were then received, and Messrs. Aldworth, Belcher, Douglas, Maxwell Williams and the Vicar were appointed a Committee to make the necessary application and arrangements for the delivery and distribution of the potatoes when received. There was a very good attendance at this meeting.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/2)

Private lessons in French for a refugee

When they were admitted to Aldworth School, it was stated that the Decker children from Antwerp spoke Flemish and, presumably, no English. Fortunately it transpired that at least one of them also spoke French, which meant the vicar of Aldworth was able to teach him on a 1 to 1 basis.

December 21st–23rd 1914
The Vicar is taking one of the Belgian Refugee Children, Jack de Decker, in French every morning, and by order of the Berks. Edu:Com: the boy is to be marked absent on the school register. They closed school on Wed afternoon for the usual Xmas Holidays. On leaving the school each child received sweets, oranges and apples, given by friends.

Aldworth CE School (C/EL54/2, p. 261)

The boys speak Flemish

Two Belgian refugee children started school in a Berkshire village. Like some of today’s young refugees, they struggled with the language.

Aldworth School, December 14th–18th 1914

Two of the Belgian Refugees were admitted into the school on Monday, Jack and Pierre de Decker, sons of Mr Louis de Decker, Diamond Polisher of Antwerp. The boys speak Flemish.

Pupils at Wescott Road School in Wokingham, meanwhile, helped with food for the Belgian refugees in their area:

December 14th 1914
The scholars have bought a good supply of vegetables for the Belgian refugees at Red Lodge, London Road.

Wokingham Wescott Road School Log Book (C/EL87, p. 147)


Aldworth School log book (C/EL54/2, p. 261)