Officers vs sergeants: sergeants won hands down

Sydney Spencer had a busy day. The Maud Allan affair referred to was a contemporary scandal in which a well known actress was accused of being a lesbian spy for the Germans, and sued for libel. One of her persecutors was Harold Sherwood Spencer, an American with no connection to the Berkshire family.

Monday 3 June 1918

Got up at 6. Paraded at 7. Inspected my platoon. Went to range from 7.30 to 9.15. Fired in sweepstake, officers vs sergeants. 15 rounds rapid was the shoot (mad minute). Sergeants won hands down. Top score sergeants = Sergeant York with 43. Top score officers myself with 31 only! Peyton 2nd with 30.

Took my platoon for a time in fire orders, & then scuttled off to O.14 C7.5 to a demonstration in wiring double apron fence. Knights was there & I enquired after his battle position affectionately. No wire cutters or gloves were to be found so I toddled back & fetched them. The Brigade Major wanted to know if I was any relation to Spencer in the ‘Billing’ Maud Allan affair!

After lunch slept till 4. Took company for march at 8.30. Had a nice ride on Charlie Chaplin [his commanding officer Dillon’s horse].

To bed at & read for a while.

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

Greater love hath no man than this

Caversham men’s service was honoured.


Hearty congratulations to 2nd Lieut. A.F.C. Hill, upon receiving the Military Cross for gallant conduct with the Salonika Expeditions. This is the fourth Military Cross awarded to Caversham men, the other recipients being the Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, Army Chaplain; 2nd Lieut. D.T. Cowan, A. and S. Highlanders; and Sergt.-Major Wilfred Lee, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Lieut. E.J. Churchill, R.E., has been “mentioned in dispatches.”

Sergt. E. Canning, of 1/4TH Royal Berks, is one of the two non-commissioned officers selected out of his battalion for the honour of a Commission.

Caversham roll of honour.

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend”

Name, Ship or Regiment and address, Date of death

We ought to withdraw from the Dardanelles at once and face an enormous loss of men

Meg Meade wrote to her brother Ralph Glyn, serving in the Dardanelles. She reported mixed opinions about the ill-fated Dardanelles campaign.

Aug 23rd [1915]
Yockley House

My darling Ralph

I wonder every day how you are getting on, & I’m sure you must be pretty done in with exhaustion and work. People here have their eyes glued on the Dardanelles, & the confidence displayed that we shall force the Straits in a week’s time makes one think they believe it to be a very much easier task than it is. Yesterday Hopie & I were talking about it, & he didn’t seem to have heard at all of all the opposition GHQ in France made to the continuation of the scheme. When I was in London … I saw Willie Percy & he told me that Allan was of the opinion that we ought frankly to withdraw our forces from the Peninsulas as soon as possible, & face the enormous loss of men it would entail! But confess our failure there as soon as possible! Hopie seemed never to have heard of the possibility of such feelings in men such as Allan etc, & to try to convince him of the truth of what I said, I told him what Henry Wilson had said about liking to shoot [“any man” crossed through] you for having a hand in the Dardanelle operations. Only I didn’t say that Wilson had said it to you, meaning you. I said that you “had been present when it was said”. But far from convincing Hopie that there can be any feelings of dislike of the Dardanelles operations on part of GHQ he politely but firmly refused to believe my statement was possible. It was very amusing, & I got him to write down what he could not swallow, & I have promised him that by return of post you will show that I am not a liar! So I will be very much obliged to you if you will return enclosed to me with “perfectly true” written at the foot as soon as you can. Now don’t forget, & I am perfectly confident you can indicate that I spoke nothing but the truth! Hopie & his regiment are under orders to go to France at the beginning of next month. His regiment is the Lothian & Border Horse, known here as the Liver & Bacon Horses! Poor Doreen is going to have an infant next month, so it’s hard luck on her…

The news from Russia is splendid as far as their naval successes go, & I think it must cheer up their retreating armies. If only they don’t get cut off by the Bosch.

Have you heard that John [their brother in law John Wynne-Finch] has been made a Captain. Maysie, of course, is in 7th Heavens! He is out of the trenches now joining up with the organisation, so there’s a respite. The parents are at Voelas [John and Maysie’s home in Wales], where I hope they stay till the end of their holiday…

I went with them to Johnnie Chesham’s wedding… Lady Airlie told me [at the wedding] she had come away from Cortachy because it was so far from all news & sometimes the Dundee Advertiser used to ring her up on the telephone & say “Has Your Ladyship heard that there has been a verra serious battle at the Front & that all the Cavalry have been cut up!”, & then they rang off, leaving poor Lady Airlie to wonder what had happened to the 10th, which is Lord Airlie’s regiment.

Your most loving

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)