‘Called up’ for the Army

Lower Sandhurst’s headmaster got a glimpse of his possible future.

June 5th 1918

Mr. Anderson, Education Secretary, called to see me in reference to my being ‘called up’ for the Army on June 19.

George Brown, an old scholar, now a member of the Australian Expeditionary Force who has been discharged from hospital, called to see his old school to-day.

Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, pp. 438-439)

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A very sketchy but very jolly time – perpetual movement and precious little sleep

Percy Spencer shared his latest doings with his sister.

May 21, 1918

My dear WF

I don’t appear to have written you a letter since the 13th. And there has really been no reason why not except a mass of work. I’m very glad to say that I can see the results of my labour, anyway, so that should console you, even if you don’t see many letters.

Well my dear girl, I’ve lately had a very sketchy but very jolly time – perpetual movement and precious little sleep. We’re in lovely surroundings in a wood on one side of a steep valley. The days are quiet and very hot and the night is filled with the roar of guns. On the other side of the valley from another camp every evening a very fine trumpet player amuses all the world with cheery music and beautiful clear toned calls. And when he ceases, the nightingales improve upon his performance and sing all through the night whatever the guns are doing.

We’re all more or less on tiptoe and I’m getting rather fed up with it, one gets so little time to oneself and the night has a nasty way of turning itself into day. Nevertheless even that sort of life has its compensations.

For instance on Whit Sunday I arose at 2 am and didn’t turn in again until I had strolled around our wooded hilltop with our padre (a delightful fellow) and watched the sun rise and heard the birds sing praises to his glory.

On the 16th I met Anderson. You will remember him at the Boarding House at St Albans. Did you meet his wife? He told me you did. The war has made him look sterner but he has not lost his delightful smile.

On the 18th we had a terrific thunderstorm and life was moist. I had a painful toothache and got our dentist to haul out a wisdom tooth. A very trying performance as the tooth had an unauthorised prong. However I daresay the extra prong accounted for my extreme wisdom, so that problem’s settled, and now I suppose I shall be very foolish.

On Monday (yesterday) our Follies gave an open air performance on the hillside. I was unable to get away to it, but it was very jolly to view from a distance.

Will you let everyone who ought to have a photo have one. If possible I should like to see one of each myself.

Could you send me a tinder lighter some time, and a refill for my short tubular torch. I also badly need a key ring. I’m so sorry to bother you about these things, but they are unobtainable out here….

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/37)

Moving from billet to barn, from barn to billet

Sydney Spencer hosted a big dinner.

Sydney Spencer
Thursday 16 May 1918

I was orderly officer today so that today’s diary means: Reporting B HQ at 8.45, inspecting billets from 9.30-11.30, censoring letters from 11.30 till 12.30, inspecting dinners. After lunch a lie down, a short read, mounting guard at 3.30. Dismounting old guard. 4 pm tea.

After tea preparation for dinner guest night. Dinner a huge success. Consisted of soup, choufleur au gratin [cauliflower cheese], salmon mayonaize (don’t know how to spell it!), pork with baked potatoes & cauliflower, and sweet of plum pudding & custard – savouries of hard boiled egg etc on toast, coffee, biscuits, chocolate & cheese, port, sherry, whiskey & lime juice, & smokes. Do not think, my dear old diary, that I am a gourmand! I hate remembering what I have eaten. But I just put it down as a curiosity in this year of the war 1918!

Took staff parade, visited guard. Mess crowded with officers & all company & when I got to bed they had a jolly time.

Percy Spencer
16 May 1918

Cash. I went to Beaucourt to draw cash. Met Anderson who asked to be remembered to WF [Percy’s sister Florence Image]. Spent day in moving from billet to barn, from barn to billet.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

Added to the prayer list

More Earley men were serving.

List of men serving in his Majesty’s forces

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:-

John Bowden, Frederick Llott, Richard Polden, George Anderson, Alfred Parsons, Lawrence Parsons, Hugh Parsons, Cuthbert Parsons, Leonard Streak, Albert Fostekew, Stanley Tanner, George Roberts, Henry Attwood, Thomas Cloke.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:-

Sick: Harold Ballard. Killed: Ernest Shears.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

Sympathy for the loss of a young man of great promise and amiability

Worshippers at Maidenhead Congregational Church sent Christmas gifts out to their young men at the front.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Those who knew George Whitmill will be able to sympathise the more keenly with his parents in their sorrow. He was a young man of great promise and amiability, and a keen student. He was a member of Mr. Heywood’s Bible Class in the Institute. He was killed at the front on October 30th. We offer our tenderest Christian sympathies to his friends.

Victor Anderson is in hospital at Sheffield suffering from “trench fever.” Reginald Hill is back at Shheffield, and is to undergo another, and we trust the last, of a weary series of operations. Donald Lindsay and Percy Lewis have been home on leave.

Christmas parcels have already been sent out to our lads in the Mediterranean Forces, and the others will be forwarded very shortly. Miss Hearman and Miss Nicholls have been good enough to undertake the considerable task of the purchase and packing of these parcels.

Letters also of greeting from the Church will be sent to all our men. The minister will be grateful for addresses corrected up to date. Boxes are to be placed at the doors on Sundays, December 2nd and 9th, to receive contributions towards the cost, which amounts to about £6.

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

Women “have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war”

The Burghfield parish magazine reported on various changes the war had brought to the parish.

Other matters connected with the War

a) The war savings movement has done well in Berkshire, chiefly owing to the efforts of Mr. W.C.F. Anderson, of Hermitts Hill, the Secretary of the County Committee. An Association stared in Burghfield in the spring, now numbers 106 members, and 128 certificates have been sold. It is hoped to combine this with Associations at Mortimer and Theale under a “Local Committee,” on the system adopted elsewhere. Already over 106,000,000 has been raised, and over 35,560 Associations formed, throughout the country: and the National Committee are arranging for a vigorous Autumn campaign.

b) As in other parishes, occupiers of agricultural land have been called upon to consider the possibilities of breaking up pasture into arable. And the County War Agricultural Committee, acting through the Bradfield District sub committee, have found the farmers and owners of land in Burghfield no less ready to answer this call of their country than the King has found the young men ready for the hardships of war.

c) “War Economy” has of course received much attention: and it is hoped that in every house efforts have been made to economize in food, clothing, and expenditure generally. Meetings have been held and literature circulated. The duty of promoting economies, which at first was imposed upon War Savings Associations, has been transferred with other duties to the Food Control Committees appointed by the District Councils. The collection of horse-chestnuts has been entrusted chiefly to the School authorities, and directions given. It appears that every ton of chestnuts, in proper condition, released half-ton of corn which would otherwise be required for the manufacture of propellant explosive.

Women Workers on the Land

We are pleased to see how well the Burghfield women have come forward to work on the land and to endeavour to replace the men who have been called to serve their country. They have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war; and are now doing good work milking and generally helping to produce food. There are now 21 women working regularly, two of whom have been imported.

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

The whole gamut of human emotion

The emotional toll of supporting loved ones at the front was beginning to tell in Maidenhead. One imagines the tears in church – but every now and then there was joy amidst the sorrow.

OUR ROLL OF HONOUR

The Minister has not for some time past read from the pulpit the list of our soldiers, because the strain upon the feelings of the more closely related friends was too great. This month there is space to spare in our columns, and we therefore print the list.

Five of our lads have fallen:

Harold Fisher …Royal Berks.
Duncan Wilson …A.S.C.
Robert Harris …8th Royal Berks.
Stephen Harris …3rd Royal Berks.
John Boyd …2nd Royal Berks.

Two have been discharged:

James Partlo …4th Royal Berks.
E.S. Mynett …Recruiting Sergeant

Forty-nine are still in the Army:

Cyril Hews …Royal Engineers
F.W. Harmer …Royal Berks.
W. Percy Pigg …A.S.C.
Cyril Laker …K.O. Scottish Borderers.
Reginald Hill …2nd Royal Berks.
Robert Anderson …4th Royal Berks.
John Bolton …23rd London.
Thomas Mulford …Royal Engineers.
J.O. Wright …8th Royal Berks.
George E. Dovey …9th Royal Berks.
Percy Lewis …R.A.M.C.
Arthur Rolfe …R.F.A.
Ernest Bristow …R.A.M.C.
Harold Islip …R.E.
Edward Howard …A.S.C.
George Belcher …R.E.
Horace Gibbons …11th Aus. Light Horse.
J. Quincey …A.S.C.
Donovan Wilson …A.S.C.
Aubrey Cole …A.S.C.
W.H. Clark …A.S.C.
Cecil Meade …A.S.C.
Benjamin Gibbons …6th Royal Berks.
David Dalgliesh …R.F.C.
Hugh Lewis …R.E.
H. Partlo …A.S.C.
Herbert Brand …8th Royal Berks.
George Phillips …A.S.C.
J Herbert Plum …R.E.
Wilfred Collins …Canadian Dragoons.
Alex. Edwards …R.F.A.
William Norcutt …A.S.C.
George Norcutt …R.E.
Victor Anderson …R.A.M.C.
Herbert G. Wood …R.E.
C.A.S. Vardy …R.E.
A. Lane …R.E.
Frank Pigg …R.F.C.
Leonard Beel …R.E.
P.S. Eastman …R.N.A.S.
A. John Fraser …A.S.C.
Charles Catliff …R.E.
Ernest A. Mead …7th Devonshires.
Robert Bolton …R.M.L.I
Frank Tomlinson …R.E.
George Ayres …L.E.E.
Thomas Russell …A.S.C.
G.C. Frampton …A.S.C.
W.J. Baldwin …Royal Navy.

In addition there are many who have passed through our Sunday School and Institute, but have not recently been in close connection with us. These also we bear upon our hearts, and bring in prayer before the Throne of Grace.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to say that Reginald Hill is still going forward, and that he is able to walk a little with the aid of sticks. He has now been at the Sheffield Hospital between five and six months. His parents are spending their holiday at Sheffield.

Robert Bolton has gone over with his Company to France.

Wilfred Collins is in Hospital at Sulhamstead, still suffering from heart trouble.

Sidney Eastman is at Mudros, doing clerical work.

David Dalgliesh has been home on leave, in the best of health and spirits.

GOOD NEWS!

In our last number we spoke of the fact that the son of Mr. Jones, of Marlow, was “missing,” and that all hope that he was still living had been relinquished. But the unexpected has happened, and news has been received that Second-Lieutenant Edgar Jones is an unwounded prisoner in the hands of the Germans. His parents have surely run through the whole gamut of human emotion during these weeks.

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

Wholly wonderful results

Stratfield Mortimer was the latest parish to set up a war savings scheme.

War Savings Association

On the following evening [July 12th] a small company met in S. John’s Hall and listened for an hour to Mr. W. F. Anderson’s admirably told tale of the wholly wonderful results achieved by these Associations. It was unanimously resolved to begin at once such an Association for Mortimer. Sir Edmund Mowbray was elected chairman, Mr. Ponting hon. Treasurer, Miss Westall hon. Secretary. The office of the Association will be (pro tem) in S. Mary’s Infants’ School, by the kind consent of the managers of the school, and will be open every Friday from 5-30 to 6-30 p.m. Literature will be circulated in explanation of the scheme, and great results may be looked for.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

“Everyone can help to win the war by lending money to the Government”

The people of Wargrave were impressed by the call to help the war effort by placing their personal savings in a Government scheme.

War Savings Association

The Wargrave War Savings Association was very successfully started at a well attended Public Meeting on Tuesday, January 9th, 1917.

Mr. Henry Bond presided, and was supported by Mr. W. C. F. Anderson, Hon. Secretary for Berks, Mr. G. G. Phillimore, who is Secretary for a local branch, and the Vicar.

The Speakers explained that everyone can help to win the war by lending money to the Government. The Government gives 5 per cent, interest, so everyone can help himself at the same time as he helps the country. The man who saves now is helping our soldiers by going without something himself. The less we consume from over the seas, the more room we leave in the ships to carry necessities and comforts for our soldiers.

A resolution to form a Wargrave War Savings Association was unanimously passed.

Mr. Henry Bond was unanimously elected Chairman and Hon. Treasurer. The Vicar was elected Hon. Secretary.

The following were elected to the Committee of Management, with power to add to their number.

Wargrave: Mrs. Groves, Messrs. H. Butcher, W.H. Easterling, F.W. Headington, and E. Stokes.
Hare Hatch: Mrs. Oliver Young, Messrs. A. E. Chenery and A.E. Huggins.
Crazies Hill: Messrs. J.T. Griffin and T. Moore, the Rev. W.G. Smylie.

The Office of the Association is at the Vicarage. The Certificate if affiliation to the National War Savings Committee, the Rules and Statements of Accounts will be exhibited in the Parish Room.

Office Hours at Vicarage, SATURDAYS 9.30- 10.30 a.m. and 5.30-6.30 p.m.

Wargrave parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

“It is a most awful place where we are at present”

Soldiers associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church were grateful for Christmas gifts, and in return shared some of their experiences.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We have already received many acknowledgements from our soldier lads of the Christmas parcels from the Church, and they all speak of kindly gratitude. We can find room for a few extracts.

Edward Howard writes, “Many thanks for the most splendid parcel. It is awfully kind of the Church and Institute to think so much of us when we are out here…… It is a most awful place where we are at present. The mud is something like three feet deep, and we are living in tents, but of course we make the best of a bad job. I send you all a warm and affectionate Christmas greeting.”

Reginald Hill received his parcel in hospital at Etretat, where he has been slowly recovering from his gas injuries. He says “I cannot tell you much of my doings in a letter, but one of these Thursday evenings I will give you my experiences at a meeting of the Literary Society.”

Cyril Hews writes, “I can scarcely tell you in a letter what a great feeling of gratitude and pleasure the parcel and letter gave me…… We out here have no doubts as to the future. We are confident that before long victory will be given to the Allies, and the great cause for which they are fighting will be attained.”

Harold Islip says, “Please accept my thanks for the excellent parcel and letter of greeting sent by the Church, which I received two days ago. Both were most welcome. A letter of that description most certainly helps us all out here to “carry on” with our duties, even though they have now become so monotonous. On Sundays, and often during the week, I think of the Church and Institute, and wish I could be present! But by next Christmas the war will be over, and then…!”

J. O. Wright is overwhelmed with his Christmas duties as Post-Corporal (of course, he had a busy time!), but snatches a minute to send “a few lines thanking you and the Church for the splendid parcel, and also for the Magazine.”

Victor Anderson writes, “Many thanks for the parcel which I have just received, and also for the letter. I am in the best of health, and we are now in a very nice place, so I think we shall have as good a Christmas as can be expected out here.”

Percy Lewis is grateful for his parcel, and ventures to congratulate those who made the purchases. “They are just the things one appreciates most out here.”

And J. Quincy, “I thank you very much for the contents of the parcel, which were much appreciated and enjoyed, and I am sure you will extend my gratitude to the Members of the Church for their kindness. May you all have a truly happy Christmas and a bright New
Year.”

Ernest Mead has been placed in the 2/7th Batt. Devonshire Regiment (Cyclists), and is stationed at Exeter.

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

Christmas and its lessons in war-time

A Berkshire school saw its head teacher drafted to take over at another school whose head must have joined up, and half the children sent to yet another school.

Lower Basildon National School
20th December 1916

I have received a communication from Mr Anderson to the effect that, for the period of the war, I shall be transferred as Head Master to Cold Ash school.

The children from Std II upwards, will be transferred to Upper Basildon school, so that when school re-opens on Jan. 8., only the Infants and Std I will remain.

Lower Sandhurst School
December 20th 1916

Mr. W. J. Joye, Chairman of the Managers, visited the School and gave an address to the children on Christmas and its lessons in war-time. He at the same time commended them for their generosity in supporting the War Funds, over £16.10 and 1000 eggs having been contributed since August 1914.

Lower Basildon National School log book (C/EL7/2, p. 174); Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 383)

“We now have several families in which no less than five sons are serving King and Country”

Men from across Reading were joining up in their droves.

All Saint’s District
Congratulations

Our heartiest congratulations to Capt. A.H. Norris, R.A.M.C. on being awarded the Military Cross.

Roll Of Honour

The following additional names have been sent in for remembrance at the Alter:

Donald Anderson, William Ayres, Bert Ayres, Thomas William George Bernard, Frank Ernest Butler, Lawrence Darwall, Frederick Charles Dolton, Cecil Hankey Dickson King, Vivian Majendie, Arthur Ernest New, Arthur Herbert Norris, Norman Alexander Norris, Rowland Victor Norris, Harold Sales, Richard James Saunders, Joseph Styles, George Thomas, Frank Thomas, James Young.

It may be of interest to note that we now have several families in which no less than five sons are serving King and Country.

S. Saviours District
R.I.P.

Two more of our young men have, we hear, laid down their lives for their country. Sidney Ostridge, brother of Alfred Ostridge, server at S. Saviour’s, has been killed in France; and Corporal Walter Paice, son of Mrs. Lane, a faithful worshipper at S. Saviour’s, was killed instantly in action on the night of October 3rd, near Salonika, to the great regret of his comrades, officers and men, among whom he was very popular. Their families are assured of our sincerest sympathy. The officer of one of them writes: “He died a noble death,” and a sergeant writes: “ He was laid to rest just behind us and the Chaplain held the service and placed a Cross at the head of the grave.” There is hope in the Cross.

S. Marks District
R.I.P.

It was with very great regret that we heard Private G. W. Davis had been killed in action. He was very well known and respected in this District, and we offer to his widow and all his relations our very sincere sympathy.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P98/28A/14)

Sore losses

There was painful news for some Maidenhead families.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We deeply regret to record the death of Duncan Wilson, who fell a victim to a bomb dropped from an enemy aeroplane at the Front on July 11th. He was employed at Horlick’s Malted Milk Factory in Slough before joining the ranks and spending his Sundays in Maidenhead was a regular worshipper at our Church. He was a young man of character and promise, and his death is a sore loss to his friends and family.

It is painful too, to hear that Arthur Hedges has been missing since the beginning of July, and that his friends have practically given up hope.

Robert Anderson, who a few months ago received his discharge at the expiration of his term, has been compelled by recent legislation to join up again. John Bolton is in France.

Alas! Since writing the above lines, information has been received of the death of another of our lads. Robert Harris, one of the most devoted members of our Institute, who confessed his faith in Christ by joining the Church about two years ago, was killed by a bomb on July 24th. He was the eldest son of Mr. William Harris, Builder, Holman Leaze, and before enlisting was engaged in the Argus Press Printing Works. He was a young man of most amiable disposition, and was very popular among his fellow members in the Institute. He would have reached his 20th birthday on August 7th.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, August 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“The country wants every penny it can get for the war”

The County Council’s War Savings (Education) Sub-committee sent out to the Head Teacher of each primary school they controlled in the county (i.e. everywhere but Reading) a circular letter to encourage children and parents to contribute to the costs of the war:

Shire Hall
Reading
10 July 1916

Dear Sir (or Madam)

WAR SAVINGS

The Education Committee have been approached by the National War Savings Committee, and requested to promote in Berkshire, by all means in their power, the practice of saving among persons of all classes, particularly in ways calculated to assist the Government in their efforts to raise funds for the war. A small special War Savings Committee has accordingly been appointed, with certain limited powers.

Inquiries have been made by them as to the extent to which organisations already exist, in direct connection with elementary schools in the county, for the encouragement and maintenance of penny banks or other forms of saving. It appears that no less than 105 out of the 205 schools (council and voluntary) make no claim to the possession of any such organisation; and that even of the remaining 100 a certain number can point to no more than such institutions as clothing clubs or coal clubs, which, however useful in themselves to the depositors, can have practically no relation to the objects aimed at by the National Committee.

In many parishes organisations for war savings may have been established otherwise than in connection with the schools; and they have no wish to interfere with these… In particular they desire to avoid action calculated to produce the fictitious result of apparently benefitting the nation by investing in War Loan at high interest money which is already in the Post Office Savings Banks, at lower interest. Although this may profit the individual, it inevitably casts a corresponding new burden upon the State.

These objections, however, do not apply to any system of saving which leads to the investment of fresh money in any of the various forms of War Loan…. The most advantageous method of purchasing War Savings Certificates is through the medium of “Associations” formed for the purpose, which apply to the National War Savings Committee for affiliation. All books, forms &c, are supplied free.

The Committee urge that where in any school there is not already an existing Savings Scheme, the Managers should meet without delay and take steps to establish a War Savings Association, which need not be restricted to school children. In doing so, they can hold out to depositors the certainty of greater personal advantage than ever before. But they ought to appeal even more strongly to the patriotism of their parish. The country wants every penny it can get for the war, which is costing at present £5,000,000 a day, say £57 per second. Taxation alone cannot produce this. There must be borrowing. If the supply runs short, our military and naval operations are hindered and the war will last longer.

The extraordinary thing is that those who lend money to the nation are not only helping the war, but are also helping themselves. And they are doing so in two ways, first by having by, on good terms, money which they may very probably want in the difficult days after the war, and, secondly, by getting into the habit of saving, which when wisely used is one of the most solid foundations of security and well-being.

W C F Anderson
Education Secretary

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/19)

Three men go to war

Just three more men from Reading St Mary were reported joining up this month.

The Vicars Notes
S. Mary’s
Roll of Honour

William George Anderson, Harry Evelyn Cross, Robert White.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, April 1916 (D/P98/28A/13)