He had gone “over the top” more than 17 times

There was news of men from Maidenhead Congregationalists.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Alfred Isaac is at the Crystal Palace, in training for the Navy. George Ayres is at Anglesey, in daily expectation of orders for overseas. Wallace Mattingley is in Ireland. A. J. Lane is having his first experience of life in the front lines. Alfred Vardy is map-making a few miles from the coast in France. Reginald Hill is still in hospital at Cliveden. Ernest Bristow is daily looking for his discharge. Mr. and Mrs. Sale recently spent a day in Maidenhead, visiting their old friends. Mr. Sale is passed in the highest class for general service, and was “joining up” immediately.”

DEATH OF BENJAMIN GIBBONS.

The distressing news has just come to hand that Benjamin Gibbons was killed in action on June 24th. It is scarcely more than three weeks since he went back to France, after some time in Ireland. When he was last home on furlough he was far from well, but he was quite ready to return. In answer to a question he said that he had gone “over the top” more than 17 times. May God’s tenderest consolation be with the bereaved parents.

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

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“I witnessed all the terrific bombardment from land and sea against the Gaza defences, and shall never forget the awful spectacle”

A Maidenhead man bears witness to the fighting in Palestine.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Reginald Hill has left Sheffield Hospital, and hoped to have left hospitals for ever, but very shortly after getting home he had a slight relapse, and at the time of writing is a patient at Cliveden. We hope his stay there will be very brief.

Harold Islip is in hospital at Trouville, suffering from trench fever. He expects shortly to be in training for a Commission.

Ernest Bristow will probably be at Cliveden by the time this has reached our readers’ hands.

George Ayres has been transferred to a Field Company of the Engineers, and is at Anglesey.

Reginald Hamblin is in a Flying Corps, and is training at Totteridge.

Herbert Hodgson is in a camp near Salisbury Plain.

Benjamin Gibbons is in Ireland.

Leonard Beel sends a letter (which has evidently had a soaking in sea water) with vivid account of what he has seen in Palestine. He says:

“I witnessed all the terrific bombardment from land and sea against the Gaza defences, and shall never forget the awful spectacle. Afterwards I had a good look around Gaza, and saw the results of the bombardment, but unfortunately missed the several interesting spots associated with Samson’s career through want of a guide.”

He speaks, too, of visiting Ashdod, Lydda, the Vale of Ajalon, and Jaffa, where Simon the tanner entertained Peter, and where Dorcas was raised.

“The native villages,” he says, “are picturesque from a distance only. Inside they are usually worse than any English slum, full of filth and squalor. It is months ago since I last saw an Arab with a clean face.”

His one regret is that he has missed seeing Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, June 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Unfit for peace

Maysie Wynne-Finch wrote to her brother Ralph Glyn to tell him of her joy at having her soldier husband home from the Front – and the excitement of experiencing air raids.

Sep.10/15
Cliffe Close
Highcliffe
Hants

My darling R.

…I am very sorry it’s so long since I wrote, I missed one mail & then last week I was hopeless as John got his week’s leave. Oh it was heavenly, only I didn’t know time could go so quick. I got a wire the 31st and he cane on Wed – no time for me to meet him in London. To my sorrow he caught a 5 a.m. train from Euston, having arrived 2.30 a.m. so he didn’t waste much time. The Parents fled as if we were plague struck. However they came here so are more than happy. Meg [her sister] has been splendid & fitted them in. John went back Wed evening & Meg & I came here that night. Addy is an angel & I am with her. Somehow I couldn’t face going straight back home. I am going on the 18th I think.

We are having great Zep days. On Tuesday we were just turning in when there was a noise & John said it was a gun – then we heard another & fetched Reg. We saw nothing & heard only a few more distant shots. It turned out they’d been over Kennnington. They destroyed some houses in the Old Kent Road. Fire engines were dashing about all night. Then Wed night seems to have been more exciting. There were 3 Zeps & everyone saw them for about 10 minutes, as our searchlights got them. Lord Colville writes to Addy & says for 10 minutes the sound of bursting bombs & guns was terrific – & they did a lot of damage – 15 people were killed by one bomb hitting a motor bus in the City. They caused several fires & one very large one close to the Bank. I suppose we shall have a spell of the devils for a bit. I wish we could catch them. So long as they don’t get our munition works it won’t matter much.

Dear old Sir Edward Goschen was here yesterday. We hadn’t met since Berlin. He has taken a house here. He brought word of these Russian successes in Galicia, he also said he heard on good authority that the Russians would be able to make an offensive on less than a month, & that their immediate reserve was a [division?] now ready. In fact he was so cheering I can’t believe him! Everyone seems to think we are going to make a big move in the west now at once. I suppose we ought & shall. John expected it. Meantime the new Guards Div. are still right back – not formed even, apparently they have no guns yet even. But that is probably not true & they are sure to be in any push, if there is one.

You seem to be fairly “in it” now. Your story of Coxson is priceless. How he must hate it. I wish your news was better – it must be so sickening for you all – especially seeing the awful price we paid & without the result. Now one wonders so what next. There seems precious little light anywhere just now. Every day I am getting more convinced there is going to be no big Fleet action, aren’t you? I’m afraid the Russians didn’t destroy the Nolke, but anyhow the Huns are properly taken on evidently.

I expect you’ll be sad about the Grand Duke. He wouldn’t change his C of Staff so was told he must or go with his own man, so he went. That’s the yarn I heard from Edmund Charteris, & he generally knows the right of things…

There has been great excitement at Cefre over these submarine [illegible] glass balls which are being washed ashore. At least that’s what they are said to be. They caught a submarine string on the sand of some Tripper beach in Anglesey the other day! 57 is said to be the number of Fritz’s we’ve now disposed of. Not too bad.

That Trades Union decision about National Service was pretty rotten, it shows how utterly unfit we still are for peace & how little better a year of war has made us. Dreadful. These boys here are splendid…

John has brought home a beautiful specimen of a rifle [bomb crossed through] grenade thing. They must be the devil.

Bless you darling. Take care of yourself…

Your ever loving
Maysie

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to her brother Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)