Not yet out of the wood

There was news of soldiers associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We have not as much information this month as we would like, and shall be glad if friends will send us news of the boys month by month.

Harold Islip has been home on leave. After his gassing, he was in hospital for a week, and in a convalescent camp for a fortnight. It is about 17 months since his last leave. On return he went straight back to duty.

John Hedges paid his old school and church a visit on a Sunday in August. It is some six or seven years since he left us to seek his fortune in Australia. He returned in a khaki suit. After some hard experiences he is at present doing clerical work in London.

Reginald Hill still continues to improve though he must yet pass through another operation before he is out of the wood. But we hope to see him home about Christmas.

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

Advertisements

Back to Australia

Bisham Abbey had two visitors. Phyllis Vansittart Neale was at home for a break from nursing, while a wounded Australian visited before being sent home.

10 August 1917

P. had long lie…

Captain Yates (DSO) came. Fractured skull. To go back to Australia.

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

The “Daily Mail” is demanding that Asquith & Churchill should be impeached

Expat Will Spencer had plenty to interest him in the Swiss newspapers – the first news of the Russian Revolution, plus the official enquiry into the fiasco of the Dardanelles expedition.

16 March 1917

Max Ohler’s birthday.

News in the paper of a revolution in St Petersburg. Also a rumour that the Czar is a prisoner, & has abdicated, & that his brother, the Grand-duke Michael Alexandrovitch, has been appointed regent….

Read an article in by the London correspondent of the “Bund” on the report of the Commission which was appointed to enquire into the conduct of the British Dardanelles Expedition. Lloyd George had said in Feb. 1915 that the Army was not there to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the Navy. The responsibility for the land operations(100,000 killed, wounded & missing, & 100,000 sick) being persevered with, rested with Asquith, Churchill & – though one is reluctant to say it under the circumstances – chiefly with the late Lord Kitchener.

My question is, did Asquith know that the chances of success were too small to justify the prosecution of the campaign? Or did he think it best to be guided by the opinion of Kitchener, & was it the expressed opinion of the latter that the chances were good enough. In the latter case, I am sorry for Asquith. The expedition was an expensive failure, but if the attempt had not been made, probably plenty would have said afterwards that it ought to have been made. It is always much easier to judge after the event.

The “Daily Mail” is demanding that by way of a warning to others, Asquith & Churchill should be impeached. Apparently it was from Australia & New Zealand that the demand for an enquiry came, very large contingents from those colonies having taken part & suffered heavily in the campaign.

Diary of Will Spencer (D/EX801/27)

“Her brother sets out today for France”

Three Berkshire schools saw the war affect them on 20 October 1916.

October 20th 1916

Cookham Alwyn Road School
Miss Eustace asked leave of absence today. Her brother from Australia is home, and sets out today for France.

Ashbury National School
David Low, a boy of Knighton, is leaving as his father is entering the army and the family are returning to Scotland.

Coleshill CE School
Mrs Scofield visited the school on Monday and Thursday; on the latter day to collect the children’s pennies for ‘Red Cross Fund’.

Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1, p. 283); Ashbury National School log book (C/EL5, p. 179); Coleshill CE School log book (D/P40/28/4, p. 6)

“He worked his own passage home to enable him to serve his King and country”

Large numbers of young men had gone out from Cookham Dean on active service. Sadly, more had fallen in action.

The Vicar’s Letter

The May issue of the Magazine brings with it the publication of the various Parish Accounts for the twelve months ended on March 31st. It will be seen that on the Church Expenses (Churchwardens’) Account there is a balance due to treasurer of £4 18s 6d. Owing to the number of young men on Active Service, the Congregations have been smaller and the Collections less than in former years, and this doubtless to a great extent accounts for the deficit.

Roll of Honour.

Sincere sympathy will be felt with the parents and gallant brothers of Private R. Piercey (Australian Contingent), who was killed at the Front on April 23rd. Private Piercey went out to Australia some years ago. It is with sincere regret also that we record the death of Capt. Jackson, whose name has for months past been on our Supplementary List. Capt. Jackson was a nephew of our friend Mr R. T. Jackson, of ‘Lynwood’, Cookham Dean. The following, taken from The Church Times, will interest our readers:-

Capt. Dudley Jackson, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who died on April 13th from wounds received on March 31st, was the eldest son of the Rev. Gerald H. Jackson, of Hasfield Rectory, Gloucester. Obtaining a commission in the Manchester Militia, he served in the Boer War, after which he served in the Johannesburg Mounted Police, then took mining in S. Rhodesia. At the outbreak of war in 1914, sending his wife and child before him to England, he worked his own passage home, under great hardships to one in his position, as a coal trimmer in a steamship, to enable him to serve his King and country. He was at once appointed to a company in his old regiment (3rd Manchesters), with which he went to France in May 1915. Later he was transferred to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Capt. Jackson married, in 1912, Ethel Grace, elder daughter of Mr Medcalf, of Capetown, and leaves one son.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P43B/28A/11)

“When oh! when? Not a glimmer of an ending yet!”

Violet, Countess of Mar and Kellie (1868-1938) wrote to Ralph Glyn with news of a royal romance. Nada (short for Nadejda) de Torby (1896-1963) was a cousin of the Czar of Russia and through her mother a descendant of the mixed-race Russian poet Pushkin. Prince George of Battenberg (1892-1938) (later the Marquess of Milford Haven) was the uncle of Prince Philip and brother of Earl Mountbatten, and is buried in Bray. The happy couple would get married in November 1916. But Violet was also worried about her own sons, aged 17 and 20, when the war seemed unending.

May 13, 1916
Alloa House
Alloa, NB

Dearest Ralph

Jock [her son John Erskine] was up here for his 21st birthday on Ap. 26th & he had a good many boys & girls here to give him a cheery week, but Portia & Cynthia Cadogan have spent the last three weeks just missing Pneumonia following Flu, and the 1st is up & creeping about the house, & Cynthia will not get out of bed! So I have had a busy time in addition to all my committees & war work.

Nada Torby & Prince George of Battenberg got engaged up here on Ap. 10th. Then New Zealand & Australia in a fog rammed, so he got leave (New Z. his ship), much to Nada’s joy. They are radiantly happy, & are both very lucky I consider. Beatty has a fine command up here, 2 new flotillas – & the “wobbly eight” departed lower down…. Rumours of 5th Bat. S coming to this part. Q. Eliz. & co. Hope you understand all these hieroglyphics.

Edward Stanley’s thigh wound not serious I hear, but fear Harry Ashley very severe in spine. He may not recover, & if he does may be always paralysed – too sad. Only just 22, & his mother’s only child & adoration. She is gone over to France to be with him.

That Irish business too awful. I heard of 16,000 casualties but can hardly believe that. Dillon’s speech even more disloyal than reported in yesterday’s papers (12th) & has had a bad effect in Ireland! Much better leave Maxwell in entire command there for a bit. Asquith, Birrell & Co should all mount the scaffold!
Expect you saw a bit of the P.O.W. He is back here, & I suppose will go to France again soon. Do you ever see Scatters Wilson? He is coming home on leave about June 10th. Neil Primrose I shall not see, as he cannot get south before middle of next month for a fortnight or so. Jock’s Medical Board may pass him for active service next month, but I doubt his inside letting him stay out for long. He cannot walk 4 miles!

Tommy [possibly her younger son Francis, born in January 1899] joins the Special Reserve of Scots Guards in Sept. till end year. When oh! when? Not a glimmer of an ending yet! He will be 17 ½. I can hardly believe it!…

Yours ever
Violet M.

Letter from Violet, Countess of Mar and Kellie (1868-1938) to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C21)

Playing at soldiers

Berkshire Education Committee was interested in national proposals for a scheme to train teenage boys not yet old enough to join the armed forces. A committee comprising councillor and chair of the committee, H G Willink and Messrs Mansfield and Childs of Reading University reported back. Their main concern was that the men most suitable for running such a programme were away at war, but they also felt that younger boys should not be militarised. Another big issue was the connection between social class and officer status.

Report of Cadet Training Sub-committee to the Education Committee

First report of the Special Sub-committee appointed on 29 April 1916 by the Berks Education Committee to consider the Lord Mayor of London’s “Scheme for the National Organisation of Cadet Training”.

We have met and considered this Scheme; and have also had before us a detailed Scheme of the Essex Education Committee “for the formation and organisation of Cadet Units”.

While not prepared to recommend either Scheme in its entirety, for reasons which will appear, we desire to express our appreciation of the aim underlying both, and to state that in our opinion there is need for some well-considered system by which lads below 18 years of age may not only gain the benefits of discipline but may also undergo a training which will exercise and develop their intelligence. We are convinced that this is essential if the youth of the country is to be adequately prepared either for future naval or military service or to be efficient and useful citizens of the Empire.

The Lord Mayor’s proposals fall under two heads, viz:

1. The establishment of a “National Cadet Council”, with certain relations to other authorities and with a quasi-subordinate system of City and County Cadet Committees…

2. The early introduction of a uniform system of training, upon lines following generally those of the Australian Cadet Scheme (which is established by law) but on a voluntary instead of a compulsory basis.

Under such a Scheme, lads above elementary school age and under 18 would be organised as Senior Cadets, who would receive a minimum of training in Physical Drill, Company (and some Battalion) Drill, Field Training, and Musketry. Boys from 12 to (say) 14, or Junior Cadets, would undergo a training which could only be called military in the sense of being preparation for military work. It would consist of Physical Exercises and Marching Drill, together with any two of the following: Miniature Rifle Shooting, Swimming, Organised Games, and First Aid. Senior Cadets to have a simple uniform, but Juniors none.
As regards the relations with existing formations – OT Corps would not come under the Council at all, the Boys’ Brigade, Church Lads’ Brigade, and YMCA, as well as the Boy Scouts, would remain separate, but close communication between them and the Council would be encouraged; and no objection is raised to lads or boys passing to or from them and Cadet Units, or even belonging to one of them and to a Cadet Unit also.

Note: The Essex Scheme, which contains no reference to the Lord Mayor’s proposals, invites “the co-operation of District Educational Sub-committees, School Managers, Teachers and others, with a view to the formation of Cadet Units”, the membership age to be from that of leaving the elementary school till 19, but no admission after 18….

The Scheme … lays down an elaborate curriculum of instruction, to be given in connection with the Evening Continuation Schools…

One further point may be noted. The Australian lad of 14 receives a “Record Book” in which his military history is entered up to the age of 26 years, and individuals unable to produce a Record Book with a clean service sheet are debarred from any service under the Commonwealth Government. There would, however, appear to be insuperable difficulties in the way of including this valuable feature in any voluntary Scheme, at any rate before the system was in practically universal operation.

Taking the Scheme as its stands, we are of opinion, in regard to the first “head”, that the establishment of some such central consultative body as the proposed “National Cadet Council” is desirable, provided that its functions are in the first instance confined to inquiry, ventilation and discussion; and do not extend to an immediate setting-up of a definite new Scheme, still less to its actual bringing into action.

We give due weight to the objection that the absence on active service, or the employment on other war work at home or abroad, of so many of the men best fitted to construct or introduce a system of such importance is a serious obstacle to arriving at a satisfactory decision upon the best lines for it. But we also feel strongly that the present united spirit of patriotism in public opinion ought to be utilized before reaction sets in, as may very likely be the case when the end of the war comes into sight…

The important point to bear in mind is that no new Scheme can be satisfactory which will not fit into a general plan for National Training for Home Defence, or which will in any way prejudge the question whether such training is to be on a voluntary or compulsory basis….

There are certain points which to us seem fairly clear, and which may be worth stating, if only to elicit discussion.
(more…)

Australian nurses fill in

Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing replaced nurses in the community who had left to nurse wounded soldiers with two young women from Australia:

7 January 1915
Nursing Staff

Miss Jones and Miss Linton who left at the end of August for Territorial Service in connection with the War have not yet returned, but during the past quarter the Superintendent has succeeded in getting Miss Gill and Miss Sweetapple (from Australia) to fill their places for the time being and it is hoped that these ladies may be able to stay on until Miss Jones and Miss Linton come back.

Two bicycles have been purchased for the Institute at a cost of £8. 8s. They are primarily for Misses Gill and Sweetapple (who have no home in England) but will be of general use in the Nurses’ work.

Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing, Reading: minutes (D/QX23/1/2, pp. 148, 151)

Don’t desert church workers in Canada and Australia during the war

We see here the concern of Reading churchgoers that Australian and Canadian citizens should not feel abandoned by British concentration on the war effort. The Colonial and Continental Church Society provided ministers for Anglican congregations in the remoter reaches of the British Empire – often teenagers and young men in their 20s from working class backgrounds who had enthusiasm and commitment but often lacked the formal education to seek ordination as clergymen. The Society’s secretary in the early years of the war, who was responsible for selecting these men, was, incidentally, the Revd Frank Dickinson, nephew of Henry Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey.

Colonial and Continental Church Society Drawing Room Sale

Mrs. Dimbleby, the new Hon. Secretary of our Ladies’ Auxiliary, has very kindly offered to continue the Drawing Room Sale, held originally by Miss Green, and subsequently by Mrs. Wilson. The Sale will be held at Craven Road on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, October 14th and 15th. It will be readily understood that the spiritual needs of far-off Prairie settlers do not cease during the war. The brave clergy working in the Australian bush and in the remote regions of Yukon and Athabasca must not be allowed to feel that the Empire has deserted them.

Reading St John parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P172/28A/23, p. 2)