Intercessions list: Reading St Giles

Reading churchgoers were asked to pray for their men.


Intercessions List

Sick and wounded: Kenneth Baines, Private Edwin Ritchie.

Missing: Alfred Henry Douglas. Harold Willoughby, Privates George May, Harry Kirkby, and Pavey.

Prisoners: The Rev. H.A. Smith-Masters, C.F. Lieut Cuthbert J.W. Trendall, Private Ernest Rogers.

R.I.P.: Driver Walter Browning, Corporal Frederick Browning, Captain Noel Thornton, Privates Ware, Connell and Dowler, Lieut. Mervyn Trendell.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

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Problems with an ‘old buffer’ of a clerk in the Orderly Room

Percy Spencer was still desperately trying to organise his transfer from Kitchener’s Army to work with his old boss in a territorial unit, and being stymied by army bureaucracy, as today’s letters reveal:

Pte Spencer, No:-11814
The Gloucester Regiment
YMCA Tent
Horfield Camp
Bristol
Sep. 21.14
Staff Captain R J Holliday
Dear Sir
I was very glad to get your wire today, and again thank you for all the trouble you are taking in the matter.

I had not made an application in writing, as I was quite unable to obtain a form for the purpose. The officers are all very sympathetic, but once in the Orderly Room they seem to curl up before some old buffer of a clerk there and merely repeat his assurance that nothing can be done.

So today I have myself written a formal application to Lt. Col. C J Baines, who is in command of the depot here – the GOC so far as I can ascertain is a General Knox, and if that is the man you want to get hold of, I’ll try and get his full name and address.

I will remain here as long as I can, or until you advise me that you can do nothing further, and in the meantime I’ll try to push matters at my end.

Yours faithfully
Percy J Spencer
(more…)

A most uncomfortable time – but the men are transformed

Percy Spencer was keen to arrange his transfer. He spoke frankly about army life and the shocking conditions for new recruits in a letter to his father in Cookham. He had also met some of the survivors of the retreat from Mons.

Private Spencer
No: 11814
The Gloucester Regiment
YMCA Tent
Horfield Camp
Bristol
Sep. 17.14

Dear Father

But for the fact that I shall probably get my transfer, I should today have been off with my company to Woolwich. Under the circumstances, I shall probably be here another four days, now.

We were a merry party, wet through or dry, penniless or flush, we saw the fun in everything, and when there was no fun, one of us made it.

My chums of a week have gone and you wouldn’t believe how lonely I felt looking round our empty tent. If I don’t get my transfer, I am after them; they may not be good enough for a dinner party but the sort of men I should like to fight with.

We lost a lot of men at Mons, and some of the wounded are here, fine earnest looking fellows, all anxious to get back again. All the men here who have seen service, have a wonderfully straight, stern look.

I have been very chatty with the officers this last day or two about my transfer. They are a fine body of men, sympathetic and anxious to relieve our conditions if possible. Practically active service conditions, to quote the press, are very trying to untrained men, and it would sicken your heart to see the fellows going down all over the ground at first parade. But I am told that when a few days ago. Men were sleeping on the grass without cover (luckily I have at least escaped that), the Colonel would walk round after midnight, and see that every man at least had a blanket.

Yesterday I saw Major Trench about my transfer. He thought I should get it, and told me to see the CO this morning. I made my first salute, turned right about and went flying over some tent rope. Today, amongst 500 men in the YMCA tent, he remembered my face, and stopped to ask me how I had fared, and expressed the hope that I should get my transfer. A wonderful man, with eyes like electric drills but so kind. He made a rattling good speech to us the other day – nothing silly, just earnest and sincere. None of the claptrap we had served up to us in London.

Your loving son
Percy

On the same day Percy wrote to his peacetime boss, Captain Holliday, to try to move things along, with a brief comment on life in the camp. (more…)