Forbury Hill “not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate”

There was considerable debate over a proposed Berkshire war memorial. This project never came to fruition, as not enough money was raised, and the committee folded in 1922. However, in 1930 a former serviceman who was elected mayor of Reading revived it.

17 November 1919

The secretary reported that Dr Stewart Abram, Mayor of Reading, had acceded to the request to join the committee [and was present at this meeting]. He also reported the death of Mr H C Mylne and it was agreed that Mr Martin, the newly elected Mayor of Wokingham, be asked to take the vacant place on the committee.

The secretary reported that the Town Clerk had written saying that the application for the Forbury Hill site had been considered by the Parks & Pleasure Grounds Committee, and that they have recommended the Town Council to accede to the application of the Berkshire War Memorial Executive Committee. The recommendation above will be considered by the Council on the 4th December.

The site of the Forbury Hill selected for the memorial was criticised by Mr Bates, who pointed out that in all probability the Hill was itself a memorial and that it was not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate. Considerable discussion took place, and it was suggested that a much better position could be found in the Forbury Gardens at the Victoria Gate. Mr Bates moved and Mr Howell seconded

“that the Town Clerk should be informed that on re-consideration and after an inspection of the Forbury Hill and Gardens the Committee feel that it would be undesirable to interfere with the amenities of what they understand is really an Historical Monument. Moreover the Committee finds that any suitable monument erected on the Hill would necessitate much re-modelling of the Gardens and interference with the existing arrangements. In the circumstances the Committee request that the application made in the secretary’s letter of the 24th October be not put forward at the Town Council meeting on the 4th December.”

This was approved unanimously. The secretary was instructed to intimate that a fresh application for another site in the near neighbourhood will probably be forthcoming later on.

The Committee visited the Forbury Gardens in connection with a suggestion made by Mr Bates, supported by Councillor Howell and others, and it was ultimately decided that Mr Benyon, Mr Bates and Councillor Howell be appointed a Sub-committee to prepare a plan of the site in question in order that the matter may be further considered at the next committee meeting.

The secretary reported the issue of posters & record cards as agreed at the last meeting, and the question was raised as to the persons whose names should be recorded. Colonel Barker moved that “the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men who were serving in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Territorial battalions of the Berkshire Forces when the war broke out, be deemed to be Berkshire men for the purpose of the memorial”. The resolution was seconded by Mr Bates and passed.

The secretary was instructed to return the designs submitted at the last committee meeting, and to express the thanks of the committee to the designers.

Bills for printing and petty expenditure were submitted and passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

The site for the Berkshire war memorial should be the Forbury Hill

A site was selected for a Berkshire war memorial.

21 October 1919
Executive Committee meeting

Present: J Herbert Benyon, President
Messrs Foley, Bates, Willink, Belcher, Bradbury, Barker, Quelch, Howell, Hayward, Johnson (Town Clerk), Arman (secretary).

The Secretary reported that the land in the Caversham Road, suggested as a possible site, could not be obtained for a lesser sum than £5000. He stated that it was understood that the Forbury Hill site would most likely be granted by the Town Council if desired.

The suggested designs sent in by the undermentioned gentlemen were on view and received consideration:

No. 1. Lt C H Perkins, ARIBA, Bracknell
2. J H Willett, Caversham
3. C B Willcocks, Reading
4. H Hutt, Reading
5. J H Carey & Son, Windsor
6. A N Arman (amateur), Reading
7. F G Belcher (amateur), Reading

A general discussion took place during which a scheme in connection with the new Caversham Bridge was referred to and explained by Mr Howell, and the suggestion was more or less supported by Mr Bates.

It was considered that the committee as a body should view the Exhibition of War Memorials at the Royal Holloway before coming to any conclusion, and it was thought that subsequently it should be debated whether a competitive design should be obtained by offering a premium and throwing the competition open generally, or whether it would be best to place the matter into the hands of some eminent artist to prepare a design and advise generally.

In order that some definite progress be made it was proposed by Councillor Quelch, seconded by Col Barker, that the site for the memorial should be the Forbury Hill in the Forbury Gardens, Reading. Carried.

The secretary was requested to make a formal application to the Town Council for the grant of the site in question. He was also requested to send a report of the committee meeting to the newspapers announcing the decision as to the site (subject to the approval of the Town Council).

Mr Hayward moved, and Mr Bates seconded, that Dr Stewart-Abram, the mayor-elect, be invited to join the committee. Passed unanimously.

The secretary submitted proposals, which were approved by the committee, to print and circulate throughout the county a poster asking that the names of Berkshire men for record on the memorial be sent to the vicars of the respective parishes; that the vicar of each parish in the county be asked to co-operate in obtaining the names of the men for record purposes; to print and circulate the suggested letter to the vicars of parishes together with the record card of which drafts were adopted. Similar applications for co-operation to be sent to the Comrades of the Great War and the Federation of Discharged Sailors & Soldiers.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

These served their King by land or sea from the Parish of Wargrave during the Great War

A final list of the Wargrave men who served in the war. NB: where this symbol † appears in the list, an entry for this soldier exists in the corresponding supplement to follow.

ROLL OF HONOUR.

These served their King by land or sea from the Parish of Wargrave during the Great War.

Additions and Corrections for this Roll should be sent to the Vicar as soon as possible.

Adby, L.
Adby, C.
Adby, W.
Adby, O.
Alderton, F. J.
Allen, C. W.
Allum, H.
Amos, G.
Andrew, H.
Arnold, A. E.
Arnold, W.
Attlesey, H. F.
(more…)

A new star

Always interested in the natural world, Sydney Spencer was excited by news of a newly discovered nova.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 15 June 1918

I was orderly officer today & got up at 5.45, & saw the men’s breakfasts. Came back to mess, washed & dressed. After breakfast I wrote to some Scotch firm about shortbread. Looked round billets, then gathered up officers’ advance pay books & orders for pay for Battalion. Dillon let me have his horse ‘Charlie Chaplin’ & I rode to Acheux & got the money. A glorious morning. Saw Barker’s batman & sent message to him. Got back at 12.30. Dished money out.

After lunch took drummers up to range & picked up clips & ‘empties’. After tea wrote letters. After dinner a staff parade. Capt. Weave is back with Battalion. Dillon taught me double patience & we played a game, up till 11 pm. I used my new field glasses to try & find the new star in Aquila but I couldn’t find it.

End of 10th week [at the front].

Florence Vansittart Neale
15 June 1918

Expected 2 officers but they did not come.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“We are to use Stokes Guns & bombs from ‘cup’ attachments & ‘umpteen’ rounds of SAA”

Sydney faced another extended journey before being thrown back into the fray.

Wednesday 12 June 1918

Got up at 6 am. Got across to Candas exchange station. A kindly goods RE in the cook house shaved me with a safety razor, with much & very earnest care! Caught a supply train, which got us quite quickly to Puchvillers by 9 am. Here Graham caught a lorry for Toutencourt, so one more ship vanished in the night.

Barker & I got our breakfast at 10.30. Caught a lorry to end of Puchvillers. Lorry jumped from there to Reinecheval, & finally to Argueres where he came & had lunch with us.

Dear old Peyton I find has gone to A Company as 2nd in command. I am very sorry although he well deserves the rise. After lunch saw Barker off, called on Peyton.

After tea went out to range & practiced an attack for a scheme tomorrow morning before our new corps commanders, the ‘23rd corps’. We are to use Stokes Guns & bombs from ‘cup’ attachments & ‘umpteen’ rounds of SAA. After dinner the CO came in & talked about scheme, then to bed.

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

“Rather boring but a necessary part of a course I suppose”

Sydney Spencer continued his gas course.

Sunday 9 June 1918

Got up at 7.15. After breakfast wrote up some of my notes. On parade. A long lecture on yellow cross shelling. A very good lecture. After a break, we each had to give details for different drills. Rather boring but a necessary part of a course I suppose. Then a talk by SSOI training Lt Col Porrit Morris. A lecture on cause of casualties in yellow cross. Then we dismissed.

After lunch, during which we had a few contretemps owing to bad mess waiting, a lecture on gas poisoning. After tea lolled about a bit. Wrote notes until 7 pm & then down to Hesdin to dinner with Barker. Noticed a French Major at dinner. He was a curious old man & had curious manners.

After dinner walked back to mess & wrote up my notes until 12.30. Then to bed and read more of Tartarin de Tarascon. A highly entertaining book. A lot of ‘sweet’ rain today to cool the atmosphere. A fine night.

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

Gas masks of all nations

Sydney was instructed in the use of gas masks and translating for fellow trainees, while Percy had a bad day.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 8 June 1918

Another beautiful day after the light rain we had last night. Got up at 7.30. After breakfast lolled about a bit & then on parade by 9.30 am. First parade consisted in [sic] a lecture by Lieut. Ash on Warfare generally, followed by the Projector Gas attack, a very interesting part of the lecture to me as I had not heard more than vague rumours as to how it worked.

After lecture a break, then gas drill till 12.30. Adjustment of box respirators by members! Lunch, & afterwards parade till 4.30. Lecture on gas masks of all nations, ie English, French, German & Russian. The Russian is a hideous [sic] affair. After the lecture a talk from the QM Staff man on Inspection. A rotten exhibition. Then through lachrymator gas to test the masks. At 4.30 we dismissed.

After tea, walked to Hesdin with Barker. Made sundry purchases. Barker wanted anything from ninepins to elephants. He taxed my French noun vocabulary to the last ounce. After dinner a loll in the garden. Then writing up gas notes.

Percy Spencer
8 June 1918

Went up to Battalion HQ. A very pleasant walk up. Fireworks everywhere. An awful journey back. Horses bolted as we tore thro’ batteries shelling & being shelled.

Florence Vansittart Neale
8 June 1918

Better news in France. We retaking few places. Heard Boy [her son in law Leo Paget] 3 months more in England & has an MC.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Battalion HQ in very deep dugout

Sydney had a sightly better journey today, and paid more attention to the controversial Billing case at home.

Sydney Spencer
Thursday 6 June 1918

Rose at 5 am. Got breakfast, & into the train for Hesdin by 6.30. It is now 9.30 & we haven’t yet started. Another glorious morning, all sunshine.

Billing has been pronounced ‘not guilty’. Justice Darling makes use of the following expression, ‘I tell you now that I do not care a bit for you or anyone like you, or what you say about me’ seems ridiculously childish. A street boy would have pulled a face & said ‘yar ‘oo cares for you’ & would have called for more conviction with him!

Started for Hesdin (30 miles) at 9.30. Got there 11.30. Wonderful. Lorry jumped to Marronville, arriving at 12 noon. Graham & I billeted at the mead, a long low white cottage facing the church. Mess will be started tomorrow morning.

Had lunch at the Hotel de Commerce. Walked back to billets. Slept. Got some [illegible] out of the sergeant. Walked down with Graham & Barker to Hesdin. Had dinner at the Hotel de France. Back by 9.15 & to bed. Started reading Tartarin de Tarascon by Alphonse Daudet. A very droll book.

Percy Spencer
6 June 1918

17th relieved us and we went into support. Battalion HQ in very deep dugout.

Florence Vansittart Neale
6 June 1918

Early church – dog walk – then fussed to find rooms for farm workers till lunch. Heard another officer coming today & one tomorrow. Captain Petcher AFC Maidenhead called on Miss Areson.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Only 30 miles & we have taken 16 hours so far”

Sydney Spencer had a terrible journey behind the lines on his way to further training. No wonder he had a headache.

Wednesday 5 June 1918

3.45 am. Still seated in a motionless train. No nearer Abbeville, our destination. Eleven hours in the train & about 30 miles or less accomplished. I can hear the cookoo [sic] outside & thrushes singing, which sounds refreshing at any rate!

4.30 am. Still stuck fast!

8.30 am. We have moved a little! But we are not yet at Abbeville. Only 30 miles & we have taken 16 hours so far. Curious coincidence! The CO of chap going on curse with me sat on my right when I took my [illegible] in March! Major Monckton of Balliol!
Stoppage on line caused by Hun bombing line last night. 5 trains now in a long row!

We arrived at Abbeville at 11 o’clock. Changed & got to Etaples at 4.30 pm. Exactly 24 hours to go about 70 miles!

Etaples a glorious white splash of sunshine. The sea looked glorious from the Officers’ Club after dinner. After tea, a shampoo, shave & hot bath. This relieved a racking headache which I had developed. We went for a walk in Etaples & then to bed. Disturbed by a beast of a man who was absolutely blind drunk! He was sick in our tent! After that, peace.

Officers on our course from our corps, myself, Major Knights, [illegible], 2nd Lt Barker & a Welsh officer, Jones by name.

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

“We pray that their relatives may before long hear news of them”

Sad news kept coming.

We offer our deep sympathy to the family of Archie Taylor, the news of whose death from wounds received early in the Somme offensive has been notified to his parents.

The following are reported wounded, and we are glad to hear that they are progressing favourably: — R Oldham, T. Barker, H. Henley, E. Law, A. May, J. Williams, W. Ewart.

We very much regret to hear that both Reginald Turner and William Watson are reported missing and we pray that their relatives may before long hear news of them.

Letters of thanks for Christmas parcels are still being received from men in the East: — P. Matthews, S. C. Woods, A. Birch, F.C. Havell.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

His memory will be cherished by all who knew him

A gentle young man from Hare Hatch had lost his life in Greece.

Hare Hatch Notes

The deepest sympathy is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Barker whose son Percy was killed at Salonica, on July 4th. He took especial interest in the lads’ club, his gentle nature and thoughtful manner was always felt in the club room and as a member of the Committee. His memory will be cherished by all who knew him.
A.E.C

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

No prizes this year – feed starving Belgian children instead

As the school year drew to a close, an Abingdon school reflected on the impact of the war.

1916, 24th-28th July

No prizes were given this year. In order to practice the public duty of economy, the County Council gave none, but in order to preserve the efficiency of the school, a number of War Time Certificates were awarded to girls for completing with credit a year’s work in their respective classes. These were presented on Thursday morning by the Mayoress (Mrs H Clarke) who was accompanied by the Vicar and Mrs Kennedy, Mrs Reynolds, Miss Morland and Miss Clarke. Mr Tatham, Mr Gadd and the Revs Barker and Thomas were also present. Maggie Money, Standard 7, received the Bishop’s Prayer Book, and 8 other girls Certificates from the Diocesan Inspector, 20 others were commended. The Medals, Bars and Clasps had not arrived.

Some things done by the children in War Time:

Xmas puddings to Soldiers to value £1
Overseas Fund Xmas 9/
Wool for socks made £1
Blind Soldiers and Sailors Fund 16/6
Empire Day Overseas Fund 12/6
Cottage Hospital 74lbs weight
Oxford Cot Fund 10/0

They voted that the Prize Money usually given by the Managers, together with 10/6 which they brought themselves should be given to the Fund for starving Belgian children. This amounted to £2.10.6.

Abingdon Girls’ CE School log book (C/EL 2/2, p. 120)

Social Evening for Wargrave’s wounded soldiers

Wounded soldiers recovering in the Wargrave area were invited to a social evening including cards and refreshments.

Social Evening

The Wargrave Tennis Club arranged a most successful Social Evening on February 16th in the Woodclyffe Hall, when over 130 guests were present including most of the wounded soldiers from the V.A.D. Hospital in Wargrave and Sir Charles Henry’s Hospital at Crazies Hill. In the Whist Drive the prize winners were:- Ladies, 1st Miss Pilworth, 2nd Miss Hayes, Mystery, Miss Blackwall, and Consolation, Mrs. H. Barker. Gentlemen:- 1st, Trooper Foster, 2nd, Mr. W. Hunt, Mystery Sergeant Fawcett, Consolation, Mr. W. Hope. The prizes were kindly provided by Mrs. Hinton, Mrs. Pennell (Lawrence Waltham) and Mrs. Ward (Osterley Park). The Committee were able to hand over a sum of three guineas to the V.A.D. Hospital authorities. The catering for refreshments was most capably superintended by Mrs. Hanson.

Wargrave parish church magazine, March 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

“We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”

The vicar of Reading St Mary had some Christmas thoughts for his flock, despite the ongoing war, and the large numbers leaving home to join the armed forces.

The Vicar’s Notes

How much we hoped that this Christmas would be a Christmas of peace! But as the King said in his noble appeal to his people, “The end is not in sight.” So we must be patient, and even in the midst of the terrific struggles of this great war, must try and enter into the spirit of the Christmas festival with its strong message of hope and encouragement, and the certainty that it assures us of, that God will bring good out of evil.

Roll of Honour
Additional names, S, Mary’s District

Harry Day, Norman Day, William Day, William Kemp, Frank Goddard, George Hunt, Jesse Gore, Albert Gore, John Gore, Sidney Gore, William Peirce, William Eaton, Robert Hinder, William Noakes, Frederick Wild, George Swain, Herbert Allen, Charles Smith, Clement Green, Albert Gibson, Alec Barker, John Noakes.

All Saint’s District
Roll Of Honour

George Baker, Frederick Montague Brown, Arthur Budd, Alfred Bernard Carter, Harry Clay, Arthur William Crook, Charles Frederick Fox, Fred Fuller, Bert Fuller, William Hanson, Albert Charles Lambden, Walter Howard Lee, Walter John Malham, John Henry Malham, Herbert William Macdonald, Frank James Noble, F. William Pomeroy, Fred Povey, Ernest Frank Sopp, Harold Stagg, Charlie Turner, John Turner, Ernest Wicks, Albert Wiggins.

S. Saviours District
War Intercessions

The service at 3 p.m. on Wednesday will be continued during Advent. Several more men from this district have joined the Army and Navy during the past month, among them being Reginald James Barnes and Albert Edward Griffin, two of our servers, whom we may hope to see at Christmas.

In letters, which have been received, occur such words as “We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”; “indeed I miss S. Saviour’s very much”; “I did not get the chance of going to Church either last Sunday or this … I was very disappointed.”

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)