“We hope he will be spared to return home”

More news of Reading men.

S. Marks District

We are thankful to say we have good news of S. Mark’s lads from France and elsewhere.

We were very pleased to see both Pte. W. Denton and Pte. Fred Taylor home on leave and to know that they are recovering from their wounds.

Another of our servers, D. Pocock, has had to join up, and is now in training with the R.A.F. at Bath. We shall miss him much, and hope he will get on well and be spared to return home.

Reading St Mark section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, August 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

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A pretty wedding at Bisham

Nurse Elizabeth Vansittart Neale, co-heiress of Bisham Abbey, had enjoyed a wartime romance with 27 year old officer Leo Paget, and today was their wedding day – at Bisham Church. Mother Florence’s diary entry was brief:

20 October 1917

Bubs’ wedding day.

However, she went into more detail in another book she kept.

20th October 1917
Elizabeth married Capt Leo Paget – Rifle Brigade. Wedding took place in Bisham Church – very pretty – good music with Dr. Bath at organ & Marlow choir boys to reinforce ours.

Over 60 guests at luncheon, almost all relations.

Bridal pair repaired [?] to Reading to Malets Cottage at Norcot–Lynton [?].

Young Paget came over on leave from the front in France – he arrived the day before the wedding- he had 2 weeks leave (4 days extra for marriage).

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Bisham estate memorandum book (D/EX73/1/8/2, p. 222)

Drawing on the nation’s too limited wool supply

By this point in the war 10 Berkshire policemen who were serving at the Front had been killed. Closer to home, demand for army uniforms was monopolising the nation’s wool supply. Most men’s outdoor clothing was based on woven woollen cloth, which was warm and waterproof.

6 October 1917
Clothing for 1918

The Acting Chief Constable has received the following letter from Messrs Titley, Son & Price, whose tender for the supply of clothing for the year 1918 has been accepted.

19, Cheap Street, Bath
13th Sept. 1917

Dear Sir

When we tendered for 1918 overcoats, something serviceable at old prices, we anticipated some difficulty but this has been increased by the few men, on the two lists we have received, who are doing without them. We calculated that we might obtain sufficient material to supply about half your force; and in the state of the wool market, which as you know is practically commandeered for military requirements, we do not see how we can fill more than that. We have plenty of blue to enable us to offer Capes, Serges, or Trousers in lieu, without drawing on the nation’s too limited wool supply. Could you kindly, at the next pay day, help us by causing to be discovered if there are not a large number of men with overcoats sufficiently new to enable the exchange to be made.

Yours obediently in all commands
Titley, Son & Price.

The Committee recommend that the Acting Chief Constable be empowered in all cases where the Superintendents report that the great coats now in the possession of the men are serviceable and likely to last until the next issue in 1920, to issue capes, serges or trousers in lieu thereof, or to grant, as compensation, £1.1s.0d on the understanding that in the event of a man’s coat not lasting until the issue in 1920, he shall repay an amount in proportion to the period unexpired.

Constables killed in action

I regret to report the death on active service of the following Police Constables, viz PC 111 Raymond E. Offer, PC 119 Charles Warman, PC 213 Arthur Frank Wheatcroft and PC 82 George William Bennett.

PC 111 Offer died on 20 July 1917 from wounds received in action, and PCs 119 Warman, 213 Wheatcroft and 82 Bennett were killed in action on 1 August, 16 August and 8 September respectively.

All four were unmarried, and so far as I am aware had no one dependent on them for support. Bennett joined the force on 1st January 1907.

This makes 10 Constables who have lost their lives during the war.

PCs 80 Pill and 41 Vile have rejoined the Force, the former on 1 September and the latter on 24 September.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Husband ordered to the front

A teacher had time off to see her husband before he headed for the front line.

29th January 1917.

Mrs Butcher was absent today having gone to Bath to visit her husband who has been ordered to the front.

Aldermaston School log book (88/SCH/3/3, p.64)

The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.

O.R. NEWS.

Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”

(more…)

Every man jack comes to services, even the sentries

The Maidenhead parish magazine had more fascinating details of army chaplains’ work close to the front line.

Soldiers and Religion.

The Rev. C. E. Doudney, Vicar of St. Luke’s, Bath, Chaplain to the Forces in France, writes solemn and cheering words about the eagerness of officers and men at the Front to hear the Gospel:

Services were great yesterday. All my brigades are ‘in,’ so no services could be held for them, but I was on all day long at guns and transport, ambulance and motor machine guns. Informal little services with congregations ranging from 50 to 200, generally sitting in a group singing hymns and talking to ‘em. And the chaps listening hungrily. In some units every man jack came, from officers to cooks, and they withdrew the sentries because they didn’t want to miss it.

We have established a padre’s mess, the three of us, and find it works A1. We’re almost out of range, and it’s a great relief to get back after a night’s work in the trenches, or under heavy fire getting there, to the quiet and peace of this place.

The work is great. Welcome everywhere. Services well attended and attention simply riveted. The attendance at Holy Communion very good. We celebrate anywhere, mostly in the open air at all hours of day or night. In one’s addresses one has to go to bed-rock at once. It’s no time for flowers of speech. The officers and men are thirsting for the fact of Christ as living in and among them…

The men are altogether different, the whole tone is changed, and one only prays that it may last on after the war. If it does, England will be a new place.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P181/28A/24)

Splendid work for wounded soldiers

The women and girls of Reading St John continued to be active in supporting soldiers and sailors.

GIRLS’ CLUB COMPETITIONS…

The result of the Competitions is all the more gratifying as S. John’s Girls have been doing work in other directions all the winter; at Christmas time they sent out 20 hampers to some of our poorest neighbours, and 70 toys either made or mended. They have also made and sent to members of our Army and Navy, 3 nightshirts, 7 waist-coats, 12 pairs of long sailors’ stockings, 36 helmets, 17 pairs of socks, 16 scarves, 57 pairs of mittens. Mrs. Stuart Rickman or Arborfield Grange kindly provided all the wool for articles sent to the Navy, and another friend the wool for those sent to the Army. As many of the girls are continuing this work during the summer, there will soon be a further list of articles to the credit of the club.

CARE AND COMFORTS COMMITTEE.

Our Working Party for providing comforts for the wounded soldiers is doing splendid work. We are now in direct touch with the Military Hospital, and can be assured that we are working on the articles most needed at the moment., as Miss Homan has been appointed a member of the Sub-Committee which deals with this branch of the work. The following is the list of further subscriptions towards our fund for the purchase of materials.

Amount already acknowledged, £6. 0s. 6d; Anonymous, £1; St John’s Day Schools, 10/-; Miss Bell, 10/-; Mrs Dimbleby, 5/-; Mr John Eighteen, £2 2s 0d; Miss Hewitt, 2/6; Miss Green, 10/-; Mrs and Miss Cray, 3/-; Mrs Dauncey, 10/-; Mrs Arnold, 10/-; Miss B. Venner, 2/6; Nurse Bath, 2/6; The Misses Turquand, 10/-; Mrs Meaden, 10/-; Mrs Harrison Jones, 10/-; Miss Harrison Jones, 10/-; Mrs Beare, 5/-; Anonymous, 10/-; Mr Herbert Kingham, £1 1s 0d. Total £16 4s 0d. The £3 acknowledged last month as from Messrs Sutton should have read the Misses Sutton.

The following is the list of articles sent to the Red Cross Depot from our Working Party up to date:

hot water bottle bags, 38; locker cloths, 78; brush bags, 78; many-tailed bandages, 26; oddment bags, 21; anaesthetic pads, 34; pairs slippers, 45; pairs socks, 10; coloured pillow covers, 29; feather pillows, 3; nightshirts, 3; operating coat, 1; face cloths, 25; old linen. Total, 391.

EASTER CARDS

Replies have … been received from the following at the front: S. Pottinger, Albert Stevens, H. W. Fisher, G. King.

Reading St John parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P172/28A/23)