Conspicuous bravery during the retreat

Various Old Redingensians (OLd Boys of Reading School) had been serving their country.

O.R. NEWS.

Deaths

Captain Lionel Tudor Wild, Somerset L.I., was the second son of Mr. and Mrs Aubrey S. Wild. Of 21, canning-road, Addiscombe, Croydon, and was born in 1888.Educated at St. Winifred’s, Kenley, and Reading School, he was for a short time in the service of the London and Westminster Bank, but afterwards turning his attention to motor engineering, he took up an appointment with Messrs Argylls (Limited) in Dundee, and was subsequently manager of the company’s branch in Aberdeen. For several years before the war he was a member of the Surrey Yeomanry, and attained the rank of sergeant, being one of the best rifle-shots in his squadron. On the outbreak of war he was mobilized with his regiment, and after some months’ training obtained a commission in the Somerset Light infantry, proceeding to France with his battalion in July, 1915. In 1916 he was appointed brigade staff captain, but eventually returned to his regiment, and was given the command of the company. He was reported “wounded and missing” on November 30th, 1917, and it has now been established that he was killed on that date, in an attempt to save the remnant of his company during the German counter attack near Cambrai, and was buried by the enemy at Masnieres.

On Saturday the death occurred at “Westdene,” Earley, the home of his parents, of Sec. Lieut. F.I. (Frank) Cunningham after illness contracted on active service. Deceased was educated at Reading School, from which he entered the City and Guilds Engineering College, London, and after going through the three year’s course he obtained a diploma in civil and mechanical engineering. In 1910 he went to Canada, and was assistant engineer on the Grand Trunk Railway. When war broke out he enlisted on August 14th, as a private in the Royal Highlanders of Canada. He was at Valcartier and Salisbury Plain, and in 1915 went to the front. At Ypres he was wounded in the foot, and after recovery was attached to the C.A.M.C., until 1916. He then obtained a commission in the R.F.C., which he held up till February the 3rd of this year, when he was invalided out of the service and granted the honorary rank of Sec. Lieut.

The funeral took place at St Peter’s Earley, on Thursday, April 11th. The officiating clergy were the Rev. W. S. Mahony, Vicar of Linslade, the Rev. Capt. A. Gillies Wilken (O.R.) Chaplain to the Canadian Forces ( lately prisoner of war in Germany), and the Vicar (Canon Fowler). The coffin was draped in the Union Jack.

Military Cross

Capt. (A/Major) D.F. Grant, R.F.A., the son of Mr W.J. Grant, of 12, Glebe Road, Reading. Major Grant was educated at Reading School, and quite recently lost his eyesight in France but has since regained it.

Captain Arnold J. Wells, A.S.C., T.F. (Territorial Force), has been awarded the M.C. for meritorious service in Egypt. He has served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine.

Bar To Military Cross

Sec. Lieut. (A/Capt.) J.L. Loveridge, M.C., Royal Berks.

Mentioned In Despatches

Fullbrook-Leggatet, Capt. C.St. Q.O., D.S.O., M.C., Royal Berks Regt.

Military Medal

Corpl. H.C. Love, Despatch Rider, R.E., of Reading, has won the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery during the retreat March 23rd-30th.

The following is the official statement of service for which Lieut. O.S. Frances, M.C. Royal Berks Regt. Received his bar: –

“He marked out the assembly positions for the whole brigade before an attack and guided forward companies of two battalions over very difficult ground and under heavy shell fire.”

Corporal W.L. Pauer, a sniper in the Munster Fusiliers, has been awarded the Military Medal and also the Medaille Militaire. He has been twice wounded. During the retreat in March he was made a King’s Sergeant on the field and he has since been awarded a bar to his Military Medal.

Wounded.

Rees, Major R.A.T., L.N. Lan. Regt., attached South Staff. Regt. He was formerly classical master at Reading School, where he held the commission in the O.T.C.

Reading School Magazine, July 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

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Still holding our line

The news was bad, but Britain was grimly holding on.

23 March 1918

Awful fighting 60 miles length – still holding our line – the back in places…

Germans say they have taken 16,000 prisoners & 200 guns!

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

Awful at Paschendaele

The little Belgian village of Paschendaele was the focus of fighting on the Western Front between 31 July and 10 November 1917. The battle (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres) became notorious for the seas of mud encountered, and the hundreds of thousands of casualties.

12 October 1917
Another push, but checked by weather. Really awful! “Paschendaele” objective.

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

St Julien recaptured

St Julien was a Flanders village close to Ypres. It had been in enemy hands for over two years before its recapture in the Third Battle of Ypres.

4 August 1917
Got back St Julien. 6,500 prisoners.

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

A very gallant officer and gentleman, recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage

The Old Boys of Reading School were distinguishing themselves at the Front.

O.R. NEWS.

Killed in Action.

2nd Lieut. Norman A. Howell, King’s Shropshire Light infantry. On December 23rd.

He is the second son of Mr. W. Roland Howell, architect, of this town. Born at Reading in April 1897, he was educated at Reading School and St. Laurence College, Ramsgate, and had been about a year in his father’s office before joining the Army in November, 1915. His cadet training at school and college enabled him to get his commission. He was posted to the King’s Shropshire’s, was ordered to the front at the end of June last, and has been in the thick of the Somme fighting for six months. Lieut. Norman Howell came home on his first leave on December 6th and returned on the 16th. Within a week he had made the great sacrifice.

His Commanding Officer wrote to Mr. Howell on December 24th:

“I deeply regret to report the death of your son, who was serving in my Battalion. Whilst going up to the front line trenches in charge of a party last night an enemy sniper shot him through the head, killing him instantly. This morning his body was buried by the Chaplain near where he fell, with military honours, officers and men attending.

“I had trench mortars and rifle grenades on the sniper’s post, patrols had reported 8 to 10 Huns there, none there now! On behalf of his comrades, officers, N.C.O.’s and men, I wish to convey to you our profound sympathy . He was loved and respected by all of us, and we mourn the loss of a very gallant officer and gentleman. To all of us he was known as recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage, devoted to his duties, which he discharged most cheerfully under the most trying conditions.”

“I placed him in charge of the Lewis Gun detachment, on which he had set his heart and soul. He belonged to my own Headquarters’ mess, and I took particular interest in him. A cross has been put up on the grave near Les Boeufs.”

It will be remembered that in October, 1915, Mr. Howell’s elder son, 2nd Lieut. Roland Basil Howell, was reported “wounded and missing.” Nothing has since been heard of him, and any hopes of his being alive hangs on the very slenderest thread. On the 16th of last month the War Office wrote saying that they were now forced to believe he was killed.

Lieut. Basil Howell was born in October, 1895, and received his commission in the 4th North Staffordshire’s three months after the war started. He was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers (the Fighting Fifth), and went to the front in May, 1915.

Reports received from the front show that on the night of October 1st-2nd, 1915, the battalion to which Lieut. Howell was attached were in severe action. After all the officers of the company had been killed he gallantly led a bombing party to attack a German trench, but was never seen again.

Every possible enquiry was made through the War Office, the American Embassy, the Red Cross, and the wounded men who returned to England. Many references were made by the latter to the respect and love they had for the brave young officer. Like his brother he was educated at Reading School and St Laurence College, and had started his training to follow in his father’s profession. For many years he was an enthusiastic scout, and took a big share in starting the South Reading Troop.

Lieut. Cedric Charles Okey Taylor, East Kent Regiment, attached to Trench Mortar Battery, only son of Mrs. Taylor, 39, Weltje Road, Ravenscroft Park, W., and of the late Mr. Charles Warmsley Taylor, of Reading. Further details are now to hand of Lieut. Taylor’s death.

He died for King and country on December 3rd, 1916, in his 22nd year. Young in years but old in endurance, he was in constant action for 15 months at Ypres in 1915 and on the Somme in 1916. He is laid to rest in the cemetery, at Faubourg d’Amiens, Arras.

2nd Lieut. W. Marsden Cooper, Worcestershires, only son of Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper, 107, London Street, Reading, aged 19.

Cooper was only 19 years of age and went out to the front in the Worcestershire’s about the middle of December, shortly after completing his course at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was educated at Reading School, where he gained a Council scholarship in 1909. His School career was unusually distinguished. In 1914 he gained a School Certificate followed the next year by a higher certificate.

In response to his country’s call, he decided to take a commission, and in the entrance examination for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, held in February, 1916, he came out second on the list, gaining a Prize Cadetship. At Sandhurst his success was no less pronounced than at school, and he gained the position of Sergeant in his cadet unit, the highest position a cadet can obtain, before he left College. Not only did he have considerable intellectual gifts, as his record shows but he was a fine athlete as well. He was an excellent all round cricketer and his natural powers as a bowler would have enabled him to make his mark in really good company. As a Rugby Football player he showed great promise, and before he left school he had the distinction of being captain of football, captain of cricket and captain of the school. Yet he was never elated by success, and perhaps it was more than anything else his modesty which made him so popular with the boys and the masters alike. Those who have watched his career, for the last two years, and marked the way in which his development always seemed to keep pace with his new responsibilities feel a special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close.
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Three days without food in a forgotten trench

More Earley men (and a woman) joined up in the war’s second autumn. Others had suffered the vicissitudes of war.

Yet another of our choirmen, Mr F C Goodson, has gone forth to the war and carries with him our good wishes. Mr Goodson has joined the Army Service Corps (19th Labour Company) and will be employed in France, probably at one of the landing stages. On Sept 7th we heard of his safe arrival on the French coast, and the Vicar heard from him on the 20th.

Mr Stanley Hayward, who for many years has served both in the choir and as principal server, has also gone. Mr Hayward offered his services as clerk to the Army Ordnance Corps, and left home to report himself to Woolwich on Sept. 8th. He, too, carries with him our best wishes.

Mr William Stevens, of 119 Grange Ave, private 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwicks (which played a gallant part in the first battle of Ypres in Oct, and later on took part in the battle of Neuve Chapelle) has been home and amongst us. Pte Stevens was wounded in the back and buried by a bursting shell in the trenches, and was subsequently dug out. Among his other experiences, he was left with 11 others in an advanced trench for three days without food, as the order to retire failed to reach them. On this occasion he was officially reported “missing”. He has now recovered his health, and sailed on Sept. 2nd to rejoin his regiment. His two brothers are serving, one in the Persian Gulf; the other is in the Royal Navy and shortly expected home on sick leave.

We regret to learn that Mr Herbert E Long, of 40 St Bartholomew’s Road, trooper in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, has been wounded at the Dardanelles. Fortunately the wounds appear to have been slight. Like Mr W Stevens, he too has two brothers serving in the Army, one with the Army Service Corps in Egypt and one presently in England.

Miss Hilda Sturgess, one of our Sunday School teachers, sailed on Sept 10th for Egypt in company with about 100 nurses. Miss Sturgess reluctantly gave up her class at the beginning of the War and joined the nursing staff at St Luke’s Red Cross Hospital for the wounded. After many months work there the War Office requested her to undertake work in one of the hospitals, presumably Cairo or Alexandria, and she accepted the call. It is a courageous action to go out with strangers into a strange country without hope of return for at least six months. It seems to us a true and honourable service to one’s country and deserving of every commendation.

Mr Reginald Sturgess, another of our old choir leaders, has left England for the Dardanelles. He joined the West Kent Yeomanry about a year ago. They have been quartered near Canterbury these many months wondering whether they would be sent abroad or not. Orders came last month, and they are now either in Egypt or, more probably, at the front in Gallipoli. Mr Reginald Sturgess has won considerable distinction in machine gunnery, and will without doubt prove himself an efficient and capable soldier.

The Rev. J W Blencowe, whose lectures on the Melanesian Mission have been greatly appreciated here, has resigned his curacy at Wokingham and been appointed Chaplain to HM Forces in the Dardanelles. By a curious coincidence Mr Blencowe will go out with the West Kent Yeomanry to which Mr Reginald Sturgess belongs. At the time of writing we have no other information than that Mr Blencowe was ordered to be ready on Monday the 20th ult. If he sails with the West Kents, the chaplain and one of the troopers will begin their friendship with a good deal in common.

Earley parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P192/28A/13)

Gallant work with Lewis guns

Sulhamstead mourned the loss of a teenage officer with local connections. He had spent a period recovering from earlier wounds at Highclere Castle, known to TV audiences as Downton Abbey. Lewis guns were a new kind of machine gun.

ROLL OF HONOUR

The late Lieut. B. G. D. Jones

Lieutenant Basil Gordon Dawes Jones, Welsh Regiment, killed in action on September 22, was the elder son of Colonel Jones of Worthing, grandson of General Sir Henry Gordon, great-nephew of General Charles Gordon of Khartoum, and nephew of Mr and Mrs F. C. Jones of Firlands, Sulhamstead. He passed into Sandhurst from Haileybury just before war broke out, was severely wounded in the second battle of Ypres in 1915, and was taken to Lady Carnarvon’s Hospital for wounded officers at Highclere Castle, where he remained nearly four months. He only recovered sufficiently to return to the front at the beginning of this year, and had not since been home on leave. He was only 19 years of age when he was killed.

His brigadier-general writes:

“I am commanding the brigade in which the – Welsh are serving… I know Colonel Pritchard had a very high opinion of him (Lieut. Jones), and for this reason had given him command of a company, and this opinion I fully share. I was so glad to hear yesterday that your son has been given a Military Cross for his very gallant work with the Lewis guns.”

(From the Reading Mercury).

It is also with sorrow that we record the death of Henry Parsons. No particulars had been received when this paper was written.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, November 1916 (D/EX725/3)

The sickening cruelty of gas

Florence Vansittart Neale was horrified by the Germans’ use of poison gas (chlorine) at the Battle of Ypres. On 5 May 1915, 90 British soldiers died as a direct result of gas at Hill 60, and many others suffered its effects.

5 May 1915

Henry to Maidenhead meeting. Took the Belgians. Alice & I sat out by river – read the papers. Most sickening the cruelty [of] gases – to solitary prisoners! Germans gaining a little from the poison!!

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

Awful, awful slaughter

The London Scottish Regiment was the first Territorial unit to see action in the war, on the Messines ridge as part of the 1st Battle of Ypres. Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham was appalled by the losses they faced. The Lucas-Tooth family (wealthy brewers) was one which was to see all its sons lost in the war.

4 November 1914
Foggy. Train ½ hour late. I & girls to London… All trains left London with blinds down till 10 miles outside.

Charlie we believe in the trenches. London Scottish gallant charges. See another Lucas-Tooth dead. Awful awful slaughter….

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