“Everyone misses his smiling face”

There was good news and not-so-good news of Maidenhead men.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are very sorry to learn that Ernest Bristow has been wounded, but there seems every hope that his injuries are not serious. One of his chums writes,

“He went up to one of our advanced dressing stations to take over stores, and it was while standing at the mouth of a dug-out that he was wounded. A Bosche fleet of aeroplanes came over, and a bomb dropped quite near, wounding some ten men and killing two others. He caught it in the left arm and in both legs, but his wounds are flesh wounds, and not dangerous. He suffered from a severe shaking up, but bore it extremely well. The sergeant who dressed his wounds thinks he will soon be all right again. Everyone misses his smiling face and bright personality, and none more than his sorrowing pal. We all feel that his loss to the Unit is irreparable… He was by far the best clerk, and one of the most popular in the Unit.”

We earnestly trust that the hopeful tone of this letter may be justified by events, and that Corporal Bristow will suffer no permanent injury.

Harold Islip, who returned to his post after leave about a month ago, has been in hospital suffering from dysentery. Cyril Hews, George Belcher, and Donald Wilson have been home again for ten days, all in good health and spirits. Herbert Brand, who has been Company Q.M.S. in the 8th Berks., has been for two or three months past in a Cadet Corps, and expects shortly to receive a Commission.

Wilfred Collins is now quite convalescent and was in Maidenhead a few days ago.

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

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The whole gamut of human emotion

The emotional toll of supporting loved ones at the front was beginning to tell in Maidenhead. One imagines the tears in church – but every now and then there was joy amidst the sorrow.

OUR ROLL OF HONOUR

The Minister has not for some time past read from the pulpit the list of our soldiers, because the strain upon the feelings of the more closely related friends was too great. This month there is space to spare in our columns, and we therefore print the list.

Five of our lads have fallen:

Harold Fisher …Royal Berks.
Duncan Wilson …A.S.C.
Robert Harris …8th Royal Berks.
Stephen Harris …3rd Royal Berks.
John Boyd …2nd Royal Berks.

Two have been discharged:

James Partlo …4th Royal Berks.
E.S. Mynett …Recruiting Sergeant

Forty-nine are still in the Army:

Cyril Hews …Royal Engineers
F.W. Harmer …Royal Berks.
W. Percy Pigg …A.S.C.
Cyril Laker …K.O. Scottish Borderers.
Reginald Hill …2nd Royal Berks.
Robert Anderson …4th Royal Berks.
John Bolton …23rd London.
Thomas Mulford …Royal Engineers.
J.O. Wright …8th Royal Berks.
George E. Dovey …9th Royal Berks.
Percy Lewis …R.A.M.C.
Arthur Rolfe …R.F.A.
Ernest Bristow …R.A.M.C.
Harold Islip …R.E.
Edward Howard …A.S.C.
George Belcher …R.E.
Horace Gibbons …11th Aus. Light Horse.
J. Quincey …A.S.C.
Donovan Wilson …A.S.C.
Aubrey Cole …A.S.C.
W.H. Clark …A.S.C.
Cecil Meade …A.S.C.
Benjamin Gibbons …6th Royal Berks.
David Dalgliesh …R.F.C.
Hugh Lewis …R.E.
H. Partlo …A.S.C.
Herbert Brand …8th Royal Berks.
George Phillips …A.S.C.
J Herbert Plum …R.E.
Wilfred Collins …Canadian Dragoons.
Alex. Edwards …R.F.A.
William Norcutt …A.S.C.
George Norcutt …R.E.
Victor Anderson …R.A.M.C.
Herbert G. Wood …R.E.
C.A.S. Vardy …R.E.
A. Lane …R.E.
Frank Pigg …R.F.C.
Leonard Beel …R.E.
P.S. Eastman …R.N.A.S.
A. John Fraser …A.S.C.
Charles Catliff …R.E.
Ernest A. Mead …7th Devonshires.
Robert Bolton …R.M.L.I
Frank Tomlinson …R.E.
George Ayres …L.E.E.
Thomas Russell …A.S.C.
G.C. Frampton …A.S.C.
W.J. Baldwin …Royal Navy.

In addition there are many who have passed through our Sunday School and Institute, but have not recently been in close connection with us. These also we bear upon our hearts, and bring in prayer before the Throne of Grace.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to say that Reginald Hill is still going forward, and that he is able to walk a little with the aid of sticks. He has now been at the Sheffield Hospital between five and six months. His parents are spending their holiday at Sheffield.

Robert Bolton has gone over with his Company to France.

Wilfred Collins is in Hospital at Sulhamstead, still suffering from heart trouble.

Sidney Eastman is at Mudros, doing clerical work.

David Dalgliesh has been home on leave, in the best of health and spirits.

GOOD NEWS!

In our last number we spoke of the fact that the son of Mr. Jones, of Marlow, was “missing,” and that all hope that he was still living had been relinquished. But the unexpected has happened, and news has been received that Second-Lieutenant Edgar Jones is an unwounded prisoner in the hands of the Germans. His parents have surely run through the whole gamut of human emotion during these weeks.

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

‘Not many “offer forms” were filled up’ for National Service Scheme

Cranbourne people were prepared to grow food and save waste paper, but were less keen to offer their services.

A Waste Paper Depot has been arranged at the Sunday School. Waste Paper is received every Wednesday afternoon between 2 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.

The Seed Potatoes have arrived and will be given out on Wednesday, April 25th, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. We are grateful to Mr. Belcher for the use of his barn.

A canvass of the Parish in connection with the National Service Scheme has been made, but not many “offer forms” were filled up.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, May 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/5)

Is there any demand for allotments?

Allotments were still relatively rare during the First World War, but they offered a way for more food to be grown at home.

A meeting was held in the Reading Room, North Street, to consider the question whether there is any demand for allotments. The Vicar, having explained how allotments may be acquired, asked those who were present to give their opinion. A discussion took place from which it appeared that owing to various reasons the demand would not be large.

The names of those requiring seed-potatoes were then received, and Messrs. Aldworth, Belcher, Douglas, Maxwell Williams and the Vicar were appointed a Committee to make the necessary application and arrangements for the delivery and distribution of the potatoes when received. There was a very good attendance at this meeting.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/2)

Greater love hath no man than this

Caversham men’s service was honoured.

ANOTHER DISTINCTION FOR CAVERSHAM.

Hearty congratulations to 2nd Lieut. A.F.C. Hill, upon receiving the Military Cross for gallant conduct with the Salonika Expeditions. This is the fourth Military Cross awarded to Caversham men, the other recipients being the Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, Army Chaplain; 2nd Lieut. D.T. Cowan, A. and S. Highlanders; and Sergt.-Major Wilfred Lee, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Lieut. E.J. Churchill, R.E., has been “mentioned in dispatches.”

Sergt. E. Canning, of 1/4TH Royal Berks, is one of the two non-commissioned officers selected out of his battalion for the honour of a Commission.

Caversham roll of honour.

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend”

Name, Ship or Regiment and address, Date of death
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“You will be proud of our boys when I tell of the splendid way they went over the top”

The first bloody day of the Battle of the Somme”>Battle of the Somme was described to Earley churchgoers by one of their lads who was wounded that day.

The Great Attack of July 1st

One of our old CLB and Sunday School boys now wounded writes:

My wound is most serious and I progress favourably. I still have bullet in my leg though, but am going to have it taken out soon. You will be proud of our boys when I tell of the splendid way they went over the top. We had a busy and sleepless night on the Friday. We all knew what the morrow meant, and were waiting in eager anticipation of coming to grips: it is a feeling which comes over you suddenly and makes you see red. Well, we saw red.

At 7.30 our colonel blew the whistle, and the line advanced. It was splendid; looking right and left, one could see a single even line “charging” at the walk. We were the first line over. Their artillery had been smashed by ours before, but oh! the machine gun fire we came under was hell itself, and we suffered.

When we got to the German line the enemy dead were piled in heaps; the sight was awful, but our boys stuck it and were just as though on the parade ground. It was a spirit never to be forgotten. We had captured three of their lines before I was hit. It was bloody work indeed, they do not like our bayonet at all, and I managed to get back to our lines after two hours struggle for the German machine gunners are cowards; if they saw a wounded man crawling back to safety, or in a shell hole, they would train their guns on him and give him an unpleasant time. This was one of my experiences; I got through though.

A Newbury man was among the many reported missing:

We deeply regret to hear that 2nd Lieut. Basil Henry Belcher has been reported missing in France after an attack on July 1st.

Meanwhile Florence Vansittart Neale was optimistic back home in Bisham.

1 July 1916
The great push began – we took La Boiselle. Going on well.

Earley parish magazine, September 1916 (D/P192/28A/14); Newbury parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P89/28A/13); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

An unexpected wedding

A Maidenhead man on leave from the Front took the opportunity to marry his sweetheart.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR.
On October 28th, there was celebrated at our Church, the wedding of Sapper George Edgar Belcher, R.E., and Miss Grace Carter. Mr. Belcher had obtained 6 days leave from the front, and arrived in Maidenhead on the morning of the 26th, quite unexpected by any of his friends. Among the guests were present Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Belcher, Senr., and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Belcher, who are all living at Reading, and who all seemed in the best of health. May every blessing attend the happy pair!

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, November 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)

A long road still to travel

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church had to face the fact that life was different in wartime. Particular difficulties were faced by Belgian refugees, who spoke little or no English in a less globalised world than today.

THE HOLIDAYS.
There has not been the usual spirit of happy freedom for any of us in this year’s holiday month. Some have not felt able to leave home at all, and others have been compelled to be content with a shortened time of leisure. But we shall do well to use every means to maintain our ordinary level of health and spirits. If “business as usual” is not an attainable ideal, we must try to live up to “health and nerve as usual.” It may be that we have yet a long road to travel before we see the end of the present horrors. It may be that anxieties and fears are yet to come to us in intensified forms. We must keep up heart. There is of course enough in the possibilities of everyone of us to make us depressed, if we calculate all the possibilities of evil, and sum them up into one terrifying spectre. There is nothing the heart of man needs more than a message of courage and confidence. And we can only get it out of faith, it grows as a blossom upon the plant of faith. Only as we learn to trust in God’s love, and become sure of the gracious purpose, can we maintain our hearts in balance and in peace.

OUR BELGIAN REFUGEES.
Some of our friends have been inquiring why the men of our Belgian household have not found some remunerative employment during these many months. As a matter of fact, they have not been altogether idle. Mr. Dykes kindly found them work on his farm for awhile, but the experiment was not wholly a success. The language difficulty was a serious handicap, they were quite unskilled in farming occupations, and there were other hindrances. One of them was for a time engaged in a local builder’s yard. At the time of writing one is at work for a boat builder in Oxford, and if the arrangement seems likely to continue, perhaps his wife and two little girls may join him there.

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A serious and urgent matter

The rush to join up had left many voluntary organisations short of staff, and churches were no exception, as Newbury discovered. Even women were in shorter supply than usual. But that did not stop the rector from encouraging still more to join up.

We need several more Sunday School Teachers for the Boys’ School and for the Infants School, and the Rector will be glad to receive the names of volunteers. We also need some more men in the Choir. Of course we know that a number of men have left to join the forces, and that a number of women are busily engaged during the week in work for their country and the soldiers: yet this is not the time to let things get slack at the Church and it ought to be a point of honour with the parishioners to keep everything connected with their Parish Church at a high pitch of excellence.

May we once more remind our readers and the parishioners generally of the duty of regularly attending the Parish Church during the War, and of taking part in the frequent intercessions which are used there. The special prayers at Evensong on Sunday are now said at the Altar after the Sermon – they are also used at all the daily services – and are there not a number of those who have relatives at the Front, and who therefore need much encouragement in their anxiety, who might try to come to either the Wednesday or Friday night choral evensong at 7.30pm, when they would be cheered by the bright service?

The Editor will be glad to receive any news from the Front, which relations of men may care to send to him for insertion in the Parish Magazine. There are now a large number of our young men in the forces, and we have a long list of names on the Intercession Board at the Church. It is a great pleasure to see our old boys at home on leave looking so fit and well, and it is clear that the training and discipline which they receive is a splendid thing for them. All honour be to them for their courage and self-sacrifice. We should like to congratulate Lieut. Mayers on his promotion to be Captain, and the two Messrs. Belcher, Mr. Masters and Mr. Swinley, on obtaining their commission.

We had a large invasion of soldiers one week in May, and the resources of Newbury in the matter of billeting was severely taxed. There were over 20 men in S. Hilda’s mission room, and 95 in the Parish Room, and we all, who were privileged to entertain them in our houses, found them most quiet and well-behaved guests. The men in the Parish Room were well cared for by Mr. & Mrs. Stillman, and were very grateful for the attention which they received; they were all given, while there, an extra pair of socks, and thanks are due to all those who kindly provided powder for the men’s feet. They badly needed these things after their long marches in the wet. Before leaving the men contributed, as a thank-offering, to the Parish Nursing Work Box. May God watch over them all and bless them.

The Inns Of Court Officers Training Corps
The Rector has been appointed as one of the local representatives of the above, and is prepared to give forms containing the necessary information to suitable applicants. This Form states that “It is to be understood that all men joining this Corps are willing to take Commissions in the Special Reserve, the New Army, or the Territorial Force, as soon as they are sufficiently trained. No one is accepted without a personal interview with the Commanding Officer, and every candidate must be passed by the Medical Officer of the Corps.” The great and lamentable loss in officers that has taken place must make it clear that the provision of officers is a very serious and urgent matter for the prosecution of the war.

Newbury parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)