“I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses”

Civilians in wartorn northern France and Belgium suffered terribly due to the war.

Movement in Reading in aid of the Relief of Sufferers by the War in France and Belgium.

Friends at Trinity will no doubt be interested to know that a movement in the above direction has been initiated by the Reading Broad Street Brotherhood. The objective is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns and in the colonies, and in continuation of efforts already made which have abundantly testified to the Christian sympathy which exists towards those who have suffered so acutely through no fault of their own. A relief fund of £20,000 is contemplated, a very large part of which has already been subscribed by Canadians, by London and other cities, towards which also many small towns have contributed nobly and generously.

It is supposed that the good lead of Basingstoke with its generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, &C., Reading will not wish to be excluded from taking part.

It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind, as in some of the large townships in France (Lille in particular, which is the Manchester of France), the civil population – men, women and children – are in rags, not having had any opportunity of purchasing clothing and boots for 2.5 years (since the German occupation).

Clothing (cast-off and new) will therefore prove most acceptable, also boots.

Those who have seen tell us that the homes of the people in the country towns and villages are ruined-walls broken and roofs fallen. A witness on the spot says:

“In a large town it was my orders to report how many houses were fit for billeting British soldiers, and after visiting with a comrade every house in the place (about the size of Reading) there was not a single house with an unbroken roof, and I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses such as I and my comrades occupied.”

Wood houses are already being prepared in sections in this country to be despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens-facilities having been promised for this purpose as soon as possible by our own Government. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men within a day of arrival, and it cost would be about £40. Seed for gardens, food, flour, blankets, &c will also be despatched.

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to the national Brotherhood Offices, 37, Norfolk Street, London, W.C., when they will be supplied with a pamphlet entitled “The Story of Lille, and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement,” and which describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 A.D. and the practical relief already given.

Locally, every Church, adult School, and Christian Society in Reading will later on be invited to join hands with the Relief Committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, the secretary being Mr. A. Woolley, 85, Oxford Street, Reading.

Further information may also be obtained from J. Harper, “Chelmarsh,” 42, Crown Street, Reading.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Advertisements

May the memorial may be worthy of those commemorated

Future US President Herbert Hoover led efforts to help starving civilians in wartorn Belgium, allowing the people of Mortimer to concentrate on their war memorial.

War Working Party

It is hoped to start work again at S. John’s Hall on Thursday, September 6th. In the meantime all kinds of woollies are wanted to be ready for August delivery. Pyjamas are wanted, also sun shields and mosquito nets. If workers will kindly send a post card to Mrs. Alfred Palmer, to say what they will undertake to do, materials shall be sent to Mrs. Thorp, The Street, where they can be called for.

Belgian Relief Fund

Now that the United States have made themselves responsible for the relief of the people in Belgium our local fund is closed. In the nineteen months that we have been collecting we have raised £90 3s. 3d. It was decided at our last parish meeting that the monthly collection should continue and that the proceeds in future should be devoted to our parish War Memorial. It is hoped that those who have given so liberally in the past will continue their generosity in order that the Memorial may be worthy of those commemorated.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Belgians have lunch at Bisham

A Belgian refugee family came to lunch at Bisham Abbey

10 May 1917
The Van de Verves came to luncheon – went round garden.

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

Calling on the Belgians

Florence Vansittart Neale invited local refugees to lunch at Bisham Abbey.

9 May 1917
H & I to Maidenhead – he to massage. Left screens at Red X Hospital. Called on Belgians – asked them to come tomorrow to lunch, 4!

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

Belgian refugees can now fend for themselves

The Belgian refugees supported by the Congregational Church in Maidenhead were now more or less self supporting.

THE BELGIAN REFUGEES.
At a meeting of the Subscribers held in the Lecture Room on March 8th, it was resolved that as Mr. Van Hoof is now in regular employment, and as the Treasurer has about £30 in hand, subscriptions might safely be allowed to cease. The rent of the house in Fairford Road is still to be paid for the present. As the Subscribers do not wish to cast off any responsibilities they have assumed, it was agreed that should any emergency arise, such as serious illness or prolonged unemployment, they should again be called together to determine what course should be adopted.

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

Thankofferings from the Christmas dinner table

Winkfield people continued to support our allies in beleagured Belgium, and more women were called to help making clothes and bandages for the wounded.

THE BELGIAN RELIEF FUND.

The envelopes for thankofferings from the Christmas dinner table, which were distributed throughout the parish, have been opened and the contents counted by the Vicar and Churchwarden. Ninety-two envelopes were returned and the total amounted to £12 2s. 5d., which was forwarded to the National Committee for Relief in Belgium.

Mrs. Maynard would be glad to receive the names of any from the Church end of the parish who would be willing to work for the Red Cross, either at home, if materials were provided, or at a Working Party at the Vicarage once a week.

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

War charities registered

The County Council’s War Charities Sub-committee had been busy registering local war charities, ranging from bandage making to Christmas gifts for the armed forces.

REGISTRATIONS

Since the last report to the Council the following applications for registration under the War Charities Act, 1916, have been approved, and the Clerk has been instructed to issue certificates and to notify the Charity Commissioners:

No of Cert. Name of Charity Applicant

21 Bracknell War Work Depot (Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild) Mrs Littlewood, Hillside, Bracknell

22 Hanney Xmas Tree Fund for men serving HM Forces H. Leslie Edwards, schoolmaster, Hanney

23 Bracknell Xmas Parcels Fund Canon H. Barnett, Bracknell Vicarage

24 Bradfield District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society C J Haviland, Mead House, Bradfield

25 Bracknell Oaklea Auxiliary Hospital Mrs L A Berwick, Sunny Rise, Bracknell

26 Crowthorne Waste Paper Collection of War Charities Miss H M M Moody, Ferndene, Crowthorne

27 Wargrave Woodclyffe Auxiliary Hospital W. Ryder, The Little House, Wargrave

28 Wokingham Work Guild Mrs H M Lomax, Frog Hall, Wokingham

29 South Easthampstead District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Miss E Monck, Aldworth, Crowthorne

30 Heatherside Auxiliary Military Hospital Miss E Monck, Aldworth, Crowthorne

31 Finchampstead Belgian Refugees S F Smithson, The Old Rectory, Finchampstead

32 Maidenhead Rural North Branch of British Red Cross Society Mrs Carpendale, Pinkneys Green

33 Hungerford Sailors and Soldiers Xmas Parcel Fund E C Townshend, Willows Close, Hungerford

34 Finchampstead Hospital Supply Depot Miss L M Hopkinson, Wyse Hill, Finchampstead

35 Bourton War Hospital Supply Depot Mrs W H Ames, Church Farm House, Bourton

36 Hungerford District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

37 The VAD Red Cross Hospital, Hungerford A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

38 The VAD Red Cross Hospital, Barton Court, Kintbury A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

39 Twyford and Ruscombe War Committee Rev. R W H Acworth, Twyford Vicarage

40 Sonning and Woodley Surgical Requisites Association Mrs C Christie Miller, The Deanery, Sonning

41 Mortimer VAD Hospital Miss F M Wyld, Highbury, Mortimer

42 Waltham St Lawrence Prisoners of War Fund Claude M Warren, Old School House, Shurlock Row

43 Wokingham South Rural District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Mrs A M Western, The Coppice, Finchamapstead

44 Registered in error – subsequently cancelled

45 Ascot Military Hospital Miss Nora Collie, Ascot Military Hospital

46 Wantage District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Miss Gertrude Elliott, Ginge Manor, Wantage

47 Binfield Popeswood Auxiliary Hospital Henry E A Wiggett, White Lodge, Binfield

48 Spencers Wood Local Red Cross Fund Rev. F T Lewarne, Spencers Wood, Reading

49 Faringdon District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Henry Procter, Gravel Walk, Faringdon

EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES (to 7 January, 1917, only)

2 Burghfield Sailors and Soldiers Xmas Parcel Fund H G Willink, JP, Hillfields, Burghfield

3 East Challow Xmas Presents Concert Fund Miss E B Vince, Manor Farm, East Challow

4 Kintbury Xmas Presents Fund Mrs Alice G Mahon, Barton Holt, Kintbury

Report of War Charities Sub-committee of BCC, 20 January 1917 C/CL/C1/1/20)

“We will always admire the English people and think of them as true friends”

The Belgian family being supported by members of a Maidenhead church were deeply grateful for their Christmas gifts.

OUR BELGIAN GUESTS.

The Committee sent to 14, Fairford Road, a parcel of goodies for Christmas, with kind wishes, and received the following acknowledgement:

“Dear Members of the Committee, we wish you all a Merry Christmas. We cannot thank you enough for all you have done for us. We all wish that 1917 will bring both victory and peace. We will always admire the English people and think of them as true friends. We will always remain your friends. The family Van Hoof.”

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

Cakes and money for Belgian refugees

Belgian refugees in Cranbourne were treated to a New Year party.

The Cranbourne Committee responsible for the care of the Belgian Refugees in the neighbourhood, entertained the Refugees in the Sunday School on January 2nd. Many kind presents of cakes and money were received from the ladies of the parish, most of whom were present at the tea. A very enjoyable evening was spent.

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

Offerings for the suffering Belgian children

Cranbourne churchgoers and Sunday School children were moved by the sufferings of children in wartorn Belgium.

The collections for the Red Cross and Order of St. John in Jerusalem at the Intercession Services on December 31st amounted to £8 13s. 4d. The purses for offerings for the suffering Belgian children were also received the same day. The children of the Sunday School and some members of the congregation had passed these round the dinner table on Christmas Day. The children’s contribution amounted to £1 0s. 9d. and that of the congregation to £4 10s. 9d., making a total of £5 11s. 6d. We received a most grateful letter of thanks from the London Committee.

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

Thankful recognition of the devotion which has been shown by the manhood and the womanhood of our country

The Bishop of Oxford urged Berkshire people to take part in the Day of National Prayer on 31 December.

Wokingham

Day of National Prayer.

The following announcement is made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York:-

In accordance with what was done throughout England on the first Sunday of the years 1915 and 1916, it is proposed that in the Cathedrals and parish churches of England on Sunday, December 31st next, special prayer should be offered in connection with the war, and thankful recognition made of the devotion which has been shown by the manhood and the womanhood of our country.

Reading

December 31st

The last day in the year will be observed as a day of special prayer and thanksgiving in connection with the War. The collections at all the services will be given to the Red Cross Society and the Order of the Society of S. John of Jerusalem, in accordance with the wishes expressed by the Archbishop.

Earley

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the December Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked
For the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For our allies, and especially for the Roumanians [sic] and the Belgians…
For the day of prayer concerning the war (December 31st).

THE DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE NATION AT WAR

December 31st has been fixed as a day of prayer. You will not need material to help your devotion, as, I think, we have sufficient. But, as the strain of the war increases and there are no signs of the end, we need to be more than ever faithful and importunate in common prayer.

C. OXON

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
Victor Jennings, Charles Bowden, Walter Ravening, Cecil Ravening, William Parsons, Joseph Cane, Frederick Brooker, Percy Brooker, Henry Furnell, Charles Smith, Frederick Smithers.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

Sick: Frederick Allen, William Worsfold.
Killed: Stephen Ravening, Arthur Furnell, Frank Furnell, Thomas Brooker, Albert Hall.
Missing: Allan Smit.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P154C/28A/1); Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P98/28A/14); Earley parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/12)

The Christmas Dinner Table Collection for Belgian children

The Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine issued an appeal to families to make a Christmas dinner collection for the benefit of children in wartorn Belgium.

December 1916
An Appeal is being made for Belgian children. An envelope will be left at every house. Will you pass it round at your Xmas dinner.

January 1917, p.49 “Belgian Children Relief Fund.- The Christmas Dinner Table Collection amounted to £12 5s. The distribution and collection of the envelopes in the Parish was undertaken and carried out by the ‘Wolf Cubs,’ and we are glad that their efforts were so successful.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, December 1916 and January 1917 (D/P154C/28A/1)

Belgians want peace at any price – and no wonder

Florence Vansittart Neale was depressed by the war news, while Lockinge-born railway worker William Hallam was making weapons for the war in Swindon.

Florence Vansittart Neale
8 December 1916

Lloyd George forming a ministry. Things in bad way. Greece blockaded. Fear for troops in Salonika….

Met Gustav Kupor. Feel very sorry for Belgian soldiers. No wonder they want peace at any price.

William Hallam
8th December 1916

In to work at 6 to night and by the morning I had finished this war work. Howitzer gun arches.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

Unjustly punished

The Visiting Committee of justices of the peace who regularly inspected Reading Prison found that they had a more challenging role with the prison now occupied by interned enemy aliens – some of whom would have preferred to be treated as PoWs, even though they were from friendly nations. Milan Christitch or Kristitch was a Serbian tailor, and Rene Stassen a Belgian cornbroker.

2nd December 1916

Rene Stassen, Alien, asked for a reply to his application on various subjects made to the committee at their last meeting [though not minuted then].

Milan Christitch complained that he had been unjustly punished by the Governor, also about his work, and also could he be transferred to a Camp.

Was informed he must petition to the Secretary of State.

Reading Prison Visiting Committee minutes (P/RP1/6/1)

Belgian refugees leave Ascot

A Belgian refugee couple who had found a home in Ascot had moved on.

THE BELGIAN REFUGEES, to whom the Parish has given hospitality for two years, have left Ascot. The furniture kindly lent by friends for their house has been returned. Some of it which is not wanted back by the owners is to be sold, by their permission, at the Rummage Sale on December 1st.

The thanks of the parish are due to those who managed the Belgians’ affairs during their stay among us. We trust Monsieur and Madame Dardin will be happy in their new home in Richmond.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1916 (D/P151/28A/12)