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)

A boon that will be widely appreciated

The Comrades of the Great War, a club for old soldiers, opened a branch in Mortimer, using existing premises.

Comrades of the Great War

The Comrades have received permission from Mr. Benyon to re-open the Men’s Club for their members – a boon that will be widely appreciated. We wish them all success. The Club will also be available pro tem for the purposes of the Scouts.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, October 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

A memorial commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it

The great and good of Berkshire gathered to consider a county war memorial. They decided ordinary soldiers should be involved too.

30 July 1919
Meeting of the War Memorial General Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reading, on the 30th July 1919.

Present
J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Chairman
Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, Vice Chairman
Mrs L Hayward, Mayoress of Reading
Col T J Bowles
Louis H Beard esquire, Constable of Hungerford
Councillor W E Collier
F J K Cross esquire
W Dockar Drysdale esquire
Ernest Gardner esquire, MP
Rev F J C Gillmor
S H Hodgkin esquire
Councillor W R Howell
Dr J B Blay
Councillor Edward Jackson
A J Mackay esquire
Councillor Frank E Moring
H C Mylne esquire, Mayor of Wokingham
Councillor Thomas Norris
W Howard Palmer esquire
Major M L Porter
Councillor L E Quelch
F A Sargeant esquire, Deputy Mayor of Reading
Councillor Wm Sparks
Edmund Stevens esquire
E M Sturges esquire
G A Watson esquire
Col George S Willes

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted the resolutions adopted at the Public Meeting held on the 22nd July appointing and defining the duties of the Committee.

This being the first meeting of the Committee since their appointment the Committee proceeded to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman, when J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, was elected to be Chairman and Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, was elected to be Vice Chairman.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council read apologies for absence from the following:

Lady Wantage
Col F W Foley
Brigadier General J E Wigan
Alderman F A Cox
Lt Col Leslie Wilson MP
P E Crutchley esquire
W Crosland esquire
Col J C Carter
W Carter esquire, Mayor of Windsor
Sir Geo Young, bart
Major C W Darby-Griffith
C Adrian Hawker esquire
Rev W M Rawlinson
F A Simonds esquire
Mrs G S Abram

The Committee then considered the appointment of a secretary and
Resolved: That, if he be willing to act, Mr E W J Arman, late Postmaster of Reading, be appointed Honorary Secretary to the Committee.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted a letter, dated 28th July, which the Town Clerk of Reading had received from Col F W Foley, expressing the opinion that more members of the rank and file of the many battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment should serve on the Committee, and, upon consideration thereof,

It was Resolved: That three nominations of NCOs or men for representation on the Committee be invited from each of the following:

1. The regular battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
2. The Berkshire Territorial Force Association.
3. The Comrades of the Great War.
4. The Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers.


[An Executive Committee was appointed]

It was decided that it be a recommendation to the Executive Committee to frame their scheme and inscription as commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it.

It was decided that the suggestions received from Lady Wantage, Brigadier General J T Wigan, Alderman Cox, Lt Col Walsh and others as to the form which the memorial should take be referred to the Executive Commmittee for their consideration.

The question of the desirability of limiting the amount of individual subscriptions was considered but no resolution upon the subject was passed.

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

German PoW on the run “is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding”

Three Germans PoWs on the run were foiled by the brave actions of a Berkshire policeman and three Special Constables.

6 July 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE

Lt-Col Poulton attended the Committee and stated that he had been absent from his Police work for three years, and he thought it was time he returned to such work; that his Army work was now so organized that it could be easily carried on by some other officer; and that he had now reached the age of 60; and suggested that the Secretary of State be asked to apply to the War Office for his relase from Army Service to enable him to resume his duties as Chief Constable of the County, as from 31 August, 1918.

Resolved:
That the Secretary of State be asked to make the application to the war Office as suggested.

Resolved also on the motion of the Chairman [J. Herbert Benyon] and seconded by Sir R. B. D. Acland, knight: That the very best thanks of the Committee be accorded to Col. Ricardo for services rendered as Acting Chief Constable.

Capture of three escaped German prisoners

The Acting Chief Constable has brought to the notice of the Sub-committee the action of PC 105 Reginald Jordan, stationed at Burghfield, and of Special Constables Webb, Holland and Hill, in effecting the capture of three Prisoners of War who had escaped from Bramley Camp on 24 April 1918.

PC Jordan challenged these men whom he met at Burghfield at midnight, and, finding they were foreigners, attempted to arrest them. After a struggle in which one of them is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding), the Germans succeeded in escaping, but were discovered and recaptured the following evening by PC Jordan – with the assistance of the Special Constables above-named, who had been working indefatigably all day in search of them.

The Military authorities sent £4.10s.0d as a reward, which was apportioned as follows: PC 105 Jordan, £2; Sergeant Taylor (who had also assisted) and the three Special Constables, 12s.6d each.

MOTOR CARS

The two motor cars which were so kindly placed at the disposal of the Superintendent at Maidenhead and Wokingham at the commencement of the war by the late Mr Erskine have now been returned to the present owner, Mrs Luard of Binfield Grove, and I beg to recommend that a letter expressing the gratitude of this Committee for the use of the cars, which have been of very great value to the Police, be sent to that lady.

I should also like to take this opportunity of referring to the loss sustained to the Force by the death of the late Marquis of Downshire, who, as a Special Constable from the commencement of the war, had kindly placed his valuable time and the use of his two cars (free of any charge) at the disposal of the Superintendent of the Wokingham Division, and by this means saved the County a great deal of expense.

I recommend that a letter be written to the present Marquis from this Committee, expressing regret at the death of his father, and its appreciation of his generous services.

The present Marquis of Downshire has very kindly placed his car at the disposal of the Superintendent at Wokingham on condition that the County keeps the car insured, [and] pays the licence duty and cost of running.

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

A resignation at the Berkshire National Relief Fund

Changes were afoot at the Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund, which made small grants to individuals who were in reduced circumstances due to the war.

9 February 1918

The following letter from Mr F H Wright resigning his position as Hon. Secretary was read:

Jan. 12th 1918

Dear Sir Reginald

I think the time has arrived when I should resign the Secretaryship of the Berkshire National Relief Fund. You may remember that I undertook this Secretaryship at the pressing request of Sir Robert Mowbray when the war broke out in August 1914, and that I devoted the latter part of my summer vacation to the organization of that work. when I undertook the work, it was on the understanding that I might not be able to help after the College Term began, but the invaluable assistance rendered me by the Assistant Secretary, Miss Gladys Pott, enabled me to retain the nominal Secretaryship so long as Miss Pott was Assistant Secretary.

As you know, Miss Pott had to resign last year and inasmuch as there is no room available at the Shire Hall, where all the books and papers referring to the Fund are kept, it would appear to be better for the Secretaryship to be taken over by one of the County Officials and I am given to understand that Mr Chambers would be willing to undertake the work.

Believe me to remain
Yours faithfully
(Signed) Francis H Wright

Registrar

Resolved: That the resignation be accepted with regret and that the Hon. Secretary be instructed to write to Mr Wright expressing the great appreciation felt by the Committee for all that he had done in organising and carrying on the work of the Committee.


Correspondence from the Foreign Office, the Government Committee and Mr Aldridge of Spencers Wood, relative to the case of Mrs Louise Swain, was read.

The Secretary reported that the Chairman and Mr Benyon had authorised a temporary allowance of 10/- a week for one month until Mrs Swain could obtain work.

A further letter was read from Mrs Swain stating she had been unable to obtain work, and after Mrs Swain had attended before the Committee, it was resolved that the allowance of 10/- should be continued to her for a further five weeks.

Application for a grant for the purpose of ploughing and fencing land at Lambourn was received from Mr E C Jennings of the Sheep Drove, Lambourn, and after his letter had been read and considered the application was refused.

National Relief Fund: Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

A great honour and a proud record

A Berkshire landowner’s wife was only the fifth woman in the country to be awarded the title of Dame – equivalent of a man being knighted. Men from the are were also being honoured for their roles.

THE WAR

The great honour that has been conferred upon the lady now to be known as Dame Edith Benyon, is of importance to other parishes besides Englefield. Apart from the share in this honour that the county justly claims, a considerable portion of Sulhamstead belongs to, and is farmed by, the Englefield estate, and Sulhamstead has its own reasons for being glad. Apart from Queen Alexandra, only four other ladies in the United Kingdom have received this honour.

We take the liberty of quoting the following, which is appearing in the Englefield Parish Magazine:

“DAME EDITH BENYON

It was a great honour that the King conferred on the lady who now enjoys the above title. It means that she has been appointed a Dame of the Grand Cross of the British Empire, for her services in connection with the VAD work at the Englefield Hospital, as well as in the County. It is, we need scarcely say, a well-deserved reward for her untiring services. Dame Edith looks upon it as an honour not only to herself, but to the village and the County of Berkshire. It may be useful here to mention that letters should be addressed to her, ‘Dame Edith Benyon, GBE’ on the envelope, and inside she will be addressed as ‘Dear Dame Edith’. So her old title of ‘Mrs Benyon’ will be dropped for good and all.”

Flight-Lieutenant Jock Norton has received a Bar to his Military Cross for recent military services.

Private William Marlow has been awarded the Military Medal in France, and was to have returned home to have it presented to him, but has now been sent to another front.

The following from the “Westminster Gazette” will greatly interest all who remember Sir Reginald Bacon, when in the old days, as nephew of Major Thoyts, he used to visit at Sulhamstead House.

“Another change is announced in the appointment of Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon as Controller of the Munitions Inventions Department, for which office he gives up his command of the Dover Patrol. Despite the fact that thousands of men are crossing between this country and France every day, he can claim that no life has been lost in the cross-Channel traffic from Folkestone or Dover during that time. That is a proud record, and if his successor achieves as much we shall have every reason for satisfaction.”

Lieutenant H A Benyon has been gazetted Captain.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Some disabled ex-soldiers are refusing to work

Berkshire County Council found the war coming close to home when its Deputy Clerk, who had joined the army soon after the start of the war, was reported killed. Meanwhile they had begun to tackle the problem of those men who had returned home from the front with a permanent disability as a result of wounds. How might they be retrained?

DEATH OF THE DEPUTY CLERK

Resolved on the motion of the Chairman [James Herbert Benyon]: That a vote of condolence be forwarded to the widow of Lieut-Col H U H Thorne in her bereavement, and that it be accompanied by an expression of the great loss sustained by the Council in the untimely, though gallant, death in action of their Deputy Clerk.

Report of the Berkshire War Pensions Committee

The War Pensions Committee commenced their work on the 1 October, 1916.

The County, in accordance with the Scheme arranged by the County Council, has been divided into twelve Sub-committees, being, for the main part, one Sub-committee for each petty sessional division; but there have been certain adjustments, for the convenience of working, between the divisions of Wokingham and Easthampstead, while the Lambourn division has been divided between Wantage and Newbury division, with the exception of the parish of Lambourn itself, which is being worked by a Secretary and Treasurer.

Almoners have been appointed for each parish throughout the County, and the Almoners and Sub-committees respectively have had powers given them to deal with all urgent cases of wives and dependants of soldiers and sailors requesting financial assistance, each case being reported to this Committee for approval or revision as the circumstances may require.

During the six months alterations have been made in the amount of the State Separation Allowances and valuable additional powers have been given to the Pensions Committee in the way of making additional grants to meet to some extent the increase in prices, and the work has been now thoroughly organised.

Since the 1 October, 1916, up to the 30 April, 1917, the Finance and General Purposes Sub-committee have dealt with 1326 cases of Advances, Supplementary and Temporary Allowances, Temporary and Emergency Grants, etc. The payments made up to the 30 April, in respect of these Allowances and Grants, amount to a sum of £2299 2s 11d.

In addition to this the Sub-committee have dealt with 33 cases of Supplementary Pensions, which have been recommended to the War Pensions etc Statutory Committee.

The other section of the work of the committee is the very important and constantly increasing work of dealing with discharged and disabled soldiers and sailors. The principle adopted has been that so soon as the notification of the discharge of a man into the county has been received, the particulars are sent down to the Secretary of the Sub-committee in whose district the man proposes to live; enquiries are made in the district as to the man’s physical condition with a view of ascertaining whether he needs further medical treatment or training for some form of employment other than that to which he was accustomed prior to his disablement, and further inquiries to ascertain whether he needs financial assistance of either a temporary or permanent character, other than that provided by his pension, if any.

Considerable difficulty has been found in many cases where men have refused to work for fear of endangering the continuance of their pension, or because they are satisfied to remain as they are for the time being at any rate with the pension that they hold. The new Royal Warrant, however, will considerably strengthen the hands of the committee, as the Ministry of Pensions are entitled to withhold a portion of a pension if a man refuses to undertake treatment which the Pensions Committee, acting on medical advice, consider necessary for him, and the Pensions Committee will be enabled to grant a Separation Allowance for the wife and children where the man is undertaking training, and, further, to pay the man a bonus for each week of a course of training which he has competed to their satisfaction.

The provision of training is a difficult matter, as the necessary organisations are few and far between. In Berkshire the committee have three Schemes in course of formation. (more…)

Appeal for vegetables

Burghfield people were encouraged to grow vegetables for wounded soldiers.

THE READING WAR HOSPITALS
The Care and Comforts Committee (President, Mrs Benyon) again appeals for anything we can send for the use and comfort of the wounded soldiers, especially vegetables. Some of our parishioners send their offerings privately, but we wish to announce that Mr Turvey of the “Hatch Gate” will be pleased to receive any small contributions and to forward them once a week, as he did last summer.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1916 (D/EX725/3)

A special pattern: sewing in Sulhamstead

Women in Sulhamstead were keen to help out by knitting and sewing clothing for the troops at the chilly Front.

THE WAR

Communications have been issued by the Lord Lieutenant and Mrs Benyon relative to the new scheme outlined by the War Office, for the supply of comforts for our soldiers and sailors during the forthcoming winter. One of these has been addressed to the Rectory, to Mrs Shepherd. There are many persons in the Parish anxious and eager to work, if materials can be supplied to them. If any such materials or gifts, with which to purchase them, are given to Mrs Shepherd, she will arrange for the workers to receive them.

The requirements are scheduled under six different headings:
British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John – Garments to be made to special pattern
War Office: Knitted scarves etc, of approved colours
Ladies’ Emergency Committee of the Navy League: Underclothing etc
Mine Sweepers: Warm underclothing, gloves and woollen garments
Lady Smith-Dorrien’s Depot for Bags for Soldiers: Bags of an approved pattern and materials

It is pleasing to the Parish to know that Sulhamstead House has again been opened by the kindness and generosity of Sir George and Lady Watson, for the reception of the wounded.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, November 1915 (D/EX725/3)

A masque for Serbian relief

An enterprising drama teacher put on a performance in aid of our suffering Serbian allies. To get an idea of the evening, here is the script of The Masque of the Two Strangers.

THE TOWN HALL, READING

MISS MARY HAY, A.L.A.M. ELOCUTION, ASSISTED BY HER PUPILS, Has much pleasure in announcing Two Dramatic Recitals of the “Masque of the Two Strangers” (by kind permission of Lady Alix Egerton), And Scenes found on incidents in Dante’s “Vita Nuova”, On Wednesday, October 20th, 1915 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., IN AID OF THE SERBIAN RELIEF FUND,
And under the distinguished patronage of

The Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire and Mrs Benyon,
His Worship the Mayor of Reading
His Excellency Monsieur Creddo Miyatovich (Serbian Minister)
Mr. Henry Ainley
Lady Armstrong
The Rev. and Mrs Beloe
Mr. and Mrs. F. R. Benson
Mr. Acton Bond
The Principal of University College, Reading and Mrs. Childs
Mr. John L. Child
The Ven. Archdeacon of Berkshire and Mrs. Ducat
Mr. and Mrs. C. I. Evans
Mrs. Downing Fullerton
Countess Gurowska
Viscountess Hambleden
Miss Holmes
Miss Knighton
The Misses Lacy
Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Mackenzie
Lady Makins
Mrs. W. A. Mount
Mrs. Murdoch
Miss Musson
Mrs. G. W. Palmer
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Palmer
Miss Prebble
Mr. and Mrs. Rannie
Lord and Lady Reading
Mr. F. G. T. Rowecroft
The Rev. Gore Skipwith and Mrs. Skipwith
Mr. W. Stewart
Mrs. Tyser
Lady Wantage
Mrs. Waring
Miss White
Mrs. Leslie Wilson.

Doors open at 2.30 and 7.30 P.M.

Tickets: Afternoon Sofa Stalls, 4- Reserved Seats, 3/- Admission 2/-
Evening Sofa Stalls, 3/- Reserved Seats, 2/- Admission 1/-
Special Terms to Schools.

Box Office : – Attwells, Binfield & Co., 162 & 163 Friar Street, Reading. Telephone No. 11 .

Programme for recitals at Town Hall in Aid of Serbian Relief Fund, 1915 (D/EX1734/1)

Setting up a War Agricultural Committee for the county

Food shortages were a real concern during the war, as German attacks on neutral ships impeded imports. At its meeting on 16 October 1915, Berkshire County Council decided to set up a War Agricultural Committee.

FOOD PRODUCTION
WAR AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE
A letter, dated 18 September, 1915, addressed to the Chairman of the Council by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, forwarding a Scheme for the appointment of a War Agricultural Committee and district sub-committees, was considered.
The principal functions of the Committees will be to organise the supply of agricultural labour; to consider the maintenance of, and if possible, the increase in, the production of food; to obtain information as to the requirements and supply available of agricultural implements and fertilisers and feeding stuffs; and generally to assist and advise landowners, farmers, and labourers.

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Lord G M Pratt, and resolved: That the following, being representative of landowners, farmers, agricultural societies and institutions, labour and other persons, be appointed a War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks in accordance with, and for the purposes enumerated in, the circular dated 18 September, 1915, from the Board of Agriculture; with power to add to their number:

F Anstey
F Bate
J H Benyon
W Brewer
William Cordell
F J K Cross
R Crow
P E Crutchley
Miss G Elliot
C A Ferard
J A Fereman
Aaron Frogley
E Gardner, MP
H Goddard
B C Heath
W J Henman
T Latham
A W Lawrence
Local Manager, Labour Exchange
Capt. F C Loder Symonds
Job Lousley
W A Mount, MP
W Pennington
Miss G Pott
A Robinson
T Rose
Frank Saunders
W Anker Simmons
T Skurray
G F Slade
F A Smith
Harry Wilson Sowdon
E M Sturges
T S Tayler
Rev F W Thoyts
W Weall
H W Weaving
H G Willink

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Mr Bate, and resolved:

That the Clerk of the Council be nominated, and authorised to act, as Clerk to the War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks; and that such other members of the administrative staff of the Council, as may be available and required, be allowed to assist such Committee.

That the War Agricultural Committee be allowed the use of County Buildings and equipment free of cost.

Provided that the above authorisations are given on condition that the arrangements do not interfere with the ordinary work of the Council or their Committees.

BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/18)

The difference between existence and living: comforts for wounded soldiers

Reading people were keen to support the wounded soldiers who had been sent to the town to be nursed. Broad Street Congregational Church was at the forefront of the effort.

COMFORTS FOR THE WAR HOSPITALS

In connection with the War Hospitals recently established in Reading a Care and Comforts Committee has been formed with Mrs Benyon as President.

The object of this committee is to add to the comfort and welfare of the wounded soldiers in Reading War Hospitals.

The War Office authorities supply them with the necessaries of life, but this committee will endeavour to provide the little “extras” which make all the difference between existence and living.

Amongst other things it is proposed to supply the following:-
1. Tobacco and cigarettes
2. Fruit and flowers
3. Cakes, etc
4. Games and cards
5. Entertainments
6. Special garments required in hospitals
7. Books, newspapers, magazines, etc
8. Stationery
9. Motor drives
10. Hospitality for relatives desiring to visit wounded soldiers, etc, etc

As we are expecting to have something like 2000 soldiers in these hospitals before long there will be abundant need for all the help that can be given in the directions indicated. We feel sure that many from Broad Street will desire to “lend a hand” and we can assure them that their help will be greatly valued.

Friends willing to help are asked to communicate with the Hon. Secretary Mr S H Hodkin, 11 Tilehurst Road, indicating whether they can give
(1) A contribution of money or (2) a contribution monthly or (3) a contribution in kind (specify what article) or (4) personal service.

A Depot – to which all gifts should be sent – has been opened at 62 Minster Street, hours 9 to 5.

It may be of interest to know that members of the Ladies’ Sewing Meeting are likely to give their attention to this excellent work before long. At present they are busy preparing for a Garden Sale which they hope to hold sometime towards the end of June, or early in July. The proceeds from this sale are to be divided between the Sunday School and the Soldiers’ Entertainment Funds. When this undertaking has been successfully completed there is a desire to share in the effort to provide comforts for the wounded soldiers.

Broad Street Church magazine, May 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A wedding before seeing active service

Some young couples rushed into marriage because the bridegroom was in the armed forces. One such groom was Henry Benyon (1884-1959), heir of the Englefield estate. (He survived the war, and wnet on to follow his father as Lord Lieutenant of the county.) The Burghfield parish magazine tells us more:

The marriage of Lieut. Henry A Benyon, son and heir of the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire and of Mrs Benyon, to Miss Violet Eveline Peek, daughter of the late Sir Cuthbert Peek and of the Hon. Lady Peek, of Ronsden, Devon, took place at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London, on March 10th.

It was originally intended that the wedding should be celebrated in Devonshire at a later date, but this arrangement had to be altered in consequence of the bridegroom’s regiment (the Berkshire Yeomanry) being ordered abroad.

Lieut. Benyon is so well known in Burghfield that we feel sure all our parishioners will unite in congratulating both him and his bride, and in wishing them long life and happiness.

Burghfield parish magazine, April 1915 (D/EX725/3)

Christmas presents from America for soldiers’ children

Christmas was never likely to be a happy one for the children whose fathers had volunteered to serve. Not only did they fear for their father’s safety, but money might well be in shorter supply than usual. Happily well wishers in America (still neutral) sent a selection of gifts.

GIFTS FOR SAILORS’ & SOLDIERS’ CHILDREN.
Presents have been sent from America, and were added to by the ‘Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families’ Association’, for the children of those in this Country engaged in War. The numbers of such children in this parish were given by the Rector to Mrs. Benyon, who very kindly sent a box of gifts for them. These were distributed by the Rector and Mrs. Angel-Smith in the Parish Room on Saturday, January 30th. The Mothers who received for their children are: Mrs. Bedford, Mrs. Burgess, Mrs. Butler, Mrs. William Cox, Mrs. Day, Mrs. Dyer, Mrs. Pusey and Mrs. Van Veen.

Theale parish magazine, February 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

A club for soldiers’ wives

St John’s Church in Reading provided a place for local soldiers’ wives to meet up:

Soldiers and Sailors’ Families Association
Our new club for soldiers’ wives made an excellent start on Friday, November 20th at the Institute [Fatherson Road]. Mrs Benyon very kindly gave the opening tea and came herself to welcome her guests. It is intended to open the club two afternoons each week – Tuesdays and Fridays. The Hall is arranged so as to provide opportunities for conversation, writing, reading illustrated papers, and music, and other entertainments are provided at intervals. The club is open to all women living in Victoria Ward whose names are on the list of the Soldiers and Sailors Family Association. The Hall has been beautifully decorated with flags through the kindness of Messrs Plumer, Pearce and Allum.

Reading St John, November 1914 (D/P172/28A/23)