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


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)


Comforts for Road Construction and Quarrying Companies in France

Berkshire County Council was unwilling to spend ratepayers’ money on gifts for roadworkers helping with the war effort.

Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee, 19 January 1918


An appeal for a subscription out of County Funds has been made by a Committee formed to organise and collect money for providing extra necessaries and comforts for Road Construction and Quarrying Companies in France. It is pointed out that these men are not provided for in the organisation controlled by Sir Edward Ward for the distribution of comforts for troops overseas. The appeal states that the Local Government Board is prepared to sanction a subscription by any Local Authority up to £100.

The Committee feel that no case has been made out for subscribing to this object out of the Rates, and they are unable to recommend it, but think that the appeal should be left to be dealt with by individual effort.


The following recommendation of the War Allowances Section are submitted for approval:

That the allowance granted to A W F Myatt, killed in action on 3 December, 1917, be continued to his dependants for six months from the date of his death.

The Section have considered the effect of the increased payments under Royal Warrant of the 4 December, 1917, in connection with both married and unmarried persons serving with the colours, and recommend that in calculating allowances the following principles be adopted:

Single Men: The full increased pay to be deducted.
Married Men: The full increased pay to be deducted.

The allotment previously paid by the man but now paid by the Government not to be deducted.

Owing to the fact that it will now be difficult to separate Merit Pay from Ordinary Pay and to ascertain in most cases the actual pay receivable as “War Pay” under Clause 3 of the Royal Warrant, the Section recommend that the pay to be deducted shall be the minimum rates set forth in Clause 3 of the royal Warrant, viz:

Private 1s 6d per day
Lance-Corporal 1s 9d per day
Corporal 2s 0d per day

On the receipt of the Quarterly Return, if any persons serving is [sic] found to be in receipt of more than the above rates of pay the excess shall be deducted whenever such excess brings the total Army pay and allowances above the civil pay as at August 1914, plus 25 per cent, but not otherwise.

Berkshire County Council minutes C/CL/C1/1/21

Demonstrations of War Time Cookery

The Education Committee was facing challenged with fewer teachers and more children (the latter due to the arrival of voluntary evacuees). They also encouraged cookery teachers to learn how to cope with food restrictions.

Report of the Higher Education Committee, 12 January 1918

Secondary Schools

In consequence of the increased number of pupils and the difficulties caused by a further member of the staff leaving for military service, the Sub-committee have approved of the vacant place being filled by a whole-time Mistress and a part-time Master.


Mr Preece, one of the Assistants, has returned from military service, and in view of the increased numbers in attendance, the Sub-committee have authorised the retention of the substitute Mistress on the staff for the present.

Report of the School Management Sub-committee, 12 January 1918


The Domestic Subject Instructresses of the County attended on December 13 and 14 a series of demonstrations on War Time Cookery arranged by the Ministry of Food, who paid their expenses.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Policeman “seriously wounded when fighting in France”

A Berkshire policeman was badly hurt in the fighting.

5 January 1918
Constable wounded

I regret to report that PC 61, Percy Sellwood, 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was seriously wounded when fighting in France on the 9th October last.

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

Tar will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance

Berkshire’s roads and bridges continued to be damaged by the war effort, and it was now hard to find supplies for repair.

Report of the Highways and Bridges Committee, 5 January 1918

Cumnor Hill and Swinford Bridge Road
Pending further consideration of the question of issuing a Maintenance Requisition for repairs to this road till 31 March next – necessitated by the haulage of bricks from Chawley Works to Witney Aerodrome – the Chief Engineer of the Southern Command has sanctioned exp3enditure up to £100 for immediate repairs, and the necessary materials have been ordered.

Oxford and Faringdon Road
The War Department have confirmed the proposed contribution of £155 towards the cost of repairing the Oxford-Faringdon-Lechlade road, and the works are now in hand.

Tenders have been obtained for the supply of tar for the year 1918-19. No tar can now be purchased except under licence issued by the Ministry of Munitions; the quantity available for the ensuing year for road purposes will, the Committee are informed, be much restricted and will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance. The application made in December last for the purchase of 20,000 gallons in advance did not meet with success, as the Ministry would then only issue a licence for tar to be used before 31 December 1917. A return has been made to the Road Board of the approximate wquantity of tar required during 1918 for “scheduled roads” (i.e. roads of natonal importance).

Tyle Mill (no, 125)
The reconstruction of Tyle Mill Bridge was postponed on account of the war, but the Acting County Surveyor now reports that it is in a very serious condition and notices have accordingly been erected to the effect that the bridge is insufficient to carry weights exceeding two tons; and also prohibiting the passage over the bridge of heavy motor cars.

It is understood that the hauling of timber from Ufton Camp to Tyle Mill Siding is contemplated and the attention of the Officer Commanding at the Camp has been drawn to the condition of the bridge.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

The provision of light employment for discharged partially disabled men incapable of doing a full day’s work

The Disablements Sub-committee of the Berkshire War Pensions Committee reported on training programmes for disabled ex-soldiers, who faced an uncertain future.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that the two schemes for training at Basildon and Windsor have now been approved by the Pensions Minister, with the exception of boot-making at Basildon, which is only provisionally sanctioned. The gardening course at Windsor has been extended from six to twelve months for suitable cases. Both schemes are now in full operation. Since the last meeting the Royal Warrant of April 1917 for treatment and training has come into force, payments being made under it as from 23 July 1917.

A list of hospitals throughout the county where treatment can be obtained for discharged men has been sent forward for approval to the Pensions Minister, also a special application for further necessary accommodation for out-patient treatment at King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor, to enable the authorities of that hospital to provide orthopaedic treatment for discharged disabled men within a radius of ten miles of that hospital. A special request was also put forward as regards the lack of hospital facilities in parts of North Berkshire, especially in the Wallingford District. It is proposed to formulate a scheme to include all facilities and arrangements for medical treatment and submit it as a whole for the approval of the Pensions Minister.

The National Health Insurance Commissioners have made new arrangements in respect of medical benefit for all discharged soldiers and sailors invalided from the Service, and have included those whose incomes do not exceed £160 per annum. Medical Practitioners are required to report to the Insurance Committee as to any special treatment to be provided by the Disablements Committee under the arrangements above alluded to. The scheme will also provide for any treatment recommended by a medical board for a man after his discharge, or for any man for whom treatment is recommended at the time of his discharge from the service by his invaliding board.

Instructions having been received from the Pensions Minister that discharged men who are not in receipt of a pension owing to the disability for which they were discharged not being considered attributable or aggravated by war service have now been afforded facilities for appealing against this decision. Instructions have been issued to all Sub-committees that such cases should be referred to this Committee. Three cases for appeal are coming up shortly for consideration.

The provision of light employment for discharged partially disabled men who are incapable of doing a full day’s work has been considered. A joint public appeal with the County Borough of Reading Committee has been issued through the Press to employers throughout the county for help in this important matter…

During the last three months 643 cases have been entered on the Register, making a total of 1,513 cases. In addition 325 cases (approximately) are being investigated. 512 new cases have been sent out to the various Sub-committees as follows:

Abingdon 34
Easthampstead 20
Faringdon 20
Hungerford 13
Lambourn 5
Maidenhead 72
Newbury 84
Reading Rural 43
Wallingford 27
Wantage 27
Windsor 95
Wokingham 52

220 cases have been considered by the Disablements Committee, treatment in hospital has been arranged for 62 cases, Sanatorium treatment for 7 cases, special training for 23 cases, and a number of men have been placed in employment.

12 November 1917

Berkshire County Council minutes, 1917 (C/CL1/1/21)

Meeting the needs of sailors and soldiers on demobilisation

The County Council – like many others across the country – was giving some thought to what the country could offer the men who had served the country once they had returned home for good. Offering land to set up as small farmers was one proposal.


A letter has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries stating that the President has been in communication with the Treasury with a view to securing some relaxation of the existing restrictions on the issue of loans from the Local Loans Fund to County Councils … in view of a strong desire on the part of many County Councils to prepare schemes for providing holdings for meeting the needs of sailors and soldiers on demobilisation…


Applications have been received from the Berks War Agricultural Committee for the Council’s consent as owners to certain pasture land being converted to arable.

Berkshire County Council: Smallholdings and Allotments Committee report, 3 October 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Donations for wounded army horses

Berkshire schools were affected by the war in varying ways.

Abingdon Girls’ CE School
1917, 23rd-27th July

As last year the County Council gave War Time Certificates instead of Prizes.

During the year the girls have sent:

1. To the Jack Cornwall Fund for Memorial Ward – 13/
2. Xmas puddings for soldiers at the Front – one guinea
3. To the RSPCA Fund for sick and wounded army horses – 12/
4. The Overseas Fund on Empire Day – 7/

Broadmoor School
27th July 1917

Miss Haines was allowed to leave school at 2 o’clock on Monday to see a friend from the trenches.

Charlton Infant School
27th July 1917

The usual school treat is not taking place this year, in accordance with the wishes of the Food Controller.

Abingdon Girls’ CE School log book (C/EL 2/2); Crowthorne: Broadmoor School log book (C/EL100); Charlton Infant School log book (C/EL12)

The treatment and training of disabled soldiers

The Disablements Sub-committee of the County Council’s War Pensions Committee reported with its progress finding training schemes for disabled former soldiers.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that two Schemes for training disabled soldiers have been drafted after careful consideration and in consultation with Colonel Morrison, the authorities at Windsor Castle, the Windsor Institute and the University College, Reading….

These Schemes can only be successfully carried into practice under the Royal Warrant of April 17, 1917, which provides that the man’s pension shall temporarily cease while under treatment or training, and that all expenses and payments to an approved amount shall be made by the War Pensions Committee….

The period of training in the Gardens at Windsor should be at least 12 months, and should not be restricted to the period of 6 months stipulated I the provisional approval already received from the Statutory Committee.

It was also strongly urged that both these Schemes should be approved and put into operation immediately, because the delay which has already occurred has not only prevented several suitable men from receiving the benefits of this training, which they were at one time prepared to accept, but is likely, if continued, to endanger the success of any Schemes that may be introduced for the treatment and training of disabled soldiers….

The following statistics are reported to date:

Cases registered 927

Cases already considered 193

Cases needing no assistance 484

Cases which may need assistance 211

Cases to be re-considered 174

Cases awarded treatment 27

Cases awarded training 16

Approximate number of cases in hands of Sub-committee for investigation 300

Meanwhile, Berkshire County Council’s Higher Education Committee dealt with some financial implications of the war.

Higher Education Committee

In view of the uncertainties due to … the chance of termination of the War and return of teachers whose situations and annual increases have been guaranteed, it is recommended that the present arrangements should be announced as provisional…

Bursars and Student Teachers

Of 12 Bursars [trainee teachers given scholarships] appointed last year, one failed to take up the Bursary as he joined the Army… Of nine Student Teachers whose engagements terminate on 31 July, one is already on Military Service and one joins up in August…

Higher Education Sub-committee report to BCC Education Committee, 14 July 1917; Disablements Sub-committee of the War Pensions Committee report, 14 July 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

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?


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…)

The cost of food and other commodities has more than doubled since the commencement of the war

Berkshire policemen were given a pay rise to cope with war conditions.

21 April 1917

The Clerk referred to the death of Lieut-Col Thorne, the Deputy Clerk of the Peace, who had been killed in action near Arras on 9 April, while in command of a battalion of the Royal Scots.

Resolved on the motion of Lord George Pratt, seconded by Sir R. D. Acland, knight, KC: That a letter of condolence be sent to the widow of rhe late Deputy Clerk of the Peace.

Police Constable 212, Frederick Charles Kimmer, has been called upon to join the Army, being under 23 years of age.

War Bonus

The cost of food and other commodities which has more than doubled since the commencement of the war, is being felt very seriously at the present rate of pay and bonus. The rate of pay of a Constable on joining, together with the 3/- war bonus, amounts to 26/11 per week, in addition to the incidental advantages he obtains in the way of clothing, boots, rent, rates and pension, and, in the case of single Constables, bedding, fuel and light.

Information has been obtained from all the County forces in England … and, placing the wages and war bonus with others… Berkshire compares very unfavourably with others… only 6 county forces coming beneath it.

Taking everything into consideration, the Committee recommend the following extra war bonus to all ranks .. to commence from 1 April, 1917, be payable until three months after the conclusion of the war…

32 per week for each member
1s per week for wife
6d per week for each child under the age of 15 years

It is estimated that the extra cost would be about £2,550.


Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Gravel seized for a PoW camp

The County Council continued to monitor the damage caused to local roads by military traffic.


The section of the main road from Ascot and Windsor has been badly cut up by heavy military and other motor traffic…


On the break up of the frost in February the main road between Reading and Swallowfield, which had suffered severely by heavy timber and motor omnibus traffic, became dangerous to traffic. The Committee as a matter of urgency authorised immediate temporary repairs to the worst sections of the road and forwarded an estimate of the cost to the Finance Committee…


This road, which carries a continuous service of motor omnibuses as well as a considerable amount of heavy military traffic, is now in a deplorable condition and there is little likelihood that the amount appearing in the annual estimate will be sufficient to keep the road in a safe condition for traffic.


Requisitions have been received from the Military Authorities for the supply of 170 tons of gravel for use on paths at the Prisoners of War Camp, Holyport; and for repairs to military roads at Ascot.

Report of BCC Highways and Bridges Committee, 21 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

An increasing number of discharged soldiers are suffering from tuberculosis

The County Council’s Public Health and Housing Committee had to face the problem of men sent home as they had been diagnosed with TB – a very infectious, often fatal illness.

Accommodation at Peppard

The question of providing additional accommodation at Peppard has been raised in view of the increasing number of discharged soldiers suffering from tuberculosis requiring treatment, and a prelimnary inquiry at Peppard, in conjunction with representatives of the Bucks County Council has been suggested.

Military and National Service

The Committee have considered the effect of the new Military Service Act (which provides for the re-examination by the Military Authorities of men discharged from the Army) and of the National Service Scheme, as regards men who have recently suffered from tuberculosis. There appears to be some danger of such men being taken into the Army or sent to unsuitable work, and a communication has been sent to the Local Government Board expressing the hope that the arrangement for not calling up men notified as tuberculous and men discharged from the Army on account of tuberculosis for further military service for a period of three years, would be confirmed – and extended with modifications to National Service.

Report of Public Health and Housing Committee, 14 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

9 april 1917 Killed leading his men in attack

A senior County Council official who had joined the army was killed in action.

We record with regret … Lt-Col H U H Thorne, formerly of the Shrubberies, killed in action 9th April 1917 …

Colonel Thorne, better known in the parish as Mr Thorne, Deputy Clerk of the County Council, was a keen officer in the Berks Territorials long before the war, and went out as a Captain with the 1/4th Battalion in March 1915 (as also did Captain F A Willink, at present invalided into Reserve). At the time of his death he was in command of a Battalion of the Royal Scots Regiment, and was killed while leading them in attack; he leaves a widow and two young children.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Constant watchfulness keeping camps healthy

The maintenance of the River Thames was surprisingly important during the war – it provided healthy drainage of army camps, and entertainment for wounded soldiers.


At the outbreak of war there were 435 men in the Conservators’ employ, of whom 317 were eligible for service as regards age. Only 16 men have been temporarily exempted, and no appeal has been made on behalf of any unmarried man. Of the employees on active service 10 have unfortunately lost their lives.

Much difficulty has been experienced in engaging suitable substitutes, but with the employment of men either over military age or medically rejected, and with a close co-ordination between the various Departments, it has been found possible to carry on the work for which the Board is responsible.


The large number of military camps and other establishments recently set up in the watershed have necessitated a constant watchfulness on the part of the outdoor staff for the purpose of ensuring that the drainage disposal systems are effective, and in cases where such systems have not yet had the effect of preventing pollution, representations have been made to the responsible Officers, with the result that measures have been, or are being, carried out to meet the Conservators’ requirements. In view of the constantly changing population of the camps, continuous inspections are necessary to obviate pollution by misuse of the surface water systems.


During the year the river has been extensively used by wounded soldiers, and the practice has again been followed of placing the Conservators’ launches, as opportunity offered, at the disposal of Hospital Authorities, who have written expressing appreciation of the Conservators’ action.

Report to BCC of their representative to the Thames Conservancy Board, 3 April 1917, in Berkshire County Council minutes, 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)