Our Russian Allies have been nobly bearing the chief brunt of the enemy’s attack

Women and children were at the forefront in Burghfield, Sulhamstead and Theale fundraising efforts on behalf of wounded Russians, while efforts were also made in Reading.

Sulhamstead

RUSSIAN FLAG DAY

An energetic canvass of the parish on behalf of the Russian Red Cross Society was mad eon Saturday, September 18th, by an enthusiastic band of workers, organised by Miss B Leake. It is said they met with a bright welcome at almost every house at which they called, or every person whom they asked. All the flags had been sold by 2 o’clock, and givers after that time were content to have no recognition. The collecting boxes were taken unopened to Canon Trotter on Saturday night by Miss Leake, but the counting was deferred, and was not known at the time of going to press.

The St Michael’s Scouts gathered blackberries, which they sold for the Russian Red Cross, and added £1 to the fund from their sale.

Theale

RUSSIAN FLAG DAY

It is interesting to record the efforts made, and the sums contributed, in our parish towards meeting the manifold needs of our Allies and ourselves in this time of War. During the last two months appeals have been made to the Country to assist the Russian wounded and sick, and our own Red Cross and St. John Ambulance Association. On both occasions Mr. D. M. Davies took up the work with zeal, invited the collectors and assigned them their districts.

“Russian Flag Day” was September 18th, and £8 18s. 9d. was contributed. The following collected: Mrs Charles Blatch, Miss Bunce, Miss Cowing, Miss Dance, Miss Ivy Forrester, Miss Pickford, Miss Elsie Janes, Mrs Sly and the Misses Windle.

Burghfield
RUSSIAN FLAG DAY
Our parishioners gladly and willingly responded to the appeal made by the Mayor of Reading to help the Russian Red Cross by buying flags on Saturday, September 18th, and the very satisfactory sum of £11. 13s 7d was realized as our contribution to the good cause. The Rector and Mrs George are most grateful to all the collectors who responded to their appeal, and who spared no effort to make the day a success.

Reading

A Reading church had a special fundraising day in aid of wounded Russian soldiers.

The Vicar’s notes

Our Russian Allies have been bearing so nobly the chief brunt of the enemy’s attack during the last few months that it was only fitting that we should do our best to help their wounded, who I fear, must be numbered by hundreds of thousands. So Saturday, Sept 18th was kept as Russian Flag Day, and the results were splendid; the total amount reaching, I believe, some £2,000.

Sulhamstead and Burghfield parish magazines, October 1915 (D/EX725/3); Theale parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4); Reading St Mary parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)

Wait, work and pray at ‘the base’ while loved ones fight

Many of the women who belonged to Theale Mothers’ Union, a church-based group, were enduring the anxiety of having a husband or son at the Front. The May issue of the parish magazine announced a special meeting to address their special concerns:

THE MOTHERS’ UNION
Arrangements will be made, it is hoped, for a meeting of the members of our Branch on Thursday, May 20th. A short Service will be held in Church, with an address by the Rectory, at 3.30 p.m., to be followed by Tea in the Parish Room. Due notice will be given in Church, and by the District Visitors to the members individually. A Meeting for Prayer is particularly called for now that the husbands and sons of so many members are serving their King and Country, and in peril in the War.

FOR KING AND COUNTRY
Ezra East, of Calcot … Army Service Corps.
The Rector will be glad to receive further names.

The following month reported on the success of this meeting:

SPECIAL SERVICE OF INTERCESSION
The members of the Mothers’ Union, and the wives and mothers of all in the parish serving their King and Country, were invited to a Service in the Parish Church on Thursday, May 20th, at 3.30 p.m. The congregation numbered about 50. After the Whitsuntide Collect, the Mothers’ Union Prayer, etc. Psalm 91 was said, and was followed by the special Lesson, Romans VIII, 19 to 28. In his address the Rector said that the sacredness of Marriage was the root-principle of the Mothers’ Union, and the bond that united families, when our sailors and soldiers had gone forth to do their duty to their King and Country. Their wives and mothers were at ‘the base,’ where they had to wait and work and pray.

The Rector besought them in times of anxiety and depression not to regret that they had let their husbands and sons go forth, but to let the consciousness that they had done right comfort them, and hearten them to bear any sacrifice. They had also done their best for them. It was true of many a one who had responded to the high call, that it had made a man of him, it had made a Christian of him, it had made a hero of him. In this time of trial and anxiety may all seek the help of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

The names on the Roll of Honour, to the number of 67, were read out. Hymns 207 and 595 were sung, and a collection was made for the County Red Cross Society, amounting to £1 1s 6d. A receipt for this sum has been received from Mr. Haviland, Hon. Treasurer. After the service, those present were entertained at tea in the Parish Room, for which arrangements had kindly been made by Mrs. Snelling, Mrs. Forrester, Mrs. Rudd and Mrs. Charles Blatch, assisted at the tea itself by Mrs. Walford, Miss Bunce, Mrs. Angel-Smith and other ladies.

Theale parish magazines, May and June 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

As happy a sojourn as possible in the sad circumstances of exile

One lucky Belgian family arrived in Theale to take possession of the house which local well-wishers were renting for them. They even furnished it for the refugees, who had of course (less luckily) had to leave all their own possessions behind.

On Monday, November 9th, our Belgian guests, Monsieur and Madame Remonchamps, and four relatives arrived at Theale at 5.13 p.m. Mr Herbert Blatch and Mrs. D. M. Davies, on behalf of the Committee, kindly escorted them from London, and they were welcomed at the station by the Rector and Mrs. Angel-Smith, and Mr. D. M. Davies. The Committee have taken Dr. Carter’s house for the remainder of his lease at a reduced rent, and it has been furnished almost entirely by gifts, and the ladies of the Committee and others worked hard for several days in getting it ready. We trust that our Belgian guests find themselves comfortable there, and will have as happy a sojourn among us as the sad circumstances of their exile permit.

Theale parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P132B/28A/4)

A home for ‘better class’ Belgians in Theale

On 26 October a public meeting was held in Theale to discuss the problem of the Belgian refugees in the area:

Belgian Refugees
A Public Meeting Of Parishioners & Neighbours of Theale, will be held in the Parish Room, On Monday, October 26th, 1914 At 7 p.m.

I. To discuss the suggestion of providing a Home in Theale for a Belgian family.
II. If adopted, to appoint Committees to raise a fund, and make the necessary arrangements.

Signed –
Stuart C. F. Angel-Smith, Rector.
F. G. Steel, Congregational Minister.
D. H. Davies, Chairman of Theale Parish Council.

The parish magazine subsequently reported on the decision made to provide free housing for a family of Belgians (of the better class only).

BELGIAN REFUGEES.
A well-attended and business-like meeting was held in the Parish Room on Monday, October 26th. The Rector presided and opened the Meeting with Prayer. In his introductory remarks the Chairman said that we in Theale wanted to take a part, however small, in discharging the debt that England and France especially owed to Belgium and her heroic Army. We wished to provide a Home for a party of Belgian Refugees. A house must be provided, rent free, and furnished. Much of the furniture would be lent. We must raise a fund for preliminary expenses, and another fund of weekly contributions for maintenance of the guests. Mr. Herbert Blatch, in an interesting and informing speech, thought we should do well to choose a party of better-class Belgians. Te Rev. F. G. Steel proposed a resolution pledging the meeting to support the scheme. This was carried unanimously. Mr. D. M. Davies then proposed the names of several ladies and men to form a Committee, with power to add to their number, meanwhile papers were handed to the audience, on which to put down their contributions to the Starting Fund, and weekly maintenance fund. Promises to the first came to £14 3s. 6d., to the second to £1 18s. 0d. The Rector then announced that he had received, through Miss Blatch, the promise of a donation of £5 from her eldest sister, Mrs. Parlett. This generous gift was much appreciated.

The Committee then met for a short time, and the Rector was elected Chairman, the Rev. F. G. Steel, Vice-Chairman, Mr. D. M. Davies, Hon Secretary, and Mr A. C. Phillips, Hon. Treasurer. The question of choosing a house arising, the Chairman proposed that Mr. Herbert Blatch, Mr. Davies and Mr. Cumber for a Sub-Committee to negotiate for an appropriate house. This was passed.

The parish is to be heartily congratulated on the unanimity with which this good work has been inaugurated, and on the generous support given to the first appeal for subscriptions. Many more offers will doubtless come from those not present at the Meeting.

Theale parish magazine, November 1914, and flier (D/P132B/28A/4)