The war will not, strictly speaking, have “terminated”, until the peace terms have been duly ratified

The war had still not technically ended, as the treaties had not been signed. But peace celebrations were in full swing.

Peace Celebrations

At a second General Meeting, on 17th June, the recommendation of the Committee that these celebrations should take the form of a Tea, with games, etc, for the children of the parish, was approved. “Children” to include all ages up to 14, and any still attending school over that age. By the time this magazine appears it is hoped that the German Representatives will have signed the Peace Terms. But Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria remain to be dealt with, and moreover the war will not, strictly speaking, have “terminated”, until the terms have been duly ratified by the proper representative assemblies. No doubt, however, an official Peace Celebration Day will be proclaimed before this has taken place in all the countries concerned.

Meanwhile, as announced at the Meeting, the Military Authorities are arranging central functions for those who have served overseas, and there will be a gathering and entertainment in Reading.

War Memorial

At the same Meeting, further recommendations of the Committee were adopted, viz:

(a) The erection of a Cross in the Churchyard in memory of those who have fallen;

(b) The improvement of the Parish Recreation Grounds, in connection with a Sports Club to be formed.

It was referred to the Committee to raise two separate funds for these two objects (Peace Celebrations and War Memorial), the latter fund to be applied first to the Cross, and secondly to Recreation Grounds, etc.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1919 (D/EX725/4)

Advertisements

“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

The agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed

The Rector of Remenham had strong views about our defeated enemy, and about domestic politics.

Rector’s letter

Since I wrote last month events connected with the War have moved with startling, dramatic rapidity. Bulgaria, Turkey, Austria, had collapsed, and then on November 11 Germany, the last of our enemies and the worst, whose conduct has been stained with iniquity and brutality and loathsome disregard of the obligations of honourable warfare, was overwhelmed. And now hostilities have ceased, and we breathe freely once again. We trust that, when the actual terms of Peace are settled, the wrongdoers will be adequately and justly punished; and that the foundations of righteousness may be firmly laid among the nations of Europe. On Sunday November 17, we held our Thanksgiving Services to acknowledge the good hand of God upon us, and, while our hearts were lifted up to him in profound gratitude, the agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed solemnised and, I believe, hallowed our worship.

The country on December 14 will be faced with the responsibility of a general election, and for the first time women will have the parliamentary vote. Let us pray that they may exercise it wisely, and I believe they will. The present Coalition Government, composed of Unionists and Liberals, will appeal to the nation for a fresh mandate to empower them if returned to office, to negotiate the terms of Peace, and, after Peace, to grapple with the grave problems of reconstruction that await solution. Old party divisions will for this election be put aside, and the Government will ask the country to support the united Coalition. The forces opposed to them, as far as I can judge, will be independent Labour and Socialism, and as their interests are confessedly sectional, they are not likely to safeguard the well-being of the nation, at this critical juncture.


Remenham parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P99/28A/4)

At last the “cease fire” has sounded from end to end of the long front

The news was sinking in, even for the girls at the House of Mercy.

Burghfield

THE WAR

At last the “cease fire” has sounded from end to end of the long front; and the stern terms of Armistice have been perforce accepted by Germany, following on similar surrenders by Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria. With deep, heartfelt thankfulness to God, Who alone giveth victory, we rejoice, and trust that a just and lasting Peace will in due time follow. Meanwhile, if ever men may be proud of their race, we of the British Empire have that right. With men, with ships, with arms and munitions, with coal, with money, and by our high example, we Anglo-Saxons have indeed played our part. And terrible as our losses have been, we may now feel sure that they have not been in vain.

It was good to see the church nearly full at the Evening Service of humble thanksgiving, which was promptly arranged by the Rector on Tuesday, 12th November, the day after the Armistice was signed: and to feel the earnestness and unity of spirit which all showed, and which we hope will ever be with us in the parish in peace as well as in war.

Wargrave
Hare Hatch Notes

Thanks giving services. A large congregation assembled in the Mission Church, on Tuesday, November 12th, at 7 p.m., to render thanks to God for our glorious victory. It was a simple but yet most impressive service. The collection on behalf of the King’s Fund for disabled officers and men amounted to £2.

CSJB
12 November 1918

Choral Eucharist at 8.30 in thanksgiving for cessation of war. The Warden dispensed us from silence. The girls had a talking dinner & tea, & holiday in evening.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4); Wargrave parish magazine (D/P145/28A/31); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

One month as king

Czar Boris III of Bulgaria had come to the throne aged 23 when his father abdicated in the face of impending war disaster. The news that he too had stepped down was in fact untrue.

2 November 1918

Have Valenciennes completely. Boris abdicated after 1 month as king [of] Bulgaria.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“I am hopeful that the next few weeks will see us very near the end of the war”

A chaplain told his Maidenhead friends about his experiences with our Serbian allies.

Letter from Rev. J. Sellors

Dear Friends,-

To-day we have had some excellent news which will be old by the time you read this. We have just heard that Bulgaria has signed an unconditional peace, and I am hopeful that the next few weeks will see us very near the end of the war. At this stage I am allowed to say that part of my work was to visit a British battery on the part of the front where the Allies – Serbs and French – first broke through the Bulgar lines. It was in the sector between Monastir and the Vardar, comprising the Moglena range of mountains, which rise abruptly from a plain to a height of anything from 4,000 to 6,000 feet, bounded on the left by Mount Kaimachalan, over 8,000 feet high. When crossing the plain I could see the Bulgar lines near the crest of the mountains, and knew that from their observation posts in the direction of Vetrenick and Kozyak they could see my car approaching, and I rather sympathised with the rabbit (the wild one, not Mr. Chevasse’s variety) which knows there is a man with a gun in the neighbourhood, and wonders when he is going to fire, and if he is a good shot. However, I was fortunate enough to escape any shelling, although the roads and villages en route were on several occasions shelled shortly before or after I had passed by.

The enemy positions seemed absolutely impregnable, and we felt here the Allies had little chance of success if the Bulgars made a very determined resistance. We were immensely pleased and cheered to hear that after an intense bombardment of only seven minutes, an attack was made which broke right through the lines held by the very dazed surviving Bulgars, overcame all resistance offered in reserve trenches, and never stopped till the enemy cried for peace. The Serbs were simply magnificent. They bounded forward at the rate of some 40 kilometres (about 25 miles) a day. The enemy was given no chance to reorganize; a great part of his whole army was thrown into absolute chaos, and having lost practically the whole of its supplies, food, ammunition, guns etc., with a fortnight it acknowledged itself as beaten. Personally I do not think that without the Serbs the Allied victory would have been so speedy and complete. They are wonderful fighters, and charming, simple people. I see a good deal of them, as I am chaplain to the British units attached to the Serbian army and have my headquarters at a hospital for Serbs (37th General Serbian Hospital, Salonika Forces).

As I write, the units are scattered all over the country, but my parish used to extend about 50 miles of front and lines of communication, and I visited a battery, a number of transport companies, hospitals, etc., and had to use a motor car for the performance of my duties. (Don’t imagine me riding about in great comfort. The car was really a small Ford van, generally used for carrying shells and supplies, and we had to travel along very uneven roads, sometimes mere cart tracks, and owing to the consequent bumping, the intense heat of the sun, and that rising from the engine, together with the dust, riding was often the reverse of pleasant.)

I find that on the whole the “padre’s” work is very much appreciated, and one is constantly receiving proof that man instinctively wants God and reverences Christ, and it is a great privilege to take part in the work of proclaiming God to others and seeking to drawn men to Him. Men out here have been torn away from all the things which hitherto filled their loves, and I think this enforced detachment from normal pursuits has led many who previously luke-warm Christians to find that their religion alone in such times of stress can comfort, strengthen, inspire and sustain them. Thus I think the war will have the effect of deepening the religious life of many, even if it does not lead the indifferent man to faith in God through Christ.

I trust before many months have passed I shall be with you again in Maidenhead for a short time.

With prayers for you all, especially those in sorrow or anxiety,

Yours sincerely,

J. SELLORS, C.F.

Macedonia, Sept. 30th, 1918

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

Splendid news

THere was excellent news from the various fronts.

29 September 1918
Splendid news this last fortnight. All fronts pursuing. Allenby in Palestine. Turkish armies destroyed. Servians [sic] advance in Bulgaria & all along the Western Front. Thousands of prisoners taken.

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

A war experience of singular and thrilling interest

A Reading woman bore witness to the war in Serbia.

The Work for Serbian Boys.

A lecture will be given in S. John’s Institute on Monday, May 6, at 8 p.m. on behalf of this work by Miss A. F. Parkinson, who has been acting as Superintendent of the hostel for Serbian Boys in the Bulmershe Rd.

Miss Parkinson has had a war experience of singular and thrilling interest. She was the only English person in Nish when the invading army of Germans and Bulgarians entered and after being kept prisoner for some months, was finally released, given her passport and sent home to this country via Austria and Germany. She stayed a short time in Vienna and a fortnight in Berlin and had unique opportunities of seeing both these capitals of enemy countries under war conditions. She is also very well acquainted with the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and also knows the full story of the terrible Serbian retreat in which the boys now in our town took part.

No charge will be made for admission to Miss Parkinson’s lecture, but there will be a collection in aid of the work in which she is interested.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

The difference between fair terms & absolute surrender

The son of the vicar of Radley, Captain Austin Longland was serving in Salonika with the Wiltshire Regiment, where he struggled with the heat, but hoped the Germans were about to give in.

Thursday July 6th [1916]

Temperature in here continues at 95-105 degrees I’m told by the doctor. Also I’ve just had my 2nd dose of typhoid & perityphoid inoculations & have a day off duty in consequence. Twice clouds have gathered, & once we had a violent storm of thunder & lightning but never a drop of rain. Needless to say all beauty’s gone. The sun glares down, trying the eyes, and our view of the town is blurred by a continuous cloud of fine grey dust. I have told you that from the sea up to the hills the ground rises steadily till the last steep ascent, & we’re therefore, tho’ considerably below the level of the actual hills, some height above the town which is about 5 miles away. We are to the left of the road this time, but we can see the sites of our 2 early camps and get a rather different view of the town & the citadel. You remember the shock I had on returning our bivouacs last Sunday fortnight & finding them gone and all my kit packed. My first idea then was that we were going forward – first stop Nish or Sofia, but when it was known that we were to march back over the hills no one knew what to expect.

The men were more cheerful than I’ve seen them in this country – all firmly persuaded that they were going back to France – an opinion which I hadn’t the heart to discourage, but did not hold myself.
Since then nothing has happened. From about 6 to 6.45 each day in the morning the battalion does its old physical drill, & parade which the officers, except Waylen who takes it, do not attend, going out instead to study tactics with the NCOs, each company by itself. This lasts 6 till 9. Three days a week we go a route march from 5-8 a.m. In the evening we parade from 5.45 till 6.15. doing physical exercises gain, officers & all – & that is the day. The NCOs class was ordered by the Brigade & is most useful – tho’ of course it’s what we ought to have done at Marlboro’. So from 9 till 5.45 every day & from 6.30 onwards we have nothing to do except sit in our hut.

Wood as usual is scarce, so there’s not chance to make a chair. At present I am seated on 2 sand-bags, which raises one off the ground a bit. We have a hut for a common room, but tho’ it has forms and a table, it’s very hot & full of flies. Here the flies grew so unbearable that I ordered yards of muslin from the town & with its aid we ae at last at peace. We feed in a hut off a sand bag table & seated on sand bag seats. I’ve just been busy trying to make that fly-proof – harder but even more necessary. If you sit still for a moment you can always count over 50 on the plate in front of you.
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Hope Roumelia has fallen

Roumelia, or Rumelia, was ancient Thrace. By the time of the First World War it was partly in Bulgaria and partly in the Ottoman Empire, both countries having joined the side of the Germans.

30 June 1916

Hear Roumelia fallen – hope it is true.

Roger Casement sentenced to be hung.

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

How can we be calm in days like these?

A sermon preached by the Revd W. Britton as he began his ministry at St John’s, Reading, on Sunday evening, January 9th, 1916, impressed parishioners enough to reprint in the parish magazine.

I come tonight to give you a message at a time like this when this people of England undoubtedly is faced by a great danger and by a great difficulty. He that denies we are compassed about by danger and difficulty and that our future is going to be no easy future dwells in a fool’s paradise. We live in dangerous days and difficult. This empire which has been built up by our fathers is being tried and tested in these days of their sons.

What does this empire most need? I say without any hesitation that the greatest need of this empire today is that her sons and daughters should be tranquil people, calm people, not flurried, not flustered, not uneasy; calm because strong, strong because they have faith, strong and able to strengthen their brethren. Those are the men we want, at home as well as abroad. Men who are not intimidated by danger, men who are not cast into abysses of despair because plans miscarry, and armies have to be withdrawn; men who meet disaster with unruffled composure and repair mistakes – mistake after mistake if need be; men who move forward in loyal and unflinching obedience to their leaders, and in a trust which never falters in the justice of their cause and the certainty of its ultimate triumph. We have such men in our ships upon the seas.

I have had this text, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength”, often on my mind these last few weeks. It rarely comes without this thought – that in that great Navy, which does its work so quietly, with so little fuss and with such great efficiency, we have almost its best example. These men are efficient, and they are confident; they have a certain faith in the speed of their ships, in the great range of their guns; they have a certain strength and faith in their own efficiency for every call which shall come. They are strong, they are confident; they know something, that is why they are strong.

We have such men on the seas, in the trenches, in the air. But look at home. Have we got such men in our editorial chairs; have we got such men representing every constituency in Parliament? Are there such men in the streets; are the men as they chatter in the clubs such men as these? it is not confidence, it is not strength that bubbles out in indiscreet questions in Parliament; that gushes out in fatuous and foolish advice in the columns of our newspapers, or in peevish complaints in the mouth of the citizen….

You may say legitimately, “I am an uneasy sort of being, and I cannot help it. I have enough to make me uneasy. My boys are out in the Dardanelles; my business is in the worst of conditions; my home is even threatened; how can I be quiet with all this coming upon me?” Sir! There can be no quietness where there is no confidence; there can be no strength where there is no faith. But the finest tempered strength is bred of a certain conviction, a faith that our God lives and that he goes marching on. That is what we need if we are to be calm and strong. If you had such a conviction your friend who met you in the street might say, “Calm in days like these?” And you might answer, “I am calm, quiet, tranquil, because I know something.” “O! you have got hold of some military secret, some great naval secret, some political secret.” “O no, it is not a secret I have got hold of… it is the eternal truth that God lives”… Though our foes roll up in ever increasing numbers, though Turkey be added to Germany and Austria, though Bulgaria adds itself to them…

Reading St. John parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Inniskillings cut up in Bulgaria

Florence Vansittart Neale was distressed by more bad war news.

11 December 1915
We retreating in Bulgaria, & French. Inniskillings much cut up!

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

Appalling slaughter in Russia

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph Glyn optimistic that German losses on the Eastern front would soon be a tipping pointy in the war.

Thursday Nov. 11th, 1915

My own darling darling.

I have just been reading the directions for Christmas parcels and letters and I want to send you books and papers and feel so helpless here, so shopless and with ideas as to what you want so feeble, but I have a bold idea…

Now you will know all about John and his being detained at home for treatment for blood poisoning and jaw trouble with bad tooth & bit of diseased bone removed. I thought him looking very thin but not otherwise ill, & he was a good colour. Maysie herself again, and that awful tension gone. I like to think that you have olives to look at, and scrub oak and can see their dark points printed on a blue sky and the silver of those lovely underleaves glooming into gleam and light in the shadows….

If Bulgaria was to play the game she has with Greece ready to betray her part in the great trust, it is well that a smaller force did not reach to Constantinople before the whole intrigue against the Allies was known, and before the winter could paralyze and cripple troops as they are crippled & have been crippled without reaching any real decision on those Russian fronts, & now comes that certainty of the “punch” being felt in Germany and the awful awful losses beyond even their power to sustain. Their resources in men are not inexhaustible – and the slaughter in Russia is appalling. The sufferings in those regions will tell at last. But before you get this perhaps some great decision will be taken and one just holds one’s breath. I hear that Lord Exeter’s Battery goes out tomorrow but I do not know their destination. Some of the men were home on leave the last weekend.

The “County” School is turned into a military hospital & St Peter’s College is to be used as the County School…

Own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

“Cut out for a staff officer”

E C Glyn, Bishop of Peterborough, and his wife Lady Mary, each wrote to their son Ralph as he left the country for a diplomatic mission. Their news included the fact that their son in law John Wynne-Finch had been wounded.

The Palace
Peterborough
Oct. 14, 1915

My own darling darling

It makes it somehow more true having to write for this mail that you have really gone, but it is I know all right and you have been sent to the work you wished & to the friends you best can help, and I so and will confide moment by moment – the cov’ring wing has been over us, and it helps so to see it at times. You will hear from Maysie how the news came to her of John’s wounding the very day Meg got back, and after the first intimation they had a bad four hours – waiting to know details. Then his own letter came 9.45 pm telling her all about it and now the fear is it is so “slight” he may not be sent home, and I have just come in from long day in Leicester & find no further news so I fear he is not yet sent across and I wonder if she can go to him. It was a rifle grenade that hit him in back & arm. He walked 2 miles to a dressing station & saw his friends, & had 2 cups of tea before being taken off in an ambulance. And he wrote cheerfully.

Now she has a delightful letter from the Major, with great praise of him. He was in the thick of the awful fighting the day before, Friday 8th, & did very well….

And now there has been another Zepp raid & Meg has had her own way & has been in London. She and Addie wished so to be there, and I only hope the children were not frightened…

so darling, own best, own son
Own Mur
Oct 14 1915
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Hope Czar Ferdinand gets the knife in him!

The Bulgarians decided to lurch into war with the Allies. Ferdinand, Czar of Bulgaria (1861-1948) was a German princeling by birth, of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha line which had also produced Queen Victoria’s husband – which made him another relation of the British Royal Family. Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham was not a fan.

12 October 1915
The Bulgarian ambassador minister given his passports. We at war! Helping Servia [sic]….

Lady Barry says! Ferdinand will get the knife in him shortly!! Hope so.

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