Strange sounds in the belfry

One effect of the war was the recruitment of unpracticed bellringers, who struggled with their new role.

The Bell Ringers

So many of our Ringers are away on service that it has been found necessary to get recruits of non-military age, and several young aspirants are training under the Foreman and Deputy Foreman. Hence the strange sounds which may occasionally be heard proceeding from the belfry, and which will, we hope, improve by degrees into the dear old well-known peal.

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)


The clear, brave notes of the “Last Post” are heard again

There was news of a number of men from Burghfield.


Honours and Promotions

Captain Richard P Bullivant of the Mill House (County of London Yemanry) has been awarded the Military Cross for good service in Palestine, particularly in connection with the charge of dismounted Yeomanry near Jerusalem.

Mr George D Lake of Brookfield has received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant after OTC training, and is to join his unit (ASC, MT) in France on 1st March.

Ernest Wise (2/4th Royal Berks) has been made Provost-Sergeant of the Battalion.


B Hutchins (2/4th Royal Berks), wounded, a second time.


A C Lovelock (ASC, MT), ill health, Feb 1918.

Obituary Notice

Lance-Corporal R T Montagu (see last month’s magazine). Mr Montagu has received a letter from the captain of his son’s Company containing the words –

“Your son was in my platoon before I took over the command of the Company, and I gave him his lance stripe. He was a thoroughly good fellow, and a really fine soldier. The Company has lost a good man, and he will be greatly missed.”

He appears to have been killed by a shell while out on patrol early on the morning of the 8th January.

The death of Ernest Goddard is recorded with regret. He died at home on 12th February. He was called up from Reserve at outbreak of war, and posted to the 1st Royal Berks. Wounded in October 1915, he lost his right arm, and was discharged in June 1916. We all sympathize with his father and the family. The Depot of the Regiment sent a bearer party with a corporal and a bugler to his funeral on the 16th February; and the clear, brave notes of the “Last Post” were heard again in our quiet churchyard.

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Missing, believed killed

There was news of several Burghfield men.


R T Montagu (East Surrey) missing, believed killed
Harry Woolford (5th Royal Berks) missing
F J Painter (5th Royal Berks) prisoner
Cecil Gibbs (6th Ox. And Bucks) wounded
G Budd discharged (eyesight)

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

Men from the Canadian Camp join local fundraising efforts

Canadian soldiers helped entertain the locals and raise money for the Red Cross.

Holiday House

A concert and entertainment were given on Friday evening February 8th, with the object of helping the funds of the Red Cross Working Party, at Holiday House. Various popular items were contributed by men from the Canadian Camp, as well as the local talent…

On the suggestion of Corporal Moore of the Canadians, the room was cleared on the conclusion of the entertainment for an impromptu dance for a short time to finish up the evening. Altogether a successful evening, and £3 handed over for the Red Cross.

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

A happy battalion

A senior officer gave up some of his period home on leave to deliver a public lecture on how his battalion was getting on.

The 2/4th R. Berks

The distinguished CO of this Battalion, Lt-Col. J H Dimmer, VC, MC, while home on leave, besides giving up much of his time to making acquaintance with families and friends of officers and men under his command, kindly gave a lecture on 16th January in Reading, upon the doings of the battalion, and the general conditions of life on foreign service.

He impressed his audience with a feeling of confidence that their “lads” were well looked after at the front, and that the battalion was not only a happy battalion, all ranks having full trust in each other, but that it had deservedly won a good reputation among those who ought to know, as was proved by private and official congratulations which he had received upon its behaviour in recent strenuous times.

The Burghfield men in the battalion at present are Captain G Willink, MC, Sergeant Ernest Wise, and Privates W Bushnell, L Clarke, B Hutchins and D Hutchins.

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

A pleasant evening

The people of Burghfield continued to support the war effort at home.

January 1918
War Savings

Miss Ada Gripper sends us notice that she has sold 57 War Savings Certificates to members of the Girls’ Friendly Society.

The Rector [Mr George] and Mrs George and Mr and Mrs Sheppard are organising a “Whist Drive” to take place in the Jubilee Room on Thursday, Jan. 10th, at 7 o’clock, the proceeds to be given to the Rectory Red X Working Party, for which Mrs Butler, of Amner’s Farm, Burghfield, kindly acts as secretary. She also “cuts out” and “presses” all the work, and is responsible for taking it to the Depot in Reading. The number of articles sent in during the past year is 125 treasure bags, 47 pairs of socks, 13 pyjamas, 13 pairs of mittens, 182 pillow cases, 15 helpless case shirts, 52 slings, 8 bandages, 2 mufflers, 5 helmets. It is interesting to know that 20 of the Working Party have been awarded the “W.W.” badge.

Subscriptions to the Fund have already been received from Mrs Willink, £1; Mrs George, 5/-; Mrs Butler, 2/6; Miss Goodall, 2/6; Mrs Davidson, 2/6; and Miss Hannam, 2/6.

February 1918
Rectory Red Cross Working Party

A Whist Drive held at the Jubilee Room on January 10th, in aid of this Working Party, was a great success, the sum of £5 15s 0d being obtained. The prizes were given by the Rector and Mrs George…
A pleasant evening ended by a vote of thanks to the Rector and Mrs George, and the National Anthem.

Burghfield parish magazine, January and February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Training is given free to disabled soldiers who are unable to take up their old employment

Big problems were faced by former soldiers who had been sent home because they were no longer medically fit to serve, often because they were now permanently disabled. The Burghfield parish magazine offered advice:

Discharged Soldiers and War Pensions

A man’s discharge dates, not from the day he leaves the colours, but from three weeks afterwards, ie. from three weeks after his return home. For those three weeks he should receive his pay, also a gratuity of £1 and an allowance of 17/6 in place of plain clothes, and also any arrears that are due to him. If a wife or dependant is receiving an allowance it should be continued, and the ring paper not withdrawn, for two weeks after the expiration of the three weeks. if the pension which is due after discharge is not paid, application should be made to the War Pensions Sub-committee, either through Mr and Mrs Willink, who are serving on it, or to the Secretary of that Sub-committee at the Shire Hall, Reading, any day except Monday or Wednesday.

If there should be a delay in the issue of the pension, this Sub-committee has power to give a returnable grant till the money is forthcoming. Training is given free to disabled soldiers who are unable to take up their old employment. The following are some of the trades being taught: Engineering, including Aeroplane work, Building and House Decorating, Printing, Furniture, Leather Goods and Boot and Shoe Making, Cane and Willow Industry, etc. A form is issued for each disabled soldier to sign and fill up, so that his case may be investigated should there be any distress or need.


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

He “saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire”

There was news of many Burghfield men, some of whom had performed acts of heroism at the front.

Honours and Promotions

We congratulate 2nd Lt Wheeler and his parents Mr and Mrs E C Wheeler on his promotion, he having been given a commission in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. His brother, T Wheeler, is now training as a Pilot in No 5 Cadet Wing, RFC. Cadet (ex Corporal) Alfred Searies is training in Scotland, having been recommended for a commission. He has been twice wounded, and has saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire. The following are now Sergeants: E Cooke (5th R W Surrey), R J Turfrey (ASC< MT), E Wise (2/4th Royal Berks).


E N Pike (killed in action), P C Layley (scalded), J Cummings, A Newman, and A Ware (wounded). W Butler, whose parents long lived in the parish, but have lately gone to Sulhamstead, is also wounded.


Jos. West, ex 2nd Rifle Brigade (wounds); Herbert C Layley, ex 5th Royal Berks (wounds); Fred W Johnson, ex 2nd Royal Berks (heart); Isaac Slade, ex 4th Royal Berks and RE (heart); J D Whitburn, ex Royal Berks (rheumatism), just moved to Five Oaken. Arthur L Collins, in last magazine, should have been described as ex 5th Royal Berks.

Other War Items

Lieutenant Francis E Foster, RNVR, of Highwoods, who since the outbreak of war has been looking for trouble in the North Sea, has been rewarded by transfer to a quieter job further south, for the present. Lieutenant Geoffrey H B Chance, MG Corps (of the Shrubberies) is in hospital in Egypt, suffering from malaria.

Roll of Honour
Mr Willink thanks all who have given him information. He is always glad to receive more. It is difficult if not impossible, especially since the Military Service Act, to keep the Roll up to date.

Obituary Notices

The following death is recorded with regret.

Mr E N Pike, of Burghfield Hatch, son of Mrs Pike of Brook House, lost his life as above stated, for his country on 11th November, less than a week after returning to the front from a month’s leave which had been granted him to enable him to get in his fruit crop. An officer in his Battery writes: “In the short time that Gunner Pike has been in the Battery we have learned to appreciate him not only for his work but for the man he was”. He leaves a young widow and a little boy. He had good hopes of obtaining a commission in time.

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

An acceptable parcel for every man

The war’s effect on the economy limited Christmas gifts for soldiers this year.

Broad Street Congregational Church, Reading

For the Fund to provide Xmas Parcels for our men with the Naval and Military Forces, there was contributed (in addition to the many comforts and other gifts in kind) the sum of £33 7s 9d. The committee appointed for the purpose were thus enabled to send an acceptable parcel to every man who has gone out from the Church or Brotherhood, and they wish to thank the many friends who subscribed to the Fund, either in money or kind, or both, for their gifts. I should like to associate myself with that expression of gratitude, and I should like further to acknowledge a deep sense of indebtedness to Mr C Dalgleish (Hon. Sec.) and the members of the committee for the splendid service they rendered in making provision for, and despatching, the parcels.


In accordance with the notice in the magazine, 58 Christmas parcels have been sent to all Burghfield men who are serving beyond seas. Owing to bad times, the subscriptions for the parish were not so large as last year, but the greeting from friends at Burghfield was written on a Xmas card in each parcel.

Burghfield parish magazine, January 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Hope for a people braver and stronger and more God-fearing for the long years of sacrifice and sorrow

A special Christmas letter from Mrs Willink offered kindly advice to the members of Burghfield Mothers’ Union.

Hillfields, Xmas 1917

Dear [blank]

In these days when the shadow of war and suffering and death seems constantly with us, the good wishes for a joyful Christmas seem almost out of place. But I feel I must send a little message of affection and friendship to my dear members of the Mothers’ Union.
I say to you all be of good courage, and may God give you that inward happiness and serenity which surely comes to those who live near him. May He fill our hearts with light and peace, so that if sorrow or loss or accident come to us we may bear them unshaken and accept them as if they were straws on the tide of life.

Bless our absent ones, keep them in life, keep them in growing honour; and, for us, grant that we may be worthy of their love. We civilians at home for whom there are no supreme moments of daring and sacrifice can yet constantly keep our courage at a high level. It has been said that victory is ultimately won, not by the troops in action, but by the spirit of the nation behind them.

We who stay at home have the duty of preserving, for those who are fighting, that heritage for which they are laying down their lives.
Dear wives and mothers, let it be your work to keep your homes sweet and clean, so that when the men and the lads come back, they may find that best happiness, a home of love and welcome ready for them. This can only be done by some self-sacrifice now; food is short, and it will grow shorter, and it is only by strict economy and thought and trouble that the food difficulty can be met, try and buy as many substitutes as you can for bread, meat and sugar, and take pains in cooking them, and you will be helping the War. You are such clever housewives that I am sure you will be able to do so.

I should also like to say especially to the Mothers’ Union members, that they should at this time do all in their power to help and influence others outside the Union, by little acts of kindness and sympathy, and by such example as can shew those others what our Union stands for, and try and persuade them to think seriously as to what it means, and perhaps in time to join it.

“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength,” and may the Christmas message of glad tidings give us that strength to work – and be patient, and kind, and helpful, and self-forgetful in the New Year that is coming, and then we may hope that the blessing of peace will return, and find a people braver and stronger and more God-fearing for the long years of sacrifice and sorrow.

Believe me always

Your true friend
Mary G Willink

Special Christmas letter inserted in and probably distributed with the January 1918 parish magazine, Burghfield (D/EX725/4)

“Exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties”

Burghfield’s postmaster was commended for his work as a Special Constable.

Special Constable George Cooper

It will be learnt with pleasure that attention having been called to the good services of our old friend Mr G Cooper, Postmaster of Burghfield, who was one of the first to be sworn in, Colonel F C Ricardo, the Acting Chief Constable of the County Police, issued on 13th December a memo expressing his great gratification, and stating

“It is evident that Special Constable Cooper has displayed exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties; and taking into consideration his age and his business requirements, I can only record my high appreciation and commendation.”

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Credit is due to the children for often denying themselves some little treat for the benefit of the men who have done so much for us

Many schools sent “comforts” (food, clothing, books, even cigarettes) to soldiers and sailors. Children at Sandhurst also collected for comforts for those serving at home, while those in Burghfield provided various things for wounded soldiers, ranging from eggs to splints made in their handicraft classes.

Mrs Bland’s School, Burghfield
The Managers regret that they are shortly to lose the services of the Head Teacher, Miss M F Jackson, who in the time that she has been here has won their regard and esteem, and has made many good friends. She is engaged to be married to Sergeant Major Edward Mobbs of the Canadian Forestry Corps, who not content with depriving the neighbourhood of so many beautiful trees, is to carry off our good teacher. He only went to Canada about 13 years ago, after 12 years in the Coldstream Guards, and his family live at Tunbridge Wells.

School Efforts

The chestnut campaign has resulted in the collection of 1 ton 3 cwt of “nuts”, and application for their removal has been sent in.

During the period January 1916 to 31st July 1917, no less than 1660 splints and surgical appliances have been made by the boys in Mr Staveley Bulford’s classes in the Handicraft Room, and have been sent in for use in the war Hospitals or abroad.
The children of the CE Schools have up to date sent 1957 eggs and £1.9s.1d in cash for the use of the wounded soldiers, and have been awarded a “War Badge” as a recognition of their efforts. Credit is due to the children (and in many cases their parents) for often denying themselves some little treat for the benefit of the men who have done so much for us.

Lower Sandhurst
December 13th 1917

Sold flags at School on behalf of the Home Defence Comforts Fund. Amount realised in the one day £2. 4. 9 which was sent to Mrs Russell, the Organising Secretary.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4); Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 418)

Sewing and saving

Burghfield parishioners continued to sew and save for the troops.

Red Cross Working Party
An urgent appeal for contributions to buy materials for the above is made by Mrs George. Between 20 and 30 workers meet at the Rectory every week and much good work is done. The Depot in Reading has given a liberal supply of material, but now more funds are needed.

War Savings Movement
The Burghfield Association has now bought 238 Certificates of which 206 have been sold to members. And new Associations have been formed in Sulhamstead and Theale.

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

A kind and valued teacher finds love

A popular teacher found love with one of the Canadians supplying timber for the Front from Berkshire forests.

On Saturday December 8th, Miss Marian F Jackson was married to Sergeant Major Mobbs of the Canadian Forestry Corps. We offer them both our hearty congratulations. Miss Jackson has endeared herself to the children of Burghfield Common where she has worked for 2 ½ years, and they will miss a kind and valued teacher.

Burghfield parish magazine, January 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“There are now only 15 regular workers for the Red X work”

A small but industrious group of women in Burghfield were still knitting and sewing clothing and bandages for wounded soldiers.

The Holiday House Working Party

There are now only 15 regular workers for the Red X work (all have the WW badge), but we manage to send in a good share of work. The list of articles completed for the year ending November 30th, 1917, is:

Pyjamas 166, Pants 105, Bed Jackets 88, Cingelts [sic] 33, A V Vests 21, Triangular Bandages 36, Slings 13, Treasure Bags, 35, Swabs 15, Cloths 9, Pillow Linings 4, Jug Covers etc 6, Operation Stockings 45 pairs, Mitten 46 pairs, Socks 17 pairs, Mufflers 8, Squares 6.

Mrs Harry Smith has cut out all our work. The material for the garments has been provided by the Depot in Reading, also a little wool; but cotton, tape, buttons, needles, and the greater part of the wool have been bought from the proceeds of a Social, 5-; a Rummage Sale, £2 8s 0d; a Concert, £2 17s 6d, held at Holiday House; and a few small donations given by friends.

Mr Foley (carrier) kindly takes our work to the Depot and brings the material out.

We should be glad of any help in providing wool for comforts, as at present our stock is exhausted.

Millicent M Higgs

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