“God give me power to say & act at home, so that those dear parents of mine shall receive comfort & support & not feel my going away”

After his desperate last ditch appeal to his superiors on 31 March, Sydney Spencer was at last headed to the front. His family were less pleased.

1918
April 5th

Yesterday I received the following telegram.

To Lieut S Spencer
Sc301, 4th.4.18
69th Division wires…
Under War Office Postal Telegram…

Second April order Lieut. S Spencer, 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment join expeditionary force France on 8th instant. To report personally to the embarkation command at Folkestone not later than 10.0 am, & if passing through London, travel by the train leaving Victoria Station at 7.35 am on that date. Ends.

Acknowledge & report departure to this office in duplicate.

208th Brigade
Butterworth Lieut for Staff Captain.

And so at last they have taken notice of my repeated appeals. God is good.

See my letter to General Pritchard [sic?] on page 343 of this book [31 March]. He was very sweet, & naively reproved me for writing to him as ‘Sir’! rather than Dear General Pritchard! I go to Cambridge today to Florence & home I think on Sunday for a few hours. God give me power to say & act at home, so that those dear parents of mine shall receive comfort & support & not feel my going away.

SS
5.4.18

Diary of Sydney Spencer

“The men are thoroughly in earnest”

The villagers of Knowl Hill were contributing to the war effort in various ways.

Knowl Hill

Collections for the Waifs and Strays Society on Christmas Day and the 26th.

Ought we not to try earnestly to make as good a present of ourselves to our Lord in Holy Eucharist at Christmas, and thus shew we greatly value the new Birth for mankind, which was so greatly needed: The Incarnate Son of God – once a Waif and Stray.

The Waifs and Strays Society is doing excellent work for Orphans of Soldiers killed in the war.

Berkshire Volunteer Defence Reg: Maidenhead Battalion, Littlewick and Knowl Hill Section

The drills in connection with the above have been very well attended and the men are thoroughly in earnest in their work. On the 8th and 22nd November paraded with the Battalion at Maidenhead to proceed to Didcot to assist in loading and unloading the railway trucks at the A.O.C. Depot there. A Church Parade was held on the 15th and was well attended. The section is still open for recruits.

Drills. Wednesday, 7 Recruits
7.30 Section
Thursday 8.15 Section

Knowl Hill Church Lads’ Brigade

The usual drills have been held but have not been very well attended.

The Church Parade to Knowl Hill was only poorly attended on account of the weather; the one to Littlewick Church was fairly well attended.

It is hoped that the drills will be more regularly attended even if the nights are dark.

It is thought possible to change the Company into a Cadet Corps still under the government of the C.L.B.

Mr Butterworth will be glad to receive the names of all the men of the Parish serving, wounded, missing, etc., so that a complete list may be drawn up for Roll of Honour.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Left on the doorstep

The Knowl Hill Church Lads’ Brigade were delighted with an anonymous gift of the bugles they wanted.

Knowl Hill

The School Managers have been very busy of late… There is still anxiety about the School Staff. We were sorry to lose the services of Miss Hewitt, who had to return to her school at Swallowfield. For a short time, until the epidemic of scarlet fever and measles necessitated the closing of the School, we had good assistance from a Miss White, a Teacher from Reading. We trust that we shall be blessed with a sufficient and efficient School Staff when the School re-opens. This re-opening is of course dependent on the epidemic. It is a great distress to us that Mrs. Butterworth has been attacked with the fever, through lovingly nursing her child. We hope that she will soon recover.

As Mr Butterworth is unable to send his usual report about the Church Lads’ Brigade he has asked that the following information be given.

The Church Parades and Classes have been well attended during the past month. The receipt of the needed two bugles has given much pleasure. One was left at the School House doorstep. The donors wish to be anonymous, but they are most heartily thanked.

Wargrave parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

The Berkshire Volunteer Corps

Fears of invasion led men in the Wargrave area to start up a local body of volunteers to defend the area if necessary.

On August 11 a Meeting was held in the School in connection with the Berkshire Volunteer Corps, which is being raised in the District. All men of 17 and upwards are invited to join and be trained for Home Defence. The Headquarters will be Gilchrist Institute, Littlewick. The Committee have kindly offered the Institute for the use of the Corps. Any information with regard to the Corps, may be obtained from Mr. Butterworth.

Wargrave parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Festivity is out of place while our brave men are fighting

Two wounded soldiers from the village of Hare Hatch were on the road to recovery.

Hare Hatch Notes

From what we saw of Church Lads’ Brigade from St Peter’s, Knowl Hill, on Sunday, July 4th, when they attended the Mission Church for their Church Parade, we can safely say that their aim is efficiency. Considering they are but a newly formed Company, they made a very smart appearance and great credit is due to Capt. Butterworth; their steadiness on parade won the praises of those who welcomed them. Special mention must be made of their reverence and marked interest during the Service. The whole service was a reminder of our Baptismal promises. We trust that they will come again in the near future…

It is with pleasure that we record the home-coming of Pte. Harry Bennett, who was badly wounded at Hill 60. After spending some time in Chatham Hospital he was went to West Malling. We hope that he will soon be well enough to return to The Front again.

We are glad to hear that Corporal Arthur Talbot, now in Epsom Hospital, is out of danger, we wish him a speedy recovery.

The Sunday School Tea will take place on Wednesday, August 4th, by kind invitation of Mrs. M. C. Young. The Children will assemble in the School-room, at 3 p.m. We shall follow the same arrangements as last year. After Tea a combined Service of Parents and Scholars will be held in the Mission Church at 6 p.m. The Collection will be for the sick and wounded soldiers.

Owing to the war and in keeping with the National spirit there will be no Mothers’ Tea. Festivity is out of place whilst so many of our brave men are away fighting our battles. With this, we believe, all our Members will heartily agree.

Wargrave parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

The Church Lads join the Cadets

The new Wargrave branch of the quasi-military Church Lads’ Brigade were settling into their existence.

On May 2nd and Whitsunday the Church Lads Brigade attended Morning Service at our Church. We are glad to publish the following report.

St Peter’s Church Lad’s Company
No. 3184

The Lads are making steady progress in their drill and other work. The Sunday Class and Church Parades have been well attended. They have now received their full equipment and look quite smart.
On Monday evening, April 5th, the Company were invited to join the Cadets, in camp at Bartletts, by Capt. Marrow (Commanding Officer).

On reaching the ground the Company were inspected by Capt. Marrow, who complimented them on their smart appearance, and in course of a short address appealed to them to aim at becoming efficient by prompt attention to all the duties they were called upon to perform.

After being dismissed the Lads joined the Cadets and a pleasant evening was spent in games, songs, etc. At the close Capt. Marrow thanked all present for their share in welcoming the Cadets at Littlewick. He said they had been shewn every kindness by everyone and they had done their utmost to make their stay pleasant. Especially he wished to thank Mr. Bates for their ideal camping ground.

We have to thank several Littlewick friends for the sum of £3 6s. 0d. towards our funds; and there are other promised gifts yet to be received.

It is hoped to give a full list of Subscribers and a statement of accounts, as soon as the Pass Book is received form Headquarters.
We have to record that Corporal A. Arnold has joined Kitchener’s Army.

Signed
T. Butterworth, Capt.
F. C. Barham, Incumbent.

The Vicar has been asked and has consented to act as Parish Representative of the “Inns of Court Officers Training Corps.” He has papers on the subject to show to any who would like to see them. There is an urgent need for well-trained Officers.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Praiseworthy interest from a Red Cross class

18 villagers from Knowl Hill signed up to study first aid and basic nursing.

Knowl Hill Red Cross Class
This class consisting of some 18 Members is having a most successful run, and is now nearing the end of the first session, but it is hoped further courses will be taken.

The earlier classes were taken by Mr Butterworth until the Doctor of the class Dr. J. McCrea was able to come, and he gives his last lecture and demonstration on Wednesday, 24th, the examination being the 25th.

The interest among the members of the class is praiseworthy.

The individual practices were carried out on a separate time with the assistance of Miss Lovett, Mrs Firbank, (Secretary) Mr. Butterworth and members of Red Cross from Burchetts Green.

Wargrave parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Bugles and drums needed for Wargrave Church Lads

The semi-military boys’ club at Wargrave was doing well, as the following report attests.

St Peters Church Lads’ Company

Since the last report the members of the Company, have made steady progress.

They are somewhat disappointed at the non-arrival of the Belts, but still they look quite smart in their Caps, Haversacks and Putties. The first Church Parade was on Easter Sunday, when the lads turned up well and the Vicar welcomed them.

On Easter Monday [5 April] a Route March was arranged. Leaving Headquarters they marched through Wargrave to Henley. Here the contents of their haversacks were eagerly attacked.

Tracks were then made for Shiplake in a round about way and thence across the ferry to Wargrave. Once more the march was continued and Headquarters were reached about 5 after an enjoyable day’s outing, the lads seeming none the worse for their long trudge.

The Bible Class on Sunday mornings is well attended.

On Sunday, April 18th, the Company paraded and went to Littlewick Church. After the Service the Vicar spoke to the boys. We are glad to say that the Rev. T. Wrenford has consented to act as Chaplain to the Company and has contributed a sovereign towards the funds.

We are still in need of Bugles and Drums but considering the times we have done very well and hope that some kind donor will yet come forward to our assistance when the present state of affairs improve.

Signed
T. Butterworth, Captain
F. C. Barham, Incumbent

It is with pleasure that we can say that there are over 50 serving with the Colours who have attended the Knowl Hill Schools. We are very proud to say that many more from the village are also serving.

Wargrave parish magazine, May 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

A Red Cross class graduates in Knowl Hill

Several residents of Knowl Hill studied first aid and basic healthcare in order to offer their services to the Volunteer Aid Detachments who supplemented fully trained nurses working with the wounded.

Knowl Hill Red Cross Class
We are pleased to announce that the result of the examination in connection with the above class has been very satisfactory.
Twelve members, out of the 15 entered, receiving certificates enabling them to become members of the Volunteer Aid Detachment and it is believed that some will make use of the same.

The Certificates were presented on Friday, the 16th, by Dr. and Mrs. McCrea. A surprise Whist Party and Presentation was held when several friends were present, including the Vicar. Several presentations took place from the members of the class. Mrs. Firbank was the recipient of a handbag, for work as a secretary, etc. and Mr. Butterworth a surgical haversack for work in connection with the class and bandaging, etc., and Mr. Rufey who did the extra cleaning, etc., free, with a walking stick. The members of the Burchetts Green Red Cross Society were thanked for their valuable assistance. In making presentations, Dr. McCrea spoke of the work done by various ones mentioned, which had relieved him considerably and hoped the class would continue.
Mrs. McCrea was presented with a bouquet at the commencement of proceedings.

The Vicar proposed, and Mrs. Firbank seconded, a vote of thanks to Dr. and Mrs. McCrea, to which the Doctor responded.

Wargrave parish magazine, May 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Bibles and rifles for boys in Wargrave

Teenage boys in Knowl Hill and Wargrave were inspired by the war to join the Church Lads’ Brigade, a youth organisation which drew inspiration from both military and religious ethoses. They attended Bibles study classes, but also practised drill – with real guns. The Wargrave parish magazine reports:

St Peter’s Church Lads’ Brigade

Now that the Company of the Church Lads’ Brigade formed in connection with our Church has been duly enrolled and recognized as Company 3184, 4th Battalion, Oxford Regiment, something definite can be said about the work.

The Company, now some 30 strong, has been some time in getting together, as recruiting was slow at the beginning and, generally, the Headquarters only allow 24 as the minimum for a new Company except in small Parishes.

Some recruits have been accepted from other parishes where there is no Company and now matters seem in a very healthy condition.

The object is to give the boys from 13 to 19, a military training and encourage attendance at Church and Bible Class. A Bible Class is now held on Sunday mornings except when there is a Church Parade.

The boys have to be provided with equipment which is the property of the boy only so long as he is a member of the Company.

Each signs an agreement to give up the same when requested to do so. After six months they must be provided with carbines which cost only the nominal sum of 2/- each. (The carbines are only used for drill and parade purposes and are kept at Headquarters). These two are necessary for the carrying on of the Company.

Other requirements which can only be obtained as fund allow, are Bugles, Side-drums, two ordinary Rifles and a range for teaching the boys to fire correctly.

Anyone who feels disposed to give either Bugles, Drums, etc. will be helping on a worthy cause.

The Captain will be only too pleased to see any kind of donor and give any further particulars with regard to work.

To the many who have made it possible to provide equipment the Company offer their sincerest thanks, especially when so many have urgent calls upon them in other ways.

It is expected that the equipment which is on order will be here for Easter.

So far £9. 0s. 6d. has been received in subscriptions. The boys (who pay 1/6 Entrance Fee and 1d. per week) have contributed £2. 7s. 6d.

The equipment has cost £7. 10s. 8d.

All accounts, Stock Books, etc., are inspected by an officer appointed by Headquarters and are open for inspection to Financial Committee consisting of six members of Company and six others.

In closing this report the officers hope that every one will do a little towards making the Company a success.

Signed
T. Butterworth, Capt.
F. C. Barham, Incumbent Chaplain.’

Knowl Hill
The Vestry Meeting on April 6th was attended by 12 of the Parishioners… The Vicar … referred to the terrible war and the noble way in which very many of the young men in the Parish had responded to the call of duty. The Church Lads Brigade who attended Church for the first time on Easter Day, promise well for the future.

Wargrave parish magazine, April and May 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Red Cross training funds raised

The Red Cross class in Wargrave raised funds to keep going by playing cards.

On Thursday February 11th, a Whist Drive was held in connection with the Red Cross Society Class now being delighted with the arrangements made for them. The prize winners were Mrs. Baxter and Mr. Murkett, for the highest; Mrs. Prater and Mr. J. Brant, mystery number; and Mrs. Goodal and Mr. Roberts, for Bridge, respectively. The arrangements were carried out by a Committee of Class, including Mrs. Butterworth, Mrs. Firbank, Mrs Dulley, Mrs. Mead, Miss Lovell and Miss Oliver, and Mr. Butterworth, assisted by Mrs. A. Whitbread, Mr. Wrigley, and Mr. T. Whitbread. It is expected that the funds will be augmented by over £2. 10s. 0d.

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)