“Are we down-hearted”?

A PoW writes home after two years in the hands of the enemy.

Prisoners of War.

We think it would interest our readers to see extracts from letters from one of our Prisoners of War, Private W. Simmonds, of Dedworth. Every month we send in from Clewer a small collection for the Prisoners of War Fund. This month 16/- was sent. The Boys of St. Augustine’s Home contribute largely towards it. Mrs. Buttress and Mrs. Cowie very gladly receive contributions, however small, as they all mount up. They are sent in the beginning of each month, and after reading the letter you will see how very grateful the recipients are. The parcels used to be packed weekly at the Town Hall, Windsor, but now they are sent straight from the London Depot, 4, Thurloe Place, London, S.W.

Letter from Private Simmonds, Kriegsgefangenenlager, Prisoner of War, Langensalza, Germany, Jan., 1917.

Dear Mrs. Cowie,

So pleased to have the pleasure of writing to you, to let you know that I am still in splendid health, thanks to the parcels you send me weekly, for these I think go a long way to keep our spirits up in this very trying time, but I suppose we shall have to stick to our well-known motto – “Are we down-hearted”? At present there is still the same answer amongst us, that is, “No.” But we shall be pleased when it is all finished and we can return to those who are dear to us again.

Madam, I should be very pleased if you can give any instructions as to the acknowledging of the parcels, as no name of the donor is received from the Central Prisoners of War Committee, London. It was a splendid parcel, and of course I should like for yourself to continue packing the parcel, but there we are in war time, and orders are orders, so we must abide by them for the present, but not much longer, I hope.

You say in your letter, Madam, that we must have patience, but I am afraid mine won’t last out; being here two years has tried my patience to its utmost, but still with the help of those fine parcels I have managed to pull through with flying colours. I shall certainly have to visit that War Shrine in Dedworth when I return.

And now will you kindly convey best wishes and thanks to His Worship the Mayor of Windsor, yourself, and all helpers of the Committee and all in the dear old Royal Borough and vicinity for their-never-to-be-forgotten kindness towards myself and all other unfortunate comrades of the Borough. I am sure, Madam, if you and the Mayor heard how good we all speak of you, you would be prouder than the V.C. winner. Again thanking you and all members of the Committee for their kindness,

I remain yours thankfully,

W. SIMMONDS (Private).

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

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Systematic help from Clewer

The people of Clewer were contributing to many war-related good causes: the Belgian refugees, British prisoners of war, hospital supplies, and the provision of social, religious and rest accommodation for off-duty soldiers.

Belgian Refugee Fund

During the last twelve months, since October, 1914, we have been able to send a monthly contribution to the Belgian Refugee Fund in Windsor, chiefly collected by the kind energy of Mrs. Buttress. The sum total amounted to £8.11s. 2d. The Treasurer writes: “Very many thanks for the systematic help to the Belgian Fund from Clewer. We have now closed the hostel.”

Some of our kind friends are still waiting to contribute a small weekly sum, and we propose to devote what we receive to the supply of food we pack each week for our Prisoners of War, or to the Depot that supplies the Hospital requisites for the Wounded.

Winter Wants of the Soldiers at the Front

There is great need of more Huts for our soldiers at the Front. A great many have already been supplied by the Church Army, and the Young Men’s Christian Association. It has been suggested, with the sanction of the Bishop of Oxford, that this Diocese should contribute one of these Huts through the Church Army, and that it should be known as the Oxford Diocesan Hut. Each parish is being invited to contribute, and there are no doubt many in Clewer who would be glad to do so. These Huts provide for the religious and social wants of the soldiers, and make it possible for them to find a place of rest and recreation which otherwise would be impossible for them. Now that the winter months are coming on, the need is pressing. Each hut costs about £400. Church Army leaflets on the subject will be distributed in Church, and all contributions may be sent to the Rector, who hopes to be able to send at least £10 as a parochial contribution to the Head-quarters.

Clewer St Andrew Parish Magazine, December 1915 (D/P39/28A/9)

Clewer Bandage Society supplies war hospitals

The ladies of Clewer were very organised in their work supporting the needs of the wounded across the country.  They reported in the parish magazine:

The Clewer Bandage Society has supplied 2,000 bandages to the 4th Dragoon Guards and boxes of bandages, old linen and lint to the London Hospital, St. Bartholomew’s, the Lonsdale Hospital, Barrow-in-Furness, which receives the accident cases from Vickers’ ship building yard, amounting to 50 daily, and since the war began has wounded soldiers also; and the Connaught Hospital, where a new consignment of wounded soldiers has just been received.
The lint has been made by the Candidates of the G.F.S. [Girls’ Friendly Society], who are pleased to render this small service to the noble defenders of out country and homes.
A blanket and some knitting has also been sent to Miss Anson for Chatham.
Contributions towards the purchase of bandage material and knitting wool are now much needed by the Secretary.
MRS. RIBBANS, Bexley Lodge, Clewer.

The Connaught Hospital,
Aldershot, 12/11/14.
Dear Madam,
The officer in charge has asked me to thank you for the most useful gifts which are so acceptable, as we are using such a tremendous amount of dressings.
The old linen does to make “many tailed” bandages for septic cases which can be used and burnt.
I will distribute the leaflets and ask some of the officers’ wives to help.
Again thanking you for your kindness,
Yours very truly,
E. M. ROBINSON, Matron.

In addition to the collection made for the Belgian refugees in Church, Mrs. Cowie and Mrs. Buttress are receiving small weekly sums for the same purpose, which are paid in to the Windsor Fund on the first day of each month.

Clewer parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P39/28A/9)