Many months of anxiety and trouble for the alleviation of the sufferings of others

The hard work of women from Newbury and Speen during the war is reviewed.

RED CROSS WORKING PARTY

The Parish Red Cross Working Party, under the superintendence of Mrs L Majendie, was started by her at the Rectory, Newbury, on May 1st, 1915.

The first meeting was hastily summoned for the purpose of making respirators, but as it was found these were not required, being provided by the War Office, work for hospitals and other objects was substituted.

Mrs Majendie carried on the meetings at more or less regular intervals from a fortnight to three weeks, with suspension of these generally during Lent.

She was assisted, first by Miss Boldero (who also held a number of supplementary meetings for mending for Newbury District Hospital), and later by Mrs and Miss Majendie, Speen.

The number of names on the books was between 50 and 60, and of these over 30 attended regularly from the first meeting, May 1st, 1915, to the last, February 18th, 1919. Thanks are due to all the members, but more especially to these last, also to the various hostesses who provided tea, and lent their houses for meetings (many more would have been glad to do this, if lack of space had not forbidden it).

The hostesses were Mrs L Majendie, Miss Boldero, Mrs A Majendie and Miss D Majendie, Miss Godding, Mrs Gould, Mrs Hawker, Mrs Porter, Mrs Camp, Mrs O’Farrell, Mrs Colbourne, amd Miss Bellinger. Some entertained at their own houses, some at the Conservative Club, and a large number of meetings were held at the Parish Room.

Some members have left Newbury, including several Belgian ladies, who worked regularly for a time.

The objects worked for were very numerous, 24 in all, and included the following:

1. Reading War Hospital, twice.
2. Newbury District Hospital, 9 times.
3. Newbury War Depot, 6 times.
4. Miss Power’s Hospital, once.
5. General Hospital No. 18, France (to Miss Hayne), once.
6. The Minesweeper Newbury, 7 times.
7. HMS Conquest (to Lieut. Burgess), once.
8. Submarine F3 (to Lieut. Burgess, once).
9. The Navy League, 3 times.
10. Dr Heywood’s Hospital, Malta, once.
11. Malta and Near East Special Red Cross Appeal, once.
12. Dr Heywood’s Hospital, Rouen, twice.
13. Dr Heywood’s Hospital, Stationary, No. 3, France, 12 times. Extra parcels were often sent to Dr Heywood’s Hospital at other times.
14. Ripon Camp Hospital (Dr Mackay), twice.
15. French Red Cross, twice.
16. French War Emergency Fund, 11 times.
17. National Committee for Relief in Belgium and Northern France, twice.
18. Belgian Red Cross, once.
19. Italian White Cross, twice.
20. Russian Prisoners of War, once.
21. Serbian Relief Fund, 7 times.
22. Syria and Palestine Relief Fund, 5 times.
23. Air Raid victims in London, once.
24. Soldiers’ Children Aid Committee, twice.

Making 73 meetings in all.

The many grateful letters received are too numerous to quote, but each one showed clearly how much the recipients appreciated the parcels of well made clothing despatched from Newbury. Not only were new clothes sent, but many gifts of garments slightly worn, but in good condition were also sent to various Societies. These were received with special thankfulness for the many refugees in France, Belgium, and Serbia, and as the work of repatriation in some of these terribly devastated regions will have to be carried on for months to come, parcels might still be forwarded from time to time if members cared to collect for them.

Thanks are specially due to those members who were kind enough to continually lend their sewing machines for ten meetings, and to several who undertook from time to time cutting-out at home.
The sum of £92 7s 8d was collected in donations and subscriptions, and was expended in flannel, flannelette, linen, twill, sheeting, muslin, gauze, lint, and cotton wool, which were all worked up into about 2,653 different articles, comprising, roughly speaking, the following:

735 treasure bags, 386 bandages, 376 miscellaneous things (such as washers, dusters, hot water bottle covers, table napkins, etc), 253 children’s garments, 210 men’s shirts, 177 knitted articles (socks, helmets, mufflers, operation stockings, etc), 128 collars and ties for hospital wear, 108 men’s vests and other underclothing, 106 women’s underclothing and blouses, 86 towels, 68 pillow cases and sheets, 20 pair steering gloves (leather palms): total 2,653.

The pleasant fellowship in which the members worked so untiringly through many months of anxiety and trouble for the alleviation of the sufferings of others, may well have strengthened not only parochial and personal ties, but also many wider ones with those they were privileged to help.

Newbury parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

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“Councillor Camp deprecated any extravagant Peace Celebration but thought that it should be of a subdued character”

Newbury Borough Councillors had mixed views on remembering the war.

January 28 1919

Finance Watch and General Purposes Committee – the reports of the 31st December last and 24th January instant were taken as read … also to a conference to be held with a Representative of the Local Government Board on the inception and execution of works during demobilisation and reconstruction, and to the recommendation of the Committee with regard to the reinstatement on his discharge from the Army of the Borough Surveyor [Mr Vincent], the salary to be paid, and the discharge of his duties. Seconded by Alderman Rankin, Councillor Hopson then enquired whether any communication had been made to the Borough Surveyor on the limitation of his professional work. Alderman Stradling stated that he understood that the Surveyor assented to the proposed terms.

The Mayor referred to the proposed War Memorial, and desired the Council’s opinion upon the subject.

Councillor Carter suggested the calling of a Public Town’s Meeting with reference to any Peace Celebration. Councillor Geater also referred to the same subject. Councillor Camp deprecated any extravagant Peace Celebration but thought that it should be of a subdued character.

Alderman Lucas suggested that the matter of the War memorial should be referred to a Special Committee. Councillor Hopson moved that the matter be referred to the Finance Committee and the Chairmen of the other Committees of the Council. Seconded by Alderman Rankin and moved. The report was then put and carried…

Museum and Free Public Library Committee

The report of the 13th January instant was taken as read and its adoption moved by Councillor Hopson who referred particularly to a proposed War Collection for the Museum. Seconded by Alderman Jackson, and the report was put and carried.

Newbury Borough Council minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

“Every additional sand-bag may mean the preservation of a soldier’s life”

As Newbury men fell at the Front, the town’s women were trying to save lives by making sandbags.

The War has been lately still further brought home to us by the casualties which have occurred among our old lads. We should like to express our sincerest sympathy with the parents of those who have been killed or wounded, or reported missing, among the latter being Sydney Isaac Hughes, Joseph Alfred Hopson, and Harry Brice Biddis; and especially with Mr Gregory and his family on the death of his only son, William George, one of our old choir-boys, who was killed at that terrible scene of war, the Dardanelles. Willie Gregory was one of our best choir-boys, and was a young man of much promise, and we now hold his memory in special honour for his noble death of self-sacrifice. It has been truly said that ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’, and those who die today in the sacred cause of truth and justice, are adding strength and glory to the Church to which they belong, and are giving fresh incentive to us to lead a true Christian life.

A special War Intercession Service for men has been organised by Mr Rupert Adey, and has been held on Monday nights in the Parish Room. It is possible that this will be combined with the Men’s Bible Class, which starts again on the first Monday in October.

A Committee has been formed for the purpose of providing additional sand-bags for our troops. The committee consists of Mrs A Camp, Mrs H Cooke, Mrs C A Hawker, Nrs G W Roberts, with Miss Boldero as Treasurer, and Mrs L R Majendie in the chair. A large number of bags have been cut out by Mr H Godding, and these can be obtained at the Parish Room on Tuesday mornings from 11 to 12, beginning with Tuesday, October 5th, and Thursday evenings, from 7 to 8, beginning with Thursday, October 7th. We hope that many people will come and take the bags home to sew up, instruction as to which will be obtainable at the Parish Room: and the Treasurer will be very glad to receive subscriptions towards the cost of the material, which is between six and seven pounds. Every additional sand-bag may mean the preservation of a soldier’s life.

Newbury parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)