A new opportunity for women

The Women’s Institute seems as though it has been part of English life since time immemorial, but in fact it first came to the country in 1915.

The Women’s Institute

In May of this year, Mrs Watt, who is well known for having started WI in many parts of England on the model of those which have been so successful in Canada, visited Burghfield for the second time and gave an address on “The Work of Women’s Institutes”. Inspired by what she said it was desired to form a branch. The first monthly meeting was held in the Jubilee Room on Thursday June 7th and nearly 40 members were enrolled.

The aims and objects of the Institute are as follow: a) Study home economies [sic], b) provide a centre for educational and social intercourse, and for all local activities, c) encourage home and local industries, d) develop co-operative enterprise, e) stimulate interest in the Agricultural Industry. Each monthly meeting has been well attended and interesting discussions have taken place, also songs and recitations have done much to enliven proceedings. It is hoped that the members will realise that the success of the Institute depends greatly on each member trying to take an active part by giving suggestions, entering into discussions at the various meetings, bearing in mind the words on the membership card, “to do all the good we can, in every way we can, to all the people we can, and above all to study household good in any work which makes the betterment of our home the advancement of our people and the good of our country.

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

Ashamed to be connected with strikers

Lockinge-born William Hallam, living and working in Swindon, felt strikers and trade unionists were behaving in an unpatriotic way.

20th May 1917

There was a Trade Union demonstration and procession round the Town. I left it severely alone. Thousands of our T.U. men are out on strike in different parts of the country and as I told some of our fellows I should be ashamed to be seen in anyway connected with them by young fellows in khaki who have come from all parts of our Colonies to fight for us; for hundreds come in every Sat & Sun from Draycott Camp. Australians, New Zealanders & Canadians.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

A gardener’s gallant conduct

A former Hare Hatch man who had emigrated to British Columbia before the war was honoured for his courage. Frank Howard Heybourne was in his early 30s. A landscape gardener in peacetime, the medal he received was the Military Medal. He survived the war, living until 1968.

Hare Hatch Notes

The following letter gives us much pleasure, and we are glad to be able to publish it in full. We heartily congratulate Sergeant F. H. Heybourne on the honour he has gained, besides endorsing, especially the latter part of the letter: “That he may be spared to continue the good record,” we wish him further success and a safe return.

10th Canadian Infantry Brigade. A-5-69
To No. 628005, Sergeant F. H. Heybourne,
47th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

On behalf of the Brigade I desire to congratulate you on the Honour which has been awarded you in recognition of your gallant conduct as a Canadian Soldier. It afforded me much pleasure to forward the recommendation submitted by the Officer commanding your Battalion. I thank you for the good service you have rendered to date, and trust that you will be spared to continue the good record which you have already set for yourself.

Edward William,
Brigadier-General
23-4-1917 Commanding 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade.’

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Conscientious objectors honoured

It is unusual to see a conscientious objector listed on a church’s roll of honour.

Spencer’s Wood Roll of Honour.

Tom Allen, Canadian.
Cpl. W. Appleby, R.B.
*Edward Beales, R.B.
Alfred Beken, R.F.A.
*Arthur Bradfield,R.B.
*Archie Butler, Territorials.
Fred Card, R.E.
Charlie Clacey, R.N.
Tom Clements, R.F.C.
Will Clements, A.S.C.
Ted Clements, R.F.A.
Frank Cocks, R.B.
Charlie Cocks, R.B.
Harry Coffill, R.N.
Charlie Day, R.B.
Dick Day, Devon Regt.
Jacob Didcock, R.N.
Cpl. Fred Didcock.
Sgt. W.Doherty, Man. Regt.
*Jim Double, R.E.
Percy Double, R.B.
Chappie Double, R.B.
Sgt. Kenneth Eggleton, A.M.C.
E. Eggleton.
E. Foster, R.E.
Sgt. Hawkins, R.B.
Reginald Jewell. R.B. (wounded).
Reginald Lee, R.A.M.C.
Edgar Lee, R.E.
Wilfred Lowe, R.F.C.
Leonard Luckwell, Coldstream Guards.
Walter Luckwell, R.F.A.
A. Marcham, R.B.
A.H. Marcham, R.B.
Jolly Middleton.
Arthur Middleton.
Sydney Middleton, R.F.C.
Harry Moss, A.S.C.
Arthur Moss, A.S.C.
Albert Povey, R.B.
William Povey, R.B. (prisoner of war).
– Sloper (C. objector).
Fred Swain, A.S.C.
Bert Swain, A.S.C.
Leonard Swain, Coldstream Guards.
S. Tiller.
*Alfred Watkins, Canadian.
George Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Edwin Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Charles Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Sgt. Wallace Webb, C.C.
Stanley Webb, R.F.A.
Lieut. William Wheeler, C.Dr.
Owen Wheeler, R.E.
Lce-Cpl. H. Wheeler, R.B.
*Laurie White, R.N.
Frank Wilson, R.F.A.
William Wilson, R.B.
Fred Wiseman, East Kent.

*Has made the supreme sacrifice for King and Country.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, March 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

“Swiss soldiers fired three times over the grave”

Severely wounded PoWs from both sides were given a more kindly environment in neutral Switzerland. Unfortunately, some of them did eventually succumb to their injuries. Will Spencer attended one dignified funeral, and observed the respectful treatment given by the Swiss army.

20 February 1917

In the afternoon an English soldier – or rather a Canadian soldier – who had died at the Victoria Sanatorium close by was buried in the Schlossholde cemetery a mile to the north east of the town. I did not attend the service in the sanatorium, but followed to the cemetery. A firing party of Swiss soldiers fired three times over the grave, after the coffin had been lowered & the service was ended. An elderly English officer of apparently high rank was present, & acknowledged the salute of the Swiss sergeant & his men after they had ceased firing.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland, 1917 (D/EX801/27)

A million sheets of notepaper

Reading St Giles Church of England Men’s Society had contributed to the well-being of soldiers at the front through the CEMS Huts.

The following letters have been received giving information concerning the Reading and Windsor C.E.M.S. Huts…

January 31st 1917

This is a large and important centre always well organized. The religious and social side of the work is everything that can be desired. We also have a tea room built in addition to the hut. This gives us more room. It is a most valuable hut being in the centre of many things: hundreds of letters are written daily, Services are not forgotten, and it is now being used by the Canadian Chaplain, the Canadian troops being quartered in that district.

Funds are now urgently required to enable the headquarters to supply the huts with the proper necessaries which is very large. The provision of stationary is a considerable matter and already the society has sent out about a million sheets of notepaper and 500,000 envelopes for the use in the forty huts in France, Flanders, Egypt, Malta, Salonika and England.

I am sure the members of S. Giles’ who contributed to the hut mentioned above will be glad to hear of its usefulness.

H.J. HINDERLEY Hon.Sec.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

Mourning the death of a footballer

A keen amateur footballer was among the Reading men recently reported killed.

Notes from the Vicar
Intercessions list

Albert Henry Eaton, R.G.A. Malta; Private C.A. Pritchard, 2/4 Royal Berks; Private Edwin Gerald Ritchie, 2/21 1st London Regiment.

Sick and Wounded: Private James A. Dutton, Royal Scots. Privates Harry, George, and Walter Barnes, (on active service). Stoker Albert Edward Ayres, R.N.; Gunner Harold Whitebread, R.G.A. Lieut. Robert Carew Hunt; George G. Lanitz.

Departed: Martin Sinclair David; Lieut. Cedric C. Okey Taylor; Lieut. W.F.F. Venner; Robert D. Bruce; Private G Cooper; Capt. W.F. Johnson, R.N.; Private Walter Michael Carew Hunt (Canadian Infantry). Henry Bilson Blandy R.I.P.

Prisoner: William Henry Cook.

Our sympathy and prayers go out to those who are mourning the death of these loved ones. Lieut. Venner was the 1st Captain of our S. Giles’ football club and took an active part in its formation.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

Sending dressings right out to the firing line

People in the villages of Wokingham Rural District gave their money generously, while those in Wargrave were proud to know that their handmade surgical dressings were being put to use at the front where they were most urgently needed.

Our Day

Very hearty congratulations and our best thanks are due to Mrs. Oliver Young and all her collectors, for the splendid contribution sent this year from the district to the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The Cheque sent to the County Secretary from the Wokingham North District was for £168. 10s. 1d. and was made up as follows:-

£. s. d.
Wargrave per Mrs. Victor Rhodes: 19 3 2
Wargrave per Mrs Vickerman 36 0 0
Hare Hatch per Mrs. A. W. Young 20 7 2
Twyford per Mrs. F. C. Young 23 4 0
Remenham and Crazies Hill per Mrs. Noble 21 1 7
Mr. Noble per Mrs. Noble 20 0 0
Sonning per Miss Williams 13 0 0
Woodley per Miss Pantin 3 6 2
Hurst per Mrs. Roupell 12 8 0

£168 10 1

Wargrave Surgical Dressing Emergency Society

Since March 23rd, 1915 over 300 Bales of dressings and comforts have been sent to Casualty Clearing Stations in France, Malta, Egypt, Alexandria and Port Said. The Society is now approved by the War Office, and properly licensed under the New War Charity Act. In future it is intended to print the hospitals where dressings are sent every month, in the Parish Magazine, as it cannot fail to be a source of satisfaction to know that while the Hospital is doing all it can for the men who have come back, the Surgical Dressing Society is sending every month about 20 Bales right out to the Firing Line, for the use of the men who come out of the trenches on the field of Battle.

List of Hospitals for October and November:

B. Ex. F. France:
No. 5, Casualty Clearing Station
No. 27, Field Ambulance – 9th Scottish Section
No. 3, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station

Egypt:
No. 19 General Hospital, Alexandria
No. 31, General Hospital, Port Said

These Hospitals have 4 Bales of Dressings etc. each:
No. 21 Casualty Clearing Station
No. 5 Casualty Clearing Station
No. 2/2d London Casualty Clearing Station
No. 1/1 Midland D. Casualty Clearing Station
British Exped. Force, France.

4 Bales each.

By order of the Director General. Vol. Organizations
Scotland Yard.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Major Dinkum

Florence Vansittart Neale heard some gossip and tall tales from army officers. “Dinkum” is actually an Australian word, and the story, ascribed to an Australian officer, is recorded as being in circulation elsewhere.

25 December 1916

Had 5 Remount Depot to dine with us.

Major Remount Depot told me – hear [Colonel?] RFA told him how a spy had been caught. Posed as a Major who came to their Division & gave orders to bombard [later?] a salient! Said he had been sent from the HQ, also seen and arranged for other divisions etc etc. A Canadian present said. “Is this dinkum”, a slang word meaning is this true. He answered Yes, I am Major Dinkum. Whereupon the C[anadian?] rushed on him & held him down & they found he was a spy & was taken out & shot.

One day the artillery was told to bombard heavily but unluckily the ammunition was forgotten!!

Hear the new Government dare not conscript Ireland.

I hear Sir D. Haig sent for 1000 miles of railway lines, 400 engine drivers & heaps of locomotives, & that has caused the reduction of trains & increase in the price of tickets to begin Jan 1 1917.

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

Severe shell shock for an Earley man

Two Earley men had been wounded, one of them – brave enough to have been previously awarded a medal – suffering shell shock.

We regret to say that Sergt-Major Jordan who holds the DCM has been seriously wounded in France, and is suffering severely also from shell shock. He is the son-in-law to Mr Spencer of Manchester Road. Private Ernest George Jupe, son of Mrs Jupe of Culver Road, has also been wounded in France. He is one of those who belong to the famous Canadian contingent. We rejoice that his wound is not pronounced serious. 2nd Lieut. T P Norris RE sailed for East Africa on Oct 11 with a draft of 32 sappers.

Earley parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

15 wounded Canadians visit Bisham

Another group of wounded soldiers visited Bisham Abbey.

30 October 1916
Had 15 wounded from Canadian Hospital. Came late. Saw house – tea – then whist.

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

17 men from Cliveden

A group of wounded soldiers came over from Cliveden for an afternoon at Bisham Abbey.

9 October 1916
Had 17 men from the Cliveden Hospital headed by a Presbyterian Canadian chaplain. They saw all over the house, then had a substantial tea, & then we walked round garden, farm & Grange. Left before bed.

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

Remounts at work

The Vansittart Neales knew Commander (later Admiral) Percy Noble (1880-1955).

7 October 1916

Percy Noble came with 4 officers to see house. Stayed till past 4 o’clock. One a Canadian.

H & I after tea went to Temple – saw remounts at work. Stayed some time.

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

A Zeppelin is brought down in flames

The First World War was the first air war, and raids terrified the civilian population. So the first Zeppelin to be downed was a cause of celebration.

3 September 1916
Zeppelin brought down in flames at Cuffley by Com. Robinson, a Canadian – he given VC.

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

“These Colours speak to us of a mighty struggle which involves sacrifice even unto death”

Windsor said a formal goodbye to the Canadians who had been stationed nearby as they headed to Kent, and then to the front.

Church and Empire

Wednesday, August 16th, was a red-letter day in the history of our Parish Church. A request had come from the Colonel of the 99th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, recruited in Windsor, Ontario, that their Colours might be deposited in our church for safe keeping during the war. It is needless to say that the request was most willingly and gladly granted, and August 16th was arranged as the day on which the ceremony should take place. Forthwith the citizens and church people of the Mother city prepared to welcome their brothers from the Overseas Daughter.

Our leading citizen [the mayor], ever ready to uphold the honour of the Royal Borough, at once declared his wish to extend his hospitality and official welcome to our guests. It was decided that as a parish we should entertain them at tea, and our churchwardens met with a ready answer to their appeal for funds and lady helpers. Permission was asked and gladly granted for them to see St George’s and the Albert Memorial Chapels, the Castle, Terraces and the Royal Stables.

The party, which included Lt Col Welch, commanding the 99th Battalion, Col Reid, Agent General for Canada, Lt-Col Casgrain, commanding the King’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Bushey Park, Mr W Blaynay, representing the Canadian Press, several officers of the Battalion, the Colour Guard, and the Band, arrived at the SWR station at 11.30, and were met by the vicar, who had come up from his holiday for the occasion, and several representatives of the church. From the station they marched, the band playing, and the Colours unfurled, to the Guildhall, which by kind permission of the Mayor was used as “Headquarters” for the day. Sightseeing followed till 1 o’clock, when the Mayor formally received his guests and entertained them in sumptuous fashion at lunch.

For an account of the speeches we must refer our readers to the Windsor and Eton Express of August 18th, in which will be found a very full and interesting report of the whole day’s proceedings.

Next came the event of the day, the ceremony of depositing the Colours in the Parish Church.

It is not likely that any one of the very large congregation which filled the church will ever forget what must have been one of the most interesting and impressive services ever held in the church.
It is probably true to say that most of us realised in a new way the meaning of our Empire, and the part the Church plays and has played in the building and cementing of that Empire’s fabric; and to that new realisation we were helped both by the ceremony itself and the most eloquent and inspiring words spoken from the pulpit by the vicar. (more…)