Conspicuous bravery during the retreat

Various Old Redingensians (OLd Boys of Reading School) had been serving their country.

O.R. NEWS.

Deaths

Captain Lionel Tudor Wild, Somerset L.I., was the second son of Mr. and Mrs Aubrey S. Wild. Of 21, canning-road, Addiscombe, Croydon, and was born in 1888.Educated at St. Winifred’s, Kenley, and Reading School, he was for a short time in the service of the London and Westminster Bank, but afterwards turning his attention to motor engineering, he took up an appointment with Messrs Argylls (Limited) in Dundee, and was subsequently manager of the company’s branch in Aberdeen. For several years before the war he was a member of the Surrey Yeomanry, and attained the rank of sergeant, being one of the best rifle-shots in his squadron. On the outbreak of war he was mobilized with his regiment, and after some months’ training obtained a commission in the Somerset Light infantry, proceeding to France with his battalion in July, 1915. In 1916 he was appointed brigade staff captain, but eventually returned to his regiment, and was given the command of the company. He was reported “wounded and missing” on November 30th, 1917, and it has now been established that he was killed on that date, in an attempt to save the remnant of his company during the German counter attack near Cambrai, and was buried by the enemy at Masnieres.

On Saturday the death occurred at “Westdene,” Earley, the home of his parents, of Sec. Lieut. F.I. (Frank) Cunningham after illness contracted on active service. Deceased was educated at Reading School, from which he entered the City and Guilds Engineering College, London, and after going through the three year’s course he obtained a diploma in civil and mechanical engineering. In 1910 he went to Canada, and was assistant engineer on the Grand Trunk Railway. When war broke out he enlisted on August 14th, as a private in the Royal Highlanders of Canada. He was at Valcartier and Salisbury Plain, and in 1915 went to the front. At Ypres he was wounded in the foot, and after recovery was attached to the C.A.M.C., until 1916. He then obtained a commission in the R.F.C., which he held up till February the 3rd of this year, when he was invalided out of the service and granted the honorary rank of Sec. Lieut.

The funeral took place at St Peter’s Earley, on Thursday, April 11th. The officiating clergy were the Rev. W. S. Mahony, Vicar of Linslade, the Rev. Capt. A. Gillies Wilken (O.R.) Chaplain to the Canadian Forces ( lately prisoner of war in Germany), and the Vicar (Canon Fowler). The coffin was draped in the Union Jack.

Military Cross

Capt. (A/Major) D.F. Grant, R.F.A., the son of Mr W.J. Grant, of 12, Glebe Road, Reading. Major Grant was educated at Reading School, and quite recently lost his eyesight in France but has since regained it.

Captain Arnold J. Wells, A.S.C., T.F. (Territorial Force), has been awarded the M.C. for meritorious service in Egypt. He has served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine.

Bar To Military Cross

Sec. Lieut. (A/Capt.) J.L. Loveridge, M.C., Royal Berks.

Mentioned In Despatches

Fullbrook-Leggatet, Capt. C.St. Q.O., D.S.O., M.C., Royal Berks Regt.

Military Medal

Corpl. H.C. Love, Despatch Rider, R.E., of Reading, has won the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery during the retreat March 23rd-30th.

The following is the official statement of service for which Lieut. O.S. Frances, M.C. Royal Berks Regt. Received his bar: –

“He marked out the assembly positions for the whole brigade before an attack and guided forward companies of two battalions over very difficult ground and under heavy shell fire.”

Corporal W.L. Pauer, a sniper in the Munster Fusiliers, has been awarded the Military Medal and also the Medaille Militaire. He has been twice wounded. During the retreat in March he was made a King’s Sergeant on the field and he has since been awarded a bar to his Military Medal.

Wounded.

Rees, Major R.A.T., L.N. Lan. Regt., attached South Staff. Regt. He was formerly classical master at Reading School, where he held the commission in the O.T.C.

Reading School Magazine, July 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

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The Austrian offensive seems to have vanished into mid air

Officers were well treated on their visits home, on leave or wounded.

Florence Vansittart Neale
22 June 1918

I & two officers motored to Oxford. Saw Dorchester, had lunch en route. Saw Magdalen, New College & Christ Church. Two MO Canadians here for Sunday, Captains Johnston & Reay. They out all evening. We brought Phyllis home. She left Oxford.

Joan Daniels
June 22nd Saturday

Bruce McPherson has come for the weekend… Bruce has had a very nasty wound in the back of his head which he got last October.

The Austrian offensive seems to have vanished into mid air.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and Joan Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

French holding fairly, lost in some parts, but fighting very hard

It was the last day of Sydney Spencer’s gas training course.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 10 June 1918

Got up at 7.15. After breakfast, I wrote up some of my notes. Then to lecture given by chemical adviser Major Edwardes-Ker, on Responsibilities of Officers.

Then the usual last day of course lectures by students. Very droll, some of them, too. Major Knights was asked about Green X shells & spoke lengthily about what his CO had said concerning yellow X shells. Jones the Welsh man had a fit of spoonerisms, talking of ‘belastic lands’ for elastic bands! Poor Bin – he was dumb! Hardwick knew nothing but was so droll as to pass it all off. Graham was very good indeed. I had to speak on ‘Reliefs’ & gassed areas, etc. Major Ker promised to send my notes down to Broadbent in England. Wore SBB for an hour. After lunch a short lecture by Ash. Then break up of school.

After tea to Hesdin shopping & a bath at common dark place. Dinner, a short walk with Major Knights and then the completion of note writing up to 12.30 am. Wrote letter to Major Ker, reference notes & to bed & read Tartarin de Tarascon.

Florence Vansittart Neale
10 June 1918

Canadians left 9.45…

Disturbed siesta. Soldiers came early – nice set of men. Boats, bowls, croquet & tennis. Left 6.30.

French holding fairly. Lost in some parts, but fighting very hard.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

We can trust our brave soldiers absolutely and entirely

The vicar of Reading St Mary encouraged parishioners to pray for all involved in the war.

The Vicar’s Notes

We are now in the thick of the most terrific struggle in the history of the world. We can trust our brave soldiers absolutely and entirely; they are fighting with a magnificent spirit and courage that is the wonder and admiration of all. The point is that they should be able to trust us, the civilian population; a great deal of the issue of this battle depends on the moral and spiritual backbone of those who are here at home. We ought at this critical time to make our prayers a deeper and greater reality and so I am putting in front of our magazine this month some simple heads of intercession.

Let us pray for:
Our King, and all our leaders at home and at the front.
Our fighting men and those of our allies.
The wounded and the prisoners.
The fallen.
The doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, the chaplains, on or near the field of battle.
The people at home that may be steadfast and true.
For final victory and after victory, lasting peace.

S. Mary’s Church is open each day till 9 o’clock in the evening so as to give opportunities of quiet prayer and intercession in this time of need.

S. Saviour’s District
R.I.P.

It is with great sorrow that we have heard of the death of George Courtnell, our late esteemed Verger, and our hearty sympathy is with Mrs. Courtnell in her sad bereavement. He died in the Canadian hospital at Doullens, having been brought there with many other wounded at the beginning of the recent big battle in France, and was buried with military honours near there. He died as he had lived, trying to do his duty. He was a faithful servant of Christ, and a loyal worker and helper at S. Saviour’s.

Our deep sympathy is also with Mrs. Lane, who has for the second time been called to make the sacrifice of a son, Henry Paice having been recently killed in France. He leaves a widow and children, to whom also, as to his mother, we offer our sincere condolence.

S. Mark’s District
R.I.P.

It is with sincere regret that we have to record the death of George Martin, one of our old S. Mark’s choir boys. He met with a very serious accident some six months ago, while engaged in the service of his country, from which he never recovered and passed away in the Royal Berkshire Hospital on April the 8th. He was most wonderfully patient and cheerful through all his illness. We offer his parents and sisters our sincere sympathy.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Offers to tend the graves of soldiers

A few Wokingham parishioners had volunteered to held look after the parish’s war graves (of Canadian soldier who had died of wounds).

Soldiers’ Graves

In connection with the request in the last Magazine for offers to tend the graves of soldiers, two applications have been received. A dozen more are wanted.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P154C/28A/1)

Peppered all along our line

Sydney Spencer was under fire and trying to catch some sleep, while brother Percy was behind the lines and Will’s wife was trying to get permission to visit her sister in Germany.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 4 May 1918

I started tour of duty at 10 pm [last] Saturday night. Finished at 4.30 this morning. Took on again at 5.30-7.30 so as to get a long morning’s sleep.

Was on Tour duty till 4.30 this morning. At 2.45 enemy sent over a few shells into village behind us. Rain set in at 2.15 am & continued to drizzle until 4 am. Had a half hour ‘kip’ till 4.30, then ‘stand to’ till 5.30 & I took tour duty till 7.30. Examined rifles & feet. Saw gun sections issued & [tried?], then sleep till 8 am. After breakfast more sleep till 10.

Brigadier came along at 10.30 just when I was rubbing my feet & getting my boots cleaned. He had a good deal to say, looked severe, but it struck me he had very kindly eyes. Got some more sleep in after lunch.

On duty 3.30-5.30. Many enemy aeroplanes came over. A glorious day with a little rain early in the day. At stand to the Neuglanders did a strafe & bombing raid, & we were peppered all along our line, particularly my platoon front. No casualties however. No 7 had one slight one.

Took a wiring party along New Broad & put up a tangle barrier on road & obstacle on right.

Percy Spencer
4 May 1918

Another hard day. Got some useful work done. Office in a chaotic state still. Col. Parrish’s band played at mess. Col. P constant anxiety about “Paddy” the Irish Terrier.

Will Spencer
4 May 1918

I was playing in the library after breakfast when the taller of the two Canadian ladies [staying at the same hotel] (their name, by the way, is Thompson) came in. … She left at 10.30 to meet a tall young Belgian soldier on the hotel terrace. She distributes Bible reading cards among the soldiers.

[It seems that the hotel was used partly for the accommodation of interned soldiers from foreign nations.]

By the morning post letters for Johanna from her Engeloch (enclosing form of application for her to travel into Germany for her to fill up), & from Agnes…

Before dinner J. wrote to Agnes asking for medical testimony that her mother was ill, & after dinner she filled up the above mentioned form of application.

[She eventually got permission to go in August.]

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX802/28)

“The increase is of course due entirely to the greatly enhanced cost of labour and materials since the war commenced”

The County Council was affected by several war-related matters.

Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee, 30 April 1918

PRISONERS OF WAR

An application has been received from the Committee of the Rifle Brigade Prisoners of War Help Fund, asking if the Council would consent to regularly contribute to the Fund for the benefit of the men belonging to the County who are prisoners of war.

The Finance Committee make no recommendation.

Report of Highways and Bridges Committee to Finance and General Purposes Committee, 30 April 1918

TYLE MILL BRIDGE

At the request of the Road Board, the Committee have undertaken the work of strengthening Tyle Mill Bridge sufficiently to take the loads of timber from the Canadian Forestry Corps Camp at Ufton to Tyle Mill Siding. Skilled labour is being supplied by Messrs J K Cooper & Sons of Maidenhead, who are carrying out the work with the approval of the Road Board, payment to be made on a percentage basis. The Canadian Forestry Corps is providing the reminder of the labour and other facilities. The cost of the work will be refunded to the Council by the Road Board.

Report of Public Health and Housing Committee to F&GP, 30 April 1918

ABINGDON HOSPITAL

The Committee have had under consideration as scheme for the provision of additional accommodation at the Tuberculosis Hospital, Abingdon, which is urgently required, mainly for the treatment of discharged soldiers and sailors belonging to Berkshire….

It is pointed out that the cost of the scheme would be considerably in excess of the £150 per head which the Local Government Board fixed in pre-war times as the maximum to which their grant would then apply, but the increase is of course due entirely to the greatly enhanced cost of labour and materials since the war commenced.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

“He died as he lived, trying to do his duty”

There was sad news for two Speenhamland families.

It is with great sorrow that we heard of the death of George Courtnell, our late esteemed verger, and our hearty sympathy is with Mrs. Courtnell in her sad bereavement. He died in the Canadian hospital at Doullens, having been brought there with many other wounded at the beginning of the recent big battle in France, and was buried with military honours near there. He died as he lived, trying to do his duty. He was a faithful servant of Christ, and a loyal worker and helper at S. Saviour’s.

Our deep sympathy is also with Mrs. Lane, who has for the second time been called to make the sacrifice of a son, Henry Paice having been recently killed in France. He leaves a widow and children, to whom also, as to his mother, we offer our sincere condolence.

Speenhamland parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

Are the Canadian war graves well cared for?

War graves in Wokingham were untended.

Last July the following paragraphs were inserted in the Magazine:-

Soldiers’ Graves.

It is hoped to arrange for the care of all the graves and more especially of those of men from Overseas, who have no friends here to do this. Several people have already undertaken this excellent work, and the Vicar would be glad if they would kindly inform him which grave they are tending, so that such a grave may not be apportioned to anyone else. He would also be glad to receive the names of any others who would like to undertake the care of the grave.

There was no response. This, to say the least of it, was somewhat disappointing. The Canadian Authorities have now written to ask if the graves are well cared for or whether they should make arrangements for getting the work done. We hope that it will be regarded as a privilege of the Parish to tend the graves of those who lie buried here.

We therefore draw attention to the paragraph above.

In connection with the care of graves it has often struck us that more use might be made of small plants and bulbs. If suitable ones are chosen they need but little attention and always look tidy.

N.B.- The Vicar has a few such plants which he would be glad to give anyone who applies.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P154C/28A/1)

“Camp life makes them familiar”

Thousands of civilians from interned countries were housed at a camp at Holzminden in Germany throughout the war. Ernest Delfosse, a 32 year old motor mechanic from Belgium, 5 foot 6 ½ inches, with brown hair, was among the inmates there, until he escaped to England with the help of his sweetheart. Sadly, this did not mean freedom, as he was arrested on arrival as a suspected spy. He was transferred to Reading from Brixton Prison on 5 February 1917. He was classified as a Friendly Alien but stayed at Reading and was eventually deported in 1919.

HM Place of Internment
Reading

6th March 1918

Sir

With reference to your letter … dated 5th March 18 on the subject of correspondence between the interned alien E. Delfosse and Mrs E Owen, 54 New Compton St, London EC.

The first letter received from Mrs Owen by Delfosse was dated 22.12.17. This was sent to the Commissioners and I drew special attention to it, giving such information as I was able. It was passed.

Prisoner replied on Jany 5th 1918 – submitted & passed. A second letter was received on 12th January 1918 – submitted and passed. Both these letters are attached to this [though not to the letter book copy]. Please send them back as prisoner does not know they have been forwarded to the Home Office.

Prisoner’s reply to the last letter is the subject of the Home Office letter.

The history of the prisoner’s acquaintance with this woman appears to be:

He was interned at Holzminden, a camp of about 24,000. Men and women were allowed to mix for the purpose of visiting restaurants and cinemas in the grounds. He struck up friendship with this woman – also interned – [he] believes for trafficking in letters – but not sure. The majority of the women were interned for that reason. She stated she was a Russian. (I cross-examined Delfosse, who admitted that she might be a German Pole). He cannot (or will not) remember her name – always called her by her Christian name of Emmy. Camp life makes them familiar. She could speak no English and but little French – he could not speak Russian. Conversation carried on in German, in which both were fluent. Does not know if she was then married – thinks not – her maiden name could be obtained from his note book, black, 9” x 4” (about), taken from him by police at Gravesend 20th Oct 1916 (plain clothes man).

On 7th Oct: 1916 Delfosse escaped from Holzminden, “Emmy” keeping the sentry in conversation while Delfosse got away.

Heard nothing more of her until the letter dated 22.12.17. Does not know how she escaped.

Learns she is married to a Canadian officer. Does not know him. She wants to come & see him. Would like to see her.

I think that is all the information I have obtained.

I am Sir
Your obedient servant

C M Morgan
Governor

[To]
The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
Whitehall


Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

A Canadian home from France

Florence Vansittart Neale’s son in law was headed to a home posting, while the Hallams offered hospitality to Canadian on leave.

Florence Vansittart Neale
24 February 1918

Heard Boy [Leo Paget] is attached [to] 6th Reserve Battalion, go to Sheppey on Friday.

William Hallam
24th February 1918

J. Bier, a Canadian home from France, came to dinner and tea.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

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)

No raids during this moon

Florence Vansittart Neale’s husband was a senior Admiralty official – no doubt the way their married daughter might get an opportunity there.

31 December 1917

Wounded came late & had to go early for evening entertainment. Nearly all Canadians.

No raids during this moon so far.

Bubs may work at Admiralty chart room.

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

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)

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)