“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

“Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night

Men on their way home for a spell of leave stopped off at a special camp. This is a first hand description from one of the helpers.

“LEAVES FROM A LEAVE CAMP.”

Mr Frampton, who is at Boulogne, sends us the following:-

“From the windows of the canteen where the writer is “doing his bit,” may be seen any evening a body of men with tin hats and rifles swinging along the road to the entrance of the “leave” camp. They are of many types, and it is most interesting to watch them file into the camp. One can see at a glance there are men from every walk of life, for the “khaki” does not cover a man so well that his former occupation cannot be shrewdly guessed.

As soon as they arrive in sight the canteen is at once closed. It has perhaps been open all the afternoon for the benefit of the staff attached to the camp, but it is necessary to close it now, for otherwise “Tommy” would make tracks for the counter in order to purchase “fags,” soap, towels, socks, and the numerous articles he is out of after a spell “up the line.” Of course, “Tommy” wishes to go to “Blighty” looking smart and clean, but he may not purchase just now. He is dealt with as follows:- Each man as he passes the gate is served with a ticket entitling him to an evening meal and breakfast in the morning. After all have enjoyed the evening meal, the canteen opens for an hour or two, and Tommy may make his purchases. Cigarettes and tobacco are an easy first, and the other articles sold are far too numerous to specify. Well, from say 7 to 9 o’clock he can buy what he needs, or play games in the canteen. Each canteen boasts a piano also. So much for his first few hours in the last camp before that journey to “Blighty” in the morning.

Lights out at 10 p.m., and “Tommy” is safely tucked up, sometimes twelve in a tent, till morning. It is a bit close, but it keeps them warm. Well, now, the morning arrives at last for “Tommy” who is “going home,” but it arrives too soon for the canteen hands, who were in all probability up at 4.30 the morning previous. However the canteen hands are often aroused at about 4 a.m. by some wakeful “Tommy,” who enquires in no uncertain voice, “When are you going to open?” The response is, “When you’ve all had breakfast.” Sometimes the conversation is not so short and sweet, but long and, truth to tell, “very lurid,” for “Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night, for, does he not work and fight day and night? And on the other hand the canteen hands consider that from 4.30 a.m. till 9 p.m. is a fair day’s work (with short breaks), and do not care to be roused at 3.30 a.m. by a strident voice shouting “What time do you open?”

Well, the canteen does eventually open, and you can imagine, say 1,000 men, making a sudden rush to the counter. They’ve had breakfast, and been supplied with their railway pass and ration cards for use in “Blighty,” and now they are about to spend on luxuries not so easily procured “higher up.” They are easily and quickly served with chocolate for the kiddies, postcards for mother, fancy handkerchiefs for “My dear sweetheart,” etc., etc. The articles mentioned are only samples, for “Tommy” is pleased to buy the best he can get, as a rule, for he has also got some arrears of pay in his pocket.

About two or three hours after breakfast he receives the order “Fall in.” It does not take long to “Fall in,” and the march is begun to the quay side. The first man, for instance, steps on board at say 10.30 a.m., and one hour later he realises that all are on board and he is actually leaving France behind for a short space of time. Two hours to ——- and two more in the train brings him to a London terminus, and if he is as lucky as the writer he will be “indoors” in five or six hours after leaving France. Again, if he is lucky he will have a splendid time in “Blighty” and return in better trim for “doing his bit.”

Of that return, more another time, for it has many a sad side to it, but as the writer is not now at camp where “Tommy” passes through on his return, perhaps he may never give you the impressions he gains by witnessing the return of so many fine men, whose hearts are doubtless very full of their own thoughts.

In conclusion, it may interest those at home to know that both “Tommy” and his officers are catered for by the “Expeditionary Force Canteen,” and the “Canteens” are an institution likely to remain very much in the foreground in the army when the great day of “Peace” shall arrive once more. May that day be not far distant!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night

A colourful glimpse of soldiers on their way home for a leave.

“LEAVES FROM A LEAVE CAMP.”

Mr Frampton, who is at Boulogne, sends us the following:-

“From the windows of the canteen where the writer is “doing his bit,” may be seen any evening a body of men with tin hats and rifles swinging along the road to the entrance of the “leave” camp. They are of many types, and it is most interesting to watch them file into the camp. One can see at a glance there are men from every walk of life, for the “khaki” does not cover a man so well that his former occupation cannot be shrewdly guessed.

As soon as they arrive in sight the canteen is at once closed. It has perhaps been open all the afternoon for the benefit of the staff attached to the camp, but it is necessary to close it now, for otherwise “Tommy” would make tracks for the counter in order to purchase “fags,” soap, towels, socks, and the numerous articles he is out of after a spell “up the line.” Of course, “Tommy” wishes to go to “Blighty” looking smart and clean, but he may not purchase just now. He is dealt with as follows:-

Each man as he passes the gate is served with a ticket entitling him to an evening meal and breakfast in the morning. After all have enjoyed the evening meal, the canteen opens for an hour or two, and Tommy may make his purchases. Cigarettes and tobacco are an easy first, and the other articles sold are far too numerous to specify. Well, from say 7 to 9 o’clock he can buy what he needs, or play games in the canteen. Each canteen boasts a piano also. So much for his first few hours in the last camp before that journey to “Blighty” in the morning.

Lights out at 10 p.m., and “Tommy” is safely tucked up, sometimes twelve in a tent, till morning. It is a bit close, but it keeps them warm. Well, now, the morning arrives at last for “Tommy” who is “going home,” but it arrives too soon for the canteen hands, who were in all probability up at 4.30 the morning previous. However the canteen hands are often aroused at about 4 a.m. by some wakeful “Tommy,” who enquires in no uncertain voice, “When are you going to open?” The response is, “When you’ve all had breakfast.” Sometimes the conversation is not so short and sweet, but long and, truth to tell, “very lurid,” for “Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night, for, does he not work and fight day and night? And on the other hand the canteen hands consider that from 4.30 a.m. till 9 p.m. is a fair day’s work (with short breaks), and do not care to be roused at 3.30 a.m. by a strident voice shouting “What time do you open?”

Well, the canteen does eventually open, and you can imagine, say 1,000 men, making a sudden rush to the counter. They’ve had breakfast, and been supplied with their railway pass and ration cards for use in “Blighty,” and now they are about to spend on luxuries not so easily procured “higher up.” They are easily and quickly served with chocolate for the kiddies, postcards for mother, fancy handkerchiefs for “My dear sweetheart,” etc., etc. The articles mentioned are only samples, for “Tommy” is pleased to buy the best he can get, as a rule, for he has also got some arrears of pay in his pocket.

About two or three hours after breakfast he receives the order “Fall in.” It does not take long to “Fall in,” and the march is begun to the quay side. The first man, for instance, steps on board at say 10.30 a.m., and one hour later he realises that all are on board and he is actually leaving France behind for a short space of time. Two hours to ——- and two more in the train brings him to a London terminus, and if he is as lucky as the writer he will be “indoors” in five or six hours after leaving France. Again, if he is lucky he will have a splendid time in “Blighty” and return in better trim for “doing his bit.”

Of that return, more another time, for it has many a sad side to it, but as the writer is not now at camp where “Tommy” passes through on his return, perhaps he may never give you the impressions he gains by witnessing the return of so many fine men, whose hearts are doubtless very full of their own thoughts.

In conclusion, it may interest those at home to know that both “Tommy” and his officers are catered for by the “Expeditionary Force Canteen,” and the “Canteens” are an institution likely to remain very much in the foreground in the army when the great day of “Peace” shall arrive once more. May that day be not far distant!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“One pitch-dark night, about half-past twelve, a shell dropped in the entrance of the dug-out, smashing it up and setting fire to its contents”

Noncombatant workers behind the lines were also at terrible risk.

Trinity Hut

It is now pretty well known by members of the Church and congregation that our Trinity Y.M.C.A. Hut at La Clytte is no more. It was completely destroyed during the fighting in Flanders towards the end of March, and the young Y.M.C.A. Worker, Mr. L. Hutchinson, who took charge there soon after I left, was himself severely wounded, and is now in hospital at Chelsea. I called on him there recently, and learned from him some particulars which must not be published, and some others that will be of interest to all members and friends of Trinity.

The first accident that happened to the Hut was the bursting of a big shell a few yards away, which riddled the little cabin known as Hotel de la Paix, where I used to sleep, and wrecked some 40 feet of the main hut on that side. This was quickly patched up, and the work was continued until the military authorities decided that it was necessary to close the Hut. Then our workers obtained the use of a large dug-out in the vicinity holding about a dozen at a time, and carried on the canteen work there, sleeping in a smaller dug-out nearby. Finally one pitch-dark night, about half-past twelve, a shell dropped in the entrance of the smaller dug-out, smashing it up, setting fire to its contents, and badly wounding my friend Mr. Hutchinson just above the knee.
His colleagues, one of whom was slightly hurt, succeeded with some difficulty in extricating him from the wreckage, but it was more than an hour before an ambulance and medical aid was forthcoming. It was found necessary to amputate the injured lag. I am glad to say that my friend is now making excellent progress towards recovery.

Since the general facts became known to us, I have been asked by a good many of our friends, “What are we going to do about it?” and the desire has been expressed from many quarters first that we should do something practical to show our sympathy with this young worker who held the fort so faithfully to the very last in our hut, and our appreciation of all that he did as to that extent our representative; and in the second place that we should endeavour in some form or other to replace the Hut erected as a memorial to those of our boys who have made the supreme sacrifice during the war.

To rebuild the Hut as it was would of course cost a great deal more than the original £500. Nor is the Y.M.C.A. putting up so many buildings of that type in the battle area. A less expensive type of Hut, of which a number are now being set up in France, costs £300, and even this would be a great deal to ask of our people as things are at present.

Many who might fully sympathise with the object may be so placed that other pressing claims made it impossible for them to take part in any such effort as this, and I do not intend to put them in the position of having to say so. I shall not therefore be making any immediate public appeal from the pulpit, nor any personal appeal to individual members of the Church congregation. But on the other hand, I know that many of our members are not only able and willing, but eager to do something in this direction. I am therefore making it known in this way, with the consent of the Deacons, that I shall be very glad to give further information to any who ask for it, and to forward any gifts that may be entrusted to me for this purpose. At the time of writing I have already gifts and promises amounting to £85. If it should not prove possible to for us to find enough for a Hut, it may still be within our reach to provide a marquee in which the same type of work could be carried on. The more we can raise, the more can be done. But I do hope and believe that before very long we may have the satisfaction of knowing that somewhere at the Front some bit of work is again being done by the Trinity, in the Master’s Name, for those brave men who are facing such hardships and dangers on our account. P.N.H.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, August 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

“Saw some poor old ladies who have been gassed with yellow X – a lamentable sight.”

Civilians were among the victims of German poison gas.

Tuesday 11 June 1918

Got up at 7.45 am. Got my kit packed by Fox [his batman]. Had breakfast, & then Jones stropped my razor & got a really good shave. After breakfast got down to Hesdin station. Train was due to leave at 10.15 so Graham & I bought biscuits, strawberries & bananas to eat if no food was available. Started at 11.45. Got to St Pol at 1.15. Lunch at the EFC canteen. Town has been fairly well shelled & bombed. Saw some poor old ladies who have been gassed with yellow X. ‘De profundis’ a lamentable sight.

7.30 pm Candas. We stay the night here at Candas as we cannot go further until tomorrow morning at 7.30. Tea at Café’ [illegible] Henly. Then kits to RTO office, a walk and dinner at same café’. Just discovered that I have left my advance pay book & my cheque book, ‘horribili dictu’, at Marronville!

After dinner I made paper frogs for French officers who thought them ‘tres gentils’. To bed at rest camp at 10 pm.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

Home from the Salonika Front for training in a Cadet Corps

Customers at Sulhamstead Post Office supported a canteen at railway stations for soldiers on the move.

THE WAR

SOLDIERS’ CANTEEN, S.E.R.

The amount in the box held by Mrs Winchcombe at the Post Office for this purpose amounted to 2s 6d.

Sergeant James Price has returned home from the Salonika Front for training in a Cadet Corps. His brother, Corporal Stanley Price, has been sent from India to Egypt, to be trained for a commission in the Royal Air Force.

We regret that Private Amos East has been returned home seriously invalided. Private Enefer is still in hospital in London, suffering from wounds.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, May 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“This front is not so quiet as the papers would have you believe”

A member of Broad Street Brotherhood wrote home from service in a bleak part of the Balkans.

Somewhere in Macedonia
5th March 1918

I am taking the first opportunity of writing to thank you and the friends at Broad St for the nice Xmas parcel which arrived safely last week. It is indeed most kind of you all to think of me in this distant land, and I can assure you your kindness is keenly appreciated.

I must heartily congratulate whoever was responsible for the selection of the contents. They were just what I was in need of – especially the writing pad, toilet soap and cigarettes. These things are very difficult to obtain in our part of the line, which is in a most deserted and desolate area, far removed from any YMCA tent or EF canteen, and 50 or 60 miles from Salonica…

Of course I cannot give you any details of our doings out here, but I can assure, you, this front is not so quiet as the papers would have you believe. Praying that the Almighty’s richest blessing may crown all your efforts to brighten matters in “dear old Blighty”.

W J Dance (OS) [on active service]

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, April 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“It was all very suggestive of Bethlehem, except for the noise of the guns outside”

Another army chaplain reports his experiences leading services and planning social activities very close to the front line.

5 December 1917

The following extracts are from 2 letters which Mother received lately from the Sub-Warden with the troops in France.

“This morning, I had an hour’s walk through mud & trenches, delayed by the unwelcome attention of a German aeroplane for a while, but otherwise uneventful, & at last arrived at a certain dug out. There was a steep staircase down about 20 ft, then a square flat, and then 5 or 6 more steps to the right. On the square flat I arranged a little altar. Men all up & down the stairs crouching to one side so as to leave me room to pass to communicate them, and a few outside in the trench kneeling in the mud. At the bottom, a few Non-Conformist officers were very reverent & interested… I reminded them that our Lord chose a “dug out” when He first came to earth… It was all very suggestive of Bethlehem, except for the noise of the guns outside.”

“We have discovered a large cellar beneath ruins close to the lines. There is plenty of room for a canteen, reading rooms & a chapel. The chapel is to be dedicated to St John Baptist. I wonder if the Community would furnish the altar for us; the Pioneers would make the altar… I said Mass there this morning & 60 men came & were very reverent and appreciative.”

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations

The women and children of Burghfield were continuing to contribute to the war effort. The children’s collection of horse chestnuts was ready to send to be made into munitions, while the women sewed. But they were saddened that a local convalescent home had been forced to close due to the economic conditions.

Chestnuts
The centres for collection are the New Schools (Burghfield C of E) and Mrs Bland’s School. The whole will eventually be stored at the former School until sent for by the Director of Propellant Supplies, 32 Old Queen Street, London, SW1.

Holiday House
Not every village is fortunate enough to possess such an institute as Holiday House, though it is coming to be felt more and more that some such centre is needed in villages, where people may meet each other and relieve the monotony of the long dark winter evenings…

That Burghfield Common has such a place is entirely due to the generosity and public spirit of a lady who has the welfare of the Common very much at heart, Mrs Kirkwood. Founded in 1914, it has been the home and centre of varied activities: a band, Boy Scouts, dances, socials, entertainments, lectures, debates, are some of the chief, besides its nightly bill of fare of billiards, draughts, cards, etc. Not by any means the least of its activities have been the War-work Party started early in the war to make shirts and other necessary garments for the wounded, and also splints, bed trays and various other appliances. There is also a canteen, under the care of Mrs Bailey, who supplies refreshments and tobacco to all comers; but no alcoholic drinks are allowed on the premises.

St Catherine’s, Burghfield Common

The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations. Other economies, however, cannot be passed over without a sigh. We allude, more particularly, to those which have lessened the power of people of moderate means to continue their contributions to charitable institutions…

It is therefore with peculiar regret that we have to record the closing of St Catherine’s. This Home was founded in 1913 by Miss Morison, and was offered by her to the Margaret Street Hospital for Consumption (Cavendish Square, W) for the benefit of girls and women in the early stages of tuberculosis….

From first to last no less than 130 patients have passed through the Home, and in the large majority of cases they have been discharged completely cured, or with the progress of the disease arrested. When we think of the wonderful air which those of the uplands of Burghfield are privileged to enjoy, it is not so very surprising to learn that the number of patients who got worse instead of better may be told on the fingers of one hand. It is a matter of grief to us all that Miss Morison has found it necessary to limit her beneficent work in the great crusade against what is so graphically called the “White Scourge” of these islands.

War Hospital Supplies
The Red Cross Working Party has re-commenced its meetings at the Rectory on Wednesday afternoons at 2.30. Mrs George will be glad to have some new members as the War Hospitals Supply Depot in Reading is urgently appealing for more comforts for our soldiers and sailors, ad we are anxious to send as much work as possible from Burghfield.

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

Do the German hear our starlight singing in their distant trenches?

There was much news of soldiers from Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to report that Reginald Hill is so far improving, that he has been able to sit up a little each day. Thomas S. Russell has been called up, and is in training with the Motor Transport Section of the A.S.C. G.C. Frampton after about two hours drill was considered advanced enough for foreign service, and left England for France on May 18th. He is gone into Military Canteen work.

An interesting letter has come to hand from Sidney Eastman, which may justly be described as lengthy, for it is written upon a piece of paper some seven or eight feet long, and covers both sides. It is mostly occupied with a description of his travels and of the sights he has seen, and we are glad to gather that he is in good health and spirits.

G.C. Frampton has been unpatriotic enough to take German measles, and is in Hospital at Etaples. We hope to learn very shortly that he is quite well again.

Alfred Vardy, after a severe bout of pneumonia, caught on his way to the Front in France, is now at a Convalescent Camp in Thetford, gaining strength before returning to duty.

Wilfrid Collins is in hospital at Reading, suffering from heart weakness following upon a severe attack of “Trench fever.”

Reginald Hill has been out of bed for an hour, and is going on satisfactorily, though slowly.

Cyril Hews had a somewhat narrow escape recently. He was out with his motor-bicycle upon a French road during a thunderstorm, when the lightning struck a tree by the road-side, and a large branch fell upon the handlebars of the machine, providentially leaving the rider untouched.

Alfred Lane, after more than a year’s training in the Home Counties’ Engineers at Maidenhead, has been sent over with a draft to France.

Harry Baldwin, having attained the age of 18, and being called up, has elected to enter the Navy, and will probably enter a Training School.

One of our young men, who took an active part in the Messines victory, writes:

“Rather a good sight yesterday. I attended with my men a very large open-air drum-head Church Parade Service, as a sort of Thanksgiving Service for our recent great victory. A large number of Welshmen were present, and it really was great to hear these fellows sing “Aberystwith” and “St. Mary,” accompanied by a band.”

The papers, by the way, have been recently telling us that in all the Welsh regiments there are “glee parties,” who sing under the stars, until the Germans must hear and perhaps wonder, in their more or less distant trenches.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, June 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

The dugout canteen does a roaring trade

The Revd T Guy Rogers was now running a canteen for soldiers in a dugout as well as continuing his religious work.

April 10th

The canteen is successfully opened, and is doing a roaring trade. We started at 5 p.m. on Saturday (just after the men had been paid), and sold 200 frs. worth in a couple of hours… you should have seen the crowd trying to get into the very small quarters. I tried to give them a start by helping to sell behind the counter, but I soon get hopelessly muddled trying to calculate how much chocolate I should sell for 90 centimetres at 15 centimetres a bar! My arithmetic was never strong – I found a R.A.M.C sergeant, whose father had been a shopkeeper, and put him on it while I sat by aghast at the speed with which he calculated to the uttermost farthing. We have now got three men told off to the job, one of whom is quite good and understands shop-dressing. He has made the stacks of tinned fruits look so fetching, you cannot choose but buy.

The place itself is just a dug-out made of sand bags under the ramparts. We have pinched an old door and are getting a lock and key by the less interesting method of purchase! There is a great demand for candles. Soap, too, comes high in the list of articles which ‘Tommy’ feels the need of…

I never found it so easy to make my Sunday arrangements. This is because I have a comparatively small area to cover. On the other hand the Sundays are tiring for we have to take a great number of small Services. The work is quite fascinating though, and the deeper one gets – how shall I put it? into the perils of the firing line, the more the men seem to want what one has to give them…

I had a series of short Services in the morning from 9-12.30, celebrating three times – once in the bowels of the earth, once in a cellar. In the last place I had 18 Communicants crammed into a very small space. I had to disperse with kneeling, except at the actual partaking… Then in the afternoon three more services, 3, 4, and 6 p.m. Then some funerals. I do not finish till about 9.30.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Glad to be brought together for fellowship and prayer prior to the trenches

More from chaplain T Guy Rogers:

April 6th

I am writing at Headquarters… going out to bury at 8 p.m. Then back here to sleep for a few hours, and out again to visit at 3.30 a.m…. Yesterday I took in two sections – and had such touching Services for them – one deep under the ramparts, another in a cellar. They will be in the trenches and were glad to be brought together for fellowship and prayer…

I am busy now getting a canteen started where the men can get coffee, tea, chocolate, cigarettes, bread, tinned stuffs. The General is keen on it, and we are constructing a shed in the safest place we can.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

A fine body of young women

The Revd E C Glyn, Bishop and Peterborough, and his wife Lady Mary both wrote to their soldier son Ralph. The Bishop was anxious that his letters were not reaching Ralph:

The Palace
Peterborough
15 March [1916]

My darling Ralph

Thanks for your letters – & your news – but we long to hear what & where your next move will be.

I have written by each “bag” every week, & I can’t understand if & why you have not had a letter from me each time! Unless it is that Captain Kellet does send every letter as well as General Callwell used to do! I wonder what is to be done with General Callwell & if he will want to get you for his work somewhere?…

Lady Mary was busy with her own war work, not to mention a feud with a rival Red Cross branch.

March 15, 1916
The Palace
Peterborough

My own darling and blessing

This has been a bad week for me and there has been nothing but futile fuss, perhaps – but fuss! And I have had no leisure. Meg went to London on Thursday, and was away one night in London, and all Friday I was at the Rest Room seeing to Canteen worries…

I went to see Colonel Collingwood who has seen your reappointment as GSO General Staff vice [under] Captain Loyd, & he was much excited and wanted to know what it meant. I could only say I supposed some redistribution of work at the end of your previous work of all this winter. But it set me thinking and this week with the news of Verdun always in one’s head, with the rumours always in every paper of German naval activity, and of the mines everywhere, one knows that one needs to have a stout heart for a stae brae….
The Rest Room is crowded out some days with the troops moving about, and we had over 1100 last month. We have a splendid hand of workers night and day.

Any my Red Cross Room is such a joy – it was quite full last night and I have enough money to go on, but must soon get more; the material is very expensive, & the County Association (now definitely under Sir Edward Ward) gives no grants to these private Rooms. The Town depot now “under the War Office” and having a pompous Board announcing its connection with the British Red Cross & the “Northampton Red Cross (??)” has collected 680 pounds, and intends to get 1000£ in order to sit upon all BRC work. Not sent to the War Office – to be distributed by them, & not by our Headquarters, 83 Pall Mall. It is from here quite incomprehensible when one knows how these people have behaved, & the lies they have told to cover up the defects of their organization, but I suppose Sir Edward had to level up all sorts of abuses & get the whole into his hand before any order could be restored. And the BRC did not organize its work in time. Now the Central Work Rooms have had to move from Burlington House to 48 Gros: Square & they have taken that big corner house for six months.

Sir George Pragnell’s death has been a blow, as I felt safe behind him from further attack – but the Stores Manager at 83 is so delighted with the work we have now sent up that our position will be assured. Another enemy – not me – quashed!

It is a complication that the Lady Doctor who is our splendid and most efficient Superintendent is expecting to add to the population! (more…)

Splendid workers for the troops

Lady Mary Glyn continued to devote herself to Red Cross activities.

12th Feb 1916

I am taking up a huge parcel to Red X Burlington House Work Rooms. We are so happy in our Work Room, 37 last Tuesday, in the uniform dresses we have to wear to ensure cleanliness, and the other care – the Rest Room GE [Great Eastern railway station], all very successful. Splendid workers. It is open night & day and we have had over 1500 men there since Christmas Eve.

Little difficulties arise and as President I find I can keep in both ways – Canteen and workers, & they are all so pleasant to work with….

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

Bread and butter in Ruhleben

Victor Cusden, one of four Reading-born brothers held in the civilian internment camp Ruhleben, near Berlin wrote to his little sister Iris in Reading. is main concern was the supply of bread, as much of their food had to be sent by their families via the Red Cross.

11 February 1916
Dear Iris

It is a very long time since I wrote you last but I know you won’t scold me too much for not having written more often. You must however not think I have been ill. This winter I have not even been troubled with colds – as yet at any rate. Arch & I have also to write every now and again to our friends in Giessen and in Holland who have from time to time helped us in various small ways. You must not be surprised then that it is Albert who usually writes our letters home, since it would look strange were he to answer these others for us.

We all thank you for the letters received from the various ones at different dates, & thank all concerned for the parcels we have had sent us.

The last kind of bread sent keeps very well and is very good. The toast too keeps admirably. I relish it even when we have nothing to put on it. The butter and margarine arrives also in good condition. There is no need to state whether it is appreciated or not as neither butter nor margarine can be obtained at the canteen.

We do not require any more composition powder as we have now two tins of it. Albert asks me to thank you Len very much for sending him the drawing materials. He has done some quite nice drawings, besides the caricatures that is always at. I’m afraid I do practically nil in this line at present as study is more pressing.

When sending again will you please enclose three or four copying-ink pencils of the durable variety such as the Koh-i-Noor. They need not of necessity be this make however…

I have occasionally written to the Headmaster & one of the other masters, and have received nice letters in return. Numbers of my old school-fellows have either been killed or wounded. Of Sammy Hall I have heard nothing since the war began and for over 6 months nothing of Mr Naulty. Many fellows who were little “squirts” when I was at school have been doing conspicuous things at the front. It does seem strange…

Love to all & much for yourself,
Viccie

Letter from Victor Cusden to his sister Iris (D/EX1485/4/5/1)