The site for the Berkshire war memorial should be the Forbury Hill

A site was selected for a Berkshire war memorial.

21 October 1919
Executive Committee meeting

Present: J Herbert Benyon, President
Messrs Foley, Bates, Willink, Belcher, Bradbury, Barker, Quelch, Howell, Hayward, Johnson (Town Clerk), Arman (secretary).

The Secretary reported that the land in the Caversham Road, suggested as a possible site, could not be obtained for a lesser sum than £5000. He stated that it was understood that the Forbury Hill site would most likely be granted by the Town Council if desired.

The suggested designs sent in by the undermentioned gentlemen were on view and received consideration:

No. 1. Lt C H Perkins, ARIBA, Bracknell
2. J H Willett, Caversham
3. C B Willcocks, Reading
4. H Hutt, Reading
5. J H Carey & Son, Windsor
6. A N Arman (amateur), Reading
7. F G Belcher (amateur), Reading

A general discussion took place during which a scheme in connection with the new Caversham Bridge was referred to and explained by Mr Howell, and the suggestion was more or less supported by Mr Bates.

It was considered that the committee as a body should view the Exhibition of War Memorials at the Royal Holloway before coming to any conclusion, and it was thought that subsequently it should be debated whether a competitive design should be obtained by offering a premium and throwing the competition open generally, or whether it would be best to place the matter into the hands of some eminent artist to prepare a design and advise generally.

In order that some definite progress be made it was proposed by Councillor Quelch, seconded by Col Barker, that the site for the memorial should be the Forbury Hill in the Forbury Gardens, Reading. Carried.

The secretary was requested to make a formal application to the Town Council for the grant of the site in question. He was also requested to send a report of the committee meeting to the newspapers announcing the decision as to the site (subject to the approval of the Town Council).

Mr Hayward moved, and Mr Bates seconded, that Dr Stewart-Abram, the mayor-elect, be invited to join the committee. Passed unanimously.

The secretary submitted proposals, which were approved by the committee, to print and circulate throughout the county a poster asking that the names of Berkshire men for record on the memorial be sent to the vicars of the respective parishes; that the vicar of each parish in the county be asked to co-operate in obtaining the names of the men for record purposes; to print and circulate the suggested letter to the vicars of parishes together with the record card of which drafts were adopted. Similar applications for co-operation to be sent to the Comrades of the Great War and the Federation of Discharged Sailors & Soldiers.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

Christmas comforts for cooks

As Christmas approached, Windsor children of serving soldiers and sailors received a special Christmas treat. Children in Sandhurst were collecting for a Christmas gift for army cooks.

Lower Sandhurst School
December 20th 1915
Sent the sum of £1.11, collected among the children, to Rev. D. F. Carey, C.F. to be expended in providing Christmas ‘Comforts’ for the ‘Cooks & Bakers’ of the Army.

Clewer St. Stephens Intermediate Girls School (SCH/8/8/2)
December 20th 1915
As all children in the neighbourhood whose fathers have joined the forces are invited to a Christmas Tree at the Castle at 3.30, afternoon school will begin and end five minutes earlier, to enable these children to leave at 3.15 pm.

Windsor Royal Free Boys School
20th December 1915
The school closed at noon to allow the children of those serving in the army or navy to participate in Princess Alexander of Teck’s treat in the Royal Riding School.

Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 345); Clewer St. Stephens Intermediate Girls School log book (SCH/8/8/2, p. 145); Windsor Royal Free Boys School log book (C/EL72/3, p. 151)

Deprived of the opportunity to serve

The head teacher of Sonning Boys’ School was among those who felt called to join up. But his path to arms was denied when his employers refused to release him. He used the school log book to record his position for posterity:

4th December 1914

Having been accepted by the Sportsman’s Battalion (Lord Kitchener’s Army) I made application to the School Managers for leave of absence to join the Army for the period of the war. The Managers decided that they could not sanction my leaving unless I could find a substitute who would have to be approved by them and the Berkshire Education Committee. By a special favour I was granted by the Adjutant a fortnight in which to join the Battalion in training at Hornchurch. The Managers’ decision has consequently deprived me of an opportunity to serve as a soldier.

In reply to a further inquiry of mine asking whether, in the event of my leaving without giving the legal three months notice, the Managers would re-instate me if I returned, the School Correspondent, Mr Mathews wrote to the effect that my position as Head Master could not be kept open for me. He further stated that the Managers thought my patriotism could be better expressed by “remaining at my post”.

I cannot but here record my keen regret and disappointment at the Managers decision.

Another Berkshire school was affected by the war when it was briefly taken over by the army in December 1914. The log book of Gordon Road Boys’ School in Maidenhead records, on 4 December:

School used by Captain Carey (Durham Light Infantry) in the morning to pay his men, and in the afternoon to pay his billets.

Sonning Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/1/2, pp. 23-24); Maidenhead Gordon Road Boys School log book (C/El/107/1, p. 80)