“An incalculable amount of pain, many limbs, and indeed many lives must have been saved by the timely arrival of the bales”

Wargrave had been at the heart of work providing surgical supplies during the war.

Wargrave Surgical Dressing Society

This Society, which has just brought its work to a close owed its existence to the energies of Miss Choate.

At Millward’s, generously lent by the late Mr. Henry Nicholl and recently by Major C.R.I. Nicholl, was started by her in March 1915, a work which grew to such an extent that during the four years some 500,000 dressings and comforts were dispatched to the wounded from Wargrave. These were not, of course, all made in the village. Under Miss Choate’s organisation, branches were started at Dartmouth, Ledbury, Loughton, Pangbourne, Peppard, Shiplake and Wimbledon, while welcome and regular parcels were received from Twyford, Kidmore and Hoylake. But all were packed for shipment and consigned from Wargrave.

The parcels went to Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations at almost every fighting area – to Mesopotamia, to Gallipoli, to Egypt, to Serbia and to American and Colonial Hospitals in England and in France.

It is impossible to ever estimate the value of the work. An incalculable amount of pain, many limbs, and indeed many lives must have been saved by the timely arrival of the bales. As a lame man said to the writer “Only we who are still suffering the effects of the shortage of medical comforts at the beginning of the war can appreciate fully the work these people have done.”

In the early days, consignments were sent in response to urgent appeals from Commandants and Matrons of Hospitals, but since 1916 the Society, in common with other of the larger Societies in England, has worked under the direction of the Department of the Director General of Voluntary Organisations at the War Office.

A.B.

A meeting of the Society and the subscribers was held on Wednesday, Feb. 5th, at Millwards to decide upon the disposal of the Balance in hand. Every provision had been made for carrying on the work through the winter if the war had continued, and the funds amounted to over £200.

In the absence of Capt. Bird, the Vicar was asked to take the chair. After a full discussion it was unanimously resolved that £200 be given to the Ward Fund and Recreation Fund of the Manor Hospital, Hampstead.

It was a great happiness to all concerned to feel that the money should benefit a work with which Miss Sinclair was so closely associated.

It was resolved that the remaining balance be given to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, for a Care and Comforts Fund for the Soldier Patients.

The accounts have not yet been audited but it is expected that the amount to be given to Reading Hospital will be about £20.

These resolutions, together with the audited accounts, must be submitted to the Charity Commissioners for approval, but there is every reason to think that they will be endorsed by them.

The men in the Manor House Orthopedic Hospital, Hampstead, for discharged Soldiers and Sailors, wish to send their grateful thanks to the Members of the Surgical Dressing Emergency Society, Wargrave, for their splendid gift (£200) to be used for their Care and Comfort. As many Wargrave ladies have consented to be god-mothers in the wards, it is the wish of the men that some of them should be on the new Committee, called the Care and Comforts Committee, who from time to time will decide how the money shall be spent. The appreciation of the men is very touching in its sincerity and sense of sympathy.

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

Advertisements

A reputation for utter disregard of personal safety, but with it an equal regard for the safety of his men

Two young men from Ascot were confirmed killed.

Many of our readers will have felt the most profound sympathy for his parents in their loss of their only son Harold Keating. He fell in action on June 28th whilst carrying out a duty full of danger. After a school career of extraordinary brilliancy, in which he had gained the gold Asiatic Medal, open to all the youth of England, he had begun his Oxford life when the war broke out.

In September, 1914, he received a commission in the Royal Engineers, and was in France soon after. There he gained a reputation for utter disregard of personal safety, but with it an equal regard for the safety of his men. He would expose himself to risks from which he carefully kept those under him. In 1916 he was wounded and sent home, but in the following year was back again in France. In March, 1918, he was in the Amiens salient, and shared to the full the dangers and hardships of the great retreat. His letters showed how galling that failure to hold the line was to his sensitive mind, but he was spared to see the tide turn, and his own sacrifice not in vain.

Apparently, like many others, he had a premonition that his life here was to end; and before the engagement in which he met his death, he left behind for his parents a letter of the deepest affection and unusual perception.

“I am enough”, he wrote, “of a philosopher not to fear the thought of death, and enough of an adventurer to feel excitement and thrilling sensations of adventure at entering continents unknown. That is how I would have you think of me. The captain of my ship setting sail for some most glorious Eldorado, while the rising sun blazes into my face”.

That is something of the martyr spirit, and the adventure he speaks of is the spirit of faith which God asks from all who step out into the unknown. That a career which might well have left its mark in history has been cut short is obvious, but God has greater rewards to grant than the rewards which men can give. It will be when we can read life in its unabridged edition that we shall know that God does not so lose the gifts he gives to me.

After a long delay of mingled anxiety and hope, the authorities have reluctantly resigned all hope of further news of Robert Brown. Many will recollect the boy solo in All Souls’ choir, with his remarkable pure boy’s voice. He was badly wounded on October 9th, 1917, but from that day onwards not the slightest trace has been heard of him. It is thought that on his way to the clearing station he must have come under shell fire, and been blown to pieces. It is God’s mercy that his only brother has been spared to his parents after a desperate and usually fatal illness.

To the parents of both these young boys of our parish we offer our deepest sympathy. For their souls we shall continue at each requiem to pray, “Grant unto them, O Lord, eternal rest, and let Thy light perpetual shine on them”.

South Ascot Parochial Magazine, October 1918 (D/P186/28A/18)

Veritable hell: “We knew that some one had blundered, but obedience is the first rule of the army”

Here is a dramatic account of life in the Army Service Corps taking water to the thirsty troops one terrible day in Mesopotamia.

(We publish the following account of an exciting adventure in Mesopotamia in justice to the gallant men of the A.S.C., in case there should still be any who are liable to despise the man not in the front line. ED)

“A Stunt.”
(By a FORD Driver in Mesopotamia)

We had just completed an eleven days’ continuous run, and were expecting a day or two’s well earned rest, but such was not to be.

We reached —— at midnight and “parked up” our cars outside the old Turkish Cavalry Barracks. I “clicked” for guard, and at 3.30 a.m. took a telegram from a despatch rider, containing instructions to move off and load up immediately, So at the first streak of dawn, amid much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”, we “wound up,” and after picking up supplies we started off on a joy ride across the desert to an unknown destination, for a journey of indefinite duration.

We arrived at ——, and to our great joy were informed that we were to rest for the remainder of the day. What hopes!

For the next two days we had barely time to eat the necessary “bully,” so busy were we rushing supplies of all descriptions to an advanced position.

At the end of the second day, thinking we had earned a little sleep, we had just got into our blankets when the whistle announced “fall in.”

This time (about 8.30 p.m.) it was to pick up troops, under sealed orders. For the first fifteen minutes all was well, then we pulled up, and the fun commenced. All lamps out, no smoking, talking or blowing of hooters, the greatest precautions to be taken.

Of course, you should know that we were on the desert, following a track which we had never travelled before, everything pitch black, laden with troops, with the knowledge that with us rested the success of the action planned for the following day break.

When returning the following morning, we could hardly believe our eyes, when we saw the route we had taken in the dark, deep, yawning precipices and huge boulders of rock, and the places of danger which we passed but “where ignorance is bliss ‘tis folly to be wise.” Anyhow, after about an hour’s ride or so, during which time we had relieved the tension on our nerves by smashing a few radiators, losing the column and sundry other mere “inconveniences,” it was decided to pull up for one-and-a-half hours till the moon should show just a glimmer, for progress under the circumstances was absolutely impossible.

This hour-and-a-half was even more nerve racking than driving, as we hardly dared to whisper, for here we were, stranded in “No Man’s Land,” where, apart from the actual enemy, viz.:- Johnny Turk, the great nuisances were the hostile and cunning Arabs, who do not at all object to using us as targets for practical jokes of a serious nature.

At last we started off again, and after many and indescribable difficulties, we parked up under the shelter of a big hill to drop our men and to wait for dawn and further instructions.

The day broke and with the dawn our brave men went over the top of the hill, but Johnny was not asleep this time, for he soon started throwing a few shells over, and we, being somewhat interested, stood on top of our cars to watch the proceedings, until one of the enemy’s aeroplanes “spotted” our “place of rest” and gave information to his artillery, who got our range to a nicety, and we (reckless, daring spectators) began to discover, a few at a time, that the underneath parts of our cars needed attention, but I freely admit, that to stand and allow someone to throw 6in. shells into our midst, while powerless to reply or defend ourselves, did not greatly appeal to me at least.

However, our time of idleness was brief, for word came through, even in the early dewy hours of the morning, that the only water available for our advancing troops was from the salt lakes.

Then we got busy, packets, tanks, buckets, petrol tins, canvas water carriers, everything capable of holding water is flung aboard and we dash off by two’s and three’s from our “park” to gain a river some few miles across the desert.

But Johnny had anticipated our movement and had the river banks nicely covered with snipers and machine guns, so instead of running “en bloc” and filling up altogether, we had to dash up one or two at a time and fill up our receptacles.

When all the difficulties were overcome, and we were ready to commence our return journey, it was approximately 10 a.m., with a temperature of 110° in the shade, when we regained sight of our troops it was practically midday, with a temperature of 128° in the shade.

Then came a veritable hell, the water had to be got to the troops and orders came through that the M.T.’s were to “carry on.”

We knew that some one had blundered, but obedience is the first rule of the army.

The M.T.’s had never been under fire in Mesopotamia before and never since, except in cases of single cars on special detail, but here we were, about eighty cars in column, ordered to practically reach the front line trenches, shells bursting right and left. Did someone mention “Brooklands?”

Never before had Ford cars travelled at such a speed, sixty pounders make excellent accelerators. There were many miraculous escapes, cars riddled with machine gun bullets and shrapnel, some cars put out of action, here and there was a man putting on a spare wheel under fire, but marvellous to relate, not one of our men was touched. I shall not forget a shell dropping and rolling under a car about two yards away.

Thank God, ‘twas a “dud.”

Eventually the trenches were reached, the sight was almost beyond description, dead and dying, troops mad with thirst, they had been drinking salt water, and more men had been “laid low” by sun and thirst than anything else.

Disregarding discipline, our cars were raided, the water speedily drunk, and all craving for more. Then we drove, hither and thither, picking up wounded and dying, and made our way to the field hospital. By this time it was “every man for himself,” and we practically worked individually, using our own discretion. During this time, two of our men gained Military Medals, and one of our officers was “mentioned” and has since received promotion.

Night was now drawing near, but it made no difference to us. Half was ordered to move the Casualty Clearing Station and then drive thirty miles (this time in safety) across the desert for more ammunition.

On the return journey, I, personally, and several of my “pals,” I know, fell asleep over the wheel, to be suddenly and rudely awoke by a “gentle” drop into a hole or a bump against a sand bank.
When we got back we found that our troops had retired about seven or eight miles, and while we were fetching the stores and wounded back, the Arabs had great sport “sniping” at us, and some of us nearly got into trouble for stopping to reply to their “overtures of good will.”

But we successfully completed the retirement, and Johnny did not follow up, so the “stunt” s finished, and we returned to —- for a rest, — what hopes, we were dead beat, no sleep for over fifty-six hours, but within twenty-four hours we were again on our ordinary work of carrying supplies from one dump to another, to be forgotten until the next stunt, but don’t forget, — when the M.T.’s are wanted again, they will be there.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

Doing our bit to help the Boys

People in Wargrave were contributing to the production of medical supplies for the wounded, as well as food for the local hospital.

Woodclyffe Auxiliary Hospital

Eggs are greatly needed for the wounded soldiers. Will everyone please give one a week to the Hospital during the winter months?

Vegetables of all kinds are also always wanted and will be welcome in large or small quantities.

[To the] Surgical Dressing Society
Wargrave, Berks

A. A. Cable Section B. E. F.

Dear Madam,

I am writing to thank your Society for the kind gift of a parcel of socks, which reached us at a peculiarly timely moment. We were all bemoaning the fact that we wanted socks, and then along came the parcel like magic – thanking you for myself and the men in my section.

I beg to remain,
yours very gratefully

……………………..

Miss G……. Wishes to convey her thanks for the most useful parcel of pneumonia jackets.

Dear Madam,

I have very much pleasure in acknowledging your welcome gift of pants, dressing gowns, handkerchiefs and pyjamas – I beg to assure you they will be most useful. The warm dressing gowns I am especially pleased with, but all articles will be invaluable.

Yours ever truly,
I. H.
Matron.

The Director General of Voluntary Organizations asks all to remember the needs of the men in the trenches and Hospitals.

Regular Requisitions sent out – 4 each month – since we last published the list.

120 Hankerchiefs
120 Limb Pillows
200 Pillow Cases
60 Towels
185 Slippers (Pairs)
1500 Abdominal Bandages
500 Hospital Bags
1250 Capuline Bandages
3500 Roll Bandages
600 Triangular Bandages
60 Dressing Gowns (Warm)
125 Bed Jackets
60 Pairs Pyjamas
1000 Slings
13000 Gauze Dressings
3500 Medical Swabs
3500 Operation Swabs
250 Knee Bandages
500 Shoulder Bandages
500 T Bandages
100 Pairs of thick long Operation Stockings

Extra requisitions
66 Pyjamas (Flannel)
576 Roll Bandages
200 Operation Swabs
167 Pairs of knitted Socks
150 Pneumonia Jackets
800 Abdominal Bandages
65 Slippers Pairs
20 Helpless Jackets
25 Limb Pillows
50 Capuline Bandages
50 T Bandages
150 Gauze Dressings
425 Slings
50 Fracture Pillows
119 Flannel Shirts
24 Pairs of long operation Stockings
98 Pairs Knitted Mittens
99 Helmets
42 Knitted Mufflers
2 Cardigans

Dressings have also been sent to the Cancer Free Hospital Fulham Road.

Mended nightshirts and dressings to the district Nurse.

Hospitals Supplied.

25th, 30th, 2nd, 11th, 54th, 3rd, 34th, 12th, 21st.
General Hospital B.E.F.
1st Australian
3rd London
2nd New Zealand
King Edward VII Hospital
Stoke-on-Trent General Hospital
Military F.O. Havre
A.D.M.A. Ambulance

Trains Supply
Boulogne B.E.F.
4th Casualty Clearing Station B.E.F>
A.A. Cable Section – B.E.F.

The Surgical Dressings Emergency Society wish to express their great appreciation of the help given them by Mr. Henry Butcher who, at no small sacrifice of valuable time, has packed all Bales of Dressings and Comforts for the Front – doing his bit to help the Boys. It is with much regret we say Good-bye to him. We shall miss him very much, but wish him good luck in his new home.

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