We must continually pray for victory in this the greatest battle in the history of the World

There was more sad news for Newbury families.

We have had more losses among our old boys in the War.

Lieut. Nathaniel Gordon Burgess, RNR, serving in His Majesty’s Navy, was lost at sea on March 6th, after doing splendidly in the Service, and being clearly marked out for further promotion.

Sapper R J Drewell, one of the old CLB lads, was killed in action at Clery in France on March 23rd. His Commanding Officer writes –

“He had behaved splendidly… he will be missed by everyone”.

Mr and Mrs Wyllie have lost their only son.

There have been wounded Frederick Winkworth, Frederick Charles Darby, Percy Robert Styles, Philip Webb, a son of Mrs Tillett, a son of Mr Smart, and a late-comer into the town – Mr Hann. Several are reported missing. We offer our sincere sympathy to the relatives who are in sorrow or anxiety. We must continually pray for victory in this the greatest battle in the history of the World.

ROLL OF HONOUR [nb reno 68-79]

Copied and supplied to the Parish Magazine by J W H Kemp.
(Continued from last month.)

68. Pte Albert Corderoy, 26954, Herts Regt, killed in action in France, 22nd Sept., 1917.
69. Pte R Mason, 1st Royal Berks, killed in France, Sept. 25th, 1916.
70. Pte G Mason, Oxford Light Infantry, killed in action May 16th, 1915.
71. Killed at sea Lieut. Robert Morton Bridges Liddle, RN, December 23rd, 1917.
72. Benjamin Williams, ASC, drowned in the sinking of the SS Arragon Dec. 30th, 1917.
73. Sidney James Hughes, 1st Coldstream Guards, killed January 25th, 1915, at Quinchy, France, aged 23.
74. Pte Thomas Henry Harden Perring, aged 36, killed in action in Palestine, Nov. 13th, 1917.
75. Frederick George Hayward, 2/4 Royal Berks Transport, killed June 6th, 1917, at Tilloy Wood, France. RIP.
76. Pte E B Pounds, London Scottish, son of Mr H Pounds, 3, Enborne Road, killed in action in Palestine Dec. 27th, 1917, aged 21.
77. William James Quintin, killed in action in France, 1917.
78. Pte Albert James Geater, A Co. 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action August 16th, 1917. RIP.
79. Albert Deacon, 1st Class Steward HMS Marlborough, drowned at sea January 12th, 1918.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

The most appalling voyage

Percy Spencer had now returned to France after his training as a =n officer. He wrote a brief note to beloved sister Florence as he adapted to dry land.

My dear WF

After the most appalling voyage we arrived safely today.

Thank you so much dear for your wire.

I bought some field glasses at six guineas and have made out John’s cheque accordingly. Will you please thank him very much for the gift. It’ll be good to carry now close reminders of you both….

This is a very scrappy note, but you must forgive more until I have got over the Channel trip.

If you are writing home, you might say you have heard that I am in France.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/28)

“His parents have relinquished hope that he may be alive”

There was bad news for many Maidenhead families.


We are glad to know that Reginald Hill is still progressing. Harold Islip has been wounded in the arm, and after a fortnight or so in the hospital, is now recruiting at a Convalescent Home in France. It is fifteen months since his last leave. Alfred Vardy has been at home on special leave, lengthened by a slight attack on influenza, but is now back on light duty at the Convalescent Camp at Thetford. Percy and Hugh Lewis have been home on leave, both looking well. The two brothers passed each other unknowingly in the Channel, one coming and the other returning. Fred Hearman, who has been for three weeks in hospital with trench fever, is now in a Convalescent Home in France.

We have heard with deep sorrow that Lieut. Edgar Jones, son of the Rev. G.H. and Mrs. Jones of Marlow, has been posted as “missing” since the fierce enemy attack in the Nieuport sector in June which ended so unfortunately for us, and his parents have relinquished hope that he may be alive. Our hearts are full of Christian sympathy with our stricken friends.

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

A fighting board at the Admiralty

Phyllis Vansittart Neale started nursing in Reading – less exotic than France, but still working with seriously wounded soldiers. Her father Henry, at the Admiralty, found changes afoot.

5 May 1917

H., I & Phyllis last dog walk – we on to Vicarage with flowers to say goodbye to Willy. We all motored to Reading & Pussycat [Phyllis?] started on her new venture.

3 [SJ?] destroyers mined in Channel. We going on in Western Front, very hard fighting.

2nd dish asparagus – economising in salmon!

Changes at the Admiralty – a fighting board – Lloyd George has been at it.

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

Will the neutral countries come in?

Florence Vansittart Neale continued to be excited about the prospect of new allies.

9 February 1917

Will America come in? & other neutral countries?

A destroyer sunk this week in Channel by mine.

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

Wishing this miserable war would end

Florence Vansittart Neale and her husband returned to the mainland after a stay on the Isle of Wight. Florence then went to see nurse daughter Phyllis.

Florence Vansittart Neale, 18 April 1916

Saw 2 destroyers, the Aquitania & a submarine. Hear they have a V class now. H to London, I to Southampton. Phyllis, Seymour & I spent afternoon together & had tea… Phyllis well & happy – head pro in dining room ward.

William Spencer senior of Cookha, meanwhile, was anxious about his son and German-born daughter in law in Switzerland.

Will Spencer, 18 April 1916
A letter to us both from Father….he is “distressed at Johanna’s position” & wishes that “this miserable war would end.”

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8) and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

Perilous voyages

Sisters of Clewer’s Community of St John Baptist returning from working in India endured a scary voyage home, fearing attack from German mines:

April 6th, 1916

I have been asked to let you know… that the Annual Service of St John Baptist Calcutta Mission Association shall beheld (D.V.) at St Barnabas’ Church, Pimlico, on Tuesday in Whitsun Week, June 13th… After the service a gathering of associates and friends will take place at St Barnabas Church Room, Ranelagh Grove… and the Sisters who have recently returned from India will be there…

It has been a very great pleasure to welcome home 4 Sisters within the last two months, Sister Frances Anne, Sister Mabel Theresa, Sister Beatrice Mary, and Sister Mary Evelyn, after really perilous voyages. From Port Said to Marseilles all the passengers were requested to take their lifebelts with them wherever they went – boats were lowered, and rafts prepared in readiness for whatever might happen, and for a long distance their steamers took a very zigzag course, which proved to be most trying experience, and, of course, lengthened the voyage. When the Channel was reached the steamer which brought the last home-coming Sister just crept along, preceded by mine-sweepers, and followed by a number of smaller boats anxious to share in the safety this afforded.

Evelyn, Superior CSJB

Letters to Associates of the Community of St John Baptist (D/EX1675/1/24/6)

90 noncombatant lives lost

Florence Vansittart Neale noted the loss of a British civilian vessel carrying passengers from several neutral countries. The dead included a member of the Persian royal family.

26 March 1916
“Sussex” torpedoed in Channel. Nearly 90 lives lost.

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

A rough and dangerous voyage from India

The Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist defied the dangers of war to travel back and forth to India.

29 February 1916 [Leap Year]

A telephone message was received announcing that the Kaisar-i-Hind had reached the Docks [bringing a Sister home from India]. Sister Beatrice Mary arrived at Clewer in the evening. She had had a rough and dangerous voyage owing to possibility of meeting sub-marines & mines. In the Channel the ship just swept along preceded by mine-sweepers, and followed by a number of small boats anxious to share in the safety thus afforded.

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

Gruesome news

Lady Mary Glyn reported the latest war news to her son Ralph in Egypt. SS Maloja was a civilian liner carrying women and children as well as some army personnel when she was sunk by the Germans. Many of the sailors were Indians.

Feb 28th [1916]

Today brings the news of the mining of the Channel and the horror of the great P&O Maloja & the rescuing ship. So gruesome, within two miles of safety – if land is safe on any coast! till we find that welcome for the Hun aircraft which today a letter speaks of as preparing for them. The Verdun news from France is different from Verdun news from Berlin, and certainly they are colossal in their untruth and unscrupulousness of “method” however diabolical.

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

A most depressing day

There were problems at the hospital at Bisham Abbey according to the diary of chatelaine Florence Vansittart Neale:

Woke up to rain and dreariness. Depressed letter from Louis Depaker & Victor. Telegraphed for them to go to Convalescent Home! Ructions with Sister. Would resign if Victor returned. Felt rather cross with all the world.

Most depressing day… At night heard “Formidable” had been sunk in Channel. Mine or submarine. Only 191 saved out of 750. Wild joy & illumination in Berlin when known!! A splendid victory!!!

On dit: Kitchener asked Haldane where the ammunition for guns was. Have none! – Then if England’s defeated you are responsible!

Lord K on being asked when war would end – said he did not know when it would end but he knew it would not begin till May!!

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

Russian victory very decisive

More war news from Florence Vansittart Neale.

27 November 1914
Submarines struck two of our steamers. They in Channel. Russian victory very decisive. Army corps taken.

Heard Charlie 7 hours leave before going in winter quarters.

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

“We have hold of them now”

Florence Vansittart Neale’s diary mixes anxiety for family friends, war news and rumours. It was true, however, that Lord Kitchener was not a fan of Winston Churchill, who was at this point First Lord of the Admiralty.

2 November 1914

Heard from Dot. Charlie in firing line. Joined Bombay Brigade. Feel very anxious. Fierce battle still raging….

Found Sir George & M & Mme de Bistrade (Belgians) here.

Heard Lord K. told someone about our position. “We have hold of them now.”

Germans sunk the “Hermes” in Channel.

They say story of Russians is about 2000 from America came through here & joined French troops.

Winston from Antwerp telegraphed Kitchener he had made this man Colonel, that a Major etc etc. Kitchener, riled, wired back “Just made Mrs Snooks rear admiral”!!

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