A very big business lying in abeyance owing to owner’s internment

In a follow up to a letter of 22 March, the prison authorities had investigated the past of a German internee – which sheds light on the history of dolls.

From further information I have obtained from Stichl today it appears that he ran two sets of business – and his history seems to be:

Some years ago a German Jew named Ephraison started a business in Bradford making dolls’ hair out of wool – before that the hair on dolls was obtained from China & was human hair – often from deceased persons – before that again imitation hair was simply painted on the doll’s head. Stichl saw that Ephraison (who died in 1915) made a good thing out of it – so improved on the invention & started the work himself – as well as being a wool merchant.

The German Firm at Sonnenberg that he started made dolls’ hair only – there is no wool trade there – and the profits were very big – 50% and sometimes 100%, and it became a very big business. It is this part – dolls’ hair – that he disposed of to Mr Guy, both at home and at Sonnenberg – not the wool portion which in Stichl’s case is lying in abeyance owing to his internment. He was a wool merchant not manufacturer.

I will send in Mr Guy’s letter with special note to it – if he replies.

C M Morgan
Gov.

8.8.18

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

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“His splendid bravery inspired all troops in the vicinity to rise for the occasion”

An experienced officer who in peacetime had worked managing a Wargrave estate was one of the few to be honoured with the Victoria Cross for his great courage. Oliver Spencer Watson (1876-1918) is buried in France.

The Late Lieut.-Col. O. C. Spencer Watson, V.C.

A supplement to the “London Gazette” of May 8th gave the following particulars respecting the award of the V.C. to Lieut.-Col. O. C. Spencer Watson, D.S.O. (Reserve of Officers), late King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry:

“For most conspicuous bravery, self-sacrificing devotion to duty during a critical period of operations. His command was at a point where continual attacks were made by the enemy in order to pierce the line, and an intricate system of old trenches in front, coupled with the fact that his position was under constant rifle and machine gun fire, rendered the situation more dangerous. A counter attack had been made against the enemy position, which at first achieved its object, but as they were holding out in two impoverished points Lieut.-Col. Watson saw that immediate action was necessary, and he let his remaining small reserve to the attack, organising bombing parties and leading attacks under intense rifle and machine gun fire.

Outnumbered, he finally ordered his men to retire, remaining himself in a communication trench to cover the retirement, though he faced almost certain death by so doing. The assault he led was at a critical moment, and without doubt saved the line. Both in the assault and in covering his men’s retirement he held his life as nothing, and his splendid bravery inspired all troops in the vicinity to rise for the occasion and save a breach being made in a hardly tried and attenuated line. Lieut.-Col. Watson was killed while covering the withdrawal.”

“The Times” of May 11th gave the following particulars, respecting Lieut.-Col. Watson: –

He was the youngest son of the late W. Spencer Watson, F.R.C.S., and was educated at St Paul’s and passed into the Army from Sandhurst, being gazetted to the Yorks Light Infantry in 1897. He was invalided in 1904, after taking part in the Tirah campaign 1897-1898, in which he was dangerously wounded, and in the China campaign of 1900, receiving the medal for each of these campaigns, in the first case with two clasps.

In 1910 he joined a Yeomanry regiment, and on the outbreak of war went with them to Egypt as captain and took part in the fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Promoted major, he came home to join a battalion of the Y.O.Y.L.I., going with them to France early in 1917. In May of that year he was dangerously wounded at Bullecourt, and received D.S.O. for gallantry and leadership.

He returned to the front last January, although he had not recovered from the effect of his wound; was shortly afterwards promoted lieut-colonel, and was killed in action on March 28th. Lieut-Colonel Watson was a keen sportsman, and was known locally as a good cricketer, boatman, and footballer, as well as a straight rider to hounds. Up to the time that he joined the forces in the present conflict he had been the estate agent to Sir Charles Henry, Bart., M.P., at Parkwood, and managed the Farm at Crazies Hill.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

“I had thought poor old England was so hard up, that no one would be able to send to me”

Some of the Christmas parcels sent out by Broad Street Church in Reading arrived rather later – but were welcome nonetheless. One hopes they included nothing perishable. China had joined the British side on the war in August 1917.

Many, many thanks for the very nice parcel which I received safely last week (Jan. 27th). It was indeed a pleasant surprise. I had thought poor old England was so hard up, that no one would be able to send to me. Everything you sent was just it. As you say China is a long way from home. I have been here over two years, and I haven’t had a single weekend leave yet. If I were nearer England I might stand a chance of dropping in to the PSA one Sunday…

Please convey my thanks to the Brotherhood and say I long for the day when I can be back amongst them. Am afraid I shall be too old to blow the cornet when I get back, but perhaps I might pass for the choir.

J Burgess (OS) [on active service]

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

Tanks break the Hindenburg Line

Personal tragedy was alleviated by the success of the British forces.

21 November 1917

Henry at committees all day Maidenhead, so motor brought back Dottie & took her to the station. She spent the day with me. We talked & worked.

I have undertaken 2 pr socks & 2 mufflers a week for France.

Heard Willie Parker missing, fear killed. It’s awful!

Brilliant success of our Western Front. “Byng”, tanks & cavalry – broken Hindenburg line. Great surprise to enemy – nearly to Cambrai.

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

Endless streams of wounded soldiers – the normal condition in the mission field

Maidenhead Congregational Church compares war hospitals to peacetime in what we would now call developing countries:

MISSIONARY HOSPITAL WEEK
We must not forget, at this time of strain and many demands, the claims of the Hospitals which we have established in many heathen countries. The L.M.S. has no less than 50 in India, China and Africa, with 37 British doctors working in them and nine nurses, besides many native helpers. We are deeply moved by the reports of the overcrowded military hospitals into which the maimed soldiers from France and Belgium are carried in endless streams. But we ought to realise that this state of overcrowding has been going on for year and is the normal condition at most of our hospitals in the mission field. They demand our support no less than the admirable Red Cross work of the Army. We shall celebrate “Hospital Week” for the L.M.S. from February 14-21.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, February 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Peppered with rosettes by fast women

Oxford student Sydney Spencer of Cookham reports on festivities in aid of Belgian refugees, where he found the tone rather unseemly.

Sydney Spencer’s diary, Saturday Nov 7th 9.30 pm
I have just been to the Union to write. Today is Oxford’s Belgium day. The town tonight was absolutely packed with people, the thing seemed almost more an affair of joy & ‘gala’ than a deed of mercy. Every man, woman & child was wearing a badge & many undergrads were absolutely peppered with rosettes from head to foot – literally – for they had huge bows of red yellow & black on each shoe! Way, when he watched with me on Wednesday afternoon – (& by the way I went into Pusey House chapel to see it, it is artistic, light as is so possible in Gothic – altogether satisfying in the aesthetic way) – said that he thought that this Belgian badge day, good in itself, was bad in that giddy fast women were the sellers, & so to speak sold their affections to gain the money of the men. This is perhaps rather extreme but I am in agreement with him.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1914 (D/EX801/12)

Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham also attended the event, but was more interested in the successful Japanese assault on the German-held city of Tsingtao (now Qingdao) in China.

I motored to Oxford. Lunch at Randolph. Belgian Day….

Tsingtao fallen. Great blow to Germans. Relieve our troops and ships.

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

The people of Longworth and Charney support the war effort

Many young men from Longworth and Charney Bassett had answered the call and joined the armed forces. The Longworth parish magazine reports on these men, and what people at home could do to support them:

A poster calling upon us to remember in prayer our soldiers and sailors at the front, also the wounded, the prisoners and the bereaved, has been placed in the Church porch and elsewhere in the village. We hope it may be possible to ring the church bell at noon each day in order to remind us of this call. We shall be joining our prayers with thousands of others offered at the same time in every part of the country.

The names of men who are serving from this village are given, so far as we have been able to get them, below. They will also be found in the Church porch. Perhaps we could copy the list into our books of prayer, and so remember the men individually.

Soldiers- Henry Timms, John Loder, Ernest J. Godfrey, Lewis Brooks, Oscar Wilcox, Charles Truman, Charles Hammond, John K. L. Fitzwilliams.

Sailors- George Painton (North Sea), John Richings (China).

Recruits- Fred Heath, Ernest Ridge, George Pimm (Shorncliff), John Porter, Percy Butler, Alfred Leach, Harry Clarke, Hedley Luckett, Albert Hobbes, Francis John Rivers (Oxford), Richard Adams, Albert Pimm (Weymouth).

From Charney- George Shorter, George Wheeler, Ernest Franklyn.

In addition to the above, six have volunteered and been rejected as “medically unfit.” All honour to them notwithstanding, for they have done their best, and no man can do more. Will our readers be so kind as to help us to make this list complete.

CHARNEY
A service of Intercession on behalf of our soldiers and sailors engaged in the war is held each Wednesday at 7pm. The church bell is tolled a few times each day at noon as a call to private prayer on the same behalf. We should remember in our prayers the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, whose work is carried on chiefly in German territory. The sum of 7s. 8d. was collected in Church on Sunday, August 16, towards the Prince of Wales’ National Defence Fund.

Lady Hyde has kindly taken some “Quiet Afternoons” with the Charney mothers, and supplied them with material for making clothing for the soldiers and sailors.

Longworth parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P83/28A/9)

‘Unhappily he is American!’ – more on the YMCA at Harwich

Sydney Spencer took the opportunity of his 26th birthday to reflect further on his work with the YMCA with soldiers at Harwich, and record his impressions of some of his co-workers – and one ordinary soldier – for posterity. His brother Will, also mentioned here, was a refugee from Germany, where he had been teaching the piano at Cologne Conservatory.

Sunday October 4th
My birthday!…
Dear old Will has just come in to wish me many happy returns & would make me accept a gift of 5s, which I would much rather he had not given me at such a time!…

There is so much about my experiences at Harwich which I want to write on, but as I have written some pages & must just read them over & see what has been left out. I have just read through the 20 pages of my diary at Harwich & find that there are a fair number of little anecdotes which I wanted to chronicle, also I find that I have not written my impressions of Hayes yet, and I promised him he should not be let off but would go down to posterity – or oblivion – according as my diary should [illegible] in the future! I will begin with him first. He is a man 6 ft 2 ins in height; a finely built man, ruddy brown with grey blue eyes & a small moustache. He strikes one as being a splendid specimen of a full grown & well proportioned Englishman. Unhappily he is American! His people left England somewhere about 1727. His parents are missionaries in China. He studied first at a college in America & afterwards as a Rhodes scholar at Merton College, Oxford. He has just finished his course at Oxford taking “greats”. He is a Leander Club man, & just missed getting his “blue” for the sake of getting “Greats”. In fact in Oxford the name “John Hayes” of Merton was a name of one of the “Bloods” of Oxford. He was a remarkably refined and sensitive man. He was alive to every wind of thought, & his sarcasm was of that refined & polished order which made me almost long to offend him so as to be subjected to some of his sarcasm. I used to just hug myself with delight when I saw him put on a lazy sleepy expression for I knew then that the game was up and someone was in for it. The fun he had in his “study” of the officers was delicious & I can see him now marching up and down our marquee with his fingers on his chin or viciously biting his little fingernail, thinking out in the dim light of our post-9.30 candle, just precisely the right message & its exact wording to boot which he should send over to the mess the next morning in return for a rather enigmatic one received by us during the evening…

After I had played at the service in the Co-operative Hall on the first Sunday night I was there, on coming into the body of the hall I was accosted by one of Kitchener’s men who wanted me to have a cup of tea with him at his expense, as a mark of his appreciation of my work. This of course I willingly did & we drank mutual goodwill to each other in cups of tea. I was delighted with this expression of his goodwill. On the night of our concert, that is the Wednesday night, after the preparations for the concert had been made, I found at 6.45 that the tent was already filling with men, while I was in a desperately begrimed condition & needed to find a place to wash & clean myself up. This operation had to take place on the concert platform & I had the curious experience of making my ablutions before an audience of some thirty or forty men! In the middle of these ablutions Captain Watson walked in & chuckled with delight over my idea for footlights, which by the way if I have not before mentioned it were 8 or ten candles placed in saucers on a form.

Dr Marks whom I mentioned in connection with Gravel Hill was a dear old man. A child psychologist – I think a professor of Sheffield University, he had a very beautiful character, & spent himself in his eagerness to do all he could in this YMCA work.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1914 (D/EX801/12)

Soldiers and sailors from Earley

The roll of honour of Earley parish was quite an impressive one even this early in the war.

The following are the names of the sailors and soldiers on the roll of this parish. A note of interrogation signifies that the name of the regiment or ship has not been furnished us.

On Active Service

Albert Ernest Allnutt HMS Iron Duke
Arthur Sidney Allnutt
James Allen Royal Berks. Regiment
Ernest Brown Ryl Oxfordshire Regt.
Edward Brown HMS Weymouth
George Bond Royal Berks. Regiment
Cecil Caulfield Royal Scottish Rifles
Herbert Collier Ryl Oxfordshire Regt.
Alfred Eyres Royal Berks. Regiment
Edward Fisher Grenadier Guards
Thomas Fullbrook HMS Blake
Stephen Gibbons ?
Alfred Gibbings Royal Navy
Sydney George Gough HMS Glasgow
Charles Samuel Gough HMS Larne
William Golding Royal Field Artillery
William Grace Life Guards
Edgar Robert Gunningham HMS Amphitrite
Ernest Holton (Surgeon) HMS Goliath
James Hussey Royal Berks. Regiment
Percy Walter Hewett HMS Fearless
Ernest Albert King Rifle Brigade
William James Kinchin Royal Berks. Regiment
Leonard Love Royal Horse Artillery
William Walter Love HMS Venerable
Thomas Pilkington Norris Royal Engineers
Edward Parvin HMS Tiger
William Henry Pomeroy HMS Magnificent
William Poffley Grenadier Guards
Ralph Pusey Grenadier Guards
Albert Povey Royal Berks. Regiment
Edward Price Royal Berks. Regiment
George William Rixon HMS Euryalus
Francis Harry Stevens HMS Euryalus
William Davis Stevens Ryl. Warwickshire Regt.
Lieut. Robert Sturgess HMS Exmouth
Lieut. Austin Charlewood Turner Connaught Rangers (P.O.W)
Joseph Tull Rifle Brigade
Harry Wise Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders (wounded)
Charles Henry White Royal Berks. Regiment
Frederick Charles Edwards HMS Bramble on service in
China
(more…)

A waiting list of hundreds for war work

Before his ill-fated venture to Belgium to work with dogs, Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s lawyer had prudently increased his life insurance. After that venture, he tried to get it refunded, assuming Apsley didn’t take on an equally perilous role elsewhere in the war. That was why Apsley described the fiasco in more detail in this letter, in which he also reports on the situation of Edward Atkinson, another member of Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition a few years ago, who had recently returned from medical research in China.

Sept 17, 1914

Dear Farrer

Thank you for your letter. Goodness knows when, if ever, I shall get a job: but I want to get something official, and my medical is a great difficulty (enlistment etc impossible) while most jobs have a waiting list of at least 4 or 5 hundred. At present I am doing all I can to go dispatch riding – and it looks hopeful, except for my eyes, which may finish me.

As for the insurance, I left England Tuesday August 19th & arrived that day in Ostend. Major Richardson & I went out with the Red Cross from Devonshire House (they gave us uniform & passports) but not under the Red Cross: we were to be an independent unit to work dogs to find wounded, paying our own expenses.

The Red Cross Staff arrived in Ostend 2 days after – i.e. on Thursday Aug 21st – by car from Brussels. Communications were then cut by the Germans.

Sir Arthur Keogh, Chief of the Red Cross Staff, told us that there was no possibility of working dogs, and that his strongest advice to us was to return, which we did that day (Thurs Aug 21st).

…I have had a very cheery letter from Atkinson [a former companion in the Antarctic] who is on the St Vincent. They have a band & keep them running round the decks fast – also playing a lot of deck cricket etc bit running out of balls. He and Dr Leiper found the disease in China all right which was a very good bit of work & the Admiralty was very pleased & offered him several alternative jobs.

Yours very sincerely

Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Arthur Farrer, D/EHR/Z8/132