A curate for Christmas

The demobilised soldier planning to be the next curate at Newbury was in training.

Mr C T Lord has now been demobilised and has returned to Lichfield Training College. He hopes to be ordained in Sunday, December 21st, probably by the Bishop of Oxford, and will be able to come to this parish as a Deacon for Christmas…

Newbury parish magazine, November 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

A bright spot in a time of need

A Reading church received news about the YMCA hut they had supported for soldiers behind the lines.

The “Trinity” Hut

Owing to the departure of many of the Y.M.C.A. Secretaries from the war area, it has been very difficult to get any definite information about our second Hut in France. Until just lately we believed this was erected at St. Omer, but now find that to be incorrect, as the following prove:
2nd July, 1919.

My Dear Mr. Harrison,

I went up this week to see Mr. McCowen as he was coming back from Germany on his way to London, and immediately took up the question of the allocation of your Hut with him. He well remembers the situation and says that your Hut was not actually in the St. Omer area, but it was at St. Malo-les-Bains, near Dunkirk, which after all is not so far away from St. Omer. He says this is the second Reading Hut. I have asked Mr. Sitters to send me a report as to the work of this Hut during the last few months, and also to see that the board saying it is the Reading Hut is still up in it. This Hut has served, during the past few months, thousands of men, who have been using Dunkirk as a demobilisation centre. Further particulars will be coming through, which I will send along. There is a possibility that the Navy may move the Hut to the mole at Zeebrugge, as there is a great need for an extension of our work at that place, but I will see that you are advised if this is done.

I am enclosing herewith the official receipt for the fifteen pounds which you so kindly sent. It was used in the Hut for Christmas festivities.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) H.N.HOLMES.
Chief Secretary for France.

The report referred to is as follows:-

“The Reading (Malo) Hut was first erected in the Ypres centres, where it provided rest and recreation for countless numbers of men going in and coming out of the trenches. In it provision was made for reading, writing and games. Concerts and lectures were given from time to time, and services were held on Sundays. A refreshment counter where tea, cocoa and coffee, biscuits, cigarettes, etc., could be obtained, was greatly appreciated by those frequenting the Hut.

Later on, owing to the movement of troops, the sector was occupied by Belgian troops, who made considerable use of the Hut. One feature of their occupation was the excellent concerts given by officers and men of the Belgian army. On account of the Germans shelling the place very heavily it was found necessary to move the Hut to a more sheltered spot. It was dismantled, moved south two miles, near to the famous St. Sixthe Convent, re-erected, re-painted, and re-opened within seven days.

On the signing of the armistice the Hut was moved to Dunkirk, where it has provided accommodation for various units, including re-mounts, men being demobilised, and men returning from leave and going to Egypt. On its removal to Dunkirk it was beautifully re-decorated and fitted with electric light, and may now be considered one of the most attractive huts in France.

The subscribers, through whose generosity it has been possible for the Y.M.C.A. to meet the needs of so many men, will be happy to know that the Hut has been a bright spot in a time of need to thousands of the brave men who have been defending our country.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, August 1919 (D/EX1237/1/12 )

Donkeys and drums

Some clergy had reservations about the unbridled nature of the peace celebrations.

July 1919

Vicar’s Letter

The Signing of the Peace will naturally turn the thoughts of many towards the ‘Peace Celebrations,’ proposed to be held on Saturday, July 19th. I do not think I can do better than quote a few sentences from a letter written by the Bishop of Norwich, which was published in The Times on Saturday, June 28th. With regard to organised festivities in connection with the Celebration of Peace, the Bishop fears lest these should bring out the poorer and not the nobler side of a natural outburst of high spirits, and he says:

‘We do not wish to substitute mere excitement for that quiet sense of fellowship with the living and the dead and that sober thanks-giving which ought to be the real notes of such a day. At this time we have to think not only of peace abroad, but also of true peace and good will at home, and no stimulated and unrestrained merrymaking helps to give us these. The expression of our joy should not be inappropriate to the tender and solemn remembrance of those who have fallen in the war, nor regardless of those who are mourning for the desolation of their homes. This is, indeed, an occasion for joy, but elaborated celebrations are costly, and the country is in no financial position, and many chastened people in no frame of mind, to spend large sums on extravagant exhibitions of rejoicing. Much sacrifice has gone before the day of thanks giving, and much sacrifice must follow it if the Peace is to be as great as the war. I venture to suggest that we should concentrate our efforts on giving the children a happy day, as many of us do at Christmas time when we commemorate the birth of the Prince of Peace. This, I believe, while shielding us from the risks of orgies protracted into the night, would evoke what is best in the hearts of all classes, and would make a memorable occasion for the boys and girls upon whom will eventually rest the task of fully working out the problems of the new age which the Peace has brought with it.’

No words could I think express better my own feelings with regard to the ‘Peace Celebrations,’ and I hope they will equally commend themselves to you all.

August 1919

The Vicar’s Letter

I feel that my first duty is to thank most heartily the Members of the Committee, and all others, who rendered such very efficient help in collecting funds, arranging and cutting up for the tea, and in superintending and devising the capital Sports, etc., which gave so much pleasure to our young guests on the occasion of the Peace Celebration. If only it had been a really fine day! The dampness of the unpleasant drizzle had no apparent effect on the spirits and excellent conduct of the children, yet we all felt it would have been so much brighter had the sun shone out. Provision for the tea was ample and much appreciated. The donkeys were quite up-to-date, and behaved as donkeys have ever done at a Children’s Fête! Most grateful were we to Mrs. Young, Mr Reynolds and Mr. Stretch for the loan of them; they were quite a feature in the programme. And what shall be told of the glory of the bonfire, which apparently surpassed in brilliance any other that could be seen far or near! As soon as the gentleman with the drum was satisfied that he had done enough in celebrating Peace, one was able to get to bed about 1.30 a.m.! thankful that all concerned had had a happy day, and may God grant that the occasion for keeping such a day shall never occur again during the life-time of the youngest of those who were present with us!

Cookham Dean parish magazine, July and August 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Going out to witness the sports and other festivities in the Town

Workhouse residents in Reading were allowed to take part in the town festivities.

10th June 1919
Peace Celebrations

The Committee had before them the following recommendations of the Peace Celebrations Committee, and decided to recommend to the Board that the same be approved, viz:

1. That the days set apart for the Celebration be observed as general holidays.

2. That the inmates during one of such days be given extra fare similar to that provided on Christmas day.

3. That discipline be relaxed, and that such of the inmates as are able and desirous of going out to witness the sports and other festivities in the Town, be allowed to do so, and to return at a reasonable hour at the discretion of the Master.

4. That Concerts be arranged at the Infirmary and the Mansion House, Prospect Park.

5. That the officers on duty during the days set apart for Peace Celebrations, be granted equal time off, as and when they can be spared.

Report of House Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

“The news of his death was only received after the signing of the Armistice”

There was a particular poignancy when news of a death came after the war had ended.

Roll of Honour.

Frederick Pither.

The news of his death was only received after the signing of the Armistice and the blow, therefore, come with added force to his wife and children.

We would desire to convey to her the very real and special sympathy of all.

Military Cross.

Lieut. R. Palmer – to whom heartiest congratuilations.

Blinded Soldiers’ Fund.

The total sum received is £32; made up as follows:-

Carol Singing £22 10s., Christmas Dinner Table envelopes £9 10s. This latter sum is for the children of Blinded Soldiers.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P154C/28A/1)

PoWs weak and run down

Imprisonment was an ordeal.

XMAS PRESENT FUND FOR WINKFIELD MEN ON SERVICE.

The appeal for this fund met with a hearty response, the amount raised was £22 8s. 5d.. and nearly every family in the parish contributed.

The Vicar has received many letters and cards from the men, expressing great appreciation of the remembrance of them.

It was a great pleasure to welcome home this month two more of the prisoners of war. Fred Johnson and Fred Blau. Both showed the effects of what they had undergone, and arrived home weak and run down, but with home comforts we hope it will not be long before they completely recover their health and strength.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/2)

Now that the war is over we have been able to have our usual Christmas treats

Reading children enjoyed a peacetime Christmas season.

The Vicar’s Notes

Now that the war is over we have been able to have our usual Christmas treats, and to enter into them with more zest than ever. The infants and the boys and girls of our Sunday school, the choir lads, the mothers, and the Sunday school teachers and altar servers have been hospitably entertained through the generosity of many of our kind people.

Intercessions

For God’s blessing on the Peace Conference now being held in Paris.


Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P98/28A/16)

“He speaks well on the whole of his treatment in the prisoners’ camp”

Cigarettes were this year’s Christmas gift for Maidenhead soldiers.

OUR SOLDIERS.

A letter of Christmas greeting was again sent to each of our soldiers, and a packet of cigarettes to those who were overseas. We hope that in a very short time the majority of them will be back amongst us. Robert Bolton and Alfred Isaac have already been discharged. Reginald Hill was at home for Christmas leave, looking quite recovered after his long hospital experiences. Wallace Mattingley and George Ayres are in Germany.

We are glad to hear that 2nd Lieut Edgar Jones, son of Rev. G H. Jones, of Marlow, who, after a few days in France was taken prisoner about 17 months ago, returned home in time for Christmas. He speaks well on the whole of his treatment in the prisoners’ camp.

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, January 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Carols for blinded soldiers

Wokingham carol singers collected money for soliders blinded in the war, and their children.

Blinded Soldiers.

The outcome of the Carol Singing has been very satisfactory, and the Choir hope to hand over £20 or so as the fruit of their efforts. Such a result has of course entailed the expenditure of considerable time and trouble, which however has been given most ungrudgingly by all the members. We congratulate them on their success. Needless to say, the generous contributions and kindly welcome everywhere received have greatly added to the pleasure of their good work.

For the children of Blinded Soldiers, nearly £10 has been contributed by means of Xmas Dinner Table envelopes.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P154C/28A/1)

“They all bring the same report of ill treatment, suffering and semi-starvation, which makes the blood boil and raises the strong desire that a stern reckoning should be paid for such brutality”

Released PoWs had a tale to tell.

We rejoice to welcome home in time for Xmas, four of our Prisoners of War, C. Brant, W. Harwood, R. Mitchell, and F. Onion. They all bring the same report of ill treatment, suffering and semi-starvation, which makes the blood boil and raises the strong desire that a stern reckoning should be paid for such brutality.

We shall naturally wish to erect a parish memorial to those Winkfield men who have given their lives for their country in this War, and as this concerns all in the parish, it is proposed shortly to call a Public Meeting in the Parish Room, to discuss plans and particulars. Probably the meeting will be held towards the end of January, and due notice of it will be given.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, January 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11)

War echoes

The war was over but not forgotten.

WAR ECHOES

Honours and Promotions

Temporary Captain G H B Chance (MGC) to be Temporary Major (November). Harry D West (RGA) is Farrier Sergeant Major (date unknown).

Casualty

Private William West (MGC), died in France (of broncho-pneumonia).

Repatriation

Private F J Painter (5th Royal Berks)

Christmas Parcels

In view of the difficulties both of obtaining things to send, and of ascertaining correct addresses, and also in consideration of the fact that hostilities are suspended, Mr Willink has made no arrangements for sending parcels this season to sailors and soldiers. They may be sure, however, that they are not forgotten by all at home.

The Influenza

This epidemic, which has amounted to a veritable plague, seems to be abating in this country. We are told that throughout the world it has directly, or by after-effects, caused over 6 million deaths, more than the number reported from action of this war of 4 ½ years.

WAR SAVINGS

Peace and Thanksgiving Campaign

The war may be practically over, but money is still urgently required for a time. The National War Savings Committee have been called on by the Government to make one more big effort during the period ending with next autumn. Berkshire’s share is assessed at £900,000, of which our Bradfield Local Committee are asked to raise £50,000. with this object, Lantern Lectures, with excellent slides, will be given in each Association’s area from January to April. The present arrangements for Burghfield are:

January 8th War on Land
February 5th War in Italy
March 5th War at Sea
April 2nd War in the Holy Land

The first and third will be at the Handicraft Room, Mrs Bland’s School; the second and fourth in the Jubilee Room or the C of E School, 7 o’clock in all cases.

The Committee hope that readers of the magazine will make these facts known, and do their best to see that the campaign is a success.

A Burghfield War Memorial

It is, perhaps, too soon to begin public consultation of this matter. But it is not too soon to begin thinking about it. Probably we are all agreed that there should be some visible memorial of this Great War to keep alive the recollection of the working part playing in it by Burghfield men.

Burghfield parish magazine, January 1919 (D/EX725/4)

A Carolling Party, in the cause of Blinded Sailors and Soldiers

North Town

It is even rumoured that a North Town Carolling Party, in the cause of Blinded Sailors and Soldiers, threaten the laurels of many longer-established Carol parties.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

Important changes at the Hospital after an interesting but difficult year

The war’s end meant changes for Newbury District Hospital.

Newbury District Hospital : The Thirty-Fourth Annual Report and Balance Sheet for 1918

For the year ending December 31st, 1918:

There have been important changes at the Hospital during the past year, and in many respects, the period under review has been an interesting but difficult one.

Miss Atkins, whose services as Matron are well known to the Subscribers, left in August last to be married. Having regard to her long arduous and successful work in the Hospital the Committee took upon themselves to present her, on behalf of the Subscribers, with a sum of £25 on leaving. The Subscribers are asked to ratify this grant.

Sister Biddle also left in August to take up another engagement. Miss Atkins was replaced, as Matron, by Miss Phoebe Jones, whose testimonials were of a very high character. She entered on her duties at a time when the work was very heavy, and as the Nursing Staff, for some time afterwards, was very inadequate, the Committee recognise that her position was a difficult one. Every effort was made to replace Sister Biddle, and to put the Staff on a satisfactory footing in other respects, but it was not until October that the situation was somewhat relieved by the engagement of Sister White.

Shortly afterwards the outbreak of Influenza put a further strain on the Hospital, as a large number of cases of pneumonia were received. Practically all the Probationers were laid up by Influenza, and to add to the difficulties the Matron herself was attacked, and after being laid up in the Hospital for some time was obliged to go away to recruit.

During her absence Sister White was in charge and proved herself efficient, but it became obvious that the Staff was over worked, and must be strengthened as soon as the general scarcity of Nurses would allow it.

On the advice of the Matron the Committee, late in the year, authorised advertisements for a third Sister, and some other additions to, and alterations in, the Nursing Staff. As it was not possible to make this addition immediately it became necessary to relieve the Staff by closing one of the Annexes, and reducing the number of Soldiers in the Hospital for some weeks. Throughout this period the domestic Staff was, as it still is, a source of anxiety, it being necessary to depend to a great extent on temporary assistance.

It will be seen from the statistics annexed that notwithstanding these difficulties, an unusually large number of Patients were treated in the Hospital during the year. As compared with 1917 Civilian Patients increased by 104 and Soldier Patients by 38. It would have been impossible for the small staff to cope with this work without the help of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment and some other ladies, all of whom rendered most valuable assistance.

Since the retirement of Dr. Heywood, Dr. Kennedy has been responsible for Soldier Patients, Dr. Adams giving his assistance as regards surgical matters when required.

The Rev. W. S. Edgell undertook the duties of Hon. Secretary on the retirement of Mr. Savill in April.

The Committee has again to acknowledge the general interest in the Hospital evidence by the gifts of vegetables, supplies and other useful articles throughout the year. The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot has again furnished many requisites, and Miss Wasey again organised a successful Pound Day and also presented fittings for the Anaesthetic room. Mrs. Wombwell, Mrs. Rooke and Menstone House School made very liberal donations for the entertainment of the Soldiers at Christmas. Mr. Wombwell, Mr. R. Beynon, Mr. Hogg, Mr. Cotterell, Mr. Johnson and others shewed their interest by gifts and in other ways.

Hearty thanks are due to all the members of the Medical Staff, upon whose time the Hospital has made large demands.

The Committee also desire to thank Mrs. Sharwood-Smith, the Commandant, and the Officers and ladies of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment, who have done very valuable work.

Miss Cecile Boldero, the Assistant Commandant (latterly Commandant) was most helpful in the difficulty caused by the deficiency in the regular Nursing Staff.

Miss Salway has again given massage and special treatment to Soldiers, for which the Committee are most grateful, and thanks are due to Mr. Alleyne for taking charge of the recreation room.

Thanks are also due to the former and present Matrons, and the Sisters, and Nurses, for their services during a very strenuous year. In addition to their heavy nursing duties they have had to meet difficulties in catering, and the want of a permanent and sufficient domestic Staff. The economic results of their efforts are best shewn by the Statistics annexed as to cost per occupied bed, and cost of food per head. Having regard to the great rise in prices the Committee think these figures very satisfactory.

During the past year, and in fact during the war, few repairs and renewals could be done owing to the pressure of work, and a thorough overhauling of the Hospital is required now that the soldiers have gone. A considerable expense will be involved. A sub-committee has been appointed to report on the necessary repairs and renewals and on certain structural alterations. The most pressing work upstairs has been done, but the sub-committee has not finally reported. An important matter to be considered is central heating, and some other mode of heating the passages, etc. this is most desirable, and perhaps necessary, but the expense would be very large. The question of the disposal of the temporary Annexes is under consideration: one of them is now clearly unnecessary, and it is doubtful whether either of them should be retained.

In this connection it may be mentioned that when the soldiers left, the Chairman received from the Southern Command, Salisbury, a cordial letter thanking the subscribers and the committee for the generous provision made for soldiers during the war, and the care bestowed on them.

W. Walton, Chairman

W. S. Edgell, Hon. Sec.

Newbury District Hospital annual report (D/H4/4/1)

Never a better moment for preaching the Christmas message of “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men”

Reading men were to be welcomed home.

My dear Friends…

I have received a letter from the Bishop bringing to my notice his own and the Archbishops’ suggestions for the observance of the Christmas season. He says, “As to Christmas itself, there was never a better moment for preaching the Christmas message of “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men”. I trust that in this connection you will lead your people in earnest prayer for the effective establishment of a League of Nations to secure a just and permanent peace.

On December 29th we are recommended by the Archbishops to make united, reverent and thankful commemoration of those who have died in the War. Sunday, January 5th, it is suggested that we should offer special thanksgiving for victory and special prayer for the statesmen assembled in the Peace Conference.’ I propose to act on these suggestions; accordingly the list of those belonging to us who have fallen in the war will be read out at Morning and Evening Prayer on the last Sunday of the year and special thanksgiving and prayer on the lines indicated will be offered on the following Sunday. The Bishop speaks also of the need of securing a hearty and religious welcome for every one of the returning soldiers in all parishes. This can only be done by the co-operation of the people. I shall be most grateful for information as to the return of soldiers and sailors, such as shall enable me to call and offer each man a personal welcome back to the parish. …

Your sincere friend and vicar,

W. Britton

Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P172/28A/24)

“Beginning again in the dark”

There was great sympathy for soldiers’ whose war wounds had left them blind.

FOR ST DUNSTAN’S

We have done a good many generous things as a church, but it is doubtful if we ever responded quite so well as when we helped the cause of the Blinded Soldiers and Sailors during the Christmas season. Starting in quite a modest way with the suggestion that our choir should provide a carol service in the evening of Christmas Sunday [28 December 1918], the plans gathered sympathy, until they included a United Carol Service in the Village Hall on the Sunday evening referred to, a collection at the Watch-night service, and a special gathering of personal donations from members of our church and congregation. By this means £10 3s. 4d. was raised for those “beginning again in the dark”. We recognise that this was a united effort, and do not take the credit to ourselves, but we do appreciate the kindly sympathy that our folks showed in both subscribing to and organising such a fund.

Tilehurst Congregational Church section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)