The Church Lads’ Brigade has lost many of its smartest lads, who are now serving in the Forces

The Reading St John branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade was preparing teenage boys for army service.

CLB

The Company is changing its headquarters from the Institute to the Princes Street Mission Room. It has been passing through some stormy times lately, but we feel that it has now weathered the worst, and we look forward to a winter of real progress. There are vacancies for some good recruits, who will be welcomed any Monday from October 8th onwards.

The Company has had a great many changes in the personnel of its officers during the last year, and has lost many of its smartest lads, who are now serving in the Forces. In spite of these difficulties, the drill was very fair, and the uniform clean and correctly worn, and the lads steady on parade… Acting Captain Hawkes is evidently very keen.

Reading St. John parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

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“We have lost another of our lads”

Many young Ascot men had paid the ultimate price, or suffered life changing injuries.

We are sorry to say that we have lost another of our lads, Stephen J. Bennett, or the Royal Engineers. He was a member of the Church Lads’ Brigade, and was due home, after eighteen months at the Front, for leave, when he fell, and may he rest.

Albert Victor Cook, of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, also fell on April 9th.

Many others from our parish have been wounded, and two have been discharged, crippled.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)

Friends killed by one shell side by side

The toll of men killed continued relentlessly rising.

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends.

The war still continues to bring anxiety and sorrow to very many of our families, and our list of those who have fallen while fighting for their country keeps increasing. This month has been an especially sad one: we have lost during its course 2nd Lieut. Brian Dunlop, who died at the head of his men, just as he had reached his objective, George Maskell, the well known big drummer of our Church Lads’ Brigade, Sergeant John Parker and Lance-Corporal Alfred Dee, who were killed by one shell side by side, Joseph Corby, a regular member of our congregation, and Alfred Bowden; may they rest in peace, and may God help those who have been bereaved to bear their great trial….

Your friend and vicar,
W W Fowler

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list: Henry Harwood, Charles Jarvis.

In addition to those already mentioned, we especially commend the following to your prayers:

SICK OR WOUNDED: William Waite, William Wenmon, Garnett Balkwell, David Evans, William Wilder.

KILLED: Brian Dunlop, George Maskell, John Ayres, Joseph Corby, John Parker, Alfred Dee.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“We could hardly realise that our popular Big Drummer would never return to help us again”

Teenage boys from Earley had the fun of a camp dispelled by sad news of old friends who had gone to the Front.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND SCOUTS

We had a most enjoyable time on the School journey in spite of the weather. A very full account is being published in the “Reading Observer”, and we are hoping that Mr Albert Smith will be able to spare the time to come and give us a Lantern Lecture describing our travels, so we shall not enter into details now. Several of the Cadets and two more Scouts joined us at Hungerford when we spent a most delightful four days, everyone showing us the greatest kindness.

The news of the death of our late Staff-Sergeant George Maskell came as a great shock to us on our return, and we could hardly realise that our popular Big Drummer would never return to help us again. We had a Memorial Service after Matins on Sunday, August 12th, some of our friends from St Giles’ and St John’s Companies joining us for the Parade Service and staying to the Memorial Service. We offer our deep sympathy to the relations and friends of one whom we all loved – RIP.

On going to press we have just heard of the death of another of our CLB Staff Sergeants, John Parker. Jack was one of our very keenest and best CLB workers and we shall miss him terribly. We offer our deepest sympathy to his mother and other relations and friends. RIP.


Earley St Peter parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“Our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty”

The parish of Newbury feared the Russian Revolution would make the war longer.

The War still drags on, and the Revolution in Russia has not tended towards making it shorter: our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty, and may stand firm against the enemy.

The War has lately claimed two more of our men, and we offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Cox, of 6, Rosemary Terrace, and Mrs Preston, of 3, Rosemary Terrace, on the loss of their husbands. Several of our CLB lads have lately had to join up. There is still urgent need for economy in the matter of our food, and a food economy exhibition has lately been held in the Corn Exchange.

It is most unfortunate that, just as new and most suitable premises had been secured for the Soldiers’ Club, all the soldiers should disappear from Newbury: and the committee are accordingly left in a difficulty as to what to do. At this moment the club is furnished, but is not open, and we cannot hear of any more soldiers coming. The Secretary and Treasurer of the Club is Miss Godding, and the Committee are Mrs S A Hawker, Mrs O’Farrell, Mrs H Hollands, Mrs Palmer, and Miss A Boyer. These ladies have made the Club a great success by their hard work, and with the assistance of other helpers.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

“Doing our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army”

The Church Lads’ Brigade offered training for teenage boys which in many cases led to heroic actions as adults at the Front.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE CADETS

We had a very good Field Day at Streatley on Whit-Monday. The Battalion turned up in good strength, and some useful skirmishing practice was got through on the Downs, an ideal spot for such work.
On Saturday, June 9th, the Annual Battalion Marching Competition was held. By kind permission of the Headmaster of Reading School, the various Companies assembled in the School Quad, and under the management of Sergeant-Major Green, were quickly got into due order for inspection. Colonel Melville, RAMC, very kindly came over from Aldershot to judge the competition, and expressed himself as quite astonished at the efficiency of the lads and highly delighted with the whole arrangements and the esprit de corps displayed by the teams. We congratulate our friends the Caversham Company on winning the Shield, our Earley lads were a very close third.

The arrangements for Whit-Monday and the Marching Competition were very ably carried out by the Acting Adjutant, Capt. H A Smith-Masters, who has just received his commission as a Chaplain in the Army. We congratulate him, and shall miss his help very much. He is the fourth Adjutant we have had since the war began, and all four are now serving in the Forces.

Our Captain, Corporal C J O’Leary, MTASC, received some rather severe scalds while rescuing a comrade from a motor which went wrong, and has been in hospital in France, but we are glad to say he is now much better again.

The following Army Order has filled us with pleasure and determination to try and do our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army:

“ARMY ORDER 128, 1917.

The Army Orders for April contain one of the most epoch-making which has ever been issued in respect of the CLB. It runs thus:

‘The recognised Cadet Battalions of the Church Lads’ Brigade are affiliated to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.’

We hope that every member of the CLB will appreciate the honour of belonging to the famous 60th, and that this will be one more incentive to obtain even a higher standard than the CLB has ever attained before.

The great fact is accomplished, and we hope by it the future of the CLB is assured, and that an adequate safeguard of all its religious training and ideal is achieved.”

Having passed the required examinations, the following lads have been promoted as stated: Corporals F Ansell and C Downham to be Sergeants; Private M Smith to be Lance-Corporal.

The body of one of our old members, Frank Snellgrove, who has been missing for months, has been discovered by a Chaplain in France, and reverently buried with full Christian rites. We offer our deepest sympathy to his people, who have thus lost their only son.

H. Wardley King [the curate]

Earley St Peter parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“He feels it to be his duty to volunteer”

Two church workers from Newbury were headed to the front.

The Rev. H C Roberts has been accepted as a temporary Army Chaplain, and by this time will be in France. He will be much missed in the church for his thoughtful and direct sermons, and in the Day and Sunday Schools for his real power of teaching and interesting the children. We wish he could have been here longer with us, but he feels it to be his duty to volunteer, and we congratulate him on being so promptly accepted by the Authorities. We wish him every blessing and success in his new work, and a safe return home.

Mr G F Pyke has been called up, and is a severe loss to the CLB, which he Captained so well, and to the Boys’ School.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

“We shall all do our best to keep our end up until the happy day when he can once more return”

The leader of the Church Lads’ Brigade in Earley, a wounded soldier, had recovered sufficiently to join the Army Service Corps, while some of the group’s former members had been killed or wounded.

CLB

We are once again – let us hope for only a short time – losing our Adjutant, Captain C J O’Leary, who has joined the MTASC.

Since his discharge after being wounded at the Battle of the Aisne, Captain O’Leary has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the work of the Battalion, as well as working up his own St Peter’s Earley Company to a high state of efficiency, and we shall miss him terribly. Our very best wishes will go with him wherever he may be sent, and we shall all do our best to keep our end up until the happy day when he can once more return to us.

We greatly regret to say that two more of our first members have been killed in action, Leonard Leaver and Charles Bolton, and we would express our deepest sympathy with their relatives in their sorrow. RIP.

We tender our heartiest congratulations on being awarded the Military Medal. As we are going to press we hear that Sergeant Seely is seriously wounded and are anxiously awaiting further news.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

Praying it may please God soon to grant us a just and lasting peace

The young men of Earley who had graduated from the Scouts and Church Lads’ Brigade in the decade before the war to serving their country overseas were not forgotten at home.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND CHURCH SCOUTS

January 29th was the ninth anniversary of the enrolment of St Peter’s Earley Company of the CLB, and December 17th the seventh of our Patrol of Scouts. At the Corporate Communion on Sunday, January 21st, the long list of names of past and present members who are serving in His Majesty’s Forces was read out and special prayers offered on their behalf.

Since our last anniversary two more of our first members have been killed in action, Percy Howlett and Alfred Bolton, and another, Frank Snellgrove, reported wounded and missing. We offer our deepest sympathy to their relatives and friends…

We know many of our comrades past and present are regular readers of this magazine, so we take this opportunity of sending them our very best wishes and earnest prayers that it may please God soon to grant us a just and lasting peace and that they, our members who are serving, may be safely restored to us.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

The stream of wounded increases

The needlework of Reading women was increasingly needed as the flow of wounded from the Somme reached British shores.

CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

It is quite a long time since we made an appeal for this most deserving object, but the funds are now in need of replenishment and we ask for some donations.

The work of this organisation is of the highest value, and the need of the articles which is makes is increasing almost daily as the stream of wounded from the great offensive increases in volume. We feel sure that gratitude to our wounded and the desire we all have to do our part, however small, will not allow the output of this Working Party to dwindle from want of materials, or the money to purchase them. Subscriptions will be gladly received by Miss Britton at the Vicarage.

The following articles have been sent to the Depot: 3 bed jackets, 4 flannel shirts, 23 many-tailed bandages, 17 locker cloths, 1 pair of socks, 1 suit of pyjamas, 14 trench-feet bandages, 1 vest, 8 lavender bags (Mrs Bowyer) – 72. Total, with those already sent in, 1,654.

C.L.B.

The St John’s Company of the C.L.B. heard with very mixed feelings of the promotion of the captain to a commission in the army. On the one hand they felt that the company was honoured in the honour done to its captain; on the other hand the company had been doing exceedingly well of late under Lieutenant Reeves and his departure was likely to prove a serious setback to a period of real progress. It is with great satisfaction, then, that we learn that the vacant captaincy has been offered to, and accepted by, Mr E. Hawkes, who will bring much capacity and not a little experience in matters military to his new position.

Reading St. John parish magazine, October 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

“I am quite happy and enjoy life immensely, wouldn’t have missed it for anything”

Several men from Reading St Giles had fallen in the war. The vicar pays a personal tribute to their heroism:

NOTE FROM THE VICAR

Hearty congratulations to Sergt. S.W. White, 1/4th R. Berks, on winning the D.M.C. I believe he is the first of the old C.L.B. boys to obtain honours in the war.

To the list of the fallen in the war is a long one this month, and it contains some names closely connected with the work of the church (Reginald Golder, Herbert Day, Harry Walker, Leonard Smith), they all played their part bravely and have died gloriously, and I am sure we shall not forget them nor their good work here. All four were splendid types of the real patriot who thought no sacrifice too great for England: all four loved the church they worshipped in and, as I know well, did not forget the lessons they were taught in it.

Reginald Golder was a very special friend of mine, he rarely missed coming to see me each ‘leave’ and his devotion to his Grandfather in the days gone by was something to admire. His final words in his last letter to me, written a few days before the final action in which he was taken prisoner:

“I am quite happy and enjoy life immensely, wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”

It was a letter showing his deep interest in the things and persons connected with S. Giles’. To the parents and relatives of all these brave men we give our heartfelt sympathy. For them we give our prayers and our affection: they have won a great reward.

To be added to the intercessions list: Private E.F. Mundy, 11th Labour Batt, Royal Berks Regt,; Lieut Frank Moore, 22nd Batt King’s Royal Rifles; Cpl. C.V. Pyke, R.F.C. ; George Biles, 3rd Batt,. Royal Berks Regt.; Geoffrey Church ; Lieut. Boston; Private A.T. Henton, 9th Royal Berks Regt,; Private W. Clare, A.S.C. ; Private S. Watson, Grenadier Guards; Private J. Gibbons, 6th Batt. R.I.F.; Private T.B. Mills, London Scottish.

Sick and Wounded: Private S.J. Tugwell, D.C.L.I.; L, Cpl. Mark Seymour, R.E.; Private W Hart; Private G.F. Stroud, A.S.C.; C.S.M.L. Goodenough 1/4 Royal Berks Regt.; Private E. Wilson, 24th London R.; Gunner H.G. West,R.F.A; L. Cpl. A Harris, Royal Berks Regiment.; Private Redstone, Private G.W. Holloway, 3rd Gloucester Regt.

Prisoners: Private H. Guttridge, Private James Smith. ¼ Royal Berks Regt.

Missing: Private Albert Langford, ¼ Royal Berks Regt.; L.Cpl. Jack Foulger, West Kents; Private Frederick Long, 6th Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; L. Cpl. H. Goldstone, R.W. Surry Regt.

Departed: Private Davey, L. Cpl Herbert Dray, Sergt. Reginald Golder, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt.; Private R. Morris, Private S. Land, Private H.V. Walker, ¼ Royal Berks Regiment,; Private A. Josey. 2nd Hants; Private J. Miles, Oxford and Bucks Lt. Infantry; Private Arthur T. Knott, Private T. Seymour, Royal Berks Regt.; Private Edward Rogers, 8th Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; Private John Simmonds, 6thBatt. Royal Berks Regt.; Private H. Leonard West, Canadian Cont.; Driver Rodney Lock, A.S.C.; Sergt Clement Perrin, 1/4 Royal Berks Regt.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, October 1916 (D/P96/28A/34)

He had sterling qualities and a great future

A young Earley man died of wounds.

In memoriam

It was with sorrow that we heard of the death of rifleman William White, Queen’s Westminster Rifles, who died of wounds received in action, on Sept 25th in his 20th year. Before leaving Radstock Road for West Reading, he belonged to our company of the CLB and was also a member of the Guild of the Holy Child. He was liked by all and was a boy of sterling qualities. He had many scholastic successes and doubtless a great future before him. We offer our sincere sympathy to his father, mother and brother in their sorrow.

Earley parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

The men at the Front will bless Earley Scouts

Boys in Earley donated some of their money for the benefit of PoWs.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the September Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked
For the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For the preparation for the National Mission…

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND SCOUTS

The short camp at Newbury from August 5th to 8th passed off very successfully. Twenty of us from Earley were able to go and I think we all enjoyed ourselves very much…

We have just sent up some more money to the Million Shilling Fund and the C.L.B. Prisoners’ Fund, and print the letter received in reply:

“Dear Mr Wardley King,

Thank you very much for your cheque of £5, 1 of which I have put to the Prisoners of War and the other 4 to our Million Shilling Fund. I am very grateful also for the socks. St Peter’s Earley has done magnificently. I enclose your receipt.

It is very good hearing that your Scouts have done so well with their magazines. I am sure the men at the Front will bless them.

Yours sincerely

Edgar Rogers
Headquarters Chaplain.”

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional name has been added to our prayer list:
David Evans.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

Sick: Edward Marshall.
Wounded: John Smit, Charles Seely, Enoch Webb.
Killed: George Winsor, Ernest Cook, William Hooper, Thomas Bricknell, Alfred Jerome, George Forge.

Earley parish magazine, September 1916 (D/P191/28A/31/9)

Helping to look after our splendid troops

The Boys of St Peter’s, Earley, normally borrowed camping equipment from the army. It was of course all in use during the war.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND SCOUTS

We are hoping to have a three days’ camp at Newbury from August 5th to 8th. We shall be obliged to sleep in schoolrooms, &c, as tents are not allowed, and we shall have to take our own blankets, &c, as it is quite impossible to get any from the military stores.

ST PETER’S HALL

The Hon, Treasurer appeals for help as the funds are now practically exhausted, and opportunities for assisting these are, in the difficult times we are passing through, few and far between. In normal times various entertainments and other schemes were carried through successfully by the Committee to augment the receipts, but other interests have crowded these out, and yet the Hall must be kept going.

We most earnestly appeal to our readers to help the funds of the above Hall. The Hall has been invaluable during the war, for, in addition to all the ordinary work carried on in it, we have used it constantly for entertainments for the M.T.A.S.C. and the wounded soldiers, so that those who subscribe to the Hall will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are also helping to look after our splendid troops.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
William Ellis, Thomas Neilan, George Barnes, Frank Williams, Richard Smith, Archie Morris, Alfred Levens, Henry King, William Cook, Reginald Wyer, Leonard Rixon.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

Sick: Jack Parker.
Wounded and Missing: Bernard Tait.
Wounded: John Rosser, Joseph Powell, Charles Barton, Charles Bolton.
Killed in Action: Allan Brown, Dick May, Hereward Sadler.

Earley parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P191/28A/31/8)

Reading boys killed in action

Former members of two boys’ clubs in east Reading had been reported killed in action.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE

It was with the greatest sorrow that we heard that Horace Gibbard had been killed in action. Horace was one of the first members enrolled when our Company was formed, and to the last one of its keenest members. After he enlisted in the Army, he was stationed in Reading until shortly before he went to the Front, and during that time he gave us most valuable assistance by drilling the Company and conducting the band practice. We had hoped to have him with us again after the war, but now we can only thank God for his short but manly life, and his splendid example to his fellow NCOs and lads in the Company. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his parents and brothers, one of whom is engaged in dangerous work in the Navy.

RONALD PALMER LADS’ CLUB

Once more we have to chronicle the death of one of our members: Ralph Shepherd was killed in action. The tragedy of his mother’s death following on the receipt of the news made it even sadder. Ralph was once our champion against the CLB representative in a boxing contest – a successful champion too. He had been wounded earlier on.
W. Wheatley we hear has been wounded; while Lieutenant Eric Sutton had been down a good many times helping in the work and officering of the Club.

The Club is closed for the moment, but hopes to re-open very shortly.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)