Old clothes for distressed people in Europe

Members of the Broad Street Brotherhood wanted to help families in areas in France and Belgium occupied, and devastated, by the enemy.


The final result of the Mass Meeting held in the Palace Theatre enabled the society to remit a cheque for £49 8s 0d to the National Federation [of Brotherhoods], on behalf of the distressed people in the countries on the continent. This was a good bit of work, but Brother William Ward wished further efforts to be made in the direction of collecting old clothes.

A small sub-committee met to consider this matter, and they decided it would be a good thing to do. But to ensure success it would be absolutely necessary to have a body of at least 40 or 50 willing helpers, who would systematically visit the various houses in the town, leave literature, and call and ascertain if gifts of old clothes can be spared.

To bring this particular object before the whole body of our members, an open meeting for men and women is to be held on Sunday March 3rd, at which a special speaker will address the meeting. After that it is intended to ask for subscriptions for initial expenses, and also for the names of helpers.

If both subscriptions and helpers are forthcoming, then the committee intend to go forward with this very necessary bit of work; but they feel that they cannot possibly do this unless they are well backed up by the whole body of the Brotherhood.

It has been decided to send to all our brothers on service – whether at home or abroad – a copy of the Broad Street Magazine in the future, instead of the Brotherhood Journal, as a wish has been expressed for a paper with more local news in it. Brother A. T. Doe has again undertaken to do the work of addressing and dispatching these, month by month.

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


Short courses in War-time Economy

Adult education tried to meet wartime needs.


Short courses in War-time Economy will be held at University College, Reading, as follows:-

A. War-time Cookery Demonstrations.
(How to make the best use of rationed foodstuffs)
A course of 13 demonstrations on Tuesdays at 2.30 p.m., viz.: 6 weekly demonstrations beginning on February 6th, 1918 (fee 5/-), followed by 7 weekly demonstrations beginning on April 30th, 1918 (fee 5/-).

B. Dressmaking and Renovating.
(How to economise in clothes)
A course of 13 classes on Mondays, 2-30 to 4-30 p.m., viz.: 6 weekly classes beginning on February 4th, 1918 (fee 5/-), followed by 7 weekly classes beginning on April 29th, 1918 (fee 5/-1).

C. Making and Mending in the House.
(How to repair, restore, and adapt household effects for further service)
A course of 13 classes on Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., viz.: 6 weekly classes beginning on February 5th, 1918 (fee 5/-), followed by 7 weekly classes beginning on April 30th, 1918 (fee 5/-).

Advertisement included in Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

160 face cloths for the wounded

Reading women continued their efforts.


During the month 11 white shirts, 8 pairs of pants, 2 hot water bottle covers, 11 bags, 2 pyjama suits, 4 operating sheets, 1 pair of knitted gloves, 1 muffler, 160 face cloths, have been completed and sent to the Depot. Total already sent, 2,772.

Reading St. John parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

A pleasant evening

The people of Burghfield continued to support the war effort at home.

January 1918
War Savings

Miss Ada Gripper sends us notice that she has sold 57 War Savings Certificates to members of the Girls’ Friendly Society.

The Rector [Mr George] and Mrs George and Mr and Mrs Sheppard are organising a “Whist Drive” to take place in the Jubilee Room on Thursday, Jan. 10th, at 7 o’clock, the proceeds to be given to the Rectory Red X Working Party, for which Mrs Butler, of Amner’s Farm, Burghfield, kindly acts as secretary. She also “cuts out” and “presses” all the work, and is responsible for taking it to the Depot in Reading. The number of articles sent in during the past year is 125 treasure bags, 47 pairs of socks, 13 pyjamas, 13 pairs of mittens, 182 pillow cases, 15 helpless case shirts, 52 slings, 8 bandages, 2 mufflers, 5 helmets. It is interesting to know that 20 of the Working Party have been awarded the “W.W.” badge.

Subscriptions to the Fund have already been received from Mrs Willink, £1; Mrs George, 5/-; Mrs Butler, 2/6; Miss Goodall, 2/6; Mrs Davidson, 2/6; and Miss Hannam, 2/6.

February 1918
Rectory Red Cross Working Party

A Whist Drive held at the Jubilee Room on January 10th, in aid of this Working Party, was a great success, the sum of £5 15s 0d being obtained. The prizes were given by the Rector and Mrs George…
A pleasant evening ended by a vote of thanks to the Rector and Mrs George, and the National Anthem.

Burghfield parish magazine, January and February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“Now the beds are always kept full”

Many wounded soldiers were treated at Newbury District Hospital, with much help from local people.

The Thirty Third Annual Report of the Managing Committee of the Newbury District Hospital For the year ending December 31st, 1917.

The Past Year has been a very important one for the Hospital.

The figures, giving the number of Civilian Patients admitted, shew a decline compared to the previous year by 34, whilst there is an increase of 27 in the number of Soldiers admitted: this is due to the extra accommodation of 24 beds in the New Annexe constructed during the early spring.

There was a certain amount of delay before these beds were filled, and but for that fact, there would have been a very much larger increase in the number of Soldier Patients for the year.
The Benham Annexe was erected, at the very urgent request of the War Office, at a cost of £386. The Buildings, though similar to the previous one, cost rather more owing to the higher price of material and labour. It is situated on the West Side of the Main Buildings, and adjoins the Thurlow Ward.

Many very useful gifts have been received during the past year. The Local Branch of the British Red Cross Society have provided useful articles for the new ward, amounting to over £50, as well as defraying the cost of entertainments got up for the soldiers. Mr. Fairhurst and the late Mr. Vollar presented a large circulating electric fan for the Benham Ward. Mr. Porter, of Bartholomew Street, did the entire wiring gratuitously, and Miss Wasey gave the sun blinds, which were much needed.

Sir R. V. Sutton kindly lent all the beds, bedding and furniture for the same ward.

The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot have again supplied a large quantity of bandages of various kinds, also swabs, shirts, and dressing gowns, all of which were much appreciated. Miss Wasey again came forward to organize Pound Day, which took place in June, and was most successful. Many Entertainments were got up by various ladies in the town and district, which were much enjoyed by the soldiers.

Special Donations towards the Benham Ward were received from Mrs. Caine, Sir. W. Walton, Mr. Fairhurst, and the Hon. Sec. Mr. Tufnail sent the proceeds of a week’s Cinema performance which amounted to £67 17s. 0d., and Mrs. C. Ward’s Garden Fete at Burghclere, realised £30 18s. 0d.

During August the War Office transferred the distribution of soldiers from Tidworth to Reading; this was done for the purpose of economising transport; the result has been quite satisfactory to the hospital, for now the beds are always kept full. Whilst the change was being carried out, we were able to close the Wards for a month for the purpose of painting and cleaning, which was thoroughly done.

The Berkshire Branch of the British Red Cross Society asked us to receive paralysed soldiers for special treatment in the hospital; this was willingly agreed to, and also the promise of two beds to be allotted for that purpose.

A very important service that the Hospital is doing just now, is the treatment of discharged soldiers sent to them by the Military War Pensions Committee, who have appointed Dr. Heywood as their Medical referee; these men come to the Hospital either as in-patients, or out-patients, for special treatment, and arrangements have been made that they come at fixed times on certain days for their treatment.

The Financial position of the Hospital is quite satisfactory; it has been well supported with liberal Subscriptions and Donations. The Hospital Saturday Fund amounted to £160; this is a record, and well to be proud of. The success of this fund is entirely due to the energetic Secretary, Mr. W. H. Paine, and his many willing workers. The League of Mercy kindly sent a grant of £15.
The Committee wish to thank, very heartily, all the Medical Staff, in Drs. Adams, Hemsted, Coplestone and Simmons, for all their useful work to the Hospital during a very strenuous year. The Committee’s thanks are due to Dr. Heywood, who returned from abroad in the autumn, and resumed his work at the Hospital; he has been appointed Medical Officer to the soldiers, thus releasing the other Medical Staff.

The thanks of the committee are offered to Mrs. Sharwood-Smith (Commandant), Miss. Cecile Boldero (Assistant-Commandant), Mrs. Adrian Hawker (Quartermaster), and the Ladies of Newbury Volunteer Aid Detachment for the great work that they are doing; to Miss Cecile Boldero, who has been a most consistent worker during the year, and has been a great help to the Staff; to Miss. Salway, who has given her services by providing special treatments to the soldiers; to Mr. Graham Robertson, for his useful help in the clerical work connected with the soldiers; and to Mr. Alleyne for kindly looking after the recreation room.

The best thanks are due to the Matron and her assistant Nurses during a very strenuous year, the increased number of soldiers naturally added very much to their work, and high praise is due to the efficient way in which they have performed their various duties. The difficulties in catering during the latter part of the year increased the work of the Matron considerably, who deserves praise and thanks of the Committee for her excellent management.

Newbury District Hospital Annual Report, 1917 (D/H4/4/1)

Training is given free to disabled soldiers who are unable to take up their old employment

Big problems were faced by former soldiers who had been sent home because they were no longer medically fit to serve, often because they were now permanently disabled. The Burghfield parish magazine offered advice:

Discharged Soldiers and War Pensions

A man’s discharge dates, not from the day he leaves the colours, but from three weeks afterwards, ie. from three weeks after his return home. For those three weeks he should receive his pay, also a gratuity of £1 and an allowance of 17/6 in place of plain clothes, and also any arrears that are due to him. If a wife or dependant is receiving an allowance it should be continued, and the ring paper not withdrawn, for two weeks after the expiration of the three weeks. if the pension which is due after discharge is not paid, application should be made to the War Pensions Sub-committee, either through Mr and Mrs Willink, who are serving on it, or to the Secretary of that Sub-committee at the Shire Hall, Reading, any day except Monday or Wednesday.

If there should be a delay in the issue of the pension, this Sub-committee has power to give a returnable grant till the money is forthcoming. Training is given free to disabled soldiers who are unable to take up their old employment. The following are some of the trades being taught: Engineering, including Aeroplane work, Building and House Decorating, Printing, Furniture, Leather Goods and Boot and Shoe Making, Cane and Willow Industry, etc. A form is issued for each disabled soldier to sign and fill up, so that his case may be investigated should there be any distress or need.


Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

“The woollen balaclava helmet was just about the only thing I wanted”

Men in the armed forces associated with Broad Street Congregational Church were grateful for their Christmas gifts, which really helped to boost morale.


We have pleasure in giving below a number of extracts from the any letters from our men on service, in acknowledgement of the parcels sent out at Christmas. These are just a sample. We should have been glad, had space permitted, to give many more. The letters OS after the initials mean “on active service”.

My very best thanks to you and the kind folk at Broad St for again thinking of me this Christmas season, thoughts which I know are extended to us out here not only at Christmas time, but all the year round. The parcel arrived quite safely and in good condition. The woollen balaclava helmet was just about the only thing I wanted in the way of woollen stuff. I still have a lovely woollen scarf which was sent me last year. The rest of the contents were also quite “O.K.” I must also thank you for all the kind wishes, and also for the cheering, strengthening and encouraging Xmas message.
A. S. (OS)

Thank you and all at Broad St for your kind wishes and parcel which reached me on Christmas Eve, the latter in excellent condition and very welcome. One is greatly encouraged to know that one is always in the thoughts of the church at Broad St. it is the knowledge that one is constantly remembered in the prayers of those at home which makes us feel that in spite of occasional discomfort and discouragement, the job is worth doing after all.
C.Q. (OS)

It is very good of the Broad St Friends to think of us out here, and I know I am not only speaking for myself when I say that I am exceedingly grateful, not only for the parcel, but also for the good wishes. I am writing this from the bottom of a “dug-out” where the accommodation is not the best for writing in.
O. F. (OS)

I do indeed think it exceedingly kind of the members of Broad St and yourself to send us such useful things for Xmas. I think you must have secured expert advice as to “Tommy’s” need. Thank you very much indeed… My thoughts frequently wing their way to you, and on Sundays when things out here continue as on other days, there some strong yearnings to be present with you in our service at Broad St. still I am conscious that you think of us all, and pray that our true and deepest needs may be met.
J. H. P. (OS)

I wish to thank the friends at Broad St, who so kindly sent me the most useful parcel at Christmas. It reminded me of old friends and the happy hours spent both in Sunday School and Church…. Here I am bivouaced on the plain of Sharon near the Judean Hills, with nothing but eucalyptus, lemon and orange groves in sight, and practically speaking, within a stone’s throw of the Holy City, Jerusalem. It is a grand experience of which I have no doubt you envy me, and all the lads out here, but nevertheless let us all hope it will not be long before we are able to return home and get once more into the traces.
W. T. B. (OS)

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

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.

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)

Help the people in the countries on the Continent devastated by the enemy

The plight of civilians in the countries where the fighting was taking place touched the hearts of Reading people.

November 1917
Brotherhood Notes

Sunday, December 9th, is to be a big day with the society. On that day we are to have an open meeting, to be held in the Palace Theatre, at which meeting one of the leaders of the movement will speak – probably the International Secretary, Brother W. Ward. Our Musical Conductor, Brother W. Wynton-Turner, is making the arrangements, and we can look forweard to a great time on that day.

The object of the meeting is to stir up interest in the National Brotherhood Scheme for relief in the countries devastated by the enemy, and a collection for this fund will be taken.

December 1917

Sunday, December 9th is to be a great day with our Society. An open meeting for men and women will be held at the Palace Theatre, to be addressed by Brother William Ward, the International Brotherhood Secretary. The meeting will start at three o’clock, and the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading, F A Sarjeant, esq., JP, will take the chair. The Reading Temperance Band will play selections, and special hymns will be sung. Brother Wynton Turner is putting in superhuman efforts to make this meeting a great success, and looks for the support of all our brothers.

The object of the meeting is to collect funds for the relief of the destitute peoples in the countries devastated by the enemy – a worthy object and one heartily recommended to our members. Be sure and keep that date free, and talk about it, and come in your hundreds to fill the Palace.

January 1918

The outstanding event during the past month was undoubtedly the very successful mass meeting which was held on Sunday December 9th at the Palace Theatre. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading (F A Sarjeant, esq., JP) presided, and Brother William Ward, the International Secretary of the Brotherhood, gave a most vigorous and inspiring address, bringing before our notice the great need of help to the peoples in the countries on the Continent devastated by the enemy. A collection was taken up at this meeting which amounted to nearly £14, and in addition Mr Tyrrell most generously gave £40 for a hut. The meeting was an unqualified success, both as regards attendance and organisation, and for the latter the whole of the praise is due to Brother J. Wynton Turner, who worked most indefatigably.

Brother William Ward gave some valuable suggestions, and one amongst them was that a central depot be opened in the town, and old clothes be collected for the sufferers. This matter will be carefully considered by our committee.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1917-January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“There are now only 15 regular workers for the Red X work”

A small but industrious group of women in Burghfield were still knitting and sewing clothing and bandages for wounded soldiers.

The Holiday House Working Party

There are now only 15 regular workers for the Red X work (all have the WW badge), but we manage to send in a good share of work. The list of articles completed for the year ending November 30th, 1917, is:

Pyjamas 166, Pants 105, Bed Jackets 88, Cingelts [sic] 33, A V Vests 21, Triangular Bandages 36, Slings 13, Treasure Bags, 35, Swabs 15, Cloths 9, Pillow Linings 4, Jug Covers etc 6, Operation Stockings 45 pairs, Mitten 46 pairs, Socks 17 pairs, Mufflers 8, Squares 6.

Mrs Harry Smith has cut out all our work. The material for the garments has been provided by the Depot in Reading, also a little wool; but cotton, tape, buttons, needles, and the greater part of the wool have been bought from the proceeds of a Social, 5-; a Rummage Sale, £2 8s 0d; a Concert, £2 17s 6d, held at Holiday House; and a few small donations given by friends.

Mr Foley (carrier) kindly takes our work to the Depot and brings the material out.

We should be glad of any help in providing wool for comforts, as at present our stock is exhausted.

Millicent M Higgs

Burghfield parish magazine, February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Swollen tins of rotten food

Reading-born internee Albert Cusden (one of four brothers in the Ruhleben camp near Berlin) wrote to one of his younger sisters to report that some of the food sent by the family was not fit for consumption.

Nov. 23rd 1917
Dear Lucy

Latest letter received, Len to Arch dated Oct 8th….

Now and again a tin turns out bad. Such a tin is usually somewhat swollen and so is regarded with suspicion from the start and is opened very gingerly. The remarks that are passed in the neighbourhood of such a tin as the aroma gets around are quite interesting.

We are all four keeping well. Have received thick boots from the Savoy as well as the clothing mentioned so you can rest assured we shall be all right this winter…

With love to all
Your affectionate brother,

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to Miss L Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/8)

No liability for personal injury as the result of an enemy air raid

Who should pay for air raid losses? One men spirited employer refused to pay out under their workmen’s compensation policy for an employees killed in an air raid on his place of work.

17 November 1917

The Chairman reported that he had agreed to extend the time for the payment of £3 lent to Mrs Lake for an additional month from 27 November 1917. The action of the Chairman was approved, and the Committee decided that Mrs Lake be allowed a further two months extension to 27 January 1918.

The Chairman read the correspondence between the Treasurer, Mrs Coleman and the Government Committee, with reference to the fatal accident to Mrs Coleman’s husband in the air raid on June 13, 1917.

The Chairman stated that following the authority of the Government Committee he had authorised a payment of 12/6 per week to Mrs Coleman pending the settlement of her claim for compensation against her late husband’s employers under the Workman’s Compensation Act.

The following letter from Messrs Griffiths & Gardner was read:

Coleman deceased

Our clients Messrs R Barrett & Son Ltd in whose employ Mrs Coleman’s husband was at the time of his death owing to an enemy bomb exploding, have handed us your letter to her of the 6th instant and requested us to reply thereto.

We have advised our clients that there is no liability under the Workmen’s Compensation Act for personal injury as the result of an enemy raid. The deceased’s death did not result from personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, but purely owing to the raid.

We ourselves ran the same risk in our offices, as the deceased did at Messrs Barretts.

Yours faithfully
Griffith & Gardner

The Treasurer was authorised to send a copy of the above letter to the Government Committee for their observations.

The Chairman read correspondence between the Treasurer, Mr Bowyer, Miss Smith and the Government Committee, from which it appeared that Mr W F Bowyer and Miss G I Smith claimed amounts of £3.4.3 and £1.0.1 respectively, for clothing destroyed in the air raid of July 7, 1917.

The Committee decided to recommend the claims to be paid.

National Relief Fund: Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

Clothing prisoners

Dr John Baker, Superintendent of Broadmoor Hospital, which doubled as Crowthorne War Hospital for mentally ill PoWs, wanted to make sure that men leaving his care were warmly dressed for their winter journey home. Following this letter, they were issued with coats, underwear, braces and neck comforters.

Crowthorne War Hospital
5th November 1917

From Officer i/c Crowthorne War Hospital
To DDMS Aldershot

Seven insane German Prisoners of War have been recommended for repatriation. I understand that they will be removed shortly. The clothing in which some of these Prisoners arrived at the Hospital was in some cases either bad or defective. I shall be glad to be favoured with any instructions that may exist with regard to the clothing of Prisoners on repatriation or some guidance in the matter especially as to whether deficiencies may be made good from Hospital stock or otherwise.

[File copy not signed]

Letter from Dr Baker, Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

Women “have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war”

The Burghfield parish magazine reported on various changes the war had brought to the parish.

Other matters connected with the War

a) The war savings movement has done well in Berkshire, chiefly owing to the efforts of Mr. W.C.F. Anderson, of Hermitts Hill, the Secretary of the County Committee. An Association stared in Burghfield in the spring, now numbers 106 members, and 128 certificates have been sold. It is hoped to combine this with Associations at Mortimer and Theale under a “Local Committee,” on the system adopted elsewhere. Already over 106,000,000 has been raised, and over 35,560 Associations formed, throughout the country: and the National Committee are arranging for a vigorous Autumn campaign.

b) As in other parishes, occupiers of agricultural land have been called upon to consider the possibilities of breaking up pasture into arable. And the County War Agricultural Committee, acting through the Bradfield District sub committee, have found the farmers and owners of land in Burghfield no less ready to answer this call of their country than the King has found the young men ready for the hardships of war.

c) “War Economy” has of course received much attention: and it is hoped that in every house efforts have been made to economize in food, clothing, and expenditure generally. Meetings have been held and literature circulated. The duty of promoting economies, which at first was imposed upon War Savings Associations, has been transferred with other duties to the Food Control Committees appointed by the District Councils. The collection of horse-chestnuts has been entrusted chiefly to the School authorities, and directions given. It appears that every ton of chestnuts, in proper condition, released half-ton of corn which would otherwise be required for the manufacture of propellant explosive.

Women Workers on the Land

We are pleased to see how well the Burghfield women have come forward to work on the land and to endeavour to replace the men who have been called to serve their country. They have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war; and are now doing good work milking and generally helping to produce food. There are now 21 women working regularly, two of whom have been imported.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Art in an internment camp

Albert Cusden, one of four Reading brothers in a civilian internment camp in Germany, wrote home enclosing some pictures of the camp. Albert was a talented amateur artist, and many of his sketches from Ruhleben can be seen at Berkshire Record Office. The camp was famous in later days for the educational efforts run by the internees themselves, many of whom were teachers and academics. Please forgive the non-PC description of an internee from the Caribbean.

Oct 13th 1917
My dear Parents

As mentioned on my card last week, Dick sent off a photo addressed to you, and I sent off five drawings, so they should have arrived by now. Early this week Dick sent off a second photo. There was a special one signed by the group… The ink sketch I sent was of the chemical lab[oratory in] the Camp School. Then there were two charcoal sketches, one a landscape scene and the other a head study. And two pencil head studies, one of a fellow dressed for a part in a play and the other of a darkie. This young darkie, who is from the West Indies, is himself an amateur artist, and has worked at sketching, painting etc quite diligently since he has been here. We have acted as models for one another….

The Savoy Association has been sending clothes parcels to men on their list. Arch & I have just received ours. They are very nice parcels and include a thick overcoat. We shall all four be well provided for in this respect this winter, so don’t worry. If you could send on a couple of reels of black cotton or thread we should be glad, as we cannot obtain this here now. Also just a little tape. Don’t send much. Thanks in advance…

We are keeping well in all kinds of weather…

With love to all,

Your affectionate son,

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to Mr & Mrs Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/7)