“It was a moving thing to see so many of our brave men gathered together at the end of the war”

Ex-servicemen gathered in Burghfield to celebrate the peace.

On Sunday, July 6th, an ex tempore muster of Burghfield ex-service men took place at the Hatch, where about 28 men fell in and marched to the church under Lieut. Searies, for the 11 o’clock service.

A fortnight later [20 July], after better notice, there was a fuller parade in which about 80 took part, including the Chapel band from the Common. Major Chance, Lieut. Searies, Staff Sergeant Major Jordan, Sergeant Wigmore, and other NCOs were present. The band played the party to and from church, and also well accompanied the three hymns (Nos. 166. 540 and 165), which were sung with great heartiness. The Service of Thanksgiving for Victory, and in memory of those who have given their lives, was conducted, in the absence of Mr Coates [the curate, who was on holiday], entirely by the Rector, who preached an eloquent and most inspiring sermon on the text – “To what purpose is this waste?” (Matthew XXVI.8). The lessons (Isaiah XXV.1-9 and John XII.23-33) were read by Mr Willink. The bells rung muffled peals before and after service.

On leaving church the little column proceeded to the Hatch recreation ground, at the entrance marching past Mr Willink and Mr Lousley, the former (by request) taking the salute. Before dismissal some photographs were taken by him, but the light was very bad and no great results can be expected.

It was a moving thing to see so many of our brave men gathered together at the end of the war in that church in which prayers have so often been offered for their safe return, and for that of others who will come back no more. May the great spirit of unity, which, with God’s help, has brought us through to peace, keep us still united in Burghfield during the years before us.

It was disappointing that the invitation to all soldiers and sailors in the Bradfield district, to the Military Festivities in Reading on July 19th had, late in the time, to be withdrawn. This cast unexpected burdens on our Committee. They hope, however, that the steps taken at the last moment will have given satisfaction all round.

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

Potatoes and Passover

David Stad was a Dutch salesman aged 27 when he arrived at Reading in January 1916. He was the only Jewish internee.

2 April 1918
R. Koch
2.10.15 S. of S. Order, Defence of the Realm Regn: Internment
The above named Alien was visited yesterday the 1st by Miss D. Thain (friend), of 56 Gladstone Avenue, Wood Green, N.
The conversation was friendly and of personal affairs. The Alien stated he was in good health.
C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

2nd April 1918
D. Stad
17.7.15 S of S Order, Defence of the Realm Regn: Internment
The above named Alien was visited yesterday by Miss Wolfe of 136 Oxford Road, Reading, daughter of the Jewish Rabbi for Reading.
The conversation was about the way he should carry out the rites of the Passover.
C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

2 April 1918
Garden
Have the Commissioners any objection to the garden officer, Warder Coates, having a suit of drill and pair of old boots temporarily, and working in the prison garden? I have one prisoner on medical grounds and another prisoner part time at work – but Mr Coates has volunteered to work himself with them in order to get in the potatoes. This would be better than a larger party who only talk and smoke – besides saving the pay of the other prisoners.
C M Morgan
Gov.
[to] The Commissioners
PS We have suitable stuff in store.

[They received an immediate reply permitting it as a special case.]

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

We are nothing better than worms – but mustn’t grumble!

Sunday 4 April 1915 was Easter Day. The parishioners of Reading St John (now the Polish Catholic Church) had sent Easter greetings to their young men at the Front. It resulted in a number of letters from the recipients describing their experiences.

Letters from the Front: replies to our Easter letters and cards.

Cards similar to those recently seen on the Church notice boards were sent with covering letters for Easter to some fifty men at the front at the request of their relatives. The following are extracts from some of the replies received by the Vicar:-

A Terrible War.
Here is a much-needed reminder of the seriousness of our task:
‘Two of my men I laid to rest yesterday, just put their heads too far over the parapet; of course killed instantly. It is a terrible business and we are nothing better than worms, dug in and stop there, but hope that happier times are in store and very soon. We all hope and pray for it every day. I don’t think the people at home quite realise what a gigantic task we have; but we mustn’t grumble, but do it.’- GILES AYRES.

Valued Cards.
‘I wish to thank you very much for the good thoughts and wishes of yourself and everyone who remembered us on Easter Day. Thank you very much for the card. I am sending it home to-day so that I shall not lose it.’- A. L. BLAKE.

‘The card you sent me I have hung on to the wall and it shall go where I go. I shall always remember Good Friday, the day I received it.’- D. CAMPBELL.

Neuve Chapelle.
Speaking of the welcome letter just received, the writer adds: ‘Just lately we have been engaged in a big battle at Neuve Chapelle, and it was something awful and also a terrible loss on the German side.’- L.H. CROOK. (more…)

Even the Boy Scouts are helping the war effort

Young men and boys from Reading St John were serving the country at home and abroad:

The War
It is difficult to collect the names of all our young men who have gone to serve their country, either in Lord Kitchener’s Armies or in the Territorials. We should be very glad to have their names, with their rank and regiment, to put up with other lists in the church porches.

Many will be interested to know that our old friend, Mr. Frank Tucker has enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and Mr. Victor Fowler, who was formerly Assistant C.E.T.S [Church of England Temperance Society] Secretary, has joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. Also that Messrs. H.J. Dadley and W.A.H. Coates, prominent members of S. John’s Cricket Club, have joined the Royal Flying Corps, and that Arthur Goodson, who went out a few years ago to Canada, is now in training at Valcartier Camp with the Canadian contingent.

The Scouts
The Troop is going strong and is keen upon rendering any public service in war time. Several boys have done quite useful work already in various ways.

The war meant even history classes were suddenly topical. Girls at a school in Abingdon were challenged by the question of the necessity of war:

9 October 1914
Debate in the afternoon – “Is War necessary?” The Resolution that War is necessary was carried by large show of hands.

Reading St John parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P172/28A/23, pp. 2 and 4); Abingdon Girls CE School log book (C/EL2/2, p. 78)