Not much to grumble at

The Governor of Reading Prison was defensive about complaints about the food put forward by one of the Irish internees.

Place of Internment
Reading
29 May 1918

W L Cole

1. The Commissioners’ instructions are – no letters in or out – no visits.

2. When formerly here, the Home Office allowed parcels of food &c. Now food is controlled & parcels mean letters to acknowledge.

3. By Commissioners’ orders these men were on Local Prison diet. This does not carry tea or coffee. Further as tea is rationed in Reading, 1 ½ oz per head per week, they could not buy it without coupons, and they cannot write [for it]. Now the diet has been altered – as for the remainder of the interned aliens – they can have tea for breakfast or coffee.

4. They receive 3 ½ oz a head a week, the same as other interned men – Reading maximum ration is 4 oz per week. They receive 14 oz of bread daily, the same as other men. Cereals are limited to 117 oz a head a week.

5. They receive potatoes daily and on most days of the week a second vegetable – leeks – or something else as well – where procurable.

I will give their food today – not much to grumble at. They can supplement that by purchasing non controlled articles.

Breakfast – 6 oz bread, 1 pint porridge, ¼ oz margarine, 1 pint coffee.

Dinner – 2 oz bread, 1 ½ oz salt pork, 4 oz haricot beans, 16 oz potatoes, 4 oz stewed rhubarb (fresh), 4 oz leeks (from garden).

Supper – 5 oz bread, 1 pint cocoa, ¼ oz margarine, 6 oz potatoes, 1 ½ oz salt pork (alternatively with cheese).

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

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The wounded soldiers are no longer able to get the cup of tea in the afternoon which they so much enjoyed

The Broad Street Chapel premises had been hosting soldiers since the start of the war. But shortages of food – and, worse, tea – were putting a dampener on things.

Our work amongst the soldiers has been somewhat interrupted by a new Army Regulation which precludes the provision of refreshments to soldiers, except between the hours of 6.30 and 9.0 pm. This means that the wounded soldiers are no longer able to get the cup of tea in the afternoon which they so much enjoyed. Nor can they be supplied with food of any kind. Coffee and cocoa may still be served; but these are not regarded as a satisfactory substitute for the “cup which cheers, etc”. Consequently we have very few men in the rooms which formerly were crowded.

We have to admit that the regulation is reasonable in view of the food shortage, and we can only hope that our wounded friends will soon get accustomed to the near [mistake for new?] conditions, and that we shall have them back again.

Men and women in khaki still crowd the rooms each evening, though they are now strictly rationed.

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

The happy faces of the Tommies

Reading churchgoers’ support made all the difference for men at the front.

Church News
An Echo from “Our Hut”

The following letter of unsolicited appreciation from one frequenter of the Trinity Y.M.C.A. Hut will be read with interested by all. It was sent to our Church Secretary, Mr. Brain. December 9th, 1917.

“Dear Sir

“I Feel I should like to express and I know my comrades here will share the same sentiments with me, my appreciation of your kindness in providing the Y.M.C.A. hut for us. Your congregation cannot realise to the full extent the great boon and blessing it proves to our men out here. It is a great convenience to be able to go in the hut of an evening and have a chat and a cup of cocoa. It breaks the monotony of the life out here.

Concerts are frequently held in the hut, which on such occasions is always packed. Last night’s concert was packed to overflowing, and the cigarettes, cocoa and biscuits which were provided through the generosity of the members of your congregation were greatly appreciated, they came as a surprise, and if the donors could have seen the happy faces of the Tommies, they would be more than compensated for their kindness.

“Mr Harrison who has proved a most popular leader and who has always been kindness itself will be telling you in more forceful language than mine, the benefits of the hut, so wishing all your members a most happy Christmas and prosperous New Year,

“Believe me, yours gratefully,

“Jas. W. Waters,

“No. 165,208, 88th Brigade,
“R.F.A.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, February 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

The finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area

A Reading church sponsored a place of recreation for soldiers at the front.

“Words Fail Us.”

Such are the words used on a Christmas card by the Y.M.C.A. to convey their deep gratitude to all who have helped in the erection of Huts in France and elsewhere. The words may be even more fittingly used to emphasise the desperate need for these buildings, and we rejoice in having been privileged to take part in this good work. It will be remembered that soon after our pastor’s return from France in March of last year, he announced his wish to erect a Y.M.C.A. hut, and was met by so gratifying a response from his many friends in Trinity and elsewhere that, by the end of August it was being used by our fighting men on the Western “Front.” This month, by the help of the above-mentioned Christmas card, we are able to show our readers a picture of our own hut.

It is situated La Clytte, about 4.5 miles south-west of Ypres and within three miles of the front firing-line very, very near danger. It is by the side of a road, along which is passing a continual stream of men to and from the trenches. Near by is a rest camp, into which the men are drafted after having served a certain time actually in the line. Hence our Hut, capable of accommodating from two hundred to three hundred men, meets the very real need of a large number of men actually in “the thick of it.”

The picture represents its actual appearance from outside, which resembles many other Y.M. Huts, but the interior is most beautifully and artistically decorated with about 250 coloured pictures, with the result that Mr. Holmes (Sec. Y.M.C.A. 2nd Army) pronounces it to be the finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area. For this proud distinction we must thank its present leader, Mr Cecil Dunford, who is an artist, and so in touch with colour-printing firms. To him, too, we are indebted to him for our picture. His helpers are the Rev. Eric Farrar, son of Dean Farrar a most interesting fact and the Rev. Herbert Brown, Chaplain to the Embassy at Madrid.

At Christmas-time, our thoughts flew naturally to the men in our Hut, and Mr Harrison, anticipating our wishes, telegraphed that a sum of £20 was to be spent on festivities. It will interest all to hear what was done.

On Christmas Eve a Carol service took place, assisted by a regimental band, followed by a distribution of free gifts and cake. On Christmas Day the Hut was crowded for service at 10 a.m., and 45 men present at Holy Communion. From 12-1 a free distribution of cakes and tea was enjoyed. An afternoon concert was held, after which the men were again supplied with tea and cakes. At 6.30 p.m. a very informal concert was held, interspersed with games and amusing competitions ducking for apples bobbing in a pail of water, drawing in to the mouth a piece of toffee tied to a long string held between the teeth, pinning blindfold a moustache to the Kaiser’s portrait, etc. Free drinks and tobacco were again distributed, and after three hearty cheers for the people of Reading, the National Anthem brought a memorable day to a close.

To the men this day was a bright spot in their cheerless, dangerous life, and their enjoyment is depicted by Mr Dunford in some clever sketches one of a man straight from the line, in a tin helmet and with pack on his back, beaming happily at a steaming mug of cocoa, and murmuring “Good ‘ealth to the Y.M.”; another man, whose swelled cheek testifies to the huge mouthful of sandwich (evidently “tres bon!” in quality and quantity), wittily designated “an attach in force on the salient.” To the helpers the Christmas festivities evidently proved exhausting as shown by two laughable sketches of utter collapse, one worker clinging feebly to a post, the other being dragged along the floor to a place of rest. Yet we venture to think that even they, with us, rejoice to do something to brighten the lot of our brave boys in khaki.


Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: magazine, February 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Pray and pray again yet more earnestly for the triumph of right over wrong

Warfield men were grateful for their Christmas gifts. Those serving in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) were treated to plum puddings, while those in France got tobacco.

VICAR’S LETTER

MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS,

I have received most grateful letters from nearly all our Warfield Soldiers and Sailors for the Christmas presents sent them by the parishioners, most of them reflecting great credit on the packers, as the cake appears to have arrived in a perfect condition, although no tins or boxes were used. I am giving you this issue a statement of accounts given to me by our treasurer, Miss Hardcastle. Only one parcel seems to have missed its destination and found its way back to me. They all seem to be looking forward to spending their next Christmas at home.

This makes me think of the national mission, and is result on the nation. What are its results on each of us personally? How far may each one of us be hindering its great accomplishment by lack of self consecration? How far is each one wilfully tying the hands of a loving God? Think of this, and pray and pray again yet more earnestly for the triumph of right over wrong, but let us all see to it that our hearts are right with God.

Yours affectionately in Christ,

WALTER THACKERAY

CHRISTMAS FUND FOR OUR SOLDIERS AND SAILORS.

At a public meeting on November 13th the following Committee was elected to make arrangements for the above: the Vicar, Messrs. H. Crocker, H. Lawrence, Mrs. Crailsham, Mrs. Dyer, Mrs. Thackeray and Miss Hardcastle (Treasurer). The total sum subscribed amounted to £25 3s. 7d., made up as follows:-

Balance from 1915 £3 2 0
Whist Drive 2 7 3
Dance 1 1 2
Subscriptions 17 4 8
Balance from Sir C. Brownlow’s
Testimonial 0 8 6

The total number of parcels sent was 107; Mesopotamia, Salonika, Egypt and India, 21; France, 42; Home Camps, 33; Navy, 11.

Contents of parcels for Mesopotamia etc: Socks and plum pudding and Warfield picture card.

For France and Navy: socks, cake, cocoa, chocolate, handkerchief, Warfield picture card and tobacco.

For Home camps: same as for France, except mittens instead of socks.

Total spent on parcels £19 5 5½
Postage 4 6 1½
Balance in hand 1 10 0
───────────
£25 3 7

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/2)

A picture postcard of Warfield for Christmas

Soldiers from Bracknell, Chavey Down and Warfield were among those to get Christmas gifts from home.

Bracknell

A scheme has been arranged under which a Christmas present will be sent to all our men from Bracknell parish who are on active service, either in Navy or Army.

A Committee has been formed to collect the necessary funds, and very many people have gladly contributed. There are now about 200 men on active service, so that it is no light task to do up and despatch the parcels. The Chavey Down parcels are packed by Miss Lang with others to help, and the Bracknell parcels are done up by a number of kind people who meet at the Vicarage Parish Room. A letter is sent in each parcel to explain that it is a small gift sent from friends at home, as a token that our husbands, sons and brothers, who are fighting for us, are never forgotten.

Warfield

Warfield Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Presents Fund seems a long title. Last year we had two funds running, one in connection with the Brownlow Hall Club, the other for non-members of the same. This year there has been an amalgamation, and through liberal donations from one and all, the sum has nearly reached £20. May I state here, in the event of this coming for the first time to the notice of any of our friends, that the Secretary and Treasurer to the Fund is Miss Hardcastle, Rectory House, Warfield, by whom further donations will be thankfully received. We are chiefly sending socks, mittens, cocoa, chocolate and cake, and a picture postcard of Warfield containing 8 views.

Winkfield District Magazine, December 1916 (D/P151/28A/12)

The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.

O.R. NEWS.

Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”

(more…)

When the evening shadows fall: a valuable service for soldiers in Maidenhead

Maidenhead Congregational Church continued to provide a homely environment for off-duty soldiers billeted locally.

OUR SOLDIERS’ CLUB ROOM.
The room continues to be thronged every evening, and is undoubtedly doing a most valuable service for the men. There is always a large number engaged in letter-writing, for which paper and envelopes, ink and pens are provided free. The five bagatelle tables are never idle, the piano has little time for rest when the evening shadows fall; the news-papers and magazines are well thumbed. The ladies at the refreshment buffet take about £5 weekly, mostly in half-pence, for coffee, tea, cocoa, Oxo, buns, cakes and cigarettes. The B.W.T.A. ladies in the mending room “take in washing,” and see that it is returned darned and patched up. Two Concerts and a Conjuring Entertainment have been thrown in as extras, and other delights of a similar character are in process of being arranged.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, March 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Tins and money for Serbia

The people of Wrgrave gave generously in support of our hard pressed allies in Serbia.

Servian [sic] Relief Fund

The Collections at the Parish Church on Christmas Day Amounted to £15 2s. 6d.

Miss Rhodes acted as Secretary in Wargrave to assist Mrs. Noble in her collection of tinned foods. People were invited to bring contributions to the Parish Church on Sunday, January 23rd, and a great quantity of things was given:- Many pounds of Cocoa, Coffee, Tea, and Benger’s Food; Tins of Fish, Bacon, Sausages, Beef, Soup, Beans, Biscuits, and Cakes. And £1. 16s. in cash.

Wargrave parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

“I am increasingly glad to be out here”

The minister of Trinity Congregational Church was volunteering with the YMCA in France, helping provide home comforts for thr troops, and reported to his flock at home. The Taube to which he refers was a kind of aeroplane.

News from France

Through the kindness of Mrs Harrison, we are able to print some extracts from letters telling of our Pastor’s doings. We shall all rejoice to know he is well and enjoying his novel experiences.

YMCA Hut
Near Calais
Jan. 1st-18th, 1916

Here we are, safe and sound, and already hard at work.
There are five of us helpers in this hut, – all good, good sorts!
We spend hours and hours each day serving out tea, coffee, cocoa, cigarettes, matches, chocolate, Nugget polish, boot laces, etc., to the soldiers.

By great fortune I have come across Hamilton Moss, who seems in excellent health and spirits. We were just going to have a smoke together, when I was called away to my duties, – we hope for better luck next time.

For the last two days I have been in charge of a motor transport tent, but am back again now.

This morning I have scrubbed our three cubicles, – a thing never done before at one co,- and gained great glory thereby.

It is now my afternoon out.

There are two great boilers in this hut, from which tea, coffee and cocoa are made, and all water for household purposes drawn. It is my present duty to light the kitchen fires, and keep these pots full and boiling. Scrubbing out cubicles is by no means the heaviest job nowadays. Cleaning up the back yard and the stables, and unloading big cases of provisions from the vans, is a usual morning’s work, while washing up stacks of dirty mugs is becoming second nature.

We have just had our first sight of a Taube. It came almost over our heads, and we watched the shrapnel bursting round it. It got away without doing any damage, but I am told that they brought it down further on.

It is pitch dark here at night, and getting about is a weird business. Flash-lights are indispensable. The weather is not as bad as it might be, and we have some jolly walks along the sands.
Now I am off to get hold of a stove for the rest room. I am able to get some good talks with the men in there, but the room is too bleak for words, so I must make things more comfortable if possible.

This morning, along with other sundry duties already mentioned, I had to peel the potatoes for dinner, and boil them! They were quite well done.

Our chief told us yesterday that we should most likely be sent to the Front this week. We don’t know where, as there are some thirty places under this Calais centre alone. We shall be right in things then, and have less freedom and more work. Some huts are just dug-outs within three quarters of a mile of the trenches.

I am thoroughly enjoying the work, and keeping in the best of health. I am increasingly glad to be out here.

Trinity Congregational church magazine, January 1916 (D/EX1237/1/11)

Christmas parcels

There was an interdenominational effort in Bracknell to co-ordinate sending Christmas gifts to the men at the front.

Christmas parcels have been sent to all the men who are on active service both in the Navy and the Army. The Chavey Down men received their parcels through the working party on the Down. The members of the Congregational Church and P.S.A. sent to those connected with their organizations, and the remainder, about 70 in number, were provided for by subscriptions contributed by many in Bracknell.

Grateful letters of acknowledgement have come from a large number of the men, who desire the Vicar to thank all the Bracknell friends who contributed; the contents of the parcels seem to have been much appreciated.

The parcels were packed by Mrs. Barnett at the Vicarage, with the kind assistance of Mr. Payne and Miss Hunton. The contents of the parcels were such things as biscuits in tins, cake, Oxo, potted meat, milk and cocoa, chocolate, apples, soap, candles and cigarettes.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, January 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/1)

Comfort parcels for PoWs

The people of Ascot donated generously towards parcels of food and other comforts for British PoWs in Germany.

HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICES were held at All Saints Church on Sunday, October 3rd. The Choir, though much thinned in numbers owing to the war, sung admirably, having been carefully trained by the Choirmaster, Mr. A. Tustin. The Church was beautifully decorated with flowers, fruit and vegetables. Afterwards, these offerings were distributed – the grapes to sick and aged parishioners; the apples and vegetables to the Priory Orphanage, the Nursing Home, and elsewhere.

On the previous Sunday a suggestion was made that “comfort parcels” should be sent to British prisoners in Germany. The response to this invitation was really remarkable. Cocoa (70 tins, and some tablets), biscuits (28lbs.), condensed milk (24 tins), wool and knitting needles, jams, tinned fruits and vegetables, raisins, macaroni, soap, tobacco, chocolate, peppermint, socks, etc., and gifts in money (including sixpence from a little girl who brought her coin to the Altar) were contributed and were eventually passed on to the Church Army whose officers had guaranteed that all these “comforts” should reach the prisoners safely.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine November 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/11)

Are the hens patriotic?

Ascot parishioners were encouraged to make gifts to British PoWs, and to provide nourishing, easy-to-eat eggs for the wounded at home.

It is … proposed to send (through the channel of the Church Army) an “offering from All Saints Church, Ascot,” to the British Prisoners in Germany. We would suggest packets of cocoa and chocolate, biscuits, tinned milk, peppermint, wool and knitting needles, &c. All these offerings can be brought, together with the fruit and flowers, to the Church on Saturday, October 2nd, from 10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.

ASCOT HOSPITAL EGG LEAGUE.

Have the hens forgotten? Or have the owners of the hens forgotten? Or is it the case that for a time the hens refuse to lay? But the hospital is full of wounded and sick soldiers – they badly need eggs to help them recover. Will the owners of the hens, and all whom this notice concerns, remind their hens how the hens at Sunninghill are patriotic, and send their quota of eggs in large numbers to the Hospital? Shall Sunninghill do better than Ascot? Will Magazine readers who have poultry, and eggs to spare, and who would like to become members of the Ascot Hospital Egg League, kindly send in their names and addressed to Miss La Trobe Bateman, at the Rectory – who will supply them with all information?

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 195 (D/P151/28A/7/10)