One of life’s failures

St Augustine’s Home was a home for boys in need in Clewer, run by the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist. It was not strictly speaking an orphanage, as many of the lads had at least one parent living, but they were usually in dire circumstances, and the home gave them stability. Many of the Old Boys were now serving in the armed forces, while the current residents were making little jigsaw puzzles to send to PoWs and the wounded.

A Short Notice of St Augustine’s Home for Boys, Clewer, December 1917

Roll of Honour, 1917
On Active Service

Robert Annesley
Reginald Barber
Frank Berriman
Arthur Booker
Leonard Borman
John Brown
Frank Bungard
William Carter
Percy Cattle
Robert Chippington
George Collyer
Tom Corbett
Jack Corbett
Herbert Cousins
Thomas Cox
Francis Dawes
Charles Douglas
Wilfrid Eccles
Jack Ettall
Edward Farmer
James Frame
James Farmer
Charles Fisher
Wallis Fogg
George Finlay
George Gale
Stanley Graham
Robert Gosling
John Green
John Harrison
George Houston
Ernest Howells
Fred Hunt
Albert Hudson
Arthur Hudson
William Hobart
Albert Jarman
Reginald Jarman
Joseph Kelly
Edward Lewendon
Harry Macdonald
Eric Matthews
Harry Mott
Norman Neild
Alfred Newsome
Robert Parnell
Samuel Perry
Bennie Payne
William Potter
Charles Price
George Pitt
William Robert
Claude Roebuck
Alan Sim
George Simister
Thomas Small
William Smith
Thomas Squibb
Alfred Stroud
George Tate
Graham Taylor
Albert Turnham
Jack Ware
William White
Albert Wicks
Leonard Wicks
William Wicks
Harry Wilden
Edwin Williams
Albert Worth
Leslie Worters
Fred Wright
Seldon Williams

At Rest

Walter Bungard
Albert Braithwaite
Harry Clarke
Joseph Eaves
Russell Evans
Ernest Halford
Frank Lewis
Douglas Matthews
James Matthews
Harry Pardoe
Arthur Smith
Maurice Steer
Thomas Tuckwell
Harry Worsley

A Home for Boys has a special claim on the interest of all at this time, when so many are being left orphans as a result of the war, or who are temporarily without a father’s care and discipline, and letters come very frequently containing requests for information as to the admission and maintenance of boys at St Augustine’s….


Not a man here does not wish it was over

A working class Reading soldier’s voice speaks from the trenches in a letter sent to his wife, and passed by her for publication to the magazine of Broad Street Congregational Church. Although the couple were not church members, Mrs Collyer attended a weekly social meeting for women based at the church.

The following has been handed to us for publication and we have no doubt our friends will be interested in reading a message coming practically first hand from one of our brave soldiers in the trenches.

(Extract from a letter from one of the “Berkshires” to his wife, Mrs Collyer, a member of our Women’s Social Hour: – )

Just a few lines to you again to let you know that I am still alive and kicking and I must say in pretty good health and I trust you are the same. Well, dear, I got your letters and fags and papers and pipe etc, the other day. As is the rule I got them all at the same time.

Well, my dear, if I do not write to you very often it is because I do not get the chance to write; you must forgive me. I know, dear, that it is awful for you there waiting for news but God knows it is worse here, not being able to send you any – but it is nothing but fighting day and night; it gets on your nerves. For days and days it is one continual sound like thunder only ten times worse. I am sure there is not one man out here that does not wish it was over, German or not. We have lost a lot of men this last day or so. I saw Miss D.’s brother being taken away on a stretcher the other day; I don’t think he was wounded very badly; he is only a boy, too, and there are hundreds of older men who are tired of it but they stick to it for all they are worth.

The Berkshires have made a big name for themselves but it has cost a lot for it and it is getting so cold now it is enough to perish you at times and we have nothing except our great coats. They gave us a blanket and we had it a few nights, they then took them away and we have not seen them since. We manage to keep warm sometimes with straw, etc, but there is very little of that now.
If ever I am spared to get home, and I trust to God I shall, I am going to have a week in bed.

This is the 3rd of November – you will soon be having the bonfire at home and we shall be having the fireworks – it makes me feel warm.
I should like to know what becomes of all this clothing that they get in England – we could do with some out here for I have not changed my lot since I left England. If it is not asking too much, dear, I should be very pleased if you would send me out a shirt, a khaki one is the best – I have seen some of the chaps here with them that have been sent out to them – of course do not go without anything for that purpose. Mr H. said he would send me anything if I wanted it, but you know I don’t like asking anyone for it. He asked me in his last letter to say if I had been in action or not. Will you tell him I have never been out of action except for a few days travelling.

The fighting has dropped a bit since I have been writing this; that will mean worse than ever in a short time again. Well, my dear, I must dry up for now and I will write again as soon as I can. Kiss my dear Elsie for me and give my fondest love to mother. Fondest love to yourself, dear.

Your ever loving

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, December 1914 (D/N11/12/1/14)