Heroes in blue and grey and a rained-off garden party

Reading Congregational Church choir entertained wounded soldiers at a garden party in July 1917. They announced the occasion in the church magazine:

The Garden Party to wounded soldiers which the choir have arranged to give instead of their usual River Trip, will be held on Wednesday, July 4th. Mr and Mrs Tyrrell have very generously placed their beautiful garden at the disposal of the choir for this function, and to them our best thanks are due for their kindness. We earnestly hope that the day may be fine, and that the “party” may be a big success in every way.

But unfortunately, the weather turned out to be a disaster. The August issue of the magazine reported on the event’s success, regardless.

CHOIR HOSPITALITY

Wednesday, July 4th was a day that will long be remembered by many of us. It was the day that had been fixed by the choir for their “Khaki” Garden Party. In other words, it was the day upon which the choir, having foregone their usual river trip for the purpose, had decided to entertain wounded soldiers from the various “War Hospitals”, in the grounds of “Rosia”, Upper Redlands Road, which had so generously been placed at their disposal by Mr and Mrs Tyrrell.
Thus it had all been arranged. But alas for “the best laid plans of mice and men!” We had counted without the weather. When the day arrived it was very soon evident that the steady downpour of rain would upset all calculations, and that garden parties would be out of the question. It was terribly disappointing, but there was no help for it. And so our energetic choir master and Miss Green were early abroad, with a view to an in-door gathering at Broad Street. It was no easy task they had to perform, but it was successfully accomplished, and by the time the visitors arrived everything was in readiness for their reception.

Shortly before 2.30 p.m. the “heroes in blue and grey”, brought by trams specially chartered for the purpose, began to troop in, and in a short time the schoolroom was crowded. It was a thoroughly good-natured company, intent upon making the most of their opportunities; and no time was lost in setting to work. Games and competitions were immediately started, and proceeded merrily, in a cloud of smoke from the cigarettes kindly provided by Mr Tyrrell.

At 4.15 a halt was called whilst preparations were made for tea. There was an adjournment to the church, where, for half an hour, Miss Green, assisted by members of the choir, “discoursed sweet music”. On returning to the Schoolroom the guests were delighted to find that ample provision had been made for their refreshment, and they did full justice to the good things provided.

After tea there was an impromptu concert in which the honours were divided between hosts and guests, selections from “Tom Jones” and other items by the choir being interspersed with “contributions” by the men themselves. It was a thoroughly happy time, and 7 o’clock came all too quickly.

Shortly before the close of the proceedings Mr Rawlinson voiced the general regret that the weather had interfered with the arrangements originally made, but hoped the visitors had all enjoyed themselves; and Mr Harvey expressed the indebtedness of the choir to Mr and Mrs Tyrrell, Mr and Mrs Brain, and other friends for the help they had given with the undertaking. Rousing cheers were given for Mr Harvey, the choir, and all concerned, for the hospitality provided, and after partaking of light refreshments in the shape of fruit, mineral waters, etc, the visitors made their way to the trams that were waiting for them, thoroughly pleased with the good time they had enjoyed.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, July and August 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A real “Godsend” to the boys

Churchgoers in Reading and Windsor paid for a recreation “Hut” behind the front lines.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions list

Ptes. W.G. Pearce, 2nd Worcestershire Regt,; H.A.T. Wicks, 33rd Training Reserve Batt,; H.W. March, 47th Canadians.

Missing: Lce,-Cpl. Harold Walker.

Sick and Wounded: Pte Green; Pte. Bailey.

Departed: Lce,-Cpl. J. Cole; Gunner W. Shaw. R.I.P.

C.E.M.S.

The following report has been received about the Reading and Windsor Federation Hut.

“Everything has been done to make this Hut one of the most attractive and comfortable in this area. Crowds of men pass through daily, and much use is made of the stationary Literature, and Games provided for their comfort. Concerts are held, Lantern Services and Voluntary services of all kinds. It’s a real “Godsend” to the boys.”

Subscriptions are still needed to supply the above Hut. And will be gratefully received by the Hon. Sec. Mr. Lane, 5/-

H.J. HINDERLEY, Hon. Sec.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

Conspicuous bravery

A member of Reading’s Broad Street Church was awarded a medal.

The news that our friend, 2nd Lieut. Victor Smith, had won the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery at the Battle of Arras, has caused considerable pleasure throughout our whole community. Lieut. Smith has a host of friends and well-wishers at Broad Street, who hold him in the highest regard for his own sake, as well as for his work’s sake. They rejoice in his new honour. I wish to offer heartiest possible congratulations to Lieut. Smith and our earnest hope and prayer that he may be spared for many years to enjoy his new distinction….

Sunday June 17th is the day fixed for the Annual Choir Festival this year, when special music will be rendered by the choir at both morning and evening worship…

For many years now the members of the choir have been entertained to a River Trip, the expenses incurred being met, in large part, by the collections taken at the Festival. This year, owing to the conditions brought about by the war, they have decided to forego this outing. Instead they propose to invite a number of wounded soldiers to a Garden Party at which tea will be served and a concert provided. The cost of this entertainment will be more than usual, as it will be impossible to invite friends to buy tickets and thus share the expense.

We feel sure that the congregation will appreciate this patriotic desire of the choir members, and encourage them in their good work by giving generously to the collections.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Bread and butter, yes! real butter at khaki socials

Reading Congregational Church reports on another winter’s worth of entertaining soldiers.

KHAKI SOCIALS

Now that the Khaki Socials have ended for the season, a short report may be of interest to those who read the magazine.

The winter season started on Sunday October 8th 1916, and continued every Sunday until May 6th 1917, a total (including Good Friday) of 32 Socials. At first they were not attended as well as could be expected, but after a while they became more widely known, and many nights the room has been quite crowded. The average attendance for the season was about sixty soldiers, besides others who came in as “friends”.

One of the chief features of the socials has been the refreshments, which were always appreciated by the Khaki boys, especially the thin pieces of bread and butter, yes! real butter.

The singing of the Fellowship Hymns was much enjoyed, special favourites being “All Hail the Power”, “Fight the Good Fight” and “Lead, kindly Light”, which were often selected by the men themselves, and couldn’t they sing, too!

The “tone” of the concerts was well maintained throughout the season, thanks to the various kind friends who have rendered help in this way.

The financial side of the Socials has been rather heavy, on account of the extra cost of foodstuffs. Consequently there is a deficit of several pounds.

The average cost per social was about 12/-, and it is estimated that nearly 2.000 Tommies attended and received refreshments during the season, so the committee cannot be accused of “over-feeding” at any rate.

There is now a splendid opportunity for two or three generous friends to send along their donations to wipe off the deficiency.

It would take too much space to say what I should like to say about all the friends who have helped so splendidly; but there are two or three who certainly should be mentioned. First is our Minister, Mr Rawlinson, who has presided on most nights, and has done more than anyone to cheer and brighten the meetings. It is not everyone who, after a strenuous day’s work, would undertake this extra work, but Mr Rawlinson has done it and done it cheerfully. Then Mr and Mrs J Ford and Mrs Witcombe, the “Food Controllers”, must be mentioned for their splendid services. Always behind the scenes, yet always on the spot and ready. They never once failed to supply even the “sugar”. Then our best thanks are due to one who, although not on the committee, has done good work as welcomer and door keeper. I refer to Mr J Owen. Some of the men got quite used to his welcome “how a-r-r-e you?”, especially the “Welsh Boys”.

What we should have done without Mrs Dracup and Miss Green in the musical department of the work, it is difficult to think. They have been a real help, and each deserves the silver medal for “services rendered”.

Besides those mentioned, the Khaki Socials Committee consisted of the following, all of whom have done their share of the work:
Mr Nott, Mrs Hendey, Mrs Woolley, Mr and Mrs Tibble, Mr A S Hampton and Mr Swallow, Mr Hendey as treasurer, and Mr W A Woolley as secretary.

The same committee has been re-elected to arrange Garden Parties, River Trips, etc, for the wounded soldiers during the summer months. Friends wishing to help in this good work should communicate with the secretary, who will be pleased to book up dates and make arrangements.

W A Woolley

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

The Committee hope to send a present out shortly to every Ascot man serving abroad

Ascot ladies teamed up with trainee pilots to raise funds for Easter gifts for the village’s servicemen.

ASCOT SAILORS AND SOLDIERS COMMITTEE.

Thanks to the help of several ladies in the neighbourhood, and to members of the R.F.C., two of the best entertainments ever given in Ascot took place on 16th and 17th April and on both occasions the parish room was crowded, and the singing and acting were greatly appreciated.

The funds of the Committee have in consequence received an addition of £24 9s. 2d. (provided the entertainment tax is refunded, for which application has been made) and the Committee hope to send a present out shortly to every Ascot man serving abroad.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

Once again are the rooms at Trinity thrown open to the boys in “Khaki”

Reading was once again a centre for soldiers in training. They found a warm wecome in local churches.

The Soldiers Club

Once again are the rooms at Trinity thrown open to the boys in “Khaki,” and so familiar is the scene that it is hard to realise that an interval of eighteen months lies between the two occasions.
This time, even more strongly than before, was the doubt of actual need expressed a doubt which has long ago dispelled, not only by the attendance, but by the very words of the men. It was arranged that the rooms should be open at six o’clock, but long before that time many men arrived eager to enjoy the comforts of the washing accommodation. Here they can have an unlimited supply of hot water a luxury more appreciated than anything else and they can shave, clean their shoes, and polish their buttons. The writing room is well patronised, crowded on Sundays, and the post-box provided, which is cleared at intervals corresponding to the town collections, has proved a great convenience.

The scene in the schoolroom itself is of a homely character, which evidently attracts the men we desire to help. In fact, we are told that among Trinity is designated as “Home,” and the following conversation is common: “Where are you going to-night? “Oh to the little home. I’ll see you there.” Could one wish for any higher appreciation.

The billiard table is the great attraction, and never without players, whilst draughts, bagatelle, chess, and cards are freely indulged in. Our Pastor frequently gives up his valuable time to play chess with our guests, and his visits are always appreciated by the men. Many of the men are musical, and an evening rarely passes without music of some sort, often an excellent repertoire. Other quieter spirits find enjoyment in a perusal of the magazines and papers provided, or in a chat round the fire.

On two occasions a whist-drive has given great pleasure, and once a very successful concert was arranged by a party of our soldier friends.

The refreshment canteen is a very attractive feature; the men much enjoyed the good things provided, and hailing with special delight anything “home-made.”

Incidentally, ministering to sore throats and heavy colds, bandaging fingers, and repairing clothes, promotes the home feeling so much appreciated, and makes the men realise they are among friends who desire to meet every want as far as lies in their power.

On Sunday the schoolroom (in order not to disorganize the Sunday school work) is closed to the men until four o’clock. At that hour they eagerly troop in, arrange themselves in little groups, and chat or read until 4.20, when tea is served at a charge of 4d, followed by cigarettes. It is good to see their evident enjoyment of the fare provided, and to hear their expressions of thanks. Many respond to the invitation to join in the evening service, after which there is usually a short concert and a free supper of coffee, cakes, pastries, etc.

Our grateful thanks are tendered to all who so kindly send cakes, papers, etc., or who contribute to the musical programme, and we would welcome additions to their number. This article closes with a letter sent by one of our guests after leaving for another camp, which is a striking testimony to the place Trinity has in their memories.

Halton Camp West.

Dear Mr. Maggs,

I do hope you will not think me unkind for not writing before, but I have been shifting about all over this Camp. We are still waiting to be posted away; some of the boys have gone, some to York and New Forest and various other stations. We are about four miles from Tring; the Rothschilds have a fine place there, and today we have been over the private museum of animals, fishes, etc., of every description. But our one great loss is our kind friends at Reading, of whom we are never tired of talking. The kindness you all showed to me and the happy evenings I spent at Trinity will always be to me one of my most treasured memories, and I am quite sure that the example and the spirit which prompts it can only come from the true love of Christ.
Please remember me to all my kind friends, and may God bless you all in your noble work, and again thanking you for all you did for me,

I remain,

Your affectionate friend,

F. White.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, March 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

Much pleasure for children and wounded soldiers

Maidenhead children entertained wounded soldiers – possibly those confined to their beds and unable to attend the more elaborate entertainments elsewhere.


21st February 1917

Some of the bigger children were taken to the Red + Hospital at 5 p.m. to give a short entertainment (of work done in school) to the soldiers. Afterwards they distributed fruit, cigarettes & eggs which had been collected in school. This small effort gave much pleasure to children and men.

Log book of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1, p. 388)

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)

In all respects excellent

Schoolchildren in Ascot put on a concert to raise money for gifts to send servicemen.

ENTERTAINMENT.

A miscellaneous programme of songs, drills and tableaux was given by the girls and infants of our Schools at the Parish Room on Friday, February 16th, under the direction of Miss Clark and Miss Durrant. The performance was in all respects excellent, and was most pleasing to the large audience present. At the conclusion a collection was taken for or “Sailors and Soldiers Parcel Fund,” which realised £1 16s., after the hire of the room was paid for.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, March 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/3)

Cats bless food restrictions

John Maxwell Image wrote to his old friend W F Smith with news of how food rationing was affecting his household, including the pets cats, formerly fed on scraps and leftovers, but now treated to tasty offal not fit for human consumption. Lord Devonport was the Government Food Controller. More sadly, Rudolph Cecil Hutchinson, a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, had been exceptionally severely wounded at the Battle of Loos back in 1915. After over a year’s suffering, he finally died in Cambridge in February 1917. He seems to have been generally known as Cecil. A memoir of him was published privately in 1918 and can be downloaded free.

29 Barton Road
13 Feb. ‘17

Praeclarissime EMY


The Signora … is away at a Newnham College concert, with a fair Marylander, youthful spouse of a Trinity MA, who on his part has been spirited off to scientific War Work at L’pool…

Well, as for Devonport, she accepted him enthusiastically. The hosue is put on rations of bread, meat and sugar – and so cannily that I can’t discover any difference. Helen and Ann, two excellent sisters, are devoted to their mistress’s will. Joe and Binnie bless Devonport all day, for, obviously, the house-meat cannot any longer be cast to the cats: so special supplied – I trust not 5 lb weekly – of lights and such like dainties come in for their use and behoof. Their little barrels bulge – and the 2 tails are rolling pins for size.

We have for many months baked our own bread – the best standard bread I ever ate! 12 lbs of flour produces a long loaf each day, which is bisected each morning, one half for the parlour and one for the kitchen. Helen, who is the surgeon, rigorously adheres to the Devonport law, and always I see some over on our table at night. The only difficulty is there being so very, very little flour for puddings. I don’t mind, and the petticoats don’t grouse….

We had a military funeral in Trinity this morning. A BA Lieut. There must have been over 100 troops – the coffin on a gun carriage, draped with the Union Jack. The first part of the service in Chapel at 11.45. And then the procession – band playing (very poorly) the Dead March went down Trin. St and Trin. Lane, through the Paddocks. Rudolph Cecil Hopkinson, Lieut. RE – died of wounds on Feb. 9th.

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

No charge

A concert version of the opera Tom Jones in aid of YMCA war work was performed in Reading Town Hall by the choir of Broad Street Congregational Church. (A report of the concert appeared in the Berkshire Chronicle on 2 February 1917.)

Our Choirmaster (Mr F W Harvey) and the members of the choir are to be congratulated upon the pronounced success of their concert on January 31st. it was a great achievement to attract once more an audience which filled the large Town Hall…

The following Saturday [3 February], the programme was repeated for the wounded soldiers, nurses and orderlies from the various War Hospitals in the district…. There was no charge for admission on this occasion, as the expenses for the full orchestra, etc, had been met by a collection taken at the close of the original concert, supplemented by contributions from a number of friends.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, March 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Not many at sale for wounded Frenchmen

Sydney Spencer was ill – just in time for Christmas at home.

Sydney Spencer
December 14, 1916

I go home on 12 days sick leave.

Not every effort to raise money to support the war was well attended.

Florence Vansittart Neale
14 December 1916

Bubs & I went to Bear Place for Dottie’s sale for French wounded. Glee singers from Windsor & Eton. Not many people there.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

We do not forget

The Bishop congratulated the Revd T Guy Rogers, the Reading vicar turned army chaplain, on being awarded a medal for bravery.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

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

Your prayers are asked especially
For the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For our allies and especially for Roumania [sic].
For the National Mission…

Your thanksgivings are asked…
For the liberation of the Missionaries in German East Africa.

THE DIFFICULTY ABOUT EVENING SERVICES

I most heartily trust that neither in town parishes nor in country parishes will the evening service on Sundays be abandoned without a very strong effort to carry it on under conditions of lighting which the police can sanction…

THE DEFINITION OF RESIDENCE FOR PURPOSES OF BANNS

I wish to call attention again to the ruling under which I act, given by my Chancellor… to the effect that a person’s normal home where he or she is known may be reckoned as place of residence, though the person in question is at the moment absent whether on military service or for some other purpose.

We are all delighted to know that Mr Guy Rogers has been given the Military Cross. We do not forget him.

COMFORTS FOR THE TROOPS

I have received a letter from the Director General of Voluntary Organisations expressing great anxiety as to the sufficient supply of comforts for the troops, such as mittens, mufflers, helmets and socks, especially the three first. I am asked to ‘secure the co-operation of the clergy’ in my dioceses to make the anxiety known. The following are depots of the V.O.A. in this diocese…

Berkshire: W. C. Blandy, esq, 1 Friar Street, Reading…
Reading: D. Haslam, jun., esq, 16 Duke Street, Reading…

C. OXON

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

William Monger, George Slaughter, William Hewett, Harold Hales, Cecil Hales, William Brown, Albert Bishop, George O’Dell, Frederick Eady, Herbert Ballard, Alfred Clibbon, George Breakspear, Albert Gray, Harry Rixon, Walter Rosser, Rupert Wigmore, William Butler, Walter Drown, Percy Prater.

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

Killed: Percy Wyer, Walter May, Ernest Bishop.
Sick: Edward Iles, Charles Webb, William Wright.
Wounded: William Holmes, Frank, Fowler, Harry Merry, Arthur Morrice, Leonard Strong.
Wounded and Missing: Frank Snellgrove.
Missing: Edward Taylor.

CONCERT IN ST PETER’S HALL

On Wednesday, November 29th, there will be a concert in St Peter’s Hall to help provide funds for giving a Christmas Dinner and Entertainment to a party of Wounded Soldiers. Mr E. Love and party are working up an excellent programme, and we hope our readers will help to make the concert a great success by supporting it as much as they can.

Earley parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/11)

“Our Heavenly Father is enriching this parish with heroes of self-sacrifice”

There was news of several Ascot men, including a report by one man of life as a prisoner of war in Germany.

THE WAR

We have to announce that Charles Edwards has laid down his life in the service of his country. Ascot has real reason to be proud of him. Upright, courageous, a communicant of the Church, a member of a family universally respected, he leaves behind him not alone our heartfelt sense of sorrow for the withdrawal of a true and noble young life, but an ideal to be reverently set before us of what a GOD fearing young Englishman can attain to. Our Heavenly Father is enriching this parish with heroes of self-sacrifice, even unto death. May we humbly value to the utmost so priceless a dowry. The whole district should be raised to a higher level of life by the example and the prayers of young men of the type of Arthur Jones and Charles Edwards. R.I.P.

OUR WOUNDED.

Victor Edwards (brother of the above), Reginald Smith and Arthur Taylor are reported wounded. All three are doing well.

THE ASCOT SAILORS’ AND SOLDIERS’ COMMITTEE state that since the commencement of the war 136 in all appear to have gone abroad from Ascot in the service of their country, and of that 110 are now serving abroad. 15 are in the Navy, 72 reported in France, 16 on the Mediterranean, 1 in Mesopotamia, 4 in India and 2 prisoners. Parcels were sent in June to those who appeared to require them: and similar parcels are now being sent, and in addition special parcels are now being sent to those in the Navy. The thoughts of all of us will go out to those in France at this strenuous time.

AT MOST of our Garrisons in England there are no Army Churches, and efforts are now being made, with the approval of the Deputy Chaplain-General, to raise a Fund for building a Church at Bordon Camp, near Aldershot, in memory of the Great War, and as a memorial to those who have fallen. Donations to this Fund will be gratefully received and acknowledged by W. H. Tottie, Esq., Sherlocks, Ascot.

ASCOT PRISONERS OF WAR.

We have good news from our Prisoners, who write to say they receive their parcels regularly and in good order. The following quotation from Private Richard Taylor (imprisoned at Friedrichsfeld-bei-Wesel) may interest our readers. (The letter was accompanied by the photograph of a beautifully kept burial ground and its large stone central cross. Each carefully tended grave was thickly planted with flowers and had its headstone with an inlet cross and inscription.)-

“I am sending you a photo of the monument which lies in the graveyard of our dead comrades, English, French, Russian and Belgian, who have died since they have been made prisoners. The money was raised by having concerts and charging from ten to forty pfennigs (otherwise from a penny to four-pence.)”

The letter continues: “One night we were playing a nice game at whist, and a parson came in and had a chat with us, and asked us if we should like to go to Church. Of course we all agreed, and on the same night we marched down to the village to Church and spent a very nice hour. And the parson is an Englishman, but he is allowed a passport to travel about Germany. He had some books with the short service, and some well-known hymns in them.”

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, August 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/8)

The difference between fair terms & absolute surrender

The son of the vicar of Radley, Captain Austin Longland was serving in Salonika with the Wiltshire Regiment, where he struggled with the heat, but hoped the Germans were about to give in.

Thursday July 6th [1916]

Temperature in here continues at 95-105 degrees I’m told by the doctor. Also I’ve just had my 2nd dose of typhoid & perityphoid inoculations & have a day off duty in consequence. Twice clouds have gathered, & once we had a violent storm of thunder & lightning but never a drop of rain. Needless to say all beauty’s gone. The sun glares down, trying the eyes, and our view of the town is blurred by a continuous cloud of fine grey dust. I have told you that from the sea up to the hills the ground rises steadily till the last steep ascent, & we’re therefore, tho’ considerably below the level of the actual hills, some height above the town which is about 5 miles away. We are to the left of the road this time, but we can see the sites of our 2 early camps and get a rather different view of the town & the citadel. You remember the shock I had on returning our bivouacs last Sunday fortnight & finding them gone and all my kit packed. My first idea then was that we were going forward – first stop Nish or Sofia, but when it was known that we were to march back over the hills no one knew what to expect.

The men were more cheerful than I’ve seen them in this country – all firmly persuaded that they were going back to France – an opinion which I hadn’t the heart to discourage, but did not hold myself.
Since then nothing has happened. From about 6 to 6.45 each day in the morning the battalion does its old physical drill, & parade which the officers, except Waylen who takes it, do not attend, going out instead to study tactics with the NCOs, each company by itself. This lasts 6 till 9. Three days a week we go a route march from 5-8 a.m. In the evening we parade from 5.45 till 6.15. doing physical exercises gain, officers & all – & that is the day. The NCOs class was ordered by the Brigade & is most useful – tho’ of course it’s what we ought to have done at Marlboro’. So from 9 till 5.45 every day & from 6.30 onwards we have nothing to do except sit in our hut.

Wood as usual is scarce, so there’s not chance to make a chair. At present I am seated on 2 sand-bags, which raises one off the ground a bit. We have a hut for a common room, but tho’ it has forms and a table, it’s very hot & full of flies. Here the flies grew so unbearable that I ordered yards of muslin from the town & with its aid we ae at last at peace. We feed in a hut off a sand bag table & seated on sand bag seats. I’ve just been busy trying to make that fly-proof – harder but even more necessary. If you sit still for a moment you can always count over 50 on the plate in front of you.
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