A welcome to returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen of the Parish

Church of England Men’s Society

On April 29th, the CEMS decided to arrange a welcome to returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen of the Parish, on the Vicarage Lawn on Saturday, June 14th. It is hoped to have a concert, a band, and light refreshments.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

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Pleasure in seeing the men safe home again and good wishes to them on their return to civilian life

Hundreds of Reading men received a warm welcome home.

April

WELCOME HOME TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS

A list of between 300 and 400 demobilised men resident in the parish or attached to the congregations has now been compiled. To each of these men a letter of welcome from the vicar is being delivered, and also an invitation to a social gathering of welcome for themselves and their wives, which is being held in St John’s Institute on April 9th. Refreshments will be provided and an attractive programme of music and recitations, and the vicar will express in a short speech his own pleasure and that of the parish in seeing the men safe home again and all our good wishes to them on their return to civilian life. Later, a service of thanksgiving for safe return will be held in St John’s Church: the date will be announced at the social meeting. There are still a great many men who have not yet returned to their homes. We shall always be glad to receive notifications of their arrival, and shall hope later on to arrange a second welcome home meant for the men who come later, and for any who may have been left out inadvertently from the present invitation.


May

WELCOME MEETING TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS.

The first welcome home to Service men held on April 9th, was voted by all concerned a very great success. A good crowd of men accepted the Vicar’s invitation and duly turned up at the Institute accompanied by their wives, or mothers, or future wives, and there was a full house. The catering, looked after by Miss Simmons, was excellently carried out and full justice was done to the good things provided. After the tea and coffee and sandwiches had been disposed of, cigarettes and tobacco were passed round, and also sweets for the ladies, and the guests settled down to enjoy a programme remarkable for the variety and the excellence of its items. Perhaps the most popular number was that contributed by the infants from S. Stephen’s School. The little people presented ‘Nursery Rhymes’ in costume and with appropriate music. They received a tremendous ovation.

Now the welcome is over we are hearing of several men who were overlooked in the invitations. We can only say that we did our level best to compile a complete list of all returned men, and that no one was left out except by the veriest accident. We shall hope to have another welcome gathering soon for men coming home later; and shall be glad if friends would send in to the Vicarage the names of all men who were overlooked on the last occasion and also of all who have returned since.


Reading St. John parish magazine, April and May 1919 (D/P172/28A/24)

More than enough money for a good new flag

Braywick
24th January 1919

The concert proved a great success and more than enough money was raised for a good new flag and supplementing the staff. Money over goes to war charities. The scholars acquitted themselves very credibly at their concert and received many notes. The Sum of £8 was the result of their efforts.

East Hagbourne
1919
Jany 24th

Having been demobilised I returned to take charge of this school today.
E J Packer

Log books of Braywick CE School (C/EL65/4); East Hagbourne School (C/EL35/2)

A new flag for Peace Day

Braywick
17th January 1919

As the school flag is worn out, we the teachers and scholars, determined to purchase a new one for ‘Peace Day’. So with the managers’ consent a half holiday was granted to-day that we might give a concert, the proceeds of which to buy a flag. Children worked very heartily with their teachers to become proficient in their plays, dances and songs and good results are hoped for.

Speenhamland
Jan 17

Visit of Francis C E Lewis of the RFA, an old boy.


Log books of Braywick CE School (C/EL65/4)
; St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

Proud to be able to give pleasure to those to whom so much is owing

Earley girls entertained wounded soldiers.

Girls’ Club

About 30 members of the club, accompanied by Miss Bowden, went up to Struan House V.A.D Hospital on Saturday Jan 11th and gace a concert and entertainment – consisting of singing and country dancing – to the wounded soldiers there. Miss Bowden contributed some popular songs with choruses to the programme, which gave great pleasure. The performers were most enthusiastically received, and all enjoyed themselves very much and felt proud to be able to give pleasure to those to whom so much is owing.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P192/28A/15)

There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front

Broad Street Church put on a concert in aid of men blinded at the front.

December

CHOIR CONCERT

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, our choir will hold its twenty-second annual concert. We have been fortunate, by the kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle, in securing the Large Town Hall. This year we propose to repeat the concert version of “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co), which was rendered two years ago. This is the sixth concert we have given for war charities, and this year the call for the co-operation of all our friends is more urgent than ever. We propose to devote the proceeds of the concert to St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, where there are many hundreds of our soldiers who have been blinded during the war. Surely this cause is one which will appeal to the heart of everybody. This will be the happiest Christmas that many of us have known for four years; can we not try to make it brighter for those brave fellows, who, away from their own homes, will miss the usual good cheer of Christmastide?


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On behalf of our Blinded Heroes

There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front, all of them young men who have been deprived of their sight at the very outset of life. We have at St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, many hundreds of thses Blinded Soldiers.

Christmastide will soon be with us. We want to make this Xmas as bright and happy as possible for these brave men. Away from home and relatives, they will sadly miss the usual cheer and comforts. Will you please help to give them something of Xmas gladness in return for what they have so nobly done for us all?

BLINDED FOR YOU, WILL YOU NOT CARE FOR THEM?

Broad Street Congregational Church Choir
22nd Annual Concert, 6th Concert for War Charities

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, 1918, in the Large Town Hall (by kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle)

The concert version of German’s Opera “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co) will be rendered by the Choir

Artistes

Mrs E. C. Dracup
Miss M. Phillips
Miss M. Tyrrell
Mr Muir Millar
Mr H. J. Collier
Full Band & Chorus
Leader: Miss Lily Davis, ATCL
Conductor: Mr F. W. Harvey

Tickets: West balcony, three front rows, 3/-; three back rows, 2/4; front area, 2/4. All numbered and reserved.
Unreserved: side balconies and area. 1/3; admission 8d.
May be obtained of Messrs Barnes & Avis, members of the Choir, at at the doors.
Doors open at 7 o’clock. Commence 7.30.

January

CHOIR CONCERT

The concert given by our Church Choir in the Town Hall on Wednesday, December 18th, in aid of our blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s, was an unqualified success in every way. As the Berkshire Chronicle said:

“It was gratifying to see such a large audience, not emrely on account of the excellence of the object, but as a recognition of the persevering efforts of the choir, which has done so much to brighten us all up during the depressing period of the war. The performance was also in every way worthy of the large gathering.”

Edward German’s “Tom Jones” was the work presented, and the various solos were most capably rendered by Mrs E. C. Dracup, Miss M. Phillips, Miss Muriel Tyrrell, Mr Muir Millar, and Mr Harry Collier. Valuable assistance was also given by Mr and Mrs G. F. Attwood, Mrs Newbery, Mr waite, and the very efficient orchestra led by Miss Lily Davies, ATCL.

“The choir work maintained a high standard, the chorus singing with fine intelligence and unfailing vivacity; the tone was good and nicely contrasted and the balance well preserved. The work of the orchestra did justice to the inherent beauties of the score.”

We all felt tremendously proud of our choir, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor (Mr F. W. Harvey) on the accomplishment of another triumph. When the accounts are made up there ought to be a considerable sum for the very worthy object for which the concert was promoted to help.

February

By their concert given in the Town Hall on December 18th, the Church Choir raised the sum of £52 for the blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s. This is a highly satisfactory result. Altogether, during the period of the war, the choir has raised in this way over £240 for War Charities. This is a record of which any choir might justly feel proud, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor, Mr F. W. Harvey, and all who were associated with it.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918 -February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Some garments are still needed for our men at the front

9th – 13th December

Mistress could not undertake the usual quarterly examinations, as there has been so much sickness about and the attendances irregular owing to holidays for blackberrying in autumn, then illness with a month closure and lately heavy rains that it seemed more to the children’s advantage to teach those present, than to examine intelligent scholars. This week rain made sad havoc with the attendances, also many of the girls were taking part in various war concerts which necessitated their absence on afternoon, so that it seems almost impossible to make much progress…
The elder girls are busily engaged in their spare time producing some comforts for our men at the front. Some garments are still needed there.

Braywick CE School log book (C/EL65/4, p. 212)

A club for ex sailors and soldiers on similar lines to the Recreation Huts so popular overseas

Ascot wanted to continue supporting servicemen after their return home.

The concert arranged by the R.A.F. in the Cinema on December 11th, in aid of our Christmas Presents for Men in the Navy and those serving overseas, was a great success. The ladies of the “Some Concert Party,” gave an excellent Entertainment to a crowded audience, and the receipts, after deduction of entertainment tax and expenses amounted to £37. Donations to the Fund, chiefly forwarded by Miss Tydd, came to over £8, making a total of over £46.

Some time before the performance 135 parcel presents had been despatched by registered letter post at an average cost of 5/- each. It has been suggested that the balance remaining in the hands of the Committee might well be transferred to a new fund for providing a club for ex sailors and soldiers in the parish, run on similar lines to the Recreation Huts so popular overseas.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, January 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/1)

In aid of the Blinded Soldiers’ Children’s Fund

Dec: 11th

The children were given a half-holiday in the afternoon as they were giving an Entertainment in the Church room in the evening – in aid of the Blinded Soldiers’ Children’s Fund.

Log book of Peasemore School (C/EL49/2)

“Our pride and gratitude for the work so gloriously completed by our naval and military forces”

There were mixed feelings in Ascot as the war’s human price was still an open wound.

The Ascot Sailors and Soldiers’ Committee have decided that efforts must be made to let every man from our parish serving overseas receive a Christmas present and a message assuring him of our pride and gratitude for the work so gloriously completed by our naval and military forces. Arrangements have already been made for the sending of such presents by registered letter post, so that if not delivered they may be safely returned and presented to any who may have already returned home.

To raise the money required, the R.A.F. have most kindly offered to arrange a special performance in their Cinema, probably on Wednesday, December 11th. Please look out for the announcement and make sure that no seat is left vacant. Members of the Committee will be calling upon relatives to ascertain the latest addresses of the men abroad.

We congratulate Sergt. C.C. Parsons on the great distinction of receiving a bar to his military medal.

The Managers have decided to devote the money which would have been expended on prizes during the past three years, on a Christmas Entertainment for all the Children before the conclusions of hostilities.

While we are all full of thankfulness for the great victory, it is a specially sad to have to record the death of yet another Ascot man, who has died whilst serving his Country. George Smith, for many years in the service of Sir Charles Ryan, died in a military hospital at Tidworth, and was buried at Ascot, on Nov. 23rd. When he was called up for the R.A.F. last summer there were many who doubted whether he was strong enough for a soldier’s life, and our deepest sympathy goes out to his widow and little daughter.

We are glad to hear that George Maunder, who is suffering from gas poisoning, is making progress towards recovery, and we hope that this is the last casualty we shall have to record. We pray that very soon those who have relatives prisoners of war may be relieved of their anxiety, and that we may all share in welcoming them home in safety.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, December 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/10)

“His services to the wounded in this respect during this and previous years have been simply priceless”

Wounded soldiers in Reading were treated to a lovely day out.

River Trip for Wounded Soldiers

On Friday afternoon, September 13th, our own particular River Outing for wounded soldiers, under the auspices of the Care and Comforts Committee, took place under perfectly ideal conditions. After several days of somewhat broken weather, we struck the one bright sunny afternoon when the river was at its best. The arrangements on the steamer had been made as usual, by Mr. Awmack, whose services to the wounded in this respect during this and previous years have been simply priceless.

The “Merry Mascots” Concert party provided just the right sort of musical entertainment, with the songs that our soldiers delight in, accompanied by piano, harp and violin. The tea would have been very good in ordinary times – under present conditions it was marvellous. And the abundant supply of cigarettes handed round by Mrs. A.T. Watkins and Miss Shorter was evidently appreciated to the full.

The goal of our journey was Park Place, the residence of Colonel Noble, and it was good to see the enjoyment of our guests as they made their way up the green slope and through the famous tunnel to the fine historic mansion, with its glorious views, and enchanting grotto, and gardens.

Our party include men from many distant parts of the Empire as well as from the Old Country – from Australia and South Africa, and the Rocky Mountains. By their words and their looks, they left us in no doubt that the object we all had in view was fully attained, and the expedition will long live in their memory, as in ours who were privileged to go with them.

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

“Competitors to walk 50 yards smoking a cigarette”: competitions for wounded soldiers

On Wednesday 10 July 1918, Reading Philanthropic Institution mounted a Wounded Soldiers’ Outing at Rectory Grounds, Caversham, placed at the disposal of the committee by Lady Moseley.

The day consisted of the following programme:

2.30

Sports programme

1. Guessing Competition.
The Secretary of the Institution [J H Smart of Beresford Road, Reading] was born in the year 1841. What was his age in days on July 1st, 1918, estimated at 365 days per year?

2. Threadneedle Race.
Wounded Soldiers and Ladies – Soldiers to thread needle.

3. Slow Walking Race.
Competitors must place one foot after the other in a forward movement; to stand still means disqualification.

4. Egg and Spoon Race.
Teams of three; each competitor to cover 25 yards.

5. Necktie Competitions.
Conditions explained at the start.

6. Toy Symphony.
Competitors to walk 50 yards playing “toy instruments”.

7. Whistling Competition.
Conditions explained at the start.

8. Animal Imitations.

9. Musical Chairs.

10. Potato Race in Pairs.

11. Feeding Bottle Contest.
Competitors to walk 50 yards smoking a cigarette, drink contents from feeding bottle suspended without using their hands, cigarette to be kept alight until the finish of a further walk of 25 yards.

12. Bowling Competitions.

13. Fixing The Donkey’s Tail

14. Band Race

7.30
Lady Moseley will present the Prizes to the winning competitors.

From 5.45 to 7.30 the sports were accompanied by a concert by Reading Favourites Concert Party, followed by the band of the 1st battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Wounded soldiers’ outing programme (R/D137/6/3)

Asked to give an entertainment to the wounded soldiers

Clewer girls were asked to put on a concert for recuperating soldiers.

June 14th 1918

The school has been asked to give an entertainment to the wounded soldiers at [King] Edward VII Hospital on Saturday next – the performance will be rehearsed this afternoon so the timetable will not be observed.

Clewer St. Stephen Intermediate Girls School log book (SCH/8/8/2, p. 177)

Shelled at dawn

It was a dramatic day for Percy Spencer.

22 May 1918

Shelled at dawn. Doe & I dressed hurriedly as we were getting a lot of backwash. Marvellous escape of 2 bivouacs due I think to AP shell. Horses moved. Bankes hit & died of wounds. All officers out except me. Went down to Bd. and was strafed re claims.

Went to Follies in evening with Davis.

Diary of Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

A very sketchy but very jolly time – perpetual movement and precious little sleep

Percy Spencer shared his latest doings with his sister.

May 21, 1918

My dear WF

I don’t appear to have written you a letter since the 13th. And there has really been no reason why not except a mass of work. I’m very glad to say that I can see the results of my labour, anyway, so that should console you, even if you don’t see many letters.

Well my dear girl, I’ve lately had a very sketchy but very jolly time – perpetual movement and precious little sleep. We’re in lovely surroundings in a wood on one side of a steep valley. The days are quiet and very hot and the night is filled with the roar of guns. On the other side of the valley from another camp every evening a very fine trumpet player amuses all the world with cheery music and beautiful clear toned calls. And when he ceases, the nightingales improve upon his performance and sing all through the night whatever the guns are doing.

We’re all more or less on tiptoe and I’m getting rather fed up with it, one gets so little time to oneself and the night has a nasty way of turning itself into day. Nevertheless even that sort of life has its compensations.

For instance on Whit Sunday I arose at 2 am and didn’t turn in again until I had strolled around our wooded hilltop with our padre (a delightful fellow) and watched the sun rise and heard the birds sing praises to his glory.

On the 16th I met Anderson. You will remember him at the Boarding House at St Albans. Did you meet his wife? He told me you did. The war has made him look sterner but he has not lost his delightful smile.

On the 18th we had a terrific thunderstorm and life was moist. I had a painful toothache and got our dentist to haul out a wisdom tooth. A very trying performance as the tooth had an unauthorised prong. However I daresay the extra prong accounted for my extreme wisdom, so that problem’s settled, and now I suppose I shall be very foolish.

On Monday (yesterday) our Follies gave an open air performance on the hillside. I was unable to get away to it, but it was very jolly to view from a distance.

Will you let everyone who ought to have a photo have one. If possible I should like to see one of each myself.

Could you send me a tinder lighter some time, and a refill for my short tubular torch. I also badly need a key ring. I’m so sorry to bother you about these things, but they are unobtainable out here….

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/37)