Scarborough under attack

Sir Henry Vansittart Neale served on the local (Maidenhead) Tribunal hearing conscientious objectors’ and essential workers’ cases against conscription. Meanwhile, the Yorkshire town of Scarborough was being attacked from the sea.

5 September 1917

Men out on river. About 40 came. Henry at Tribunal & Food Production meetings…

Bombardment of Scarborough.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

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Conscientious objectors honoured

It is unusual to see a conscientious objector listed on a church’s roll of honour.

Spencer’s Wood Roll of Honour.

Tom Allen, Canadian.
Cpl. W. Appleby, R.B.
*Edward Beales, R.B.
Alfred Beken, R.F.A.
*Arthur Bradfield,R.B.
*Archie Butler, Territorials.
Fred Card, R.E.
Charlie Clacey, R.N.
Tom Clements, R.F.C.
Will Clements, A.S.C.
Ted Clements, R.F.A.
Frank Cocks, R.B.
Charlie Cocks, R.B.
Harry Coffill, R.N.
Charlie Day, R.B.
Dick Day, Devon Regt.
Jacob Didcock, R.N.
Cpl. Fred Didcock.
Sgt. W.Doherty, Man. Regt.
*Jim Double, R.E.
Percy Double, R.B.
Chappie Double, R.B.
Sgt. Kenneth Eggleton, A.M.C.
E. Eggleton.
E. Foster, R.E.
Sgt. Hawkins, R.B.
Reginald Jewell. R.B. (wounded).
Reginald Lee, R.A.M.C.
Edgar Lee, R.E.
Wilfred Lowe, R.F.C.
Leonard Luckwell, Coldstream Guards.
Walter Luckwell, R.F.A.
A. Marcham, R.B.
A.H. Marcham, R.B.
Jolly Middleton.
Arthur Middleton.
Sydney Middleton, R.F.C.
Harry Moss, A.S.C.
Arthur Moss, A.S.C.
Albert Povey, R.B.
William Povey, R.B. (prisoner of war).
– Sloper (C. objector).
Fred Swain, A.S.C.
Bert Swain, A.S.C.
Leonard Swain, Coldstream Guards.
S. Tiller.
*Alfred Watkins, Canadian.
George Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Edwin Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Charles Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Sgt. Wallace Webb, C.C.
Stanley Webb, R.F.A.
Lieut. William Wheeler, C.Dr.
Owen Wheeler, R.E.
Lce-Cpl. H. Wheeler, R.B.
*Laurie White, R.N.
Frank Wilson, R.F.A.
William Wilson, R.B.
Fred Wiseman, East Kent.

*Has made the supreme sacrifice for King and Country.

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

Our soldiers – and our conscientious objector

There was news of the varying destinations of various men associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church. One was even a conscientious objector.

OUR SOLDIERS.

David Dalgliesh, at the conclusion of his training, has received a Commission in the Royal Flying Corps, and is at present at Hendon. Frank Pigg has departed for Salonika and John Boyd for France. Our Deacon, P.S. Eastman, has been compelled to leave the doors of his business closed and is in training for the Royal Naval Air Service at the Crystal Palace. He will probably be engaged in photographic work. Percy Lewis has been placed in charge of the Mobile X-ray Unit of the 1st Army. Reginald Hill has gone over with his regiment to France. Archibald Fraser has enlisted in the Army Service Corps, and is at present stationed at Lee. F. Kempster, who is a “conscientious objector,” has gone to take up farm work in the south of England. Herbert G. Wood is in British East Africa.

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

An “exhibition of heartless callousness on the part of race-goers at this present crisis”

Churchgoers thought the continuance of horse racing during the war was unpatriotic.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

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

Your prayers are asked specially
For the preparation of the National Mission…
For the maintenance of the unity of the nation.
For victory in the war, and peace.
For wisdom in dealing with the conscientious objectors….

RACE MEETINGS DURING THE WAR

The following resolution was passed unanimously by the Sonning deanery. A great deal of indignation was felt and expressed at the motor traffic on the Bath Road during the Newbury Races:

“That this meeting of clergy, laymen, and laywomen, representatives of parishes in the Sonning deanery, in the diocese of Oxford, protests against the exhibition of heartless callousness on the part of race-goers at this present crisis, and calls upon His Majesty’s Government to reconsider the question of racing during war-time; and urges all earnest churchpeople to strive to show a spirit of self-sacrifice at this time.”

WAR MEMORIALS

I feel sure that a great many clergy, churchwardens and others would wish for advice about proposed war memorials as time goes on. Accordingly, I have asked the following (their number will probably be slightly increased) to act as a consultative committee:
Canon Ottley, Canon Herbert Barnett, the Revs. F J Brown, Sydney Cooper, W C Emeris and E J Norris, Mr F N A Garry, and Mr F C Eeles. Anyone wanting the help of this committee should write to the Rev. W C Emeris, the Vicarage, Burford, Oxon.

C OXON

Earley St Peter parish magazine, June 1916 (D/P191/28A/31/6)

Pray for wisdom in dealing with the objectors to military service

The Earley parish magazine was to be sent out to men from the parish serving overseas.

The following are extracts from the Bishop’s message in the May Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are asked specially…

For candidates for Holy Orders: for the maintenance of vocation in those who have gone to the war: and an increased supply after the war….
For our army in Mesopotamia.
For guidance for our rulers.
For the maintenance of industrial peace.
For wisdom in dealing with the objectors to military service.
For British and other prisoners of war in German camps.

C.E.M.S.

It has been suggested that some of those now on Active Service would appreciate a copy of the Parish magazine or the quarterly magazine of the C.E.M.S., and the members of the Earley Branch have undertaken to forward a number of copies each month.

If this should come to the notice of anyone living in the parish who has a friend or relation at the Front or with the Fleet likely to be interested in a copy, I should be grateful for his name and full service address.

Wm H Keep
Acting Hon. Secretary
7, Melrose Avenue

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
Herbert Bacon, Robert Neale, Philip Pocock, Percy Smith, Louis Taylor, Albert Davies, Jesse Chivers, Frank Burchell, Arthur Hosler, Owen Lewington, Walter Copperthwaite, George Smith, Reginald Merry, Tom Bosley, Frank Fowler, Albert Newberry, Sidney Newberry.

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

Sick: Renton Dunlop.
Killed in Action: Sidney Marshall.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/5)

No vacancies for conscientious objectors

With the introduction of conscription came the thorny question of what to do with conscientious objectors. Some of them were willing to do some kind of national service as long as it did not involve fighting – but it wasn’t easy to find roles. Berkshire County Council gave a frosty reply to the suggestion that they should employ conscientious objectors.

Finance Committee report, 2 May 1916

MILITARY REQUISITIONS

The Highways and Bridges Committee report that, at the request of the War Department, the Road Board are making arrangements for the construction and improvement of roads required for military purposes, and are asking Local Authorities to co-operate in carrying out such works, irrespective of whether the roads in question are public or private roads…

Up to the date of this report three requisitions have been received for works to be done to the following roads:
Ascot, estimated at £94.0.0
Reading, estimated at £11.12.9
Arborfield, estimated at £1294.3.11

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS

The Government “Committee on Work of National Imprtance” has enquired, through the County Councils’ Association, whether the Council would be willing to employ men, having a conscientious objection to military work, on work of national importance in the County such as sanitary or asylum service.

It is recommended that the County Councils’ Association be informed that the Council have no vacancies for conscientious objectors…

NAVAL AND MILITARY WAR PENSIONS

The Committee have framed a Scheme for the constitution of a Local Committee for the county under the Naval and Military War Pensions etc Act, 1915, and have submitted the same to the Statutory Committee for approval.

Report of BCC Finance Committee, 2 May 1916 (C/CL/C1/1/19)

A disservice to the state

The Reading School teacher who was a conscientious objector was keen to return to school – but would he be welcome back, when his headmaster was planning in joining up himself?

44 Marlborough Road
Hightown
Manchester

April 15, 16

Dear Sir

Will you please bring my case before the proper authorities?

I have written to Mr Keeton today in answer to a letter from him in which he says that he is informed that I cannot carry my case further and that he is justified in assuming that I shall not return next term to Reading School. I want to state that with regard to the first point he has been misinformed. The Military Service Act (Section 3) gives me the right to apply again to the Local Tribunal for a variation of my certificate of exemption from combatant service. I propose to take this course and I do not think it is right that any action should be taken by the Headmaster or the Committee until my case is fully and finally disposed of.

Should it turn out that I shall be allowed to remain my present employment I think it right for me to return to Reading School and I cannot see any greater disservice that could be done to the State at a time when the State is demanding National Service for all than to throw out of useful employment a citizen with a capacity for a certain kind of national service which is plainly service of national importance. I therefore appeal to the Committee and the Governors for a suspension of any action with regard to myself until my case is finally settled.

Yours obediently

R W Crammer

Letter to the Clerk to the Governors of Reading School (SCH3/5/50)

The only thing is to beat the Germans and we need every able-bodied man

The headmaster of Reading School was ready to join up.

The Burlington
Sheringham
Norfolk

April 13th, 1916

Dear Mr Wells

I am inclined to think that the time has now come when schools should be left in the hands of those who are either incapable of or past military service. It is true that I have offered myself to the War Office for Foreign Service, but I have a feeling that something more is required of a citizen than to wait until our Government can make up its mind.

I should be glad then if you will be good enough on my behalf to ask the Governors whether they will arrange for me to go into the Army if I can induce the military authorities to take me. It may, of course, be that the Governors may think that in view of the amalgamation [with Kendrick Boys’ School] the School may suffer somewhat by any change at this moment, but for myself, I think the only thing is to beat the Germans and for that what with our conscientious objectors and the exemptions for one cause or another we need every able-bodied man.

I am very sorry to see today that Mr Sutton has lost one of his sons.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely

George H Keeton

Letter to the Clerk to the Governors of Reading School (SCH3/5/50)

Intolerant militarism is “alien to the British tradition of fairplay, freedom of speech and conscience”

Leftwingers in Reading took an interest in a case involving a teacher who was publicly criticised as unpatriotic by his headmaster for expressing his conscientious objection to war.

Reading & District Trades & Labour Council
19, Hagley Road, Reading

29/3/16

Dear Sir,

I am desired by the members of the above Council to call your attention to a letter appearing in the local press of Saturday, March 25th last, from the Headmaster of Reading School in which one of his subordinates is publicly castigated.

The members passed the following resolution unanimously and we desire that the same may be brought to the notice of the Education Committee.

Resolution
The Reading and District Trades and Labour Council expresses its strong disapproval of the action of the Headmaster of Reading School in casting opprobrium upon one of his subordinates in the public press because of his courage in taking the opportunity the Military Act gives to him of stating his conscientious objection to War. Such conduct, the Council considers most cowardly, alien to the British tradition of fairplay, freedom of speech and conscience, subversive of discipline in the school and calculated to instil into the pupils the spirit of intolerant militarism.

Yours faithfully

H Sanderson
Secretary


Letter to the Clerk to the Governors of Reading School (SCH3/5/50)

Anti-conscription conspirators should be shot!

The Bishop of Peterborough wrote to his son Ralph Glyn with a rather unChristian attitude regarding opponents of conscription.

Jan. 11 [1916]
The Palace
Peterborough

My darling Ralph

So all our good letters to you went down in the Persia [on 30 December 1915] – well, better things than these were lost – & I am only thankful that you were not in it. And now you are at Cairo & comparatively comfy, & I am longing to know all about you & your next move. Public things are better – & the Government are beginning to do what they should have done ten months ago – to get together men for our armies.

There will be some resistance to the compulsion – & I only hope it will be met with readiness & pluck, & the conspirators shot.

John is getting on, but he has a Board next week. I cannot think they will pass him – & indeed he has a lot to do for his teeth & that will take time. His back is nearly healed up.

Take care of your dear self, & do not eat too many of “the flesh-pots of Egypt” to which you told Meg in your telegram you were glad you had returned!!

Your loving father
E C Peterborough

Letter from E C Glyn to his son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

Putrid bodies and foul vapours: “I have really seen the horrors of war”

Sydney Langford Jones (nickname Jonah) was a young artist and conscientious objector with deep seated religious objections to war. He was to spend time in prison as a result of this. However, his close friend Reginald Pearson, another artist, did join up. His frank letter to Sydney gives some of the most graphic details of the horrors of war we have seen, things which may well have been omitted from letters to sisters and churches.

Postmarked 14 June 1915

B Company 1st Bat. Lincolnshire Regiment
British Exp. Force

My dear friend Jonah

How I wish I could have seen more of you and I even wanted to turn back that Saturday night and catch you up to say goodbye again.
Since then I have really seen the horrors of war such as I never dreamed possible, marching at midnight with a lovely moon through the famous old town you have heard so much of, flaming all over the place and not a single house untouched. Stones, bricks, paving stones in what was once the roads, putrid bodies under the heaps of broken bricks once houses, and furniture blown out of the windows.

The old Cathedral and Hall as big as the Doges’ Palace and once very fine I should think now but a skeleton of ragged bones rapidly growing less and less, and the cemetery, no longer sacred, is blown to atoms with holes in it 40 yards round without the slightest exaggeration, for I measured one, and hemispherical shape, and the whole town a collection of foul vapours, still being shelled, shelled, shelled.

From there we were marched to a wood full of dugouts where we remained all next day being shelled, losing many men.

About 4 o’clock the whole lot fixed bayonets and travelled through the wood arriving at a communication trench by dark, full of mud up to the men’s thighs, hundreds of shots fired over it to catch as many as possible who happened to get out.

Along this [wading?] trench about 6’ deep and so narrow the men struggled passing those who were coming out, and eventually I found myself in the most extraordinary position ever created, but which I must not mention though I could draw you a perfect map from memory.

Trenches scarcely 3’ deep, parapets and bullet proof, strobing over dead men, bullets, bullets everywhere and the next 3 days cannot be spoken of. Trenches blown in beyond all recognition, and the first thing I saw when down broke was a dragoon with a little cat on his lap, which he had been stroking, lying both dead right across the trench, horrible, horrible, horrible.

I lost 18 wounded, 3 killed and 1 officer seriously wounded and here was I for the 1st time in charge of nearly a Company in the worst position ever held. Strategically bad, too few men, and for every German shell which came intermittently, every 20 I ought to say, we acquired a little pill in return.

9 miles march 3 days – the trenches 9 miles out with no sleep, little food and small shot, would offend the nostrils of death himself, leave men a bit fatigued, and so my first experience of war is passed and as a matter of fact I did well.

So much for my troubles for at present I sit in an orchard where we are bivouacked, resting.

The God of all the men we love is with me, I know, and this wonderful help and guidance are seared on my brain.

I am too tired to write much and so I must say goodbye.
God bless you always
Your dear friend
RO

Letter from Reginald Oswald Pearson to Sydney Langford Jones (D/EX1795/1/5/2)