An organist is called up

A Wokingham church had to face the prospect of singing hymns unaccompanied when their organist was conscripted.

Organist.
We want an Organist. Mr. Collins, who most kindly came to fill the gap when Mr. Baker was called up, and who has performed his duties most efficiently, is unfortunately unable to remain permanently.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P154C/28A/1)

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“May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world”

The minister of Maidenhead Congregational Church tried to encourage members to look on the bright side of life despite all the horrors and losses of the war.

May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world. The dreadful mud in the midst of which our soldiers have been living is more congruous with the spirit of warfare than sweet grass and hawthorn buds. Many letters from the front have spoken of the start of surprise with which a lark’s song is heard over the trenches. We have all, when some sorrow is heavy upon us, felt a sort of astonishment that the sun should go on shining, and the birds twittering, and passers by smiling, as though nothing had happened. But the worst of sorrows cannot cover the whole sky. We want taking out of ourselves at times. Evils won’t bear brooding over, we only make them worse. We shall be able to bear “the strain of toil, the fret of care” better, if we make rich use of the ministry of the blossoms.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to hear that Reginald Hill is progressing, though slowly. He has had several operations, and probably must undergo two or three more. The doctors think he may have to be in bed for at least three months yet, but they hope he will make quite a good recovery.

We regret deeply to have to record that John Boyd, formerly the Caretaker of the Chapel, was killed in action on March 29th. He enlisted in the 2nd Berks. In June 1916, and was sent to France on Sept. 22nd. He was a most genial and kind-hearted man, and had a wide circle of friends among whom he was very popular. We offer our Christian sympathy to Mrs. Boyd and her family.

It is distressing too to hear that Stephen Harris is returned as “missing.” The Captain of his Company has written to Mr. and Mrs. Harris that he has made all possible inquiries and can gain no information. The best that can be hoped for is that he may be a prisoner in German hands. Robert Harris was killed in July last. May God grant His patience and consolation to the distressed parents.

Wallace Mattingly has been admitted to Sandhurst Military College for eight months’ training. G. Frampton is expecting to be called up immediately. We are glad to see Cyril Hews at home again on leave, looking in the pink of health. P.S. Eastman writes in good spirits from “somewhere in the East.”

He says, “I have not yet left for the special work for which I was sent out, but may do so any day now. In the meantime I have had quite a variety of work, until at present I find myself in the C.O.’s office. Yesterday I had a line from Frank Pigg, who is with the R.F.C in Salonica; may be one of these days I shall be able to pay him a visit.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, May 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

We shall all share in the blessings of Victory as we should all share in the Miseries of Defeat

A rousing call to arms, or rather to joining in the National Service Scheme to help out on the home front.

Twelve good Reasons

1. BECAUSE the Greatest War the World has ever seen is nearing its climax, when we and our Allies must either conquer or be conquered.

2. BECAUSE Victory will mean the preservation of our homes, our lives, our liberties and all we hold dear, while Defeat will mean the loss of all these things and triumph of a Despotic Military System which seeks to destroy the British Empire and impose itself on the whole world.

3. BECAUSE having passed laws to compel men of certain ages to fight it is the bounded duty not of one man or one set of men, but every man to see that the Army and Navy are provide with everything they need to secure Victory, and to help to that end as far as possible.

4. BECAUSE our food supplies from abroad being threatened or reduced, and many agriculturists at home having been called up, men are urgently required to maintain and if possible to increase, our home supplies.

5. BECAUSE we cannot do these things unless all the manpower of the country is available and is properly organized, for which purpose the National Service Department has been formed.

6. BECAUSE our enemies the Germans are already organizing every man, woman and child for a similar purpose, but by the much less desirable method of Industrial Compulsion, which we are especially anxious to avoid.

7. BECAUSE if everyone helps who can , the war will be shortened, thereby saving at least six million pounds per day in money, and what is of infinite greater importance the lives, limbs and health of human beings, including in many cases our own relatives and friends.

8. BECAUSE every right-minded and patriotic man desires to help, but many do not know how or where to begin. Like an untrained and undisciplined Army, we are helpless without organization.

9. BECAUSE the National Service Department provides this organization, and when it has the names and qualifications of every one between the ages of 18 and 61, it will be able to supply man power where it is most needed, and to prevent the waste of it by putting “round men into round holes and square men into square holes” the right man in the right place.

10. BECAUSE certain occupations are essential while others are non-essential, and at any cost to ourselves or our comfort, the former should not want for a moment for labour which can be supplied by those engaged in the latter, or by those who are not engaged in either.

11. BECAUSE we shall all share in the blessings of Victory as we should all share in the Miseries of Defeat and it is therefore “up to” everyone of us to offer our services, whether they are accepted or not. To take part in civil occupations of National Importance involves little sacrifice when compared with that which we call upon our Soldiers and Sailors to make.

12. BECAUSE every man who enrols will be able, with a clear conscience, to reflect that in the hour of the Nation’s peril, he offered “to do his bit” by placing himself at the service of his country.

Note. If you agree that the above reasons are good reasons why all should enrol, go to the nearest Post Office, National Service Office or Employment Exchange and get a free form of application , fill it up (whether you are engaged already in work of National Importance or not) and post it (unstamped) to the Director General of National Service.

Reading St Mark section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

All Germans of military age to be called up

Swiss newspapers had access to the latest news from Germany. Will Spencer heard of the death of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, inventor of the Zeppelin airship which had become so feared in Britain.

9 March 1917

News in the paper of Graf Zeppelin’s death (aged 79). Also a statement that all Germans of military age were about to be called in.

Diary of Will Spencer (D/EX801/27)

“A great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals”

Members of Reading’s Dodeka Club discussed the thorny question of conscription. The evening’s host was considering whether it was time for him to join up voluntarily.

The 282nd meeting of the club was held at Goodenough’s on March 2nd, 1917.

… Gibbons introduced a friend, Lt de Villiers…

…After refreshments the host suggested as a commencement for discussion the question of “National Service”, and pointed out that he personally was requiring advice as to the advisability of volunteering. The experience gained after the Military Service Act and the Derby Scheme gave one a great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals. The host feeling great doubt in his mind as to whether justice would be done to the great body of business men in the country.

Penfold started the ball rolling in the discussion, by asking if members were liable to prosecution under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, should any decision be arrived at, a military representative being present. Some discussion then took place regarding the action of Tribunals, the necessity or otherwise of National Service, compulsion and reduction of the number of shopkeepers. A very pleasant evening was concluded with some submarine stories of a rather fishy nature and a pun relating to Bagged Dads by Gibbons.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

“Spain may come in”

Florence Vansittart Neale had to deal with the practical implications of rationed food essentials, while hoping that neutral Spain might join the Allies thanks to the Germans’ aggressive targetting of all shipping.

7 February 1917

Mrs S. [the cook?] & I daily talks on food economy. 2 ½ lb meat – 4 lbs bread – ¾ lb sugar for each person.

Manpower 18-60. How many ought to go!!…

Germans refuse to stop torpedoing every ship – neutral or enemy. Spain may come in.

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

Major Dinkum

Florence Vansittart Neale heard some gossip and tall tales from army officers. “Dinkum” is actually an Australian word, and the story, ascribed to an Australian officer, is recorded as being in circulation elsewhere.

25 December 1916

Had 5 Remount Depot to dine with us.

Major Remount Depot told me – hear [Colonel?] RFA told him how a spy had been caught. Posed as a Major who came to their Division & gave orders to bombard [later?] a salient! Said he had been sent from the HQ, also seen and arranged for other divisions etc etc. A Canadian present said. “Is this dinkum”, a slang word meaning is this true. He answered Yes, I am Major Dinkum. Whereupon the C[anadian?] rushed on him & held him down & they found he was a spy & was taken out & shot.

One day the artillery was told to bombard heavily but unluckily the ammunition was forgotten!!

Hear the new Government dare not conscript Ireland.

I hear Sir D. Haig sent for 1000 miles of railway lines, 400 engine drivers & heaps of locomotives, & that has caused the reduction of trains & increase in the price of tickets to begin Jan 1 1917.

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

The work that prayer has to do in winning this terrible and horrible War

The rector of Sulhamstead encouraged parishioners to pray for the armed forces. The Revd F M Green was to take services in the village while he was on holiday in part of August and September.

THE WAR

Our two churches are open daily, all day long, for persons to drop in and humbly put up a prayer to God for victory, peace and the preservation of those who are fighting for us. Some in the parish have promised to go there, if possible, once a week. Will you, who pass the daily stop for a few minutes and quietly ask God help? You would probably never enter a town church in France, and only a few remote village churches, without finding one person at least kneeling in prayer.

Remember 11 o’clock noon [sic], each day, wherever you are, for silent prayer.

It is with the deepest regret that we heard of the death of Major George Tyser, youngest son of Mr and Mrs W S Tyser of Oakfield. He was seen in the act of encouraging his men across to the enemy trenches in one of the brilliant assaults that the British and French have been making. Then he fell and his death was instantaneous. Our full and deepest sympathy goes out to Mr and Mrs Tyser and to his widow.

My Friends

There is an awakening amongst us to the work that prayer has to do in winning this terrible and horrible War. It took many months before we found out the part than munitions, and more munitions, and always more munitions, had to do in winning the war. It took us until well into this year to find out that we shall want the last man before we win the war.

Now we are finding out that it will want prayer and daily prayer and incessant prayer to win the war.

There are three methods of prayer:

1. The quiet kneeling alone in the morning and evening when we can name our dear ones singly before God and our own great cause.

2. The prayer of the household. Family prayer. If there are only two – then those two together. If there are more, then father and mother and children. If it has begun to drop as a custom among us, then now is the time to begin. The father perhaps has “gone to the War”. Then the mother and children can kneel together, morning and evening, praying together for father. Perhaps the son, or all the sons, have gone. Them father, mother, girls, children, can meet and pray for the sons and brothers.

If there are any who would like little forms of private or family prayer, the Rector or in his absence the Rev. F Green, can supply them.

3. United national worship. It means by petitions, such as those monster petitions we have signed in past years, all put up together – every one in his Church or Chapel, filling them to overflowing. God tells us He is “waiting to be gracious”. Could we have swept the German Fleet off the sea in the great battle of Jutland, if the light had held in our favour? Have we, as a nation, asked God’s help? Why are we waiting?

Let us begin our preparation for the National Mission of Repentance and Hope with fervent prayer.

Your friend
Alfred J P Shepherd

Sulhamstead parish magazine, August 1916 (D/EX725/3)

A wish fulfilled

One of the men who had left Earley to join the Navy had been killed – the second in his family to be lost.

Our best wishes accompany Mr Sidesman W B Waters who, being called up, joined the 3/4 Royal Berkshires last month. His home activities in the CEMS and his church work as sidesman and principal cross bearer, will be missed. Our hope is the outdoor life may have a beneficial effect on his health which has not been robust these last few years.

In memoriam

The great battle in the North Sea took from this neighbourhood its toll of brave sailors. Among them Francis Harry Stevens, eldest son of Mr & Mrs F Stevens, whose second boy William David, gave his life in the attack at Loos on Sep. 25th last year. His brother Francis Harry who entered the Royal Navy as stoker was making rapid progress and shewing great proficiency in the engine room. Had he lived his promotion was secured. When he heard of his brother’s death he expressed the wish that he might too die for his country, and that wish has been fulfilled for him. His younger brother Arthur is with the Army in Egypt. We desire to express our respectful sorrow with his grief stricken parents and assure them that this parish will honour the memory of their sons.

Earley parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

Seven headmasters saved from conscription (for the present)

With the implementation of conscription, additional pressure was placed on the educational system with teachers, ancillary staff and older students potentially at risk.

Higher Education Sub-committee

SCHOLARSHIPS AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, READING

The Sub-committee have approved the postponement until after the war of the scholarship of Ernest H Austin, who has been called up for Military Service.

School Management Sub-committee

Staffing

The Board of Education, by arrangement with the Army Council, have agreed to postpone the embodiment of seven Head Masters for the present. In the case of three Head Masters and one Assistant, who are not certified for general service, the Committee also understand that they will not be called up without further reference to the Board of Education.

By-Laws and Attendance Committee

ATTENDANCE OFFICERS

The following have been called up for Military Service:
Mr E J Hale from 22 May
Mr E Hunt from 10 June
Mr M O Scown from 15 June…

The Sub-committee have made temporary arrangements for Mrs Scown to act as Attendance Officer for part of the Windsor District, and the remainder of her husband’s district has been assigned to the Easthampstead District.

Two other Officers of military age (Mr Edwards and Mr Barton), both of whom had attested under the Group System, have not yet been called up.

Berkshire County Council: Education sub-committee reports, 15 July 1916 (C/CL/C1/1/19)

Called up

Henry Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey sat on one of the tribunals hearing cases of those not wanting to be called up. But as an employer he had a different attitude:

22 June 1916
Henry fussed over Brown & [Gundbury?], both called up.

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

Exempt from military service

William Bilson Blackall of Cane End, Reading, was a farrier who during the war was supplying horseshoes to the army for cavalry horses. He was over military age, but his son and assistant was not, and had been wrongly called up. This letter was sent to him:

Horse Shoe Depot
1 Ashby Road
Brockley
London, SE
13/Jun 1916

Please note that men who hold War Service Badges are exempt from military service, & no Tribunal has power to deal with them. You should therefore withdraw your appeal from the Tribunal & inform the Recruiting Officer that the man E W Blackall is badged. He will not then receive a notice to join the colours. Should he however receive a notice it should be sent on to us. In cases where employers make shoes they should be included on Register. will you please complete form & return same to us as soon as possible.

Endorsed in pencil by William:

Gentlemen – noted.

I enclose the notice to join the colours which E W Blackall has received.

Particulars regarding myself have now been entered on the Register.

Yours faithfully
W B Blackall

Letter to William Blackall (D/EX1485/1/25)

Playing at soldiers

Berkshire Education Committee was interested in national proposals for a scheme to train teenage boys not yet old enough to join the armed forces. A committee comprising councillor and chair of the committee, H G Willink and Messrs Mansfield and Childs of Reading University reported back. Their main concern was that the men most suitable for running such a programme were away at war, but they also felt that younger boys should not be militarised. Another big issue was the connection between social class and officer status.

Report of Cadet Training Sub-committee to the Education Committee

First report of the Special Sub-committee appointed on 29 April 1916 by the Berks Education Committee to consider the Lord Mayor of London’s “Scheme for the National Organisation of Cadet Training”.

We have met and considered this Scheme; and have also had before us a detailed Scheme of the Essex Education Committee “for the formation and organisation of Cadet Units”.

While not prepared to recommend either Scheme in its entirety, for reasons which will appear, we desire to express our appreciation of the aim underlying both, and to state that in our opinion there is need for some well-considered system by which lads below 18 years of age may not only gain the benefits of discipline but may also undergo a training which will exercise and develop their intelligence. We are convinced that this is essential if the youth of the country is to be adequately prepared either for future naval or military service or to be efficient and useful citizens of the Empire.

The Lord Mayor’s proposals fall under two heads, viz:

1. The establishment of a “National Cadet Council”, with certain relations to other authorities and with a quasi-subordinate system of City and County Cadet Committees…

2. The early introduction of a uniform system of training, upon lines following generally those of the Australian Cadet Scheme (which is established by law) but on a voluntary instead of a compulsory basis.

Under such a Scheme, lads above elementary school age and under 18 would be organised as Senior Cadets, who would receive a minimum of training in Physical Drill, Company (and some Battalion) Drill, Field Training, and Musketry. Boys from 12 to (say) 14, or Junior Cadets, would undergo a training which could only be called military in the sense of being preparation for military work. It would consist of Physical Exercises and Marching Drill, together with any two of the following: Miniature Rifle Shooting, Swimming, Organised Games, and First Aid. Senior Cadets to have a simple uniform, but Juniors none.
As regards the relations with existing formations – OT Corps would not come under the Council at all, the Boys’ Brigade, Church Lads’ Brigade, and YMCA, as well as the Boy Scouts, would remain separate, but close communication between them and the Council would be encouraged; and no objection is raised to lads or boys passing to or from them and Cadet Units, or even belonging to one of them and to a Cadet Unit also.

Note: The Essex Scheme, which contains no reference to the Lord Mayor’s proposals, invites “the co-operation of District Educational Sub-committees, School Managers, Teachers and others, with a view to the formation of Cadet Units”, the membership age to be from that of leaving the elementary school till 19, but no admission after 18….

The Scheme … lays down an elaborate curriculum of instruction, to be given in connection with the Evening Continuation Schools…

One further point may be noted. The Australian lad of 14 receives a “Record Book” in which his military history is entered up to the age of 26 years, and individuals unable to produce a Record Book with a clean service sheet are debarred from any service under the Commonwealth Government. There would, however, appear to be insuperable difficulties in the way of including this valuable feature in any voluntary Scheme, at any rate before the system was in practically universal operation.

Taking the Scheme as its stands, we are of opinion, in regard to the first “head”, that the establishment of some such central consultative body as the proposed “National Cadet Council” is desirable, provided that its functions are in the first instance confined to inquiry, ventilation and discussion; and do not extend to an immediate setting-up of a definite new Scheme, still less to its actual bringing into action.

We give due weight to the objection that the absence on active service, or the employment on other war work at home or abroad, of so many of the men best fitted to construct or introduce a system of such importance is a serious obstacle to arriving at a satisfactory decision upon the best lines for it. But we also feel strongly that the present united spirit of patriotism in public opinion ought to be utilized before reaction sets in, as may very likely be the case when the end of the war comes into sight…

The important point to bear in mind is that no new Scheme can be satisfactory which will not fit into a general plan for National Training for Home Defence, or which will in any way prejudge the question whether such training is to be on a voluntary or compulsory basis….

There are certain points which to us seem fairly clear, and which may be worth stating, if only to elicit discussion.
(more…)

“One cannot altogether wish anyone in France” – but thank heavens for conscription

Army officer John Wynne-Finch and his wife Maysie were outraged that apparently healthy young men were escaping conscription.

May 5/16
Voelas
Bettws-y-Coed
N Wales

My dear darling R.

Have I written since John was declared by the doctor to have German measles, & forbidden to go near barracks till the 10th? He’s never been ill, & I’ve never caught it … & I doubt really if he had!! However, we sent for the motor, as he was not allowed in a train & came off up here on Monday…

The Tribunals scandals in these parts make one quite sick – all the young men getting off, it’s too shameful, but inevitable with the kind of people on the Tribunals – no gentlemen & all scoundrels in with the other & relations to all. John is wild….

You sound to be having a wonderfully interesting time. I’ve never heard anyone yet not say the same about the PoW. He must be too delightful. I’m sorry you’ve lost Captain Barnard, you’ll miss him. It must have been very hard to know what to do about that other job. One would love you to be nearer in some ways, & yet one cannot altogether wish anyone in France. John will be back there soon I expect. The time at Windsor goes terribly fast.

Tony went to Dublin with dispatches last Saturday. Awfully interesting…

Thank heaven we’ve got compulsion at last & have shot the rebels. It gives one some hope for this rotten government.

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/4)

The heavens have not fallen

Political ally Colonel Smith Park wrote to Ralph Glyn with his views about possible changes after the war, as well as comments on the latest war-related news.

196 St Vincent Street
Glasgow

4 May 1916

Dear Glyn

I note with interest your views as to the future. I have no doubt there will be great changes – I hope we will get rid of the lot of the lawyers – but all the same the party system will continue. I would like to see – by proportional representation or otherwise – candidates far more independent of the political caucus, which has really become a business, and this may come.

What a fiasco the Irish rebellion has been. The one good feature has been the promptitude with which it was quelled by the military.

The Govt have at last taken the compulsion plunge – & the heavens have not fallen…

We have already collected about £60,000 for the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors & Soldiers – we are aiming at £100,000.

Trusting you will come safely through the war.

Yours very truly
J Smith Park

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/36)