Fireworks and flares

On 19 July 1919 peace celebrations were held across the county following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

St John’s School. Caversham
July 19th 1919

Saturday- to celebrate the conclusion of peace all the children of the town [Reading] were entertained to tea, games etc in either Palmer or Prospect Parks.

King Street School, Maidenhead
19th July 1919

“‘Peace Day’ was kept by a sumptuous tea for the children in school this afternoon. Several people came to help entertain them. An old pupil gave musical selections while children had their tea & the popular airs they were familiar with were much enjoyed.

After tea, cheers were given for the soldiers & the king & concluded with the National Anthem. Children were then taken to Kidwell’s Park to enjoy sports, roundabouts & other amusements.

Aldworth School
July 14th-18th 1919

This week we made 100% attendance!

The Peace celebration was held on Saturday July 19th – Dinner, tea and sports in the old playground, for all parishioners, followed by fireworks and flares in “Battle Field” at Westbridges.

Lower Sandhurst School
July 19th 1919

To day Saturday in common with all parts of the country this Parish held its Peace Festival.

The school children assembled at school and marched to the Wellington Arms where they met the other two schools and headed by a band a procession was formed and a move was made to the Broadway. Here the ceremony of hoisting the flag was performed, prayers and thanksgivings were offered for victory and peace speeches were delivered, Mr. W. J. Joye, Chairman of the Managers, being one of the speakers.

Tea and sports were provided for the children and although the weather was unpropitious the children spent a happy time.

Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School
19th July 1919

‘Peace Celebrations’. During the day all school children were specially provided with a tea (followed by a tea for the general public). Sports were also provided for school children, preceded by a procession from the Hall through High Stand to the Sports Ground. All who had served in H. M. Forces during the war were entertained to dinner.

St Peter’s CE School, Earley
19th July 1919

Today was observed as “Peace Celebration Day” for the parish of Earley, & the children of the school, whether living in Earley or in Reading, were included in the invitations. By kind invitation of J Rushbrooke esq, the celebration took place in Bulmershe Park, where, despite showery weather, a most enjoyable afternoon & evening were spent.

Cookham Alwyn Road School log book
July 19th

Saturday: Peace Celebrations. Tea to scholars in School Buildings. March to Kidwells Park at 4.15.

Eastbury National Primary, Lambourn
19th July 1919

Peace celebrations at Eastbury. The school children took part in the procession, sang patriotic songs, and afterwards partook in tea in a lane kindly lent for the occasion. Giving in to the rain, the sports were held on the following Monday.

Charney Bassett
19.7.19

Peace-day was kept up in the village. The children had a tea in a barn kindly lent for the occasion, and the adults a meat tea; owing to the bad weather the sports were postponed until Sat the 26th.

Speenhamland
July 19th

We have been making preparations for the Peace Celebrations tomorrow, and work has to some extent been interrupted.

Bracknell
19th July 1919

Peace Celebrations.

During the day all school children were specially provided with a tea (followed by a tea for the general public). Sports were also provided for school children, preceded by a procession from the Hall through High Stand to the Sports Ground. All who had served in H. M. Forces during the war were entertained to dinner.

Log books of St John’s School. Caversham (89/SCH/14/1); King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1); Aldworth School (C/EL54/3); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL66/1); Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School (C/EL45/3); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3); Cookham Alwyn Road School (88/SCH/18/1); Eastbury National Primary, Lambourn (D/P79B/28/2); Bouverie Pusey School, Charney Bassett (C/EL41/2); St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3); Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School (C/EL45/3)

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Preparations for the Peace Celebrations

Berkshire’s children prepared for a day to celebrate the final peace treaty.

Hampstead Norreys
18 July

In singing lessons have been practicing patriotic songs & a song & dance fpr Peace Celebrations tomorrow (19th)…
We closed school at mid-day, owing to preparations in the school for the teas tomorrow. The school will remain closed until Tuesday morning to allow the room to be put ready for school work again.

Abingdon Girls’ CE School
14th-18th July 1919

Holiday on Friday for Peace Festivities.

Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School
18th July 1919

School closed today on account of children’s Peace Commemoration Treat.

Cookham Alwyn Road School
July 18th 1919

This school has been invited to join in the Peace Celebration of the Borough of Maidenhead.

Newbury St Nicolas CE Girls’School
18th July 1919

This afternoon we prepared for the Peace Celebration to take place tomorrow.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School
18th July 1919

After play in the afternoon, the rest of the session was devoted to preparations for the Peace Celebrations on the 19th.

King Street School, Maidenhead
18th July 1919

The children devoted the afternoon to decorating their rooms for Peace Day.

Bradfield CE School
July 18th 1919

School closed this afternoon. Peace Day tomorrow.

Redlands Boys’ School, Reading
July 18th 1919

The preliminary races for the day of Peace Celebrations were run in Wheelers Meadow during the week and on account of these the lessons on the time table were not adhered to.

St John’s School. Caversham
July 18th 1919

The children left school about 2:15pm in charge of the teachers, marched to the Reading recreation ground and ran the preliminary heats of the races, the finals of which were to take place on peace day the 19th in the Palmer Park. Registers were not taken.

Battle Infants School, Reading
18th July 1919

The Head Teacher was out of school on Thursday for an hour making arrangements for the Peace Celebrations, which are taking place next week.

Joseph Henry Wilson School, Newbury
The usual lessons were suspended in the girl’s section of the school at 3.30 today. This was to enable some of the girls to practice for some items in the children’s peace celebrations festival tomorrow.

St John’s School, Reading
July 18th, 1919

The Chairman of Managers looked in on Thursday ^& Friday & arranged for a Thanksgiving Service for “Signing of Peace” next Tuesday.

Log books of Hampstead Norreys CE School (C/EL40/2); Abingdon Girls’ CE School log book (C/EL 2/2); Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School (C/EL4/2); Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1); Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School log book (90/SCH/5/3); Newbury St Nicolas CE (Girls) School log look(90/SCH/5/5); King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1); Bradfield CE School (D/P22/28/2); Redlands Boys’ School, Reading (86/SCH/3/30); St John’s School. Caversham (89/SCH/14/1); Reading: Battle Infants School (SCH20/8/2); Joseph Henry Wilson School, Newbury (N/ES7/1); St John’s School, Reading (D/P172/28A/23)

Victory Week

The war was definitely over now.

Eastbury CE School
28th June 1919

The Peace Treaty signed today.

Cookham
June 23rd-28th 1919

A “Victory Week” in connection with “Victory Bonds” was held this week and resulted in £59 being taken.

Log books of Eastbury CE Primary School, Lambourn (D/P79B/28/2, p. 360); and Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1, p. 338)

A torpedo as a war memorial

A torpedo might have been an interesting choice of war memorial, but it was not allowed.

Report of Highways Committee, 26 April 1919

WAR MEMORIALS

Cookham.

With reference to the application for consent to erect a war memorial at Cookham – referred to in the last report of the Committee – the County Surveyor has since inspected the proposed site, which is the centre of the triangular piece of waste land adjoining the main road from the Moors to Cookham village.

The Committee recommend that no objection be raised to the erection of the memorial on the site suggested.

Pangbourne.

An application has been received from Miss Waddington for permission to erect a War memorial at Pangbourne, in the middle of the Square.

As the erection thereof would cause danger to the traffic, the Committee recommend that such consent be not given.

An application has been received from the Pangbourne Parish Council for permission to place a torpedo (which has been presented to them) on the parapet of the bridge over the River Pang as a War Memorial.

The torpedo being approximately 22 ft in length, 18 in wide, and about 1 ton in weight, the Committee recommend that consent to its erection on the bridge be not given.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

Very anxious to do something in memory of the Great War and its sacrifices

A meeting was called to discuss a war memorial for Furze Platt.

January
St Peter’s War Memorial Meeting

I have been asked to call a Meeting of Furze Platt people to discuss a War Memorial, on February 12th, at 7.30 pm. The Furze Platt people are in a different position from the St Luke’s people. They are not in the Borough, and though many may contribute to the Cookham War Memorial, many would like something local at Furze Platt. So probably the War Memorial there, if one be erected, would not be in St Peter’s Church, but would take the form of something for common use irrespective of religious beliefs. There might, and probably would be, some small Memorial in connection with St Peter’s Church, but I take it in Furze Platt the big effort would have to be for something appealing to all sections of the inhabitants. I hope there will be a representative gathering at this Meeting on Wednesday, February 12th, which, as Vicar, I am venturing, by request, to summon. Further public notice will, of course, be given.

February
Furze Platt War Memorial Meeting, Wednesday, February 12th

A Meeting of all Furze Platt, Church and non-Church people alike who dwell outside the Borough, has been summoned for 7.30 pm, in the Club Room by St Peter’s Church. Those interested in the local life of Furze Platt are very anxious to do something in memory of the Great War and its sacrifices. I hope many will be present.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazines, January-February 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

Back to school after absence of 4 ½ years on H.M. Service

The return of demobilised soldiers to their own jobs meant a general reorganisation.

Cookham

February 5th 1919

Mr W Scragg commenced duty today after absence of 4 ½ years on H.M. Service.

Miss Eustace today reverted to her former position in Infant Dept.

Mr David temporarily takes charge of St III

Mr W Scragg takes charge of St VI and VII.

Reading

5/02.1919

Mr Piper has resumed duties this morning after being in temporary charge of Greyfriars School during the absence of Mr Kirby on war service.

Log books of Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1); Coley Street Primary School Reading (89/SCH/48/4)

Due to the general prevalence of illness throughout the county, people in many districts have been averse to congregating together

Applications for roadside war memorials were starting to come before Berkshire County Council.

Report of the Highways and Bridges Committee, 11 January 1919

WAR MEMORIALS

An application has been received from the Bath Road Club for sanction to erect a war memorial, in the form of a signpost, near Aldermaston lane on the Bath road.

The Committee do not recommend that consent be given.

A similar application from Cookham for permission to erect a memorial in the form of an Iona Cross is under consideration.


Report of Agricultural Instruction Committee to Education Committee, 11 January 1919

…The Committee present the following report of the Agricultural Organiser, received from the Principal and Acting Dean of University College, Reading, viz…

It should be pointed out that [during the quarter ending 31 December 1918] the work has been disorganized by the general prevalence of illness throughout the county. People in many districts have been averse to congregating together, with the result that in some places it was impossible to get audiences, whilst in others it was found necessary to postpone, or cancel, lectures which had been arranged. Moreover most, if not all members engaged on county work, have suffered illness during the quarter.

G S Bedford
Agricultural Organiser…

TRAINING OF DISCHARGED OFFICERS

The Committee have been asked to carry out a scheme for the training in agriculture of discharged officers; and a special Sub-committee has been appointed, consisting of representatives of this Committee, the Agricultural Executive Committee and the War Pensions Committee (in consultation with the Local Director of the Ministry of Labour). Under the scheme selected officers will receive an allowance of £125 per annum for 2 years, and additional allowances will be made to married officers, with children, up to £90. The administration of the scheme, and the amount of award, have been entrusted to this committee….

TRAINING OF MILKERS

Out of 29 applications, fifteen certificates have been awarded to women who (without State assistance) had been milking since the commencement of the war, and previous to 1918. Letters of appreciation have been sent to the applicants whose work was satisfactory, but whose length of service did not entitle them to certificates….

BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

“Everything is so dazzlingly beautiful that I feel like the Disciples did at the Transfiguration”

Stanley Spencer had made it home.

Fernlea, Cookham
December 16th, 1918

Dear Flongy

I received your letter today darling; your call for me. Oh everything is so dazzlingly beautiful that I feel like the Disciples did at the Transfiguration. I believe I could even go as far as to kiss Col Ricardo or Dr Batchelor but I don’t think they would quite understand.

Well, I will come if you don’t hear to the contrary on Friday 20th. I feel rather tired dear just now, but everybody says how well I look & seem too pleased to see me.

Your loving brother
Stanley

Letter from Stanley Spencer to Florence Image (D/EX801/110)

“It is very hard indeed to realise that we shall not again see his figure when he is so very much alive in the hearts of his friends”

Percy Spencer was saddened to hear of the death of his younger brother Sydney.

Sunday

My darling sister

I’m grieved that the first shock of this blow should have fallen on you, yet there must be some comfort in knowing that it was dear Syd’s great love for you that so arranged it.

As soon as I got your letter I hastened home and stayed the night. Mother grieves when she thinks about it. Father cries if it is mentioned, but it is a merciful fact that neither appears heavily overpressed by it. Mother spoke as usual about all her little worries and Father too conducts himself much as usual.

Even in Cookham he was greatly loved and it is very hard indeed to realise that we shall not again see his figure when he is so very much alive in the hearts of his friends and those who came in contact with him. It is a happy thought that his was such a straight, clean, useful life that he is not and never will be dead.

I found father difficult about Syd’s kit. I am trying to get it sent here and have been up to Cox’s twice but if, as I imagine from the fact that the War Office wired father, Syd gave him as next of kin, my instructions will not be accepted unless covered by father’s authority.

I wish you would write to father and tell him you wish Syd’s kit sent here (27 Rattray Rd) and to write me a letter asking me to arrange this. I quite agree that it would be bad for mother to go through it.

Well, dear, I am afraid this is not a very comforting letter. That God you have John, and thank God I have you both.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence (D/EZ177/7/7/94-96)

16 absent suffering from influenza

Nov. 5th [1918]

School returned after half term holiday. Several children (16) absent suffering from influenza.

Cookham Rise County Primary School log book (C/EL71)

Turkey has given in completely

Germany’s ally Turkey surrendered. Meanwhile, at home, Ernest Gardner of Cookham, the sitting Conservative MP for Wokingham, would successfully stand for Windsor at the upcoming 1918 election, following a redrawing of constituency boundaries.

31 October 1918

Turkey out of the war!

Henry & I went off after early lunch to Windsor to nominate Mr Gardner. Lloyd George in chair. Good speeches. We had coffee & tea at Langtons & then walked on terrace. So thankful Germans had not destroyed it.

Heard Turkey had given in completely. We going to Dardanelles & Constantinople. They submit to all proposals.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“Nothing that the war has brought me is anything to compare with your suffering, and no courage I have shewn, can compare with your superhuman endurance”

Florence Image reveals the strain it took to stay strong for her family in the face of Sydney’s death.

29, Boston Road
Cambridge

Oct. 29 1918

My own dear Stan

John says, “Are you writing to dear old Stanley? Then tell him his letters give me the greatest pleasure to read.” Well my darling, I do pray you will get some of our letters soon. I am getting yours so quickly – less than 3 weeks! I was dreadfully bothered about you. Do ask for leave. The infantry won’t know you have been 2 ¼ years without any. When you get back to your unit, beg the Colonel to grant you either (a) your overdue leave – or (b) sick leave with a view to discharge. Tell him how many times you have had malaria. Lloyd George promised you all leave in the spring. Last week the WO said they were granting leave as fast as possible – and again they assured the House of Commons that something like 1500 had had leave recently from Salonika – I enclose a cutting. But I hope the Min. of Inform. Affair will come off soon, if the war isn’t over first. I do long to hear the story of what you did for your Captain darling.

I feel your letters acutely darling. If my letters seem prosaic and material it’s because I have had a tremendous strain on my emotions, and I hardly dare take out my thoughts and look at them at all – because I’ve got to keep well, & be strong for all your sakes. I’ve written reams on your account – and it’s for you & Gil, and to keep Mother & Father going, for your sake, and for Perce [sic] – as well as my beloved John – I’ve got to keep going – or rather keep the ship going – See? But of course nothing that the war has brought me is anything to compare with your suffering, and no courage I have shewn, can compare with your superhuman endurance. My only struggle is not just to keep myself going – but to keep the ship going – do you understand? And so I am the most extraordinary creature apparently. I haven’t cried about Syd – and every time dear John attempts to be even sad about it – I am quite firm & cross. In fact it’s carry on – carry on – carry on – all the while – and snub every gust of longing or regret, love & hatred (like you I get awful fits of hatred as well as love) and save up all your energy for the end of the war and the radiant return to the old order – for you the front bedroom of a sunny warm day – with [Tobit?] – when the war is over. I’ll burst – and then you’ll be astonished at all I say. I get madder & amdder & madder with those who have not been wrenched up by the roots in this war. “Why cumbereth it the ground?”

Well, this is an ugly letter. It’s all imported rage with those who don’t dream what you in Salonika endure – and if they did wouldn’t dream what you in particular endure. But I do – and meanwhile I am trying to get you some light books to carry. I have ordered Andrew Marvell, and hope to get it in a week. His poems. Do you want his Satires too? And have you got a Bible? And do express any other longing you have. What you tell me of Heine & Goethe is so interesting. I’d no idea they had the taint. Tell me one or two nice things you would like to beautify your dust-bins out there. I do hope you will get the parcel with biscuits I sent you.

I heard yesterday that Syd has been awarded the Military Cross for what he did on Aug. 8th, and am vain-glorious enough to be glad, because he told me before he was killed, he was recommended for it, and was very pleased, because of the pleasure he knew it would confer on us…

Your own loving
Flongy

Have you plenty of shirts etc?

Letter from Florence Image to her brother Stanley Spencer (D/EX801/110)

“What keen, sensible, often attractive faces the Huns had: nothing vicious or brutal; even kind-looking, sometimes!”

Florence Image and her frail elderly parents were dealing bravely with the loss of Sydney.

29 Barton Road
28 Oct ‘18

My very dear old man

On Thursday [Florence] goes up to London (and to Cookham), to settle poor Syd’s affairs. She has been in correspondence with the WO (how feelingly and touchingly some of them can write) – the disposal of his kit would be an overstrain for the broken old father. The mother appears so abnormal in the unnatural cheerfulness and insouciance she shews that Florrie dreads the crash which must come, when at last she begins to realise her loss. Both parents inundate poor Florrie with constant reams of letters, of portentous length: and besides, there are numberless letters eternally reaching her from officers, and Oxford people, who loved Sydney. I think these keep her life up – for she is full of energy and even bright…

I saw a posse of Hun prisoners march by, this afternoon, escorted by a soldier with fixed bayonet, and another whose rifle looked innocuous, behind. What keen, sensible, often attractive faces the Huns had: nothing vicious or brutal; even kind-looking, sometimes! And how coarse and vulgar and unheroic look our Tommies – I have often wondered why Punch, for instance, always gives our men animal countenances – and so do the photographs in the D. Mail, whereas the photographs there of Germans are often clean cut and amiable.

Florrie received today from the Front a letter saying that news had just reached the Regiment that the Military Cross had been awarded to Sydney Spencer! Poor Syd, it was promised to him as far back as August. I recall the joy with which he told us as a secret not to be spoken of. It will be a pride to us, in token that, in his 6 months’ active service, he bore himself manfully.

Florrie isn’t the least scared about Influenza. Our streets reek of eucalyptus and all the ladies are sucking Formamint.

With our dear good wishes to you both

Your loving friend
J M Bild

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

“Thy warfare is accomplished”

The devasated father of Sydney Spencer wrote a poem in tribute to his son.

To Sydney

O well-beloved! How shall we pay
The debt to thee we owe?
How find the words half adequate
Thy priceless worth to show?

Fair as the Evening Star wert thou
Pure as the morning dew
As gentle as a little child
Brave as the dauntless few

Who once at Crecy did withstand
Their proud insisting foes
And scattered them in hideous rout
With their good English bows

So with thy peers didst thou withstand
Th’exciting German host
With them didst share the glorious day
That shamed the foe’s proud boast

Thou took’st thy Father’s gifts with joy
The beauty of the flowers
The glory of the starry sky
And of the cloud-built towers

The thoughts of great men fitly clothed
In words that flame like fire
And Music’s deep, mysterious voice
For thou could’st touch the lyre

Thine was a perfect sacrifice
In thought, in will, in deed;
Thou couldst have been in England still
But thou wert of the breed

Who hear the clarion call but once
To where red Danger’s tide
Most fiercely sets, and thither haste
As bridegroom to his bride

Could’st thou have known, thou had’st forgiven
The foe who aimed the shell
For in thy brave and gentle heart
Nought but pure love did dwell

Would we have shaped it otherwise?
‘Twas not within our choice;
Or, still to feel thy loving touch,
To hear thy gentle voice

To Duty we had recreant proved
Perchance, and tried to sway
Thy steps from that appointed path
Which thou didst know thy Way

“Thy warfare is accomplished”
Life’s battle nobly won
And thou beyond the stars hast heard
Thy Father’s great “Well Done”

FATHER
Fernley, Cookham, Oct. 22nd, 1918

Poem by William Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/78)

“I have lost a friend”

A neighbour offers symapthy for the loss of Sydney Spencer.

Hedsordene
Cookham

3-10-18

My dear Floory

It was with the greatest sorrow Gwyn & I heard the sad news contained in your letter to Miss Bailey – Syd was such a ‘friend’ & we have known so much more of him during these years of war. He was so kind & cared so truly for others – poor or rich – & the pleasures he has given to Gwyn are numerous, helping her with her ‘collections’, badges or what-not.

G. was broken-hearted on hearing it, saying truly “I have lost a friend”.

Percy is down today – & he says Mrs Spencer & Annie are most brave – but Mr Spencer is feeling it very keenly – I feel so very sorry for you – you seem to have to shoulder all the trials & worries for your people. I do hope Mr Image will soon be better, but this sudden change to winter has been very trying.

I will call & see Mrs Spencer in a day or two, but I felt with Percy there, they would prefer to be alone.

Bess is staying with me for a few days. She is quite tired with her long duty at Hospital.

With our truest sympathy & kind regards to your husband –

Yours sincerely

Amy

Letter of sympathy to Florence Image on the death of Sydney (D/EX801/81)