“Are we down-hearted”?

A PoW writes home after two years in the hands of the enemy.

Prisoners of War.

We think it would interest our readers to see extracts from letters from one of our Prisoners of War, Private W. Simmonds, of Dedworth. Every month we send in from Clewer a small collection for the Prisoners of War Fund. This month 16/- was sent. The Boys of St. Augustine’s Home contribute largely towards it. Mrs. Buttress and Mrs. Cowie very gladly receive contributions, however small, as they all mount up. They are sent in the beginning of each month, and after reading the letter you will see how very grateful the recipients are. The parcels used to be packed weekly at the Town Hall, Windsor, but now they are sent straight from the London Depot, 4, Thurloe Place, London, S.W.

Letter from Private Simmonds, Kriegsgefangenenlager, Prisoner of War, Langensalza, Germany, Jan., 1917.

Dear Mrs. Cowie,

So pleased to have the pleasure of writing to you, to let you know that I am still in splendid health, thanks to the parcels you send me weekly, for these I think go a long way to keep our spirits up in this very trying time, but I suppose we shall have to stick to our well-known motto – “Are we down-hearted”? At present there is still the same answer amongst us, that is, “No.” But we shall be pleased when it is all finished and we can return to those who are dear to us again.

Madam, I should be very pleased if you can give any instructions as to the acknowledging of the parcels, as no name of the donor is received from the Central Prisoners of War Committee, London. It was a splendid parcel, and of course I should like for yourself to continue packing the parcel, but there we are in war time, and orders are orders, so we must abide by them for the present, but not much longer, I hope.

You say in your letter, Madam, that we must have patience, but I am afraid mine won’t last out; being here two years has tried my patience to its utmost, but still with the help of those fine parcels I have managed to pull through with flying colours. I shall certainly have to visit that War Shrine in Dedworth when I return.

And now will you kindly convey best wishes and thanks to His Worship the Mayor of Windsor, yourself, and all helpers of the Committee and all in the dear old Royal Borough and vicinity for their-never-to-be-forgotten kindness towards myself and all other unfortunate comrades of the Borough. I am sure, Madam, if you and the Mayor heard how good we all speak of you, you would be prouder than the V.C. winner. Again thanking you and all members of the Committee for their kindness,

I remain yours thankfully,

W. SIMMONDS (Private).

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

“It is wonderful how the poor have given, when prices are so high”

Even the poor were willing to give what they could to assist men disabled by their war service. The Royal Star and Garter Home was a home for the most severely affected, housed in a former pub called the Star & Garter in Richmond, Surrey, which was opened in January 1916. It still exists, although in different premises.

The collection for the Star and Garter Fund for totally disabled soldiers and sailors was a great success. Mrs. Cowie was able from the collections sent in to her to forward £10 3s., while other sums collected in Clewer brought the whole amount to £35. A letter of acknowledgement was received from the local Secretary, who writes: “I can’t thank you enough for the splendid help your Parish has given. Do thank them. It is wonderful of them to give so well. I am so grateful to all the collectors.” It is wonderful how the poor have given, when prices are so high.’

IN MEMORIAM.
We regret to have to record the death of Sergt. Fountain, 16, Newington Place. He was killed in action last month, and leaves a widow with five young children. She has received several kind letters of sympathy from the Chaplain and others who knew him at the front, which show how much he was respected by all who knew him.’

Towards the end of September, it is proposed to hold a small Sale of Work and other articles towards the expenses of the Clewer Bandage Society. The price of bandaging has increased, but by means of the Sale it is hoped that the work of the Society may be carried on during the winter.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, Seotember 1916 (D/P39/28A/9)

Keep the old flag flying: Clewer Green children boost army morale

The children of Clewer Green School were enthusiastic suppliers of not only warm clothing for the troops, but of morale boosting letters. The parish magazine reported on their work, and quotes from the letters they got in return:

Since the return of the children to school after the summer holidays, the girls under the able direction of Miss Hughes have been busily engaged in making comforts for our troops at the Front.

The industry they have displayed may be gathered from the fact that 20 nightshirts have been made during School hours and have been despatched through Mrs. Cowie.

The children’s patriotism has not ended with their work at school. In their own time they have made numerous pairs of socks, sleeping socks, scarves, mittens, and gloves. These have been sent direct to the Front, each parcel being accompanied by cheering letters from the children.

Judging by the replies received by teachers and children the articles seem to have given great satisfaction to the recipients, whilst the letters served to remind them that the thoughts, hopes, and prayers of the Clewer Green children were with them.

The following extracts are worth recording:-

I am glad you are so cheerful and not expecting the Germans over there. They will never pass our troops…The enemy in the trenches are trying to learn our song, their trenches being less than 100 yards away in some places. They have a gramophone, and our fellows like this and join in the chorus.

Your letter made us really proud to think that even you and your fellow-mates, so young, should think of us in these times. We notice how you hope we shall get through to Berlin, and I must tell you that we all hope the same thing, and when a lot of ‘English Tommies’ set out to go to a place, they usually get there.

We are very grateful to all the little girls and boys who are not old enough to join the Army or Red Cross Nursing Society for helping by kindly making warm clothing for the troops.

I have just received a parcel and found inside a letter from you, and I think about the finest pair of gloves I have ever had the pleasure to wear. I am most grateful to you for your kindness. We were one and all pleased to know that the boys and girls in England were doing their best for us all and helping to keep the old flag flying.

We are very thankful to your kind teachers for teaching you to be so patriotic and loyal.

It is nice to hear from children at home, and it shows us that you are thinking of us and your country in this sad time. I am sure yours must be a nice School.

[Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P39/28A/9)

Clewer Bandage Society supplies war hospitals

The ladies of Clewer were very organised in their work supporting the needs of the wounded across the country.  They reported in the parish magazine:

The Clewer Bandage Society has supplied 2,000 bandages to the 4th Dragoon Guards and boxes of bandages, old linen and lint to the London Hospital, St. Bartholomew’s, the Lonsdale Hospital, Barrow-in-Furness, which receives the accident cases from Vickers’ ship building yard, amounting to 50 daily, and since the war began has wounded soldiers also; and the Connaught Hospital, where a new consignment of wounded soldiers has just been received.
The lint has been made by the Candidates of the G.F.S. [Girls’ Friendly Society], who are pleased to render this small service to the noble defenders of out country and homes.
A blanket and some knitting has also been sent to Miss Anson for Chatham.
Contributions towards the purchase of bandage material and knitting wool are now much needed by the Secretary.
MRS. RIBBANS, Bexley Lodge, Clewer.

The Connaught Hospital,
Aldershot, 12/11/14.
Dear Madam,
The officer in charge has asked me to thank you for the most useful gifts which are so acceptable, as we are using such a tremendous amount of dressings.
The old linen does to make “many tailed” bandages for septic cases which can be used and burnt.
I will distribute the leaflets and ask some of the officers’ wives to help.
Again thanking you for your kindness,
Yours very truly,
E. M. ROBINSON, Matron.

In addition to the collection made for the Belgian refugees in Church, Mrs. Cowie and Mrs. Buttress are receiving small weekly sums for the same purpose, which are paid in to the Windsor Fund on the first day of each month.

Clewer parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P39/28A/9)