An Institution in which disabled sailors and soldiers could be taught crafts and trades and thus become able to do useful work would be the best form of memorial

What form should a county-wide memorial take?

1 September 1919

The suggestions as to the form of the memorial put forward by Lady Wantage, Alderman Cox, Brigadier General Wigan, Mr Bartholomew of the Oxford Street Social Club and Lt Col Walsh were considered. None of the suggestions were regarded favourably and the meeting discussed generally what kind of memorial would seem most suitable having regard to the fact that a County Memorial was wanted.

Schemes of a utilitarian nature were favoured by Alderman Martin and also by Councillor Quelch, but each referred to the question of a scheme of the kind having a limited radius of usefulness and could not benefit the whole county. Mr F G Belcher suggested that an Institution in which disabled sailors and soldiers could be taught crafts and trades and thus become able to do useful work would be the best form of memorial. He alluded to the monotony of the lives of these poor men, and the need to do everything possible to provide them with interests in life. As an alternative he suggested the establishment of an Orphanage to benefit the children of the men who had fallen in the war. The Chairman pointed out that in any such Institution the question of endowments to provide an income for its maintenance must be met and also that the need of either kind of Institution would pass away within a limited number of years.

It was proposed by Councillor Quelch and seconded by Alderman Martin, “that in all the circumstances and having regard to the fact that no scheme of a utilitarian nature would be likely to benefit the whole county, this Committee is compelled to fall back on the proposal to erect a suitable monument as a permanent memorial in commemoration of the sailors and soldiers of Berkshire who had lost their lives in the war”. Passed unanimously.

Councillor Quelch proposed and Alderman Martin seconded “that the architects of Berkshire be invited to assist the Committee by submitting, voluntarily, sketch plans of such designs as would in their opinion be suitable for the purpose required.” Passed unanimously.

It was mentioned that some 8000 to 10000 names would require to be inscribed.

The question of site was spoken of, and Councillor Quelch undertook to bring the subject forward at the next meeting of the Markets and Estates Committee of the [Reading] Town Council who would no doubt consider the possibility of assisting the project by offering sites which might be suitable for the building of the monument.

The Secretary was requested to ascertain the terms upon which the triangular piece of land at the junction of Caversham Road and Friar Street could be acquired in the event of its being a fitting position for the memorial.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

A memorial commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it

The great and good of Berkshire gathered to consider a county war memorial. They decided ordinary soldiers should be involved too.

30 July 1919
Meeting of the War Memorial General Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reading, on the 30th July 1919.

Present
J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Chairman
Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, Vice Chairman
Mrs L Hayward, Mayoress of Reading
Col T J Bowles
Louis H Beard esquire, Constable of Hungerford
Councillor W E Collier
F J K Cross esquire
W Dockar Drysdale esquire
Ernest Gardner esquire, MP
Rev F J C Gillmor
S H Hodgkin esquire
Councillor W R Howell
Dr J B Blay
Councillor Edward Jackson
A J Mackay esquire
Councillor Frank E Moring
H C Mylne esquire, Mayor of Wokingham
Councillor Thomas Norris
W Howard Palmer esquire
Major M L Porter
Councillor L E Quelch
F A Sargeant esquire, Deputy Mayor of Reading
Councillor Wm Sparks
Edmund Stevens esquire
E M Sturges esquire
G A Watson esquire
Col George S Willes

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted the resolutions adopted at the Public Meeting held on the 22nd July appointing and defining the duties of the Committee.

This being the first meeting of the Committee since their appointment the Committee proceeded to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman, when J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, was elected to be Chairman and Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, was elected to be Vice Chairman.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council read apologies for absence from the following:

Lady Wantage
Col F W Foley
Brigadier General J E Wigan
Alderman F A Cox
Lt Col Leslie Wilson MP
P E Crutchley esquire
W Crosland esquire
Col J C Carter
W Carter esquire, Mayor of Windsor
Sir Geo Young, bart
Major C W Darby-Griffith
C Adrian Hawker esquire
Rev W M Rawlinson
F A Simonds esquire
Mrs G S Abram

The Committee then considered the appointment of a secretary and
Resolved: That, if he be willing to act, Mr E W J Arman, late Postmaster of Reading, be appointed Honorary Secretary to the Committee.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted a letter, dated 28th July, which the Town Clerk of Reading had received from Col F W Foley, expressing the opinion that more members of the rank and file of the many battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment should serve on the Committee, and, upon consideration thereof,

It was Resolved: That three nominations of NCOs or men for representation on the Committee be invited from each of the following:

1. The regular battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
2. The Berkshire Territorial Force Association.
3. The Comrades of the Great War.
4. The Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers.


[An Executive Committee was appointed]

It was decided that it be a recommendation to the Executive Committee to frame their scheme and inscription as commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it.

It was decided that the suggestions received from Lady Wantage, Brigadier General J T Wigan, Alderman Cox, Lt Col Walsh and others as to the form which the memorial should take be referred to the Executive Commmittee for their consideration.

The question of the desirability of limiting the amount of individual subscriptions was considered but no resolution upon the subject was passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

The response to the appeal for subscriptions has been, on the whole, deplorably bad

Would St Bartholomew’s School memorial be able to go ahead?

THE WAR MEMORIAL.

Committee.
E.W. Mansfield, Chairman of the Govenors.
C.A. Hawker, Mayor.
F.W. Thoyts, Chairman of the School Committee.
H.F.E. Peake, Chairman of the Finance Committee.

Governors of the School.
A.E. Allnatt, formerly Cricket Captain.
E. Bradfield, formerly Senior Prefect.
I.K. Fraser, formerly Senior Prefect and Editor of “The Newburian”.
A.J. Coles, formerly Senior Prefect, “Editor of The Newburian,” Captain of Football XV.

Old Boys.
B.C.L. James, Senior Prefect.
E. Sharwood-Smith, Head Master.
C. St. A. Lee, Second Master, Hon. Sec. and Treasurer of Committee.

All communications should be addressed to Mr. Lee.

THIRD LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS.

In publishing the third list of subscribers to the War Memorial Fund, we would point out that the response to the appeal for subscriptions has been, on the whole, deplorably bad. It is to be hoped that the many Old Boys and others connected with the school who have not already sent in their donations will make an immediate response to this most important appeal.

£ s d

Pte. A.E.J. Chislett 10 0 0
H. Chislett, Esq. 5 0 0
E.B. Milnes, Esq. 5 0 0
P. Williams, Esq. 5 0 0
J. Rankin, Esq. 3 3 0
Lt. W.B. Collins 2 0 0
Mrs. Shaw 2 0 0
K.P.Leng, Esq. 2 0 0
Corpl.H.S. Hobbs }
Sgt. P.R. Hobbs} 1 0 0
Capt. J. Allee 1 1 0
J.F. Cannan, Esq. 1 0 0
T. Bradfield, Esq. 1 1 0
Lt. W.H. Glover 1 1 0
Miss Brough 1 10 0
Miss Gibson 1 0 0
P. Simmons, Esq. 1 1 0
Miss Farmer 10 6
J. Parr, Esq. 10 0
J.B. Webb, Esq. 10 6
W.C. Franks 10 6
B.C.L. James 10 6
Mrs. Huxham 10 0
Mrs. Staples 10 0
Mrs. Hale 10 0
J.W.Knight, Esq. 5 0

ROLL OF THE FALLEN

ALLEN, Pte. W.H., Grenadier Guards.
BANCE, Lieut., R.A., 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment.
BUCKINGHAM, Lieut., P.E., R.A.F.
BURGESS, Lieut., N.G., Croix de Guerre, R.N.V.
CANNON, H.S., Motor Despatch Rider.
CHISLETT, Trooper, H.J.W., 1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry.
COWELL-TOWNSHEND, Lieut., R., R.A.F.
COX, Pte., C.W., Royal Berkshire Regiment.
CURNOCK, Lieut., C.A., 10th East Surrey Regiment.
DAVIES, Corpl., P.E., 10th East Surrey Regiment.
DAVIS, A.H., London Artists Corps.
EDWARDS, 2nd Lieut., F.A.L., M.C., Royal Berkshire Regiment.
EVERS, Capt., B.S., 9th West Yorkshire Regiment.
GRIFFIN, 2nd Lieut., H.S., 2/24th Royal Berkshire Regiment.
HALLEN, Corpl., J.V., 1st Surrey Rifles.
HARRIS, L.A., Royal Warwick Regiment.
HERBERT, Pte. G.W., Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
JONES, Rfn., S.W., 2nd Rifle Brigade .
MATHEWS, Trooper, S.W., 2nd Rifle Brigade.
MORTIMER, Pte. F.C., 4th North Staffordshire Regiment.
MYDDELTON, 2nd Lieut., E.G., Suffolk Regiment.
NASH, Pte. J.O., Royal Engineers.
PATTERSON, Capt., R.A., 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade.
PAYZE, A.R., 50th Canadian Gordon Highlanders.
PEARSON, Pte. K.H., Artists’ Rifles.
PLENTY, Major, E.M., R.A.F.
QUARTERMAN, 2nd Lieut., P.H., 2/24th East Lancashire Regiment.
RAVENOR, Lieut., G.P., Royal Berkshire Regiment.
RAVENOR, Corpl., H., Australian Contingent.
ROBINSON, 2nd Lieut., A.H., 1st Manchester Regiment.
SOLWAY, Pte. D.G., Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry attached Royal Berkshire Regiment.
SAVAGE, 2nd Air Mechanic, E.G., Royal Flying Corps.
SHARP, Lieut., F.H., Royal Berkshire Regiment.
SHIPLEY, Trooper, A.J., Berkshire Yeomanry.
SHUTLER, Pte. R., Berkshire Yeomanry.
SOMERSET, Lieut., F.H., South African Infantry.
STEVENS, Pte. E.J., M.M., Royal Army Medical Corps.
SWINLEY, Lieut., G.N.B., 3rd Battalion K.O.S.B.
WARREN, Sergt.-Major, C.M.
WILDE, Lieut., E.J., Leicester Regiment.
WYLLIE, Corpl., A., Berkshire Yeomanry, attached Worcester Regiment.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), April 1919 (N/D161/1/9)

Military distinctions awarded to Caversham men

Caversham men were honoured for serving.

Military Distinctions Awarded to Caversham Men

Second –lieut. D.T. Cowan, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Military Cross; Capt. C. Gentry-Birch, Royal Berks Regiment, Military Cross; Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, Royal Army Chaplains Dept, Military Cross; Capt. A. Hill, Surrey Yeomanry, Military Cross; Capt. (Rev) W.M. Austin, 1st Wiltshire Regiment, Military Cross; Capt. G.O. Taylor, R.E., Military Cross; Capt. E.F. Churchill, R.E. Military Cross; Lieut. Rollo, Scots Greys, Military Cross; Lieut. H.C. Powell, R.G.A., Military Cross; Sergt-Major D.E. Deane, R.A.M.C., Military Cross; Lieut F.C. Ransley, R.A.F. Distinguished Flying Cross and French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star; Lieut. B.J.E. Belcher, R.AF. Distinguished Flying Cross; Sergt. A. Price, R.G.A. Distinguished Conduct Medal; Pte. W. Shackleton, 3rd Royal Berks, Distinguished Conduct Medal; Pte J. Girdler, Distinguished Conduct Medal; *Pte. J. Cox, 1ST Grenadier Guards, Distinguished Conduct Medal; *Pte. H. Godwin, 1ST Berks Yeomanry, Military Medal; * Pte. F. de Grunchy, 4TH Royal Berks, Military Medal; * Pte. H. Simmonds, R.A.M.C., Military Medal; Pte. F. Neale, 1st Royal Berks, Military Medal; Pte W. H. Heath, R.A.M.C. Military Medal; Sig-Cpl. F.J. Pointer, R.G.A., Military Medal and Bar; Pte. H.D. Helmore, 1st Royal Warwicks, Military Medal and Italian Bronze Medal for Valour; Gunner T.W. Shuff, R.H.A., Belgian Croix de Guerre; Mec-Staff-Sergt. J.W. Beasley, Meritorious Medal.
*Formerly members of Caversham C.L.B.

CAVERSHAM ROLL OF HONOUR
Third List
POWELL, Capt. E.I. Royal Sussex Peppard Road March 22, 1918
Bryant, Trumpet. F.N. R.E. 59, Queens’s Road July 16, 1917
Bryant, Cpl. S.C. R.E. 59, Queen’s Road
Bell, Cpl. A.J. R.E. 188, Westfield Road
Blackall, Pte. A.E.J. 2/4 R. Berks 8, Cromwell Road Dec. 7 1917
Briant, Pte. A.E.J. 6TH Royal Berks Emmer Green Aug. 15 1917
Bue, Pte. W. 27th Enniskillens Emmer Green Oct. 20 1917
Bennett, Pte. T.A. Gloucester Regt 92 Queens Road Dec. 5 1915
Bristow, Pte. H. R.E. 114, Queens Road Dec 21 1916
Carter, Pte. C. London Regt 69, Briant’s Av Nov 22 1917
Chamberlain, Pte. F. R.H.A., Berks Emmer Green Aug 28 1918
Cox, Seaman D.E. R.N. 18, Coldicutt Street Oct 1918
Doe, Bomb, S.W. R.H.A. 68, Prospect Street Nov 26 1917
Davis, Pte. J. Royal Berks 9, Donkin Hill May 31 1918
Eacott, Pte. H.W. 14TH Royal Warwicks 121, Gosbrook Rd Oct 26 1917
Fuller, Pte. F.G. Rifle Brigade 18, King’s Road May 9 1915
Goodwin, Pte. F.C. 6TH London 168, Hemdean Rd April 14 1917
Gibbins, L-Cpl. A.G. 28TH London 33, South View Av July 16 1918
Hatto, L-Cpl. H.H. 1/4TH R. Berks 111, Kidmore Rd Aug 16 1917
Havell, Pte. H.A. 2ND Ox and Bucks Emmer Green Nov 3 1917
Harrison, Seaman G. H.M.S. Victory 54, Briants Av Sept 4 1918
Higg, Pte. W. Rifle Brigade 105, Queens Road 1916
Jones, Pte, T.J. Northumb. Fus 100, Kings Road Dec 17 1916
Knight, Pte. R.R. Royal Berks 145, Queens Road Aug 26 1918
Morgan, Pte. S. Liverpool Regt 57, westfield Road June 20 1917
Martin, L-Cpl. B.E. R.M.L.I. 163, Gosbrook Road Aug 25 1918
Mott, Pte. S. R.G.A. 79, kidmore Road Sept 21 1918
Miles, Pte. G. R.F.A. 96, Kings Road July 31 1918
Nicholls, Lieut. H.G. 2nd Royal Berks 5, Queens Road May 28 1918
Nicholls, Pte. J. M.T. 3, River View Cots 1918
Povey, Cpl. J. R.H.A. 4, Queens Street April 16 1915
Palmer, Pte. H.T. 1ST Warwicks 34, George Street April 18 1918
Purvey, Pte. W. Oxon & Bucks 16, King’s Road Feb 25 1918
Purvey, Pte. E. R.A.S.C. 16, King’s Road April 12 1918
Rampton, Pte W. Labour Corps 35, Gosbrook St April 9 1918
Robinson, Pte. H. 7TH Queens 34, Priory Avenue Sept 22 1918
Swift, Pte. H.G. 3RD Rifle Brigade 31, Oxford Street May 19 1918
Semple, Pte. H. 2/4TH Royal Berks Emmer Green July 16 1916
Semple, Cadet. F.J.M. R.A.F. 23, Priest Hill Oct 30 1918

Caversham parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P162/28A/7)

Very fine work has been done

Another war hospital closed its doors. This one had been in the Working Men’s Club in Mortimer.

The V.A.D. Hospital

After four years and six months’ valued service, the Mortimer War Hospital closed its doors on February 28th. Under many difficulties, and in spite of frequent changes in the staff, very fine work has been done, and Miss Wyld. M.B.E., is to be congratulated upon the way in which she has, as Commandant, stuck to her work through thick and thin. Six hundred and thirty-four patients have passed through the hospital. To Dr. Cox and to all the voluntary staff these owe a deep debt of gratitude.

The Commandant writes as follows:-

“I should like to take this opportunity of thanking all the many kind friends who have so constantly sent gifts, often unknown to me, which have been a great boon to our many patients during the past 4 ½ years.

F. M. Wyld, Commandant.”

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

These served their King by land or sea from the Parish of Wargrave during the Great War

A final list of the Wargrave men who served in the war. NB: where this symbol † appears in the list, an entry for this soldier exists in the corresponding supplement to follow.

ROLL OF HONOUR.

These served their King by land or sea from the Parish of Wargrave during the Great War.

Additions and Corrections for this Roll should be sent to the Vicar as soon as possible.

Adby, L.
Adby, C.
Adby, W.
Adby, O.
Alderton, F. J.
Allen, C. W.
Allum, H.
Amos, G.
Andrew, H.
Arnold, A. E.
Arnold, W.
Attlesey, H. F.
(more…)

Reading School’s contribution to the war

A complete listing of Reading School’s alumni who had served in the war.

OLD BOYS SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES.

This list has been compiled from information received up to December 14th, 1918; corrections and additions will be welcomed and should be addressed to: – R. Newport, Esq., Reading School, Reading.

Allnatt, Rifleman N.R. — London Rifle Brigade.
(killed in Action).
Ambrose, 2nd Lieut. L.C. — S.L.I.
Anderson, Pte. L.G. — Can. Exp. Force
Appelbee, 2nd Lieut. T. — 13TH West Yorks.
(Killed in Action).
Atkinson, Lieut. E.G. — Indian Army
Atkinson, Capt. G.P. — 6TH Royal North Lancs.
Atkinson, 2nd Lieut. J.C. — R.A.F.
Aust, 2nd Lieut. H.E. — Yorkshire Regt.
(Twice Wounded).
(Killed in Action).
Aveline, Lieut. A.P. — Royal Berks Regt,
(Wounded).
(Military Cross).
Baker, 2nd Lieut. A.C.S. — R.G.A.
Baker, Rifleman A.E. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Rifleman R.S. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Lieut. T.H. — 8TH Royal Berks Regt.
(Wounded)
Balding, Capt. C.D. — Indian Army.
Banks, Pte. W.R. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Bardsley, Capt. R.C — Manchester Regt.
(Wounded).
Barnard, F.P. —
Barroby, Trooper. F. — Strathcona Horse.
Barry, Capt. L.E. — R.A.F.
Baseden, Lieut. E. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Baseden, 2nd Lieut. M.W. — R.A.F.
Batchelor, Lieut. A.S. — Duke of Cornwall’s L.I.
Bateman, Capt. W.V. — Royal Munster Fusiliers.
Bayley, 2nd Lieut. F. — Chinese Labour Battalion.
Beckingsale, Pte. R.S. — Canadian Contingent.
Beckingsale, Capt. R.T. — Tank Corps (Military Cross).
(Wounded).

Belsten, E.K. — R.A.F.
Biddulph, 2nd Lieut. R.H.H. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Died of Wounds).
Bidmead, Pte. — Wilts regt.
Black, Pte. F. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Blazey, A.E.H. — R.A.F.
Blazey, 2nd Lieut. J.W. — Royal Berks Regt
(killed in Action).
Bleck, Lieut. W.E. — R.F.A.
Bliss, 2nd Lieut. A.J. — Leinster Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Bliss, Pte. W. — 2ND Batt.Hon.Art.Coy. (more…)

“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)

“When my enemy is dead then he is but a soul thrown into the boundless space of infinity, & he is no longer my enemy”

We have followed the story of Sydney Spencer from timid young man scared by the roughness of the army, but driven to join up; through his finally ariving at the front in 1918, to an experience with shell shock in August. Sadly, he would not survive the war. This is the last full letter written by Sydney to his beloved sister Florence; a couple of field postcards followed, before his death in action less than two months before the end of the war. Here he describes his current bivouac, and spares a thought for the enemy. His story epitomises the tragedy of the war, and his spirit shines through the years between us.

Sept 15th 1918
7th Norfolks
My Dearest Florence

My pillow is my haversack containing iron rations, my bedding, borrowed Burberrys eyc. (My kit – all of it – is still wandering about between here & Cox & Co’s London!) Now for the door which is the chef d’oeuvre! It is about 2 ½ feet square i.e. the opening of it! The door is a lid of a sugar box which just fits it! Hence when I go to bed, I lie down on the ground & pull myself into the bivouac by my hands. When I go out, I have to go feet first, & back out probably looking about as dignified in the action as does a dog over whose head some wretched boy has tied a paper bag! Dear old Dillon [his captain] chuckles with delight when he sees me getting in & out. My batman is about as big as I am [Sydney was rather small] & he & I are about the only two who can fit inside! Mind you I believe that he & Bodger (Dillon’s batman) made the entrance small on purpose, a covert pulling of my leg. Nevertheless it is so ‘cumfy’ [sic] & warm & dry I love the little spot. Its dimensions are 7 feet length, 4 feet breadth. Height 2 ½ to 3 feet high. Voila ma cherie. Vous avez une phantasie vraisemblable de ma maisonette qui doit vous donner a rire? [This rather bad piece of French translates as “there you are, my darling. You have a vision resembling my little house which will make you laugh”.] …

Two nights ago German aeroplanes (note I say German, I hate ‘Hun’, ‘boche’ etc, it is petty!) came over on bombing intent. A low moon sickly behind a cloud hung (it could not do much else by the way!) in the sky! Planes over. Lights out! The usual boredom. Then about 14 search lights crisscrossed in the sky. Hallo, they have got one in the ray. I had my strong field glasses & there sure enough in the focus of about a dozen searchlights I could see him. He glowed against the deep blue green of the sky, like those lovely flies of May which have transparent emerald green wings. The usual rat-a-tan of machine guns & the muffled boom of shells bursting round him followed. Then high above him appeared a speck of light like a star which winked & glowed & winked again. Machine gun fire stopped. This was one of our men after him. A moment of waiting, a dull spark of light like a shooting star (a tracer bullet) sped by the enemy plane, another one, a momentary pause then a sheet of flame curved gracefully to earth followed by a brilliant stream of coloured lights – some mystic comet from a Miltonian chaos & dark night it looked – & the soul of an enemy passed into the infinite. Over lonely wooden crosses in shell holes one sees in German characters a name & above it the one word ‘Ruhe’ [rest]. I felt that for him. Through all this I cannot help preserving the thought that when my enemy is dead then he is but a soul thrown into the boundless space of infinity, & he is no longer my enemy. Another enemy plane came, another fight took place & he sped to earth at a sickly pace, his signal rockets all colours bursting out behind him in reckless profusion. I suppose he crashed to earth too somewhere, but he did not set on fire.

This afternoon I was in my nothings & a very smart sergeant came up to me & said, “Are you Sydney Spencer”? Well I thought “Yes I am Sydney Spencer as it happens but anyway what the – is it to do with you”, & then “My word, it is Frank Godfrey!” My dear, I was so overwhelmed at meeting someone from Cookham, that I nearly fell on his neck in front of the whole company – all with their nothings on – & wept. I had not seen him since Aug 1914. Thus does anyone from home stir one!

Percy. How is he? I hoped he would be held in bed for months to prevent his coming out soon….

Leave. Think, Florence, I have been out here 6 months & possibly before Christmas I may get leave! And then a rug in front of a warm fire, your sweet selves to charm me to laziness and – oh well – let’s wait till it comes off. I might get impatient if I wrote more on that score. …

Cigarettes. By the way, you said in one of your letters that you had sent Dillon 500 cigarettes. I think from a business point of view you should know that the parcel contained 200. He did not tell me for a long time, but when he did, I thought you ought to know in case Coln Lunn [the merchant] made a mistake & only packed 200, charging you with 500.

The men were delighted with the share they got of them. Dillon, dear old chap, was almost pathetically grateful….

My kit & cheque book are wandering about somewhere in France or England & have been doing so for the last about 40 days, & at present I sit twiddling my thumbs & waiting! When I came out of hospital, lo! I had no hat, no belt, no change of linen, no nothing except for a pair of Tommy’s slacks & a tunic! I managed to go to Le Havre where I spent fabulous sums on making myself look like an officer, having managed to borrow a cheque, which I changed at Cox & Co’s…

By the way, darling, you may send that kit for which I asked although probably by the time I get it all my other kit will come tumbling back & then I shall be once more told I possess too much.

All love to you my sweet sister & to John, of whose approbation – told me through your letters – I am more proud than I can say

Your always affectionate Brer Sydney

Letter from Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EZ177/8/3/79-82)

“The real thing: he was a rock, strong, capable, self-reliant, and possessed the complete confidence of every man and officer in the battalion”

A tribute was paid to a Burghfield hero.

THE WAR

IN MEMORIAM

George Ouvry William Willink, MC
2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

George was only 2 ½ years old when the family came here, in July 1890, so his life’s home has been in the parish, and he loved it. And that he has not been spared to live out his days at Hillfields is a sore loss to all classes.

Perhaps no record can be more suitable for printing in the Magazine than the following notice by his Eton Tutor, Mr Vaughan, his parents’ old friend, which appeared in the Eton College Chronicle:

“George Willink came from Mr Locke’s school, St Neot’s, Eversley, in 1901 to Mr Vaughan’s House. Diffident at first, and somewhat slow in thought, he yet showed already those qualities of steadfastness, unselfishness and good temper, which in time won for him the respect and affection of all. He made himself, by pluck and concentration, one of the best in the House at football and fives. In the Lent Half of 1907 he played for Eton v. Harrow in the first “Rugger” match between the two schools, when Eton won by 12 points to 0, and in the summer of that year rowed 2 in the Eight at Henley, and thus at the end of his blameless career came into his own.

“He was always so self-effacing”, writes the boy who was his most intimate friend in the House, “that it was only those who knew him really well, as I did, that realised what a splendid fellow he was”.

It might truly have been said of him at Eton, as it was at Oxford, that “Things, whatever they were, would go all right, if he was mixed up with them.” Throughout his life he thus exercised far more influence than he himself realised. “If my own sons”, his Oxford tutor wrote, “should grow up with that sort of character, I should feel more thankful for this than for anything else in the world.”

In 1907 he went up to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he not only rowed in the Varsity Trial Eights, and managed his College Boat Club, of which he was captain, but worked hard at History, and reaped his reward by obtaining a Second Class in the History School in 1911. In 1913 he was called to the Bar. A keen member of the Eton, and of the Oxford, OTC, in both of which he was a sergeant, he had, on coming to London, joined the Inns of Court OTC (in which his father had once been a captain), and was a lieutenant when the war broke out.

He commanded for some time as captain, No. 1 Company of the Battalion at Berkhamsted, and the universal testimony of officers and men to his good work is remarkable. The words of one of the former (Sir F G Kenyon) may be quoted: “There never was an officer more hard-working, more conscientious, more self-sacrificing, and without claiming any credit for himself”.

In 1916, as soon as he could obtain permission to leave Berkhamsted, he joined the Berks Territorials, in his his brother Captain F A Willink had already seen foreign service, and in July proceeded to France.

In 1917 he was mentioned in dispatches, and later gained the MC for a daring rescue by digging out with a few men, under heavy fire, some buried gunners. Rejoining his regiment, after a “course” behind the lines, on March 23rd, he took over command of his Battalion, the CO having been killed a few days before.

On the 28th he fell while he was gallantly leading, in advance of his men, a counter-attack. “On the first day that I took over the brigade, in September 1916,” writes his Brigadier, “I put him down in my mind at once as the real thing. He was a rock, strong, capable, self-reliant, and possessed the complete confidence of every man and officer in the battalion.”

In the words of a barrister, twenty years his senior in age, who served as his CSM at Berkhamsted: “He was one of the ‘gentlemen unafraid’ and as such has found his welcome in Valhalla’”.

More might be said, especially as to the affection which he inspired, as well as confidence. But this is not the place for it, and after all, his Burghfield neighbours know.

Honours and Promotions

Temp. Lt Geoffrey H B Chance to be Temp. Captain from 27th April 1917.

Casualties

Private E J V Cox (Worcester Regiment), missing; Private F G Cummins (Royal Berks Regiment), severely wounded; Private D Hutchins (Royal Berks Regiment), wounded.

Lance Corporal Howard Pembroke (see Magazine for April) has been definitely offered the choice of a commission in either the Infantry or the Royal Air Service. But he prefers to remain in the ASC, where however he will have to wait for a similar chance until he is older.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1918 (D/EX725/4)

The honourable list of those who have laid down their lives for their country and the right

A Burghfield woman volunteered to help behind the lines in wartorn Serbia.

THE WAR

Honours and Promotions

Mr J Rapley has been appointed “Warrant Mechanician” (HMS Superb)

Casualties

Captain G O W Willink, MC, 2/4th Berks, killed in action, 28th March

Private J W Cox, 1st Royal Berks, died under operation for wounds (April)

William Duffin, Royal Berks, died in hospital (pneumonia)

Albert Hathaway, Royal Berks, killed in action

Corporal Arthur J Pearse, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wounded (April)

The parish will have learnt with sorrow that Captain George Willink was on 5th April reported “missing, believed killed, 23-3-18”. No further official notification has been published at the time of writing; but a telegram has been received from records, and private inquiries confirm it, removing all hope. His name must therefore be added to the honourable list of those who have laid down their lives for their country and the right. A fuller statement will be made in the June Magazine. Meanwhile his father and the family are well assured that they have the sympathy of all their neighbours in this fresh trouble.

Mrs Howard, so well known in the parish for her good work at Holiday House and with the Boy Scouts, has gone out as a motor driver with the Scottish Women’s Unit in Serbia. We wish her a safe return.

Burghfield parish magazine, May 1918 (D/EX725/4)

At this strenuous time we must not abate our efforts

Stratfield Mortimer women were continuing to provide clothes for wounded soldiers.

War Work Party

The funds of the War Work Party, which were so generously helped last year by kind friends as well as by the splendid sum realized at the Fete at Abbeycroft, are again getting low. We have held fortnightly working parties during the Autumn and Winter months, and have been able, thanks to many willing workers, to make about 2000 necessary articles of clothing for the Red Cross Society, and these have been distributed among hospitals at home and abroad. We feel that at this strenuous time we must not abate our efforts, and feel sure that the kind friends who helped last year will again come forward, and also hope that others, who have not hitherto helped in any way, will send a contribution to our funds. Any sum, however small, will be gratefully received by the treasurer, Mrs. Roalfe Cox, The Laurels.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

Till we meet again

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

Private Charles Holloway has long been reported missing, and the War Office has now sent an intimation that he must be “assumed killed in action.” Our deep sympathy is with his widow, and his parents, who have now lost three sons in this war.

Lance-Corporal Leonard Cox has been wounded and is now in hospital in England and is progressing favourably.

We were glad to welcome home on leave this month Privates Broadbent, F. Johnson, and J. Sumner.

The Vicar has received the sum of £1 from sale of waste paper collected in the parish, and this money has been devoted to providing comforts for our two prisoners of war in Germany, Privates W. Harwood and F. Onion.

We hope to send to all our men who are serving an Easter card of greeting with the message “May the Risen Christ, who left His home for us, have you in His keeping till we meet again”; and the assurance that we shall be remembering them at our Easter Communion.

Winkfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, March 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/3)

A marvellous escape from an airship crash

Broad Street Church kept in contact with all its men who had joined up.

News has now been received from Air-Mechanic Fred W. Warman to the effect that he is interned at Croningen in Holland. He was acting as wireless-operator in the air-ship which came down there, and had a marvellous escape. We are glad to know that he writes in a bright and cheerful strain, and that he is trying to make the best of things.

Flight Sub-Lieut W. R. Taper of the RNAS has been appointed for duty in Malta. It has been a pleasure to see him frequently in our midst in recent weeks. The good wishes of many friends at Broad Street will go with him as he takes up his new duties.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Brother Woolley has consented to continue his good services by acting as correspondent with our members on service. This [is] a quiet piece of work which is bound to have its good results when things are normal again.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR

The list of our men who have responded to the call of God and King and Country. (more…)