The O.T.C. had never been so strong in numbers as it was now

Reading School boys did much to support the troops.

The O.T.C.

The O.T.C. had never been so strong in numbers as it was now. There were 158 in the corps, and there were 77 recruits. At the War Office inspection in June last the officer inspecting was greatly impressed with their “soldierly contingent,” and though great credit was due to the officers and instructor. The corps had suffered a loss by the retirement of its commander, Captain Crook. After a long period of service, and he was also sorry to say that Sergt- Major Green, D.C.M. had been obliged to give up the post of instructor owing to ill-health. It was agreed to give Sergt-Major Green some material recognition of his good services to Reading School, and a fund had been opened for that purpose. Mr Keeton referred to what the old boys had done during the War, as reported elsewhere.

Good work has been done in other directions, and the School workshops, under Mr. Spring, had turned out a great deal of material, such as crutches, splints, bedrests, &c., for the Reading War Hospitals. The boys had also helped in food production. Many had given up a portion of their time to gardening, and a squad of 50 boys did harvest work last year in the neighbourhood of Hastings. In the matter of war savings the School had subscribed £1,650.

Reading School Magazine, April 1919 (SCH3/14/34)

“2 old boys have been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in France”

A school was proud of two Old Boys, while a teacher took off time to spend it with her sweetheart while he was home on leave.

White Waltham
June 10th 1918

News has been received that 2 old boys, George Ranscombe and Oliver Clark have been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in France. A letter of congratulations has been sent to Sergeant Clark and Lance Corporal Ranscombe signed by scholars, staff and correspondent congratulating them on their success.

Clewer
June 10th 1918

Miss Crook is absent from school on June 10th onwards to visit the home of her fiancé home from the Front.

White Waltham CE School log book (D/P 142/28/3/2, pp. 269-270); Clewer St. Stephen Intermediate Girls School log book (SCH/8/8/2, p. 176)

Laid to rest: the Newbury roll of honour

The Newbury men who had been killed were listed in the church magazine by installment.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Copied and supplied to the Parish Magazine by Mr J W H Kemp

(Continued from last month.)

45. Pte Benjamin Weller Smith, Duke of Cornwall’s LI, killed in France, June 18th, aged 24. Laid to rest at Bus, France.

46. Corp. Harry Lawes, killed in Mesopotamia 21st January, 1914.

47. Pte Ernest Westall, Territorials, died 16th June, 1916, in hospital.

48. Pte William Oscar Wickens, 8th Batt. Royal Berks Regt, missing since Oct. 13th, 1915, now reported killed.

49. Pte Bertram Edgar Wickens, Inter-communication Section 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds April 17th, 1917.

50. Pte Gerald Lionel Wickens, 1/1 Trench Mortar Battery, 1st Infantry Brigade, killed in action August 27th, 1916.

51. Pte James Reginald Swatton, killed November, 1916. RIP.

52. Basil Henry Belcher, Royal Berks Regt, missing, believed killed, July 1st, 1916.

53. Pte Charles Whitehorn, killed in action July 3rd, 1916, 5th Royal Berks Regt.

54. Alan George Busby, killed in France June 9th, 1917. RIP.

55. In memory of Thomas Alfred Stillman, 2nd son of Mrs Stillman, of Market Street, Newbury, killed in action June 6th somewhere in France.

56. In memory of George Frederick Stevens, Qr-Master-Sergt, Royal Engineers, killed in France, July 10-11, 1917.

57. Sergt Frederick John Preston, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds, Le Trefont Hospital, France, 7th June, 1917.

58. L-Corp. William Crook, 94142, 128th Field Co, RE, killed July 1st, 1917, late of Diamond Cottages, Newbury.

59. Sergt W H Lake, 633 battery RFA, Indian Expeditionary Forces, died August 10th, 1916; prisoner of war in Turkey.

60. Pte Frank Pibworth, 6th Batt. Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds August 1st, 1917.

61. Pte Charles Mundy, KOYLI, killed Sept. 14th, 1917.

62. Pte Alfred John Aldridge, 16th Royal Warwickshire Regt, killed in action in France July 27th, 1916.

63. Pte Albert James Geater, A Co 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action August 16th, 1917.

64. Signalman Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons, died of wounds in Hospital, France, October 4th, 1917.

65. Pte George Herbert Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in France March 10th 1915.

66. Pte James Henry Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in France August 27th, 1915.

67. Pte Edward Albert Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in action August 16th, 1917.

(To be continued.)

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

A foreign accent betrays escaped German prisoners

The Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the police in Berkshire heard of an exciting incident involving escaped PoWs in Old Windsor. Meanwhile, single policemen were continuing to join the armed forces, while women and the retired were filling civilian jobs.

6 January 1917

The Finance Sub-committee report that at about midnight on 7 December, 1916, PC 177, George Crook, was on duty at Old Windsor when he met two men who were unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and, as they spoke with a foreign accent, the Constable telephoned to Superintendent Jannaway at Clewer, who instructed him to detain them and convey them to Clewer Police Station, where it was eventually discovered that they had escaped from the German Officers’ Internment Camp at Holyport that same night. As an appreciation of PC Crook’s prompt action and judgment in the matter, he has been advanced in grade of pay (2d per day) nearly three months earlier than he otherwise would have been.

Police joining the Army

The Chief Constable has written to Lieut-General Sclater, Commanding the Southern District, Salisbury, giving him the number of Constables under the age of 30 years serving in the Force, and a list of those now serving in HM Army, with a view to the possible release of such as can be replaced by men of the Berkshire Police whom it is advisable to release from further military duty, but who are fit for Police duties. (more…)

“We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”

The vicar of Reading St Mary had some Christmas thoughts for his flock, despite the ongoing war, and the large numbers leaving home to join the armed forces.

The Vicar’s Notes

How much we hoped that this Christmas would be a Christmas of peace! But as the King said in his noble appeal to his people, “The end is not in sight.” So we must be patient, and even in the midst of the terrific struggles of this great war, must try and enter into the spirit of the Christmas festival with its strong message of hope and encouragement, and the certainty that it assures us of, that God will bring good out of evil.

Roll of Honour
Additional names, S, Mary’s District

Harry Day, Norman Day, William Day, William Kemp, Frank Goddard, George Hunt, Jesse Gore, Albert Gore, John Gore, Sidney Gore, William Peirce, William Eaton, Robert Hinder, William Noakes, Frederick Wild, George Swain, Herbert Allen, Charles Smith, Clement Green, Albert Gibson, Alec Barker, John Noakes.

All Saint’s District
Roll Of Honour

George Baker, Frederick Montague Brown, Arthur Budd, Alfred Bernard Carter, Harry Clay, Arthur William Crook, Charles Frederick Fox, Fred Fuller, Bert Fuller, William Hanson, Albert Charles Lambden, Walter Howard Lee, Walter John Malham, John Henry Malham, Herbert William Macdonald, Frank James Noble, F. William Pomeroy, Fred Povey, Ernest Frank Sopp, Harold Stagg, Charlie Turner, John Turner, Ernest Wicks, Albert Wiggins.

S. Saviours District
War Intercessions

The service at 3 p.m. on Wednesday will be continued during Advent. Several more men from this district have joined the Army and Navy during the past month, among them being Reginald James Barnes and Albert Edward Griffin, two of our servers, whom we may hope to see at Christmas.

In letters, which have been received, occur such words as “We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”; “indeed I miss S. Saviour’s very much”; “I did not get the chance of going to Church either last Sunday or this … I was very disappointed.”

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)

Doing their bit: protecting Berkshire soldiers from gas

Pupils at three church schools were affected by the war. Girls in Aldermaston were spending their spare time making gas respirators for local soldiers, while Earley children got an afternoon off because of a military sports day. The head master at Yattendon joined the army, leaving his wife, who also taught at the school, as temporary head.

Aldermaston CE School, 1st October 1915

The 1st and 2nd class girls, under the supervision of Miss Adams, have been engaged in sewing on gas respirator pockets for the 3/4 Berks Regiment which is stationed here. Some of the girls volunteered to give up part of their dinner-time, and others in the village gave up an hour or so in the evening in order to “do their bit”.

Earley CE School, 1st October 1915

School was closed on Wednesday afternoon as some Athletic Sports by the soldiers were then being held in the field adjoining the school premises.

Yattendon CE School, Oct. 1st 1915

Today I received the official sanction of the Education [Committee] to enlist & the letter setting out the conditions is filed in the portfolio [which no longer survives].

Arrangements have been made for my enlisting in the ASC at Aldershot and tomorrow I go there to take up service.

My wife takes charge of the school, and Miss Toms comes on Monday as Supply Elementary Teacher until Miss Aldridge can take up the appointment for the period of the war.

E. Crook.

Aldermaston CE School, October 1915 (88/SCH/3/3); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3); Yattendon CE School log book (SCH37/8/1)/em>

A teacher is medically examined for the army

Mr Crook, headmaster of Yattendon Church of England School, was ready to join the army:

1915
Sept. 9

This afternoon I left school at 1.45 to go to Newbury for the Army Medical Examination. Lessons interchanged with Friday afternoon.

Yattendon CE School log book (SCH37/8/3)

“The Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers”

A selection of letters from Reading soldiers at the Front, in England, and in Egypt, which were printed in their home church’s magazine.

Letter From the Front. Come out and help.
When we are out of the trenches on a Sunday (like to-day) we have a short service which come as a luxury and which reminds me of old times when singing in the choir at S. Stephen’s. I had a scarf sent out to me by my sister which was made at the Girls’ Club, I understand, but it is very handy when we have nights out, which we often do, for it is very cold at nights. We have been out here practically eight weeks, and I suppose have seen as much of the trenches as any battalion out here during that short time. I never thought that when I went to see you when home on leave from Chelmsford that we should have been up in the firing line so quick as we were….

We are always thinking of all the friends and people we have left behind, and I know that you are thinking of us while we are away from everybody doing our bit. I hear that you call the names out on a Sunday and I know that there are quite a number, but I hope that before long that list will be twice as long, for the more men and young chaps we get out here the sooner it will end, and I am sure that we all want to see that as soon as possible.
G. KING.

Poisonous Gases.
Just at present we are having a very troublesome time with the Germans. They are trying their very hardest to break through and we have very hard work to keep them back because they are using those poisonous gases which is something terrible for our poor men, and you can’t do anything at all with them. I think myself that the Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers.
L.H. CROOK. (more…)

We are nothing better than worms – but mustn’t grumble!

Sunday 4 April 1915 was Easter Day. The parishioners of Reading St John (now the Polish Catholic Church) had sent Easter greetings to their young men at the Front. It resulted in a number of letters from the recipients describing their experiences.

Letters from the Front: replies to our Easter letters and cards.

Cards similar to those recently seen on the Church notice boards were sent with covering letters for Easter to some fifty men at the front at the request of their relatives. The following are extracts from some of the replies received by the Vicar:-

A Terrible War.
Here is a much-needed reminder of the seriousness of our task:
‘Two of my men I laid to rest yesterday, just put their heads too far over the parapet; of course killed instantly. It is a terrible business and we are nothing better than worms, dug in and stop there, but hope that happier times are in store and very soon. We all hope and pray for it every day. I don’t think the people at home quite realise what a gigantic task we have; but we mustn’t grumble, but do it.’- GILES AYRES.

Valued Cards.
‘I wish to thank you very much for the good thoughts and wishes of yourself and everyone who remembered us on Easter Day. Thank you very much for the card. I am sending it home to-day so that I shall not lose it.’- A. L. BLAKE.

‘The card you sent me I have hung on to the wall and it shall go where I go. I shall always remember Good Friday, the day I received it.’- D. CAMPBELL.

Neuve Chapelle.
Speaking of the welcome letter just received, the writer adds: ‘Just lately we have been engaged in a big battle at Neuve Chapelle, and it was something awful and also a terrible loss on the German side.’- L.H. CROOK. (more…)