Wireless messages concerning the armistice coming from an agitated operator at the Eiffel Tower, before many in authority knew what was being said

St Augustine’s was the only children’s home for boys run by the Community of St John Baptist. Many of its inmates went on to serve in the Armed Forces, and they shared their experiences with the Sisters.

June, 1919
Dear Friends of St Augustine’s Home

The health of the boys has been excellent this winter, for which we are most thankful. We had a bad epidemic of influenza a year ago, and when the disease made its re-appearance in Windsor in the beginning of winter, we trembled, but schools were closed, and we resorted to gargling and house-spraying, and had not more than half a dozen cases at most.

Our always kind doctor and dentist have returned home from war work, and again look after our boys…

We ended our financial year with bills amounting to more than £200 unpaid. We are printing not merely our last balance sheet, but a pre-war one, by way of an interesting and instructive comparison. One thing that may strike you is that not merely are our expenses heavier, but our subscriptions are considerably less. There have been so many claims on everyone, but we hope that as these lessen, the claims of a Home like ours, which has sent many sons to the front and is helping to train others to take the place of those who have fallen, may appeal not merely to former subscribers but to those who will become new friends…

Our household linen cupboard, and our clothes cupboard, were almost empty this spring… Then … came a large package of garments, cutlery and other things from a war hospital… during the last two weeks of March.

A number of kind friends at Eton and other places made a special Lent effort and sent us a nice contribution of stockings… If other friends would follow this example (perhaps some of those who have knitted so assiduously for soldiers) and ask their friends to do the same, the stocking basket would wear a more cheerful aspect…

August will soon be here, and we hope to see some of our old boys down for the holidays, though Peace celebrations may very naturally take them elsewhere. They have come and gone from time to time as leave allowed, and many thrilling things some of them have to tell – though told always in the simplest, most matter-of-fact way. Some have been in ships torpedoed, one received and transmitted wireless messages concerning the armistice coming from an agitated operator at the Eiffel Tower, before many in authority knew what was being said. And some of our boys will of course never return, but have won the “great promotion” of which the Home is so proud.

Yours very gratefully
The Sister-in-Charge

Letter to Friends of St Augustine’s Home, Clewer (D/EX1675/23/4/6)

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A doctor returns from France

A doctor returned home after serving at the front.

6 February 1919
Sister Bertha Margaret went away from Clewer being no longer needed as doctor, Dr Attlee having returned from France.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“The national health is at a low ebb, on account of war rations, & the influenza epidemic”

Four years of war shortages and the flu had combined to make a feeble nation.

30 January 1919

Notice sent out with regard to regulations for fasting in Lent, which are to be modified, as Mother has had it impressed on her by medical authority that the national health is at a low ebb, on account of war rations, & the influenza epidemic.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Treatment for gas poisoning contracted in the trenches

One of the many institutions run by the Community of St John Baptist was a Convalescent Home in Folkestone, Kent – the ideal place for one of the clergymen who assisted the Sisters to go to rcover from his war experiences.

27 January 1919
The Sub-Warden went to St Andrew’s Home in order to have treatment for gas poisoning contracted in the trenches.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

At last the “cease fire” has sounded from end to end of the long front

The news was sinking in, even for the girls at the House of Mercy.

Burghfield

THE WAR

At last the “cease fire” has sounded from end to end of the long front; and the stern terms of Armistice have been perforce accepted by Germany, following on similar surrenders by Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria. With deep, heartfelt thankfulness to God, Who alone giveth victory, we rejoice, and trust that a just and lasting Peace will in due time follow. Meanwhile, if ever men may be proud of their race, we of the British Empire have that right. With men, with ships, with arms and munitions, with coal, with money, and by our high example, we Anglo-Saxons have indeed played our part. And terrible as our losses have been, we may now feel sure that they have not been in vain.

It was good to see the church nearly full at the Evening Service of humble thanksgiving, which was promptly arranged by the Rector on Tuesday, 12th November, the day after the Armistice was signed: and to feel the earnestness and unity of spirit which all showed, and which we hope will ever be with us in the parish in peace as well as in war.

Wargrave
Hare Hatch Notes

Thanks giving services. A large congregation assembled in the Mission Church, on Tuesday, November 12th, at 7 p.m., to render thanks to God for our glorious victory. It was a simple but yet most impressive service. The collection on behalf of the King’s Fund for disabled officers and men amounted to £2.

CSJB
12 November 1918

Choral Eucharist at 8.30 in thanksgiving for cessation of war. The Warden dispensed us from silence. The girls had a talking dinner & tea, & holiday in evening.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4); Wargrave parish magazine (D/P145/28A/31); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

A wonderful day – full of thankfulness

The lights came on again as the armstice was celebrated at home.

Florence Vansittart Neale
11 November 1918

Armistice signed 5 a.m. Hurrah. War 4 years, 3months & a week.
A wonderful day – full of thankfulness. Fighting stopped at 11 a.m. Peace. Peace. We heard it on the golf links. I, the girls & Boy. Shaw heard the church bells, & we the sirens & guns!! London I hear a marvellous sight – crowds & all happy & orderly. Own overseas went up.


William Hallam
11th November 1918

We heard Germany had accepted the armistice about 20 past 11. We all left off work at 12 and came home. I washed and changed and after dinner we all went round the town which was soon decorated up and everybody visiting. Heard the first fireworks for 4 years. People letting them off even down at the Tram Centre. After tea along to Bath Rd reading room. Quite a crowd there waiting for evening papers to see the terms but there were not pub liked- the terms I mean. We all went down to St Paul’s to a thanksgiving service at 8. The most noticeable thing I suppose on going out was to see the street lamps lit. At the conclusion of the service we had a solemn Te Deum with incense.

CSJB
11 November 1918

The Armistice signed at 4 a.m. ‘Te Deum’.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Personal help given to the Belgian refugees & soldiers during the war

Two of the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist were recognised for their caring work with wounded soldiers and Belgian refugees.

28 June 1918

Notice was sent out that Sister Edith Katharine had had the “medaille de la reine Elisabeth” bestowed upon her by the King of the Belgians, in recognition of personal help given to the Belgian refugees & soldiers during the war. Also that among the King’s Birthday Honours, Sister Mary Victoria has the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal bestowed upon her.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Workmen “called up” for the war

A printer could not fulfil his firm’s orders due to losing most of his employees to the war.

10 May 1918

Office Papers could not be sent as usual for the week because the printer had not been able to send the forms which had been ordered some time before, owing to lack of workers, his workmen “called up” for the war.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

In open boats for about 2 hours in a rough sea

Three Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist had a terrifying experience as they travelled home from India.

20 April 1918

Sister Alexandrina, Sister Marion Edith and Sister Edith Helen, who had left Calcutta March 9th, arrived safely after an adventurous voyage. They had only been allowed to travel with special permission from the Government of India on account of Sister Alexandrina’s state of health, which made it necessary for her to leave India.

Their ship was torpedoed by an enemy sub-marine in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Africa. Then passengers were transferred to the ship’s boats and all were saved. They were in open boats for about 2 hours in a rough sea. The Sisters & their companions were picked up by a British sloop-of-war and landed at Bizerta, where they remained for 4 days. Then they were taken on board a French mail boat carrying troops and were safely landed at Marseilles after a very uncomfortable voyage owing to the crowded condition of the steamer.

From Marseilles they travelled by train to Paris & Havre, & from thence crossed to Southampton.

Owing to rationing orders limiting the quantity to each House of certain articles of food, & the scarcity of others, the Sisters from the other Houses cannot for the present come to the House of Mercy for tea on Sundays, as has been the custom, nor have their meals there when having day’s retreats.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“The bomb passed through the bows, exploding on the other side”

Three of the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist, whose base was at Clewer, were shipwrecked on their way home from India thanks to enemy action.

April, 1918
My dear Associates

You will all be interested to hear that we have just welcomed home from Calcutta Sister Alexandrina, Sister Marion Edith and Sister Edith Helen after a really perilous voyage. The only route available was via Colombo, which they reached by train from Calcutta. The first part of the voyage through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea was very enjoyable, smooth and lovely weather.

Good Friday was spent in the harbour of Suez, and Port Said was reached on Sunday morning. Along the banks of the Suez Canal they saw many races of the recent fighting in Egypt – deserted trenches and dug-outs, and in one place a camp of a considerable size, but their own course was perfectly uneventful.

After waiting four days at Port Said, their steamer joined a large convoy of vessels bound for England, protected by several destroyers and sloops. All went well during the first six days, and then, at 7 a.m. on a date I am not allowed to mention, the ship was struck by a torpedo. Mercifully no one was seriously injured, the bomb having passed through the bows, exploding on the other side.

Fearing another attack, the Captain immediately transferred all the passengers to the boats, and after rowing about on a rough sea for two hours, a sloop picked them up, and conveyed them to Bizerta, a French town on the coast of North Africa, the actual site of ancient Carthage, about four hours by rail from Tunis. At once everything was done on a most generous scale for their comfort and protection, and four days later a mail boat from Tunis conveyed all the passengers to Marseilles, and from there the homeward journey was continued via Paris, Havre and Southampton….

Letters to Associates of the Community of St John Baptist (D/EX1675/1/24/6)

The pressure of work caused by a chaplain’s absence with the troops in France

The CSJB Sisters’ Lenten preparations were disrupted due to the army chaplaincy of one of the clergymen who normally served them.

15 February 1918
Notice was given that the Warden would not give the usual course of Lenten lectures this year owing to the pressure of work caused by the Sub-Warden’s absence with the troops in France.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

The general condition of strain consequent on the war

The Anglican Community of St John Baptist, whose headquarters was at Clewer, always fasted during Lent. But the food shortages meant they had to impose a different regime this year.

10 February 1918

The following directions were sent to all the Houses of the Community with reference to the rule of fasting to be observed during the coming Lent this year.

“In consequence of the general condition of strain consequent on the war, the Warden & Mother feel that the usual Lenten rule cannot be kept this year.

There will be dry bread for breakfast only on Wednesdays & Fridays for the first 4 weeks.

The second meatless day will be observed according to the rules of the Government (i.e. according to the days on which the Government prohibits meat to be sold in different places.)

There will be some kind of plain pudding every day.

The regulation as to no pastry being used must be in abeyance (because it has been found necessary sometimes to use pastry to make the meat allowance sufficient).

At breakfast and tea whatever can be most easily obtained should be provided, such as porridge, marmalade, jam, margarine, etc.

On Ash Wednesday there should be dry bread for breakfast & tea as usual, the rest of the food as on meatless days.”

The mitigation of the usual Lenten Rule has been sanctioned by the Bishop, whom the Warden consulted on the subject.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

The difficulty of obtaining food

Food shortages meant the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist could not have their regular retreat at the mother house in Clewer.

18 January 1918

Notice was sent to the Community from the Warden & Mother that the Sisters’ Retreat fixed to begin Jan. 28th must be indefinitely postponed owing to the difficulty of obtaining food for such a largely increased number.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“The world-wide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty is entering upon its last and most difficult phase”

The first Sunday of the year was set aside for special prayers in every church.

The Kings Proclamation

TO MY PEOPLE-

The world-wide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty is entering upon its last and most difficult phase. The enemy is striving by desperate assault and subtle intrigue to perpetuate the wrongs already committed and stem the tide of a free civilization. We have yet to complete the great task to which, more than three years ago, we dedicated ourselves.

At such a time I would call upon you to devote a special day of prayer that we may have the clear-sightedness and strength necessary to the victory of our cause. This victory will be gained only if we steadfastly remember the responsibility that rests upon us, and in a spirit of reverent obedience ask the blessing of Almighty God upon our endeavours. With hearts grateful for the Divine guidance which has led us so far toward our goal, let us seek to be enlightened in our understanding and fortified in our courage in facing the sacrifices we may yet have to make before our work is done.

I therefore hereby appoint January 6th – the first Sunday of the year – to be set aside as a special day of prayer and thanksgiving in all Churches throughout my dominions and require that this Proclamation be read at the services held on that day.

GEORGE R.I.

Reading St Mary, January 1918

6th January 1918

We shall keep January 6th, though it be the Feast of the Epiphany, as a special day of prayer in connexion with the War. I hope all our people will observe it devoutly and reverently. We are passing through a particularly anxious time, and our own splendid men and our Allies want all the force of prayer and intercession to help them in the struggle.

Speenhamland, February 1918
The first Sunday in the Year was the Feast of the Epiphany. It was also chosen by the King as the Day of National Prayer and renewed resolution to win the war and a peace which shall be lasting….

The solemn Day of National Prayer, Sunday, January 6th (the Feast of the Epiphany), was well kept throughout the Parish. We all hope and pray that such a day may have strengthened our determination to persevere in carrying out the great ideals which we put before ourselves at the beginning of the War. The season of Lent, which starts on February 13th, will give us another opportunity in re-dedicating ourselves to God’s service in self-denial and self-discipline, not only for the good of our souls, but for the helping forward of our country and its Allies on their way to a lasting peace.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Church
MINISTER’S JOTTINGS
Once more at the beginning of a New Year, I desire to send a message of good-will to all our readers. Twelve months ago we were hoping that by this time the war would be over, and that we should be rejoicing in the establishment of peace. That hope has been disappointed, and the outlook at the moment is anything but promising. Still we renew our hopes today that 1918 may see the end of this terrible war, and the realisation of those ideals for which we are struggling. In the meantime let us stand firm in our faith in God, and in the conviction that the cause of righteousness must ultimately prevail.

His Majesty the King has “appointed January 6th – the first Sunday of the year – to be set aside as a special day of prayer and thanksgiving in all the Churches”, and he calls upon all his people to devote the day to special prayer for the nation. We propose to respond to the call of His Majesty at Broad Street, and to observe the day in the way he requests. I would venture, therefore, to express the hope that every member of the congregation will endeavour to be in his or her place that day, so that we may all unite in the special intercession.

Reading St SaviourThe first Sunday in the Year was the Feast of the Epiphany. It was also chosen by the King as the day of National Prayer and renewed resolution to win the war and a peace which shall be long lasting.

Community of St John Baptist, Clewer
6 January 1918

Day appointed by the King for Prayer & Thanksgiving in connection with the war. At both celebrations of the Holy Eucharist the service was of the Epiphany, but at the second one, the King’s Proclamation was read after the Creed, followed by the “Bidding Prayer”. At Matins & Evensong, the special Psalms, Prayers etc appointed in the Form of Prayer put forth for the day were used.

Florence Vansittart Neale
6 January 1918

Crowded National Prayer & Thanksgiving.

King’s proclamation printed in Wargrave parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P145/28A/31); Speenhamland parish magazine, January and February 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2); Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14); St Saviour’s section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P98/28A/13); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

One of life’s failures

St Augustine’s Home was a home for boys in need in Clewer, run by the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist. It was not strictly speaking an orphanage, as many of the lads had at least one parent living, but they were usually in dire circumstances, and the home gave them stability. Many of the Old Boys were now serving in the armed forces, while the current residents were making little jigsaw puzzles to send to PoWs and the wounded.

A Short Notice of St Augustine’s Home for Boys, Clewer, December 1917

Roll of Honour, 1917
On Active Service

Robert Annesley
Reginald Barber
Frank Berriman
Arthur Booker
Leonard Borman
John Brown
Frank Bungard
William Carter
Percy Cattle
Robert Chippington
George Collyer
Tom Corbett
Jack Corbett
Herbert Cousins
Thomas Cox
Francis Dawes
Charles Douglas
Wilfrid Eccles
Jack Ettall
Edward Farmer
James Frame
James Farmer
Charles Fisher
Wallis Fogg
George Finlay
George Gale
Stanley Graham
Robert Gosling
John Green
John Harrison
George Houston
Ernest Howells
Fred Hunt
Albert Hudson
Arthur Hudson
William Hobart
Albert Jarman
Reginald Jarman
Joseph Kelly
Edward Lewendon
Harry Macdonald
Eric Matthews
Harry Mott
Norman Neild
Alfred Newsome
Robert Parnell
Samuel Perry
Bennie Payne
William Potter
Charles Price
George Pitt
William Robert
Claude Roebuck
Alan Sim
George Simister
Thomas Small
William Smith
Thomas Squibb
Alfred Stroud
George Tate
Graham Taylor
Albert Turnham
Jack Ware
William White
Albert Wicks
Leonard Wicks
William Wicks
Harry Wilden
Edwin Williams
Albert Worth
Leslie Worters
Fred Wright
Seldon Williams


At Rest

Walter Bungard
Albert Braithwaite
Harry Clarke
Joseph Eaves
Russell Evans
Ernest Halford
Frank Lewis
Douglas Matthews
James Matthews
Harry Pardoe
Arthur Smith
Maurice Steer
Thomas Tuckwell
Harry Worsley
RIP

..
A Home for Boys has a special claim on the interest of all at this time, when so many are being left orphans as a result of the war, or who are temporarily without a father’s care and discipline, and letters come very frequently containing requests for information as to the admission and maintenance of boys at St Augustine’s….

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